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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-04

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

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

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 Issue No: 3483

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM meets Qatari prime minister; five bilateral agreements signed
  • [02] President receives Qatar PM: Significant cooperation prospects
  • [03] PM briefs President on EU support plan
  • [04] Greek PM expresses appreciation for Italian support
  • [05] PM Papandreou holds telephone conversations with, Sarkozy and Putin
  • [06] Obama support for Greek measures
  • [07] Telephone conversation between PM Papandreou and Vladimir Putin
  • [08] Austrian FinMin on support for Greece
  • [09] SEV: Announced measures 'imperative'
  • [10] Archibishop Ieronymos on the economic crisis and austerity measures
  • [11] PM addresses digital economy forum
  • [12] Papoulias receives SYRIZA's Tsipras; latter calls for referendum
  • [13] ND withdraws request for meeting of political party leaders
  • [14] KKE rejects political leaders' meeting
  • [15] LA.OS leader to meet with Papoulias on Tues.
  • [16] New round of Greece-Turkey exploratory contacts on Tuesday
  • [17] Greece, Qatar sign MoU on natgas, RES
  • [18] Banking system fully shielded, FinMin says
  • [19] Economy to recover from 2012, Economy Minister says
  • [20] Greek SMEs warn of painful consequences on economy
  • [21] ECB suspends minimum credit rating threshold for Greek gov't issued or guaranteed debt instruments
  • [22] Greek enterprises' credit rating worsened in 2009, report
  • [23] Wave of strikes this week
  • [24] Seamen's union declares strike for Wed.
  • [25] Partial mass transit sector strike on Wed.
  • [26] Season's inaugural flight arrives in Thessaly
  • [27] ASE head calls for immediate and widespread structural reforms
  • [28] Stocks end 0.88% lower
  • [29] Greek bond market closing report
  • [30] ADEX closing report
  • [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [32] Mikis Theodorakis on Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos
  • [33] Virtual tour of Cyclades at Syntagma Square metro station
  • [34] Special event for 50th anniversary of Greek migration to Germany
  • [35] Burglars flee with 350,000 euros from bank in Karditsa, 3 police officers suspended
  • [36] Two foreign nationals arrested on blackmailing charges
  • [37] Motorist kills himself falsely believing that he caused fatal accident
  • [38] Dead and mutilated bear found in Trikala
  • [39] Forest fire in Corinth
  • [40] Cloudy on Tuesday
  • [41] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [42] Spokesman: Constructive dialogue at National Council meeting
  • [43] Downer: Talks must continue on basis of UN parameters Politics

  • [01] PM meets Qatari prime minister; five bilateral agreements signed

    Greece and Qatar signed five bilateral agreements on Monday, in the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou and Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir al-Thani. One of them was for the construction of an energy centre at Astakos.

    Qatar's premier expressed his country's sincere and strong desire to make further investments in Greece, while the two sides underlined their determination to circumvent bureaucratic obstacles to the speedy execution of investment plans.

    "The strategic cooperation memorandum relating to the energy centre at Astakos creates a framework for a very significant investment in the energy sector during a time when Greece is undergoing economic difficulties but deserves such investments from abroad," the Greek Prime Minister said in joint statements that followed a meeting with Qatar's premier.

    The Qatari prime minister started his statements by wishing Greece success in achieving its targets during a difficult time, noting that countries that went through such crises emerged stronger.

    "I am certain that you will reach a safe shore very soon," he said, adding that his country sincerely desires to invest in and cooperation with Greece for the benefit of both peoples.

    In order to sidestep bureaucracy, the two sides have decided to create a small economic committee that will quickly examine economic plans.

    "I express the will for investments but it needs monitoring and determination from both sides so that decisions are made," he said.

    The two sides also discussed political issues, with emphasis on the situation in the Middle East. Papandreou's referred to Qatar's important role within the Arab League, while Qatar's premier noted that Greece's positions were important and identical with those of Arab countries.

    The five agreements signed included a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy, signed by Environment Minister Tina Birbili and Qatar's minister of state for energy and industry affiars Dr. Mohammed Saleh Al-Sada;

    A strategic cooperation memorandum for the Astakos Energy Centre, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis and Dr. Saleh Al-Sada;

    A modifying agreement for bilateral air travel cooperation signed by Deputy Transport Minister Nikos Sifounakis;

    An MoU for tourism cooperation signed by Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou;

    An agreement for the exchange of news items between the ANA-MPA and Qatar's News Agency, signed on behalf of the ANA-MPA Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis.

    Among those present at the signing of the agreements were Economy Minister Louka Katseli and Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.

    The two sides also expressed a desire to extend cooperation to the areas of education and culture so that the two peoples might become even closer.

    "We reaffirm our strong desire to boost our bilateral relations in a very broad range of cooperation," Papandreou underlined, noting that the signing of the five agreements was "tangible proof of this desire".

    [02] President receives Qatar PM: Significant cooperation prospects

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias spoke of significant prospects for cooperation with Qatar in the areas of trade, culture and tourism, during a meeting on Monday with visiting Qatar premier and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Haber bin Muhammad Al-Thani, who is accompanied by four ministers.

    Papoulias also expressed satisfaction over a bilateral agreement concerning the port of Astakos, while he also welcomed Qatar's interest in multi-lateral cooperation.

    The President also reiterated the firm Greek position for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, stressing that "Greece has always backed the rights of the Arab nation and the struggle of the Palestinian people".

    "We support the creation of a Palestinian state -- at last -- and call on Israel to clearly see what its interests are. It is in its interests to co-exist peacefully with the Arab nation, for mutual support of the common interests of both the Arab national and Palestinian people, and of Israel. We are unwavering on this policy line," the Greek President affirmed.

    Al-Thani expressed the appreciation of Qatar and all Arabs in General to Greece which "has maintained a dignified and fair stance in all the Arab issues and chiefly the Palestinian issue", adding that "the Arabs wish to live harmoniously with Israel", and called on the international public opinion and Israel to "make efforts to ensure the rights of the Palestinian people".

    On the prospect of investments in Greece, the Sheikh noted that he has come to Greece "with an open heart, to materialise the agreement, the foundations of which were lain by Mr. Papoulias and the Emir of Qatar", and stresses his "determination to contribute with investments that will help Greece" exit the crisis.

    He added that he looked forward to the Greek side's assistance in this effort, and expressed the wish that "we will function together s partners so as to realise our mutual benefit".

    [03] PM briefs President on EU support plan

    Prime minister George Papandreou on Monday briefed President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the outcome of the government's negotiations with the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials in Athens and the eurogroup's decision to activate a three-year 110 billion euros support plan for the Greek economy during an urgent meeting in Brussels on Sunday following a second package of austerity measures unveiled by the government.

    "We took difficult but necessary decisions for the country. Fortunately, the EU responded and is giving us a breather and a time period of calm for the great changes the country needs, while at the same time our government will protect the socially weak groups with a safety net and place emphasis on the country's developmental course," Papandreou said upon arrival at the Presidential Mansion for his meeting with Papoulias.

    The President, in turn, said that the Greek people will respond to the effort, but added that they need to be convinced that there will be justice, that tax evasion will be stamped out, and called for the punishment of all those who gained wealth at the expense of the Greek people.

    Replying, Papandreou said that his government's first concern is rule of law in society, since lawlessness dissolves the democratic society.

    The premier further said that the present situation is also an opportunity for a new beginning, adding that with the wider consensus of the political and social forces "we must make the changes to the political system and economy that should have been made many years ago, and now is the opportunity".

    Papoulias added that the prospects exist for a different Greece, one of justice and social solidarity for the poorer citizens, who are the hardest hit.

    After their meeting, Papandreou told reporters that he briefed the President on the tough decisions taken by his government, which are "necessary for Hellenis and the country".

    "On the other hand, it is also an opportunity to make a better Greece and to make a new beginning for a more just Greece with transparancy, a more huma Greece with growth and competitiveness, a Greece of which we can all be proud," the premier said, adding that "it is in the hands of all of us to turn this crisis into an opportunity".

    [04] Greek PM expresses appreciation for Italian support

    ROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou spoke by phone on Monday with his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi, expressing the Greek government's appreciation for Italy's willingness to participate in a eurozone support mechanism for Greece.

    According to local media here, Italian undersecretary to the premier Gianni Letta said Papandreou emphasised that Italy was the first European ally to announce its backing for the intervention in support of Greece.

    Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, speaking during a one-day seminar in Rome focusing on the EU's economic future, reiterated that the German government's doubts and reticence vis-ŗ-vis the support package for Greece "increased the damage, because international profiteers intervened."

    The Italian FM noted that the level of support 10 days ago hovered around 50 billion euros, whereas the total sum approved on Sunday reached 110 billion euros.

    "This is a small lesson for all of us," he said.

    [05] PM Papandreou holds telephone conversations with, Sarkozy and Putin

    Prime Minister George Papandreou held telephone conversations on Monday with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    [06] Obama support for Greek measures

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)

    US President Barack Obama expressed his satisfaction to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday over what he termed the "ambitious" reforms and restructuring package announced by the Greek government the same day.

    According to a White House press release here, Obama spoke by phone with Papandreou, with both leaders reportedly agreeing over the need for the urgent implementation of economic reforms.

    Additionally, the US president -- who enjoys very high popularity ratings amongst the Greek public -- expressed satisfaction over the significant support, as he said, announced by Greece's fellow eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    [07] Telephone conversation between PM Papandreou and Vladimir Putin

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed by phone the trade and economic cooperation between Greece and Russia, according to the Russian prime minister's Press service.

    "The Prime Minister of Greece renewed his invitation to Vladimir Putin to make a working visit to Greece in a period of time that would serve him," all the Russian news agencies reported, adding that the two also discussed "issues of cooperation in the monetary and energy sectors."

    The two prime ministers agreed that the exact date of the visit will be set through diplomatic channels.

    According to the existing bilateral scheduling, a meeting of the two countries' Joint Interministerial Committee is expected to be held in Moscow in early June, in which Greece will be represented with the relevant Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis.

    The Greek economic crisis, the activation of the EU and IMF support mechanism and the social reactions are constantly among the first news items in the Russian mass media recently.

    In a statement he made on developments a few days ago, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin had said that Russia is watching the issue attentively but "it does not plan to participate in the granting of aid to Greece on a bilataral basis, but only through the IMF shall we participate in the discussion on this issue at the Fund's Board and through our executive director.

    [08] Austrian FinMin on support for Greece

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Austrian Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Josef Proell stressed here on Monday that the support package does not only constitute support for Greece, but for the euro, the economy and purchase power all over Europe as well, following his meeting with the boards of Austrian banks on the decision on the activation of the support mechanism for Greece.

    The Austrian minister pointed out that without this support package for Greece, which was agreed over the weekend, disaster would come about. "In this way, a general fire was avoided," he said.

    Proell believes that banks, both in Austria and in Europe, in general, must play a central role in saving the Greek economy, and to this end, it was agreed in the meeting that the Austrian banks will not participate in profiteerings with Greek state bonds and that they will cooperate with the Austrian government for the achievement of stability in the region.

    The Austrian finance minister expressed his satisfaction, ascertaining, as he said, a real change in course in the "unprecedented in harshness austerity programme" that the Greek government decided.

    [09] SEV: Announced measures 'imperative'

    The Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) on Monday characterised the package of measures announced by the government as "imperative", underlining that they should not become the object of criticism by political parties or unions.

    The statement issued by SEV also maintains that the imposition of an additional one-off contribution by profit-making enterprises as sending the "the wrong message".

    The package of measures "provides a grace period, giving the chance for action to an economy still faced with the threat of bankruptcy," the statement added.

    [10] Archibishop Ieronymos on the economic crisis and austerity measures

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, referring to the government's new austerity measures, said on Monday that the Church will stand by the people facing hardships.

    Ieronymos stated that "given the new austerity measures and the crucial situation our country is going through, I feel the need to express in every direction that our Church, as it always has, will stand by the people, sharing in their suffering and by offering the assistance. The need to remain united is mandatory, to take courage from our faith in God who has always helped and is helping this country. Our hope for development and growth must remain alive and, by learning from our mistakes, all of us and every one separately, we must proceed united, strong and with optimism. God is our assistant".

    [11] PM addresses digital economy forum

    Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Monday evening that a decision by Euro area finance ministers to activate a support mechanism for Greece the previous day implied additional efforts and sacrifices on the part of the Greek society.

    Addressing a digital economy forum on "Recovery will be digital", organised by the Association of Informatics and Communications Enterprises of Greece (SEPE), Papandreou also said that the government did everything in its power to protect the weaker social groups and workers of the private sector from the repercussions of the country's economic crisis and the harsh measures announced for the country's fiscal adjustment.

    The premier noted that the activation of the support mechanism would provide the government with the necessary time to promote the great reforms the country needed.

    Regarding digital progress, Papandreou said that its capitalisation was necessary for Greece's growth, renewal and restructuring. He added that despite financial difficulties, the government would invest in digital technology, because, as he said, it would help in the fight against long-standing problems such as tax fraud, extravagance, intransparency and buraucracy.

    [12] Papoulias receives SYRIZA's Tsipras; latter calls for referendum

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday, with the latter presenting his party's proposal for a referendum on the latest government austerity measures.

    "The mandate received by the government when it was elected in office six months ago was to protect the weak and not to proceed with wrecking society," Tsipras said.

    He also expressed leftist SYRIZA's discontent at the prime minister's proposal to call a meeting of political party leaders "after everything was already decided", accusing the government of using the president's office for publicity reasons.

    Earlier, while entering the presidential mansion Tsipras had told reporters "we are all responsible, the government measures are unfair and ineffective and do not have the consent of society ... the future of the next generations should not be jeopardised."

    In welcoming Tsipras, the president pointing out that "the problem was lingering for years" but "we failed to react when we should have."

    [13] ND withdraws request for meeting of political party leaders

    The New Democracy on Monday said it was withdrawing a request for a council of the political party leaders chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias "because there was no point".

    The head of ND leader Antonis Samaras' political office telephoned the presidency to inform them on Monday morning, explaining that Samaras' call for a meeting before the package of economic measures was announced had been declined by Prime Minister George Papandreou. Subsequently, the leaders of the two left-wing parties in Parliament, Aleka Papariga and Alexis Tsipras, had also refused to participate, making a meeting pointless.

    [14] KKE rejects political leaders' meeting

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga expressed her unwavering opposition on Monday to a proposal for a meeting of the political party leaders' meeting, focusing on the economic measures announced by the government.

    Papariga clarified that the answer would have been "yes" if the meeting was held before the measures were announced.

    As regards a KKE proposal for the abolition of pensions received by former members of Parliament, Papariga said that participation of individuals in representative bodies should not be associated with additional privileges other than those enjoyed before being elected.

    She said the term served in Parliament should be calculated as work time by the MPs' social insurance organisations, to which they belonged before their election.

    Papariga said it is outrageous to leave MPs unaffected in the face of "their majority vote in favor of an austerity policy, a policy of brutal measures."

    Referring to the proposals for the reduction of the number of MPs, Papariga said "the policies passed will not change unless the balance of power in Parliament is changed."

    [15] LA.OS leader to meet with Papoulias on Tues.

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis requested and will be granted a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday, following a refusal by other political leaders to attend meeting chaired by the president on the recent high-profile austerity measures taken by the government.

    The LA.OS leader backed the establishment of a parliamentary committee of inquiry for the economy, stressing that "now that we have been caught in the IMF vortex we should find out who is responsible, and send them to jail."

    He also stated that he is in favor of a major reduction in the salaries received by MPs.

    [16] New round of Greece-Turkey exploratory contacts on Tuesday

    The 43rd round of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey will take place on Tuesday in Istanbul.

    The Greek delegation will be headed by ambassador-at-large Pavlos Apostolidis, while the Turkish delegation will be headed by Turkish undersecretary for foreign affairs, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu.

    Financial News

    [17] Greece, Qatar sign MoU on natgas, RES

    Greece and Qatar on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for looking into prospects for investments in the fields of natural gas and Renewable Energy Sources (RES).

    The memorandum was signed by environment, energy and climate change miniser Tina Birbili and Qatar's minister of state for energy and industry affiars Dr. Mohammed Saleh Al-Sada, in the presence of prime ministers George Papandreou and Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al-Thani.

    According to an announcement, the two ministers had a bilateral meeting before the signing of the MoU, during which the discussed matters of joint interest and ascertained the importance placed by the two governments on the energy sector.

    The MoU concerns investigating prospects for Qatari investments in Greece, and will serve as the basis for systematic strengthening of the energy dialogue between the two countries.

    Speaking afterwards, Birbili said that the MoU provides a new, institutional framework of cooperation between the two countries that will contribute to attracting foreign investments, the creation of new jobs and the upgrading of research in energy matters. It will also reinforce Greece's strategic goal of evolving into a natgas transit hub to to southeastern and central Europe.

    She added that any joint actions and investments advanced in the dialogue with Qatar will be in line with the Greek and European legislation, which aim at protection of the environment and ensuring the smooth operation of the market.

    The Greek side's target is to upgrade Greece's role and take advantage of its strategic position at the energy crossroads of three continents, she said, adding that the MoU is the first and important step in that direction.

    [18] Banking system fully shielded, FinMin says

    The Greek banking system is fully shielded, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou underlined on Monday, while expressing his satisfaction over a decision by the European Central Bank to suspend implementation of a minimum level of credit rating for Greek state bonds and to establish a 10-billion-euro fund in support of banks' capital levels.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said VAT revenues were spectacularly up in April, as citizens responded positively to government measures aimed at combating tax evasion.

    [19] Economy to recover from 2012, Economy Minister says

    Greek Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Luca Katseli on Monday said she did not expected a recovery of the economy in the next two years.

    Addressing a Digital Economy Forum in Athens, the minister said the government should use all its weapons to support enterprises during this difficult adjustment period and to lay the foundations for a competitive economy in 2012 and 2013 when a gradual recovery of the economy was expected.

    Mrs Katseli said the 110-billion-euro support framework for the next three years was a safety net to cover the country's borrowing requirements, allowing the government to implement a fiscal restructuring program, boosting competitiveness and exiting the crisis.

    She unveiled the three targets of economic policy, fiscal restructuring, improving competitiveness through structural reforms and transparency. To achieve fiscal restructuring the ministry has set four priorities next year, including electronic supplies, electronic prescription of pharmaceutical products, IT systems in state hospitals and close monitoring and digital surveillance of the fuel market. She also said a draft bill to be tabled to Parliament next week will envisage measures simplifying procedures for business start-ups.

    [20] Greek SMEs warn of painful consequences on economy

    A package of measures imposed on the Greek economy in exchange for a financial support mechanism by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund will have painful consequences on the market and on employment, representatives of small- and medium-sized enterprises said on Monday and urged the government to take measures to boost growth and investments and to promoting a safety net for workers and self-employed people in the country.

    "The big problems will be begin from September, after the end of this year's tourist season, while in early 2011 we will see things we cannot even imagine," D. Asimakopoulos, president of GSEBEE -the union of small- and medium-sized enterprises said on Monday. Speaking to reporters, Asimakopoulos said 30 pct of the population was facing bankruptcy.

    Vasilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) said 65,000 enterprises in the sector were at the brink of collapse while he added that non-performing loans in the sector jumped from 11.5 billion euros in 2009 to 17.5 billion euros.

    The two unions will participate in a strike mobilisation announced by GSEE -the country's largest trade union umbrella- by closing their shops and enterprises.

    Asimakopoulos said the measures imposed would lead the economy and its prospects to a prolonged recession, business closures, unemployment and the marginalization of weaker groups of the population.

    Korkidis said a freeze or cut in prices should be promoted on the precondition that municipal taxes were cut along with rental prices, public sector enterprises froze their bills and the government effectively combat informal commerce (estimated around 20 billion euros). Lower prices should be a result of lay-offs, wage cutting or lower quality.

    [21] ECB suspends minimum credit rating threshold for Greek gov't issued or guaranteed debt instruments

    The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to suspend the application of the minimum credit rating threshold in the collateral eligibility requirements for the purposes of the Eurosystem's credit operations in the case of marketable debt instruments issued or guaranteed by the Greek government, an ECB announcement said on Monday.

    This suspension will be maintained until further notice, it added.

    "The Greek government has approved an economic and financial adjustment programme, which has been negotiated with the European Commission, in liaison with the ECB, and the International Monetary Fund IMF). The Governing Council has assessed the programme and considers it to be appropriate. This positive assessment and the strong commitment of the Greek government to fully implement the programme are the basis, also from a risk management perspective, for the suspension announced herewith," the ECB announcement said.

    "The suspension applies to all outstanding and new marketable debt instruments issued or guaranteed by the Greek government," it concluded.

    [22] Greek enterprises' credit rating worsened in 2009, report

    Credit rating of Greek enterprises worsened last year, a survey by Icap showed on Monday. The survey, based on a sampleo f 21,743 enterprises -societe anonymes and limited companies- in the manufacturing, commerce and services sectors, showed that 23.4 pct of all enterprises saw their credit ratings worsen last year, while 16.91 pct improved its credit rating in 2009.

    The survey said that credit rating among manufacturing enterprises worsened by 22.52 pct, while improved credit rating rose 18.11 pct, in the commerce sector the percentages were 24.27 pct and 14.19 pct, respectively, while in the services sector, the percentages were 23.12 pct and 19.77 pct, respectively.

    Icap said that the percentage of enterprises that failed to timely meet their debt and payment obligations rose by 39.47 pct in 2009, compared with the average rate of the period 2003-2008, with enterprises in the commerce sectors leading the list of inconsistency with an increase rate of 64.89 pct, followed by manufacturing 36.34 pct and services by 10 pct.

    [23] Wave of strikes this week

    Trade unions have announced a series of strikes in response to the measures unveiled by the government over the weekend to tackle the debt crisis. The first of these began on Monday with the 24-hour nationwide strike by local authority staff.

    The civil servants' union ADEDY executive committee has declared a 48-hour strike in the public sector on May 4-5 and will hold a protest rally in central Athens at noon to coincide with strike action by teachers. A 48-hour strike has also been declared by primary school teachers.

    Trade unionists say the measures loot the incomes and seriously undermine labour and insurance rights.

    On Wednesday, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) has declared a 24-hour strike that combined with that of ADEDY is converted into a general strike. There will be a strike rally in Athens that will begin from Pedion tou Areos park at 11:00 in the morning.

    On the same day, the GSEBEE and ESEE employer associations representing traders, freelance professionals and small business owners have decided to close their shops and businesses from 9:00 until 3:00 in the afternoon.

    Also on Wednesday, the Panhellenic Seamen's Union (PNO) will hold a 24-hour strike that will keep ships docked in port throughout the day.

    The strikers will be joined by journalists in the mass media, who have declared a 24-hour strike from 6:00 on Wednesday morning until 6:00 on Thursday, based on a decision by the Panhellenic Federations of Journalists' Unions and other press-sector unions.

    [24] Seamen's union declares strike for Wed.

    The seamen's union (PNO) on Monday declared a strike for Wednesday, May 5, applicable to all Greek-flagged vessels, including ferry boats. The vote by the union's board was 8-7 in favor of the industrial action.

    The union, properly known as the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation, said it was joining a nationwide strike declared by Greece's largest umbrella trade group, GSEE.

    The union said the strike will begin at midnight, Tuesday, and continue until midnight on Wednesday.

    [25] Partial mass transit sector strike on Wed.

    Mass transit services will operate from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Wednesday to allow strikers and protesters to reach downtown Athens and participate in a demonstration against the economic measures announced by the government, an industrial action called by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union ADEDY.

    Air services be affected for 24 hours beginning on Tuesday at midnight after air traffic controllers' decision to participate in the nationwide strike.

    [26] Season's inaugural flight arrives in Thessaly

    Air Berlin's first flight with 113 passengers from Dusseldorf to Greece arrived on Sunday at Nea Aghialos airport, Magnesia prefecture, central Greece.

    Air Berlin's flight inaugurated the summer season for the region of Thessaly. According to an announcement, flights from Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Nurnberg and London are scheduled to arrive at the latter airport every Sunday, Monday and Friday.

    Most European tourists choose the region of Pelion and the islands of northern Sporades (Skyros, Skopelos, Skiathos, Allonissos) for their holidays.

    [27] ASE head calls for immediate and widespread structural reforms

    The head of the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday called for immediate and widespread structural reforms aimed at boosting the competitiveness of the economy and of Greek enterprises.

    Addressing a conference organized by the Federation of Greek Information and Communications Enterprises (SEPE), Spyros Kapralos, president of the Athens Stock Exchange, said structural interventions would be painful and noted that reforms must begin with the pension system and the labour market, followed by privatization of public organizations, drastically reducing the public sector, closing of all inactive or loss-making state enterprises and organizations, reforming the health and social security systems, opening up of closed professions and investing in digital technology.

    Kapralos stressed that the government should promote immediate changes to attracting investments in the country, offering incentives to investors, tendering of all large construction projects, promoting renewable energy sources and agriculture to become more competitive and to overcome rising unemployment.

    Kapralos noted that Greek listed enterprises raised around 25 billion euros from the market in the last five years and underlined that the Greek capital market successfully passed a regular inspection by FTSE, allowing foreign funds to continue investing in the country.

    [28] Stocks end 0.88% lower

    Sellers took the upper hand at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing stock prices moderately lower. The composite index of the market fell 0.88 pct to end at 1,853.55 points, with turnover a low 135.320 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index dropped 1.12 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.65 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.27 pct up. The Media (4.07 pct) and Utilities (1.82 pct) sectors scored gains, while Financial Services (3.30 pct) and Constructions (2.10 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 92 to 76 with another 55 issues unchanged.

    Ilyda (16.67 pct), Hellenic Fish Farming (12.50 pct), Pegasus (9.96 pct) and VIS (9.62 pct) were top gainers, while Cardico (10 pct), Kordellou Bros (9.38 pct), Vivere (8.70 pct) and Elfico (8.47 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.49%

    Industrials: -0.68%

    Commercial: -0.77%

    Construction: -2.10%

    Media: +4.07%

    Oil & Gas: -1.54%

    Personal & Household: +1.75%

    Raw Materials: -0.49%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.39%

    Technology: +5.92%

    Telecoms: +0.48%

    Banks: -1.29%

    Food & Beverages: -2.75%

    Health: +0.50%

    Utilities: +1.82%

    Chemicals: -0.66%

    Financial Services: -3.30%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.91

    ATEbank: 1.43

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.60

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.94

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.98

    National Bank of Greece: 12.43

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.92

    Intralot: 3.29

    OPAP: 15.34

    OTE: 8.39

    Bank of Piraeus: 5.58

    Titan: 19.50

    [29] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank theoretically to 588 basis points, according to data released by the Bank of Greece on Monday, as the Greek electronic secondary bond market remained inactive for one more session.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. 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.

    [30] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.61 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover falling to a low 60.124 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,974 contracts worth 49.272 million euros, with 37,700 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,816 contracts worth 10.852 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,847), followed by Eurobank (920), MIG (910), Piraeus Bank (1,050), Alpha Bank (2,234), Marfin Popular Bank (682), Hellenic Postbank (367) and ATEbank (252).

    [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.334

    Pound sterling 0.874

    Danish kroner 7.502

    Swedish kroner 9.686

    Japanese yen 125.95

    Swiss franc 1.444

    Norwegian kroner 7.902

    Canadian dollar 1.352

    Australian dollar 1.440

    General News

    [32] Mikis Theodorakis on Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Composer Mikis Theodorakis called in a recorded message broadcast on the occasion of the first concert of the Orchestra "Mikis Theodorakis" in Istanbul "for us to throw in the garbage of history all the negative things separating us and to promote the positive ones that will help us to proceed towards a common bright future."

    Theodorakis stressed that "it is the symbolic acts that will lay the foundations for a stable peace in the relations of the two peoples" and called on the Turkish government "to show its respect for Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in practice."

    [33] Virtual tour of Cyclades at Syntagma Square metro station

    The Cyclades prefecture is organising a series of events at the Syntagma Square metro station in downtown Athens from 3-7 May aiming to showcase and provide information to the public on the beauty of the 24 islands of the Cyclades complex.

    The Cyclades Chamber of Commerce will participate in this initiative by taking visitors on a virtual tour of the beauties, the tradition, the culture and the businesses of Cyclades via the portal www.e-kyklades.gr and by distributing information material.

    [34] Special event for 50th anniversary of Greek migration to Germany

    A special event hosted in the old Parliament in Bonn was held on Sunday to celebrate 50 years of Greek migration in Germany, commemorating the signing of a labor recruitment agreement between Greece and Germany in March 1960.

    The event, organised by the Federation of Greek Communities of Germany (OEK), the German-Hellenic Business Association (DHW) and the Association of German-Hellenic Companies (VDGG), was under the auspices of the presidents of Greece, Cyprus and Germany.

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos, who emigrated to Germany at one point, underlined "their role in Germany as creative citizens."

    [35] Burglars flee with 350,000 euros from bank in Karditsa, 3 police officers suspended

    Burglars broke into an ATEBank branch in Sofades, Karditsa and made away with 350,000 euros from the bank's vault and ATM machine, police said on Monday, adding that three police officers of the Sofades precinct have been placed on suspension and a sworn administrative inquiry (EDE) has been ordered against them for not giving due attention to the incident.

    According to police, burglars broke into the bank in the early hours of Sunday from a bank window, neutralised the electronic security system and cut the telephone lines, after which they drilled into the vault and an ATM from the back side, and escaped through a basement door by breaking its lock.

    A police announcement said that although the security system's warning system had sounded at the Sofades police station indicating a problem with the bank's telephone lines, the officer on duty did not give due attention to the incident and did not make an on-the-spot check, nor informed the two policemen on patrol in the area.

    The three police officers have been suspension from duty, and the Karditsa security police are conducting a preliminary investigation.

    [36] Two foreign nationals arrested on blackmailing charges

    ‘wo Pakistanis aged 34 and 22 were arrested in Thessaloniki on charges of kidnapping two other Pakistanis, 23 and 18 years old and demanding a 6,000 euros ransom to release them.

    According to police the suspects kidnapped the two Pakistanis and took them to a building basement in Thessaloniki. Afterwards they called their relatives and asked for ransom. Thessaloniki Police located the building and after a coordinated operation, freed the captives and arrested the kidnappers. The detainees are facing kidnapping and blackmail charges, while police are seeking their accomplice.

    [37] Motorist kills himself falsely believing that he caused fatal accident

    A 42-year-old motorist committed suicide falsely believing that he caused a fatal accident when his car collided with a motorcycle on Monday.

    His body was found hanging from an olive tree, near the town of Oinoe, north of Athens, some 80 meters away from the scene of the accident.

    The motorcycle driver, a Pakistani national, was only slightly injured and was taken to a hospital in Livadia, central Greece.

    [38] Dead and mutilated bear found in Trikala

    A female brown bear was found dead and in a state of advanced decay by visitors to the mountain village of Agia Paraskevi in Trikala prefecture, the conservation group Arcturos announced on Monday. The bear had been shot from behind and its left foreleg had afterwards been cut off.

    The carcass of the 180-kilo bear was found in the bed of the Aspropotamos River, near the bridge to Agia Paraskevi, also known as Tzoutzia, by visitors to the area. The village itself is not occupied during the winter, serving only as a summer residence for livestock breeders moving sheep to summer pasture.

    According to the Arcturos' team that examined the animal and found that it had been shot right through both shoulders, this is the second incident in which a bear has been shot dead within 2010.

    [39] Forest fire in Corinth

    A fire that is spreading quickly broke out at 12:50 on Monday in a forested grove at Athikia in Corinth. A strong fire-fighting force has been sent out to battle the flames, assisted by four Canadair water-bombing aircraft from the air.

    Weather Forecast

    [40] Cloudy on Tuesday

    Slightly cloudy 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 9C and 29C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 29C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 25C.

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

    The new austerity measures announced by finance minister George Papaconstantinou on Sunday and the eurogroup's approval of activation of a 3-year 110 billion euros support package for the Greek economy for the period 2010-2013 dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The 13th and 14th salaries (Christmas full-salary and Easter and summer holiday half-salary bonuses) in public sector to become 500 euros benefit - Dejection at Sunday's urgent Inner Cabinet meeting, but the harsh measures were approved".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Hope sought...Government admits failure of Stability Program and imposes harsher sacrifices on the people, without presenting plan for exodus from the crisis".

    AVRIANI: "Hunger and poverty for salary and pension earners - Salaries and pensions razed".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PASOK now serving the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB)".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "4 years without a breath - Bleeding of 41.6 billion euros (from the people) to avert bankruptcy".

    ESTIA: "Critical hours for Greece - New measures announced in dramatic tone".

    ETHNOS: "Suffocation for five 'stone' years - Another 30 billion euros on the backs of the salary and pension earners".

    IMERISSIA: "Survival with 30 billion euros in sacrifices - Historic wager for economy, society".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Era of long-term austerity with harsh reversals - Salaries, pensions, labor relations and new taxes at the spearhead of the 'package' (of austerity measures)".

    TA NEA: "The great sacrifice - Salaries and pensions being cut for 110 billion euros (EU rescue package) - Bulldozer for public sector, pensioners".

    VRADYNI: "Sacrifices without prospect - The new austerity measures are of unprecedented harshness".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [42] Spokesman: Constructive dialogue at National Council meeting

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The National Council will continue its meeting on Wednesday May 12, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Monday.

    The National Council, the top advisory body to the Cypriot President on the Cyprus problem, convened Monday "in a constructive spirit".

    "The meeting is being held in a constructive spirit. We agreed to continue on Wednesday the 12th of May at 10 o clock", Stephanou said, replying to questions after the conclusion of Monday's meeting, during which the parliamentary parties expressed their views.

    Invited to say what should people expect from the National Council's meeting, he recalled that a similar discussion was held during the four day meeting of the National Council last September which concluded in "some very serious issues regarding the strategy and the aims of the Greek Cypriot policy".

    The National Council, he went on to add, reviews and assesses the Cyprus negotiations so far, noting that there are new facts now, after the change in the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

    Invited to comment on the position expressed by some parliamentary parties to review the strategy of the Greek Cypriot side, the spokesman wondered whether now is the time for the Greek Cypriot side to withdraw its positions and thus "giving Turkey the gift" to withdraw positions or change the procedure.

    "We must weigh things very seriously and assess all facts," he went on to note.

    He also said that President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias will meet Tuesday with UNSG Special Advisor for Cyprus Alexander Downer.

    Regarding the opening of the Limnitis crossing point, on the northwest, linking the remote Pyrgos area to Nicosia, through the Turkish occupied areas, Stephanou said that the agreement reached between the two sides for its opening has to be met.

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

    President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began in 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 because of the so-called elections for a new leader that were won by Dervis Eroglu, known for his long-held divisive positions on the Cyprus problem.

    [43] Downer: Talks must continue on basis of UN parameters

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for Cyprus Alexander Downer has stressed that the Cyprus talks must continue on the basis of the UN parameters.

    Downer, who held a meeting Monday in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus with new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, said he hoped that negotiations would resume before the beginning of June. On Tuesday morning, the UN official will be received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christorfias.

    "I made it clear that the UN position is that the talks must be on the basis of the UN parameters, particularly as defined in the UN Security Council resolutions and the agreements, letters, statements between Christofias and Talat of 23rd May and 1st July", he told reporters.

    Downer said that the UN want the talks to build on the convergences that have already been achieved, and "not go back to the very beginning".

    "Eroglu has made it clear that he is happy for the talks to proceed on that basis", he went on to say.

    He stated that the momentum needs to be put back into negotiations and reiterated that the process cannot go forever, adding that there is not a specific time line.

    Downer, who is planning to go Turkey before the end of May, said that the UN have not specified any timelines, adding that the process can't be allowed to drag on.

    The UN, he said, have worked very hard to help the process, have invested a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of money and want it to be successful.

    Reiterating that "this is an agreement within reach", he said that dragging out the negotiations indefinitely is not an option.

    Replying to questions, he said he would like to see the talks get underway before the beginning of June, during the course of May.

    Asked about Eroglu's statements for a solution based on two separate "states" and two separate "peoples", he said that he went through the issue with Eroglu adding that negotiations aim to achieve a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality and single international personality.

    The UN official said that Eroglu agrees that this is the basis on which negotiations can continue.

    In his statements later on, Eroglu said they have agreed to resume negotiations, adding that most probably negotiations can start on 26 May, which is a UN proposal.

    Replying to a question, he said that he will go to Ankara before the resumption of the negotiations, adding that Downer will also visit Ankara on 24th of May.

    Invited to comment on Downer‘s statement that he has accepted to continue the negotiations on the basis of the UN parameters and the 23rd of May and 1st of July agreements, Eroglu referred journalists to the letter he had sent to UNSG, saying that he is committed by the content of that letter and will continue negotiations in the line of the letter.

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