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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-04-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Tuesday, 13 April 2010 Issue No: 3466

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou and Christofias reaffirm Athens-Nicosia cooperation
  • [02] PM on economy, eurozone mechanism
  • [03] ND spokesman on economy, support mechanism
  • [04] KKE, LA.OS, SYRIZA, on economy
  • [05] Alternate FM Droutsas holds talks with Bulgarian FM
  • [06] Police publicise information on 'Revolutionary Struggle' case
  • [07] Authorities continue searches of suspected terror group's safe houses
  • [08] Parliament president meets AHEPA representatives
  • [09] Memorial service in Athens for Polish air disaster victims
  • [10] Cedefop report on Greek employment sector
  • [11] Joint effort to boost Greek exports
  • [12] Katseli on EXPO 2010 exhibition
  • [13] SEV hosts working meeting with Arab ambassadors
  • [14] Car registrations down 27.9 pct in March
  • [15] Athens Trade Society
  • [16] Foreign investors raised participation in ASE
  • [17] Stocks end 3.51% higher
  • [18] Greek bond market closing report
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [21] 'Myrtis' puts a face to antiquity in Goulandris Nat. History Museum exhibition
  • [22] Winnie the Pooh-like treat for awakening brown bears
  • [23] Tempi section of Athens-Thessaloniki highway recloses Monday for completion of repairs
  • [24] Memorial service for Thessaloniki Jews who perished in Nazi concentration camps
  • [25] PEGASO European research initiative launched
  • [26] Drug dealers arrested in Crete, narcotics found in Heraklio prison
  • [27] Police attacked by youngsters
  • [28] Cloudy, rainy on Tuesday
  • [29] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [30] Pope's visit to Cyprus historic, say Catholics and Orthodox Politics

  • [01] Papandreou and Christofias reaffirm Athens-Nicosia cooperation

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis)

    Visiting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias reaffirmed that Greece and Cyprus share a common strategy on the Cyprus issue, during a meeting here on Monday. Papandreou is in Cyprus on a working visit, during which he held talks with Christofias and the heads of the Cypriot political parties.

    In joint statements after their meeting, the two men also confirmed Greece's support for the policy, tactics and handling of the issue by Cyprus and the fact that they had shared views regarding the framework for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    They noted that Greece and Cyprus will follow a common policy at the European Parliament and the European Council, with the aim of averting the prospect of direct trade with the occupied territories on the island held by Turkey.

    The two leaders emphasised, meanwhile, that the negotiations for a solution could not begin again from scratch, regardless of who emerged as leader of the Turkish-Cypriots during next Sunday's election in the occupied territories.

    "I will not discuss starting from the beginning," Christofias underlined, pointing out that the talks with the previous Turkish-Cypriot leader had lasted over 18 months and had created a "basis" on which to talk, with the Greek-Cypriot side now ready to progress further.

    Papandreou also expressed disagreement with the prospect of starting the talks from the beginning:

    "Not as prime minister of Greece but as a member of the EU, I must stress that the EU and the international community will expect that the gains made during the existing process of negotiations should not be lost," he emphasised.

    Christofias underlined during a press conference that the Greek premier's visit, at a particularly difficult time for Greece, indicating Athens' unfailing interest in Cyprus and the Cyprus problem. This had dominated both his talks in private with Papandreou and the informal council of Cypriot political party leaders, he added.

    Papandreou, on his part, noted that the Cyprus issue was at a crucial stage in which the talks were continuing and some progress was being made but not to the extent that the Greek and Greek-Cypriot side might wish.

    "President Christofias has risen to the occasion and we expect a similar response from the Turkish-Cypriot leadership and from Turkey, but we must at last move from words to actions and to real support of this affair," the Greek prime minister noted.

    Referring to the imminent election of a new Turkish-Cypriot leadership in the occupied north of Cyprus, Papandreou stressed that the negotiations between the two communities must continue in order to "finally fulfill what I believe to be the common vision for all legal inhabitants of Cyprus, the reunification of the island".

    "The Greek government actively supports the efforts of President Christofias for a just, viable, functional, Cypriot and European solution, without artificial time-frames or arbitration, one that is based on the decisions of the United Nations Security Council, the values and principles of the European Union and fully implements European rules in the framework of a federal state with political equality, as defined by the UN decisions, a single sovereignty, a single international identity, a single nationality. A solution that will put an end to Turkish occupation and settlement," the Greek prime minister underlined, promising that Greece will staunchly stand by Cyprus' side, regardless of its own current difficulties.

    On his part, Christofias stressed that Cyprus continues to adhere to the strategy being followed by the Greek-Cypriot side since 1977, which seeks to reunite the island and its people in the framework of a bizonal, bi-communal federation with political equality.

    He also stressed that the united Cyprus Republic that emerged from any solution must have a single sovereignty, nationality and international identity, as well as restoring and protecting human rights and basic freedoms for all Cypriots, whether they were Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.

    "The solution we seek is one that ensures the unity of the state, of the people, of institutions and the economy; one that is fair, viable and functional and allows both communities effective participation in the bodies of central government in a united, federal Cyprus Republic," he explained, stressing that one community could not be allowed to impose its will on the other.

    Any mutually acceptable solution reached through negotiations would then be put before both communities on the island in twin referendums, Christofias said. He also noted that this would be impossible unless Turkey changed its stance.

    "In spite of Turkey's protestations that it desires a solution to the Cyprus issue, in practice it does not do what needs to be done and has not fulfilled any obligation it has undertaken toward Cyprus Republic, which it refuses to even recognise. It is imperative that Turkey finally show respect for UN resolutions for Cyprus and cooperate in find a solution," Christofias underlined.

    Both Christofias and Papandreou underlined that decisions about the Cyprus issue were made by Cyprus' leadership, with Greece giving its full support.

    Papandreou was also asked about the upcoming visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying it would be an opportunity to review relations in the last 10 years since Turkey became an EU candidate-country:

    "We have signed, voted on and carried out cooperation agreements in many areas, from energy to economic cooperation. At the same time, after these 10 years of a new phase in our relations, the aim is that this evaluation will be a step pushing the two countries into a new dynamic, so that we can at last instill a sense of security, a sense that our relations must accord with respect for international law, national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Papandreou said, stressing that this applied as much to Greek-Turkish relations as to the Cyprus issue, as well as Turkey's EU accession progress.

    After meeting Christofias, Papandreou also met Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos.

    [02] PM on economy, eurozone mechanism

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA)

    "I will not comment on the spreads. Now, we must focus on the next steps of the economy," Prime Minister George Papandreou stated on Monday, addressing reporters here at the conclusion of an official visit. He added, nevertheless, that "the (eurozone) economic assistance mechanism exists whether we use it or not."

    Papandreou said it should be assessed whether Greece should activate the support mechanism, stressing that the spreads are only one parameter of this process, considering that there are other parameters as well that should be taken into account. The prime minister set no specific time limits as regards the assessment process.

    He stated that the markets have put Greece through "psychological terrorism", adding that cool-headedness is now necessary, which is being provided by the economic assistance mechanism.

    Referring to the mechanism, he stated that it was the result of the efforts made by the Greek people and stressed that "we have won a new credibility," adding that "we will do what needs to be done regardless of the mechanism."

    Papandreou referred to a comment by the former prime minister of Hungary that strong support is necessary in order to calm the markets, and added that attention should be given now to development, transparency and the utilisation of the country's advantages.

    Asked to comment whether the country will enter a recessionary phase, Papandreou stated that, generally speaking, there is a recession, adding that Greece entered the crisis already "wind swept", and without having utilised funds in support of the economy. "This is what we are being called to pay for now," he said, adding that the government's goal is to create an investment-friendly framework.

    Papandreou responded negatively when asked whether he discussed with Cyprus President Christofias the issue of capital transferred from Greece to Cyprus, adding that a tax draft law includes a provision for the repatriation of capital.

    [03] ND spokesman on economy, support mechanism

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos on Monday expressed the wish and the hope that the latest developments coming from the Eurogroup "will give some deep breaths, some strong breathers in the difficult situation that we are all experiencing today."

    The spokesman added that in ND "we shall wait for the consultations of the government officials and the state functionaries of Greece with the International Monetary Fund and with the European Commission to be concluded, so that the prime minister will give the required, by ND and the circumstances, full and objective briefing to the President of New Democracy Antonis Samaras, on the latest developments."

    Panayiotopoulos reminded that Samaras has already requested publicly the holding of this meeting with the prime minister so that ND "after obtaining the full and in depth picture of the content of the relevant decisions, states its position with a feeling of responsibility towards the interest of the Greek people and of the country."

    [04] KKE, LA.OS, SYRIZA, on economy

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stated on Monday, responding to a question on whether the government should activate the economic assistance mechanism decided by the eurogroup, that "we should not kid ourselves; one way or the other the government will use it."

    Papariga also warned that fundamental workers' rights, including collective labour contracts and the guaranteed minimum wage, are being led to a "rapid slaughter".

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) President George Karatzaferis said he supports the government only in international confrontations but when he disagrees, like in the case of the tax draft law, he does not offer his support.

    He stated that if the prime minister resorts to the IMF he will not be able to salvage Greece without "destroying" his own party.

    Karatzaferis also expressed opposition to the government-sponsored "Kallikratis" local administration reform and merger plan.

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras said the government should not "celebrate" over a rescue plan that involves the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He also said the government has no popular mandate to proceed with "tearing apart" the social insurance system and labour relations.

    [05] Alternate FM Droutsas holds talks with Bulgarian FM

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov held talks here on Monday, highlighting the strategic relation between Greece and Bulgaria, not only because they are participating in the European Union and NATO, but also because they share the same position on the Western Balkans' European integration.

    "We had the opportunity of discussing the Greek initiative on the Agenda 2014. Together with Bulgaria we belong to that group of the EU that warmly supports the European integration of the Western Balkans and we shall promote it jointly. We also agree that the incorporation of the Western Balkans in the EU is linked with the terms that result from the European acquis communautaire and demand from each candidate country to comply with them," Droutsas said in brief statements that followed.

    Crossborder cooperation and its promotion for the benefit of the local societies of the two countries held a special place in the talks.

    The alternate foreign minister raised the issue of the management of the waters of the Nestos-Strymonas and Evros rivers which, as he stressed, must be handled both in the framework of bilateral cooperation and the implementation of the acquis communautaire.

    "Bulgaria is ready for a constructive dialogue with Greece and Turkey and the enactment of a timely warning system, so that the justified fears of citizens in both countries will be dispersed," Mladenov said.

    The Bulgarian official spoke of the need for the further promotion of the "excellent, strategic relations" between Greece and Bulgaria with the best coordination of our cooperation in the framework of the EU, with the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, with an increase in investments and bilateral trade "for the benefit of our peoples and economies."

    The two officials continued their talks at a dinner hosted by the Greek alternate foreign minister.

    [06] Police publicise information on 'Revolutionary Struggle' case

    Police provided officially information on Monday evening on the findings at the house searched in the morning in the Athens district of Nea Philadelphia, as well as a remote location on Hymettus where the defendants and other persons reportedly involved in the "Revolutionary Struggle" organisation had target practice with Kalashnikov weapons.

    It was announced that the findings included part of a proclamation of the "Revolutionary Struggle" which was detected in the hard disc of an electronic computer. With this proclamation they had assumed responsibility for three attacks and specifically:

    The armed attack with Kalashnikovs against a riot police company outside the Culture ministry in Boumboulinas street, in Exarchia on 5.1.2009 during which riot policeman Diamantis Matzounis was seriously wounded. The attack also with Kalashnikovs against the riot police bus at Goudi outside the Politechnioupoli on 23.12.2008 and the placing of an explosive device at the offices of the shell petroleum company in Paleo Faliro on 24.10.2008, that had not exploded and was neutralised.

    Also on Hymettus, at the perpetrators' "firing range", about 40 bullet caps from Kalashnikovs were confiscated that, as was ascertained, have been fired by weapons that have not been used in a criminal act.

    The "firing range" was detected two days before the arrest of the six defendants during the stalking of one of them, who went to the remote district that is located near the mountain's peak, about 20 kilometres from Koropi.

    Lastly, photographs were publicised of the handwritten drawings of the location at the intersection of Panormou and Vatheos streets where a terrorist attack was to take place against static police forces, that were found in the home of Nikos Maziotis and that bear his fingerprints.

    [07] Authorities continue searches of suspected terror group's safe houses

    Counter-terrorism police units searched two separate residences in the Nea Philadelphia district of northwest Athens on Monday amid the ongoing investigation focusing on the "Revolutionary Struggle" urban terrorist gang, a probe that has yielded six arrests so far.

    A search of one residence reportedly turned up a handwritten proclamation, a computer, disguises (hoods, boots, masks), voice distortion devices, burglary tools and empty suitcases, which are being examined to determine if it was used to transport weaponry or explosives.

    While searching the second residence police spotted a stolen motorcycle in close proximity to the apartment building.

    According to reports, authorities are trying to locate what they believe is the ultra leftist terrorist organisation's main safe house, where a cache of weapons is believed to be stored.

    No weapons or explosives were found during Monday's searches.

    [08] Parliament president meets AHEPA representatives

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos met on Monday with representatives of the expatriate organisation AHEPA and discussed national issues and the economic crisis that the country is experiencing.

    Petsalnikos appeared optimistic that Greece will succeed in overcoming the economic crisis, while stressing the need for "us to depend on our own forces and sacrifices."

    AHEPA president Nikolas Karakostas reassured him that "we want you to know that you always have us by your side and we are making systematic efforts to help our motherland as expatriates."

    The Parliament president also placed emphasis on Greek-Turkish relations, stressing that "the Ecumenical Patriarchate must not be undermined" and added that "Turkey must go ahead with the reopening of the Halki School of Theology."

    [09] Memorial service in Athens for Polish air disaster victims

    The unprecedented air tragedy that cost the life of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and another 95 people, including presidential aides, top military brass, distinguished personalities of the country and even elderly relatives of victims of the 1940 Katyn massacre, sent shockwaves through the 35,000-strong Polish community of Greece, one of the oldest and most vibrant communities in the east Mediterranean country.

    A hurriedly organised memorial service at the Polish community's Catholic Church in central Athens on Sunday attracted more than 1,000 mourners. The service was attended by Polish Amb. Michal Klinger, embassy staff and numerous members of the local Polish community.

    The embassy has opened a book of condolences at its premises -- 22, Chrysanthenon St. Paleo Psychico -- until Wednesday, with Greek government officials, diplomatic staff from third countries and local people already having stopped by on Monday.

    "For us it is a tremendous shock. This is a great loss for Poland and for us Poles; our president and so many high-ranking Polish representatives were lost in a brief moment; this is very tragic and it is especially very sad because it occurred during the 70th Katyn massacre anniversary," an embassy spokeswoman said.

    Several Greek leaders expressed their condolences towards the Polish people directly to the Polish ambassador in Athens.

    Financial News

    [10] Cedefop report on Greek employment sector

    More than 1,523,000 job positions are expected to be created in Greece by 2020, of which 107,000 could be totally new and the remaining 1.4 million replacement of retiring workers, a Cedefop report entitled "Skills Supply and Demand in Europe: Medium-term Forecast up to 2020," stated on Monday.

    The report showed that job positions in the primary sector are expected to fall by 98,000 in the next decade, while thousands of jobs are expected to be lost in the construction sector (37,000 by 2020) and in the manufacturing sector (23,000), reflecting a crisis in both sectors. However, a so-called "replacement demand" was expected to counterbalance the situation in the job market.

    The distribution-transport and services sectors were projected to see an improvement in employment, with increases of 131,000 and 68,000, respectively, by 2020. The trend in employment levels was almost similar in the EU-27, with the exception of the construction sector, the report said.

    Job positions for senior executives and managers were expected to decline by 23,000, while demand for skilled farmers-fishermen was also expected to fall by 92,000, whereas demand for craftsmen and other professionals was expected to fall by 58,000, although replacement demand was projected to improve the situation in both sectors.

    New demand for technical professions was expected to rise by 172,000; for office workers by 7,000 and in the retail sector by 54,000.

    The report updates Cedefop's forecasts for the period 2007-08, adding the medium-term impact of the economic crisis.

    [11] Joint effort to boost Greek exports

    Greek Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Luca Katseli on Monday urged for closer cooperation between export agencies -both from the state and private sectors- in the country in a joint effort to boost Greek exports.

    Addressing the first board meeting of the Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation (HOPE), the Greek minister said the new board of HOPE would include representatives from export agencies from around the country (Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete). Mrs Katseli stressed it was not possible every agency to follow its own strategy and said closer cooperation between export agencies was pivotal in boosting exports. She also underlined the need for a closer cooperation between the state and the private sectors, between ministries and state agencies. The Greek minister noted that a successful presence of the country in Shanghai International Trade Fair, this month, would be the first joint effort towards this goal.

    HOPE new chief executive, Nadia Rodoyianni said the organisation would need around five million euros in funding to implementing its business program.

    [12] Katseli on EXPO 2010 exhibition

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli held a meeting with Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Monday, focusing on the country's preparation for its presence in EXPO 2010 in Shanghai.

    The meeting was the first of a series that will follow on the coordination of all agencies and aiming at the country's better presence.

    The theme of the exhibition, that will last 184 days, is "Better City, Better Life" and will focus on innovation.

    [13] SEV hosts working meeting with Arab ambassadors

    Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) vice-chairman Athanase Lavidas stressed on Monday that Athens will become a meeting point between major business groups and companies from the Arab states and their prospective partners in Greece on the occasion of the third Arab-Greek Economic Forum on Sept. 23-25.

    Speaking during a working luncheon hosted by SEV and attended by the Arab states' ambassadors to Athens as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis, the SEV vice-chairman also announced that the federation plans to set up a Greek-Arab business council to serve as a tool for the promotion of Greek-Arab business contacts.

    The 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum will include participation by roughly 300 Greek companies and 250 Arab entrepreneurs.

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will formally open proceedings, while Prime Minister George Papandreou will be the keynote speaker at a formal dinner.

    [14] Car registrations down 27.9 pct in March

    Car registrations fell 27.9 pct in March compared with the average rate of the same month in the last four years before the crisis, the Federation of Car Importers and Dealers said on Monday. The Federation said car registrations totaled 19,053 new vehicles, down from an average number of 26,427 units in the period between 2004-2007.

    Car registrations, however, were up compared with the corresponding month last year, boosted by a wave of car purchases by consumers in an effort to avoid paying a raise in VAT and the introduction of a luxury tax. The Federation also noted that March 2009 was the most catastrophic month for the Greek car market.

    [15] Athens Trade Society

    The Athens Trade Society in an announcement on Monday expresses the possibility of phenomena of scuffles with itinerant peddlers intensifying and calls on the government to take and activate the special legislation of the Olympic Games period.

    The Society mentions that "the paratrade led Greek society to conflict situations with extreme expressions of violence since the ten-year tolerance, the guilty silence and the practices that facilitated the swelling of the paratrade brought Greek society to its limits."

    The cause of the Society's announcement were Saturday's events in the most commercial street of Athens, Ermou street, and notes that "the commercial world has now become indignant."

    [16] Foreign investors raised participation in ASE

    Foreign investors raised their participation in the Greek stock market's capitalisation to 50.3 pct in March, from 49 pct in February, official figures showed on Monday.

    Net capital inflows by foreign investors totaled 95.91 million euros in March, while net capital inflows by Greek private investors totaled 73.36 million euros in the month, with the value of transactions totalling 3.9 billion euros, down 1.7 pct from February, but up 63 pct from March 2009.

    The Greek market's capitalisation totaled 79.3 billion euros at the end of March, up 8.0 pct from a month earlier and 25.6 pct from March 2009, with foreign investors accounting for 52.2 pct of total trading in the market. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange rose 8.07 pct in the month.

    Average daily turnover was 175.89 million euros in March, down from 207.09 million euros in February but up from 118.88 million in March 2009.

    The capitalization of the FTSE/ATHEX 20 index totaled 54.99 billion euros (up 7.79 pct from February), of the FTSE/ATHEX Liquid Mid totaled 7.48 billion euros (up 7.12 pct) and of the FTSE/ATHEX SmallCap 80 totaled 2.66 billion euros (up 0.3 pct).

    [17] Stocks end 3.51% higher

    Stocks ended sharply higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as Greek markets cheered news of a eurozone plan to offer low-cost borrowing to Greece if necessary. The composite index of the market jumped 3.51 pct to end at 2,061.04 points, after rising as much as 5.31 pct during the session, with turnover soaring to 347.251 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 3.99 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.86 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 2.32 pct. All sectors moved upwards with the Banks (5.65 pct) and Industrial Products (4.63 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Technical Olympic (20 pct), Mohlos (18.75 pct), Voyatzoglou (11.11 pct) and Sanyo Hellas (10.53 pct) were top gainers, while Euroline (9.32 pct), Varagis (8.75 pct) and SIDMA (8.26 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 160 to 40 with another 33 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +4.63%

    Commercial: +3.17%

    Construction: +1.99%

    Media: +2.54%

    Oil & Gas: +1.12%

    Personal & Household: +2.65%

    Raw Materials: +2.77%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.46%

    Technology: +3.58%

    Telecoms: +1.36%

    Banks: +5.65%

    Food & Beverages: +1.95%

    Health: +2.57%

    Utilities: +2.52%

    Chemicals: +0.71%

    Financial Services: +2.24%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 6.94

    ATEbank: 1.57

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.45

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.29

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.34

    National Bank of Greece: 14.50

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.80

    Intralot: 3.46

    OPAP: 16.88

    OTE: 8.94

    Bank of Piraeus: 6.45

    Titan: 20.56

    [18] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 353 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 399 bps on Friday, although off the day's lows of 332 bps.

    The Greek bond yielded 6.70 pct and the German Bund 3.17 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 852 million euros, of which 192 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 660 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (June 19, 2020) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 235 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.

    [19] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.20 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising slightly to 88.519 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,800 contracts worth 70.626 million euros, with 24,306 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,124 contracts worth 17.893 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,355), followed by Eurobank (2,117), MIG (3,330), Piraeus Bank (1,248), Alpha Bank (1,940), Hellenic Postbank (338) and Intralot (320).

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.369

    Pound sterling 0.889

    Danish kroner 7.502

    Swedish kroner 9.824

    Japanese yen 128.01

    Swiss franc 1.450

    Norwegian kroner 8.072

    Canadian dollar 1.379

    Australian dollar 1.475

    General News

    [21] 'Myrtis' puts a face to antiquity in Goulandris Nat. History Museum exhibition

    Opening its doors for the first time on Thursday, the exhibition "Myrtis: Face to face with the past" will begin a planned tour of Greek and foreign cities with a three-month stint at the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Kifissia, where it will run until at least June 15.

    The entire exhibition is centred on the reconstruction by scientists of an 11-year-old Athenian girl that lived and died in ancient Athens during the 5th century BC, a victim of a plague that also killed the ancient Athenian statesman Pericles and roughly one third of all people living in the city at that time.

    Her bones were discovered in 1994-1995, in a mass grave with another 150 bodies, during work to build the metro station in Kerameikos. Her skull was in an unusually good condition and this inspired Athens University orthodontics professor Manolis Papagrigorakis to enlist the help of specialist scientists from Sweden to recreate her features, using the 'Manchester' facial reconstruction technique.

    The final result, wearing a linen dress made especially for the purpose by Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki based on images of clothing styles of that time, forms the backbone of an exhibition that explores both the various stages of a facial reconstruction. It also exhibits the finds uncovered by archaeologists at Kerameikos, which date around 430-426 B.C. and are linked with the plague that contributed to Athens' defeat from Sparta during the Peloponnesian Wars.

    Scientists decided to give 'Myrtis' brown eyes and brown hair, arranged in a Classical era style, like the majority of Athenians at that time. They clarified, however, that there would have to carry out additional DNA test to determine other features more accurately.

    The exhibition also shows how scientists, using genetic material from pulp found in the teeth of three skulls - including that of 'Myrtis' - discovered that the historic plague that decimated ancient Athens was actually typhoid fever.

    It has been designed as a 'travelling exhibition' that can be easily dismantled and set up again in any museum that has the available space.

    [22] Winnie the Pooh-like treat for awakening brown bears

    Thirteen brown bears, living in the Arcturos NGO' sanctuary in Nymfeo, Florina prefecture in northwest Greece, woke from hibernation on Monday to a giant 20-metre "pasteli", a traditional confectionery made out of sesame seeds and honey.

    The pasteli, which was prepared by the Greek Chefs' Club and has already made the Guinness Book of Records, as well as 50 bear cubs made out from honey and 14 giant honey and butter cookies made by chef patissier Stelios Parliaros, were waiting for the bears when they woke up from their winter sleep.

    "The bears gathered along the fence since early in the morning led by the smell of honey, one of their favourite foods. They were all waiting anxiously but thankfully they did not argue with each other because there were enough treats for all of them," Arcturos volunteer Vasso Petridou told ANA-MPA, stressing that the event was a symbolic gesture.

    "We have to offer a sweet life to these animals, who suffered abuse and exploitation by humans while kept in zoos or circuses, and try to sensitize people into protecting bears that live in the wild," she stressed.

    The non-governmental conservation group Arcturos is involved in protecting mountainous mainland Greece's dwindling population of wild brown bears.

    [23] Tempi section of Athens-Thessaloniki highway recloses Monday for completion of repairs

    The Tempi section in the Malliakos Gulf 'horseshoe' along the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway will reclose at noon on Monday for all vehicles for completion of repairs caused by a massive landslide in early December.

    The Tempi section of the country's main north-south highway has been closed to traffic since December 17, 2009 following a massive landslide, which claimed the life of an Italian engineer who was project director of a bridge being constructed at the site while arriving to inspect damage caused by falling rocks.

    The section was reopened briefly to facilitate Easter holidaymakers after most of the repairs had been completed.

    Traffic will be diverted to alternative routes.

    [24] Memorial service for Thessaloniki Jews who perished in Nazi concentration camps

    A memorial service for the 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki who died in Nazi concentration camps 67 years ago was held at the Monastirioton Synagogue on Sunday by the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki.

    "The remembrance must not cease. Nearly an entire Greece was led to the crematoriums and put to death," said David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) and leader of the Thessaloniki Jewish Community, which numbers some 1,500 members.

    Some 65,000 Jews of Greece perished in the Holocaust, while the number in all of Europe is 6 million.

    On Saturday, July 11, 1942, the German occupation forces in Greece gathered up the Jewish males of Thessaloniki at Eleftherias Square on the pretext of listing them on labor rosters and, after putting them through a variety of humiliations, sent 9,000 of them to forced labor.

    The last dispatch of Jews to the concentration camps took place on August 1943, after which the German occupation forces destroyed Jewish cultural centers, libraries, philanthropic foundations, Synagogues and the Jewish cemetery.

    [25] PEGASO European research initiative launched

    Over 60 scientists from 23 European organizations representing 15 countries, who specialize in different fields of research, meet in Venice on April 12-14 to launch the PEGASO (People for Ecosystem Based Governance in Assessing Sustainable Development of Ocean and Coast) project. Greece participates in the initiative through the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR).

    Barcelona's Universitat Autonoma has undertaken the coordination of the endeavour, a joint effort to bridge science and decision-making processes on issues related to coast management. The project will be completed in Dec. 2014 and will be funded by the EC Framework Programme 7 with roughly 7 million euros during the next four years.

    The goal is to study specific actions to be applied under the Integral Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) for the protection of the Mediterranean signed by 21 countries in Jan. 2008.

    Researchers will analyze the situation in the Aegean Sea islands; the northern Adriatic Sea (where climate change and rising sea levels pose a threat to the city of Venice); the Nile Delta; the Moroccan coast, the northern coast of Lebanon; the Rhone River mouth located in The Camargue, France; the Danube Delta; the Sebastopol Bay; the Gulf of Gabes, Georgia, etc.

    [26] Drug dealers arrested in Crete, narcotics found in Heraklio prison

    Two foreign nationals, aged 22 and 23, were arrested on Monday in Gazi, Crete charged with drug dealing.

    According to police the two men were in a car that police officers stopped for a spot check. One of the men threw out of the window a bag containing 951 grams of cannabis and the two attempted to escape on foot.

    Police chased and finally arrested them. The suspects will be sent before a prosecutor.

    In a separate incident, Alikarnassos (Heraklion, Crete) correctional facility guards found approximately 100 grams of heroin divided into doses during a routine search. The drugs were found in a refrigerator in the Albanian inmates' ward.

    The prosecutor and police are investigating how the drugs were smuggled into the prison, given that the checks at the facility are stringent.

    [27] Police attacked by youngsters

    A group of youngsters attacked late on Monday evening police forces outside the ruling PASOK's headquarters in the central Athens of Exarchia, with a molotov-type explosive device.

    Police were investigating in the matter, while a number of suspects have been arrested.

    Weather Forecast

    [28] Cloudy, rainy on Tuesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 21C. Cloudy with possible showers in Athens, with variable 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 21C. Cloudy and rainy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 17C.

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

    The arrests of six people suspected of being members of the "Revolutionary Struggle" terrorist group, finalised Eurogroup support plan for the Greek economy, and the new social security bill, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Revolutionary Struggle in the authorities' hands - Indisputable documents found in terrorists' safehouses".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Revolutionary Struggle caught in the mousetrap - Police also closing in on Revolutionaries' Sect - The web of the new generation of terrorists is being untangled".

    AVRIANI: "None of the politicians will pay? Are they not the ones who are responsible for the kickbacks and the bribes in the public works and the state procurements?".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Up to 20 percent cutbacks in pensions - Changes in social security 'locked in'."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Social security: 50 burning articles - The first bill arrived before the IMF".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "80 billion euros three-year breather - Decision sends message to speculators".

    ESTIA: "We must rely on our own powers to exit from the crisis".

    ETHNOS: "They dismantled Revolutionary Struggle - Greek Police's and Citizens Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis' impressive blow against terrorism".

    IMERISSIA: "Crucial hours for the country - The spread will decide the recourse to EU -IMF".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "45 billion euros support from Eurozone and IMF".

    TA NEA: "The loaded gun is... a 45er".

    VRADYNI: "They are leading Greece to a 'death cycle' - Eurogroup's 'tele decision' did not disperse the clouds".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [30] Pope's visit to Cyprus historic, say Catholics and Orthodox

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The visit of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to Cyprus is a pastoral visit with many dimensions, the Apostolic Nuncio in Cyprus, Antonio Franco stressed in a press conference on Monday, in which the Catholic Church in Cyprus (Maronites and Latins) publicised the schedule of the Pope's visit to the island.

    The visit was officially announced last Saturday in Rome and Nicosia. Nuncio Franco said that the three days visit of Pope Benedict starts on June 4th in Paphos, on the western coast, where he will have a moment of pilgrimage on the footstep of Saint Paul. On Saturday the Pope will meet with Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II and on Sunday the Pope will present to all prelates of Catholic churches in the Middle East the "Instrumentum Laboris", the document for the Synod of Middle East, in next October, he added.

    Nuncio underlined that "it is the first time that a Pope visits the island but the Christian presence in the island is Apostolic, comes from the preaching and the presence of Paul and Barnaba on the island is the characteristic history of the island".

    "We must prepare for this visit so it may bring fruits of a spiritual renewal in our communities because the Pope comes as the head of the Catholic churches but also as the spiritual leader to bring and stress the spiritual values to orient our lives, the lives of every Christian, every believer," he said.

    Youssef Soueif, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus, stressed that the visit of Pope Benedict "is a grand and important event in the recent history of Cyprus and is a gesture of love and peace".

    Announcing the schedule of the apostolic trip of the Pope to Cyprus, he said that the head of the Roman Catholic Church arrives at Paphos Airport. A pilgrimage and ecumenical prayer will follow at Column of Saint Paul, at the Church of Saint Kyriaki. On Saturday, June 5th Pope will meet with President of the Cyprus Republic, Demetris Christofias. He will also meet with the Catholic community of Cyprus (Maronites and Latins) at the Elementary School of Saint Maronas in Anthoupolis. He will visit the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II and in the afternoon he will hold Holy Mass at the Holy Cross Latin church where he will meet with the whole of the clergy and laity, who are dedicated to the pastoral service.

    On Sunday, the schedule includes Holy Mass at "Eleftheria" Sports Stadium, at the end of which the Pope will present to all prelates of Catholic churches in the Middle East the "Instrumentum Laboris", the text to prepare the meeting of bishops on the issue of Christians in the Middle East, which will be held in Rome in October. The conclusion of the day and the visit will be with players to the Virgin Mary at the Virgin Mary of Graces Maronite Cathedral, at Paphos Gate.

    Soueif said that the visit of the Pope to Cyprus "will be a great opportunity to promote humane and Christian principles and values, based on freedom, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace". During this pastoral trip, the successor of Saint Peter is making a pilgrimage, following the steps of Saint Paul, he added, saying that the Holy Father in a spirit of brotherly dilection is meeting the Orthodox Church, all the churches and all the people of goodwill.

    "In a spiritual disposition, ecclesiastical and cultural, though the joy of resurrected Jesus, we are preparing to welcome Pope Benedict XVI in our country, where his presence among us will be a blessing," he noted.

    The representative of Archbishop of Cyprus, Demosthenis Demosthenous said that the Church of Cyprus expresses joy and pleasure for the apostolic trip of Pope Benedict to the island, a historic visit. "It will mark as we believe the history of Cyprus towards the horizons of peace, symbiosis and the final reconciliation", he added, noting that Christians will give a global example of peace, solidarity and peace. "Cyprus welcomes joyful Pope Benedict XVI".

    Asked if the Pope will meet with the Turkish Cypriot imam of Turkish occupied occupied Lefke village, as Turkish Cypriot press reports suggest, Nuncio Franco said that for the time being he is not aware of such an issue, but there is still time. "When there is such a question we will deal with it," he added.

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