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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-19

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

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

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 Issue No: 3496

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou on EU-Latin America and Caribbean summit
  • [02] PM addresses EU-LAC summit
  • [03] Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit 2010 begins in Athens
  • [04] Culture minister on deputy minister's resignation
  • [05] ND on Greek representation in World Health assembly
  • [06] Samaras-Tsipras meeting
  • [07] KKE criticises gov't proposals for law on ministerial responsibility
  • [08] KKE on Turkish PM's visit to Greece
  • [09] LAOS leader says Kallikratis serves PASOK interests
  • [10] Thessaloniki prefect calls for postponement of ND congress
  • [11] DM Venizelos visits Salamina naval station
  • [12] Ecumenical Patriarch visits Burgas, Bulgaria
  • [13] FinMin briefs EU on budget
  • [14] Greece receives first tranche of EU support loan
  • [15] Minister on transport MoU with Turkey; rail company's huge debt
  • [16] GSEE trade union: 'social insurance bill not acceptable as is'
  • [17] Mass transit stike on Thur.; air traffic controllers to work
  • [18] Gov't details plan for capital repatriation
  • [19] Greek inflation jumps to 4.7% in April, Eurostat
  • [20] Hellenic Exchanges reports spectacular Q1 results
  • [21] Tourist arrivals down 10 pct
  • [22] Stocks end slightly lower
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [26] SAE president on Genocide of Pontus Greeks memorial day
  • [27] Local residents announce roadblocks of NE border crossings on Thur.
  • [28] Marfin chief: Stadiou branch will never reopen
  • [29] Philippi and Thassos museums open again to the public
  • [30] Police crack Kozani murder case
  • [31] Police arrests on double crime in Thessaloniki
  • [32] Body found in Athens district
  • [33] British woman dies from internal bleeding; boyfriend arrested
  • [34] Drug arrest in Thesprotia
  • [35] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [37] Spokesman: Progress on internal aspects needed before international conference
  • [38] International military exercise to take place in Cyprus Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou on EU-Latin America and Caribbean summit

    MADRID (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis)

    Discussions held here in the framework of the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Summit focused on the creation of a regulating framework for the operation of the markets.

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stated that he had the opportunity of outlining the relevant proposals included in the letter of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, George Papandreou, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker, that he delivered to the leaders of the countries of Latin America.

    He also mentioned that he described the programme which Greece is applying to reverse the course of its economy, so that "we can reach an economy that will be viable, an economy of growth and a productive one."

    The prime minister further said that he had several meetings and referred in particular to his meetings with leaders of G-20 member-states, with the presidents of Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

    As regards his meeting withe Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, they agreed to struggle jointly on the issue of market regulation, while the Brazilian president invited Papandreou to visit Brazil soon so that they can discuss this issue.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, the prime minister said that this trip will probably take place at the end of May and he will visit Brazil with the capacity of Socialist International president as well, which Lula's party wishes to join.

    Papandreou replied to many questions referring to Greece and stressed that the Greeks are proud and hardworking people and that "we are determined to implement the measures and to succeed."

    He also said that Greece's determination alone is not enough, but intervention in markets is also necessary. But again, as he added, this is not enough either and for this reason the international community must cooperate so that rules are applied to the monetary system, the management of the environment and illegal immigration.

    Papandreou also mentioned in his discussion with journalists that the political institutions in Europe are far more slower than the markets and this must be handled. The markets, he added, are useful but they must serve the economy and not the citizens to serve the markets.

    [02] PM addresses EU-LAC summit

    MADRID (ANA-MPA)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou addressed the 6th EU-Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Summit on Tuesday, where he underlined that new tools, ones aimed to promote the stability of macroeconomic and fiscal indexes, are necessary to prevent and manage economic crises.

    Referring to the IMF's role, Papandreou said its agenda could become wider but its main role will be unchanged, namely, dealing with the balancing of debts and deficits.

    He also noted that "green development" could be part of a solution to the European crisis, considering that it can create new job positions, while he also referred to renewable energy sources (RES), underlining that the establishment of a separate ministry for the environment proves that Greece is interested in its protection.

    On the sidelines of the summit, Papandreou met with the presidents of Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

    During a formal dinner hosted by the Spanish EU Presidency on Monday evening, Papandreou had a brief meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish PM and Summit host Jose Luis Zapatero as well as the prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Nikola Gruevski.

    [03] Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit 2010 begins in Athens

    The third annual Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit 2010 began at Athens' Hilton Hotel on Tuesday with the participation of government officials, corporate leaders, financiers, academics and global experts. The two-day summit that ends on Wednesday is organised under the auspices of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    Among the keynote speakers is Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is due to speak on Wednesday, Prince Albert II of Monaco that spoke on Tuesday morning and former European Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas.

    In his address, Dimas noted that a carbon tax on sectors not included in the European Commission's plan for reducing carbon emissions will help create more jobs, since low-emission technologies tended to be more labour-intensive than conventional ones.

    This view was echoed by Dr. Samuel Fankhauser, a research fellow at Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment at the London School of Economics, who stressed that a carbon tax would be one of the most positive policy tools from a fiscal standpoint.

    Dimas also argued in favour of increasing the EU's target for reducing carbon emissions from 20 percent at present to 30 percent, again in order to create more jobs, and in order to preserve Europe's leading role in environmental protection through "an exemplary stance and action".

    "We must recruit the forces of conscience and common sense in order to deal with this crisis," the former Commissioner added.

    The energy summit was organised by Financial Times Limited in association with the Institute for Climate and Energy Security and C&C International.

    Taking place over two days, the comprehensive agenda will interpret the outcomes of the UN's Copenhagen conference and the implications for future energy and environment policy development in the Mediterranean region.

    [04] Culture minister on deputy minister's resignation

    Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Tuesday told reporters that he was personally coordinating the ministry's tourism section since earlier that morning, following the resignation of Angela Gerekou as deputy minister.

    "Mrs. Gerekou was in the midst of a very difficult tourism season," the minister noted in response to questions, adding that he was trying to ensure the continuation of actions in line with the ministry's priorities for tourism-related issues.

    Gerekou offered her resignation to the prime minister on Monday, following revelations in the press that her husband Tolis Voskopoulos, a highly popular Greek singer, owed 5.5 million euros in taxes.

    [05] ND on Greek representation in World Health assembly

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) health sector head MP Marios Salmas charged on Tuesday that Greece's representation at the 63rd World Health assembly, which opened in Geneva, is downgraded.

    Salmas said the country is represented at the meeting by a health ministry director when the issues under discussion are very serious.

    The issues on the agenda include implementation of the international health legislation, assessment of international targets on public health issues, strategies against alcohol consumption, prevention and control of non-infectious diseases, the issue of bogus drugs and the recent swine flu alert.

    The annual World Health Assembly opened on May 17 with the participation of officials from 193 member countries who will review the activities of the World Health Organization (WHO) and set new priorities for the future.

    [06] Samaras-Tsipras meeting

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Tuesday with Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras.

    After the meeting, which lasted roughly an hour, Samaras merely noted that politics is the art of understanding and in times of crisis understanding is a political virtue.

    "Even in the case of major differences, we should continue to talk and not become alienated," Samaras said.

    Tsipras, who heads the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group, said it was "a meeting of political civilisation," stressing that "such bilateral meetings are important." He underlined that such meetings are not substitutes for institutional procedures, like the meeting of the political party leaders under the president of the Republic.

    "We expressed our concern for the IMF measures and know how," Tsipras said, adding that they also "expressed concern that the country could very soon be led to a dead-end and possibly bankruptcy."

    "We may have different views but we share the same conclusions," Tsipras said, while telling reporters that a party congress will be held on June 6-7.

    [07] KKE criticises gov't proposals for law on ministerial responsibility

    The changes suggested by the government for allowing the prosecution of ministers did not address crucial problems that had to be resolved in order to allow justice to investigate cases involving members of the government, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Tuesday.

    "The changes presented by the government in Parliament for changing the law on ministerial responsibility, just as those that the New Democracy government had presented a year ago, are trivial," KKE's Parliamentary group said in an announcement.

    The party's MPs underlined that the proposals made by KKE at Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee made radical changes and lifted obstacles to prosecution that led to impunity.

    Among the party's suggestions is to scrap the separate statute of limitations for serving ministers and a requirement that cases be prosecuted "by the end of the second session of the next Parliamentary period after an offence is committed".

    It also says that the preliminary examination and prosecution of cases involving ministers should not require a Parliamentary majority of 151 votes, since this essentially meant that they were impossible to conduct unless the governing majority wanted them. According to KKE, an inquiry should be carried out even if a minority of MPs called for one, suggesting 100 MPs as a possible cut-off point. Replying to arguments that this subverted the principle of majority rule, KKE noted that a minority could decide whether an investigation should be held but not whether to prosecute.

    Lastly, the party said that preliminary examinations should not be conducted by Parliament, as previously, but by a judicial council that will then decide whether there are grounds to prosecute.

    [08] KKE on Turkish PM's visit to Greece

    The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Tuesday makes an assessment of the visit to Greece by Turkish Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan, last week, noting that Ankara is insisting on its claims in the Aegean, utilising joint interests with the United States.

    After outlining Turkey's positions on the Aegean, as they were presented by Erdogan at the press conference in Athens, the Political Bureau wonders what was agreed in Athens and "whether or not the problems regarding the violation of Greece's sea and air borders and the questioning of Greek sovereign rights in the Aegean remain."

    KKE stressed that these questions demand a responsible reply. "The people must know the truth," it noted.

    The Political Bureau further pointed out that "the Aegean, the territorial sovereignty issues are not constructed by 'diplomats', nor can they be solved by certain 'third parties'."

    [09] LAOS leader says Kallikratis serves PASOK interests

    In an attack on the government, the leader of the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis on Tuesday accused ruling PASOK of seeking to promote its narrow party interests through the Kallikratis plan for local government reform.

    The Kallikratis plan envisages a series of mergers between Greek municipalities to create larger municipal authorities that are expected to generate savings in administrative costs. According to Karatzaferis, this plan has been "cut to measure to suit PASOK's petty political interests".

    Karatzaferis said that Kallikratis was a good plan supported by his own party since 2004 "that the prime minister has spoiled and adulterated, as happened previously with the semi-enclosed outdoor spaces".

    He criticised Prime Minister George Papandreou for seeking general consensus from the opposition parties due to the crisis facing the country and then "introducing legislation that drives them away. They are driving away all of us that believe in consensus. Just as he did with the bill on immigrants, he is doing the same now with Kallikratis."

    Earlier, while in hospital for renal colic,Karatzaferis had received a phone call from President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias concerning his health, while he received visits from former health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos. Calls to the party leader were also made by Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos, former Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    [10] Thessaloniki prefect calls for postponement of ND congress

    Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis proposed that the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party elections and congress be postponed, in a letter addressed to ND leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday.

    Psomiadis underlined that his suggestion is made within the framework of spending cuts implemented in the tough conjuncture for the country, adding that the "existing social problems have distanced the people from the political party procedures."

    [11] DM Venizelos visits Salamina naval station

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos visited the naval station at Salamina on Tuesday and was briefed on the activities of the Fleet Headquarters and the duties of the Navy's administrative care department.

    The minister also visited the missile boat Roussen and the frigate Salamis that had returned from Somalia last month where it had participated in the ATALANTA operation against piracy.

    Addressing the civilian and military staff, Venizelos expressed his satisfaction over the Navy's operational performances at European and NATO level.

    Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, he reiterated that a "final viable solution to the issue of Cyprus, as well as the lifting of tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean is the only safe method for the climate in our bilateral relations to change radically."

    [12] Ecumenical Patriarch visits Burgas, Bulgaria

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA - O. Karvouniari)

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Bulgarian Minister without Portfolio Bozhidar Dimitrov met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I upon his arrival in Burgas on Tuesday, where the patriarch is to inaugurate a new church.

    While in Burgas, the Patriarch was also awarded an honorary doctorate at the Burgas Free University and paid a visit to Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov, who said that five new churches will be built in the city by the municipality and the government.

    On Wednesday, Patriarch Bartholomew will visit churches in the Bulgarian resort of Sozopol.

    Financial News

    [13] FinMin briefs EU on budget

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / . Aroni)

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday briefed his EU counterparts over the course of the Greek state budget and a series of legislative measures taken to cut the country' s fiscal deficit, during an Ecofin meeting here.

    The Greek minister told his eurozone counterparts that government measures to cut wages and pensions in the public sector, along with raising special consumption taxes, have cut the fiscal deficit by 41.8 pct in the first four months of the year, while he reiterated that Greece has taken more measures than needed to cut its fiscal deficit in 2010.

    He underlined Athens' volition to strictly implement a programme agreed to with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

    Papaconstantinou confirmed that Greece received on Tuesday a loan of 14.5 billion euros from the European Commission, through the European Central Bank.

    Papaconstantinou mentioned that the sum was covered by bilateral loans fro 10 eurozone states (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Luxemburg, Cyprus and Malta), while the remaining five eurozone states that did not participate in the loan faced domestic issues and that procedures need to be overcome. He stressed that these five members will participate in the support mechanism in the future.

    He added said the remaining five Eurozone states that did not participate in the loan, faced domestic issues and procedures needed to be overcome and stressed that these five members will participate in the support mechanism in the future.

    The FinMin said the first progress assessment of the country will be made in July, before approving the second tranche of the loan.

    In July Greece will submit to the Commission and the IMF a report over the implementation of the measures agreed and figures over the country's fiscal deficit. The second tranche of the loan agreement will total 9.0 billion euros, while a third tranche, 9.0 billion euros, was expected by the end of the year.

    Greek authorities will brief Brussels in June over progress in implementing an action plan to improve the quality of statistics. Commenting on a recommendation by the European Commission to strengthen budget supervision in the eurozone, the Greek minister said an extraordinary Eurogroup council next Friday in Brussels will discuss necessary changes in the eurozone.

    Papaconstantinou acknowledged that Greece faced a competitiveness problem, although he stressed that the problem did not cover wages only. Finally, he said wage costs in the Greek public sector would be contained and stressed there was no need for further interventions over wage policy in the private sector.

    [14] Greece receives first tranche of EU support loan

    Greece on Tuesday received the first tranche of an EU loan worth 14.5 billion euros, part of a eurozone/IMF support mechanism for the country to stave off skyrocketing interest rates on its 10-year bonds.

    The sum was covered, through bilateral loans, with the contribution of 10 eurozone states. The loan was channeled through the European Central Bank and was credited to a Greek state account at the Bank of Greece.

    A finance ministry announcement said the EU loan, combined with the disbursement of an IMF loan last week, worth 5.5 billion euros, covered the first tranche of a 20-billion-euro loan from the support mechanism, totaling 110 billion euros.

    These loans will cover the country's direct and short-term borrowing needs.

    Greece will use 8.5 billion euros from the loan to repay a 10-year bond loan maturing on May 19, and other financing needs of the Greek state throughout the summer.

    The ministry said the next tranche of the loan, worth 9.0 billion euros (6.5 billion from the EU and 2.5 billion from the IMF), was expected in September, after completion of the first quarterly evaluation of the country's public finances. A third tranche was expected in December.

    Under the agreement, signed between Greece, the eurozone and the IMF, Community and IMF officials will hold a total of 12 quarterly inspections in the country.

    KfW (Germany) offered 4.4 billion euros to the loan, followed by France with 3.3 billion euros, Italy with 2.9 billion euros, Spain with 1.9, the Netherlands with 932 million euros, Austria with 454 million, Portugal with 409 million, Luxembourg with 41 million euros, Cyprus with 32 million euros and Malta with 14.7 million euros.

    [15] Minister on transport MoU with Turkey; rail company's huge debt

    Closer and more effective cooperation in the transport sector, particularly overland transports, between Greece and Turkey are envisioned in a recently signed agreement with the neighbouring country, the relevant Greek minister announced on Tuesday.

    Transport & Infrastructure Minister Dimitris Reppas said the agreement and a related memorandum also envisages closer cooperation in the combined transports sector, freight shipping and reducing delays at the border for lorries and trains.

    OSE debt

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Reppas referred to what he called the tragic state of Hellenic Railways (OSE), noting that the state-run rail operator has accumulated debts of nearly 10 billion euros.

    "Whoever wants to write a dissertation on the issues of corruption and poor management should go to OSE," he said, announcing that an urgent reforms package for the debt-laden organisation will be released in a few weeks.

    Reppas hinted that routes will be cut by the loss-making rail provider, while an emphasis will be placed on exploiting OSE's large property holdings. As per the latter, he referred to "mismanagement that is monumental" that resulted in a prosecutor's intervention.

    Additionally, he said there is no prospect of a voluntary retirement programme being instituted, whereas employees reaching legal retirement ages -- as foreseen in the still valid collective bargaining agreements -- may submit their papers, with non-essential personnel eyed for other public sector enterprises.

    Finally, Reppas said the theft of OSE property and materials has reached a staggering 10 million euros a year in value.

    Concluding, the minister said he will receive a delegation from the Chinese multinational Cosco on Thursday for talks, including the company's possible interest in building and operating a massive logistics centre in the Thriasio industrial zone, west of Athens proper.

    [16] GSEE trade union: 'social insurance bill not acceptable as is'

    Greece's largest umbrella trade union body representing the private sector, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), on Tuesday signalled that it could not accept the social insurance reforms proposed by the government.

    "The draft bill on social insurance cannot be accepted as it is. We will fight against this reform," stressed GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos, two days before a general strike called by unions on Thursday.

    According to Panagopoulos, the government had employed scare tactics in order to obtain consent for a supposedly 'lighter version' of same reforms but these would strike "a grave blow to the structure and international functioning of the system".

    "In the most extreme and anti-social way, it is hitting those on low pensions and young people. The question is not just whether the system is financially viable but whether it is socially effective," he added.

    Stressing the need to show an interest in future generations, Panagopoulos charged that the pension system was beginning to generate "vampires and cannibals".

    "There are drastic cuts for those nearing pensionable age, while the system operates at the same time so that younger generations will find nothing but only pay for their elders," he said.

    GSEE's president said that the union will present its own positions in Parliament, providing arguments that would reject the draft bill entirely.

    He also underlined the unions' many reservations about the draft bill and possible deals made with the EU-IMF experts: "We are extremely wary about what may arise. Besides this, [the bill] leaves many issues to be settled by ministerial decrees."

    Panagopoulos particularly questioned the idea that labour costs were responsible for Greece's slide in competitiveness, stressing that the problem lay with increased profit margins and a series of other factors that were completely unrelated to the cost of labour.

    As proof of this, he pointed out that the cost of labour in the past 15 years had increased by only 1 percent, while the country's overall competitiveness had slid by 26.4 percent.

    GSEE's leader urged all pensioners, workers and unemployed to take part in the rally organised by the unions on Thursday at Pedion tou Areos and said that the unions were ready to repeat strike action when the vote on the bill was held in Parliament.

    [17] Mass transit stike on Thur.; air traffic controllers to work

    Unions representing mass transit employees in Athens, with the exception of the ISAP electric railway, have called a strike on Thursday, part of a nationwide 24-hour mobilisation called by the two largest labour unions in the public and private sectors, ADEDY and GSEE, respectively.

    ISAP services will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Thursday.

    Hellenic Railways (OSE) employees will also participate in the 24-hour strike.

    Meanwhile, the air traffic controllers announced that they will not to participate in the strike, meaning that all commercial flights will be held according to schedule.

    Problems are likely in domestic flights mainly in small airports in case the union representing civil aviation authority employees (OSYPA) decides to strike.

    [18] Gov't details plan for capital repatriation

    The finance ministry on Tuesday issued a circular detailing procedures and incentives regarding a closely-watched capital repatriation plan promoted by the government.

    According to the circular, all repatriated capital must have been placed abroad during the date the new law went in force, April 15, 2010.

    All capital will be entitled to a 50-pct return of tax paid if it is invested in Greek state securities and held there for a period of at least two years; or, placed in any category of mutual funds and then used for the purchase of real estate property after a period of two years, or used for any other business investment activity. If a part of the repatriated capital will be used, then a relative part of the tax will be returned.

    The circular stated that business investment activity is considered the purchase of Greek-listed stock shares or shares of a Greek limited company, the purchase of an entire company and any other investment boosting the Greek market.

    [19] Greek inflation jumps to 4.7% in April, Eurostat

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    Greek inflation jumped to 4.7 pct in April, up from 3.9 pct in March, Eurostat said on Tuesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the eurozone rose slightly to 1.5 pct in April, from 1.4 pct in March and 0.6 pct in April 2009, while in the EU-27, the inflation rate rose to 2.0 pct in April, from 1.9 pct in March and 1.3 pct in April 2009.

    Latvia (-2.8 pct), Ireland (-2.5 pct) and Lithuania (0.2 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in April, while Hungary (5.7 pct), Greece (4.7 pct) and Romania (4.2 pct) the highest levels. The inflation rate rose in 17 EU member-states in April, compared with March, it remained unchanged in three states and fell in six states. There were no figures for the UK.

    [20] Hellenic Exchanges reports spectacular Q1 results

    Hellenic Exchanges on Monday reported a 69 pct increase in its consolidated net after-tax profits to 9.8 million euros in the first quarter, from 5.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year. The operator of Athens Stock Exchange, Athens Derivatives Exchange and New Stock Exchange, said its first quarter results have not been burdened by a provision for an extra tax charge imposed by the government and said it estimated this burden to reach 8.0 million euros for the year.

    Consolidated turnover jumped 50 pct to 19.2 million euros in the January-March period, from 12.8 million euros last year, reflecting a 74 pct rise in stock share clearing revenue to 5.8 million euors, and a 68 pct jump in stock share trading revenues to 3.7 million euros.

    Turnover totaled 12.2 billion euros in the first quarter, up 75 pct from last year, while the volume of trading rose 33 pct to 2.3 billion shares. Operating expenses fell 7.0 pct to 5.3 million euros, while EBIT soared 103 pct to 12.2 million euros and net earnings per share jumped to 0.15 euros per share, from 0.08 euros last year.

    [21] Tourist arrivals down 10 pct

    Tourist arrivals were down 10 pct in the country, George Tsakiris, president of the Hotel Chamber of Greece said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Tsakiris noted, however, that last-minute reservations could change the situation for the better, while he forecast that tourism revenues would drop this year.

    Tourist arrivals and average room occupancy rates on the island of Kos were down 5 pct currently, in Corfu and Thessaloniki was down 10 pct; Zakynthos and Halkidiki saw a -15 pct drop; for Rhodes -18 pct and in Rethymno -20 pct.

    Hania and Cephallonia were almost unchanged, at the last year's levels, while Magnesia prefecture (Volos) recorded a 5-pct increase. Hotel prices are generally down by 10 pct compared with 2009, evidence that tourism enterprises not only have absorbed a higher VAT rate, but further lowered prices to the benefit of guests, aiming to maintain market shares, Tsakiris said.

    Tsakiris said Greece needs deep changes during the current economic conjecture, and to begin from zero.

    Finally, he stressed that Greek tourism was currently at a turning point, one crucial for its future, which necessitates cooperation of the state, agencies, business people and the workforce in the wider tourism sector.

    [22] Stocks end slightly lower

    Stocks ended slightly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, unable to hold on to their initial significant gains. The composite index of the market fell 0.33 pct to end at 1,629.24 points, with turnover a low 113.464 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 0.62 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.64 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.65 pct. The Industrial Products (2.06 pct) and Media (1.77 pct) scored gains, while Financial Services (1.53 pct) and Insurance (1.53 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 95 to 79 with another 55 issues unchanged. Hellenic Fish Farming (14.29 pct), Galaxidi (12.12 pct) and VIS (10 pct) were top gainers, while Alsinco (16.67 pct), Edrasi (12.5 pct) and Fintexport (9.68 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.53%

    Industrials: +2.06%

    Commercial: -0.77%

    Construction: +1.19%

    Media: +1.77%

    Oil & Gas: -1.41%

    Personal & Household: +0.10%

    Raw Materials: -1.12%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.34

    Technology: -0.94%

    Telecoms: -1.43%

    Banks: -0.86%

    Food & Beverages: -0.71%

    Health: -0.50%

    Utilities: +1.43%

    Chemicals: -0.74%

    Financial Services: -1.53%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.93

    ATEbank: 1.26

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.05

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.96

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.00

    National Bank of Greece: 10.30

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.73

    Intralot: 2.96

    OPAP: 12.94

    OTE: 6.90

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.80

    Titan: 16.15

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 174 million euros on Tuesday, of which 138 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 36 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (June 19, 2020) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 29 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 476 basis points, from 520 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.59 pct and the German Bund 2.83 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were 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.

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the Athens Derivatives Exchange was trading at -2.24 pct on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking further to 32.900 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,904 contracts worth 27.020 million euros, with 26,064 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,647 contracts worth 5.880 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,853), followed by MIG (648), OTE (2,637), Piraeus Bank (805), Alpha Bank (1,196) and Eurobank (417).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.252

    Pound sterling 0.865

    Danish kroner 7.499

    Swedish kroner 9.630

    Japanese yen 116.24

    Swiss franc 1.414

    Norwegian kroner 7.789

    Canadian dollar 1.286

    Australian dollar 1.429

    General News

    [26] SAE president on Genocide of Pontus Greeks memorial day

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA - N. Katsikas)

    The president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Stefanos Tamvakis on Tuesday released a message underlining the support of all Greeks for the efforts being made by Pontian Greeks to secure international recognition of the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus.

    He issued the message one day before May 19, the date chosen by the Greek Parliament as a national memorial day for commemorating the massacre of some 353,000 Greeks of Pontus in 1919, noting that the events of that time met all the requirements under the UN Charter for being defined as a genocide.

    "We are asking for nothing more than the restitution of a historic truth, beside the genocide of the Armenians and other Christian populations in the beginning of the last century as well as the Jewish Holocaust. We should not forget that the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution in 2007 that the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus had occurred. At the same time, the European Parliament requested two years ago that Turkey reconcile itself with its historic past," Tamvakis noted.

    He noted that the Genocide of the Pontus Greeks had also been recognised by the Swedish Parliament, dozens of states in the U.S. and the state of South Australia.

    [27] Local residents announce roadblocks of NE border crossings on Thur.

    Local residents from the municipalities of Trigono, Kyprinos and Vissa in the extreme northeast prefecture of Evros have warned that they will block the Ormenio post on the frontier with Bulgaria on Thursday morning.

    Residents said they will block the crossing until 4 p.m. in protest over their townships' proposed merger with the larger municipality of Orestiada.

    All stores and services will also be closed in a show of protest.

    The merger will take place within the framework of Kallikratis local administration reform plan.

    Meanwhile, the Kipi border post with Turkey will also be targetted by local residents on Thursday morning angered over the proposed merger of the Ferres and Tychero municipalities.

    [28] Marfin chief: Stadiou branch will never reopen

    Marfin Popular Bank non-executive chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos addressed a letter to the group's bank employees on Tuesday categorically rejecting and ridiculing allegations of "bad employers' practices", following the deaths of three bank employees in a downtown branch of Marfin Egnatia Bank. The branch was torched on May 5 by hooded youths, who threw firebombs during a protest rally against austerity measures.

    In the letter, Vgenopoulos defended the company's work policies, while rejecting allegations, according to which, pressure was exerted on employees not to go on strike, maintaining that the bank has become a target of a "mudslinging campaign". Moreover, he announced that the Stadiou street Marfin Egnatia Bank branch, where the three employees lost their lives, will never reopen.

    He stressed the torch attack was a "well-organised murderous attack" that would not have stopped unless there were victims.

    [29] Philippi and Thassos museums open again to the public

    The archaeological museums of Philippi and Thassos in northeastern Greece have reopened to the public following completion of extensive restoration and extension works.

    The Archaeological Museum of Philippi is housed in a 1962 building which was closed to the public in the mid '90s for restoration works. The project cost 760,000 euros and was financed by "Interreg IIIA/ Greece-Bulgaria" community initiative programme.

    On display are archaeological findings that present the region's history from the Prehistoric Times to the end of the ancient world.

    The two-storey Archaeological Museum of Thassos is located in Limenas and consists of two sections, one built in 1932 and a recent wing that was completed in 2000. The museum remained closed during the extension works and only a small section of the building opened to the public in 2004. The extension project was financed by the 3rd Community Support Framework with over one million euros.

    Touring its 16 halls visitors can learn about the northern Aegean island's history starting from the Prehistoric Times up to the Byzantine Era.

    [30] Police crack Kozani murder case

    Two young Albanian nationals, brothers aged 20 and 22 years old, were identified by police on Tuesday as the main suspects in the murder of a 29-year-old Albanian found dead the previous Friday in the rural region of Aiani, Kozani.

    Police estimate that the motive for the killing were differences with the victim concerning his employment of various Albanians in livestock farming occupations. The two had been working in livestock farms in the area on an occasional basis.

    There was a fight between the three men on Friday night, resulting in the fatal injury of the 29 year old. On the scene, police found a meat cleaver and two wooden clubs.

    Police said that there was also an outstanding conviction against the 22-year-old issued by a Kastoria Misdemeanours Court, which had passed a sentence of eight months against him for assaulting and injuring an Albanian man with an axe in the village of Velos in Kastoria in 2008.

    The two suspects are still at large and are believed to have fled back across the border into Albania. Police have sent the case file to the Kozani Misdemeanours Court so that arrest warrants may be issued.

    [31] Police arrests on double crime in Thessaloniki

    Two foreign nationals aged 20 and 27 years have been arrested by police, alleged to be the perpetrators of the murder of two men whose bodies were found buried in a rural area in the Kastanodassos region of Chortiatis, Thessaloniki (Northern Greece).

    The bodies were found with multiple bullet wounds in the head and neck from a machine gun.

    A police investigation revealed that the 27 year old forced a young man into a car in which two other individuals -- including the 20-year-old -- were in, after a dispute in a bar in the Ilioupolis district. A search of the suspect's car revealed evidence indicating his involvement in the crime.

    The evidence was confiscated and will be examined by the police crime lab.

    Police were investigation whether more individuals are involved into the case.

    [32] Body found in Athens district

    The body of an unidentified woman was found at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Athens district of Petralona. The body was found in plastic bags behind a trash receptacle and covered with several items.

    The stench was the reason the crime was discovered and according to the coroner's and police examination the body had been left at the site at least a week earlier.

    The woman's body was found with the hands and feet tied and fully clothed. The body was transferred to the morgue. Police are conducting an investigation.

    [33] British woman dies from internal bleeding; boyfriend arrested

    A 22-year-old British woman who was allegedly beaten up by her 21-year-old compatriot boyfriend died on Monday at an Irakleio, Crete hospital's ICU.

    Authorities believe the woman was assaulted sometime last week in the Mallia resort, where the two were looking for summer jobs.

    The victim was taken to the hospital by her friends on Sunday. She was suffering from severe pain in the abdomen and was diagnosed with a serious infection, reportedly caused by internal bleeding. The woman was admitted to the ICU but the delay in seeking medical assistance cost her life.

    Police in the Hersonissos district arrested the victim's boyfriend as the main suspect in the case.

    Neither the victim or the suspect were named by authorities.

    [34] Drug arrest in Thesprotia

    A 39-year-old local man was arrested in Elea, Thesprotia Prefecture of NW Greece, after police found 75 packages of unprocessed cannabis, weighing nearly 158, hidden in the trunk of his car. The drugs were found after a police search and the suspect will be led before a prosecutor.

    Weather Forecast

    [35] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 25C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 23C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 22C.

    [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Deputy Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou's resignation after the revelation that her husband popular "laika" singer Tolis Voskopoulos had a huge debt to the Tax Bureau, the new social security bill and Prime Minister George Papandreou's overture to Greeks abroad to invest in Greece, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Suburban 'Proastiakos' railway's building illegal - State's chaos has no limits".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Social security bill's traps - Experts and unionists every day discover new secret regulations and grey points".

    AVRIANI: "Brussels and IMF demand from the government ....the abolition of bonuses in private sector and new painful changes in labour and social security".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Tolis' tax evasion beheaded Gerekou - Government at a loss in the face of the revelations".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They were hiding Tolis' and Angela's file - Gerekou's resignation does not solve the government's problem".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Tolis' debts cost Angela's appointment".

    ESTIA: "How foreign investments are attracted - Private initiatives and less state".

    ETHNOS: "Agony and....terror - Tax Bureau inspectors are investigating Vatopedi scandal and former Minister George Voulgarakis' offshore companies".

    IMERISSIA: "The government, via the Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro Businesses (TEMPME), will channel to the market 1.5 billion euros".

    KATHIMERINI: "Deputy Minister removed for reasons of principle".

    LOGOS: "Salaries in private sector targeted - IMF's pressure unbearable".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Creation of enterprises will be cheaper and quicker'.

    NIKI: "How to restructure your loan repayment installments".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Onwards to the classes' struggle with new momentum and with the people as protagonist".

    TA NEA: "Gerekou sacrificed via removal-message".

    TO VIMA: "Hurricane 'Angela' hits Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) - Gerekou tendered her resignation over Tolis' debts".

    VRADYNI: "Quo Vadis Europa? - The euro declines and the eurozone is at risk'.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [37] Spokesman: Progress on internal aspects needed before international conference

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said that discussion on internal aspects of the Cyprus question must move on before an international conference on the international aspects of the problem takes place, so that the ground will be prepared to allow discussion on the international aspects at an international conference level.

    Stephanou said that "given the fact that the Cyprus problem has two fundamental aspects, the domestic and the international aspects, and that domestic aspects will be solved through bicommunal dialogue, the international aspects of the Cyprus will have to be solved during an international conference in the UN framework at the presence of the UN Permanent Members five Permanent Members, the EU, the guarantor powers and the Republic of Cyprus."

    Stephanou said that "if the two sides in Cyprus do not come close to a settlement and there is no ground to allow optimism for the settlement of the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem the international conference and the international aspects of the Cyprus problem will be up in the air."

    He also stressed that the two communities in Cyprus also deal with the international aspects and will want to have a say and play a role in solving these aspects.

    Responding to a question, Stephanou recalled Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his views in public as well concerning the international conference.

    Asked whether new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has responded to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' letter by which he replies to Eroglu's proposal for social meetings between them, the spokesman said "there is no response so far."

    He noted that President Christofias agrees that such social meetings need to take place and makes some proposals.

    Asked if the President has contacted the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou after Erdogan's visit to Greece, Stephanou said that Christofias will contact Papandreou and will be informed and discuss with him about the results of Erdogan's visit to Athens and the issues concerning the Cyprus problem.

    President Christofias and the former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in talks since September 2008 with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. In April's "elections" in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus, Talat was replaced by Eroglu. Peace talks are scheduled to resume on May 26.

    [38] International military exercise to take place in Cyprus

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cyprus Defence Ministry has announced that for the third consecutive year, an international exercise of civil-military cooperation (Civil Military Cooperation-CIMIC) under the name "Argonaftis 2010" will take place.

    According to an announcement, issued by the Ministry of Defence, the exercise is organized in cooperation with 8 Ministries and 26 public and semi-governmental services of the Republic of Cyprus, and with staff and means from other states. The international exercise will begin on May 25 and will wrap up on May 28. It will take place at water, air and land area between Larnaka, Limassol and Paphos.

    The scenario concerns "Search and Rescue" operations, dealing with asymmetric threats in the contemporary environment, such as terrorism and piracy against commercial and passenger ships and aircrafts, addressing crisis in Eastern Mediterranean with massive arrivals of civilians.

    The final phase of the exercise will be held Friday, May 28, at Naval Base "Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis" at Mari, at the presence of political and military leaders and foreign observers.

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


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