|Monday, 25 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-02-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 27 February 2010 Issue No: 3432
 PM addresses parliament on economy"We will respond to the EU demands with fairness, regardless of the cost and the pain. We will request community solidarity; we will demand it and I believe that we will get it. I wish to assure the Greek people that their efforts will have results. We will be more confident and proud after we weather the storm. That's why we are waging a battle on all fronts, both inside the country and abroad. We want you with us because undoubtedly the Greek people deserve better and we will achieve that," Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined speaking in parliament on Friday.
The prime minister sent a message to recipients on the domestic front and abroad that Greece will manage to overcome the "greatest economic crisis since the restoration of democracy" and that it will meet its EU obligations and commitments.
Papandreou's speech in parliament was in response to the questions tabled by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras on the government's economic measures and their impact on the Greek people. Both Papariga and Tsipras characterized the measures as "brutal", "socially unfair" and ineffective and accused the governing party of PASOK of "communication tricks" concerning its proposals for Parliamentary fact-finding committees.
The prime minister stressed that "we are faced with the dilemma either to let the country go bankrupt or to reactand turn the painful crisis into an opportunity for rebirth." He described the state of the economy with the darkest colors and accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) of "leading the country downhill" and "of running away from its responsibilities toward the country" when it was in office.
Papandreou gave assurances that the measures adopted will be socially fair and will be directed to the privileged, underlining that that those who are not responsible for the situation will not be called to pay for it.
He stressed that "the time has come for actions and decisions for the good of the country. This responsibility is being felt by me personally and by PASOKit is our duty to forget all about political cost and do our duty for the country. The interest of the country and the people is our only compass. This is our duty at this time in history without taking under consideration the political cost. This is a historic moment. We have no leeway."
In response, Papariga criticized PASOK for its stance as regards the parliamentary investigation committees and accused it of using "the scandals as a pretext in an effort to mislead the people who are being called to pay."
Papariga acknowledged that the problem of speculators, who act to the detriment of Greece, is real and major but underlined that the government will not have her party's consent or support, stressing that the government policy is rejected.
SYRIZA's Tsipras accused the government of adopting "brutal" measures and, referring to the prime minister, he stated that he did not keep his election campaign pledges and that he embraced the agendas of ND and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). He also accused the prime minister of not undertaking any substantive initiatives and of not giving a clear answer as regards the new measures the government intends to take.
In response, the prime minister put an emphasis on the institutional measures that need to be taken in support of transparency and meritocracy which will lead to the consolidation of a state of law. He characterized the criticism launched by the opposition as vague and lacking in specific proposals that would help the country deal with the major problems it faces.
 PM answers current question on war reparations from GermanyPrime minister George Papandreou on Friday said that Greece will not give up its claim for war reparations from Germany, but added neither will it be carried away by the opportunism or provocation of a publication, replying in parliament to a current question tabled by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.
"In no instance have we waived our demands, but we will not make it a 'flag of convenience' at this time that we are in a weak position, as we try to put things in order and bring about changes, and regain our credibility," he added, warning that "if we reopen this issue formally at this stage, it will be interpreted as weakness, evasion and as seeking an alibi."
Papandreou said that "I wouldn't want such a valuation, as I believe that foreign policy should not be treated as a flag of convenience or used for domestic consumption".
The premier said that Greece must first prove that it is reliable and pays its debts, and that is something that "depends on us".
"We will restore the image of credibility. Proving that we can stand on our own two feet and restore our national pride comes first and foremost, but we also expect our partners to abide by their explicit and implicit commitments," he stressed.
Papandreou further expressed satisfaction over the distance taken by the German government, via its Ambassador to Greece, on the "unfortunate and insulting" comments made in the Focus magazine's article.
Karatzaferis expressed satisfaction with the prime minister's position, and criticised the Left-wing parties, and particularly the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance", saying that "when the country is at risk, throwing rocks at windows does not constitute a contribution".
The LAOS leader also lauded Papandreou's upcoming visit to the US and meeting with US President Barrack Obama, calling it "a move that is necessary in the political conjuncture so that Brussels will realise that other doorways also exist".
On the war reparations from Germany, Karatzaferis spoke of a "subservient attitude" on the part of Greece, adding that all countries that have claimed them have received reparations.
Karatzaferis also charged that if Greece had ordered the German-made submarines "that list" for its Armed Forces, "they would not have said a word" on the economic situation.
Replying to the above comment, Papandreou said that, in the matter of the country's armaments, "the first and foremost criterion continues to be the national interest, and not the interest of the suppliers", and is decided "with procedures of total transparency".
The premier reiterated that the issue of the reparations "exists and is open", adding that "the issue stands in our bilateral relations".
 PM invited by Merkel to visit Berlin next weekPrime minister George Papandreou will visit Berlin on March 5 following an invitation by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it was announced in Athens on Friday.
A German government spokeswoman in Berlin later confirmed the visit, which she said has been scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (Berlin time), and will be followed by joint statements to the press a half-hour later.
Papandreou also received an invitation from US President Barack Obama on Thursday to visit Washington on March 9.
 PM meets with NimetzPrime minister George Papandreou met on Friday with Matthew Nimetz, the UN secretary general's personal mediator on the name issue between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
No statements were made after the meeting.
Nimetz was scheduled to meet subsequently with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras.
 Nimetz meets Droutsas, sees 'basis' for Athens-Skopje talksUnited Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz appeared hopeful that the differences in the positions of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will not prove insuperable, following his meeting in Athens on Friday with Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.
"There are different positions but we believe that there is a basis on which we can work," he said to reporters after the meeting.
The meeting was Nimetz's first with a member of the new Greek government under Prime Minister George Papandreou and was held at Droutsas's request.
"It was a very good, open and honest dialogue, during which there was an overview of the process being carried out in the framework of the United Nations and a description of the current situation," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said in a separate statement, adding that the "framework of the negotiations was discussed and placed on a proper basis".
Nimetz said that he had briefed the Greek side on the results of his meetings in Skopje and on his thoughts about the process of resolving the dispute over the name, as well as hearing the views of the Greek government.
He clarified that the Greek side had assured him of its absolute commitment to resolving the problem in a way that meets the demands of both sides, so that FYROM's progress to EuroAtlantic structures can be unblocked, adding that this would "proceed rapidly".
Regarding the issues being examined during the talks, the envoy said that the issue of the name had been there from the start and remained the main one, while the others that arose over the course of time were secondary.
In a press conference regarding the meeting, the foreign ministry spokesman commented on the statements made by Nimetz in Athens on Friday and Skopje on Thursday, saying the envoy had expressed a contained optimism and had discerned a desire on Skopje's part for progress on the issue.
"We hope that these signs of a change for the better will finally find expression at the negotiating table," he added, and expressed hope that Greece's positive message "was finally beginning to be understood".
Referring to Greece's stance on the dispute, he said that during talks the Greek side had "outlined the different thinking with which we are approaching the issue, the effort we are making to send a positive message to the other side and that it is importance that we meet with a positive response in order proceed."
The spokesman pointed to initiatives taken by the Greek side, such as the meetings between Papandreou and FYROM premier Nikola Gruevski, "which have created a positive momentum for the process at the UN."
Greece had also sent this positive message in the conclusions of the European Council in December, in which it had stateä its desire for progress on the name issue so that FYROM's EuroAtlantic course was finally freed of obstacles.
Nimetz will next meet Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras.
 Main opposition leader briefed by NimetzMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Friday had a meeting with the UN mediator for the name issue Matthew Nimetz, who is in Athens for talks with Greece's leadership after a visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) the previous day.
Nimetz had earlier met with Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Prime Minister George Papandreou.
After the meeting, the UN special envoy said they had discussed the negotations on the name dispute underway at the United Nations and exchanged views on the issue.
He also reported a finding "good attitude" in Skopje for making progress on the issue and arriving at a solution.
"I believe we can arrive at a solution," he said in response to questions, but declined to comment on how soon that might happen.
 Papandreou receives Deutsche Bank CEOGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday received Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann at the former's Parliament office.
In exiting the meeting, Ackermann declined to comment on the substance of his talks with Papandreou. He merely replied with a "no comment" statement when asked if there will be support for the Greek economy and state bonds, while simply noting that he had a "very productive dialogue about the international situation" with the government officials and the Greek premier, with whom he had the honor of meeting.
 Commission reiterates support for Greece; measures under scrutinyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Commission on Friday reiterated the Union's determination to support Greece, if needed and if such a request is tabled by the Greek government.
Speaking to reporters, Amadeo Altafaz, a spokesman for EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, reminded that a group of Community experts returned from Athens on Thursday and will brief the Commissioner over conclusions from their visit to Athens.
Rehn is expected to visit Athens next week for high-level political meetings and discussions with the Greek government, expected to focus on measures taken within the framework of a Stability Programme and on results, so far, to achieve the government's ambitious goals -- especially a cut of Greece's double-digit fiscal deficit by four percentage points this year.
Responding to questions over whether Rehn would ask for additional measures and announce specific measures to support Greece, Altafaz said "all aspects of this issue were connected" and reiterated the clear political message of the EU's 27 leaders, namely, that a recovery of the Greek economy depends on several factors, with the most important being to implement measures included in the Programme; additional measures announced by the Greek premier in February and additional measures "if needed".
Altafaz added Greece has not asked for economic support, for now.
 Con'f on Greece-Turkey relations in 21st centuryAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Friday repeated Athens' desire to improve relations with neighbouring Turkey, reiterating support for Turkey's prospects of becoming a full member of the European Union once it has met the terms and requirements for entry. Droutsas was speaking at a conference entitled "Greece-Turkey in the 21st Century", organised by the Centre for Progressive Policy Studies, which was established by former minister Yiannos Papantoniou under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry.
"We are exploring ways to enhance cooperation with Turkey, finding and creating opportunities to improve Greek and Turkish relations for the benefit of both countries," Droutsas said, stressing Athens's support for the reforms that will allow Turkey to become a full member of the EU.
He also pointed out that this would be a difficult and painful process for the neighbouring country:
"The Turkey that finally joins the EU will not be the Turkey of today, or that of the past. It will be a changed Turkey," he emphasised, underlining that Greece would support this effort, both politically and practically, provided that Ankara normalised its relations with Cyprus in the direction of a viable, fair and European solution to the Cyprus issue, without occupation troops.
He also stressed the need for effective reforms for democratic modernisation within the country and the need for Turkey to fulfil obligations toward its Greek minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Droutsas warned against "thoughtless behaviour, incompatible with international law" that would undermine Turkey's efforts in this direction, calling for the creation of a centre of power and stability in the region.
The conference was opened by the centre's chairman, Yiannos Papantoniou, who said its goal was not to rehash the past and highlight the differences existing between the two sides, which were in any case not overlooked, but to explore the possibilities for improving bilateral relations.
On his part, Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos stressed that it was very important to avoid any "exportation" of Turkey's current internal tension into the sphere of Greek-Turkish issues or differences.
He also said an expansion of CBMs would be beneficial, while noting that both countries are currently experiencing economic woes.
"Defence spending is an unbearable weight, and we have every reason to escape this vicious cycle ..." he underlined.
Venizelos repeated that Athens steadfastly supports Ankara's European prospects, noting that the country must clearly "look to the west, and finally solve the 'eastern question'."
Former minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who now heads main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's foreign affairs sector, underscored the need for Turkey's military establishment to adapt to the (democratic) political process in the neighbouring country. He also expressed an opinion that the government in Ankara will not try to exploit the current economic situation that Greece is facing.
Veteran Turkish diplomat Osman Korutürk, Ankara's former ambassador to France and Germany, emphasised that "European criticism has dampened the Turkish people's enthusiasm for accession to the European Union."
He added that the political climate for Turkey was less negative during previous French and German governments under Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, while charging that the current governments in Paris and Berlin changed policy vis-à-vis Turkey in order to curry support from the extreme right.
Korutürk said the EU is choosing to ignore Turkey's secular system, its democratic prospects and its influence in favour of merely expressing fears of increased unemployment in Europe with a possible Turkish accession.
Tulu Gümüstekin, the director of the Brussels-based Corporate Public & Strategic Advisory Group, referred to increased obstacles being thrown up during Turkey's negotiations with the EU, which she said have the effect of making accession more difficult and discouraging Turkish public opinion.
 ND tables own proposal on fact-finding commission on the economyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) on Friday tabled its own proposal for the establishment of a fact-finding commission to investigate the course of the fiscal indicators and quality of the fiscal data from 1981 to February 2010.
The motion, which was submitted to the parliament president, is signed by ND leader Antonis Samaras and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis as the second signatory, and contains the signatures of the party's entire parliamentary group.
In the motion, the government and ruling PASOK party are accused of "persistence" in the establishment of a "totally superficial" fact-finding commission.
It notes that ND is submitting its own proposal for the establishment of such a commission on the economy so that, with the purpose of consolidating transparency and formulating firm and healthy rules for the future, the real causes may be brought to light that led over the years -- and specifically from 1981, when Greece acceded the then EEC (EU today) -- the Greek economy to its present condition, both with respect to fiscal indicators and the quality of the fiscal figures.
It further notes that the content of PASOK's proposal for establishing the commission, and particularly the time period to which it limits the investigation -- from 2004 (when ND took government) to October 2009 (when PASOK took over the government) -- proves that the government and PASOK aim neither at the consolidation of transparency in the economy, nor the establishment of firm and effective regulations for the country's institutional credibility. The government and PASOK "are not seeking the disclosure of the truth but its concealment", the motion says.
ND, in its motion, accuses the government and PASOK of first of all trying to conceal the fact that, prior to the October 2009 elections, "and although, in accordance with their own admissions, they were fully aware of the state of the economy, they deliberately lied to the Greek people and liberally made promises to them which, of course, they knew they could not fulfill", at the same time that ND "had clearly and frankly told the truth about the critical state of the economy, at the same time presenting a package of necessary measures".
It also accuses the government and PASOK of "covering up their own immense responsibilities over the fact that for four months -- when the present conjuncture does not allow even a single day to be lost -- they took no adequate and effective measure to confront the crisis, despite the severe recommendations of the European Union bodies, with adverse consequences for the economy, employment and the country's cost of borrowing".
 Draft bill on naturalisation; vote in local gov't elections tabledA draft law unveiling the provisions and clauses concerning the acquisition of the Greek nationality and granted political rights for repatriated Greeks and legal immigrants was tabled in Parliament on Friday.
Under the draft law, Greek nationality is acquired at birth by any individual being born on Greek soil under the precondition that one of the parents was born in Greece and is a legal resident of Greece since birth; by individuals who have acquired no other nationality since birth; by individuals of unknown nationality -- in case unknown nationality is not the result of lack of cooperation by the parents. Also, Greek nationality is acquired by immigrant children if they have attended school in Greece.
The children of foreign nationals, who have successfully attended at least six grades of a school in Greece and permanently and legally reside in Greece, can also acquire Greek nationality. Parents should apply to have their children registered at the municipality where their permanent residence is located within a period of three years.
Greek nationality would be acquired by the children of foreign nationals following a declaration by their parents only if both parents reside legally in Greece.
Before registration to the local municipal roll, the municipal authorities forward copies of the documents submitted to have them cross-checked with personal information data kept by the responsible state authorities. After the information on the documents submitted is confirmed, and within a period of 15 days, the municipal authorities will forward the application and the accompanying documents to the responsible agencies of the relevant Periphery. Within two months since the file is received, the general secretary of the Periphery, following the publication of the relevant act in the Government Gazette, will give a permission to the relevant municipality to enroll the applicants' child to its register. The registration in the municipal roll will be completed within six months after the application is submitted and a 100-euro fee is paid to the municipality.
Formal preconditions for naturalisation
A foreign national wishing to become a Greek citizen under the naturalization process would, under the draft bill:
- be an adult at the time the application for naturalization is submitted
- should not be sentenced irrevocably for crimes committed with intent in the last decade before the application is submitted or incarcerated for up to a year for crimes violating the constitution, for treason, homicide, drug-related crimes, money-laundering, international economic crimes etc.
- live permanently in Greece for seven consecutive years before the application is submitted
- possess one of the following titles of legal residence: long-time resident permit, certification or other title of residence issued to EU citizens, residence card or other title of residence issued to the members of the families of Greek citizens or EU citizens.
Foreign nationals wishing to become naturalised Greeks would need to submit an application to the municipality of their permanent residence and a naturalisation application in the responsible agencies of the regional directorate (peripheria) to which the municipality belongs, before they are invited to an interview before a local naturalisation committee established in each region.
The children of foreign nationals, who became Greek citizens when they are underage, following a joint statement by their parents or after the naturalisation of one of their parents, can reject Greek nationality by submitting a relevant statement and application to the municipality they are registered to a year after they become adults.
Participation of legal immigrants in local administration elections
Greek expatriates and foreign nationals of third countries will have the right to vote in first degree local administration elections if:
- they are over the age of 18
- have not been irrevocably sentenced for a crime
- hold an Expatriate Identity Card; possess an indefinite or ten-year residence permit; hold long resident status; possess permanent residence card as members of the families of Greek citizens or EU citizens; have been recognized as political refugees; hold travel documents; have a residence title as expatriates and have completed five consecutive years of permanent and legal residence in the country.
Registration in special lists
The individuals wishing to exercise their right to vote will have to submit an application requesting to be registered in a special election list in the municipality where they had applied for a residence title in case their permanent residence is still there.
Voters registered in the special election lists, who are at the age of 21 at the time of the elections, can run for city councilors, municipal district councilors and local councilors under the precondition that they can master the Greek language adequately to be able to perform their duties.
Incarceration for debts to state unconstitutional, special supreme court finds
The Supreme Special Court has ruled that the detention of persons for debts to the state sector is unconstitutional, it was announced on Friday.
The case was referred to the special court after conflicting rulings on this issue were made by the Greek Supreme Court and the country's top administrative court, the Council of State.
The Supreme Court had judged incarceration for debts to the state constitutional, while the CoS had judged it unconstitutional.
By eight votes to five, the supreme special court sided with the CoS and found that detaining someone for debts to the state was contrary to articles 2 and 5 of the Greek Constitution.
 Greek budget records 579-mln-euro surplus in JanThe Greek state budget showed a surplus of 579 million euros in January, after a deficit of 1.554 billion euros in the corresponding month last year, official figures showed on Friday.
A report by the general accounts office, said the regular budget's net revenues were up 16.6 pct in January, exceeding a budget target for a growth rate of 10.8 pct. This development reflects revenues totaling 691 million euros from the imposition of an extra tax charge on large enterprises and reduced tax returns (256 million euros), compared with January 2009.
Budget spending fell by 10.7 pct in January, sharply up from a budget target of 2.8 pct. Primary spending fell 6.8 pct and interest spending were down 31.6 pct.
Spending by a Public Investments Program plunged 84.3 pct in the first month of 2010, while revenues were up 97.7 pct, compared with the same period in 2009.
 Tourism Minister to visit international travel exhibition in NYCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos will visit on Saturday the international tourism and travel exhibition "New York Times 2010 Travel Show" at the Jacob Javits Convention Centre in New York.
The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) will participate in the annual exhibition, which will be held from 26-28 February, with a large national pavilion. More than 30 travel agencies from all over Greece are expected to take part in the exhibition.
 ATEbank buys equity stakes in subsidiariesATEbank on Friday announced a board decision to purchase equity stakes in a number of its subsidiaries, currently owned by other Group members. More analytically, ATEbank said it will buy a 0.59 pct stake in ATE Leasing, a 2.0 pct stake in ATE Card SA, a 33.41 pct in ATE Securities SA, a 10.34 pct stake in ATE Informatics SA and a 5.0 pct stake in ATExcelixi SA.
 Conference on farm and food sectors in ThessalonikiInnovative developments in the farm-food sector, the results from the association of research with production and the opportunities for the activation of food sector businesses in foreign markets, will be presented at a conference titled "Mind your Food!" to take place in Thessaloniki on March 5 and 6.
The conference is co-organized by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), the Network of Organic Products and HELEXPO SA within the framework of the 3rd International Exhibition for Organic Products "Biologica 2010".
 Greek inflation slowed to 2.3 pct in JanGreek inflation slowed to 2.3 pct in January, from 2.6 pct in December, Eurostat said on Friday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 1.0 pct in January, from 0.9 pct in December, but remained below an 1.1 pct rate in January 2009. In the EU, the inflation rate rose to 1.7 pct from 1.5 pct but was down from an 1.8 pct rate in January 2009.
Latvia (-3.3 pct), Ireland (-2.4 pct) and Estonia (-1.0 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in January, while Hungary (6.2 pct), Romania (5.2 pct) and Poland (3.9 pct) the highest rates. The inflation rate rose in 17 member-states, it was unchanged in one and fell in nine EU member-states.
 Road toll reduction on Corinth-Tripolis highwayRoad tolls on the national highway between Corinth and Tripolis are to be reduced by between 4-7 percent from March 3, at the Spathovouni and Nestani toll posts, based on the concession agreement signed with the contractors.
 Stocks end 2.17% higherStocks ended the last trading session of the week with significant gains at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, although turnover remained subdued. The composite index of the market rose 2.17 pct to end at 1,913.16 points, for a net decline of 0.75 pct in the week. Turnover was 179.479 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 3.10 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.08 pct up and the FTSE 80 index jumped 1.68 pct. The Banks (4.98 pct0 and Technology (3.59 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Telecommunications sector ended lower (0.35 pct).
Maillis (16.67 pct), Revoil (12.94 pct), Hygia (9.49 pct), Crown Hellas Can (9.29 pct) and Cardico (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Klonatex (16.67 pct), Douros (9.60 pct) and Allatini Ceramics (8.33 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 133 to 56 with another 42 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.85%
Personal & Household: +0.42%
Raw Materials: +2.28%
Travel & Leisure: +2.28%
Food & Beverages: +0.11%
Financial Services: +1.34%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Coca Cola and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.93
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.05
HBC Coca Cola: 18.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.23
National Bank of Greece: 13.70
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.86
Bank of Piraeus: 6.14
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 355 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.65 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct. Turnover in the market was around 900 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 0.99 pct, the three-month rate 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.48 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.66 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover easing to 73.966 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,324 contracts, worth 62.610 million euros, with 34,919 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,318 contracts worth 11.356 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,089), followed by Eurobank (1,347), MIG (1,641), OTE (687), Piraeus Bank (1,393), Alpha Bank (2,557), Cyprus Bank (406) and Intracom (209).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.367
Pound sterling 0.899
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 9.803
Japanese yen 121.89
Swiss franc 1.475
Norwegian kroner 8.107
Canadian dollar 1.446
Australian dollar 1.536
 Maestro Thomaidis' noose to be displayed in Dresden Military History MuseumDuring the Nazi occupation, on August 9, 1943, the German administration of Thessaloniki became enraged at the death of a German officer in an ambush by a resistance group against a German detachment on the Florina-Kladorachi public road, and ordered reprisals against the Greek population, demanding the hanging of 15 Greek citizens initially, and raising the number to 50 in the event that two German prisoners were not released.
A German detachment arrested everyone they saw on the streets of Kladorachi.
The first Greek to be arrested was Theodoros Thomaidis, the maestro of the Aristotelis Cultural Association's choir, who was known from the Association's action on the Greekness of Macedonia. He was hanged in the gallows side-by-side with the priest of a nearby village, a woodcutter, two members of the local Jewish community, and 10 more villagers.
Their bodies were left for three days at the site of their hanging as a warning. The two German prisoners were subsequently released and thus 35 more citizens were saved from hanging.
Evangelos Katergaris, a member of the Aristotelis Association, after the bodies were taken down from the gallows and buried, cut the noose with which Thomaidis was hanged and kept it in his home for 20 years. The noose was later turned over to the Association and preserved as a legacy.
The noose will shortly be put on display at the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr in Dresden, one of the major military history museums in Germany, which is under the technical and administrative command of the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office.
On display beside the noose will also be a Gospel that was held by a village priest as he was executed by the Germans in 1943 during a wedding, and a military coat from Kalavryta with a bullet hole from the Holocaust (or Massacre) of Kalavryta on December 13, 1943.
These three items were on Thursday turned over by the Greek Culture Ministry to the Interior Ministry to be transported to Dresden, where they will be on display at Dresden's "Militarhistorische Museum der Bundeswehr" for the next two years.
The process began in 2007, following a document sent by Athens' "Napoleon Zervas" National Resistance Museum as part of its collaboration with the Museum in Dresden. According to statements to ANA-MPA by Florina prefect Yiannis Voskopoulos, who presented the noose to the Culture ministry on Monday, the museum was undergoing renovation at the time with the purpose of adding historical data of the German wars.
Aristotelis Association president Aris Mitkas told ANA-MPA that "this noose is, for us, the most historic legacy of the Nazi bestiality in the possession of our Association, which was established in 1941 to carry out resistance against the German occupation troops, through culture as its only means".
"Thus, to the triple German, Bulgarian and Italian occupation of Florina, the Aristotelis Association responded, through its music, and put forward the Greekness of the region," Mitkas adds.
 Athens con'f on environment, climate changeDeputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Friday suggested the adoption of a five-point agenda in the effort to overcome what he called a global governance impasse, the negative outcome of which was evident at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, as he noted.
Maniatis opened a two-day conference on "Copenhagen 2009: the Environment in the Vortex of a Global Crisis", organised by the Panteion University and the ministry of environment, energy and climate change.
The deputy minister underlined the need to create a non-governmental lobby to help the national parliaments of the UN member-states to acquire a more responsible role in the global debate on the climate; adopt a horizontal global tax on stock exchange transactions of a short-term speculative nature and on legal arms trade and reach a global agreement to redefine the way the national wealth of the countries is calculated. He also suggested that pressures should be exerted on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to set up a global "green" fund, adding that global action should be planned to tackle cross-border environmental crime.
 President Papoulias issues message for Rare Disease DayPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday issued a message marking Rare Disease Day on February 28, noting that it was a day of acknowledging the struggle faced by people suffering from rare ailments.
"Most of these are serious and significantly affect the quality of life and daily life of patients," he noted and pointed out that many such patients needed intervals of hospital treatment and were dependent on help from others throughout their life.
Both society and the state had to become ever more sensitised on the problems faced by people with rare diseases because the principle of solidarity was one of the most important values of society, he said.
 Citizens' protection ministry on H1N1 outbreak at Attica Aliens Dept.The Citizens' Protection ministry on Friday announced that it was taking measures to contain an outbreak of H1N1 among persons being held at the Attica Aliens Department's facilities, who had developed flu-like symptoms confirmed to be caused by the novel influenza virus.
The police health and hygiene service was working with a team of scientists from the Greek centre for disease control to contain the spread of the disease, the announcement said, and 17 people had been transferred to a special isolated area where their condition was being closely monitored by a medical team to ensure they received the required treatment.
In addition, people that had come into contact with the infected individuals, including other prisoners and staff, were being medicated as a precaution.
 Belgrade, Corfu sign twinning protocolBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)
A twinning protocol between the city of Belgrade and the municipality of Corfu was signed on Friday by the mayors of the two cities.
Belgrade mayor Dragan Dilas and Corfu mayor Sotiris Mikalef termed the signing of the protocol the sealing of the close ties of friendship linking the Serbs and the people of Curfu, mainly from the time of World War I.
It was stressed during the ceremony for the signing of the twinning protocol that the two cities will promote the strengthening of cooperation in the sectors of culture, tourism and sport.
 Greece popular tourist destination for SerbsBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/E. Sofianou)
Greece is ranked among the leading tourist destinations that Serb travel agencies are promoting for 2010 as well, while considerable "innovations" exist regarding the choice of regions, such as the Peloponnese, which was once a "distant dream" for Serb visitors.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA, representatives of big travel agencies participating in exhibition organising stressed that Greece has been, for decades, a traditional destination, particularly for the summer holidays.
This year the top preference for the Serbs, Halkidiki, and equally attractive Katerini, is appearing to be contested by the Greek islands, headed by Corfu and followed by Zakynthos, as well as Mykonos.
 Wrong man accused of Argos murder, police sayIn an announcement on Friday, the Argos police force retracted an earlier announcement issued on February 23, in which a Greek man had been named as a suspect in the murder of a foreign national found dead in the area.
The original announcement said that the victim had been involved in a fight with the suspect and that an autopsy had revealed that his death was caused by a broken rib that punctured one of his lungs. The Greek man, who was in custody at the time for other offences, had also confessed to the killing.
Later evidence, however, revealed that the man accused was not connected with the victim in any way and had been involved in a fight with another foreigner, not the one found dead.
 Wife-killer sentenced to life imprisonmentAn Athens court on Friday sentenced 30-year-old music teacher Yiannis Katsilambros to life imprisonment for the killing of his 36-year-old wife Panagiota in September 2008.
The 30-year-old was found guilty of murdering his wife and then attempting to conceal the crime by burying her body in a park opposite their home in the Athens suburb of Filothei.
 Incendiary device outside office of PASOK deputy Pemy ZouniAn improvised incendiary device comprised of four gas cannisters exploded at 20:49 on Friday at the entrance to the political office of PASOK party deputy Pemy Zouni, located on the fifth floor of a building in Voulis street in Athens, causing a fire and limited material damage.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe recommendation of the European Commission, ECB and IMF team, which concluded its visit to Athens on Thursday, for additional measures and the government's measures against the crisis, reactions to German press articles insulting to Greece including government vice president Theodoros Pangalos' statement on the issue of German war reparations, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Brussels orders additional tough measures on labour and pensions'.
APOGEVMATINI: "Retirement at 67 and permission for firings in public sector'.
AVGHI: "Demand that the (German) occupation 'loan' be paid back".
AVRIANI: "Bravo Pangalos for your statements against the Germans".
CHORA: "Pangalos' outburst on reparations in interview with BBC: The Germans destroyed the Greek economy".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government spokesman George Petalotis leaves uncovered government vice president Theodoros Pangalos over his statements on German war reparations - He fears German Chancellor Angela Merkel and coordinates his stance with that of his German counterpart'.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Supervisors' Troika demands additional shocking measures".
ESTIA: "Three decades after our accession to the EU we have become the 'euro beggars'."
ETHNOS: "Bargaining over the '14th salary' (Christmas bonus) and the benefits - The auditors' troika demanded 4.8 billion euros in additional measures".
IMERISSIA: "Greece under suffocating pressure - Harsh bargaining with EU, and the IMF on the horizon".
KATHIMERINI: "EU was not convinced and presses for abolition of the '14th salary'."
LOGOS: "EU and IMF dictate new shocking package - Supervisors demanded 5 billion euros additional measures".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Auditors (EU-IMF team) recommend 4.9 billion euros additional measures".
NIKI: "Embargo right now is the Greek answer to the German insult and vulgarity".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Huge turnout with PAME (labour union affiliated to Communist Party) in Wednesday's labour strike".
TA NEA: "103,290 houses to be auctioned for debts to the state - Tax bureau raid for 500 million euros".
TO VIMA: "Seizure of homes for debts to Tax Bureau".
VRADYNI: "Pension at 67 and deregulation of lay-offs in public sector".
 FM says T/C side should be constructive in Cyprus talksNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
If the Turkish Cypriot side wants a rapid progress in the Cyprus issue, then it should be constructive in the talks to reunite the island, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said on Friday, noting that the frequency of the meetings between the leaders of the two communities is not as important as the substance of the positions submitted at the negotiating table.
Invited to comment on Thursday's meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on the chapter of economy, Kyprianou expressed the view that talks should also cover other issues beyond that of governance.
"The President's position on this issue was clear", he added.
He said that the two leaders should also discuss the issue of economy, European matters as well as the issue of property on which many meetings have been held although without any convergence.
"There are also some other very important issues such as the issue of security, settlers and territorial adjustments in which the positions of the two sides differ from each other", he pointed out.
Invited to comment on the demand of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for more meetings with the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, Kyprianou said that the frequency of meetings is not as important as the substance of the positions submitted at the negotiating table.
He noted that "if the Turkish Cypriot side wants a rapid progress it should be constructive in the talks", noting that how often and how long do the meetings take place is a secondary issue.
"What matters is the substance of the talks", he stressed.
Kyprianou also said that nobody wants the talks to stop but at the same time they should not be engaged in the so called pre-election campaign to be carried out in the Turkish occupied area of Northern Cyprus.
He went on to say that the continuation of the talks will be problematic if Eroglou comes forward with the positions expressed so far and which aim to divide the island.
Referring to his meeting with the American Deputy Foreign Minister Philip Gordon, Kyprianou said that he briefed him on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to reach a settlement of the question of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 Cyprus protests new violations of its airspace by TurkeyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus has protested to UN Secretary General the ongoing violations of the international air traffic regulations and the national airspace of the Republic of Cyprus by military aircraft of the Turkish Air Force.
In a letter addressed to UNSG Ban Ki-moon, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Minas Hadjimichael, strongly protests the continued violations by Turkey and calls for their immediate cessation.
"Turkey's policy of non-observance of rules and regulations governing international aviation continues to gravely jeopardize flight safety and perpetuate insecurity and apprehension on the island", Hadjimichael notes.
Furthermore, he stresses that "Turkey's systematic attempts to undermine the sovereignty and unity of the Republic of Cyprus by promoting an illegal secessionist entity, arrogating to itself, inter alia, the right to control part of the airspace of the Republic of Cyprus, further complicate the efforts to build trust and confidence between the two communities".
"Such policies and actions", Hadjimichael points out, "provide ample demonstration of the irresponsible behaviour of a country that now serves as a non-permanent member of the Security Council".
He calls on the UNSG to include in his report on the UN operation in Cyprus the continued violations of the international air traffic regulations and the national airspace of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey.
"The Government of Turkey should heed the call of the international community, abide by the Charter of the United Nations and respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, thus contributing to the creation of the required conditions for the achievement of a viable solution to the Cyprus problem, according to the agreed basis endorsed by numerous Security Council resolutions", he concludes.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of Cyprus' territory.
 British Minister: A divided island in the EU, a scandal and tragedyLONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
British Minister for Europe Chris Bryant has said that it is a scandal and a tragedy that within the EU there is a divided capital, a divided island, Cyprus.
Addressing an event organised by the Association of Cypriot, Greek and Turkish Affairs entitled "Cyprus - Ending the Divide", Bryant expressed hope that in the next few days and weeks something quite dramatic will be achieved on the island, expressing the readiness of the United Kingdom to help achieve a settlement in Cyprus.
"I hope that in the next few days and weeks we will achieve something quite dramatic on the island. The UK stands ready to give anything that will help achieve a settlement", he said.
Bryant noted that "every year that goes by the difficulties are likely to increase because of legal challenges, or entrenched positions, or of changes in leaderships".
The British Minister for Europe said that the international community is in support of the ongoing direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and expressed the belief that Greece and Turkey want the resolution of the situation on the island.
He praised the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, saying they stake their political careers for a solution.
"In Cyprus you have two leaders who have staked their political careers on wanting to achieve a political settlement. The other thing you need is two communities who are prepared to do a little bit of letting go", he said.
He pointed out that "one of the things we desperately need is for two communities that not only see that they want the resolution but actively are prepared to campaign for a resolution, are prepared to do the business of letting go".
"It is a scandal and a tragedy that within the EU we have a divided capital, a divided island", he stressed.
The British Minister paid tribute "to those who are prepared to make compromises even if it means making themselves unpopular".
"I pay tribute to those leaders who are prepared to make compromises and stand by those compromises because in the end that is the only way we can achieve what every one wants, a united island, a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, where every one can live in peace and achieve prosperity and the whole island can be fully integrated with the EU", he said.
The event, which took place in the House of Commons and was chaired by Labour MP Joan Ryan, was dedicated to Keith Kyle, a historian and journalist who wrote about Cyprus.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to reach a settlement of the question of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
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