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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-04-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 29 April 2010 Issue No: 3480


  • [01] PM: 'We'll do everything possible to protect the country'
  • [02] PM Papandreou addresses Economist conference
  • [03] 'Greece will not sink', ND leader says
  • [04] FinMin meets with German SPD delegation
  • [05] Commission reiterates 'full confidence' in Greece
  • [06] Karatzaferis to PM: Avoid inaction
  • [07] Alt. FM meets with Turkish foreign undersecretary
  • [08] Athens eyes fYRoM attempt to assume CoE chair under disputed constitutional name
  • [09] President Papoulias receives WHIPA presidency
  • [10] President receives head of Foundation of the Hellenic World
  • [11] Samaras made honorary resident of Rhodes
  • [12] 'Kallikratis' plan 'signals end of an era', Ragoussis says
  • [13] GSEE seeks immediate deal on collective labour agreement
  • [14] GSEE leader meets EU-IMF 'troika'
  • [15] Minister outlines strategy for improved work safety
  • [16] Labor Minister meeting with SEV president
  • [17] Teleconference of EU Tourism ministers
  • [18] EU Budgetary Control Com't meeting in Athens
  • [19] Athens hotels' prices down in Q1
  • [20] Greece bans short selling for two months
  • [21] Greek stocks in midday technical recovery
  • [22] Stocks recover moderately on Wed.
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [26] New system for arts funding announced
  • [27] Police first DNA analysis results in terror investigation
  • [28] Chinese edition of book on Mikis Theodorakis in EXPO 2010
  • [29] Daniel Cohn-Bendit on publication of book in Greek
  • [30] Escaped convinct arrested, charged with robberies
  • [31] Cloudy on Thursday
  • [32] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [33] Christofias expresses satisfaction over the National Council's meeting Politics

  • [01] PM: 'We'll do everything possible to protect the country'

    Prime Minister George Papandreou reaffirmed on Wednesday that the government will do everything necessary to protect the country from any danger, addressing his Cabinet amid the ongoing and unprecedented debt and borrowing crisis battering Greece.

    He stressed that the European Union should "stop the fire that broke out" from spreading across Europe, adding that the burden Greece is shouldering is Europe's burden, and possibly the entire world.

    Referring to the "Kallikratis" local administration reform and merger plan, he characterised it as a leap forward for the country's developmental realignment.

    He said the plan will contribute to fiscal recovery through spending cuts via a broad merger process affecting roughly 4,000 public sector legal entities. Aside from the cuts in operational costs, bureaucracy will also be reduced, he said adding that local administration will be monitored more effectively as regards the management of funds.

    A broad range of authorities will be transferred to local administration with the state being limited to its executive powers while the public agencies will be closer to the people where they are needed, he said. "It is a major leap for a better state," the prime minister stressed.

    He also announced that the local administration officials' term in office will be five years instead of four and local administration elections will coincide with Euro-elections.

    "We are determined to have Greece correct a course of the past decades in a short period of time," while he called on the Greek people to help toward this effort, referring to it as a "national and collective wager" that concerns all.

    He said that the talks on how the support mechanism will be activated will end soon and stressed that "we should show that the assistance that will be given to our country will bring results."

    "We are going through a difficult phase in our lives, for each one of us individually and the country itself," he said.

    He characterized the measures taken by the government as temporary but tough and reaffirmed that he and the entire government will do everything possible to protect the country from any danger.

    He described the situation as difficult not just for Greece but the whole Europe as well and stressed that Greece, on its part, assumes its own share of the responsibility to the fullest.

    [02] PM Papandreou addresses Economist conference

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing the Economist's conference in Athens on Wednesday evening, stressed that "a small fire, a spark must not be allowed to get out of control and become a threat for the eurozone."

    Papandreou said that it appeared from the situation that has been created from the beginning of the crisis that "the markets do not ultimately regulate themselves and they do not always function rationally," while for the specific case he said that the markets "are afraid and evaluate by depending on the worst possible scenario and not the most probable."

    The prime minister mentioned as an example the present increase in spreads to a greater degree than some time ago, "when there was neither the government's Stability Programme nor the implementation of checks, or political will for the support of Greece and even more so when there was no support mechanism."

    Papandreou referred to all the measures enacted by the government and stressed "we are ready to undertake painful measures, as well as to proceed with deep and structural changes in institutions and structures."

    Focusing on foreign policy, he said "we are renewing the policy that we were implementing in the Balkans," and reiterated his proposal on the accession of the western Balkans to the European Union by 2014, saying that such a development would also "constitute a catalyst for the solving of problems, such as that of Kosovo, as well as the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)," while regarding the upcoming visit to Athens by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan he spoke of "a renewal of the rapprochement that began in 2000."

    "We hope that this will also be the beginning of a dialogue, so that we can handle issues such as the delineation of the continental shelf and the termination of the presence of the occupation troops in Cyprus," Papandreou said and at this point in his address he hailed the presence at the conference of both Serb Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and of the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias.

    [03] 'Greece will not sink', ND leader says

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing a preliminary party congress conference on the island of Rhodes on Wednesday, criticised the government and the prime minister for his handling of economic policy issues.

    "Mr. (Prime Minister George) Papandreou received a deficit problem from the previous government which, with his contradictory policy, turned into a borrowing crisis," he said adding "we must not let the vicious circle of recession lead us to absolute collapse."

    Samaras said that "our target is for us to leave the control of the International Monetary Fund an hour earlier and to minimise the consequences of recession."

    The ND leader also referred to the issue of tourism, which was the object of the preliminary congress conference, pointing out that it must have special attention since it constitutes the locomotive of the Greek economy.

    He expressed disagreement with the abolition of the tourism ministry and stressed that emphasis must be placed on the development of quality tourism, presenting the basic guidelines for a modern development strategy for tourism.

    "ND defines the future, while PASOK is continuing to be unbearably populist and to chase the ghosts of the past," Samaras said and called on all the Greeks, regardless of party preferences and ideological disagreements to remain united.

    "Despite all this Greece will not sink. The political system of the past 30 years sank. But Greece will not sink," he concluded.

    [04] FinMin meets with German SPD delegation

    Finance minister George Papaconstantinou met on Wednesday at the finance ministry with a visiting delegation from the German Social Democratic Party's (SPD) parliamentary group.

    The meeting was also attended by German Ambassador to Greece Wolfgang Schultheiss, who said afterwards that Greece is taking courageous measures to tackle its economic problem, adding that the citizens have realised the gravity of the moment.

    The envoy also said that SPD delegation will convey a relevant message to the Bundestag (German parliament), and noted a statement on Wednesday by German federal finance minister Wolfgang Schauble that no one in the German government is discussing restructuring of the Greek debt and that Germany will not let Greece down.

    [05] Commission reiterates 'full confidence' in Greece


    The European Commission on Wednesday said negotiations between Greek authorities, the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were progressing steadily and rapidly and were expected to be completed in the next few days. Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, speaking to reporters here, said there was no doubt that Greece's borrowing needs would be satisfied in a timely.

    The EU spokesman categorically dismissed recent press reports over a possible restructuring of the Greek debt, saying this was not an option for any eurozone member-state, the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF. He stressed that a restructuring of the Greek debt was not even discussed in negotiations currently under way in Athens.

    Altafaj said eurozone countries have selected the "one and only road" to help Greece restore its credibility in markets and ensuring financial stability in the eurozone.

    He underlined that eurozone states, the European Commission and the European Central Bank are determined to guarantee financial stability in the euro-area.

    Commenting on a decision by Standard & Poor's on Tuesday to downgrade Greece's credit rating, Chantal Tiouz, a spokeswoman for International Market Commissioner Michel Barnier, said the European Commission has full confidence in Greece and in the measures adopted by the government, while it expected credit rating agencies to take Greece's fundamental data under consideration and to support the agreed to mechanism, thereby adopting a responsible and productive attitude, particularly during this difficult period.

    [06] Karatzaferis to PM: Avoid inaction

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis described the economic situation in the country as extremely critical in comments on Wednesday.

    Karatzaferis called for an initiative that will convey a message that Greece is able to handle the crisis and the aggressiveness of speculators, while he appealed to the prime minister to be bold, adding that in this case "inaction can be deadly".

    [07] Alt. FM meets with Turkish foreign undersecretary

    Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas met on Wednesday with Turkish undersecretary for foreign affairs, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, with whom he discussed international and regional issues.

    The meeting was a follow-up to a decision announced on April 8 by Droutsas and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara for continuation of the regular consultations between the secretaries general of the two foreign ministries.

    The target of the two delegations, headed by Sinirlioglu and Ambassador Yannis-Alexis Zepos, respectively, is coordination of the contacts and a systematic exchange of views on matters of mutual interest.

    Sinirlioglu also heads the Turkish negotiating team in the Exploratory Contacts between the two countries on resolving the Aegean continental shelf issue, while the Greek team is headed by former ambassador Pavlos Apostolidis.

    According to ministry officials, the two delegations are expected to meet in early May, ahead of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Athens, in the framework of intensification of the exploratory talks announced by Droutsas and Davutoglu after their Ankara talks.

    Turkish deputy prime minister Ali Babacan is due in Athens on Thursday for an Economist international conference.

    [08] Athens eyes fYRoM attempt to assume CoE chair under disputed constitutional name

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA / O. Tsipira)

    The leadership of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) insisted on Wednesday that the land-locked country's upcoming Council of Europe (CoE) chairmanship employ the title of "Macedonian Presidency 2010".

    The one-time Yugoslav republic is set to assume its first-ever six-month CoE rotating chairmanship on May 11.

    "It is a mistake for Skopje to take advantage of the situation to promote their constitutional name," the head of the Greek parliamentary delegation, Dinos Vrettos, said here, adding that "they are given an opportunity to function within the European community and it is a mistake to cultivate such a climate, one seeking to have their views passed."

    He explained that the fYRoM government was called upon to assume the CoE chairmanship alphabetically, based on the letter "T" from the English "the" before the provincial name, under which the country is identified in international organisations.

    In case the Skopje government insists in its stand, the ultimate decision will be made by the CoE permanent representatives during their scheduled summit meeting before May 11.

    [09] President Papoulias receives WHIPA presidency

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received the presidency of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIPA), noting that their visit came at a time when "the Greek people are struggling to emerge from a great crisis".

    The WHIPA presidency included President Yiannis Pantazopoulos, an MP in Victoria, Australia, Vice President George Hatzimarkakis, an MEP for Germany, and New South Wales MP George Souris.

    In statements, Pantazopoulos said that Greece was regaining its credibility and abroad and that the WHIPA presidency had been pleased to find "something steady" in the Greek government during its visit. He noted that the efforts being made by Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou had a positive reception abroad.

    [10] President receives head of Foundation of the Hellenic World

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received the president of the Foundation of the Hellenic World Lazaros Efraimoglou, who briefed him on the foundation's work.

    Efraimoglou stressed the difficulties faced by the foundation, saying that the economic crisis had resulted in a reduction of its sources of funding.

    Specifically, he noted that all the foundation's assets had been placed in shares of the three largest Greek banks, which were forbidden by law from handing out dividends both last year and this year, depriving the foundation of large amounts income, so that its expenses were now much greater than the money coming in and its programmes starved of funds.

    [11] Samaras made honorary resident of Rhodes

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was made an honorary resident of the island of Rhodes during a special ceremony on Wednesday, following a unanimous decision of the Rhodes municipal council.

    The ceremony was held during Samaras' visit to the island for a local ND pre-Congress conference later in the day, which will focus on the theme of tourism.

    Samaras also met with the island's mayors and local government officials, who briefed him the problems faced by the local government in light of the planned administrative reform.

    [12] 'Kallikratis' plan 'signals end of an era', Ragoussis says

    Presenting the 'Kallikratis' plan for redrawing the map of Greece's local government to the Cabinet on Wednesday, Interior, Decentralisation and e-Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis said that it "signals the end of an era for the most centralised state of Europe and the start of a new course".

    The minister unveiled a plan for municipalities and regions that were fewer in number and covered a larger area, had more powers, funding, and staff and could be "more efficient, more economical, more transparent, more democratic and more open to society".

    Ragoussis noted that the new map of local authorities aimed at a good, modern, decentralised and efficient state, one that was executive and decentralised and opened new roads of development, while respecting the money of Greek taxpayers.

    "There is now a general awareness that the wasteful, clientist, centralised and inefficient state is the cause of the Greek problem as we experience this today," he said.

    The new state had to have a firm foundation and for this reason the changes were starting at the base of the system, from the municipalities, regions and decentralised state administration, the minister added.

    According to Ragoussis, after its approval by the cabinet on Wednesday, the Kallikratis plan entered the final phase of public debate before it was tabled in Parliament:

    "At this phase we are absolutely open to any proposal that improves any aspect of the bill, though always in the framework of the principles that we have set for it".

    Financial News

    [13] GSEE seeks immediate deal on collective labour agreement

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union group representing workers in the private sector, on Wednesday sent a letter to employer associations asking them to continue negotiations for the immediate signature of a national general collective labour agreement.

    The letter was sent to the main employer organisations, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the general confederation of tradesmen, merchants and workshop owners (GSEBEE) and the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE).

    In the letter, GSEE notes that the activation of the European-IMF support mechanism for Greece has radically changed the climate in which the talks and negotiations for collective agreement were being held.

    The union federation warned that the government was now negotiating "possibly painful options" with the EU-IMF 'troika' of experts, at the centre of which were the private sector, collective agreements and the 13th and 14th salaries, on the grounds that Greece had a competitiveness deficit.

    It proposed a meeting as soon as possible to agree on a national collective labour agreement as a "catalytic message that the Constitutionally established process of collective negotiations and the results they produce are not subject to the "vice" of fiscal restrictions".

    "With your statements, you too seem to agree that the private sector does not generate deficits, on the one hand, and that the competitiveness of the economy is not based on low-cost labour," the union notes, stressing the need to refuse these demands.

    "The available income of wage-earners is the last defence in the deep and extended recession of the Greek economy," the letter concluded.

    [14] GSEE leader meets EU-IMF 'troika'

    The president of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) Yiannis Panagopoulos, head of Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector, on Wednesday had a meeting with the representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission and European Central Bank that are currently in Athens to negotiate the terms of a rescue package for Greece.

    In statements afterwards, Panagopoulos said the EU-IMF 'troika' had not revealed their positions but had only asked to hear the GSEE president's views without conducting dialogue.

    Panagopoulos said that he had underlined the responsibility of the European Commission for the country's fiscal derailment, alleging that EU authorities had been aware of the 'tampering' with Greece's economic figures for the last two or three years and had done nothing.

    The trade union leader also expressed opposition to the "unjust" measures that saddled employees, the jobless and pensioners with the cost of fiscal adjustment and his total opposition to proposals and measures that will affect jobs and salaries in the private sector, among already insecure and badly-paid employees.

    He presented figures in support of an argument that labour costs did not have a substantial impact on the competitiveness of the Greek economy and that any wage cuts would, conversely, have greatly adverse effects on public revenue and starve the social insurance system of necessary funds.

    [15] Minister outlines strategy for improved work safety

    Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday announced a drive to improve safety in the workplace, among others by passing an already prepared workplace safety code into law. He made the announcement during a press conference held as part of a campaign for safe and healthy work places initiated by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), which this year focuses on safety during maintenance work.

    The minister noted that 20 percent of all workplace accidents in Europe are linked to work on maintenance, according to official figures, while 10-15 percent of lethal workplace accidents are linked to maintenance activity.

    In spite of the fact that the government was now under terrific pressure due to the economic crisis and a deluge of negative events, "we are trying to preserve - alongside the primary obligation of saving the country - an open and alive agenda on all issues, because the country cannot afford the luxury of side-stepping any issue," he said.

    "On safety issues, we received from the previous government a very good codifying process and in the next week this code will become a law of the state," Loverdos said, noting that the government was participating in the process in spite of a lack of money by helping establish a responsible strategy.

    More details on the ministry's strategy for this sector were outlined by the general director of the ministry's Work Conditions and Hygiene department Eleni Galanopoulou, while the head of the national confederation of the disabled Yiannis Vardakastanis called for additional measures to support victims disabled in work place accidents, noting that they were often subjected to harsh treatment and exclusion.

    The press conference was organised to mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

    [16] Labor Minister meeting with SEV president

    Labor & Social Security Minister Andreas Loverdos said after a meeting he had on Wednesday with Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos that talks focused on the main principles of a social security draft law.

    "The finalised draft law will be presented next week to the cabinet and the prime minister," Loverdos said, adding that "the goal is to salvage the social security system and be socially fair."

    He underlined that the "country must be saved ... this is the last chance."

    [17] Teleconference of EU Tourism ministers

    Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou participated on Wednesday in a teleconference of the European Union's 27 tourism ministers under the chairmanship of European Commission Vice President and relevant Tourism Commissioner Antonio Tajani. The teleconference focused on the repercussions of the volcanic ash on tourism.

    Gerekou referred to the repercussions in Greece, according to data provided by the relevant services and agencies, and underlined the fact that tourism is an extremely sensitive product.

    Gerekou also said in her address that: "From April 15 until April 21 a total of 1,177 flights from Greek airports and vice versa were cancelled. More specifically, 589 arrivals and 588 departures are the total number of cancelled flights. This is the initial data from the country's 10 biggest airports, that is Athens, Thessaloniki, Iraklio, Rhodes, Kerkyra, Hania, Kos, Santorini, Mykonos and Zakynthos."

    [18] EU Budgetary Control Com't meeting in Athens

    The European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control meets in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday. The committee meets each year in a different country and this year's meeting had been scheduled to take place in Athens.

    [19] Athens hotels' prices down in Q1

    Athens hotels' revenues fell 7.0 pct in the first quarter of 2010 to an average revenue per available room at 49.46 euros, while average room occupancy rates fell by 1.0 pct to 48.6 pct and the average room price fell 6 pct to 101.77 euros, compared with the same period last year, the Association of Athens-Attica Hoteliers said on Wednesday.

    The figures, compared with other rival destinations, showed that Athens recorded the worst performance in the 11 cities of the list and the only city recording a decline. London (75.8 pct), Paris (68.5 pct) and Munich (64.5 pct) recorded the highest room occupancy rates, while Istanbul (61.4 pct) ranked sixth with an annual increase of 12 pct. Athens recorded the fifth lowest price below Paris, London, Rome and Istanbul.

    Commenting on the figures, the Hoteliers' Association said they were in line with initial estimates for the year and stressed that any figure better than -8.0 pct in revenue losses would be a welcome scenario for Attica. It also said recent decision by the government to abolish cabotage in sea cruise was a very positive development, although it stressed that the Athens International Airport remained one of the most expensive airports in Europe. It also welcomed a decision to expand a program subsidizing social insurance contribution of jobs in the hotel sector.

    [20] Greece bans short selling for two months

    The Greek Capital Markets Commission on Wednesday announced a decision to ban short selling of stocks listed in the Athens Stock Exchange for a period of two months, citing extraordinary conditions prevailing in the Greek capital market. The ban will be valid until June 28, 2010.

    [21] Greek stocks in midday technical recovery

    Greek stocks showed signs of a technical recovery in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the composite index of the market rising 2.10 pct in midday trading on Wednesday. Investors seemed to ignore a new rally in the yield spread of the 10-year Greek benchmark bond to 820 basis points, reacting positively to news of rapid progress in negotiations between Greek authorities, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund over activation of a support mechanism for Greece.

    [22] Stocks recover moderately on Wed.

    Stocks recovered on Wednesday as a decision by the market's watchdog to ban short selling in the market halted a wave of selling that pushed prices to 12-month lows in the previous session, while renewed hopes of a timely activation of an EU/IMF support mechanism also had a positive impact. The composite index of the market rose 0.63 pct to end at 1,707.35 points, off the day's highs. Turnover was a strong 363.460 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.94 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.07 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index jumped 2.17 pct. Raw Materials (6.85 pct) and Constructions (5.73 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (3.02 pct) and Telecommunications (2.13 pct) suffered losses. Vovos (14.15 pct), Thrace Plastics (13.33 pct), Korinth Steel Pipes (10.84 pct) and Lambrakis Press (10.78 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farming (11.11 pct), Voyatzoglou (10.66 pct) and Kyriakoulis (9.52 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers narrowly led decliners by 98 to 95 with another 36 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.59%

    Industrials: -0.63%

    Commercial: +0.58%

    Construction: +5.73%

    Media: +4.70%

    Oil & Gas: +1.40%

    Personal & Household: -0.67%

    Raw Materials: +6.85%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.31%

    Technology: +2.24%

    Telecoms: -2.13%

    Banks: +1.74%

    Food & Beverages: -0.86%

    Health: -1.16%

    Utilities: -3.02%

    Chemicals: +5.19%

    Financial Services: +1.56%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.40

    ATEbank: 1.18

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.50

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.26

    National Bank of Greece: 10.20

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.31

    Intralot: 3.05

    OPAP: 14.70

    OTE: 7.80

    Bank of Piraeus: 5.10

    Titan: 19.39

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    No transactions were made in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, for the first in the market's history, with no evaluation made over the price and the yield of the Greek 10-year benchmark bond.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.95 pct, the three-month rate 0.64 pct and the one-month rate 0.40 pct.

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.71 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising further to 181.841 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 38,337 contracts worth 156.468 million euros, with 24,654 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 36,299 contracts worth 25.373 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (10,625), followed by Eurobank (2,500), OTE (3,134), Piraeus Bank (3,331), GEK (808), Alpha Bank (4,999), Marfin Popular Bank (2,398), Mytilineos (826), Cyprus Bank (788) and ATEbank (1,387).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.335

    Pound sterling 0.877

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 9.702

    Japanese yen 125.4

    Swiss franc 1.445

    Norwegian kroner 7.938

    Canadian dollar 1.350

    Australian dollar 1.445

    General News

    [26] New system for arts funding announced

    Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Wednesday announced that he will create a register of cultural organisations supervised by the ministry, saying this would be a first step in relaxing the state's stranglehold on arts and culture.

    "The register will be a first step toward transparency in grants and the first step toward giving the Greek taxpayer's money where it is useful. Before any grant is given, the applicant body's file will be examined and the appropriate department will assist, examining and recommending, having expertise and a fresh look at things and integrity," he said.

    In addition to announcing the new framework for funding cultural bodies, Geroulanos also announced the closure of the National Centre of Theatre and Dance, which he said had never fulfilled the purpose for which it was founded.

    The minister said that a website containing the register and the new funding system was already up and running, while bodies seeking grants for 2010 must apply by June 30, while those for 2011 will be examined in the autumn.

    On individual organisations, Geroulanos said that the issue of municipal regional theatres would discussed in the framework of the 'Kallikratis' plan for local government and that Greece's National Opera will remain open but required the assistance of the finance ministry and cooperation on the part of the staff, which now exceeded 700.

    Concerning events advertising Greece abroad, Geroulanos said that this was not just an issue of cost but also a source of growth and was treated as such by the government.

    The culture ministry's debts come to 150 million euros, which its debts toward the mass media for the tourism promotional campaign are close to 120 million euros.

    [27] Police first DNA analysis results in terror investigation

    Police forensic laboratories on Wednesday released the first results from the analysis of DNA and fingerprints found in safehouses, homes and vehicles linked to the terrorist group "Revolutionary Struggle" currently being investigated by the counter-terrorism service.

    A police announcement said the DNA analysis revealed the genetic material came from unknown individuals, men and women, found on objects confiscated within residences used by the terror group at 3 Antheon Street in Kalyvia (where Nikos Maziotis and his wife Panagiota Roupa lived), in the garage full of explosives at 54 V. Antoniadou St. in Kareas and the safehouses at 7 Medeas St and 8 Aiginis St in Kypseli, as well as Constantine Gourna's car found in Nea Philadelphia.

    More specifically, identical DNA was found in Maziotis' house in Kalyvia, the house at 8 Aiginis Street in Kypseli and the house at 7 Medeas Street. In all three cases, the genetic material was on objects.

    The DNA found on objects at 8 Aiginis Street is also the same as that found on objects in Gourna's car in N. Philadelphia.

    The fingerprint found on an object in Medea's Street is the same as that of one of the suspects under arrest.

    [28] Chinese edition of book on Mikis Theodorakis in EXPO 2010

    The Chinese edition of the book "Mikis Theodorakis, the soul of Greece" will be presented on Saturday at the Greek pavilion during the formal opening of the international exhibition EXPO 2010 in Shanghai.

    Author-journalist Giorgos Logothetis focuses on the timeless and ecumenical nature of the work of world renowned music composer Mikis Theodorakis as well as his visions over a period of 35 years since the two first met in Sweden.

    The main theme for the 192 pavilions of the EXPO 2010 is "Better city, better life". Roughly half a million people are expected to visit the exhibition in the days following its formal inauguration.

    [29] Daniel Cohn-Bendit on publication of book in Greek

    European Green Deputy Daniel Cohn-Bendit addressed an at the Megaron Plus (Athens Concert Hall) on Wednesday on the occasion of the presentation of the publication of his book "What can we do" in Greek.

    During hiw speech, Cohn-Bendit to the "special turning point in history where crises of all kinds - environmental, monetary and poitical - cross each other".

    [30] Escaped convinct arrested, charged with robberies

    A 42-year-old escaped convict has been caught and arrested by authorities but not before managing to commit a spree of armed robberies in Attica, police announced on Wednesday.

    The fugitive was caught in the Athens district of Egaleo on Tuesday morning by the Nikaia police and had been wanted since March 19 when be failed to return to Grevena prison after an 11-day furlough.

    A police investigation has so far implicated him in a total of 11 supermarket robberies and three post office robberies committed in the last two years, all of them while he was on furlough.

    The accused was led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    Weather Forecast

    [31] Cloudy on Thursday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 25C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 22C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 23C.

    [32] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Prime Minister George Papandreou's message for national unity aiming at exiting from the economic crisis, the skyrocketing of the spread and plunge on the Athens Stock Exchange, the downgrading of Greece's and Portugal's credit rating Standard and Poor's and the speculators' raid against Greece and Portugal, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Tax Bureau will start meticulous inspection on civil servants' earnings".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Every day things get worse - The country on the razor's edge, without a programme, a compass and a plan for the next day".

    AVGHI: "The one-way-street out from the crisis is strewn with junk - On Tuesday, Greece was officially ousted from the markets".

    AVRIANI: "They are leading us at full speed towards controlled bankruptcy - Great woes await the country - Politicians and people must wake up before it's too late".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Enough! - Black Tuesday for the Greek economy due to prime minister's inertia and hesitance".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Fear of a domino effect brings agreement for the support mechanism closer - Agreement to be signed by Sunday".

    ESTIA: "The country is sending the wrong message - Greek economy's credibility under dispute".

    ETHNOS: "Race for the loan - Europe is waking up after the speculators' raid".

    IMERISSIA: "Alarm in Europe over the crisis - Assistance to Greece accelerated".

    KATHIMERINI: "Race with time for the rescue".

    LOGOS: "Bank of Greece austerity measures in 2010 - BoG governor George Provopoulos estimates over 2 percent recession".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Dangerous uncertainty over the mechanism and the measures".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Ruling PASOK's hopes to bash the popular struggle are hopeless".

    TA NEA: "The domino threat wakes up Europe - Speculators now attacking Portugal, too".

    TO VIMA: "Shock measures after the markets' crash - The agreement with the IMF to be signed immediately".

    VRADYNI: "They are pushing us to bankruptcy - Dramatic developments despite the request for activation of the support mechanism".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [33] Christofias expresses satisfaction over the National Council's meeting


    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has expressed his satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting of the National Council.

    The National Council, the top advisory body to the Cypriot President on the Cyprus problem, convened on Wednesday for the third day in row to continue discussion on the latest developments of the Cyprus problem and the prospects for a settlement.

    Asked about Wednesday's meeting, President Christofias referred to spokesman's statements. "The Government Spokesman talked to you and told you that it has been a creative and friendly discussion. I have nothing to add", President Christofias said.

    Asked if he is satisfied, he said: "Of course, I am satisfied".

    Replying to a question if it would be better to reach a common position on the issue of the latest European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision on the so-called property commission in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, President Christofias said that Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has reiterated the government's position. "Similar is the position of all", he added.

    During Wednesday's session, the members of the National Council were briefed by the Attorney General on the issue of the latest European

    Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision on the so-called property commission in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, while the political parties continued the presentation of their views.

    President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began on September 2008 UN-led talks for a mutually agreed settlement to the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The process was interrupted on March 30 ahead of the so-called ''elections''.

    Government does not favor resort to so called IPC

    The government is not in favor of Greek Cypriots resorting to the self - styled, so-called immovable property commission (IPC), set up in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, which calls on Greek Cypriots to address themselves to this commission if they want to claim their occupied properties.

    This was stated Wednesday by Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou after the conclusion of the third day of the National Council's meeting, which was informed by Attorney General Petros Clerides about the recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that the IPC constitutes an effective domestic remedy.

    The members of the National Council, top advisory body to the Cypriot President in the handling of the Cyprus issue, expressed their views and asked more clarifications from Clerides on the issue.

    The dialogue followed at the National Council was "very constructive", according to Stephanou.

    "The government does not favor the resort to the so called commission, especially now during the negotiations process", he stressed.

    The spokesman said that the property issue will not be solved in the courts, it will be solved on the negotiating table for a Cyprus solution.

    The ECHR decision, he went on to add, does not influence the political and legal arguments, which support the positions of the government submitted on the negotiating table regarding the properties issue.

    According to the decision of the Court's Grand Chamber on the 5th of March 2010, Greek Cypriots must first exhaust domestic remedies before resorting to the ECHR in cases regarding violation of their human rights by Turkey, which, since 1974, occupies 37% of Cyprus' territory.

    The Court's decision on the application "Demopoulos vs Turkey and 7 others" is final and not subject to any appeal to either the Court or any other body.

    In its first reaction after the Court's ruling, the government of Cyprus described this decision as wrong.

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