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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-04-17

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

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

Saturday, 17 April 2010 Issue No: 3470

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou on foreign policy issues
  • [02] PM: EU support mechanism exists today where before there was nothing
  • [03] ND: No to IMF
  • [04] Samaras: 'IMF gun' was PM's idea
  • [05] KKE attack on EU, IMF
  • [06] KKE on economy
  • [07] Juncker statements regarding Greece at informal eurozone meeting
  • [08] Alt. foreign minister meets U.S. envoy, visiting Swedish official
  • [09] Hospital procurement amendment tabled
  • [10] Greece to auction 1.5-bln-euro treasury bills issue on Tuesday
  • [11] Greek inflation rate jumps to 3.9% in March, Eurostat
  • [12] Greek M&A activity down in 2009
  • [13] Electricity consumption down 3.0 pct in Q1
  • [14] Greek trade deficit down in Jan, Eurostat
  • [15] Greek budget deficit down in Q1
  • [16] Stocks end 1.64% down
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [20] Flights from Greece cancelled due to volcanic ash
  • [21] Athens City Games 2010 kick off with 27th Athens Fun Run
  • [22] Two more suspects in terror case held on remand
  • [23] Greeks have low confidence in country's healthcare, Eurobarometer poll shows
  • [24] Ecumenical Patriarch receives press delegations from Greece, Cyprus
  • [25] Athens symposium on Greek-German relations
  • [26] National Theatre cancels performances due to strikes
  • [27] Cloudy, rainy on Saturday
  • [28] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [29] Cypriot FM briefs EU ambassadors on direct trade regulation Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou on foreign policy issues

    Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Friday dismissed press reports claiming plans to divide Aegean along the 25th meridian east of Greenwich, or that Greece had promised to support Kosovo's independence and the transformation of FYROM into a United States protectorate, saying that these were merely "figments of imagination." He was speaking in Parliament, during the Hour of the Prime Minister, in reply to a question tabled by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga.

    "If you want to believe them, your policy will be based on incorrect information and fabricated news. You feed anxieties and link everything in a way that only conspiracy thinking can link them, in accordance with the stereotypes you often use when it comes to foreign policy issues," Papandreou said.

    In her question, Papariga had cited press reports on the alleged division of the Aegean Sea as well as a document issued by the commander of the U.S. Air Force base in Izmir, which "declared the Aegean a gray zone" and supported "positions according to which the Greek-Turkish discussions on the differences between the two countries go beyond the continental shelf issue."

    In his reply, Papandreou stressed that Greece does not recognize that the status of the Imia islets is disputed and emphasised that "Imia are a Greek island."

    He said that in terms of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, a number of issues had been raised and "this is the reason we say that we should have recourse to The Hague."

    Commenting on the document of the Air Force commander in Izmir he said that "our request to have this document withdrawn was accepted and this is positive development for Greece. There is no issue for the United States as regards an anti-missile shield in Greece."

    Referring to the Balkan states, Papandreou said that "we are promoting an EU pledge to accept them as members in 2014. Such a development will create a momentum for greater rule of law, transparency and democracy in those countries as well as a momentum for the solution of their basic problems."

    "On the FYROM name issue and the Cyprus problem we have presented our 'red lines' and we have to promote those issues in all the countries and bilateral meetings," Papandreou said, adding that "in spite of the tough economic circumstances, we know how to defend our national interests."

    [02] PM: EU support mechanism exists today where before there was nothing

    Prime minister George Papandreou said on Friday that the EU support mechanism for the Greek economy "exists today, where before there was nothing", adding that, if activated, this would be with the interests of the country as the criterion and the "need for calm in the economy", and stressed that "we are taking the necessary preparatory actions".

    "Let's not fool ourselves. the IMF has already entered the process, it is the excessive deficit process, to which we have been led twice by (previous government) New Democracy. It already supervises us. But what does IMF involvement not mean? It does not mean that the country has defaulted. We can still borrow, but the assessment and approval goes through the IMF. The mechanism also means that we will not be left to sink, as many had predicted. And that risk was the result of the specific policy of the previous five-years," Papandreou said in parliament, during the Hour of the Prime Minister, in reply to a current question tabled by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance.

    He added that as much as ND and its present leader Antonis Samaras shout that they don't want IMF involvement, "it is you who have led us there and, if ND was still in government today, you would have gone immediately to the IMF".

    Papandreou said that the European support mechanism, albeit with IMF participation, had been a success, but the essential success will be for Greece to make the necessary changes.

    Addressing himself to SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, Papandreou said: "You, too, voted in favor of the Maastricht Treaty and you, too, as a party, assumed commitments, Mr. Tsipras. Don't accuse us, then, of materialising our commitments, which are commitments to the Greek people, too. Because I can't imagine that wasteful spending and incorrect management of the resources are to the people's benefit."

    Replying to criticism in the SYRIZA current question, Papandreou said that his government "never jubilated over the European support mechanism".

    "But at least the EU decided to support Greece, to be at its side, and that was the outcome of our effort. Without that process, the country would have gone directly to the IMF, and then you would have asked me: 'Where are your socialist reflexes?," Papandreou stressed.

    Indeed, the measures are painful, the premier acknowledged, "but just imagine that we had defaulted and entered the downfall of dissolution of the economy...then you would have asked me: 'Where are your socialist reflexes?"

    "My reflexes were to protect the country. And, through my experience I have become even more socialist than I was before. The situation on the global markets has become ingrained in me, where principles and regulations need to be put in place so that the international capital will contribute to boosting growth, justice, equality, confronting the major problems of humanity, from poverty to climate change," Papandreou stressed.

    Elaborating the current question, Tsipras described Thursday as "a day of humiliation for Greece and for Europe, because voluntarily and of your own accord, you proceed to the dissolution of the social contract of the post-dictatorship period and surrendered without a fight to the supervision of the IMF".

    Tsipras charged that the government has no democratic, legitimate right to implement measures such as it is taking without the people's consent. "Even the Germans, who will lend to us, will put it before parliament first. How can you want to lead us into an extended period of instability without securing parliamentary consensus?," he added.

    "You are overstepping the 'red lines'. I don't know if you have a sense of the consequences of your choices, or whether you are navigating without a compass, but you are permanently divorcing yourselves from you history and the forces that support you. The people of PASOK will react to these choices," Tsipras warned.

    [03] ND: No to IMF

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) is opposed to a Greek recourse to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos reiterated on Friday morning, and stressed that the country, with a new policy mix, must make it on its own.

    "The government appears to be leading the country towards the International Monetary Fund. New Democracy considers it imperative to repeat, once again, our stated conviction that we need to show confidence in the strengths of the Greek people and proceed with a new mix of economic policy in order to make it on our own. And, primarily, without new onerous conditions, which the IMF is sure to demand and which will have catalytic repercussions on the Greek society," the ND press spokesman said.

    [04] Samaras: 'IMF gun' was PM's idea

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Friday that prime minister George Papandreou has apparently "forgotten that the 'IMF gun', which has exploded in his hands, was his own idea", and also the fact that both the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are headed by socialists.

    ND, he stressed, has from the outset been opposed to IMF involvement, and called on the prime minister to assume his blame and stop seeking alibis.

    [05] KKE attack on EU, IMF

    The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) political bureau in a statement issued on Friday called on the people to repel what the party called a "brutal anti-labour, anti-popular policy" followed by the government.

    The measures adopted by the government are aimed at protecting the capital and not at salvaging the country, the statement underlined, accusing the governing PASOK party and opposition New Democracy (ND) and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) of leading the low income earners to a dramatic deterioration of living standards.

    Both the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were characterised as "imperialistic and inter-dependent mechanisms."

    The government was also accused of "burying" social security rights.

    Finally, the KKE accused opposition the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and the mass media of contributing to the disorientation of the people by sending out mixed messages.

    [06] KKE on economy

    The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Political Bureau, in an announcement on Friday, called for "alert from the working class, poor farmers, the self-employed, the people in their entirety and the youth, for action everywhere to repel the barbaric anti-labour and antipopular policy that the government is continuing and escalating."

    The announcement said that the government's measures are not aimed at the country's salvation but at the protection of the profits and interests of big capital.

    "The governmnent, EU, IMF are blackmailing the people to bow their heads. With the support of (main opposition New Democracy) ND and (Popular Orthodox Rally) LAOS, they are leading the working people, the working classes to a dramatic worsening of their life," it said.

    KKE also criticised the government over the social security issue, stressing that with the bill on the social security prepared by the government "whatever social security rights have remained after the successive slaughter of Social Security by the governments of PASOK and ND are being led to final burial."

    [07] Juncker statements regarding Greece at informal eurozone meeting

    MADRID (ANA-MPA)

    Greece is not expected to seek activation of a eurozone support mechanism at the meeting of euro-area finance ministers, Eurogroup the group's chairman, Jean-Claude Juncker, said here on Friday.

    "There are no indications that Greece will ask for help today (Friday)," the Luxembourg premier said ahead of an informal meeting of the Union's finance ministers, while he added that the eurozone meeting did not deal with the Greek issue at length, given that a teleconference by the same participants dealt extensively with the Greek debt crisis on Sunday.

    Finally, he said eurozone members appear, in general terms, ready to meet any Greek request for support.

    [08] Alt. foreign minister meets U.S. envoy, visiting Swedish official

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Friday received U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard for what was described as a routine meeting in the framework of the minister's regular contact with foreign diplomats in Athens.

    Speckhard said they had discussed diplomatic issues, including Droutsas' recent trip to Turkey and the positive developments in relations between Greece and Turkey.

    The ambassador said their discussion had been interesting and informative and that he would convey the positive developments to Washington.

    Earlier on Friday, Droutsas met with visiting Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Frank Belfrage and discussed issues of European interest and a delegation from the Hellenic Federation of Enterprise (SEV) to discuss ways of promoting the presence of Greek businesses abroad, particularly with Turkey in view of a major business conference scheduled to take place during a visit to Athens by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    [09] Hospital procurement amendment tabled

    An amendment that seeks to improve the existing dysfunctional hospital procurement system was tabled in Parliament on Friday allowing the health procurement committee and the regional health authorities to proceed with online tenders for hospital procurements.

    The amendment also provides for the establishment of a data base to compare prices with similar products in other EU countries and avoid overpricing.

    Also, the committee is no longer responsible to collect financial claims from social insurance funds on behalf of hospitals and regional health authorities with the specific responsibility being transferred to the legal entities already mentioned.

    In addition, the amendment provides for the adoption of special hospital packaging for medicines and the launch of tenders based on the potency of their active substance before they are supplied to public hospitals.

    The explanatory report accompanying the amendment mentioned that "the proposed change will make the system more effective and productive and reduce spending."

    Financial News

    [10] Greece to auction 1.5-bln-euro treasury bills issue on Tuesday

    Greece's Finance ministry will auction a three-month treasury bills issue on Tuesday, 20 April, with the aim to raise 1.5 billion euros. The Finance ministry said the new issue will be available to private investors tax-free on the precondition that investors will hold the bonds until their maturity.

    [11] Greek inflation rate jumps to 3.9% in March, Eurostat

    Greek inflation jumped to 3.9 pct in March, up from 2.9 pct in February, Eurostat announced on Friday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 1.4 pct in March, from 0.9 pct in February and 0.6 pct in March 2009, while in the EU-27, the inflation rate rose to 1.9 pct from 1.5 pct and 1.3 pct, over the same periods, respectively.

    Latvia (-4.0 pct), Ireland (-2.4 pct) and Lithuania (-0.4 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates, while Hungary (5.7 pct), Romania (4.2 pct) and Greece (3.9 pct) the highest rates.

    The inflation rate rose in 19 member-states in March, compared with February, it remained unchanged in two and was down in five states. There were no figures for the UK.

    [12] Greek M&A activity down in 2009

    The number of mergers and acquisitions completed in the Greek market totaled 345 last year, from 450 in 2007 hit by an economic crisis, an ICAP DataBank report said on Friday. The report said the value of M&A activity also fell to 658,535,203 euros in 2009, from 1,354,159,503 euros in 2007.

    Mergers and acquisitions emerged as one of the main forms of strategic expansion and growth for Greek enterprises, steadily gaining ground in a modern competitive environment. The report said incentives behind each merger and acquisition agreement varied for each case, as well as whether the deal was related or unrelated. A related merger is a result of efforts to create scale economics, while an unrelated deal could be the result of a diversification of business risks. In some cases, a merger between enterprises could help to a faster penetration in a new market, while others could have a defensive character aimed at protecting market shares in a declining or over-consolidated market.

    [13] Electricity consumption down 3.0 pct in Q1

    Electricity consumption continued falling in the first quarter of 2010, with hydro-electric power stations raising their participation in electricit production in the country, a report by DESMHE, the market's watchdog, said on Friday.

    The report showed that Greek households and enterprises continued cutting their electricity consumption, recording a 3.0 pct decline in the quarter and a 2.7 pct fall in March. Greece's 30 largest industries, however, raised slightly their electricity consumption in March, although consumption by this specific category fell by 1.16 pct in the first quarter.

    Hydro-electric power stations raised their production by 112 pct in the January-March period, accounting for 23.5 pct of total electricity production in March.

    Electricity imports accounted for 12 pct of total consumption in March, down from 15.7 pct in natural gas. The report said that Public Power Corporation has minimized the use of oil in electricity production, while emission rights costs fell significantly in the first quarter. Renewable energy sources accounted only for 4.3 pct of total electricity production, although production rose 17 pct in the January-March period.

    [14] Greek trade deficit down in Jan, Eurostat

    Greece's trade deficit fell to 2.2 billion euros in January 2010, down 100 million euros compared with the corresponding month last year, Eurostat announced on Friday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report said Greek exports totaled 1.0 billion euros, while Greek imports totaled 3.2 billion euros, with exports up 1.0 pct and imports down 3.0 pct compared with 2009.

    Eurostat said Germany recorded the largest trade surplus in the EU-27 with 8.0 billion euros, followed by Ireland 3.3 billion, while the UK (9.4 bln), France (5.2 bln), Spain (4.5 bln), Italy (3.4 bln) and Greece (2.2 bln) recorded the highest trade deficits.

    Eurozone recorded a trade surplus of 2.6 billion euros with the rest of the world, while the EU-27 recorded a trade deficit of 6.0 billion euros.

    [15] Greek budget deficit down in Q1

    Greece's budget deficit fell to 5.678 billion euros in the January-March period, from 6.354 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.

    The central bank, in a report, said regular budget revenues fell to 11.766 billion euros in the first quarter, from 11.796 billion euros last year, while budget spending fell to 15.046 billion euros from 15.396 billion euros over the same period, respectively.

    The central bank said budget figures were not fully comparable as March spending figures were boosted by early payment of the Easter benefit to workers, while the same month's VAT revenues were collected in April because of the Easter holidays.

    The state budget's primary deficit fell to 2.916 billion euros in the first three months of the year, from 3.732 billion euros in the same period last year.

    [16] Stocks end 1.64% down

    Stocks ended significantly lower in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market below the 2,000 level. The index fell 1.64 pct to end at 1,995.24 points, with turnover at 145.440 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index dropped 2.23 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.99 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.10 pct. The Food (1.0 pct) and Insurance (0.75 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (3.39 pct) and Chemicals (3.25 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Vivere (9.3 pct), Hellenic Fish Farming (9.09 pct) and Livanis (8.70 pct) were top gainer,s while Cardico (11.54 pct), Attica Publications (9.79 pct) and Sanyo Hellas (9.52 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 115 to 46 with another 56 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.75%

    Industrials: -0.62%

    Commercial: +0.71%

    Construction: -1.37%

    Media: +0.19%

    Oil & Gas: -0.45%

    Personal & Household: -0.25%

    Raw Materials: -3.18%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.04%

    Technology: -2.51%

    Telecoms: -2.70%

    Banks: -3.39%

    Food & Beverages: +1.00%

    Health: -2.12%

    Utilities: -1.44%

    Chemicals: -3.25%

    Financial Services: -0.51%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and MIG.

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

    Alpha Bank: 6.35

    ATEbank: 1.50

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.46

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.07

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.23

    National Bank of Greece: 13.30

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.30

    Intralot: 3.69

    OPAP: 17.50

    OTE: 8.65

    Bank of Piraeus: 6.19

    Titan: 19.60

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened sharply to 425 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 400 bps the previous year, with the Greek bond yielding 7.34 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct. Turnover in the market remained a low 485 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 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.48 pct.

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.79 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 78.020 million euros. Volume in the Big Cap index totaled 14,163 contracts worth 69.196 million euros, with 25,840 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,815 contracts worth 8.824 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,399), followed by Eurobank (903), MIG (2,587), Piraeus Bank (1,099), Alpha Bank (1,448), Mytilineos (231) and Hellenic Postbank (236).

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.364

    Pound sterling 0.884

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 9.764

    Japanese yen 126.3

    Swiss franc 1.445

    Norwegian kroner 8.018

    Canadian dollar 1.367

    Australian dollar 1.463

    General News

    [20] Flights from Greece cancelled due to volcanic ash

    Dozens of flights either departing from or arriving in Greek airports were cancelled on Friday due to the cloud of volcanic ash that has swept across Europe from Iceland, with hundreds of passengers left stranded.

    At least 60 flights to and from Athens' international airport had been cancelled by the middle of the day and at least another 10 departing from or arriving at the international airport in Thessaloniki. Athens airport later announced the cancellation of a further 23 flights in the evening, while it is not yet known when normal air traffic will be restored.

    Aegean Airlines, which had cancelled 20 flights to European destinations in the morning, on Friday evening also cancelled its flight to Vienna and a flight from Thessaloniki to Munich.

    Other airlines had problems carrying out flight schedules because their aircraft are among dozens that have been stranded in European airports that are now closed and are unable to return.

    [21] Athens City Games 2010 kick off with 27th Athens Fun Run

    The City of Athens is inaugurating a series of three sports events under the title "Athens City Games 2010", aiming to present a different side of Athens and showcase a more outgoing, healthy and positive way of life for the residents and the city, according to the organisers.

    The City Games kick off on Sunday, April 25, with the city's classic sporting event, the Athens Fun Run, the motto of which is "This year, I'm running for me!". The Fun Run is Athens' oldest and largest participatory sport event.

    This will be followed on Sunday, May 9, by the Street Events, a new event that will transform the city center into a sports field for youngsters who love football, basketball and skateboarding.

    The third event, on Sunday, October 10, is the popular Athens Cycle Tour, which showcases an alternative mode of transport in the modern metropolis and offers an opportunity for all to be familiarised with this commuter medium.

    The 27th Fun Run takes off from Athens' Panathenian Stadium at 10:00 a.m., while the parallel event for individuals with disabilities will set off at the same time, from Syntagma Square (on the corner, at the Hotel Grande Bretagne and Panepistimiou St). Both courses terminate at the Zappeion.

    Presenting the Athens City Games, Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis noted that "the 27th Athens Fun Run, our city's most historic sporting institution, this year marks the start of the Athens City Games 2010".

    "On April 25, we will put aside our troubles and concerns and flood the streets of Athens with voices, laughter and our desire for a better life in the city in which we live. We will show everyone that Athens is not just streets, buildings and squares. Athens is its people! And this is why the 27th Athens Fun Run is dedicated to every single one of us because all of us, regardless of age, race or ethnicity, are equally important for Athens," the Mayor said.

    The event is being held under the auspices of the Education, Life-long Learning and Religion Ministry, with the support of radio station Diesi 101.3 FM and the magazine Men's Health and sponsored by 3E and AVRA Active, while the newspaper Metro and Athina Municipal Radio 9.84 FM are the communication sponsors.

    [22] Two more suspects in terror case held on remand

    The last two of the six suspects accused as members of the terror group "Revolutionary Struggle" were remanded in custody on Friday, after appearing before the 19th regular examining magistrate. They were Evangelos Stathopoulos and Christoforos Kortesis.

    The first denied the charges against him, claiming that he has suffered from serious health problems caused by a traffic accident that have kept him immobile, while he was also a defendant in another case between 2000 and 2007 and required to report to a police station twice a month. These two factors, according to his defence lawyer, made it impossible for Stathopoulos to participate in a terrorist organisation.

    Kortesis asked the magistrate to make the charges against him more specific, pointing out that they were absolutely identical to those brought against the other suspects and simply listed all the acts for which Revolutionary Struggle had claimed responsibility. The accused said that there was no evidence that might linke him with specific acts by the terrorist group.

    The magistrate turned down his request, which will now be referred to the appropriate council of judges.

    [23] Greeks have low confidence in country's healthcare, Eurobarometer poll shows

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Eighty-three percent of Greeks believe there is a risk that they will be harmed by hospital care in their country, according to the findings of a Eurobarometer poll released on Friday in Brussels. This is the highest percentage of those that feel at risk of harm from hospital care in the 27 EU member-states, where the average is 50 percent.

    They are followed in descending order by Cypriot (81 percent), Latvian (75 percent) and Polish citizens (69 percent). At the other end of the spectrum, those that believe the risk of harm from hospital care is lowest are Austrians (19 percent), Finns (27 percent), Germans (31 percent) and the Spanish (35 percent).

    Asked to evaluate the overall quality of healthcare in their country, only 25 percent of Greeks consider that healthcare in the country is good, compared with 70 percent on average for the EU as a whole. This is the lowest percentage in the EU, matching that in Romania, while the highest levels of satisfaction with the quality of healthcare in their country are reported by Belgians (97 percent), Austria (95 percent) and Finland (94 percent).

    Asked whether they or their family members have ever experienced adverse events when receiving healthcare, however, eight out of 10 respondents in Greece said they had not, along with eight out of 10 respondents in Austria, Bulgaria and Portugal. By contrast, four out of 10 respondents in Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and the Netherlands said that they had.

    [24] Ecumenical Patriarch receives press delegations from Greece, Cyprus

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received at the Phanar a visiting delegation of journalists from Greece and Cyprus, who attend the European Federation of Journalists'(EFJ) general meeting held here on April 16-18.

    The delegation was briefed on developments that concern the Patriarchate and the activities of the Patriarch.

    The Greek delegation was comprised of International Federation of Journalists executive committee member Nikos Megrelis, Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) vice-president Enny Magiasi and ESIEA board member Fani Petralia.

    [25] Athens symposium on Greek-German relations

    A two-day symposium entitled "Milestones in the Greek-German Relations", co-organized by the Hellenic Parliament Foundation and the German embassy in Greece, commenced at the Goethe Institut in Athens on Friday, in the presence of President Karolos Papoulias.

    Addressing the event, Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos and German ambassador to Athens Wolfgang Schultheiss underlined that Greece and Germany can look forward to a better future together within the EU framework and based on the values of a common European culture, along with the principles of mutual understanding and respect, cooperation and solidarity.

    The German envoy pointed out that the stability of the European common currency is a very important parameter for Germany, while he categorically emphasised that Berlin will not let the eurozone be threatened by the economic situation or abandon Greece, in case the economic crisis the latter faces deteriorates.

    An exhibition entitled "From the German philhellenism to Greek communities in Germany" also opened at the Goethe Institut the same day.

    [26] National Theatre cancels performances due to strikes

    Greece's National Theatre has cancelled all performances on Friday and Saturday due to a strike by the National Theatre staff union, as well as performances scheduled next Wednesday and Thursday when the Greek actors union will join in a strike declared by PAME, the trade union faction affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    Theatre-goers that have bought tickets for those dates are asked to visit the National Theatre's box office in order to exchange them for another date or get their money back. Alternatively, they can call the telephone number 210 7234567 for new tickets or get them on the Internet.

    Weather Forecast

    [27] Cloudy, rainy on Saturday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 9C and 27C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with light winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 25C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 19C.

    [28] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The possibility of immediate activation of the EU-IMF support mechanism following Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's letter to the ECB, EU and IMF to start deliberations, police's findings on the Revolutionary Struggle terror group and changes in the social security system, were the main front-page items on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Changes in social security and denationalisations to be accelerated".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Goodmorning IMF, goodbye pensions - Government to activate the support mechanism and announce shocking changes in social security".

    AVGHI: "Colony of the IMF - IMF-ECB-EU 'supervisors' group starts work on Monday in Athens".

    AVRIANI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou pushed the IMF button - Greece's new bosses will arrive on Monday".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou-Samaras secret agreement - The behind-the-scenes of their discussion that led main opposition ND leader Samaras to make a U-turn".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government delivers the country's keys to IMF - The request for activation of the support mechanism will probably be announced on Monday".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tell us what measures you want - Papaconstantinou's letter brings us one step before the IMF".

    ESTIA: "While the country is at the risk of bankruptcy, the number of MPs (300) is a luxury".

    ETHNOS: "Tell us the measures and...we will come - Papaconstantinou's letter to EU, IMF and ECB".

    IMERISSIA: "Our life with the EU and IMF - What is the government negotiating now?".

    KATHIMERINI: "Recourse to IMF measures - Papaconstantinou's letter the first step for activation of the support mechanism".

    LOGOS: We have sent an SOS for the support mechanism - One step closer to the activation - Papaconstantinou's letter points at IMF".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Start of negotiations on the support mechanism".

    NIKI: "The patricians and the plebeians of pensions - Royal pensions for the MPs and starvation pensions for the masses".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "They're massacring the social security system - (Call for) General uprising in the April 21 and 22 strike".

    TA NEA: "The nightmare package- Cutbacks in salaries and pensions - On Monday all issues on the table".

    TO VIMA: "Hit lists include prominent persons - The prime minister was among the terrorists' targets".

    VRADYNI: "Ideal suicide - Finance Ministry's letter to IMF, EU and ECB on the 'rescue' conditions".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] Cypriot FM briefs EU ambassadors on direct trade regulation

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou outlined the government's positions on the European Commission's direct trade regulation, during a meeting he had on Friday with ambassadors of EU member-states stationed in Cyprus.

    An official press release notes that ''Kyprianou had a meeting Friday at the foreign ministry with the accredited Ambassadors of the EU member-states to Cyprus.''

    ''The Minister briefed the European diplomats on the Cypriot government's positions concerning the proposal of the European Commission for the direct trade regulation,'' the release adds.

    The regulation on direct trade with the Turkish Cypriot community was approved by the Commission on April 26 2004, two days after separate simultaneous referenda took place among the island's two communities on a blueprint submitted by the then UN SG Kofi Annan for a comprehensive settlement. The proposed solution was rejected by the Greek Cypriots and approved by the Turkish Cypriots. The Commission announced it would promote the regulation through the European Parliament. Nicosia believes, as Kyprianou said on Thursday, that the regulation is legally wrong and does not conform to the April 2004 Council conclusions.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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