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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-03-16

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 16 March 2010 Issue No: 3444


  • [01] Government on austerity measures
  • [02] Eurogroup on Greek economy
  • [03] Statement by eurozone finance ministers
  • [04] PM Papandreou in Budapest Tuesday
  • [05] ND leader in Brussels on Monday
  • [06] Government dismisses rumours of cabinet reshuffle
  • [07] Alternate FM Droutsas: Interview with Skopje TV channel
  • [08] Alternate FM gives interview to Austrian newspaper
  • [09] Alternate FM, culture minister confer on econ and cultural diplomacy efforts
  • [10] Deputy FM: 'Green' diplomacy should be crux of econ diplomacy
  • [11] President receives environment minister, urges plan for old airport
  • [12] KKE leader tables current question on 'exchanges' for solidarity
  • [13] KKE at int'l meeting of communist, workers' parties
  • [14] Karatzaferis meets with visitng EFD GS
  • [15] SYRIZA urges Left to form united front
  • [16] Parliament president on Parliamentary remuneration
  • [17] Felony count against ex-ministry official charged with removing Vatopedi file
  • [18] Turkish warship's course discussed at Venizelos-Karatzaferis meeting
  • [19] OECD review calls for more green taxes in Greece
  • [20] No Rehn support plan for Greek economy to be presented at Eurogroup meeting
  • [21] Deputy Tourism Minister Gerekou meets Russian counterpart
  • [22] SEB opposes draft bill on labor relations
  • [23] ADEDY decides new rally, warns of more strike action
  • [24] Credit conditions show signs of improvement
  • [25] Employment in retail sector slowed in Q4
  • [26] Aegean Airlines will not raise domestic air fares
  • [27] Stocks slightly up in low trading
  • [28] Greek bond market closing report
  • [29] ADEX closing report
  • [30] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [31] Examining magistrates confiscate Siemens building visitors book as part of investigation
  • [32] DNA results of blood from Dafni shoutout released
  • [33] Man missing after washed away by river
  • [34] Drug arrests in Hania
  • [35] Dolphin and Careta-careta found dead
  • [36] Sun followed by showers on Tuesday
  • [37] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [38] EU Commissioner: Turkey must normalise relations with Cyprus
  • [39] Cyprus leaders to hold new meeting on Tuesday
  • [40] EP and 'New Cyprus' parties discuss Cyprus issue
  • [41] Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus gives interview Politics

  • [01] Government on austerity measures

    The government was obliged to take harsh measures in order to show that Greece was making a clean break with the suspect practices of the past, government spokesman George Petalotis said in response to questions on Monday.

    "We were obliged and are still obliged to show our partners in the EU and the international community that the practices that led to the current situation belong firmly in the past and that Greece is painfully but finally turning over a new leaf," he stressed.

    This had led to a heavy price that was unfair for those who were not responsible but nationally necessary and made imperative by the extraordinary conditions, he added.

    Petalotis also repeated the assurances made by Prime Minister George Papandreou that the sacrifices would not be in vain.

    The spokesman underlined that the measures already announced, the Stability and Growth Programme and the new tax legislation will be sufficient for meeting the target of reducing the public deficit by four percentage points in 2010.

    He said the draft tax bill will most likely be approved by the cabinet on Thursday and be tabled before the relevant Parliamentary committee within the week, while it will probably go before the full Parliament next Monday.

    Petalotis also categorically ruled out the possibility of additional measures.

    [02] Eurogroup on Greek economy

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis/M.Aroni)

    Eurozone finance ministers, who convened here on Monday evening with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou representing Greece, have not taken any decision regarding a possible financial aid to Greece to deal with its financial difficulties, but as the eurozone's president Jean-Claude Juncker said, the issue will be referred to the next European Union Summit, on March 25.

    Juncker appeared optimistic saying that after the important measures taken by Greek authorities aiming at reducing the country's deficit, markets will calm down and interest rates for Greek loans will gradually decrease. If this does not happen, he added, then a commitment underatakn by EU leaders on February 11 regarding an aid to Greece will be activated.

    Juncker added that such aid will be through bilateral loans by euro zone member states.

    [03] Statement by eurozone finance ministers

    "The eurogroup reaffirmed the commitment by euro area member states to take determined and coordinated action, if needed."

    "The objective would not be to provide financing at average euro area interest rates, but to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole."

    "The proposals ... would provide strong incentives to return to markets as soon as possible."

    "The eurogroup underlines that the Greek authorities have not asked for financial support."

    [04] PM Papandreou in Budapest Tuesday

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will be in Budapest on Tuesday on a one-day working visit at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart, Gordon Bajnai, with whom he will be holding talks. He will also be meeting with Hungarian Parliament President Bela Katona and the main opposition leader and former prime minister Viktor Orban.

    The Greek prime minister and his Hungarian counterpart will participate and will be the main speakers at the "Forum on the handling of the Economic Crisis".

    Papandreou, in his capacity as Socialist International (SI) president, will be taking part in an event of the ruling Hungarian Socialist Party and will be having a meeting with the head of the party's candidates (candidate for prime minister) in the Hungarian general elections on April 11, Atila Mesterhazi.

    [05] ND leader in Brussels on Monday

    Main opposition New Democracy president Antonis Samaras was due in Brussels on Monday night in order to attend a meeting of European People's Party (EPP) finance ministers taking place there the following day.

    An ND announcement said that the meeting will be chaired by EPP president Wilfried Martens and include several key members of European governments, such as French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and Italy's finance minister Julio Tremonti.

    The main topic under discussion will be the problems created by the economic crisis in Europe and ways in which Europe can emerge from the crisis in the fastest and safest way.

    [06] Government dismisses rumours of cabinet reshuffle

    Government spokesman George Petalotis on Monday dismissed rumours of a pending cabinet reshuffle, saying that Prime Minister George Papandreou was not considering "any such issue".

    "There is an express and categorical government denial that there is any issue of a reshuffle," he told reporters, while stressing that there was no ministry that was failing to 'perform'.

    "The government is working hard, the number of formal and informal government meetings that are taking place daily shows that there is no comparison with the amount of work done under the New Democracy government," he added.

    The spokesman confirmed, however, that the government expected its members to "toe the line" over certain issues and not express dissent.

    "Everyone can express their own views in some way but when there is a government decision on certain matters, then we must all fall into line with that decision," he said.

    Petalotis also took the opportunity to reply to main opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras over his reference to an alleged "PASOK system" the previous day.

    "I hope he was joking because this was the main argument used by ND to win the elections in 2004. It then went on to establish the most rotten regime that has ever existed in the political annals and led us to catastrophic consequences that the Greek people are now having to pay for out of their own pocket," Petalotis said.

    The spokesman went on to suggest that ND appeared not to realise why it had lost the last elections and its own grave responsibility for the current state of the country.

    [07] Alternate FM Droutsas: Interview with Skopje TV channel

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)

    Greece can decisively help FYROM in its EU accession course, alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said Monday in an interview with Skopje's biggest private television channel A1.

    Droutsas stressed that FYROM could begin accession negotiations with the EU as soon as the outstanding name issue is resolved, adding, however, the hardest part for FYROM will be the course of those negotiations, which are frequently very difficult.

    "In all frankness, I can tell you that, as soon as agreement is reached on the name issue and your country's negotiations begin with the EU, Greece can, and will, be a true friend and partner of your country with regard to the accession negotiations," Droutsas said.

    He also referred to Greece's "Agenda 2014" initiative, noting that it reflects Greece's strong desire to advance the European prospect of the Western Balkan countries.

    Regarding the nature of the UN-brokered name negotiations, Droutsas explained that the UN secretary general's special mediator Matthew Nimetz's mandate is seeking and finding a solution to the name issue.

    "This is the point on which our efforts are focused, and this is the matter that we are discussing. I believe that burdening the negotiations procedure with additional matters cannot be effective and will not aid the relevant efforts," Droutsas continued.

    He further stressed that the solution to the name issue must reflect the reality. "Macedonia is a geographical region, the biggest part of which is in Greece. A part of the region is in Bulgaria, and another part is in your country. The agreement on the name must reflect this reality," Droutsas said, adding that the name to be decided for FYROM must have a geographical qualification and be in effect for all purposes (ergo omnes).

    [08] Alternate FM gives interview to Austrian newspaper

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, in an interview in Monday's edition of the mass circulation Austrian newspaper "Kourier", stressed the determination of the Greek government to enable Greece to exit from the crisis depending on its own forces, with the taking of socially fair measures and through a dialogue with the people.

    Droutsas further underlined that Athens has not called on anyone for economic aid but only for solidarity and sent a clear message the profiteers cannot play games with it.

    [09] Alternate FM, culture minister confer on econ and cultural diplomacy efforts

    Alternate foreign minister George Droutsas conferred on Monday with culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos on economic and cultural diplomacy matters.

    Droutsas told reporters after the meeting that cooperation and coordination between the two ministries is necessary, adding that economic and cultural diplomacy are very important sectors of a modern foreign policy.

    He said they discussed initiatives and actions being organised to mark the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, as well as cooperation with important countries such as the US and the European states.

    The two ministers further examined the issue of visa requirements from countries manifesting tourism interest in Greece.

    The target, according to Geroulanos, is for Greece to take advantage of every advantage emanating from the EU acquis, such as facilitating the inflow of visitors to Greece from emerging tourist markets such as Russia, Ukraine, the Arab countries, China, and the US.

    At the same time, the effort aims, in collaboration with the finance ministry, to reduce the cost of visas for countries of interest to Greece while, in cooperation with the education ministry, an effort will be made to strengthen the Hellenic Studies chairs abroad, he added.

    Declining to make predictions for this year's summer season, Geroulanos expressed certainty, however, that last year's huge decline will be halted, but noted that it is too early to anticipate the percentage of increase in incoming tourism.

    [10] Deputy FM: 'Green' diplomacy should be crux of econ diplomacy

    Deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis on Monday stressed that the crux of Greece's economic diplomacy should and can be "green" diplomacy, with positive impact for the environment in the wider geographic neighborhood, but also for the Greek economy in the current, difficult economic conjuncture.

    He also outlined the foreign ministry's contribution to Greece's environmental performance, during a presentation of the OECD's Environmental Performance Review for the decade 2000-2009.

    Kouvelis stressed that one of the most significant efforts being made by the Greek government is to turn more dynamically to an extrovert policy, with green diplomacy as its spearhead.

    "We have both the natural resources and the knowhow to become of the most important players in our wider region," he said, noting the foreign ministry's planning, in cooperation with the environment ministry, looks to collaboration with the new EU members, such as Bulgaria and Romania, resulting in mutual benefit in such areas as management of water resources and renewable energy sources.

    Kouvelis stressed the need to protect biodiversity, while he also referred to climate change and energy.

    Particularly regarding climate change, he said that after the unsatisfactory outcome of (December's international UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen), Greece committed itself to undertaking initiatives for the regions of the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Black Sea for a comprehensive proposal for environmental management "with which we will go to the next landmark, Mexico (Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-UNFCCC in late November)".

    In addition to the collaborations at political level, Kouvelis also made reference to economic diplomacy which, he said, enables Greece to make collaborations and seek its own role, having green diplomacy as a good tool, "particularly given that the government has stated that it wants green development to be the steam engine of the country's growth".

    On developmental cooperation, Kouvelis said that the part concerning collaboration with NGOs in the years 2008-2009 had absorbed 50-60 million euros annually, while the total sum has reached nearly 500 million euros and "unfortunately it will remain at that level due to the economic conditions, although it should be doubled in order to meet our OECD targets".

    That is why the government commits itself to increasing effectiveness, with green development as its guide and through its application in many sectors, such as agriculture, renewable energy sources and environmental management.

    He further welcomed the OECD recommendations contained in the review, which "we must turn into policies", and acknowledged the work carried out by former environment deputy minister Stavros Kalogiannis, who took part in drafting the OECD review, while he also stressed his continuous cooperation and coordination with environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili.

    The report examines Greece's progress since the previous OECD Environmental Performance Review in 2000, and the extent to which the country has met its national objectives and international commitments regarding the management of the environment and natural resources. It also analyses Greece's achievements in strengthening the environment-economy integration and environmental-social linkages. The report also contains 44 recommendations to encourage further environmental progress in Greece.

    The book (report) is part of the OECD Environmental Performance Review Programme, whereby all OECD countries are engaged in reviewing each others' progress in achieving their environmental policy objectives. The analysis and recommendations are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data. The Highlights contain key facts, figures and recommendations presented in the report.

    [11] President receives environment minister, urges plan for old airport

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili.

    Greeting Birbili, the president pledged his backing and urged her to proceed with plans to make use of the old Athens airport site in the southeastern Athens suburb of Elliniko, which successive governments since 2004 have promised to turn into a massive metropolitan park.

    The environment minister is due to unveil a comprehensive environmental plan for Athens in the coming week that will include plans for the old airport.

    [12] KKE leader tables current question on 'exchanges' for solidarity

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga on Monday tabled a "current question" in parliament, addressed to the prime minister, concerning "the exchanges the government apparently has given at the expense of our sovereign rights" in order to secure the solidarity of the leaderships of Germany, France and the US.

    According to Papariga, the government's "jubilations" cannot calm the worries of the people.

    The government, she said in her question, has the duty to inform the people on the "commitments it assumed towards the US demands in the Aegean as regards the co-exploitation of oil by the Greek and Turkish plutocracy", on "the Aegean's incorporation into the planning of the 'missile shield'", on "the demand for legitimisation of the 'grey zones' in the Aegean", and on the Cyprus issue.

    Papariga also questions the prime minister on the role of supporting US interests in the Balkans, on Kosovo independence, and on the "use" of FYROM as a US "protectorate".

    [13] KKE at int'l meeting of communist, workers' parties

    The Communist Party (KKE) on Monday announced that it participated in a working meeting during a meeting with the Portuguese and South Africa communist parties in Lisbon last week, with the emphasis on the current international economic crisis.

    According to the party, the purpose of the meeting was to prepare for the 12th international meeting of communist and workers' parties to be held in South Africa.

    [14] Karatzaferis meets with visitng EFD GS

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) president George Karatzaferis on Monday met with the general secretary of the Europe of Freedom & Democracy Group grouping in the European Parliament, Emmanuel Bordez.

    The latter expressed the grouping's support for Greece amid the ongoing economic crisis.

    [15] SYRIZA urges Left to form united front

    The Secretariat of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary alliance on Monday made an appeal for unity among "all the forces of the Left, radical environmentalism and PASOK supporters that disagree with the policies of the party and the government".

    The Secretariat's decision underlined that the government's Stability and Growth Programme, combined with successive waves of measures that targeted working people and society, "presage a nightmare future".

    According to SYRIZA, the measures were brought under the pretext of the economic crisis "but with a clear choice to make people pay for the crisis, not those that caused it, create a completely new situation, a very difficult present and presage a nightmare future, since it is absolutely certain that these measures will make the crisis worse."

    Blocking these measures was therefore vital for the greater majority of the workforce, young people and an absolute priority for the forces of the Left, it added.

    Stressing the need for the "widest possible social and political opposition front", SYRIZA urged its local organisations to undertake initiatives in this direction, bringing together all forces opposed to the government measures.

    It also proposed focusing on seven main areas of action, including higher taxation on big capital and large real estate holdings, higher VAT on luxury goods, halving defence spending, social and state control of the financial system, renationalisation of state utilities, higher spending on health, education and welfare, higher wages and pensions and ways to reduce debt.

    [16] Parliament president on Parliamentary remuneration

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos on Monday requested and received the Plenum's vote for additional cutbacks of a financial character that he announced a few days ago concerning the incomes of deputies and Parliamentary employees.

    Petsalnikos reviewed the cutbacks that he announced on Parliamentary remuneration (a decrease in travel expenses and of the allowance by 12 percent for the organising and functioning of an office, a 15 percent decrease in remuneration for participation in Parliamentary committees, an extension of the decrease in Parliamentary remuneration by 5 percent and a 30 percent decrease in the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays allowances), as well as for the remuneration of Parliamentary employees (a decrease of 12 percent for overtime and travel allowances, a decrease in the special remuneration allowance from 12 percent to 17 percent according to the amount and its subjection to regular taxation in the framework of the new taxation bill.

    "All this means monthly reductions in Parliamentary remuneration that are close to 900 euros, reductions that are double the corresponding ones that were decided for whatever other social categories," the Parliament president said.

    [17] Felony count against ex-ministry official charged with removing Vatopedi file

    A felony indictment was filed on Monday against a former top agriculture ministry department head, who is now charged with maliciously removing a case file containing documents linked to the controversial Vatopedi Monastery land swap affair.

    The indictment was filed by a relevant appeals court prosecutor against Stamatina Manteli, identified as the former head of the ministry's civil land department.

    According to reports, Manteli testified before a relevant Parliament committee of inquiry that she took the voluminous file with her, upon her resignation from the post, in order to photocopy its contents for use in whatever future legal defence.

    [18] Turkish warship's course discussed at Venizelos-Karatzaferis meeting

    Greece's armed forces general staff office on Monday reported that a Turkish warship, identified as a corvette, conducted a "marginally" innocent passage through Greek territorial waters over the previous 12-hour period, as the vessel returned from a NATO exercise off Lebanon.

    According to reports, the Turkish vessel was in the central Aegean and sailing north at around noon on Monday. The vessel was also being "shadowed" by a Hellenic Navy missile boat.

    The issue was discussed during a same-day meeting between Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the head of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party George Karatzaferis, who met with the former at the ministry.

    Karatzaferis, in fact, referred to "possible risks" from what he called an increase in such "innocent passages of Turkish warships", using the standard international maritime term. Venizelos merely noted, on his part, that the ministry was closely but calmly monitoring the situation.

    Other topics of discussion included the recent sale of the Skaramanga shipyards, west of Piraeus, and the closely watched submarine upgrade programme, with Karatzaferis later expressing his satisfaction for the briefing he received.

    Financial News

    [19] OECD review calls for more green taxes in Greece

    Greece should make more extensive use of green taxes and reduce the tax burden on employment, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria said in Athens on Monday.

    Gurria made the recommendation while presenting the OECD environmental performance review for Greece in 2000-2009, stressing that the country should make action on the environment a part of its economic recovery plan. He said that he would push for such a policy during his meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, in spite of Greece's currently high government debt.

    The OECD chief suggested that revenue from higher fuel tax should be directed to providing financial relief to the poorer sections of the population. He noted that taxes on fuel had been reduced relative to the overall cost, while road tolls were not fully aligned with inflation and vehicle taxes did not reflect vehicle fuel efficiency to a satisfactory degree.

    Another point raised by Gurria was the need to introduce protection of biodiversity into agriculture and other economic activities.

    During the presentation, Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili noted that her ministry had recently tabled a draft bill on renewable energy sources to the appropriate Parliamentary committee, along with a Building Energy Efficiency Regulation and the establishment of an inspection committee. She also announced plans to table a draft bill to regulate buildings erected without a proper permit and to control runaway construction on the Greek islands after the Easter holiday, and said that the ministry will present a comprehensive plan on the use of bicycles as a means of transport in Athens in the middle of the following week.

    Birbili said that the ministry's initial findings from aerial photographs concerning illegal construction in the burnt areas of eastern Attica will be posted on the ministry website by Tuesday.

    Replying to reporters, the minister ruled out an increase in 'green' taxes and especially any further rise in road tolls, as suggested by Gurria. She said that she was working closely with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou in order to include three measures proposed by the environment ministry in the tax measures to be announced by the government on Monday.

    Talks between Gurria and Birbili focused, among others, on the assistance that Greece can give Egypt in obtaining water, in the framework of an initiative for "National Dialogue for Water in Egypt" organised by the Greek environment ministry in collaboration with the OECD.

    Another speaker during the presentation was the head of the OECD Environment and Globalisation Division Brendan Gillespie, who particularly emphasised 10 out of the 44 recommendations made in the OECD report. These included the need to include the environment in the recovery plan for the Greek economy, the need for a comprehensive strategy for biodiversity and completing a register of forests, a change in irrigation policy and greater processing of liquid wastes.

    The report examines Greece's progress since the previous OECD Environmental Performance Review in 2000, and the extent to which the country has met its national objectives and international commitments regarding the management of the environment and natural resources. It also analyses Greece's achievements in strengthening the environment-economy integration and environmental-social linkages. The report contains 44 recommendations to encourage further environmental progress in Greece.

    The book (report) is part of the OECD Environmental Performance Review Programme, whereby all OECD countries are engaged in reviewing each others' progress in achieving their environmental policy objectives. The analysis and recommendations are supported by a broad range of economic and environmental data. The Highlights </dataoecd/23/17/44726277.pdf> (pdf format) contain key facts, figures and recommendations presented in the report.

    [20] No Rehn support plan for Greek economy to be presented at Eurogroup meeting

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn will not be presenting a support plan for the Greek economy at the Eurogroup meeting, Rehn's spokesperson said in Brussels on Monday.

    The spokesperson said that Rehn is involved in the talks taking place in recent weeks on the condition of the Greek economy in all its aspects.

    [21] Deputy Tourism Minister Gerekou meets Russian counterpart

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou, who visited the tourist exhibition Intourmarket and in particular the national pavilions of Greece, Cyprus and Kazakhstan, met on Monday with her Russian counterpart and head of the Federal Tourism Organisation Anatoly Yarochkin.

    "Greece is experiencing a difficult moment but leans on countries that it feels very close to it at cultural, historic, religious level. Russia is such a country, therefore at this period, during this year's summer Greece is ready to welcome with a very warm 'good day' the Russian citizens that we know so much that they love Greece," Gerekou told reporters after her talks with Yarochkin.

    Gerekou stressed the importance of the greatest possible assistance for the status for issuing visas for Russian citizens, reminding that the prime minister had referred to the issue during his recent contacts in Moscow.

    Also speaking in an interview with the First Russian channel, Gerekou expressed the Greek government's will to take all the necessary measures to enable tourist movement from Russia to Greece to increase and reiterated that "we are seeking ways to enable us to have a simplified visa status for the Russians. The visa status will be simplified in the very near future so that we shall not lose this tourist period."

    [22] SEB opposes draft bill on labor relations

    The Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) on Monday said it was opposed to a draft bill covering labor relations in the country and said it included bureaucratic regulations that practically abolished part-time and temporary employment.

    In a letter sent to Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos, SEB's president Dimitris Daskalopoulos said the draft bill was moving to the opposite direction to the spirit, the aims and the measures of a Stability Program and noted that the bill will raise unemployment, it will encourage informal employment and will worsen the country's competitiveness.

    SEB said that flexible forms of employment were regulated by detailed European directives and were drafted to ensure the interests of workers. Daskalopoulos urged the government to simply adopt European directives on the issue and ensure their strict implementation.

    [23] ADEDY decides new rally, warns of more strike action

    The civil servants' union ADEDY has decided to follow up this Tuesday's rally with further protests the following week, on Tuesday March 23. The ADEDY Executive Committee announced that an evening rally will be held on that day and has also decided further strike action on a date that will be announced shortly.

    The trade union federation, which represents Greece's large public-sector workforce, said that it decided to escalate action because it anticipates further negative developments targeting employees, pensioners and unemployed - including mass lay-offs and abolition of social insurance and pension rights.

    [24] Credit conditions show signs of improvement

    Credit conditions showed signs of improvement in February, as an economic recession is taking its toll on financial transactions in the country. The value of bounced checks dropped 77.7 pct in February to 39.1 million euros, compared with January, while it was down 82.3 pct compared with the same month in 2009, Teresias SA, the credit market rating firm said on Monday.

    Bounced checks fell 77.3 pct and 82. pct in volume, compared with the January 2010 and February 2009, respectively, while the value of bounced checks in the first two months of the year totaled 215.1 million euros.

    Unpaid bills fell 70 pct in February, in volume, from January; they were down 50.8 pct from February 2009, while in value, unpaid bills totaled 8.0 million euros -- down 70.63 pct from January and 48.9 pct from February 2009.

    In the first two months of 2010, their value was 35.3 million euros.

    [25] Employment in retail sector slowed in Q4

    The employment index in the retail commerce rose 1.8 pct in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008, after an increase of 2.2 pct recorded in the previous period (2008-2007), the National Statistical Service said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the employment index in the foodstore group rose 4.1 pct in the fourth quarter, while in the other store group it was unchanged during the same period.

    [26] Aegean Airlines will not raise domestic air fares

    Aegean Airlines on Monday said it will not raise domestic air fares despite a rise in the VAT rate from 9.0 pct to 10.0 pct. The Greek-listed airline, in a statement, aso said that it will present its summer flight schedule soon after the release of a tender -probably this week- over the servicing of so-called remote destinations in the country. Aegean Airlines was the lowest bidder in five such destinations.

    [27] Stocks slightly up in low trading

    Stocks moved cautiously higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, in very thin trading conditions. The composite index of the market rose 0.36 pct to end at 2,123.18 points, with turnover a low 99.5 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.28 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.78 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.39 pct. The Travel (3.32 pct) and Insurance (2.44 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Oil (1.90 pct) and Telecommunications (1.56 pct) suffered losses.

    Attica Publications (19.42 pct), PC Systems (19.05 pct), Boutaris (11.11 pct) and Parnassos (10.09 pct) were top gainers, while Zampa (8.73 pct), Hellenic Textiles (8.57 pct), Fashion Box (8.16 pct) and Kordellos Bros (7.69 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 87 to 82 with another 60 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +2.44%

    Industrials: +0.73%

    Commercial: -1.45%

    Construction: +0.02%

    Media: -0.26%

    Oil & Gas: -1.90%

    Personal & Household: +1.22%

    Raw Materials: -0.53%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.32%

    Technology: +0.40%

    Telecoms: -1.56%

    Banks: +0.19%

    Food & Beverages: +0.66%

    Health: +1.60%

    Utilities: -0.11%

    Chemicals: +0.57%

    Financial Services: -0.86%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and Coca Cola.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 7.46

    ATEbank: 1.75

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.48

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.59

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.40

    National Bank of Greece: 16.00

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.72

    Intralot: 3.58

    OPAP: 16.79

    OTE: 9.45

    Bank of Piraeus: 6.70

    Titan: 19.80

    [28] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 2.036 billion euros on Monday, of which 958 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.078 billion euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2025) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 573 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 308 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 6.22 pct and the German Bund 3.14 pct.

    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 six-month rate 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.48 pct.

    [29] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.31 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 51.195 million euros. Volume in the Big Cap index totaled 6,600 contracts worth 34.785 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,576 contracts worth 16.410 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellaktor's contracts (6,967), followed by Eurobank (807), MIG (857), OTE (853), Piraeus Bank (1,018), Hellenic Bottling (1,581), National Bank (2,398), Alpha Bank (977), Intracom (742), Marfin Popular Bank (1,383), GEK (3,870) and ATEbank (1,864).

    [30] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.381

    Pound sterling 0.917

    Danish kroner 7.500

    Swedish kroner 9.792

    Japanese yen 125.29

    Swiss franc 1.464

    Norwegian kroner 8.079

    Canadian dollar 1.408

    Australian dollar 1.514

    General News

    [31] Examining magistrates confiscate Siemens building visitors book as part of investigation

    The appeals examining magistrates investigating the Siemens kickbacks scandal in Greece have confiscated the visitors' book at the central offices of Siemens Hellas, according to an announcement on Monday.

    The two magistrates visited the company headquarters last week and confiscated the book, which records those entering and exiting the building from 1997 until the present day.

    They have also asked for all contracts signed by Siemens concerning the part of the case related to the C4I security system, in which Siemens acted as sub-contractor to SAIC.

    A large part of the case file, amounting to some 50,000 pages, has already been forwarded to the Parliamentary investigating committee. The remaining 70,000 pages are expected to be sent to Parliament as soon as approval is given by the justice ministry, which has set an upper limit on the amount of paper that can be used as part of a cost-cutting drive.

    [32] DNA results of blood from Dafni shoutout released

    A DNA examination of blood stains from a shootout with police last week in the Dafni district of Athens in which a 35-year-old gunman was killed has positively indentified the blood as belonging to the dead gunman, but does not identify with genetic material taken from the sites of recent terrorist attacks, police announced on Monday.

    Police said the blood belongs to 35-year-old biologist Lambros Fountas, and not to his accomplice at the time of the shootout, as initially believed by police, who suspect that the accomplice was also injured.

    Fountas was killed in an exchange of fire with police at dawn last Wednesday in the northeastern Athens suburb of Dafni.

    According to information, the crew of a police patrol car passing by the site spotted in a car two persons they perceived as acting suspiciously, and asked them to present identification. The two suspects disembarked from the car and opened fire against the policemen, who returned the shots.

    Fountas was killed in the cross-fire, while the second suspect fled the scene and is wanted

    Fountas, who worked at a medical diagnostic centre, possessed a handgun and hand grenade at the time of the fatal gunfire exchange.

    Authorities, according to reports, believe the victim was a primary member of one or more so-called "anti-state" cells active in the Greek capital.

    Police officials believe the two suspects were attempting to steal the car in order to use it as a bomb or in some type of criminal act.

    [33] Man missing after washed away by river

    A search and rescue operation continued on Monday for a man who was swept away in Lissos river near Komotini, northeastern Greece on Sunday. The man attempted to cross the river with his car when the swelling waters resulting from recent heavy rainfall and melting snow swept his car away. His wife, who was also in the car, was rescued.

    [34] Drug arrests in Hania

    Five individuals were arrested on Sunday in Hania, Crete, charged withdrug dealing.

    Police, acting on a tip-off, conducted a raid on an appartment in Hania where they found and confiscated two kilos of hashish, 201 grams of cocaine, 16 narcotic pills, precision scales, four knives, two bayonets, and 1,940 euros deriving from drug dealing.

    [35] Dolphin and Careta-careta found dead

    A stabbed dolphin a dead Caretta-caretta turtle were found in Vathi and Karlovassi respectively on the northeastern Aegean island of Samos. The Archipelagos Marine Research Institute is conducting an autopsy to determine the causes of the marine creatures' death.

    Weather forecast

    [36] Sun followed by showers on Tuesday

    A fine start is forecast in most parts of Greece on Tuesday, giving way to clouds and showers later in the day. Winds will blow from mainly northwesterly directions, between 3-6 Beaufort, gradually swinging to more southerly directions from the afternoon. Temperatures will range from a low of -2C to highs of 17C in the south. Sunny skies followed by cloud in Attica, with temperatures from 5C to 16C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 4C-13C.

    [37] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Monday's crucial Eurogroup meeting on Monday on two rescue plans for Greece to the backdrop of mixed opinions among the EU members, the new tax bill, the VAT increase that goes into effect Monday, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras' statements on self-catharsis in his party at its next Congress, and the increase in crime, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Thriller on aid to Greece - Will European Commissioner for Monetary and Economic Affairs Olli Rehn's plan be ratified?."

    APOGEVMATINI: "Samaras preannounced catharsis in his party".

    AVRIANI: "Samaras renounces ND's past - He called on ND cadres who 'hurt the people' to leave the party".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Drastic increase in criminal activity - 22 armed robberies, with seven people injured".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Political scam with the new tax bill - Tax evasion 'party' with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's mark".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "EU divided in three for our sake -Confusion and argument over the 25 billion euros rescue package".

    ESTIA: "The economy is being strangled - The high taxes sending away the capital".

    ETHNOS: "Those who do not give receipts will be penalised - New tax bill regulations sealed".

    IMERISSIA: "The hour of truth today in Eurogroup - Two rescue plans on the crucial meeting's agenda".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The new tax bill in the final stretch - On Thursday it will be discussed by the Inner Cabinet".

    TA NEA: "Bargaining over the 25 billion euros - Scenarios, ultimatums and manoeuvres".

    VRADYNI: "New VAT rates in effect today".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [38] EU Commissioner: Turkey must normalise relations with Cyprus


    EU Commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fuele has urged Ankara to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on Monday, Fuele said that the implementation of the Ankara Additional Protocol is important for the EU and urged Turkey to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

    He also said that the EU fully supports the ongoing UN-led direct negotiations which began September 2008 with a view to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    The Enlargement Commissioner expressed the view that the negotiations have reached a good level, adding that if the two sides in Cyprus have the necessary good will a comprehensive solution could be reached.

    The Commission, he went on to add, is ready to contribute to efforts to implement the agreement which may be reached in Cyprus.

    Reaffirming his commitment to see Turkey as a member of the EU, Fuele said his meeting with Davutoglu focused on EU commitments and Turkey's requirements to make steps during the reform process.

    ''We have also reaffirmed that the EU should assume a role not only as an observer but as a leader of the world,'' he concluded.

    Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began in September 2008 direct negotiations, under UN auspices, aiming at reaching a mutually agreed solution to the problem of Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    The Republic of Cyprus entered the EU in May 2004. Turkey, which aspires to become a full EU member state, invaded Cyprus in 1974 and still holds 37% of Cyprus' territory.

    Turkey is the only country in the world which refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and does not meet its EU obligations, one of which is opening its ports and airports to Cypriot ship and vessel, a commitment known as the Ankara Protocol.

    [39] Cyprus leaders to hold new meeting on Tuesday


    A new meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will take place on Tuesday, in the framework of direct negotiations with a view to reach a settlement of the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974.

    The meeting will begin at 10:00 local time and will take place in the official residence of the UNFICYP Chief of Mission Taye-Brook Zerihoun.

    [40] EP and 'New Cyprus' parties discuss Cyprus issue


    President of the European Party Demetris Syllouris met Monday with the Secretary General of the "New Cyprus" Party Murat Kanatli, and exchanged views on recent developments regarding the Cyprus problem.

    As Syllouris stated after the meeting, the European Party believes that the solution of the problem, in order to be viable and offer a common future, should restore justice.

    As he said this option is possible, only if the agreed solution is based on European principles and values and utilizes EU mechanisms, adding that such a development will benefit everybody and mostly the Turkish Cypriots.

    He called on the Turkish Cypriots to work with the Greek Cypriots and realize that Turkey's interests are not in favor of a viable and peaceful solution in Cyprus.

    "What we need to do is to find a Cypriot solution, based on the European future of Cyprus," he said.

    The "New Cyprus" Party SG stated that he expressed his concerns about the Cyprus issue, more specifically, "about the rapid changes in the demographic structure in the north and the economic situation" which, as he indicated, "is being controlled by Turkey."

    Kanatli expressed the view that the possibility of seeing the present negotiating process collapse is a nightmare for the Turkish Cypriots.

    "Collapse of the negotiations means division on our threshold," he said.

    He added that the population issue in the northern Turkish occupied areas is very crucial and pointed out that a census would be one of the tools to address the issue.

    Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement to reunite the country.

    [41] Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus gives interview


    China firmly supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as a solution to the Cyprus problem that will be based on the UN relevant resolutions, stressed Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus Li Guobang, in an interview with CNA.

    Asked about the role of China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council regarding the efforts for finding a mutually accepted solution to the Cyprus question, Li underlined that China will continue to play a constructive role to the solution efforts.

    "Personally, I pay great attention to the negotiations. We know that the Cyprus issue concerns the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus, and that it is the biggest issue in Cyprus. I believe that a solution of the issue the soonest possible will be to the best interest of the Cypriots", he said.

    Li pointed out that the role of China regarding the Cyprus question is clear and consistent. "Cyprus's territorial integrity and sovereignty should be respected and the solution should be based on the UN relevant resolutions in order to be a just and viable solution. The government of China supports the negotiations between the two leaders in Cyprus", he stressed.

    The Chinese Ambassador wished during the negotiations the differences between the two sides to be reduced and the convergences to be increased and at the end, the two communities to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

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