|Friday, 20 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 5 May 2010 Issue No: 3484
 Gov't: measures 'tough but absolutely necessary'The measures taken by the government in order to lead Greece out of the economic crisis were "tough but absolutely necessary," government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Tuesday. He was commenting on a draft bill that axed public-sector pay and raised taxes that was tabled in Parliament earlier the same day.
Petalotis said this economic programme would allow the country to secure the greater part of its borrowing needs from the EU-IMF support mechanism in the next three years.
"The mechanism buys us time to make crucial structural changes that the country needs," he noted.
Petalotis said the government was not worried about party discipline when the bill came to vote, since the necessity of the programme was not questioned by anyone.
Regarding Wednesday's strikes and rallies, the spokesman said that all citizens had a right to strike and protest and that the government understood the rage and concern of a large section of citizens that were having to pay for the crisis without having been at fault.
He expressed the belief, however, that the Greek people understood that the government was doing its duty and had no other choice than to maintain this political behaviour, "with directness and determination".
"This must also be understood by the political forces that are either in confusion or have taken on the 'contract' of representing the supposed interests of workers," he added.
Replying to questions, Petalotis denied that Prime Minister George Papandreou had been warned back in September, just before the general elections, that the public deficit was set to rise above 12 percent of GDP by Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos.
During that meeting, Provopoulos had cited a deficit of 6 percent and said that this would rise to a two-digit figure unless measures were taken but had not spoken of 12 percent, Petalotis said.
Commenting on rumours circulating earlier on Tuesday of an emergency levy to be imposed on freelancers, Petalotis said that this was only a suggestion made during a discussion that was not finally adopted.
The spokesman also confirmed that Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos had already announced a measure that would allow all those that had decided to retire in 2010, rushing to the exit for fear that they would lose out under the new pension system rules, to 'revoke' their retirements and remain in their jobs but still be eligible to retire under the old rules when they wanted to.
 Bill on austerity measures for activation of EU support mechanism tabled in parliamentThe government on Tuesday tabled the bill on "measures for the implementation of the support mechanism for the Greek economy by the eurozone member countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)" on Tuesday
 ND to vote against Greece's EU-IMF financingMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras announced late Tuesday night that his party would vote against a bill endorsing the financing of Greece through an EU-IMF agreement.
"I announce tonight our party's position regarding the agreement for the financing (of Greece) through the mechanism of Europe (EU) and the International Monetray Fund. We vote against it," Samaras said in a statement.
"Not because we refuse the financing support, which (the ruling) PASOK rendered indispensable now, but because we disagree with the policies that led us up to here as well as with the government's economic strategy for handling the crisis," the main opposition leader added.
"The government does not need our vote to pass the relevant bill. It simply wants a 'vote of tolerance' for its policies," Samaras said.
He added that his party considered itself bound to agreements signed by the Greek State "even when we disapprove them."
"We will do everything so that this money bare fruit and be returned, according to the treaty's terms. Greece is a respectable country," Samaras also underlined.
 PM meets Archbishop Ieronymos, discusses Church welfare workPrime Minister George Papandreou met Archibishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Tuesday. In statements afterward, he welcomed the Archbishop's proposals regarding the exploitation of national endowments that the Archbishop is responsible for, as well as ways of further expanding the Church's welfare work.
On this last issue, Ieronymos called for action to soon overcome lengthy bureaucracy.
Noting that Greece was going through exceptionally difficult times, the prime minister stressed the need to give especial assistance and care to weaker social groups and thanked the Church for its support and the work it was already doing in this area.
Replying, the archbishop said the Church was following developments with great concern and underlined the need for all to work together united in order to overcome the problems.
The prime minister responded by saying that such cooperation was assured and agreed with the Archbishop that bureaucracy was a problem. The public sector was the "sick man" of Greece and one of the reasons that the country was in its current pass, he added, promising speedy changes that would allow the Church to further develop its welfare work.
 Alternate FM Droutsas holds talks with Egyptian FMAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, speaking in a joint press conference with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Abdul Al Gheit on Tuesday, stressed that "in this very difficult conjuncture, Greece has a voice and a role."
Welcoming his guest, shortly after the meeting Gheit had with Prime Minister George Papandreou, Droutsas underlined Greece's historically close relations with Egypt, noting that it is a relation which is "beneficial both ways" that creates considerable ground for further improvement at the same time.
Referring to the talks that he held with the Egyptian official, Droutsas said that the Middle East issue was discussed, where "we are listening very carefully to the opinion of our Egyptian friends," adding that Gheit also briefed him on the outcome of the recent contacts that his government had with Israel.
"We must overcome the stagnation of the peace process, we greatly appreciate the efforts that Egypt made for the unity of the Palestinians and we hope for the prospect of the immediate resumption of the consultations, because we desire an independent and viable Palestinian state, that will live by the side of Israel in conditions of security," Droutsas said.
"If we swim we shall reach Greece," Gheit said, implying the geographical closeness of the two countries and indicating the good climate in bilateral relations he noted that between the Foreign Ministry and the Embassy of Egypt "there is a only wall separating them" and stressed that "we would not object if it was demolished."
Also referring to his meeting with Papandreou, Gheit said that he conveyed the greetings and wishes of his country's president and of the prime minister, saying that "in these difficult moments that Greece is experiencing, Egypt can prove what a good friend it is."
Gheit also referred to the regular rate of bilateral relations and hailed the law on citizenship that handles the issues of Egyptian immigrants as well.
The Egyptian Foreign minister will be visiting Cyprus soon, while on Wednesday he will be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
 Government spokesman, ERT administration condemn invasion of ERT headquarters by protesting teachersA group of teachers who are waiting appointment stormed the state Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters on Monday night, demanding that demands be aired together with an interview with the education minister that was being taped at the time.
The group of 40-50 teachers stormed into the central studio as the main news program was being aired live. The broadcast of the news program was discontinued as the protestors demanded to appear live to air their views.
A team of MAT riot police unsuccessfully attempted to repel them from the building, but the protestors finally reached agreement with the ERT administration and a representative of the teachers presented their demands on the 11:00 night news program, after which the protestors left the building.
The move was condemned later by both government spokesman George Petalotis and the ERT administration.
Petalotis said that the government unreservedly condemns the invasion of the ERT building by a group of teachers who "attempted to impose the broadcast of the news that they deemed appropriate".
"Beyond the dissolution of legality, this act also entails the suppression of freedom of the press itself, in the name of alleged demand of labor rights," the spokesman said, stressing that it is in fact "very disappointing when such violence is carried out by teachers, and even sadder when they are praised by specific political forces."
In an announcement, the ERT administration said it "unreservedly condemns the violent invasion by protesting teachers", stressing that "such actions act at the expense of the unobstructed information of the citizens, while they are also counter to democratic dialogue and every sense of legality".
 Gov't planning fact-finding probe on the economyIt is among the government's priorities to set up a Parliamentary probe into the state of the economy, government spokesman George Petalotis confirmed on Tuesday in response to questions.
Noting that Parliamentary inquiries into the Vatopedi Monastery land swaps case and the Siemens' kickbacks scandal were already nearing completion, he said that "there will later be an investigation committee on the economy, in order to show and indicate who was responsible for leading the country to this level and who is responsible for the necessity to impose such measures as those taken today".
"It is a priority for us to complete an investigation into the case of the economy and who was to blame," Petalotis stressed, adding that the clean-up demanded by society had been begun and should have begun a long time ago by politicians themselves.
He warned, however, that "insisting on names" at this point would create targets and miss the essential issue, noting that the thing was to condemn policies and not politicians as individuals en masse. The investigation must show which politicians have broken the law and bring those to justice, Petalotis added.
Only those that were implicated or responsible for omissions or actions that harmed the public interest had anything to fear from such an investigation, the spokesman added, stressing that the government "will not allow the responsibilities of political figures to be written off, either legally or practically".
According to Petalotis, the government was currently working to clean up public life on two levels - the political level and on the level of state officials and civil servants "so as to wipe out phenomena of corruption, bribery, illegal enrichment and privileged treatment" arising from them.
All ministries have been asked to record all such cases so that the necessary action can be taken, Petalotis said.
Asked whether the government was considering changes to the laws on ministerial responsibility, the spokesman said that there were "Constitutional issues that are being examined".
"It is clear that we want ministers and politicians to have the same behaviour as Greek citizens," he added, while noting that the Constitution provided certain guarantees and protection to those in office "so that we do not become an endless court of politicians".
 Samaras-Bakoyannis meeting: Sacrifices must not go to wasteMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Tuesday with party MP and former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, at the latter's request, to discuss the economic developments and the policy line that the party will follow during debate in parliament of the government's new package of austerity measures.
Bakoyannnis, who had been Samaras' main opponent for the ND leadership, asked for the meeting to discuss with Samaras the way that the liberal forces of the country can contribute to a swift exit from the crisis.
"These tough sacrifices of the Greek people must not go to waste," Bakoyannis said.
"The attitudes of the past belong in the past, and we must all change page," she added.
Bakoyannis declined comment on a press question on whether she will vote for or against the bill on the government's measures.
 LAOS leader received by PresidentPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis left open the issue of whether his party will vote for or against the austerity measures announced by the government, speaking to reporters after a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Asked if his party will vote in favor of the measures, Karatzaferis said that "the policy being followed by the government at this time is not in line with what he had said in the past", while he also criticised the prime minister for asking the President to convene a meeting of the political party leaders after the measures were agreed with a visiting troika of European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials, instead of before.
He added, however, that certain parties' refusal to attend the party leaders' meeting, which led to its cancellation, was a mistake, noting that he had himself asked for such a meeting in November 2009 "and the prime minister called it six months later".
The situation is extremely serious and reason must prevail, which demands dialogue, he added, while he also praised Papoulias' stance as responsible, serious and appropriate.
 LAOS' Karatzaferis queries on kickbacks for defense system contractsOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis in a current question to the prime minister on Tuesday requested an investigation on alleged kickbacks received for defense system contracts.
Karatzaferis cited a press report in the Athens-based daily Kathimerini according to which specific complaints have been filed with the ministry of finance's Special Investigation Service.
He also underlined that the German justice is checking evidence as regards a project associated with building 214 type submarines on behalf of the Greek Navy and queried if a request will be made to the Munich prosecutor to forward the case file.
 PAME protestors' takevoer of Acropolis endsA group of approximately 200 members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME trade union movement staged a takeover of the Acropolis at dawn Tuesday, in protest of the government's austerity measures, and dispersed shortly before noon.
The protestors hung huge banners with the slogan "Peoples of Europe, rise up" in Greek and English.
The protestors departed shortly before noon after negotiations with police.
 Gov't sharply condemns KKE-affiliated takeover of AcropolisThe ministry of culture and tourism issued a statement sharply condemning the takeover of the Acropolis hours earlier on Tuesday by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME trade grouping.
"A small group of KKE members violated the gate at the Acropolis and hung banners with their party's views. This move aside from putting the monuments and their guards at risk is also illegal and exposes Greece worldwide," the statement underlined.
"Instead of working together to help our country get out of the crisis certain individuals, hopefully only a few in numbers, seek to take advantage of the circumstances for personal or political party gains. The move is condemned by all the Greek people. We hope that it will be condemned by the KKE leadership as well," the statement concluded.
On his part, government spokesman George Petalotis underlined that "certain individuals, who allegedly defend labour interests, thought that they can determine what news will be broadcast," referring to the actions of a group of teachers awaiting appointment, who stormed the public-run Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) headquarters on Monday night.
Petalotis also stated that they are responsible and accountable for their behaviour and for attempting to trivialize public life and the Greek people regardless of whether they are the audience of the specific channel or not.
Asked to comment on the banner hung at the Acropolis by members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME trade union movement, Petalotis said that "unfortunately PAME has undertaken exclusively to undermine tourism, with KKE being responsible for that, by opposing the disembarkation of tourists at the port of Piraeus and by desecrating the Acropolis."
 Employment minister on social security systemEmployment Minister Andreas Loverdos, speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, stressed that the government, "obliged to respond to the dilemma of the country's destruction or salvation, has committed itself to the implementation of a serious programme of structural changes and made the effort to apply the measures with such a dose of social sensitivity that was possible."
Loverdos underlined the following points:
-The changes in the social security system were evaluated by the EU-IMF-ECB "troika" as the Employment ministry had proposed.
-The 13th and 14th salary were preserved in the private sector.
-Maintaining part of the 13th and 14th pension was achieved.
-The pensioning of all who would be leaving employment as of 1.1.2010 with the new social security system that will be valid as of 2018 was avoided.
-The 65th year as the general age limit for pensioning was not changed.
-There were measures for compulsory stay in employment during the end of working life so as to avoid dismissals of elderly working people.
 ND official on Employment minister's interviewMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party Political Responsibility, Labour and Social Security sector chief Ioannis Vroutsis criticised Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos on the occasion of a press conference he gave on Tuesday.
"In these very crucial hours for Greece and the Greeks, the Employment Minister chose in a series of consecutive interviews in all the mass media, yesterday and today, to boast about the government's achievements. It is, at least, provocative for him to try to convince us that he succeeded, so that we can praise him," he said.
 Israeli tourism official promotes country's 'rebranding'"Rebranding" Israel as an increasingly attractive holiday destination beyond long-standing "pilgrimage tourism" to the Mideast country brought a top Israeli ministry of tourism official to Athens on Tuesday for a scheduled address before Greek travel agents and tour operators.
According to Yehuda Shen, the director of the Israeli ministry's department for central and southern Europe, his country is actively and vigorously promoting what he termed as joint marketing agreements with travel agents around the world.
The emphasis, beyond countering whatever stereotypes and misconceptions regarding Israel, is to promote visits and travel to the country outside of the usual "Holy Land" context.
"The bottom line is to bring more people to Israel," Shen said during an interview at the Israeli embassy in Athens, hours before his address at a downtown Athens hotel.
Along those lines, "niche" tour packages within the country, increasingly trendy "city breaks" to Tel-Aviv, promotion of Israel's numerous boutique vineyards, the so-called "Four Seas package" -- Med, Red Sea, Dead Sea and Galilee -- and burgeoning convention and trade tourism are being showcased by the Israeli tourism sector, Shen said.
As per visits by Greek passport holders to Israel, the figure exceeded more than 22,000 in 2008, dropping to 16,000 arrivals in recession-plagued 2009, but already reaching more than 5,200 in the first quarter of 2010 -- a figure that includes the March Easter holiday.
As a "rule of thumb", the Israeli ministry official said Israeli tourists -- amongst the world's most prolific holiday-makers -- visiting Greece usually top the 200,000 to 220,000 mark on an annual basis.
However, he reminded that in recent years the eurozone meant dramatically higher prices for holidays and shopping in the east Mediterranean nation, a development that shifted tens of thousands of Israeli tourists to non-eurozone destinations in the Mediterranean, especially Turkey.
Nevertheless, frank assessments by Israeli officials project a noteworthy return of Israelis to EU member-state Greece, given recent high-profile friction in Israeli-Turkish relations and a sense that the former represents the closest west European state to the Middle East.
 Gov't imposes extra tax on companies' net profitsThe Greek government on Tuesday said it was imposing an extra one-off tax charge on companies' profits above 100,000 euros for the year 2009 and a special tax on TV ads, part of a draft bill implementing austerity measures agreed with the EU and the IMF in exchange for a 110-billion-euro support mechanism for the country.
Under the draft bill tabled in Parliament, the government will impose a 4-pct tax rate on net profits up to 300,000 euros, a 6-pct tax rate on net profits from 301,000 to 1,000,000 euros, a tax rate of 8-pct for net profits from 1,000,001 to 5,000,000 euros and a tax rate of 10 pct for net profits surpassing 5,000,001 euros.
The draft bill also envisages a special tax on advertisements broadcast on television (20 pct of the value of the ad).
 Parliament staff work stoppage on WednesdayThe Greek Parliament employees' association has announced a four-hour work stoppage on Wednesday between 11:00-15:00, joining strikes called by the civil servants' union ADEDY against the government's draconian austerity measures. In an announcement, they said that they "were preventing, in this way, the tabling of the anti-labour bill".
"It is not the workers that are to blame for the crisis striking our country but governments that through their choices and omissions brought the country to this morass," the announcement said.
They called for the withdrawal of the measures that hit workers, lowered their standard of living and adversely affected their lives.
The habitually pampered Parliamentary staff, who until recently enjoyed 16 monthly wages against the 14 received by all other employees in Greece, will also lose the 13th and 14th salaries docked from public-sector workers under the package of measures announced by the government.
Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos told reporters that Parliamentary services will operate as normal with a skeleton staff.
 Geniki Bank reports lower Q1 resultsGeniki Bank on Tuesday reported an 8.2 pct decline in its operating income to 43.9 million euros in the first quarter of 2010, compared with the same period last year. The bank attributed this decline to a 10 pct fall in net interest revenue, while operating spending -including provisions- totaled 40.7 million euros, up 0.4 pct compared with the corresponding period in 2009.
Operating results, before provisions, totaled 3.2 million euros in the January-March period, down from 7.3 millin euros in 2009. Bad debt provisions totaled 48.3 million euros, significantly up compared with last year.
Geniki Bank said consolidated net results were a loss of 45.7 million euros, while net parent result was a loss of 45.4 million euros. The bank's loan portfolio rose 1.4 pct to 4.02 billion euros, while saving deposits and repos totaled 2.58 billion euros, down 3.05 pct from last year.
 AB Vasilopoulos supermarket chain reports improved Q1 resultsAB Vasilopoulos on Tuesday said consolidated after-tax profits totaled 2.9 million euros in the first quarter of 2010, up from 2.1 million euros in the same period last year, while consolidated turnover rose 9.1 pct to 378.5 million euros.
Consolidated EBITDA rose 13.3 pct to 14.6 million euros in the January-March period, from 12.9 million euros in the corresponding period in 2009, while operating earnings rose 5.7 pct to 6.3 million euros. Consolidated pre-tax earnings rose to 4.8 million euros in the first three months of the year, from 4.4 million euros in 2009. Consolidated gross earnings rose 11 pct to 85.9 million euros.
AB Vasilopoulos said it planned to expand its network with the addition of 10-15 new units (including franchising units), while it said its first "green" super market will begin operation in 2010 in Stamata, north of Athens proper. The unit will use solar, wind, geothermal and water energy for its operation.
 Mevgal dairy maker reports improved 2009 resultsMevgal, the third largest Greek dairy industry, on Tuesday reported lower revenues and higher pre-tax profits for 2009.
Sales fell 0.6 pct to 183.99 million euros, from 185.16 million euros in 2008, although the company said volume was up, as prices in several dairy products fell last year.
Lower turnover was accompanied by a decline in gross earnings to 54.57 million euros in 2009, down 2.3 pct from 2008, while gross margin fell to 29.6 pct from 30.1 pct over the same period, respectively.
Operating earnings, pre-financials, rose 3.4 pct to 5.8 million euros, reflecting lower administration and distribution spending.
Operating earnings totaled 2.82 million euros last year, from 902,000 euros in 2008, up 213 pct, reflecting a 35.2 pct drop in financial spending. Pre-tax earnings quadrupled to 1.58 million euros in 2009, from 300,000 in 2008.
 FURNIDEC exhibition opens in Thessaloniki on May 8The 32nd FURNIDEC Exhibition for Furniture, Lighting Fixtures, Decoration will take place in Thessaloniki on May 8-16 with the participation of 90 exhibitors.
The goal of exhibition organizer HELEXPO is to support the sector enterprises and allow consumers to be updated on the new trends in decoration.
Admission is free for all visitors.
 Premium production fell 5.1% in 2008, reportGross premium production in the Greek insurance market fell 5.1 pct in 2008, compared with the previous year, while insurance firms showed mixed results in the same period, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
In a report, the now independent statistics agency said re-insurance production fell 4.4 pct, gross compensation handouts rose 3.2 pct, provisions rose 3.9 pct, equity capital fell 14.5 pct to 1.67 billion euros, assets fell 5.4 pct to 14 billion euros and the number of employed people in the sector fell 2.5 pct to 8,788, compared with 2007.
 Athens airport reports improved Q1 figuresAthens Eleftheriod Venizelos International Airport on Tuesday reported improved passenger traffic and air flight figures amid a very difficult period for the air transport industry in general.
The airport operator said passenger traffic rose 10.4 pct in the first quarter of the year, totaling 3.17 million passengers, while flights totaled 44,600 in the January-March period, for an increase of 5.2 pct compared with the same period last year.
The Athens airport ranked first among large European airports on flights (the European average was -2.6 pct) and second on passenger growth (the European average +3.0 pct). Domestic flights grew 13 pct in the first three months of the year, while international flights rose 9.0 pct. January (18 pct) was the month with the biggest percentage growth rates for domestic flights, while March (12.3 pct) for international flights.
The Middle East (19 pct), Western Europe (10.3 pct), Eastern Europe (9.6 pct) and Asia (6.5 pct) recorded the biggest percentage growth rates in geographical distribution.
 Public prosecutor investigating delayed fines for unauthorised buildingThe public prosecutor responsible for financial crimes Paraskevas Adamis on Tuesday announced an investigation of several town planning departments for inexcusably delaying the imposition and collection of fines for unauthorised buildings.
The prosecutor said the preliminary inquiry focused on widespread incidents where town planning departments had delayed in forwarding ascertained offences for unauthorised building to tax offices, for the collection of the fines due. The investigation was seeking to determine whether there was evidence that employees in the services involved were responsible for the delays, which resulted in the loss of large amounts of revenue from non-collection of fines.
The prosecutor is also expecting the results of an investigation by the financial crimes squad into 88 cases of tax violations by private doctors, business people and freelance workers, as well as 40 cases involving the issue of fake invoices.
 Stocks nosedive 6.68%Stocks nosedived at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by aggressive selling of bank shares, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,800 level.
Rumours - denied by the finance ministry - over a debt restructuring by Greece, combined with heavy losses in international markets over worries that the Greek debt crisis was expanding, created a very negative climate in the market.
The index fell 6.68 pct to end at 1,729.68 points, with turnover rising to 215.093 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index fell 7.35 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 6.49 pct down and the FTSE 80 index fell 4.46 pct.
The Raw Materials (11.10 pct) and Banks (10.30 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 168 to 20 with another 33 issues unchanged. Compucon (12.5 pct), FHL Mermeren (9.24 pct), Texapret (8.33 pct), Fashion Box (7.35 pct) were top gainers, while Druckfarben (19.57 pct), Sprider (17.74 pct), Epsilon Net (16.99 pct) and Sidenor (16.50 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -5.74%
Personal & Household: -7.90%
Raw Materials: -11.10%
Travel & Leisure: -6.07%
Food & Beverages: -2.66%
Financial Services: -2.25%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.25
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.10
HBC Coca Cola: 19.41
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.47
National Bank of Greece: 10.85
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.30
Bank of Piraeus: 4.99
 Greek bond market closing reportThe Greek electronic secondary bond market resumed operations on Tuesday, after it remained frozen for several days. Turnover was a low 20 million euros with the 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2020) the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 3 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 535 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 8.58 pct and the German Bund 3.23 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.21 pct, the six-month rate 0.94 pct, the three-month 0.63 pct and the one-month rate 0.40 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -4.17 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 86.166 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,850 contracts, worth 67.281 million euros, with 38,632 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,625 contracts worth 18.885 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,746), followed by Eurobank (1,697), MIG (1,925), OTE (1,278), Piraeus Bank (2,148), Alpha Bank (2,549), Marfin Popular Bank (627), Cyprus Bank (1,148), Hellenic Postbank (1,187) and OPAP (658).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.319
Pound sterling 0.870
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 9.666
Japanese yen 124.65
Swiss franc 1.444
Norwegian kroner 7.886
Canadian dollar 1.343
Australian dollar 1.440
 Gunman arrested in cash & carry holdup a wanted member of 'Robbers in Black' gang, employee shotTwo hooded gunmen shot and seriously injured a supermarket employee during an armed robbery in a cash-and-carry in the Tavros district of Athens on Monday night, and two suspects were arrested later, one of whom is wanted for belonging to the 'Robbers in Black' gang.
The gunmen fled with 50,000 euros from a Praktiker store in a stolen car, which was found abandoned a short distance away a few minutes later.
The employee was rushed to hospital with chest wounds.
The police counter-terrorism squad is investigating whether the detainees are members of a terrorist group.
The investigation so far has revealed that one of the two detainees, who was injured in the legs by police bullets, is not one of the suspects wanted in the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" terrorist group case, as the suspect had initially said himself, but is one of the "Robbers in Black" for whom a 600,000 euros rewards has been offered for information leading to their location and arrest.
The injured robber has also been hospitalised in serious condition.
Police also believe that other accomplices were involved in the Praktiker hold-up, given that the stolen 50,000 euros were not found on the two suspects arrested.
Announcements are expected by the Greek Police (ELAS) headquarters.
 187 kilos of cannabis confiscated on CorfuThe Corfu Coast Guard on Monday found and confiscated in a jeep, 180 kilos of cannabis which in 127 packages hidden in five sacks.
The coast guard officers spotted the jeep moving suspiciously at Aghia Pelagia beach. The driver, who managed to evade arrest, is wanted.
Later, the Coast guard in cooperation with police discovered on a beach near Preveza, northwestern Greece, a speedboat from which, according to information, the five sacks of cannabis had possibly been thrown from into the sea.
The 50-year-old speedboat driver, a local resident, was arrested.
The Corfu prosecutor has ordered a preliminary investigation.
 Twenty thousand euros for information leading to arrest of robbers in TripolisA private security company, an armoured car of which was robbed last Thursday in the city of Tripolis, southern Greece, has announced that anyone providing credible information leaingd to the arrest of the culprits, will receive the sum of 20,000 euros.
The three armed robbers, who held up a company armoured car transferring money on behalf of the Bank of Greece (BoG) made off with the sum of 450,000 euros.
The private security officers had undertaken to transfer a total of thirteen bags with 1,150,000 euros from the Bank of Greece branch in Tripolis to Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) branches in the cities of Argos, Astros and Megalopolis.
The robbery took place while the security personnel were unloading some of the bags with the money to a second armoured car.
 Economist Robert Aliber to address Athens eventNoted economist Robert Z. Aliber, a professor of international economics and finance at the University of Chicago, will address the Global Leadership Series event at the Hellenic American Union in Athens on May 13, with the emphasis on financial crises of the past 40 years.
The topic of Aliber's speech will be "Four Waves of Financial Crises in Forty Years - Mexico, South Korea, Greece, the United States, and Norway - The Story of Dysfunctional International Monetary Arrangements".
The event is hosted by the University of Chicago alumni group in Greece.
 Alleged accomplice in deadly shootout remanded in custodyAn alleged female accomplice of a 34-year-old robber killed by police during a shootout last Thursday outside a supermarket chain store in the district of Evosmos, west Thessaloniki, was remanded in custody after testifying before an examining magistrate on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old woman, a Lithuanian national, who was allegedly waiting for the man in a getaway car outside the supermarket, has denied all charges, maintaining that she did not know what her Ukrainian boyfriend was planning to do. Police found an assault rifle, three pistols and two hand grenades in the vehicle.
The woman was charged with several counts of attempted manslaughter, possession of explosives and illegal gun possession.
The 34-year-old was wanted by police since April 2009 for the murder of police officer Spyros Theodorou in the district of Kypseli in Athens.
 Young British woman dies of injuries due to fallA 24-year-old British woman on Tuesday died of her injuries in Ioannina's Hatzikosta Hospital, where she was admitted on Sunday after falling from the 4th floor of a hotel in the city centre.
Evidence collected by a police investigation appears to indicate that the young woman jumped off the building of her own accord, wanting to end her life for reasons as yet unknown.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 9C and 29C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 25C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's new austerity measures ahead of the activation of the EU support mechanism and reactions, and the labour and social security draft bills to be tabled on Tuesday in parliament, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Detailed chart presents the cutbacks in pensions".
APOGEVMATINI: "Illegal buildings not included in town planning blueprints will be legalised in order for the state to collect 1.3 billion euros (from fines)".
AVGHI: "The minimum salary in the private sector down 25 percent - Collective labour agreements in the freezer".
AVRIANI: "Self-destruction of the parties leading the country to bankruptcy and time for national necessity government before the people's outrage breaks out".
ELEFTHEROS: "Minimum salary axed by 100 euros - Government's plan on the labour rights".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Three social security funds on verge of collapse".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government hastens to stem off mass exodus from public sector".
ESTIA: "The reactions to the measures underline the streamlining of the economy".
ETHNOS: "Illegally enclosed semi-balconies now...favour the IMF (requirements)".
IMERISSIA: "Express privatisations".
KATHIMERINI: "Citizens' agony, incompetent politicians".
LOGOS: "Mass exodus from public sector - Government announces on Tuesday the harsh measures on labour and pensions".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Support in 'installments' and monitoring of performance".
NIKI: "10 plus 1 useful hints for early retirement".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The people must devastate them - All together in Wednesday's strike".
TA NEA: "Professionals to pay extraordinary contribution - Government gives explanations and prepares new measures".
TO VIMA: "Extraordinary contribution by the professionals, too - Revelation: the assistance agreement document".
VRADYNI: "Austerity measures in private sector too - Troika (European Commission, ECB, IMF) preannounces additional austerity measures".
 UN top envoy: Cyprus talks likely to begin May 26NICOSIA (CNA)
Peace talks between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Dervis Eroglu are set to resume next week, most probably on Wednesday May 26.
After his one-hour long meeting with President Christofias on Tuesday morning Special Adviser of the UN GS for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, said that "it's not certain but it's likely to be on the 26th but it could be the 25th or the 27th or 28th", adding that they will know for sure in the next few days.
The two sides seem now happy to resume the negotiations in the week beginning 24th of May, from where they were left off, both sides agreed to that, he said.
The UN are pleased that both sides want to resume the talks on the basis of the parameters defined by the UN, the statements both sides issued on 23rd of May and 1st of July 2008 and on the basis that the talks should pick up from where they have left off earlier this year, he remarked.
Downer stressed that it is good that we are getting the process back going again, that is important at this stage after the so-called elections in Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas, noting that there is a constructive atmosphere about the continuation of the talks.
Asked if Eroglu is committed in principle to a Cyprus settlement with one single sovereignty, Downer said that he explained to Eroglu the Security Council resolutions which are encapsulated in the phrase that we want a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality and a single international personality and he certainly accepted that.
Responding to other questions about sovereignty, he said that the expression used by the UN is a single international personality.
"That is one Cyprus in the sense that there is one Cypriot passport, one Cyprus mission to the UN. We are talking here about federation. I think I can help you here coming from a federation. A federation has a federal government and state governments or in the case of Cyprus and language used here, federate units. In all federations, these different levels of government have different powers described by the Constitution. There was no argument with Eroglu about this question Cyprus' single international personality at all".
He said that he asked Eroglu to confirm his commitment to Security Council resolutions and to the parameters of these talks and "we talked about those parameters in some detail and the Turkish Cypriot leader did make that commitment".
In a written statement, issued after his remarks at the Presidential Palace, Downer said that in several United Nations Security Council resolutions on Cyprus there is a clear reference to single sovereignty and single citizenship.
''So as to avoid any misunderstanding, Downer wishes to add to his comments to the media today that in several United Nations Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, including resolution 1251 (1999) and subsequent resolutions, there is a clear reference to single sovereignty and single citizenship,'' the written statement said.
Asked if Eroglu accepts both announcements of 23 of May and 1st of July as the basis of the talks, Downer answered positively. When he was asked to comment on the statements of Eroglu in which he expressed his commitment to the letter he sent to UN Secretary General, Downer said that they did not talk about the letter much, but about the basis of these negotiations. "He can explain to you anything he wants but I want to explain to you what I did and what he said," Downer added.
"I said that there were essential three preconditions for the continuation of these talks. One, the SC resolutions, the UN parameters. Two, the two agreements of 23rd May and 1st of July 2008 and number three that we will continue the talks from where they were left off. We don't start the whole process all over again," Downer explained.
He said that Eroglu agreed to all three of them. People have different interpretations of the meaning of sovereignty but for the UN the UN parameters are "a sine qua non for us, they are fundamental," he stressed. "We are here because of the UN parameters and the invitations from the two sides to host talks and to help these talks on the basis of SC resolutions and UN parameters and not on some other basis," Downer pointed out.
They were a series of convergences achieved over 16 or 17 months the talks lasted, particularly in the area of Government and Power sharing, but also on the Economy and EU, the UN official said, adding that the UN doesn't expect these to reopen again and Eroglu made no such suggestion. When asked if the Turkish Cypriot leader said that he accepts these convergences, he said that this is correct.
Asked about the agenda of the talks, Downer said that this must be agreed between the two sides, they are having some discussions about which chapter they will take up next.
Asked if he believes that a solution can be achieved by the end of this year, Downer said that "of course it can. I don't know if there will be, but it can, there is no question about that". This is an agreement which is within the reach of the leaders and what is needed is the political will to grasp it, he added. "Both made it very clear to me that they are committed to a solution, so we will see, time will tell".
On efforts to open the Limnitis checkpoint, to facilitate movement to and from the islandÔs northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, Downer said that there is some work going on and underlined that "we want to see this project finished on time and on budget".
He made it clear to Eroglu - as he said - that it is very important to the dynamics of the whole island and the confident between the two sides, this project to be completed on time and as best as can possibly be done on budget and the Turkish Cypriot leader made clear that he is committed to the project and does not want to see any obstacles in the way.
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.
Downer: clear reference to single sovereignty in UN resolutions
In several United Nations Security Council resolutions on Cyprus there is a clear reference to single sovereignty and single citizenship, Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer notes in an additional written statement issued on Tuesday by the UNFICYP press office in Cyprus.
The statement refers to Downer's earlier comments on the issue of one sovereignty after his meeting with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
"We wish to add to his comments that in several United Nations Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, including resolution 1251 (1999) and subsequent resolutions, there is a clear reference to single sovereignty and single citizenship'' the written statement says.
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