|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-03-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 3 March 2010 Issue No: 3435
 PM Papandreou says tough measures to be taken on economyPrime Minister George Papandreou, addressing his PASOK party's Parliamentary Group on Tuesday, announced the taking of tough but necessary measures for the salvation of the economy and the country. The decisions on specific measures are expected to be taken during Wednesday's cabinet meeting.
Papandreou described the state of the economy and of the country in dramatic tones, underlining that it is necessary for tough measures to be taken so that "we shall not experience the nightmare of bankruptcy" since, as he said, "creditors are not giving us time".
The prime minister appealed to "Hellenism in its entirety to contribute to the effort for the country's salvation and at the same time for the foundations to be laid for the new Greece that we deserve."
He strongly criticised the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), the two parties that requested the postponement of Tuesday's discussion at the Parliamentary plenum on the stability and growth programme, that they had called for.
Papandreou further said that things have reached their limits and on a daily basis "we are struggling with time," while stressing the "danger of Greece going out to ask for a loan and finding the doors closed."
He also said that he spoke with sincerity on what will happen if the decisisons that must be taken are not taken and if the government hides and behaves irresponsibly as others have done in the past.
In this case, he stressed, not only will the 14th and 13th salary be placed in danger but even more so, the pensions as well. "It might appear nightmarish but this is the truth," he pointed out.
The prime minister stressed that the government "is waging a struggle for those who doubt to be convinced that the country has taken its decisions and that it is in a position to implement them and that it can exit from the crisis."
Papandreou went on to say that the decisions which the government will take "are also expected with interest by Europe which is also in danger and for this reason the responsibility that Greece has is historic."
The decisions that shall be taken, he added, "are imperative and will constitute the beginning of a new start for the country." He underlined that the government "is obliged to struggle for the economy's salvation and for all the burdens not to fall on the backs of the wage earners and the pensioners."
"I shall not allow the employees and the pensioners to be left to carry the burdens while those who became rich on their backs to drink to the health of the dupe," Papandreou concluded.
 ND leader harshly attacks PMMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras strongly attacked Prime Minister George Papandrou on Tuesday evening, while responding to the latter's address to the ruling PASOK parliamentary group meeting earlier in the day.
Samaras accused the premier of an "arrogant appearance, which troubles the entire Greek people". The ND leader also charged that the prime minister "just before announcing new hard measures and visiting important foreign leaders, decided to demolish the internal front, to acquit for ever PASOK and to slander the ND regarding everything bad."
"The prime minister's point of view to impose on the main opposition party the timing for the exercising of the parliamentary control on him, is outrageous," Samaras said, adding that Papandreou "cannot accuse us because we do not accept a parliamentary debate on measures which he has not yet taken."
"Fortunately enough, we have not embarked on a parliamentary debate thus saving ourselves from the well-known poem by the prime minister that for yesterday's evils others are to blame, for today's evils the speculators are to blame and for tomorrow we wait and see," Samaras concluded.
 Rehn satisfied with Greek gov't determination to cut deficit, spokesmanBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / Maria Aroni)
EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn appeared satisfied vis-a-vis the Greek government's volition to restore confidence in the country's public finances, spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said here on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels a day after the Commissioner's visit to Athens and his meetings with Greek leadership, the spokesman said Rehn saw with satisfaction that Athens agreed with the Commission's view over the need to take additional measures, either through spending cuts or via increased revenues, in order to achieve targets set by an updated Stability Programme.
Altafaj underlined that the role of the European Commission was supervisory and that specific additional measures were the responsibility of the Greek government.
The EU spokesman said the Commission was not recommending specific recommendations and stressed that Olli Rehn, during his visit in Athens, reiterated that the country's fiscal deficit must be cut by four percentage points of GDP by the end of the year -- as per the Stability Programme target for 2010.
 Droutsas in Dnevnik interview: FYROM name solution could be found tomorrow, if the political will existsSKOPJE (ANA-MPA - N. Frangopoulos)
Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas expressed certainty that a solution to the FYROM (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) name issue could be found, and very soon at that, provided that the political will for that exists, in a front-page interview appearing Tuesday in the Skopje-based newspaper "Dnevnik".
The interview with Greece's alternate foreign minister appeared in full text in Tuesday's edition of Dnevnik, while excerpts had appeared in Monday's edition.
"We can find a solution even tomorrow, if the necessary political will exists. We won't be inventing the wheel. We have been discussing the issue for 16 years. The limits of each side are clear. And the outline of the solution has been determined. What is required now is political will and Greece has this," Droutsas said, and delineated a solution in the framework of a name with a geographical qualifier, for use in relation to everyone, erga omnes.
"Sixteen years of negotiations have shown what the limit of each side is. Now, it is a matter of political will to take a step forward. A solution without winners and losers. A name that you will be proud to use and will reflect the reality. A name that will finally allow us to focus on those things that unite us. And in such difficult times, it is a mistake to raise obstacles to our cooperation," Droutsas added.
The Greek official noted that Greece is approaching the negotiations under the UN secretary general's special mediator on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz "with realism, in the context of building good neighbor relations with FYROM".
"We have a situation with specific facts to manage. Our countries are neighbors. And we want to become allies and partners in NATO and the EU (respectively). For this to happen, though, we must have good neighbor relations. Therefore, a solution to the name issue is necessary and imperative. We must therefore sit down, with a sense of responsibility, good will and a constructive spirit, and seek a solution. We must create the confidence that will allow us to move forward together. A solution that will free the prospects for cooperation that self-evidently exist between our countries. There is no problem without a solution, provided that the will exists," he stressed.
On the nature and content of the UN-brokered negotiations, Droutsas noted that the basis on which Greece is discussing, which is known, is the framework of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Interim Agreement, which calls for agreement on the name. "This is what we must agree on, this is what we must focus our efforts on, and what Greece has been trying to do for the past 16 years," he continued.
However, "the continuous raising of all kinds of obstacles undermines the achievement of a solution," Droutsas said, adding that "this is not something that only we say, but so do many of our international interlocutors. Mr Gruevski's (FYROM prime minister) choice of turning the negotiation into an existential issue inevitably leads to impasses and perpetuation of the dispute".
Droutsas stressed that the solution must reflect the reality of the situation.
"Greece's position is founded on reason and realism. We are talking about a name with a geographical qualifier for use in relation to everyone. Macedonia is a large geographical area. It includes part of Greece, of Bulgaria, and of your country. This must be reflected in the name as well. One part of the area cannot speak for the whole. This position is fair, proper and reflects the reality. As for the breadth of its (name) use, at some point we will have to stop pretending. Anything less than an across-the-board application of the name that will be agreed on will only perpetuate the present situation. What we want, as good neighbors, is to find a permanent solution. Otherwise, it will continue to cause friction in our relations. You are not neighbors with the countries of the Pacific, nor with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America. You are neighbors with Greece. And we are obligated, we and you, to ourselves, to be good neighbors. And we can do this, provided the will exists," Droutsas continued.
The alternate minister also noted that, in the Greek parliament, most of the parties took a "very difficult decision" on the name issue.
"We did so because we want good relations with our neighbors. Because we want a solution to be found. Now you, too, must move ahead. You must take the steps to meet us halfway," he said.
He further said that the present FYROM government's policy of renaming airports, roads and facilities with references to the past did not help in an honest effort for solving the issue, as it was a direct provocation to Greece, its history, and the sentiments of the Greek people, stressing that Greece, in order to help the negotiations, had made a substantial change in its stance.
"Indeed, how many red lines does the government in Skopje have?" he asked: "It does not discuss one aspect, the other is non-negotiable, and every so often it invokes a referendum, while at the same time presenting Greece with dark colors to your country's public opinion, in order to predispose its outcome."
"I want you to consider this: if we did the same thing, when do you think that your country would accede NATO and the EU? Everyone needs to abandon the delusion that time is working in favor of one or the other side. Perpetuation of the dispute is at the expense of our common future," Droutsas stressed.
He also underlined that direct contacts are very important, and that is the reason that the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, sought to meet directly with his FYROM counterpart, Nikola Gruevski.
On the dimension of the name issue and the role the EU could play, Droutsas noted that the issue remains always an international and a regional issue, no matter how hard certain quarters tried to contain it in a bilateral framework.
"Indeed, our discussions are founded on UN Security Council resolutions. The UN process will give us the solution, and that is what we must invest in. I believe that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. The European Union is a goal. The most important goal for your country and the future of your people. Greece wants you to attain that goal. Both in NATO and the EU, we all want to see you come closer to us. That is why you must invest in the negotiation process under the UN, and work together for a speedy solution," Droutsas continued.
He further said that FYROM has a significant position in the Greek government's "Agenda 2014" initiative for the European accession of the countries of the Western Balkans, reminding that it had been the "Thessaloniki Agenda" of 2003 that cemented FYROM's European prospect.
"We proposed these initiatives because, for us, supporting the European prospect of the Western Balkans is a position of principle. Don't doubt the sincerity of our intentions. On the contrary, take advantage of the opportunity opening up before you," Droutsas said.
"Greece is, with sincerity, extending a hand of friendship and cooperation to you," the Greek alternate foreign minister concluded.
Greece objects to FYROM's use of the name 'Republic of Macedonia' on the grounds that it paves the way for future territorial claims against the wider geographic region of Macedonia, 51 percent or which consists of the northern Greek province having the same name and other parts of which lie in Bulgaria. The Greek side additionally disputes claims made by FYROM's Slav population to descent from Alexander the Great, an ancient Macedonian king and general born in a town that now lies well within the Greek side of the border.
 Samaras, employment minister discuss planned social security changesMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was briefed on Tuesday by employment and social insurance minister Andreas Loverdos on the changes being advanced by the government in the social security sector, as well as on the ongoing dialogue on the issue.
Loverdos presented to Samaras the outline of the government's initiatives, while Samaras pointed out that he backs measures that are in the right direction, but also briefed Loverdos on the "red lines" drawn by his party, namely the planned measures to which ND is totally opposed, such as a freeze on pensions with respect to the low pensions.
"We exchanged thoughts, in a climate of consensus, as is necessary on the national issues," Loverdos said.
ND 'shadow minister' for labor and social security issues Yiannis Vroutsis told reporters afterwards that ND is taking part in the dialogue on this crucial matter, adding that the main opposition party will set out its views in detail when the matter comes up in parliament.
He stressed that ND will back those measures that are in the right direction, adding, however, that ND disagreed with the freeze on pensions, when pertaining to the low pensions, which he said was a "red line" for ND.
Vroutsis further said that the 'holes' in the social security funds should be covered by the state budget.
 Draft law on nationality approved by com't in principle by PASOK, SYRIZA MPsAgovernment-sponsored draft law on the acquisition of the Greek nationality was passed, in principle, on Tuesday by a relevant Parliamentary committee, with the votes of members of ruling PASOK and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MPs. The draft law also concerns the voting rights of migrants who reside in Greece legally.
The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) voted against it, while MPs of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said they would express their opinion on an article-by-article basis.
 LAOS leader tables question on national endowmentsPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis on Tuesday tabled a current question in parliament on the national endowments. Karatzaferis asks what is the precise number of the national endowments and what is their approximate total value.
He also askis if Prime Minister George Papandreou intends to take the necessary actions in order for the Greek state to collect the corresponding revenues.
 Tsipras current question to PMCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday tabled a current question in parliament on the government's tax measures.
In the current question, addressed to Prime Minister George Papandreou, Tsipras accuses the government of not keeping his pre-election pledges and of blatantly attacking the income of the working people' as well as of the middle and poor strata. He also charged that "taxation of those who in the preceding years had big profits does not appear to be in its intentions".
Tsipras specifically asked the prime minister if he "intends to tax the wealthy, the off-shore companies, the big capital and the profitable SAs, as well as the Church property".
 Cyprus president receives BakoyannisNICOSIA (ANA-MPA / A.Viketos)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP and former foreign minister Dora Bakoyiannis was received here on Tuesday by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
In statements after the hour-long meeting, Bakoyiannis said she had the opportunity to be briefed by the Cyprus president on current developments in the protracted Cyprus problem.
"Greece's entire political world as well as the entire Greek people support Cyprus with the aim of finding a just, viable solution," Bakoyiannis added, noting at the same time that the solution should abide by United Nations resolutions and the EU's acquis communautaire.
 US State Dept. report on narcoticsWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
The US State Department on Tuesday released its annual "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)", a Congress-mandated report in accordance with the US federal government's Foreign Assistance Act.
In reference to Greece, the voluminous tome states, among others, that "Greek law enforcement proceedings indicate that Greece is vulnerable to narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons and illegal immigration, prostitution, cigarette and other forms of smuggling, serious fraud or theft, illicit gambling activities, and large scale tax evasion."
The full report can be viewed at: www.state.gov/documents/organization/137429.pdf
 Results of nat'l survey on corruption unveiledPetty corruption in Greece amounted to roughly 790 million euros last year, according to the results of the National Survey on Corruption in Greece for 2009, released on Tuesday.
The survey was conducted by the Public Issue S.A. polling firm on behalf of Transparency International-Greece, and concerned so-called social corruption, focusing on low-level forms of corruption.
Respondents said the most corrupt Greek public services are public hospitals, followed by building and zoning offices, tax bureaus, IKA (the largest social insurance fund in the country) and prefectural authorities.
In the private sector, incidents of corruption were widely reported for private hospitals and clinics, lawyers, banks, driving schools and the construction sector.
According to the survey, an average bribe in the public sector is 1,355 euros, while in the private sector it is as high as 1,671 euros. Most incidents concern the public sector (60.7 pct), followed by the private sector (31.1 pct) and a combination of the two (8.1 pct).
Bribery in the public sector is estimated at 462 million, while in the private sector it is estimated at 325 million euros. In 2007, petty corruption was estimated at 639 million euros; in 2008 it rose to 748 million euros and in 2009 reached 787 million euros.
A majority of respondents stated that they are willing to bribe to get their work done (97 pct stated that they would bribe to get a drivers' license, 96 pct would pay a tax bureau official to settle debts).
However, 98.7 pct of respondents believe that a strict implementation of the law vital in the fight corruption and 96 pct want the exemplary punishment of those convicted of accepting bribes.
Transparency International-Greece Chairman Costas Bakouris said based on the survey conclusions, corruption cases are on the rise, moral decay is larger and resistance to unethical conduct becomes weaker, while according to the organization's director, Aris Syngros, "petty corruption alone constitutes 1 pct of the current state budget."
The survey used the method of telephone interviews through structured questionnaires on a sample of 6,122 people.
 FinMin meets with S&P teamFinance minister George Papaconstantinou met on Tuesday with a team of experts of the Standard & Poor's international rating firm, which is in Athens to review the Greek economy.
It is noted that Standard & Poor's had downgraded the Greek economy's long-term sovereign credit rating to "BBB+" from "A-" in December.
 EIB ready to offer additional funding to GreeceThe European Investment Bank (EIB) is ready to contribute to the development of the Greek economy during a difficult period with additional funds, if it is asked, EIB vice-president Plutarhos Sakellaris said here on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Athens, Sakellaris said the EIB's funding to Greece totaled 1.6 billion euros last year, up from 1.1 billion euros in 2008, an increase of 39 pct, while the development bank has pledged to maintain high levels of funding and to raise funding if asked.
"We are ready to offer Greece loans with favourable interest rates. These loans will be exclusively aimed to finance productive and long-term investments," Sakellaris said. He added that the EIB could also finance Greece's national participation for investments from structural funds included in the 4th Community Support Framework, with loans totaling 1.0 billion euros for the period until 2013.
 Geroulanos winds up visit to New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos, on a visit to the US, said that he ascertained that the US media approach to Greece is different than that in Europe, in statements to the press after completing his talks in New York.
"In Europe," he said, "the media focus their criticism on Greece while in the US media, when they refer to our country, they present an overall picture of the economic crisis which prevails also in other European countries".
Geroulanos on the weekend visited the annual travel and tourism exhibition "New York Times 2010 Travel Show" organised by the newspaper "New York Times" where he had a series of meeting with the heads of several foreign delegations and other officials from the tourism sector, while he also gave many interviews to US and other countries' media covering the exhibition.
Speaking to reporters, Geroulanos stressed that "tourism, for our country particularly, is an important sector for development but unfortunately due to the current economic crisis we cannot earmark the amount of money required to project our tourism product nor are we able to anticipate at this time the prospects of the new tourism season".
He also reiterated that "we are going through a major crisis, but we are not hiding this, and we are trying to take advantage every prospect for proper and effective promotion of Greece, its natural beauty and its people".
The minister explained the government's political philosophy on issues referring to the preservation and promotion of the Greek culture as well as attracting tourists, and also made a special reference to Greek National Tourism Organisation's (GNTO) debts to several American and European media from unpaid advertisements, which he said make the task of promoting Greek tourism even more difficult.
Geroulanos said that, in his meetings, he briefed the tourism industry officials on the difficult economic situation, but also that "tourism is a priority that will be supported, with the emphasis on quality, enhancing alternative forms of tourism, and the proper projection of the picture of Greece".
The Greek minister continued that he was briefed in his meetings with tourist agents on the major problem that arose with the discontinuation of Olympic Airline's (the former national carrier, which was recently privatised) direct Athens-New York flights and the immense problem of finding seats on other flights, thus limiting the passengers' options.
Concluding, Geroulanos announced that he will accompany Prime Minister George Papandreou on his visit to Washington on March 9, and will have the opportunity to have a series of meetings with officials of the cultural and tourism sector in the US capital.
 ND sector head tours energy units in N. GreeceMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party civil responsibility, energy and natural resources sector head Mihalis Yannakis completed a working visit to the energy producing prefectures in northern Greece on Tuesday.
In comments made afterwards, he referred to the need to update the institutional framework on renewable energy sources (RES) and the adoption of firm and transparent rules in the deregulation of the electric energy production market, stressing that they constitute basic preconditions for an up-to-date energy policy.
 Civil servants union strike for March 16The civil servants' union (ADEDY) called on public sector employees to participate in a nationwide 24-hour strike on Tuesday, March 16, in protest the government's austerity measures involving the wider public sector in the country.
 Kavala Oil decries EL.PE decision to block its drilling off Mt. AthosDrilling for exploitable oil reserves off the Kavala Bay, in northeast Greece, will cease until further notice by Aegean Energy S.A., the majority shareholder of Kavala Oil S.A., following a refusal by Hellenic Petroleum S.A. to consent to new exploration.
Aegean Energy said the reasons cited by bourse-listed Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (EL.PE) to justify its stance were "unfounded", adding that all legal means will be used to defend its rights and the rights of Kavala Oil S.A.
On its part, Hellenic Petroleum maintained that Aegean Energy did not present bank guarantees requested to acquire final approval and proceed with drilling in the sea region off Mt. Athos peninsula, west of the island of Thassos.
Kavala Oil said it will have to restrict activities to the two oil fields, "Prinos" and "Epsilon", which are expected to last between two to five years.
 Wind Hellas reports lower 2009 resultsWind Hellas on Tuesday reported negative results for 2009, despite a recovery in the fourth quarter of the year, as the mobile telephony operator affected by a macro-economic recession combined with intense regulation and strong competition in the domestic market.
Revenues totaled 1.073 billion euros in 2009, down 15 pct from the previous year, while EBITDA fell 25.6 pct to 317 million euros.
Wind Hellas said its customer base totaled 5.75 million euros, of which 4.896 million were mobile telephony customers. Revenues in mobile telephony operations grew to 140.5 million euros last year, up from 133.3 million euros in 2008, while investments in mobile and fixed telephony surpassed 130 million euros.
Net customers grew by 16,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009, of which 15,000 were double-play customers (totaling 209,000 up 22 pct in the year).
The operator said changes in its cost structure would result to savings by the end of the year.
Wind Hellas said its debt fell to 1.8 billion euros last year, from 3.2 billion in 2008.
 Papastratos tobacco suspends production for 2 daysPapastratos ABES, a Greek-listed tobacco company, on Tuesday announced that it was temporarily suspending production for two days, March 4-5.
A company announcement stated that "this decision was necessary to meet reduced production needs caused by a decline in the tobacco products' market in Greece ... according to our estimates, the decline in the cigarette market in the first two months of 2010 was much larger compared with the corresponding period last year, while the market has not yet felt the consequences from a recent decision to raise tobacco taxes".
Papastratos said the decision was taken based on the need to protect its business activity and an investment of around 100 million euros, along with protection of its workforce of more than 850 employees.
 Athens airport freezes rates for 2010Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport on Tuesday announced that it was freezing all airport charges and fees (landing, parking, safety, terminal and ground services) this year, while promoting a package of additional discounts to airline companies in order to overcome whatever effects of the ongoing economic crisis.
The Athens Airport presented an "incentives programme for 2010" aimed at helping airline companies significantly lower their operating spending.
Presenting the plan, Yiannis Parashis, the airport's managing director, said the decision to freeze charges - without inflation adjustment - aims at offering support to airline companies and maintaining the attractiveness of the Athens market.
 Stocks end 2.65% upStocks scored significant gains for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 2,000 level. The index jumped 2.65 pct to end at 2,021.75 points, with turnover remaining a moderate 203.580 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.84 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.51 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.97 pct. All sectors moved higher, with the Insurance (4.23 pct) and Industrial Products (3.97 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Klonatex (20 pct), Livanis (19.23 pct), Parnassos (13.73 pct) and Vovos (11.27 pct) were top gainers, while Nikas (7.74 pct), Alma-Atermon (7.14 pct) and Ridenco (6.90 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 154 to 39 with another 38 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.78%
Personal & Household: +2.84%
Raw Materials: +3.46%
Travel & Leisure: +0.75%
Food & Beverages: +1.16%
Financial Services: +2.00%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.37
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.01
HBC Coca Cola: 18.49
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.59
National Bank of Greece: 14.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.41
Bank of Piraeus: 6.48
 Bond market closing report‘he yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 310 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, after falling below the 300 bps level in intra-day trading, with the Greek bond yielding 6.21 pct and the German Bund 3.11 pct. Turnover in the market rose to 1.247 billion euros, of which 615 million were buy orders and the remaining 632 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2015), was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 516 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 -0.65 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 82.239 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,897 contracts, worth 64.640 million euros, with 35,371 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,667 contracts, worth 17.539 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,970), followed by Eurobank (1,469), OTE (1,581), PPC (686), Piraeus Bank (1,947), Alpha Bank (2,889), Marfin Popular Bank (629), Hellaktor (892) and Mytilineos (365).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.365
Pound sterling 0.913
Danish kroner 7.501
Swedish kroner 9.809
Japanese yen 121.65
Swiss franc 1.474
Norwegian kroner 8.112
Canadian dollar 1.414
Australian dollar 1.511
 Revised Votanikos twin urban regeneration project unveiledElimination of a new Athens municipal building and the Panathinaikos basketball indoor stadium in the Votanikos district as well as adoption of a new building co-efficien (FAR, Floor-to-Area Ratio) ceiling that will not exceed the 1.2 mark, are included in a new revised twin urban regeneration project involving the old Alexandras Avenue Panathinaikos field and the currently run-down Votanikos district of central Athens.
The revised project was unveiled on Tuesday by the ministry of environment, energy and climate change.
The new project ensures that building construction will be restricted in Votanikos, while open spaces and "green" areas will be increased by 30,000 square meters, according to a ministry statement, which underlined that the project will be funded entirely by the City of Athens and private investors.
In a later reaction, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis expressed certainty that the "vision of the twin urban regeneration project is becoming a reality for the city of Athens and its sports team Panathinaikos," while he said he was confident that not a single day would be lost in carrying out the project.
Kaklamanis, a former minister, participated in a meeting held at the ministry between the parties involved in the twin urban regeneration project, following an invitation by Minister Tina Birbili.
"The minister demonstrated political bravery and political realism. Political bravery because she did not even allow reasonable time to pass, from the moment she assumed her ministerial duties, to deal with this difficult project, which would be fantastic for Athens, and realism because the proposal she presented to us, which I as Mayor intend to support before Athens City Council, most likely on Monday, will make the vision of the twin urban regeneration project a reality," Kaklamanis said.
 Conference interpreters for Greek entrepreneurshipThe International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) is organizing its first conference on "Conference Interpreters and their role in promoting Greece, Entrepreneurship and Multilingualism" on Wednesday, at 3:00 p.m., at the Hellenic American Union (HAU) at 22 Massalias street.
Topics for discussion will include the importance of high-quality interpretation in political and economic diplomacy, enhancing Greece's visibility at international meetings and the strategic importance of the Greek language in International Organisations, particularly the E.U. whose policy on multilingualism favours a wider use of Greek.
The conference will emphasise the benefits of employing professional interpreters in an international business context, in conference tourism, international trade fairs, etc.
It will also discuss professional standards and AIIC rules and questions pertaining to education and vocational training for interpreters.
The Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Angela Gerekou, will open the conference. Keynote speakers will include Benoit Kremer, President of AIIC, Olga Cosmidou, Director-General of Interpretation and Conferences at the European Parliament, Ambassador Konstantinos Bitsios (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Persephone Pouliou, representing the Directorate General for Interpretation (SCIC) at the European Commission, Panayotis Podimatas, Vice-President of the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO), Natasa Kefala (Athens Convention Bureau) and Haris Ghinos, member of the AIIC Council for Greece and Cyprus.
Finally, the aim is to help draw up a strategy to promote the use of the Greek language and increase its appeal as a means of verbal communication, to support Greece's language-related and cultural industries (tourism, publishing, language teaching, terminology resources, Greek cinema, literature, etc.), thereby enhancing the nation's prestige.
Entry is free of charge and simultaneous interpretation will be provided: French-Greek.
 Online petition for King's CollegeA petition has been unveiled in Greece in an attempt to persuade King's College of London not to dismember the department of Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies at the noted UK university.
"We would like to express our deep concerns over the projected dismemberment of the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at King's College London," a statement read, while listing the petition's site: http://www.petitiononline.com/sdbmgs10/petition.html
 Foreign nationals arrested for robbing supermarket employee in PrevezaTwo foreign nationals, a Russian and an Albanian were arrested in Preveza, northwestern Greece, after robbing a supermarket employee who was carrying the sum of 26,242 euros for deposit in a bank.
The two, who were riding a stolen motorcycle, followed their victim and made her lose control of the bicycle she was riding and fall on the street. Using physical violence they snatched the two bags with the money and took off.
The Russian was arrested soon after by police, who found on him one of the bags with 6,795 euros. Following an investigation, the Albanian was also arrested and police found on him the sum of 18,593 euros.
As it was established during questioning, the moral instigator of the robbery was a local man who was also arrested. A pistol found in his possession was confiscated.
The investigation showed that the Russian was also the culprit of a robbery committed on Nov. 28, 2009 in a store of the same supermarket chain when he stole the sum of 1,200 euros at gunpoint.
 Son kills mother for her pension moneyA 42-year-old man was arrested in Gazoro, Serres Prefecture, in northern Greece, after admitting to killing his 80-year-old mother by hitting her on the head with a broken faucet at dawn on Sunday.
The suspect, who is a father of two, killed his elderly mother when she refused to give him her small pension.
Police found her body after being notified by her neighbors that she was missing. Her son confessed to the murder on Tuesday morning during questioning.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 18C. Cloudy with possible light showers in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 17C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 12C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEuropean Commissioner Olli Rehn's highly anticipated contacts with the Greek government and the additional austerity measures he advised to slash Greece 's double-digit budget deficit, along with strike threats by unions mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens ' dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Additional measures to be imposed following EU Commissioner Olli Rehn's order "
APOGEVMATINI: "Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos: Freeze of all pensions in 2010".
AVGHI: The paper banners a poetic headline metaphorically equating Greek taxpayers with death row inmates.
AVRIANI: "Rehn in Prime Minister's role - He decides and commands"
CHORA: "Olli Rehn increases rage - Calls for additional measures".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PM George Papandreou's unprecedented populism at Cabinet meeting".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Shock (austerity) package announced on Wednesday".
ESTIA: "Establishment of EMU the biggest mistake for Europeans".
ETHNOS: "One salary less - Abolition of '14th salary' bonus (in public sector) on the horizon".
IMERISSIA: ęDramatic decisions over (additional austerity) measures".
KATHIMERINI: "Olli Rehn: "Be strong Additional measures include abolition of 14th salary; to be announced on Wednesday".
LOGOS: "New measures sealed".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU's approval for new package of measures".
NIKI: "Rehn's ultimatum shocks society".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Rally - Rise up against new severe anti-social measures".
TA NEA: "Be strong! - Wednesday key day for new package of measures".
VIMA: "Third package of measures for 4.8 billion euros that will be announced on Wednesday has Brussels ' stamp of approval".
VRADYNI: "The die is cast - Rehn calls for new painful cuts in salaries, bonuses".
 Spokesman: Turkey has to move from words to deedsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government appeared Tuesday cautious regarding statements by Turkish Prime Minister, Tayip Erdogan to Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists regarding the Cyprus problem.
Government Spokesman, Stefanos Stefanou underlined that "Turkey has to move from words to deeds", adding that "what is important is not what is being said but what everyone does."
Turkey, he continued, has been saying for some time now that it wants a solution as soon as possible and that is the main message of Erdogan's statements.
"Turkey and Erdogan need to move from words to deeds and they have to demonstrate that they want a solution in Cyprus, that they are working for this and that the solution will be based on UN resolutions, the principles of international and European law and on what has been agreed by the two communities from 1977 and 1979 when the preparative period prior to direct negotiations started, and this means a bizonal, bicommunal federation," he pointed out.
In the conclusions of the EU summit last September, an inconsistency has been noted regarding the declarations of Turkey and its actions, said the spokesman, adding that it is for this reason that the EU calls on Turkey to actively work for a settlement based on UN resolutions.
Stefanou stressed that up to today Turkey has not shown positive signs regarding Cyprus and its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus.
Turkey has a lot of things to do with regard to the Cyprus problem as these are defined in various UN resolutions and EU decisions, he added.
The spokesman also said that the EU noted that Turkey has not fulfilled the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement concerning Cyprus and the Cyprus problem, which is also pointed out in EU conclusions and the latest resolution of the European Parliament.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community are engaged in talks with a view to finding a negotiated settlement.
Spokesman says solution possible in 2010 if Turkish side changes
Government Spokesman Stephanou also said on Tuesday that the Greek Cypriot side believes a solution can be found to the Cyprus problem within 2010, but that it was necessary for the Turkish side to withdraw its negative positions.
Commenting on remarks by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in an interview with a Turkish newspaper, Stephanou agreed that a solution could be found in 2010 but pointed out that Turkey must make moves that will facilitate a solution.
Regarding Talat's remarks that if a solution is not found in 2010 then the political life of President Demetris Christofias would be over, Stephanou called on Talat to look at his own community and responsibilities, and do what was necessary to achieve a settlement.
''This is what the President of the Republic is doing because a solution and the reunification of Cyprus is his conviction, it is his vision,'' Stephanou said.
He added that many problems would still arise if a settlement was not reached and that a solution should be found in the context of UN resolutions and international law.
 European Socialists express support to President ChristofiasNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Martin Schulz expressed to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias the full support of the Socialists in Europe to go ahead with the negotiations on the Cyprus question.
Schulz described a meeting with President Christofias here on Tuesday as excellent, adding that ''we are behind him and we think the Cyprus problem is one of the last big unsolved problems in the world, and especially in the EU, and we need a solution.''
''Therefore, it is important that the President of the Republic of Cyprus knows that in the European Parliament the Social Democratic Group is completely behind his strategy and behind the line of the President,'' he added.
Asked about the letter that he sent to Cyprus Social Democrats Movement EDEK when the party was going to decide if it would withdraw from the government coalition, Schulz said: ''We are a common political family. We all belong to the same party, to the European Socialist Party and I am the leader of the parliamentarian group in the European Parliament and it is quite clear that the items concerning Cyprus are discussed in the European Parliament. That's absolutely clear.''
Therefore, he added, ''I must have an opinion and I will not define my opinion without a debate with our sister party in Cyprus. That's the reason why I wrote the letter, because we are in the same boat. So, I have to respect the conclusions of EDEK and I fully respect the decisions of EDEK and the full sovereignty of the party in the country, but the country is a part of the EU and then I as a group leader in the parliament of the Union I must deal with the decisions here in the country,'' Schulz added.
He noted that ''that was the reason why we are in an exchange of views and I have my position and I have to respect the position of EDEK and I think we had yesterday (Monday) a very fruitful meeting, Yiannakis Omirou and I, and I think we respect mutually our positions.''
To a remark that they agree with EDEK that they disagree on the matter of EDEK's withdrawal from the government, Schulz said ''there is a different task. EDEK has to deal with the national questions and I have to deal with the European questions and from time to time there are different approaches. My approach is clear. I support President Christofias,'' he stressed.
He noted that his impression is that there is no doubt about the support. ''There is perhaps a controversial debate about the content, but that the process must go on that's without any doubt for everybody who is discussing the problem,'' he concluded.
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