|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-02-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 2 February 2010 Issue No: 3412
 PM in Parliament on fight against corruptionPrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday reiterated that his government's intention was to "free the country from tutelage and profiteering".
Addressing an off-the-agenda Parliamentary debate on combating corruption, Papandreou said "our effort is not to establish order in the country. This is a precondition to get rid of tutelage. Our intention is to free Greece from the stranglehold of profiteering. This is the debt we are all paying, even if responsibilities are concrete and criminal."
The prime minister accused New Democracy (ND) governments of letting Greece "slide down every year in corruption indexes as well in competitiveness indexes."
"With your policies, you have succeeded in turning Greece into country open to profiteering, whereas serious investors hesitate due to our unreliability and our partners demand tremendous sacrifices," the premier said.
"Our country has become the weakest link of the Eurozone. The terms of borrowing are becoming more onerous everyday ... It is a national duty to annul, in practice, all attempts aimed at pushing the country to the brink," Papandreou said, adding: "The government is determined to do everything necessary not to allow the danger becoming a reality."
Accusing ND governments of increasing the public debt, he referred to his government's measures, such as the establishment of an independent statistical bureau, an upcoming bill on selecting the leadership of the judiciary, a law on the financing of political parties, the "Kallikratis" plan for local government mergers and the fight against tax evasion.
As regards the main opposition ND party's proposal on establishing an all-party committee against corruption, the prime minister counter-proposed the reinforcing of the Parliament's standing committee.
 Samaras address to ParliamentMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday called for a "unified front" against corruption in the country, speaking during an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the issue.
He also accepted a proposal by PM George Papandreou for one-on-one meetings between political leaders, but also insisted on his proposal for the immediate establishment of a Parliament committee to focus on the issue of combating corruption.
Conversely, he called on the ruling party to abstain "from trying to give lessons in responsibility" to ND vis-ŗ-vis the ongoing farmers' mobilisations, reminding that Mr. Papandreou, as he said, "did not hesitate to greet Cretan farmers at the port of Piraeus, essentially encouraging them to drive to Athens with their tractors."
He also pointed to then PASOK criticism of a 500-million-euro bonus package towards farmers as mere "crumbs", with the then opposition promising to double the amount, as he said.
"Today, as prime minister, you (Papandreou) cannot even allocate half that amount, while I, as the main opposition leader, neither head to roadblocks or encourage the farmers' to escalate their mobilisations," Samaras said.
Beyond the strictly domestic agenda, Samaras also repeated his demand for a full disclosure of a recent letter sent by Papandreou to Turkish prime minister, and the latter's earlier epistle to the Greek premier.
 KKE leader critical of both gov't, NDCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga told Parliament on Monday evening, during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption, that her party stood against the "anti-popular, anti-workers policy that (ruling) PASOK and (main opposition) New Democracy support."
Papariga also rejected Prime Minister George Papandreou's proposal for consensus and support of the government's policy in handling the current economic crisis, expressing support for the ongoing farmers' mobilisations in the country and her qualms over establishing Parliamentary inquiry committees.
Responding to the premier's invitation for bilateral meetings with party leaders, Papariga said: "It is not our practice to refuse such meetings ...There is not the least bit of consensus in joining our forces in support of the government's economic policy."
"For us, Greece's prestige is related to whether sovereign rights were ceded to the European Union and NATO or not. And they were ceded. From this point of view, we don't give a cent over what corrupt foreign companies say about Greece's prestige," Papariga noted.
Citing what she called an existing problem of corruption and lack of transparency, the KKE leader nevertheless rejected any suggestion that these are the reason behind the problem but a part of it.
 LA.OS leaderPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, speaking in Parliament on Monday evening during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption, called for immediate action against the phenomenon, saying that "multiplying the image of non-credibility does not serve the country's interests."
"We are in a war; we are experiencing a very harsh situation. It is not time for speculations in order to gain some votes ... If we really want to eliminate corruption we don't need so much talk, or so many committees of inquiry," Karatzaferis said.
 SYRIZA leader on transparencyRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras Monday evening rejected the government's policy, charging that it is playing "communication games" and called on the prime minister not to link an exit from the current economic crisis to the "war" against corruption.
"Ten years have passed with four general elections and two changes of government, and all these in the name of transparency and the fight against corruption. We missed all the opportunities. We missed two constitutional reforms and all political initiatives that offered an exit from the impasse," Tsipras said while speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on corruption.
"The problem will not be solved either by meetings chaired by the President of the Republic nor through such parliamentary debates. The problem is long-standing and involves the two mainstream parties," he added.
 PM to meet political leaders on TuesdayPrime Minister George Papandreou will be meeting with the leaders of Greece's parliamentary parties on Tuesday afternoon, according to an announcement issued by the premier's press office on Monday night.
Papandreou will meet at Maximos Mansion successively with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis, main opposition New Democracy (ND) president Antonis Samaras and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary president Alexis Tsipras.
 PM to brief party leaders on Erdogan letterPrime Minister George Papandreou announced on Monday evening his intention to brief, through Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, political party leaders on the content of a letter addressed to him by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Papandreou made the announcement during a Parliamentary debate on transparency.
Erdogan's letter was delivered in early November, while Papandreou's response was delivered on Monday, Jan. 25, in Ankara by Greece's ambassador.
 Economy to dominate German minister's talks in AthensBERLIN (ANA-MPA - P. Stagos)
The dire straits of the Greek economy are expected to dominate meetings to be held in Athens on Tuesday by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
According to a spokesman for the German government, Berlin will encourage the Greek government to take measures designed to deal with the problems that have arisen, pointing to statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Westerwelle that Germany "is confident" that the Greek government can solve the country's problems on its own.
The spokesman also denied reports claiming that Greece is negotiating for financial assistance from the European Union or from individual countries in Europe, such as France or Germany.
"Germany is confident that Greece will implement its plan, so for that reason we don't need to discuss other measures," said spokesman Christoph Steegmans, also pointing to a denial of the reported loan made by Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.
German finance ministry spokesman Michael Offer earlier described the market reaction to Greece's financial situation as "overblown" and said that the successful Greek bond sale of January 25 will make markets calm down.
Westerwelle is due to arrive in Athens on Monday night for a scheduled round of "introductory" contacts with the heads of foreign governments during his first 100 days as new German foreign minister.
 Deputy FM at int'l environmental symposium in KalamataDeputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis stressed that green development was the only path for Greece and the world, addressing an international environmental symposium on the theme "Protection of the Environment as a source of true life and sustainable development" organised by the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Kalamata on Monday.
Greece, he added, must turn to green development from need, and not as a political move, for three reasons.
The first reason was environmental, given the destruction of the environment and water pollution, as well as waste management.
The first reason was financial, as in recent years there has been a trend of economic growth but at the same time consumption of the natural resources.
The third reason was an ethical one, as the planet needs to be conserved and given over to the next generations.
"Our agriculture must turn to quality farming, to a smaller but higher quality product. We must doe the same in tourism, because Greece has unique characteristics. We are a blessed country, with inexhaustible sources of renewable energy," he said, adding that green growth must first of all be imbued in education and health.
"Greece needs to make a turnabout. If we want to change, we need to go to a new model, because small steps are not enough. A big turnaround is necessary, because we have made wrong choices in the management of nature," he continued.
Kouvelis said that the "ecological culture" referred to by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his address to the symposium earlier in the day, "is important, and we back the Ecumenical Patriarchate".
"Greece must be a pioneer in this eco-culture, and is trying to do so," Kouvelis said, adding that both the government and the other parties in parliament were displaying sensitivity on environmental issues.
"We will do precisely what is needed," he said.
 Visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew meets with Dep. FMEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew held a 45-minute meeting on Monday with Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis, within the framework of an international environmental symposium organised in Kalamata by the local tertiary Technological Educational Institute.
Kouvelis stated that they also discussed the issue of the Theological School of Halki and the difficulties faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate as regards the recognition of its ecumenical character.
He stated that they also discussed issues concerning expatriate Hellenism and the environment.
Kouvelis noted that the reopening of the Theological School of Halki is an international issue, stressing that "it is unacceptable to be treated on the basis of reciprocity. It is a clear demand; a right on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate based on the Treaty of Lausanne and should be handled as such by the Turkish leadership."
 Ecumenical Patriarch made Honorary Professor of Kalamata TEI, Honorable Citizen of the cityEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was made an honorary professor of the Kalamata Technological Educational Institute (TEI) on Monday, while on Sunday afternoon he was declared an Honorary Citizen of Kalamata.
Bartholomew, who is known as the "Green Patriarch" for his environmental initiatives, was made a professor of the TEI's department of Organic and Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture during a ceremony at the TEI's amphitheater during an international environmental symposium on the theme "Protection of the Environment as a source of true life and sustainable development".
The ceremony was attended by deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, the political and military leaders of Messinia prefecture, and the TEI professors.
Addressing the Ecumenical Patriarch, TEI president Andreas Kanakis paid tribute to the "servant of theology, academic professor, cleric and Ecumenical Patriarch, who contributes to the promotion of the unity of the pan-Orthodox Church in advancing the inter-faith dialogue, and also the Greek Patriarch whom the TEI declares an honorary professor for his immense service to Hellenism and Orthodoxy and also his contribution to ecology".
Opening the symposium, Bartholomew noted that the century that passed has been the most violent in the history of humanity, a century of indescribable brutality of man towards his fellow man, but also of unprecedented barbarity to the natural environment.
After two bloody World Wars, he continued, today a third world war was taking place against nature.
On Sunday afternoon, Bartholomew was made an honorary citizen of Kalamata, by unanimous decision of the city's Municipal Council, during a ceremony at the City Hall that was attended by Kouvelis, and the city's and prefecture's officials.
 Chrysohoidis asks Turkish minister for meeting on migration issuesGreece's Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis has written to Turkey's Interior Minister Besir Atalay and formally requested a meeting some time in February to discuss ways of stemming the tide of illegal migrants crossing the Turkish border into Greece.
"Only systematic and close cooperation between Greece and Turkey can reduce the flow of illegal migration toward the European Union," Chrysohoidis stressed in the letter sent on January 27, adding that he anticipated a positive response from the Turkish side.
The Greek minister also highlighted the ever-worsening problems caused by both illegal migration and organised crime in both countries.
"The challenges that we face are complex and shared, since the problem has taken on massive dimensions over the past decade, with tgeometric growth of the flow each year from both the land and sea borders of our countries," he stressed.
Regarding the specifics of their discussion, Chrysohoidis has suggested improvements can be achieved via applying the bilateral readmission protocols signed by Greece and Turkey, through cooperation between the coast guards of the two countries, through a readmission agreement between the European Union and Turkey and through cooperation between Greece, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan on migration issues, possibly including Afghanistan as well.
The Greek minister said the primary aim would be to prevent the illegal movement of people by striking at the migrant-trafficking networks, while noting that Greek and Turkish cooperation will also be extremely useful in targeting organised crime, drug-trafficking and in coping with natural disasters.
 Education minister on official visit to CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
Greek Minister of Education Anna Diamantopoulou is on an official visit to Cyprus.
The minister and her Cypriot counterpart Andreas Demetriou were the key-speakers at a special event, organized on Monday evening by the Association for Social Reform OPEK, the European Commission Representation in Cyprus and the University of Cyprus.
On Tuesday Diamantopoulou will visit a lyceum. Later on she will attend a meeting with Demetriou, other Education Ministry officials and the Ambassador of Greece to Cyprus.
Later on the two ministers will give a joint press conference. After that Diamantopoulou will meet House President Marios Garoyian.
She will also attend a meeting of the House Education Committe. In the afternoon she will be received by President Demetris Christofias and meet with Archbishop Chrysostomos II.
She will leave the island on Tuesday evening.
 Farmers mobilisations- Prevailing conditions at border postsThe border posts of Ormenio and Kipi in Evros prefecture were open on Monday, however protesting farmers dept their tractors lined up on both sides of the road but without disrupting traffic.
The Promachonas checkpoint remained closed for trucks, while farmers on Serres-Thessaloniki highway at the Strymonikos intersection are intermittently blocking the road.
Roads bypassing by the Doirani and Evzoni checkpoints in Kilkis prefecture are open, as are the Krystallopigi and Niki checkpoints in Florina prefecture.
Protesting farmers of Serres prefecture remained throughout the night at their roadblocks at the Kedryllia intersection on the Egnatia motorway.
The Exochi border post in Drama Prefecture was open during the night but the Chryssoupoli interchange in Kavala was blocked.
Grevena prefecture farmers remain on the Egnatia motorway and several others have gathered at the Servia bridge in Kozani, but without obstructing the traffic.
Thessaly (central Greece) farmers remain at their roadblocks at the Nikaia and Mikrothebes intersections.
 Athens congratulates new Bulgarian FMGreek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday conveyed his congratulations to new Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nockolay Mladenov, according to a ministry press release.
Droutsas also expressed his conviction that the "strong ties of friendship and collaboration between Greece and Bulgaria will be reinforced further, for the benefit of the Greek and Bulgarian peoples and the region's stability and welfare."
 Katseli: Investment interest from abroadThere are large investment programs in Greece and discussions have already begun with the co-responsible ministries, with relevant announcements expected over the next month, economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli said on Monday in reply to questions after addressing an event titled "Banks and Economy, the next step".
Katseli said that 5-7 foreign countries have manifested interest in immediate major productive investments in the country, and the problem that exists, but will be immediately confronted, is the complex bureaucracy in issuing licenses and setting up enterprises, adding that simplification of the procedures required for setting up a company will be achieved with new legislation to be drafted in February, while by end May the second phase of the effort will be advanced concerning reducing bureaucracy in licensing procedures.
The target, she added, was for Greece to be listed several levels higher in the international competitiveness list by the second half of the year.
The minister also stressed the need to set up a credible system of monitoring the financial and credit system, given that the present monitoring system is "decimated" as it is overseen by four different authorities, which results in limited information and lack of transparency.
Initially, there will be collaboration among the four authorities, followed by the creation of a single financial/credit monitoring authority, which her ministry will put to consultation.
 Almunia spokeswoman: Greek stability program ambitious, but also realisticBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
A spokesperson for European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia described Greece's new Stability program as "ambitious, but also realistic", in a statement on Monday in Brussels.
Almunia's spokeswoman, Amelia Torres, noted at the same time that, keeping in mind that the hazards entailed in the economic conjuncture may prove more adverse than expected, the measures to be adopted in the event that those hazards prove true need to be made more specific.
Torres also noted that the European Commission will take its decisions on Wednesday both with respect to the excessive deficit procedure that has been initiated for Greece and to the credibility of the Greek statistical data.
The Commission is slated to submit its recommendations on the Greek program to the EU Council of Economy Ministers on Wednesday.
Replying to press questions, Torres said that the targets contained in the program are ambitious but achievable, and have been endorsed by the Commission.
She added that there are some risks regarding their materialisation, which Greece agrees with, in the event that the economic conjuncture proves worse than anticipated, and consequently the recommendations to be adopted by the Commission on Wednesday, which will mark closer monitoring of the Greek economy, will call on Greece to present a plan with alternative solutions, in other words a plan of additional measures, in the event that divergence is ascertained from the targets of the program and the risks are confirmed.
Torres further said that the Commission on Wednesday, in addition to its review of the Greek program, will also adopt recommendations on the basis of Article 126, Paragraph 9 of the EU Treaty on correction of the excessive deficit with a specific timetable for reduction of the deficit to below 3 percent of GDP.
The Commission will also present proposals for confronting the issue of the credibility of Greece's statistical data, and proposals for the adoption of the structural reforms needed with respect to the competitiveness of the Greek economy, she added.
 Agriculture minister: farmers will not get ready cashFarmers should not expect immediate cash handouts from the government, Agricultural Development Minister Katerina Batzeli emphasised on Monday after a meeting with Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli.
"There will not be immediate assistance for farmers but there will be assistance for farm production through measures and policies that seek to stimulate the agricultural economy and to boost the quality of products and all this will take place via the revised National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)," she said.
Katseli said that the government would fulfill a pledge to include farming enterprises in the Small and Micro-businesses Guarantee Fund (TEMPME) and would announce a new funding package for the farm sector to be given out via TEMPME in the next few weeks.
She also noted that her ministry would investigate prices paid to producers and on a retail level, setting up a committee to look into this for each separate product.
 Con'f on Greek banking systemThe Greek banking system is characterized by high capital adequacy and liquidity, but is currently dealing with many challenges because of a special economic conjecture, Pavlos Mylonas, director general and strategic consultant in National Bank Group said on Monday.
Addressing an economic conference, organised by a local newspaper in Athens, Mylonas said the first challenge was a shrinking domestic liquidity because of lower saving deposits, new investment opportunities in stock and commodity markets, combined with higher funding costs as a result of negative developments in bond markets. The second challenge is related with a worsening of portfolio quality and the third challenge is a slowing credit expansion growth rate, currently 4.0 pct. He predicted a further worsening of credit expansion rates until the Greek economy began recovering from its current recession. Mylonas noted, however, the emergence of new opportunities, such as a positive outlook for credit expansion rates in the future, a diversification of banks' profitability because of their expansion in Southeastern Europe and actions to control operating costs.
Spyros Pantelias, Hellenic Postbank's vice-president, addressing the conference underlined the importance and necessity of changing a Greek growth model, so far based on consumer spending and borrowing. Giannis Mourgelas, president of Teiresias, the credit market's watchdog, said banks must take effective measures to protect capital and reducing their bad debt rates. Trifon Kollintzas, Attica Bank's chairman and chief executive, said liquidity in the real economy was related with pressures coming from both the side of banks as well as households and enterprises and predicted that the Greek economy will exit the current recession at a later time compared with other developed economies.
 Bill to speed up 'green' energy investment due this monthUpdated legislation regulating renewable energy sources (RES) is to be tabled in Parliament within the current month, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis announced on Monday at an economic conference organised by the newspaper "Apogevmatini".
Also due in the coming weeks is the completion of the legislative framework for deregulating the natural gas market, he added.
The deputy minister said the bill on RES would seek to reduce the time needed to obtain a licence for a RES power production unit by 80 percent by creating a one-stop-shop service for potential investors, while it will also introduce compensatory benefits for local authorities and the residents of areas where RES units are installed (wind farms, photovoltaic units etc).
The ministry expects investments of around 3.0 billion euros in RES during the next three years, he said.
Regarding the natgas market, Maniatis said that within the next few days the Regulatory Authority for Energy was expected to submit its recommendations on ministerial decisions that have been pending since 2005 in order to implement a market deregulation expected to greatly benefit consumers.
 Dep. Minister meets with US Consul GeneralDeputy Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Markos Bolaris met on Monday with US consul general to Thessaloniki Catherine E. Kay.
The deputy minister stressed that the purpose of the selection of Thessaloniki as his headquarters was to be closer to the local production sector.
On her part, the US consul general expressed interest in ongoing farmer protests.
Referring to the American Farm School, it was stressed that it can contribute to change the existing mentality as regards the education and training of farmers.
 Greek PMI fell to 46.8 in JanuaryGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 46.8 points in January, from 48.8 in December, to the lowest recording since May 2009, reflecting a steady worsening of the health in the manufacturing sector as a result of an accelerating decline in production, new orders and employment levels.
New orders levels fell steadily in January - with the fastest rate since April 2009, forcing manufacturers to cut production levels, with demand falling both in the domestic and foreign markets.
The PMI figures also showed surplus workforce in Greek manufacturing enterprises, with the latter adopting a more strict cost cutting policy.
The Purchasing Managers' Index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Tourist arrivals to grow 2-3 pct in 2010Tourist arrivals are expected to rise by 2-3 pct this year, while tourism revenues will remain on a negative trend which started in 2008 -when the international economic crisis began- the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP) said on Monday.
In a report on Greek tourism trends, ITEP said it was unsafe to make accurate forecasts over tourist arrivals in the country because of a volatile environment prevailing in the global economy. Even more unsafe was making predictions over tourism revenues this year, it stressed.
The World Tourism Council expects a slight recovery in international tourist arrivals this year, supported by a recovery of the global economy, although other agencies predict that European tourism would be stable around 2009 levels.
 GNTO pavilion in Danish trade showThe International Tourism Exhibition "Ferie 2010" in Copenhagen's Bella Center concluded on Sunday.
Greece took part in the exhibition with a Greek National Tourism Organisation pavilion, which centred on the slogan of "5,000 years of History".
Greece's ambassador to Denmark, Alexandros Kouyiou, visited the exhibition.
 Microsoft unveils hotmail.grMicrosoft announced Monday the operation of a hotmail.gr domain, the Greek-language edition of the Widows Live Hotmail service.
Greek-language users can include unlimited email accounts in a single hotmail.gr account.
 Stocks end moderately lowerStocks ended moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index falling 0.24 pct to end at 2,043.040 points.
Turnover was a low 186.582 million euros. The FTSE 20 index fell 0.60 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 0.86 pct and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.05 pct. The Health (4.40 pct) and Financial Services (3.17 pct) sectors scored gains, while Constructions (2.06 pct) and Oil (1.20 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 91 to 81 with another 57 issues unchanged. United Textiles (16.67 pct), Klonatex (12.5 pct), Zampa (10.0 pct) and Karamolegkos (9.72 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (19.02 pct), Elfico (9.40 pct), Minerva (8.92 pc) and Vivere (8.62 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.20%
Personal & Household: +0.11%
Raw Materials: -0.46%
Travel & Leisure: -0.96%
Food & Beverages: +0.58%
Financial Services: +3.17%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Alpha Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.99
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.40
HBC Coca Cola: 16.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.73
National Bank of Greece: 15.70
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.47
Bank of Piraeus: 6.26
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 346 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 374 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.94 pct and the German Bund 3.18 pct.
Turnover in the market was a low 723 million euros, of which 398 million were buy orders and the remaining 325 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19. 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 310 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell significantly. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.094 pct, from 1.12 pct on Friday, the six-month rate was 0.96 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and the one-month rate 0.42 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking further to 54.760 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,665 contracts worth 44.863 million euros, with 27,151 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,840 contracts, worth 9.905 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,018), followed by MIG (2,799), OTE (1,049), Piraeus Bank (1,265), Alpha Bank (1,139), Eurobank (776) and Cyprus Bank (329).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.402
Pound sterling 0.881
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 10.222
Japanese yen 126.6
Swiss franc 1.484
Norwegian kroner 8.262
Canadian dollar 1.498
Australian dollar 1.587
 Multimedia installation 'Red Eyed Sky Walkers' opens exhibition year at National Museum of Contemporary ArtA multimedia installation titled "Red Eyed Sky Walkers" by artist Jenny Marketou is running at the temporary premises of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in downtown Athens, partly outdoors in the building's Peristyle, and partly in the indoor Project Room.
The installation opens the year's exhibitions at the Museum, inaugurating the series "EMST Commissions 2010", a program of new productions commissioned by the Museum that will be presented in the Project Room, in the framework of the EMST's open and investigative exhibition policy in the ecumenical spirit of the times.
The aim is to give the opportunity to Greek and international artists who create in different genres and media -painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, new media, performance- to experiment and create works that will be presented in this particular space, revealing contemporary artistic and transcultural quests. Six new productions are scheduled every year, with the perspective to be included afterwards in the museum's permanent collection.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 2000 and its foundation came to cover a huge gap that the decades-long absence of an analogous institution for contemporary international art had created in Athens, according to Museum director Anna Kafetsi.
"Our decision to start immediately with exhibitions and namely of mostly critical and experimental character, even without premises or collections, was dictated by exactly this need. Exhibitions of contemporary art were taking and still take place in Athens. But the responsibility of the Museum, which equally sets in the centre of its activities both works of art and the public, is not to act circumstantially but based on a organized plan that is being realized from exhibition to exhibition and aims at awakening sensitivities and formulate critical thought and aesthetic criteria: there are no museums without audiences," says Kafetsi.
"Still, there are no museums without collections. With the ambition that until 2011, when the reconstruction of the former Fix brewery which will be the permanent premises of EMST will have been completed, a remarkable nucleus of works of art by Greek and international artists will have been developed, we compose collections of selective rather than encyclopaedic character, which promote advanced tendencies and critical explorations of the artistic present but also its historical depths which reach as far as the second half of the 20th century," she adds.
"Our goal, through both exhibitions and collections, is to offer all the visitors of the Museum, which remains an unreservedly democratic institution, the 'other' dimension which in our time cannot be conceived outside transcultural and ecumenical patterns," according to Kafetsi.
The exhibition will run through March 8 at the Museum's temporary premises at the Athens Conservatory at the corner of Vassileos Georgiou B and Rigillis streets in central Athens.
The EMST will enter in its new phase of operation with the accommodation of all the activities and its collections in its new premises, the old Fix brewery building on Syggrou Avenue, the reconstruction of which is being funded under the 3rd Community Support Framework CSF).
 Minister visits new bus depot at NomismatokopioDeputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Nikos Sifounakis on Monday paid a visit to the new bus depot above Nomismatokopio metro station, that began operating earlier the same day.
The minister stressed the new depot's benefits for commuters, saying that it created a more convenient and faster public transport service for people living in the area, while several bus services that ended up in central Athens at Akadimias Street could now be discontinued, leaving more buses free to serve the outlying suburbs and reducing the pollution load for the city centre.
The recently opened Nomismatokopio metro station is currently used by 25,000 passengers a day, the majority of which reach the station by bus. The number of passengers is expected to increase further when an underground parking garage near the station begins operating.
Also due to open in the next few months is the new metro station Holargos on the same line, midway between Nomismatokopio and Ethnikis Amynas station along Mesogion Avenue.
 PASOK delegation visits Thessaloniki prefectPASOK prefectural committee members representing Thessalo-niki's 1st and 2nd constituencies visited Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis on Monday and discussed issues concerning the "Kallikratis" local administration reform plan.
Psomiadis stated that the existence of infrastructure, adequate funding and adequate personnel are among the necessary preconditions for the implementation of the reform. He also expressed opposition to any plans to alter the current state of the Prefecture.
 Three amateur fishermen drown in rough seasThree amateur fishermen men, two Greeks and an Albanian, were found drowned on Monday in the sea region of Tolo in the Argolic Gulf.
The three fishermen had borrowed a boat on Sunday and went fishing, but apparently got caught in a sudden squall that hit the area, with wind velocity reaching up to 7 on the beaufort scale.
Late Sunday, the owner of the boat informed the Coast Guard that the fishermen had not returned and the authorities launched a serch and rescue operation.
At 23:30 p.m. a Super Puma military helicopter spotted the overturned boat, while the bodies of the 45, 60 and 35 year-old missing men were found on Monday morning.
Tolo coast guard is conducting a preliminary examination.
 Urban terror probe arrestA 21-year-old Athens man was arrested by the police anti-terrorist squad on Monday afternoon in relation to an ongoing terrorism-related investigation.
The man had been sentenced to six-month jail term last year for a disorderly conduct conviction, following an assault against police sentries outside the building housing the culture ministry.
The suspect was arrested on Monday after his fingerprints were lifted in an alleged ultra-leftist terror gang's safe house in the north Athens suburb of Halandri.
 Hashish haul found hidden in abandoned school in central GreecePolice in Thessaly, central Greece, acting on a tip-off, recovered roughly 62 kilos of hashish on Monday hidden in the boiler room of an abandoned school building in the village of Myra, near Larissa, and arrested two individuals.
An Albanian national, who is still wanted by police, had allegedly imported the drugs from Albania. The two suspects already in custody were his accomplices.
 Cold, wet and windy on TuesdayLow temperatures, with showers and storms and strong northeasterly winds at sea are forecast on Tuesday, with temperatures ranging from - 4C to 14C and mostly northerly winds measuring 4-8 Beaufort. Cloudy and wet in Athens with temperatures between 5C and 10C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 1C and 5C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe two extraordinary meetings at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) on the economy upon Prime Minister George Papandreou's return from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the acceleration of measures in the Stability and Growth plan, and the parliamentary fact-finding commissions on the Siemens Hellas slush funds and the Vatopedi monastery land exchanges scandal, and the farmers' ongoing mobilisations, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Thousands of contract employees (under STAGE and other subsidy programmes) dismissed from public sector".
APOGEVMATINI: "EU demands new measures - Greece faces crucial test on Wednesday in Brussels".
AVRIANI: "Siemens Hellas former CEO Michalis Christoforakos' bombs ready to explode".
CHORA: "Half of the MPs are in Christoforakos' telephone book".
ELEFTHEROS: "Former PASOK Prime Minister Costas Simitis and former New Democracy premier Costas Karamanlis to appear before the parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Siemens slush funds".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "At last, take measures! Brussels', markets' and banks' ultimatum to Papandreou and the country to govern NOW".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "SOS meeting - Acceleration of measures".
ESTIA: "Baptismal font for political purgation".
ETHNOS: "George's (Papandreou) decisions for harsh measures - The final changes in taxes and salaries to be announced in the next two weeks".
IMERISSIA: "Order for additional measures - Government prepares 'plan B'."
NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU demands new commitments on attainment of the targets - Emergency measures if the Stability Plan is not implemented".
TA NEA: "Doctors, lawyers, civil engineers in Tax Bureau financial crime squad's black list".
VRADYNI: "The Scandals are just a smokescreen - 'Operation Disorientation' by government in order to pass the harsh measures".
 UNSG: More courage and determination needed for a positive outcome in CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
We will need even more courage and determination in the period ahead to bring the Cyprus talks to a successful conclusion, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said here Monday, adding that the United Nations will continue to provide all the support they can.
In an opening press statement he read out during the joint press conference he gave after his meetings in Nicosia with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Ban said that Cyprus needs commitment, vision, and flexibility.
''That is what I have sensed here today - two leaders striving to forge a better future for the people. I am encouraged that the two leaders personally assured me of their shared commitment to a comprehensive solution as early as possible,'' he added.
He paid tribute to them ''both for their strong commitment and resolve'', noting that he came to Cyprus to show his personal support to the Cypriot-led and -owned process to reunify the island.
''And I wanted to be here now because I recognize how important it is to continue to build momentum on what the leaders have achieved up to now,'' he said.
He said that this has been a productive and constructive day. ''I have said that the world is watching. Today the world is seeing two leaders who are rising to the challenge,'' he added.
Ban noted that no one is under the illusion that any of this is easy. ''Peace negotiations never are. But the time is ripe to push ahead. I am convinced that these two leaders can achieve a mutually beneficial solution,'' he stressed.
''For decades, the world has heard about the Cyprus problem. Now is the time for the Cyprus solution,'' he added.
He noted that the United Nations will continue to provide "all the support we can," adding that however this is a process that is by the people of Cyprus, and for the people of Cyprus.
''I carry the world's support for Cyprus in my heart. But the future of Cyprus is in your hands,'' he noted.
He said that after intensive negotiations, the two leaders asked him to read a statement on their behalf.
The statement reads as follows:
''We, as the two leaders, express our gratitude for the visit of the United Nations Secretary General to Cyprus, which demonstrates the continued interest of the United Nations and the international community for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem under the Secretary General's Good Offices Mission.
Taking this opportunity, we express our appreciation to the Secretary General for his Good Offices Mission as approved by the Security Council and for the efforts aimed at finding a mutually agreed solution.
Working groups comprising Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have devoted time and effort to thoroughly discuss all aspects of the Cyprus problem.
We ourselves, together with our Advisors and our teams, have been working diligently for more than a year on all Chapters of the Cyprus problem. We have worked on the basis of the integrated whole approach that is "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". Good convergence has already been achieved in some Chapters. For the rest, we are determined to work hard to achieve the desired progress.
Over the last three weeks we have worked hard during our intensified negotiations, mainly on the Chapter of Governance and Power Sharing and achieved important progress.
We express our strong commitment to continue to work on this and the rest of the Chapters. We express our confidence that with good will and determination, we can achieve a solution in the shortest possible time.
It is our common conviction that the Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for too long. We are also aware that time is not on the side of settlement.
There is an important opportunity now to find a solution to the Cyprus problem which would take into full consideration the legitimate rights and concerns of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. We are aware that such a settlement is in the interest of all and that it will finally bring peace, stability and prosperity to our common home Cyprus.''
 President Christofias: ready to continue negotiations with TalatNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has expressed his readiness to continue engaging in direct negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat with the objective to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem.
President Christofias was speaking during a joint press conference with Talat held on Monday at the old Nicosia Airport, in the presence of the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki moun.
Replying to a question, President Christofias said that the bases of the negotiations and the solution of the Cyprus problem are based on UN Security Council Resolutions and the High level Agreements of 1977-1979, noting that this is his commitment as well as Talat's.
He said that "this is a well known position" which he underlines to the Secretary General every time he meets with him.
Christofias also said that "we need the understanding of both sides", adding that "we are going to agree on the solution, taking into account the legitimate interests of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots for the interest of our common homeland, Cyprus".
Asked to say how feasible it is to move forward (in the direct talks) to more thorny issues such as security, guarantees and settlers, President Christofias said he was certain that UN General Secretary's presence here "will help us to renew our commitment and our will, both, for a solution to the Cyprus problem, for convergences in all aspects of the problem", including the aforementioned aspects.
"We have to exchange opinions and to negotiate on these matters as well", he said, noting "but there are foreign powers involved in security, for example. When I say foreign powers I mean Greece, Turkey and Britain, so they have to take decisions as well. I am not going to go into details now because we are going to negotiate very seriously on all matters".
Referring to Talat's wish and desire to continue negotiating, President Christofias said : "I am ready to continue with him negotiating despite the "elections", hoping that nothing will become an obstacle in our way to search very seriously for a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem".
"It is our common desire and common decision and soon we will be able to announce our next meeting", he noted.
Asked if he was satisfied with the course of the negotiations, Talat replied: "Yes, of course, I am satisfied in that respect although as you know time is not on the side of a solution, I always underline this".
He said that "we need a quick solution", adding that "we have been negotiating for one and a half years and we achieved progress on some issues and of course it is a matter of fact that we have differences also".
"But in general, I can say from the point that we have started we are now closer, so this is a good achievement and in general I am satisfied with the convergence", Talat said.
He went on to say that "of course the "election" is an important endeavour and the "election period" will draw our attention to the "elections" but in the meantime the negotiations are not less important than the "elections"".
He also expressed the opinion that "negotiations should continue and I hope we will continue to negotiate in order to have more and more convergences every day".
Asked whether the leaders had asked any help from the Secretary General, he replied: "Of course we asked. We asked the Secretary General and the UN to help us more, if possible, first of all by encouraging both sides and pointing out the importance of the speed of a solution because of many other factors, internal and external of course, and furthermore to continue to keep the auspices of the negotiations".
"As is well known we are negotiating under the auspices of the UN and the good offices mission of the Secretary General. The UN have a strong lead for these negotiations and this should be used in various ways", Talat said.
He added that "as the Secretary General pointed out, this is an issue between the two sides, between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. We are negotiating with my friend Demetris Christofias so these negotiations should continue and prove to be fruitful. This is important".
He also said that "we will continue to ask from the Secretary General to encourage both sides to go in this direction", adding that "as the Turkish Cypriot side, our request is more than this, I don't want to be controversial now, you know my ideas, my positions, but since we are negotiating in a friendly atmosphere I don't want to create any problem to anybody".
"My aim is to enjoy the fruit of our efforts. I want a comprehensive solution to be reached and for that I am ready to further my responsibility until the end. I am thankful to the Secretary General for his visit and I, as my friend Christofias, want to welcome him on behalf of all people on our island, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, and we will continue to welcome the help of the United Nations" he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island. The illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, in northern occupied Cyprus, will hold ’presidential elections÷ in mid April this year.
 Chinese FM: Cyprus problem to be solved on basis of UNSC resolutionsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
China fully supports the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and strongly believes that the Cyprus problem must be solved on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has stressed.
The Chinese official, who is currently paying Cyprus an official visit, has held Monday morning a meeting in Nicosia with his Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou and later on was received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias.
Yang Jiechi expressed hope that the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus continue their meetings in the framework of the UN-led direct negotiations aiming to reach a solution in Cyprus, so that "their differences are narrowed and they reach a mutually acceptable solution".
China, he said, appreciates the "hard and sincere efforts undertaken by the Republic of Cyprus" towards reaching a solution in Cyprus.
"We believe that the independence, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus must be fully respected and we support that the Cyprus problem must be resolved on the basis of the UN resolutions and decisions", he underscored.
Moreover, he expressed his country's appreciation for the support of Cyprus towards China as regards issues of high importance for Beijing.
In his statements, the Cypriot Foreign Minister said that China is a very close friend of the Republic of Cyprus as well as a UNSC permanent member state, underlining the importance of China and its support towards Cyprus within the UNSC.
Cyprus and China, he said, support the principles of international law, especially as regards the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states and support the principle of "one China and one Cyprus".
The meeting, he said, was held in a very friendly atmosphere, during which they discussed bilateral relations and EU-China relations.
"Cyprus, being an EU member state, supports and strongly believes that China is a strategic partner of the EU", he pointed out. Regarding bilateral ties, Kyprianou said that their political relations are excellent. He noted though that there is still room to further enhance their relations in the fields of commerce, culture and education.
The Chinese minister said that the goal of his visit is to further promote the existing good relations between both countries, saying they agreed to enhance the exchange of visits on governmental, parliamentary and political party level, as well as between the people of the two countries.
He said that the government of China will encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Cyprus, Chinese tourists to visit Cyprus, as well as more Cypriots to study in China.
During their meeting, the two ministers discussed the results of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen and the world economic crisis.
The Chinese official extended an invitation to his Cypriot counterpart to visit the EXPO that will take place in Shanghai and urged Cyprus to participate in the international fair, saying that this would open a window for the promotion of a closer cooperation between the two countries.
Kyprianou also expressed his deep sorrow and sympathy towards the people of China for the disastrous earthquake which recently hit China.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island.
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