|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-06-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 2 June 2010 Issue No: 3507
 PM receives Belgian counterpart LetermePrime Minister George Papandreou met on Tuesday with outgoing Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, taking an opportunity to emphasise that his government will defend transparency, since "the need for reshaping the political system through the strengthening of democratic institutions and good administration is a deep faith of ours."
Leterme visited Athens in the framework of a "round of capitals" tour ahead of the EU presidency that Belgium will assume on July 1, and shortly before the June 13 elections.
Thanking his Belgian counterpart "for his undivided support of Greece," the Greek prime minister noted that developments in the European monetary sector "vindicated the positions that we had supported since the first days after the elections." He also underlined that the country will proceed with the necessary reforms to face the crisis.
On his part, Leterme pointed out that bilateral relations are at a very good level, and he stressed that there is absolute consensus regarding the "future of Europe", he noted that the Belgian presidency will deal with the implementation of the Lisbon treaty, climate change and monetary affairs, while agreeing with the Greek prime minister that the EU's negotiations with Turkey on the issue of illegal immigration must also be promoted.
Leterme stressed that the top priority during the Belgian presidency will be the issue of economic governance and mentioned that the issue of supplementary investments in joint infrastructures will be discussed at the upcoming summit.
 President Papoulias meets Serb counterpart in AthensPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday met visiting Serb President Boris Tadic, who is carrying out an official visit to Greece.
During their meeting they discussed Serbia's European prospects, Kosovo, the dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and bilateral economic and cultural relations.
In statements afterward, the two leaders reaffirmed the excellent relations between the two peoples and their leadership and said they had a shared outlook regarding the future of the region.
On Kosovo, Papoulias repeated Greece's position in favour of "finding a mutually acceptable solution based on international law, the principle of territorial integrity, and which is the result of dialogue and negotiations".
Tadic thanked Greece for its stance and said his country would continue to have a policy that was friendly toward Kosovo but would in no way recognise Kosovo's independence. Once the international court had issued its verdict, Serbia was ready to negotiate again on Kosovo's future, he added.
"With is policy on Kosovo, Serbia confirms a policy based on peace, development and European prospects. A condition for such development is economic and political stability in the region," Tadic said.
Papoulias also repeated Greece's warm and unflagging support for Serbia's accession to the EU, stressing that Serbia should be made a member of the European family "as soon as possible".
On the issue of FYROM's name, Papoulias stressed Athens' sincere intention to find a mutually acceptable solution as quickly as possible.
Papoulias also commented on Israel's blood-drenched raid on a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, in which at least 10 peace activists were killed, describing it as an action that was "illegal and outside the bounds of international law".
He stressed that the raid had "overturned the peace process and created conditions of exceptional tension in the region".
Neighbouring Turkey, many of whose nationals fell victim to the raid, has condemned the action as a "bloody massacre".
 President Papoulias hosts official dinner for Serb counterpartPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, speaking during the official dinner hosted on Tuesday night in honour of visiting Serb President Boris Tadic, stressed that "through the accession to the European Union, our region will be led with the greatest security possible to the path of stability and prosperity leaving behind it forever, as the rest of Europe also did, rivalries and conflicts of centuries."
President Papoulias added that this target is a common one and Greece has been serving it faithfully and systematically since the difficult decade of the '90s.
He further said that Greece and Serbia "are united by historical ties that were built with common struggles for the defending of ideals and just causes, struggles for freedom, independence and national sovereignty."
President Papoulias also reiterated that Greece supports in practice Serbia's European course and its accession to the European Union and stressed the importance of the "strategic target", of the accession of the countries in the region to the EU in the year 2014.
 First 6 Greeks from Freedom Flotilla return homeThe first six Greek citizens, members of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla raided by Israeli commandos early Monday, arrived at Athens' International Airport on Tuesday morning.
They were greeted at the airport by foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras, who stressed that every possible effort was being made for the immediate repatriation of all the Greek citizens and reiterated a relevant statement made Monday night by prime minister and foreign minister George Papandreou.
Delavekouras said that the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv was working with the Israeli authorities to gain access to the other Greek citizens, permission for which has yet to be given.
"Israel is responsible for the protection and safety of the Greek citizens," Delavekouras stressed.
It is noted that the Israeli authorities officially informed Greece that there were no Greeks among the casualties from Israel on Tuesday jailed or deported hundreds of activists aboard the six-ship flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, which was raided by Israeli commandos in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, resulting in at least nine deaths.
Two Greek ships were participating in the flotilla.
The six returning Greeks were reported to be well in health.
A total of 610 people, including 31 Greeks, have been remanded in custody in Bier Shiva prison until their cases are tried by an Israeli court, it was made known on Tuesday.
Greek ambassador in Tel Aviv Kyriakos Loukakis is trying to visit the Greek nationals, while the Israeli authorities insist that they are not prisoners but detainees in a specially set up area in the prison.
The legal status of the detention has not, at this time, been clearly stated. Israel has not clarified whether they are being held for refusing to accept deportation and signing a document asked by the Israeli authorities or because they have decided to take legal action against the Israeli military operation resulting in their arrest in international waters.
The Greek ambassador on Tuesday delivered a protest resolution to the Israeli authorities calling for the immediate release of the Greek citizens since, as stated in the resolution, they were arrested in international waters, which annuls Israel's claims that they attempted to illegally enter the country.
 Press conferenceThe first Greeks who arrived from Israel on Tuesday morning, passengers of ships in the convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, reported beatings and the heavy use of plastic bullets during the occupation of the ships by Israeli commandos, torture, electroshocks and the forbidding of any communication for all the time they were being held.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, four of the passengers said the attack on the two Greek ships occured at 5 o'clock on Monday morning, shortly after the invasion on the Turkish "Mavi Marmara." As was explained by a Palestinian , who did not travel with the ship but who had worked hard to enable the humanitarian aid to be loaded, whatever had been loaded on the ships had passed from a strict control and not the slightest violation was made nor was there any illegality.
They also said that when the commandos boarded the ships they badly beat up anyone who tried to resist them. They took from the doctors the pharmaceuticals that they had with them and did not allow the detainees to move until they reached the port of Ashdod.
As one passenger said, "if one dared to get up the Israelis pounced on him. We raised our hands like children to be allowed to go to the toilet after some time." They confiscated everything from them: personal effects, mobile phones, laptops, all their clothes.
 Petalotis: government has systematic approach to Israeli raidGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday stressed that the government was following a "systematic, careful and very effective approach" in response to Israel's blood-drenched raid at sea on the Gaza Flotilla, a convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in defiance of an Israeli blockade. At least 10 activists were killed by Israeli forces during the raid while several Greeks were among those detained by Israeli authorities.
Replying to questions about the phone calls made by Prime Minister George Papandreou to other heads of state involved in the tragic event, Petalotis underlined that Papandreou had condemned Israel's action and "tried to achieve a coordination of actions, so that the situation can come to a close with the fewest repercussions in terms of the physical integrity of the members of the mission and in terms of the violation of human rights, which was flagrant, as was the violation of international law".
Concerning the prime minister's next moves, Petalotis stressed that the premier and the foreign ministry are carrying out specific actions in this direction.
Asked whether Greece intended to cancel a military cooperation agreement with Israel or recall Greece's ambassador in Israel, Petalotis said only that Israel has "a specific policy and tactics" and that the Greek government "has taken all action called for".
The concern of the Greek government was to contact the Greek members of the mission and their rescue, he added, pointing out that the Greek ambassador to Israel was now at the area where the members of the mission were being detained and that their repatriation had begun.
The spokesman announced that six members of the mission had returned so far and that the rest were expected to return as a result of the government's actions.
On the possibility of Papandreou contacting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and what Greece intends to do if members of the mission are convicted by Israeli authorities, Petalotis said only that there were "specific actions" that could be carried out in response to all these issues.
 President Papoulias: Israeli action 'illegal'President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday said that Israel's raid early Monday of a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, resulting in the death of at least 10 people, was "illegal and outside the rules of International Law".
The Israeli action "upsets the peace process and creates conditions of exeptional tension in the region," Papoulias added, in statements to the press after a meeting with his visiting Serbian counterpart Boris Tadic.
 PAME holds rally and march to Israeli embassyThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated labour grouping PAME held a rally in Omonia Square in Athens on Tuesday, followed by a march to the Israeli embassy in protest against the attack by Israeli commandos on an international convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
"The attack and its victims come to be added on to the innumerable list of imperialist crimes of the state of Israel which have been carried out with the support of the United States and the European Union and NATO," PAME stressed in an announcement.
The rally was attended by KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga.
 EP president in Athens on Wed.BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, will be on an official visit to Athens on Wednesday, at the invitation of Greek Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos.
In a written statement issued on Tuesday, Buzek said that amid the current economic crisis, European Union member-states "have realised that they are linked by a common fate and they stood by the side of Greece ... Europe proved that it supports Greece with all its strength."
"In the 21st century, fate is not a matter of chance but a question of choice and Greece's future is now in its hands," Buzek noted, adding: "I am certain that the Greek government and people will act with determination and succeed in their efforts."
Buzek will be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and hold talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Petsalnikos.
 Alt. FM Droutsas responds to LAOS' question on foreign policy developments"Our national positions will not be compromised as a result of the country's fiscal debt. There is no risk of losing Greece's national prestige," Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas stressed in parliament on Monday night responding to a question tabled by opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) concerning foreign policy developments.
"Greece has adequate power to protect its interests and play a decisive role in the region. It has been proven that each time the Greek people were united they were able to meet the greatest challenges," he said.
LAOS President George Karatzaferis and party MPs had maintained earlier that there is a risk for Greece to be led to major compromises as a result of its fiscal problems.
Responding to criticism launched by LAOS MPs concerning the Greek government's stance as regards the FYROM name issue, Droutsas reiterated that Greece supports a name that will include a geographic qualifier for all uses. He also admitted that the name "North Macedonia" can constitute a basis for discussion for Greece.
"The name 'North Macedonia' is among the ideas presented by (UN special envoy Matthew) Nimetz and is placed within the predetermined framework that can be a basis for discussion. Greece, however, cannot have its will for a solution on display. The other side should also prove its honest intention to negotiate," Droutsas stressed.
 President Papoulias addresses letter to FYROM presidentSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias addressed a letter of thanks to Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Georgi Ivanov, in reply to the latter's letter of congratulations for Greece's National Holiday.
In his letter, President Papoulias underlines that the speedy solution to the issue of the neighbouring country's name will contribute positively to the promotion of bilateral relations.
Preliminary investigation on Tsohatzopoulos following press reports; PASOK Ethics Committee.
First Instance Court Chief Prosecutor Eleni Raikou ordered a preliminary investigation on Tuesday concerning former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' house in downtown Athens following relevant press reports.
The investigation was assigned to First Instance Court Economic Crime Prosecutor Paraskevas Adamis, who will determine if tax violations were committed and subsequently conclude if other crimes have also taken place.
Meanwhile, ruling PASOK party Ethics Committee is studying the relevant press reports and if necessary Tsohatzopoulos will be called to present his case.
 SYN to hold 6th party congressEuropean Left (EL) party President Lothar Bisky will attend and salute the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 6th party congress, which will open on Thursday.
The four-day congress will be completed on Sunday and will be attended by delegations of leftist parties from Spain, Germany, Portugal and Cyprus as well as the Philippines and Congo. Representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) as well as Latin American state embassy officials will also attend.
 AHI directorate briefs Parliament's committeeGreek American president of the American Hellenic Institute Alekos Haralambidis, speaking Tuesday to the members of the Parliament's Special Standing Committee of Diaspora Hellenism, stressed that "we never forget that we are Greeks and we are proud of this whatever is taking place in Greece, always promoting our national issues in American policy."
The AHI promotes Greek-US bonds, while it played a leading role in the expatriates' mobilisation and the briefing of Washington's centres of power after the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974, that led to the imposition of an embargo on the sale of weapons to Ankara.
The AHI's directorate, that is currently on its regular visit to Athens as is the case every year, after meeting on Monday with Prime Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, briefed the Special Permanent Committee of Diaspora Hellenism on Tuesday afternoon on the work and activities that it is promoting in the US.
 Gov't: pension reforms not 'on hold'Government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday underlined that the government was putting nothing "on hold" concerning planned pension reforms but would press ahead with those things agreed in a memorandum signed with the European Union and IMF 'troika'. He had been asked whether the reforms would be 'frozen' until the government had consulted with the troika.
"There are things agreed through the memorandum and we stick with the agreements," he stressed.
The spokesman also underlined that the changes were not imposed by the troika but by necessity:
"The social insurance issue is a major issue, which only this government has opened to such a degree. This government has diagnosed that if we do not solve it in a radical and final way, not only the pensions of the future generations but the next pensions will not be able to be paid," he said.
He denied that Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos was concerned about the political cost of the measures, stressing that the minister was continuing to work on the draft bill for the reforms.
Asked whether the government had any margin for refusing "instructions" given by the EU-IMF troika that it disagreed with, Petalotis said this was a matter of negotiation and the issue was not whether the government resisted but whether it had logical arguments.
"We want the social insurance system that will arise to be viable, to be as fair as possible and to guarantee the insurance rights of all employees," he expalined, adding that the government's margins were those imposed by reality.
On Loverdos' meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday, the spokesman said that this was on the pension reforms bill and just another regular working meeting between a premier and a minister.
 Meeting between employers groups and labour unions fruitlessTuesday's meeting between employers groups and labour unions, the third consecutive one, on the signing of a National Collective Labour Agreement failed to produce results. The next meeting has been set for June 14.
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) president Yiannis Panagopoulos said that the policy of the government and of the memorandum signed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund "is falling on the negotiations like a heavy shadow".
 Russian websites urge travelers to choose destinations in GreeceNumerous Russian websites are urging Russian travelers, who are preparing to embark on their summer holidays, to choose from among the limitless beauties of Greece as their destination.
One of the oldest such sites, www.Greek.ru, which according to its creator Roman Simkin is the most popular Russian-language site on Greece, tallies some 5,000 visitors daily (according to Google Analytics).
"We are the most independent net portal on Greece -- without state support and sponsors," Simkin said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
Simkin decided, after a visit to Greece nine years ago, to create a "little Greece" on the internet, in the Russian language.
"When we started up the site 9 years ago, Russian tourism to Greece was still in its first stages. In Greece at the time, they didn't believe that the Russian tourist would be the most faithful and good-paying visitor. Today, I believe adamantly that Greek.ru has contributed to Russians seriously considering Greece for their holidays".
The website, apart from rich historical material from Ancient to Modern Greece, Greek news in Russian and a plethora of other informational elements, also contains a number of travel texts by Russian bloggers on their visits to Greece.
"These texts, on our blog, are the best advertisement of your country, because they are always real, truthful and also describe the sentimental relationship of the traveler with Greece -- his/her love affair with Greece. This is so because, usually, the travel texts are written by inspired people," Simkin added.
He also said that, together with the Greek-related news from the Russian media, the site also uploads exclusive news from Greek.ru's correspondents in many parts of Greece.
Among the most popular webpages of the portal is the "Learn Greek" section.
Two smaller but equally popular portals on Greece are www.lovegreece.ru and www.russiangreece.gr.
 Tourism federation complains to PM over seamen's strikeThe General Pan-Hellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises (GEPOET) has addressed a letter to Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday, requesting his immediate intervention to protect the cruise-ship sector from the result of strikes by seamen's union.
The total absence of the state, having as a result the damage of the country's image abroad, is underlined.
According to the letter, two cruise-ships, the "Aquamarine" and "Aegean Pearl", are on the Greek registry and their crews include Greek seamen but despite of this, both vessels and the 1,700 tourists on board, in essence, were kept hostage by the strikers.
"They were not allowed to set sail before the end of the strike at 06:00 on Tuesday, being punished for the fact that they chose Greece for their vacations," the group charged.
The letter was also forwarded to the ministers of finance, competitiveness and shipping, culture and tourism and citizen protection, the deputy minister of culture and tourism and the president of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO).
 Gov't unveils tender for logistics centre in Thriasio Pedio districtGAIAOSE S.A., a subsidiary of Hellenic Railways SA, on Tuesday unveiled the terms of an open international tender for the construction of a logistics centre in the Thriasio Pedio of western industrialised Attica.
The logistics centre, an ambitious pioneer project for Greece, will be built on GAIAOSE property extending over 58.8 hectares.
Under the plan, the project will cover 23.5 hectares of building premises and will be accompanied by road and railway access to the national road and railway networks, while a rail connection with the Ikonio port in Piraeus is currently under construction.
The winner of the tender will take over the study, construction, funding, operation and maintenance of the logistics centre for a period of 40 years, while it will also pay a share of its turnover to GAIAOSE along with granting a 15-pct equity stake to GAIAOSE.
Construction periods are cut in three: the first period, with a duration of 18 months, envisages construction and operation of buildings representing 20 pct of total; the second period, with a duration of 60 months, envisages the construction and operation of buildings covering 90 pct of total, while the third period, with a duration of five years, envisages construction and operation of remaining logistics space.
Bids will be accepted by Sept. 20, 2010.
COSCO, the Chinese conglomerate has already expressed interest in the project, while Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas has said other business groups have expressed interest.
 Eurobank Securities busiest firm in MayEurobank Securities was the busiest securities firm in the Greek capital market in May, with a 13.25 pct market share on monthly transactions in the market.
It was followed by Investment Bank (12.61 pct), National Securities (12 pct), Alpha Finance (8.54 pct), Piraeus Securities (6.63 pct), Euroxx (4.64 pct), UBS (4.51 pct), HSBC (3.79 pct), Cheuvreux (3.65 pct) and Merrill Lynch (1.88 pct).
Eurobank topped the list for the five-month period from January to May as well with a 14.27 pct market share, followed by Investment Bank (13.03 pct), National Securities (12.75 pct), Alpha Finance (6.59 pct), Piraeus Bank (6.1 pct), Euroxx (5.32 pct), Cheuvreux (4.95 pct), HSBC (3.77 pct), UBS (3.63 pct) and Merrill Lynch (2.86 pct).
 Arab-Hellenic Chamber president visits TunisiaThe role of the Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Development in strengthening cooperation between Greece and Tunisia was under discussed during meetings the chamber's president Antar Bantali had during his visit to the country. Tunisia is participating in the chamber's board, while its presence is expected to be notable in the 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum to take place in September.
 Olympic Air adds three new domestic flightsOlympic Air on Tuesday said it was adding three new flights to its flight schedule after a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to annul Athens Airways from a state-subsidized program to service remote island destinations in the country. Olympic Air said it was adding the Athens-Karpathos, Athens-Kythera and Athens-Skiathos flights to its schedule, valid from today, June 1.
The airline company already services nine remote island destinations, from Athens to Astypalea, Leros, Milos, Naxos, Paros, Kalymnos, Kasos-Sitia, Kos-Leros-Astypalea and Rhodes-Kastelorizo-Rhodes.
 Greek PMI fell to 41.8 in MayGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to a 13-month low in May, to 41.8 points from 43.6 in April, reflecting a significant worsening of business conditions in the Greek manufacturing sector. The decline in the index underlined a rapid shrinkage in four out of its five parameters, production, new orders, employment and inventories.
A Markit announcement said Greek manufacturers rapidly cut their production in May, as the volume of incoming new orders fell further. New orders fell rapidly in May compared with April, remaining on a downward trend for nine months. Manufacturers also faced rising inflow prices in May, particularly for dairy products, plastics, aluminium and nylon.
Employment fall for the 25th consecutive month, while inventories fell significantly. Greek manufacturers reported extended delivery times of raw materials from suppliers.
The Purchasing Managers' Index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing economy, while readings below 50 a shrinking economy.
 ASE suspends trading in Emporikos DesmosThe Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday announced a board decision to temporary suspend trading in the shares of Emporikos Desmos for a period of 10 days. ASE's board accepted a demand by the Capital Markets Commission after the listed company reported quarterly results diverging from International Accounting Standards.
 Stocks end 1.49% downStocks ended lower for the fourth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, in line with a negative trend in other European markets. The composite index fell 1.49 pct to end at 1,527.60 points, with turnover a low 106.006 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 1.96 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.60 pct down and the FTSE 80 index fell 2.90 pct. The Food (1.90 pct) and Utilities (1.31 pct) scored gains, while Health (6.57 pct) and Oil (5.02 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 159 to 28 with another 40 issues. Klonatex (14.29 pct), Druckfarben (10 pct), Athina (7.89 pct) and Vell Group (7.35 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farming (12.50 pct), Moda Bagno (9.76 pct) and Epsilon Net (9.59 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -5.02%
Personal & Household: -1.89%
Raw Materials: -5.03%
Travel & Leisure: -4.45%
Food & Beverages: +1.90%
Financial Services: -3.81%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and DEH.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.43
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.90
HBC Coca Cola: 18.57
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.61
National Bank of Greece: 9.95
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.89
Bank of Piraeus: 4.00
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 100 million euros on Tuesday, of which 26 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 74 million euros were sell orders. The three-month state bill (July 23, 2010) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 35 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 526 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 7.90 pct and the German Bund 2.64 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate was 1.06 pct, the six-month rate 1.10 pct, the three-month rate 1.10 pct and the one-month rate 1.05 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.03 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover falling to a record low of 29.571 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,458 contracts worth 23.118 million euros, with 25,221 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,749 contracts worth 6.453 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,952), followed by Eurobank (1,426), MIG (692), OTE (769), Piraeus Bank (1,008), Alpha Bank (912) and Cyprus Bank (449).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.225
Pound sterling 0.841
Danish kroner 7.498
Swedish kroner 9.693
Japanese yen 111.54
Swiss franc 1.429
Norwegian kroner 8.005
Canadian dollar 1.286
Australian dollar 1.471
 President of Republic to inaugurate Stymphalia museumPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias will inaugurate at noon on Saturday the Environmental Museum of Stymphalia. The museum is situated in the prefecture of Corinth, northern Peloponnese on the site where, according to mythology, Hercules killed the Stymphalian birds. The Lake of Stymphalia is the southern-most mountainous wetland of the Balkans
 Greek man missing in Himalayas avalacheŃ 45-year-old mountaineer from the island of Rhodes who was on the Himalayas has been missing. The missing man, Zacharias Kyriakakis, is a doctor, and was declared missing last week. According to information the missing mas was lost in an avalache. Initially he had contact with the rescue team that found two other members of the group. Later the contact was cut due to cellphone's battery failure.
Search and rescue operations are continuing.
 Cap gun hidden in school bag of 5-year-old boy by his fatherA 26-year-old Roma, who is being questioned as a suspect in an incident last Friday night in Zefiri, Athens involving an 8-year-old girl wounded by a stray bullet, had hidden a cap gun (gun that creates a loud sound) in the school bag of his 5-year-old son.
The cap gun, 100 cap gun cartridges and 3 cartridges used for hunting rifles were found inside the boy's school bag by the Zefiri day nursery director when she opened it because it was too heavy for the boy and had a hard time carrying it.
The objects were handed over to the authorities and the 26-year-old was arrested. A police search in his house revealed an air gun, 600 pellets and a wooden bat.
The girl, who is the suspect's next-door neighbor, was injured in the head by a bullet while playing outside her house in Zefiri and is currently hospitalized.
 Albanian inmate escapes during magistrate's examinationAn Albanian prison inmate on Tuesday escaped from within the office of the 22nd examining magistrate, while he was being examined by the magistrate.
The incident occurred at 10:20 on Tuesday morning and concerned an inmate from Korydallos prison. The police escorting the prisoner had not entered the magistrate's office because the investigation was considered confidential.
The officers were alerted by the examining magistrate and immediately gave chase in order to find and arrest the fugitive but he had not yet been found.
 Detainee escapes while in police custodyAn Albanian national arrested for transporting illegal migrants Ioannina prefecture of NW Greece managed to escape while being transferred by police from Ioannina, where he had appeared before a prosecutor, to the Kastaniani border station where he was being held.
The detainee escaped by opening the back door of a police SUV, while the vehicle was in motion. Another Albanian national, who was being transferred as well, did not escape.
A manhunt is underway for his arrest, while a special inquiry has been ordered on the incident. The three police officers assigned to escort the suspects have been suspended.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy 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 12C and 27C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northwesterly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 27C. Cloudy with possible rain in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 23C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Israeli attack against the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza and the international community's condemnation, the developments in the Siemens slush funds case and the huge drop in earnings up to in excess of 70 percent in Athens Stock Exchange-listed stocks in 2010 Q1, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' headlines.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: 'Inhuman response to humanitarian aid! - Nine (officially confirmed) victims the result of Israel's barbarous attack against the ships of peace".
APOGEVMATINI: "Murder in cold blood - 19 (unconfirmed estimations) dead and over 60 injured the result of the unprecedented Israeli operation against international humanitarian aid flotilla heading to Gaza".
AVGHI: "Crime against humanity".
AVRIANI: "The country's salvation and the honour of the political world in justice's hands".
ELEFTHEROS: "Judges' clash saves Mantelis? (former PASOK government Transport Minister who has admitted to have received money from SIEMENS and is facing charges on the issue)".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hawks and islamists behind the activists' massacre - 19 dead, 60 injured".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "State 'piracy' - Israeli commandos' murderous attack against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla@.
ESTIA: "Vicious cycle of taxes and loans - The state lends its debtors".
ETHNOS: "Outcry over the bloody raid".
IMERISSIA: "Finance Ministry will not return VAT - Extraordinary measures in order to rescue the revenues".
KATHIMERINI: "International outcry over Israel's extreme violence".
LOGOS: "They painted with blood the Freedom Flotilla - Rage in Athens over the bloody attack".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "ASE stock revenues drop to record lowest level".
NIKI: "Catharsis in political life with three new (parliamentary) fact-finding commissions".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Israel is a murderer-country - Escalation of imperialistic aggression in Eastern Mediterranean".
TA NEA: "International outcry - Goliath smashed David".
TO VIMA: "We cannot bear this social security system - Extraordinary meeting at Maximos mansion (government headquarters)".
VRADYNI: "Massacre in international waters - International outcry against the Israeli attack".
 Foreign Minister: Humanitarian aid must not be blockedNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou said on Tuesday that Cyprus recognises the right of Israel and its people to live in conditions of security, condemns the launching of missiles from the area of Gaza against Israeli citizens, but considers that the blockade on Gaza is not the solution and that the flow of humanitarian aid should not be obstructed.
Kyprianou contacted Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman on Monday, and on Tuesday met the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine in Cyprus Khalid Najjar, expressing sorrow over the loss of human lives in the Israeli assault against the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
He said Cyprus supported the termination of the blockade on Gaza, especially concerning humanitarian aid, adding that the Republic was awaiting an in depth, objective investigation into the assault.
Kyprianou expressed hope that the incident would not affect proximity talks, noting that the successful outcome of the talks would contribute towards stability.
Replying to questions, Kyprianou said ''we are in the region and thus we have a more immediate involvement,'' adding that ''our position is based on principles and our decisions are determined by objective criteria.''
 UN SG recommends renewal of UNFICYP‘s mandateUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has recommended the renewal of UNFICYP's mandate (UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus) for another six months, saying it plays an essential role on the island of Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Ban's report on the UN operation in Cyprus will be issued as a document of the Security Council.
In part six of the report (Observations ), Ban noted that during the reporting period, the situation in the buffer zone has remained calm.
"Restrictions on the movement of locally employed United Nations civilian personnel regrettably continue. The freedom of movement for all United Nations personnel is a matter of principle to the Organization and an operational requirement for UNFICYP and I call on the Turkish Cypriot authorities to respect this principle," he says.
Both communities have continued to rely on UNFICYP's assistance in areas ranging from humanitarian and economic matters to a variety of bicommunal issues affecting the lives of Cypriots, he adds, noting that UNFICYP worked closely with both communities on solving practical day-to-day issues, particularly in the buffer zone.
"UNDP, assisted by UNFICYP, is leading efforts to realize the leaders' agreement to open a seventh crossing in the area of Limnitis/Yesilirmak. Its swift opening, without further delays, would improve the daily lives of all Cypriots by enhancing the freedom of movement throughout the island and would serve to build trust and confidence between the sides. In the same vein, I also hope that the stabilization and restoration of buildings at the Ledra Street/Lokmaci crossing will advance in a timely manner," he points out.
Ban notes that further progress has been achieved on the clearing of minefields in the buffer zone. "I note with satisfaction the commitment of the Turkish Forces to release a further 13 minefields for clearance, four of which are located north of the buffer zone, which is a welcome widening of the scope of mine clearance beyond the original demining agreement."
He urged both opposing forces to cooperate with the United Nations to realize the goal of a mine freebuffer zone for all Cypriots by April 2011.
"I am pleased to report that the humanitarian work of the Committee on Missing Persons continues unhindered. I urge all parties concerned to take every possible action to support this work, including by preventing the important work of the Committee from being politicized. I am encouraged by the recent widening of the geographical scope of exhumation to military areas, and strongly hope that this trend will continue in the coming period," the SG says.
The SG believes that "the establishment of economic, social, cultural, sporting or similar ties and contacts will have a positive impact on the on-going negotiations. Such contacts would nurture a sentiment of trust between the communities and help ease the sense of isolation felt by the Turkish Cypriots. Further, greater economic and social parity between the sides will make the eventual reunification not only easier, but also more likely. In the context of an internationally sanctioned peace process, efforts in the opposite direction can only be counterproductive," the report adds.
UNFICYP, Ban stresses, "continues to play an essential role on the island, including in support of my good offices mission. I recommend, therefore, that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP for six months, until 15 December 2010."
"At the same time, mindful of the Security Council's previous calls and my stated intention to keep all peacekeeping operations under review, I shall continually keep the operations of UNFICYP under close review, taking into account developments on the ground and the views of the parties, and shall revert to the Council with recommendations, as appropriate, for further adjustments to the UNFICYP mandate, force levels and concept of operations as soon as warranted," the report concludes.
UNFICYP is made up of 859 military personnel and 68 UN police officers. It arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 after intercommunal fighting broke out between the island's two communities.
 President: Pope's visit a turning point in Cypriot-Italian relationsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President Demetris Christofias said Tuesday that the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Cyprus is a turning point in relations between the peoples of Cyprus and Italy.
The visit, the president pointed out, will enhance the already close relations with the Holy See.
Inaugurating the exhibition "Cyprus and Italy in the Age of Byzantium", President Christofias referred to the long-standing contacts between Cyprus and Italy, which began in the 11th century BC, influencing Italian and Cypriot art as well as the culture of the two countries in various aspects of everyday life.
He underlined that the excellent relations between the two peoples continue to date in the framework of a united Europe, since the two countries share many common attributes, historical, geographical and cultural. There is also close cooperation in political, financial and cultural issues, he added.
…cons, sacred relics and other items of byzantine art from the collections of the Byzantine Museum, as well as from other ecclesiastical and private collections from Cyprus are exhibited to demonstrate the influence of Italian art and the contacts of Cypriot artists with Italy.
The chronological range of the exhibits covers the period between 1191 up to the end of the 16th century, the period of western domination of Cyprus (English (1191), Templars (1191) French Lusignans (1192-1489) and Venetians (1189-1571). The exhibition aims at presenting the interaction in art and the channels of spreading this art from the West to Cyprus and vice versa.
Pope Benedict XVI will pay an official visit to Cyprus on June 4-6 .
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