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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 6 May 2010 Issue No: 3485
 Political leaders express condemnation of violencePolitical leaders expressed their shock and condolences on Wednesday in the wake of a bank torching in central Athens that left three bank employees dead, as news of the abhorrent attack found Parliament in session to debate the latest round of government-announced austerity measures -- the reason unions were holding street protests outside the legislature.
Tensions were heightened inside Parliament as well, especially after verbal sparring between Communist Party (KKE) deputies and MPs from the opposite side of the aisle, namely, from Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party.
Prime Minister George Papandreou referred directly to a murderous attack, while promising that "the perpetrators will be located and will stand trial."
Moreover, the Greek premier called on all Parliament-represented parties to unequivocally condemn the violence and "not to hide behind the decisions to save the country, which the government was forced to take, because otherwise the country would be led to bankruptcy."
He also decried opposition statements claiming that the country was under a "dictatorial regime" as well as calls for "insubordination to the constitution", statements he said poisoned the political atmosphere.
"You all know, each one of you individually, that under the weight of the current situation we made difficult decisions, but responsible ones in order to save pensions, wages, jobs, bank accounts and the toil of our households and working people. The other option was bankruptcy," Papandreou said during an address in Parliament.
In directly commenting on the day's grim developments, he underlined that "every citizen has the right to demonstrate. He does not have the right to violence that leads to murder. Violence breeds violence; protest is one thing, murder is another. It is self-evident that we will stand by the three families now living through a tragedy, and we tell them that the perpetrators will be located and answer to justice. They cannot enjoy direct or indirect cover, it is necessary for the entire political world to condemn every form of violence," the prime minister said.
On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras emphasised that the country is experiencing "critical moments", while expressing his grief and condolences for the innocent victims of "fanaticism and blind violence".
"... as a Parliamentary democracy we must, jointly, raise our voice and declare that there is room for disagreement and protests but not violence ... We are the guarantors of normalcy, the country has passed through worst times, and we must remain calm."
Finally, the ND leader expressed his satisfaction over a decision by the premier to accept a proposal for a convening of the political party leaders' council.
Communist party leader Aleka Papariga, speaking after the Parliament session, condemn Wednesday's violence and expressed her party's condolences for the loss of the three bank workers.
At the same time, Papariga blamed "provocations" by ultra-rightist "thugs", who she claimed tried to storm Parliament after taking banners and flags of the KKE-affiliated PAME labour grouping. She also charged that the right-of-centre LA.OS party was provoking her party within Parliament.
In response to televised images of angry protesters attempting to break through riot police ranks and enter Parliament, a KKE statement read:
"...KKE condemns, to all Greek people that a plan aimed at provocation was implemented when the PAME rally arrived in front of Parliament. A group of provocateurs grabbed PAME flags and attempted, with slogans and actions, to influence other protesters into violence, so as to slander KKE and PAME. The immediate response by the protest's security disarmed them and isolated them..." the statement read.
On his part, the Parliament spokesman for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party, Asterios Rodoulis, charged that his party and deputies have also been targeted by such extremist behaviour, while always resisting such "terrorist actions", as he said.
"Today's incidents brought about a double blow against our country: democracy was hit; certain people struck at democracy with their words in this very chamber; the second blow was against the economy..." he charged.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis on Wednesday evening pleaded for self-restraint in the country, speaking after the deadly violence that marred the day's union protests.
Karatzaferis also sharply criticised the Communist party (KKE).
"Now, not only is our economy threatened, but possibly, our republic and constitution as well ... some people are banking on chaos, and today they received a bloody down payment," he said.
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras told Parliament that "violence is not the choice of the people but of those who fear the people", while he stressed that his party "steadfastly condemns violence unequivocally".
As for the perpetrators, he stressed that "we do not allow them to swear on life, as they have degraded and violated it", while he also criticised the "extreme-right, which in the past had targeted SYRIZA, and now the KKE".
"We will not fall into the trap of dissension that is being set up against us. Every progressive citizen must expect such attacks, and we are ready to confront them now, when it has become clear who is favoured by the political-economic system that is reaching a dead end," Tsipras said.
PM has telephone conversations with party leaders
Prime Minister George Papandreou held telephone con-versations late Wednesday night with the leaders of the opposition parties, namely New Democracy (ND) President Antonis Samaras, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary head Alexis Tsipras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis.
According to a press release, the premier exchanged views with the party leaders on the violence that broke out during a workers' demonstration against the government's austerity measures, earlier Wednesday.
The prime minister underlined the need for all to contribute to the maintance of calm in the country and the protection of democratic legality.
 President Papoulias makes a dramatic appeal for social cohesionPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias made a dramatic appeal on Wednesday to the "responsibility of us all" to not et the country take "the step into the void", following the death of three bank employees in a firebomb attack against a bank in downtown Athens earlier in the day, during the height of massive trade union protests against recently enacted austerity measures.
"Our country has reached the edge of the abyss. It is the responsibility of us all to not allow the step into the void. And responsibility is proven in practice, not in words. History will judge us all. Harshly and without extenuating circumstances," President Papoulias said in a written statement.
"It is difficult for me to find the proper words to express my grief and rage for the tragic death of three of our fellow citizens, who fell victims of abhorrent violence, which is alien to the values of a democratic society," President Papoulias added, and assured the families of the victims that the state will do everything so that this crime will not remain unpunished.
"Preserving social cohesion and social peace is the great wager of these days," the President concluded
 Bank torched during protests; 3 deadThree dead bank employees were the result of a firebomb attack against a bank in downtown Athens early Wednesday afternoon during the height of massive trade union protests against recently enacted austerity measures.
Initial reports state that the victims, two women and a man, died from asphyxiation after the bank's storefront windows were smashed and firebombs tossed inside. According to a fire brigade bulletin, a group of mostly youthful rioters, which had infiltrated the large protest march passing by bank, threw the firebombs at the building.
Self-styled anti-state youth often take advantage of protests and demonstrations in the country to engage in vandalism and clash with riot police.
Fire-fighters located the bodies of the three bank employees on the third floor. A total of eight people had been trapped in the flames and smoke.
The bank was identified as a Marfin Investment Group branch, located on 23 Stadiou boulevard.
The leadership of Greek Police (EL.AS) ordered all relevant services to review traffic camera footage and all related evidence in order to find the perpetrators.
At the same time, demonstrators attempted to storm the Parliament building, where a debate ahead of a crucial vote on the austerity measures was scheduled to take place. The groups of stone-throwing protesters were deflected by riot police.
In other incidents, a fire truck was torched near the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, roughly a kilometre south of Parliament, while a one-time tax bureau office was also attacked a few dozen metres away. Finally, a kiosk near the national gardens was set ablaze, with the resulting fire initially spreading to the adjacent greenery.
The strike was called by the civil servants' union (ADEDY) and the major trade umbrella union GSEE.
 Citizens Protection Minister pledges arrest and exemplary punishmentCitizens Protection Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis pledged "arrest and exemplary punishment" of the individuals who "murdered three working people during a peaceful march in the center of Athens" earlier in the day, describing Wednesday as a "black day for democracy".
The minister said that "the only way for the forces of random violence who invoke the crisis as a pretext in order to sow destruction and pain in their wake" to be "permanently marginalised".
"This is the responsible stance of us all," he added.
Chryssohoidis also said that the "forces that resort to random violence and have anti-democratic and anti-social aims and attitudes" attempted to storm parliament, exploiting the peaceful demonstration of the working people and, "with their actions, in addition to the death of three working people, directly endangered the lives of others as well".
The minister expressed his grief over the deaths and his condolences to the victims' families".
 Twelve arrests in Athens violence, 29 police officers injuredTwelve people have been arrested and 28 taken in for questioning by police in connection with the violence earlier Wednesday that broke out during a workers' demonstration against the government's austerity measures, while 29 police officers were injured.
A downtown branch of Marfin Bank was torched earlier in the day, claiming the lives of three bank employees who were trapped in the building and died of smoke inhalation.
The three victims were identified as two women -- Paraskevi Zoulia, 35, and Angeliki Papathanassopoulou, 32 -- and a man, Empaminondas Tsakalis, 36.
According to Athens chief medical examiner Filippos Koutsaftis, who examined the bodies before they were transferred to the morgue, the deaths were attributed to suffocation resulting from thick smoke fumes.
The man was found in the stairwell between the first and second floor of the building, apparently dying as he attempted to descend to the ground floor to escape the building. One of the women was found in a second-floor office, while the second woman was found near the balcony of the same office.
 Archbishop Ieronymos: Calm, national unity now neededArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Wednesday issued an urgent call for calm and national unity, in a statement issued after the deadly violence that erupted hours earlier during protests in central Athens.
"Human life is sacred and inviolable ... no one is justified in sacrificing (human life) on the altar of whatever expediency," he underlined.
 Athens Mayor: Grief and rage over deaths"The City of Athens expresses its grief for the three dead people and its rage for the new destruction in the city by the 'known-unknowns', who definitely are not the working people who demonstrated en masse over the repercussions of the economic measures on their daily lives," Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis said Wednesday night.
He wondered "how many dead must we griefe, how much destruction to the city must we witness, for a democratically-elected government to be found that will say the big 'no' to this situation and wipe out, tonight, all these terrorists of our city".
City of Athens crews took up work Wednesday night to restore the extensive damage caused. An initial inventory of the damage listed vandalism of Syntagma Square's main fountain and all its marble benches, and extensive damage to sidewalks, marble fixtures and road signs in the city center, as well as the destruction of 650 garbage and recycling bins, 400 small trash bins, 10 bus stops, 20 trees, and other damage.
Extensive damage was also done to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the parliament building, which hooded rioters threw rocks at.
 GSEE condemns the random violenceThe General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), one of the two umbrella federations that organised Wednesday's nationwide labor strike, condemned the death of three bank employees when their bank was torched in central Athens.
"The biggest workers' demonstration after the restoration of democracy against the anti-labor measures was marred by random and provocative violence that led to the death of three young people," a GSEE announcement said, adding that "the perpetrators of this murderous attack have nothing to do with the trade unions and workers who demonstrated dynamically and peacefully for their just demands".
"We condemn the arsonists of random violence and vandalisms who, by their acts, undermine and slander the struggles of the working people," GSEE said.
"We express our deep sorrow and condolences to the families of the innocent victims of the random violence. We state our determination to continue and intensify our struggle for our just demands," the GSEE announcement concluded.
 Athens Merchants Association on incidentsAthens Merchants' Association (ESA) president Panaghis Karellas said Wednesday night that "we find ourselves once again in the face of a provocation that aims at deregulating the economy, the society and our democratic regime", commenting on violence in the city center that erupted during a labor demonstration.
"In these critical hours, the entire business community must rise to the circumstances and take action by shouldering sacrifices, so as to lead the country safely out of the crisis. It is our obligation to display self-restraint, prudence and unanimity" at this time, and there was time and an expressed determination to attribute responsibilities, he added.
 ND leader phone contacts with Commission, EPP chiefsMain opposition New Democracy leader Panos Panagioto-poulos said Wednesday that ND leader Antonis Samaras had telephone contacts with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European People's Party (EPP) leader Wilfried Martins, as well as the German and French ambassadors in Athens.
He said Samaras spoke twice with Martens, the first time when the ND leader called the latter and a second time when the EPP leader called Samaras upon hearing of the incidents in Athens in which three bank employees were killed after their downtown bank was torched.
The spokesman said that in all the telephone discussions Samaras outlined the ND positions that he will present in detail in Thursday's parliament plenary session.
He said Samaras stressed in his telephone contacts that regardless of his party's disagreement with the government, it will nevertheless fully respect the money forthcoming through the EU support mechanism at bilateral level by the eurozone governments and the IMF.
"ND commits itself to the agreements that are signed by the Greek state, even when we disagree with them, because the Greek state has continuity," Samaras assured his interlocutors, adding that it will do everything it can so that the money will be used for Greece to exit this difficult situation and return them, as per the agreements, stressing that "Greece has dignity".
 IMF statement on GreeceWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Wednesday made the following statement here, in relation to the activation of a eurozone-IMF support package for Greece."We very much welcome the European Central Bank's announcement, in the context of Greece's strong adjustment program, that it has decided to suspend the application of the minimum credit rating threshold in the collateral eligibility requirements for the purposes of the Euro system's credit operations in the case of marketable debt instruments issued or guaranteed by the Greek government. This decision by the ECB will provide important support to the program by helping to maintain financial stability," the statement read.
 SEB expresses indignationThe Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), in a statement on Wednesday, expressed its indignation over "the spectacle of a State that still appears unable to confront the violent imposition of the law of the hooded rioters".
SEB said that it shares in the grief over the "murder of three innocent employees, who paid for being conscientiously at their place of work", and also shares "the justified concern of the citizens of this country, who see social tranquility and stability being undermined in such a way, at such a critical time for the country".
 Parliament committee endorses support mechanism billThe bill endorsing the activation of a European Union-International Monetary Fund support mechanism for Greece was voted in the relevant Parliamentary Committte on Wednesday night by a simple majority vote.
The main opposition New Democracy (ND), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parties attacked the bill, while the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party refrained from expanding on its position until Thursday, when the bill will be debated in the House plenum.
 Turkish PM to visit Greece on May 14-15ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be visiting Greece on May 14-15, an announcement by his press office said on Wednesday evening.
"The prime minister will be having high level bilateral talks and will co-chair the first meeting of the 'High Level Cooperation Council' which we believe will constitute an important step for a new acceleration of Greek-Turkish relations," the announcement added.
According to the same announcement, the Turkish premier will be addressing the Greek-Turkish Business Council. "This visit will reinforce the relations of friendship, mutual trust and cooperation in all sectors," it concluded.
 Bank employees' union calls for nation-wide strike onThurs.Greece's bank Employees' union (OTOE) on Wednesday called a nation-wide 24-hour strike in the sector for Thursday, after the death of three bank employees during a firebomb attack against a bank in downtown Athens on Wednesday afternoon.
"The tragic event that cost the lives to three of our colleagues - two women and one man - is the sad consequence of the anti-popular measures, which provoked the people's anger and resulted in the protests of tens of thousands of workers, but which also has actual and moral perpetrators. The actual perpetrators must be found and punished in an exemplary manner," the announcement by the union stated, adding:
"However, the moral accomplices should be sought out for the policies implemented, the operational stance of police forces and also in banks' orders," the announcement added.
 Emporiki Bank reports 209 mln-euro loss in Q1Emporiki Bank on Wednesday reported net losses of 209.3 million euros in the first quarter of 2010, after losses of 168.7 million euros in the same period last year. The bank, in an announcement, attributed this negative result to increased provisions.
Net income totaled 188.7 million euros in the January-March period, up 26.2 pct from last year, while gross operating earnings totaled 44.5 million euros, after losses of 1.0 million euros in the first quarter of 2009, up 57 pct from the fourth quarter of 2009.
Provisions rose 44 pct to 249.4 million euros from the same period last year.
Emporiki Bank said its loan portfolio was stable at 22.8 billion euros, boosted by the support of its majority shareholder, Credit Agricole. Saving deposits fell 9 pct in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2009 to 13.5 billion euros. (ANA-MPA)
 Stocks suffer heavy lossesStocks came under heavy pressure again, ending sharply lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, hit by a negative climate in international markets and a new rise in the Greek bond spreads. The composite index of the market fell 3.91 pct to end at 1,662.10 points, with turnover at 247 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index fell 3.89 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.08 pct down and the FTSE 80 index dropped 3.76 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 161 to 27 with another 35 issues unchanged.
All sectors moved lower, with the Food (-7.08 pct), Travel (-6.85 pct), Constructions (6.46 pct), Technolocy (-5.11 pct), Health (-5.09 pct) and Banks (-3.08 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe Greek electronic secondary bond market resumed its inactive position on Wednesday after showing signs of life the previous day. The Bank of Greece said the return of the 10-year benchmark Greek bond was 8.58 pct, with the yield spread at 572 basis points above the German Bund.
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.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.98 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 122.903 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 25,412 contracts worth 100.008 million euros, with 39,502 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,585 contracts worth 22.895 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (11,569), followed by Eurobank (3,130), MIG (967), OTE (1,909), Piraeus Bank (2,482), Alpha Bank (5,695), Marfin Popular Bank (1,068), Ellaktor (5,493) and Mytilineos (602).
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.97%
Personal & Household: -4.93%
Raw Materials: -3.38%
Travel & Leisure: -6.85%
Food & Beverages: -7.08%
Financial Services: -3.53%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.05
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.20
HBC Coca Cola: 18.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.52
National Bank of Greece: 10.65
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.00
Bank of Piraeus: 4.88
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.98 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 122.903 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 25,412 contracts, worth 100.008 million euros, with 39,502 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,585 contracts worth 22.895 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (11,569) followed by Alpha Bank (5,695), Ellaktor (5,493), Eurobank (3,130), Piraeus Bank (2,482), OTE (1,909), Marfin Popular Bank (1,068) and MIG (967).
 Football play-off match postponed for Thurs.A Superleague football match between PAOK Thessaloniki and Olympiacos Piraeus at the latter's home field, the third match in the ongoing play-off round, was postponed for Thursday due to the violence in Athens hours earlier during union protests, which left three bank employees dead.
The game will be played on Thursday at 21:15 local time (19:15 GMT) at the Toumba stadium.
 UNFICYP: Cyprus talks to resume 26th of MayNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, aiming to solve the Cyprus problem and reunify the island, will resume on the 26th of May.
According to an announcement by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) on Wednesday, Cyprus talks will resume on Wednesday, 26th of May at 10 am local time (0700 GMT) at the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia.
"This announcement comes following consultations between the Special Adviser of the Secretary General on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, and the leaders of the two communities," UNFICYP said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cypriot President Demetris 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 Turkish Cypriot leader, which Dervis Eroglu has won.
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