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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-06-11

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

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

Friday, 11 June 2010 Issue No: 3514

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: Greece on path of economic, fiscal normality
  • [02] PM Papandreou in Vienna on Friday
  • [03] Defence minister at NATO meeting in Brussels
  • [04] Athens strongly condemns warship flyover by Turkish planes
  • [05] Gov't: Israel must return personal items, ships seized in Gaza raid
  • [06] Iranian envoy on Gaza incident, UN sanction
  • [07] FM spokesman on Turkey, Middle East
  • [08] Athens replies to Milososki regarding name dispute
  • [09] Papoulias-Mubarak meeting on June 16
  • [10] Parliament passes bill on energy efficiency
  • [11] New evidence seized in Siemens case
  • [12] LAOS' Karatzaferis on economy; civil servants; Siemens
  • [13] ELIAMEP holds event on economic crisis
  • [14] Gov't cites investment projects worth 6 bln euros
  • [15] ND official on projects announced by Katseli
  • [16] Katseli addresses con'f in Athens
  • [17] Petalotis: Greece is meeting economic targets
  • [18] OAED statement on its reserve assets
  • [19] Unemployment rate at 11.6% in March
  • [20] Greek employers face major difficulties in finding skilled labour, study
  • [21] Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum 2010
  • [22] Loverdos assures stability programme success
  • [23] Budget deficit shrinks 38.8% in Jan-May
  • [24] "Arkadiko Panorama" trade exhibition opens in Tripolis
  • [25] Cruise ship passengers sent off with gift baskets at port of Piraeus
  • [26] Stocks continue moving higher
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [30] The School of Aristotle in Esvoria, Naoussa
  • [31] Lavrio forestry service head arrested for taking bribes
  • [32] Major heroin haul found in foreign truck
  • [33] Illegal migrants intercepted on Zakynthos
  • [34] Fair on Friday
  • [35] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [36] Draft resolution on UNFICYP approved Politics

  • [01] PM: Greece on path of economic, fiscal normality

    Greece is on the path of economic and fiscal normality, having left behind it the big dangers, prime minister George Papandreou said on Thursday, addressing a meeting of the economic and social committee (OKE) for Arcadia, in Tripolis.

    Papandreou reassured that the country is on a course of changes with a plan, a program, determination and a new credibility "that we have earned".

    The premier further described as "disastrous and groundless" recent rumors of impending default by Greece and the country's exodus from the euro currency, noting that there had even been rumors of "ships bringing paper for the minting of drachma bills".

    He strenuously denied the rumors as "absurd" but also "extremely dangerous" because "they upset the citizens without reason, and strike out at the core of the effort being made and the sacrifices of the Greek people".

    "I am truly puzzled by the irresponsibility of some quarters that adopt such rumors...even some serious mass media adopt those rumors, perhaps due to the competition, despite the fact that they have access to official information, not only from the government but from the EU itself," the premier said.

    "Greece today has nothing to fear, nothing but fear itself," Papandreou stressed, noting that his government was manifesting unprecedented determination and adding that the first time those responsible for leading to the moral decline were being revealed, while tax bureau officials were also being checked for the first time.

    [02] PM Papandreou in Vienna on Friday

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will be arriving here on Friday morning and at 20:30 local time he will be addressing a dinner organised by the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

    At 12 noon, the prime minister will meet Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and at 1 he will be having a working luncheon with Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

    Trichet, president of the European Central Bank and Papandreou are the Institute's spring conference's main speakers at the dinners on Thursday and Friday respectively.

    [03] Defence minister at NATO meeting in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Greek National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos attended a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers taking place here on Thursday and Friday, presenting Greece's position on issues such as NATO operational capacity, NATO-EU cooperation, the problems faced by NATO missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and sources of funding.

    During his address to the council on Thursday morning, Venizelos said that the political decisions made by the Council NATO member-state ministers should not only be effective but also reliable, acceptable and legitimate in the eyes of the citizens. In this light, he added, the economic crisis and restricted public finances were a crucial parameter of defence policy, along with the historic, geopolitical and military parameters that no one could overlook.

    Venizelos stressed that from this viewpoint, Greece was determined to promote both targets simultaneously, both that of fiscal restructuring but also that of ensuring its credibility and effectiveness in the fields of foreign and defence policy, both on a national level and on the level of the Alliance.

    During a discussion on NATO's presence in Kosovo (KFOR), Venizelos said that Greece will remain in Kosovo in accordance with the Alliance's overall plan, since it had an obvious and particular interest in the region, in the framework of its unchanged and known foreign policy positions regarding these issues.

    [04] Athens strongly condemns warship flyover by Turkish planes

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday strongly condemned Tuesday's incident in the Aegean, when a formation of Turkish fighter aircraft flew right over the Greek Navy frigate 'Salamis' at very close range, calling it an "unacceptable action". He stressed that the Greek Embassy in Ankara had lodged a demarche over the incident with the Turkish government.

    "We expressed our deepest displeasure but, obviously, this action also raises the question of what precisely Turkey wants from its relations with Greece because such actions are on no account compatible with the declared positions of the Turkish political leadership for an improvement of relations with Greece. They are not compatible with Turkey's foreign policy doctrine of 'zero problems' with its neighbours," Delavekouras emphasised.

    He said that this was an issue that was certain to be raised on a political level during the next meeting between Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    Concerning the flight moratorium above the Aegean, Delavekouras said that Greece expected this to begin and be observed on June 15.

    [05] Gov't: Israel must return personal items, ships seized in Gaza raid

    Athens on Thursday underlined that the Israeli government must return all confiscated personal items taken from Greek citizens during an Israeli raid and subsequent seizure of six vessels heading for Gaza late last month, while reiterating that two Greek-flagged ships must also be released.

    "The Greek state's protection of its citizens did not end in the early morning hours of June 3, when we welcomed them back at the Elefsina military airbase. Protection of their legal interests is a standing mandate; a constant mission and, obviously, this incident does not end here," Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said in Parliament on Thursday in reply to a tabled question.

    He added that Athens has emphasised the point with the Israeli diplomatic mission as well as with Israeli leadership.

    Droutsas' statements came in reply to a tabled question by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Tassos Kourakis.

    Additionally, the Greek alternate FM reminded that Athens is coordinating with its EU partners to fully investigate the circumstances under which the raid occurred.

    Finally, he said a goal is to increase the amount of humanitarian aid flowing to Gaza, a field on which there is increased coordination by the Greek and Cypriot sides.

    [06] Iranian envoy on Gaza incident, UN sanction

    The Iranian envoy to Greece on Thursday underlined that his country has no intention of increasing tension in the Middle East or has any interest in developing nuclear weapons, speaking in Athens a day after the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions, mostly against the Iranian military establishment.

    Moreover, Amb. Mehdi Honardoost said the imposition of the sanctions -- passed by a vote of 12 to two and one abstention -- was more-or-less expected, "because we are not close to the United States and other countries. If this (nuclear issue) was solved, then some other one (issue) would be created".

    He also said it was a "very simplistic belief" to consider that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, "as the confrontation (in the Middle East) would result in extreme tension."

    Turning to the interception by the Israeli navy of a six-vessel flotilla heading to Gaza last month, an incident that left nine activists dead on the lead ship, he flatly rejected criticism that the Islamic Republic's support for Hamas-administered Gaza provides Israel with a pretense to enforce its blockade on the densely populated sliver of land sandwiched between the Mediterranean, Egypt and Israel.

    "Iran will continue to support Hamas and the Palestinian people, as we have done for the past 30 years, this is not something new," he said, echoing statements from Tehran that Iranian ships and volunteers may also attempt to breach the blockade.

    "...It will not be via the same route," Honardoost clarified.

    The Iranian envoy also brushed aside any concerns of a future conflict with Israel -- which he lambasted as an illegal state allowed to run roughshod over international law and rules -- saying that the Jewish state "is not capable of starting a war" with a much larger, more populous and resource-rich Iran.

    [07] FM spokesman on Turkey, Middle East

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras referred on Thursday to Greece's long-standing relations with the Middle East, commenting on developments following the Israeli raid of the Gaza aid flotilla, an issue that will be discussed at the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

    "Our efforts are aimed at protecting the Middle East peace process," he explained, adding that the Gaza blockade must be lifted. He said Greece and Cyprus cooperate in a joint effort seeking ways to increase the humanitarian aid flow to the region.

    Delavekouras also mentioned that Athens has its own position which is discussed in the contacts with all sides; the European partners, Israel and the Arab countries, adding that "the overall settlement of the Middle East issue is still the goal even though facts do not allow for optimism."

    He pointed out that the Council of Ministers in Luxembourg will hear all viewpoints, adding that the Greek side will raise the issue of the Turkish side's inconsistency, manifesting with Ankara not implementing the international law of the Sea while, at the same time, citing international law provisions.

    "The presence of the EU is not adequate. Europe is obliged to have a say in the political sector. Europe will have to speak up with a clear voice," he stressed, pointing out that progress in the protection and continuation of the negotiations can only be achieved through the cooperation of the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN.

    "Greece has adopted a multilevel foreign policy that can bring multiple benefits," he stressed, underlining the need for support from abroad.

    "Greece fully backs Egypt's moves for an understanding between the Palestinians because a progress to this end would create a momentum for a solution," he stressed.

    [08] Athens replies to Milososki regarding name dispute

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday repeated Greece's position on resolving the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), stressing that Athens wanted a single name containing a geographic term to be used in all cases (erga omnes). He was replying to a question concerning the statements made on Wednesday by FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki concerning Greece's reduced ability to deal with developments in the negotiations due to its economic problems.

    "Greece has shown that it is working to improve the climate, is ready to make progress, but unfortunately there had been no response to this effort. We hope that the right decision will finally be taken with a constructive spirit, so that we can make progress and reach a mutually acceptable solution. The Greek side is in constant contact with Matthew Nimetz," he stressed.

    "The imagination of Skopje's minister appears to have no limits when he is looking for excuses to not negotiate," Delavekouras added.

    A more constructive stance by Skopje would help to open up FYROM's European prospects and would lead to the start of accession negotiations with the EU and the country's course to NATO, he added.

    [09] Papoulias-Mubarak meeting on June 16

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will receive Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday, June 16, at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

    The two leaders held a meeting in Athens on May 20 within the framework of Mubarak's brief visit to Greece. The veteran Egyptian statesman also met with Prime Minister George Papandreou at Athens' airport after the latter's return from Beirut.

    During the May 20 meeting, Papoulias and Mubarak discussed the Middle East issue, which is expected to dominate in the Sharm el Sheikh meeting.

    [10] Parliament passes bill on energy efficiency

    Parliament on Thursday passed a bill on promoting energy efficiency, with the support of ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy. As during the vote on the bill in principle the previous day, the proposed legislation was opposed by the left-wing parties and right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) abstained.

    Replying to criticism concerning an imminent rate hike by the Public Power Corporation for electricity, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Thanos Moraitis said that the government was rationalising pricing policy with "social sensitivity", promising that the increases would not affect farmers, the low paid and those on low pensions.

    Moraitis defended the bill, saying that it will not just benefit the environment also contribute to exiting the economic crisis through 'green' growth bringing new investments and new jobs.

    [11] New evidence seized in Siemens case

    The two appellate-level examining magistrates handling the investigation into the Siemens kickbacks scandal on Thursday announced that they had seized new evidence that they hope will yield significant new leads and information concerning the case.

    Maria Nikolakea and Ioannis Fiorakis have confiscated 21 mobile phones and two cordless land-line phones from Siemens's offices in Athens, as well as a lap-top used by a key suspect Mihalis Christoforakos and the hard disk from a computer formerly used by his secretary Katerina Tsakalou.

    None of this material had been seized in previous raids by authorities on the company's offices.

    The two magistrates will now asked for the privacy protection on the phones to be lifted and enlist the help of the Greek Police electronic crimes department in order to hack into the two computers, which they believe will shed light on events after 2003.

    A third magistrate is due to be assigned to the investigating team, who will be selected by the appeals judges' plenum on June 17.

    [12] LAOS' Karatzaferis on economy; civil servants; Siemens

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis commenting Thursday on the rumors on the prospects of the Greek economy he stated that the situation is the result of the fact that "we have a nerveless government" allowing such rumors to flourish.

    Referring to the likelihood of new cutbacks in the salaries of civil servants, Karatzaferis accused Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou of opting for such measures.

    On the Siemens kickbacks and bribery scandal under parliamentary investigation, he said that the only way for the truth to shine is to put an embargo on the products and services of the specific company to force it unveil the names of the people involved in the scandal.

    [13] ELIAMEP holds event on economic crisis

    The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) held on Thursday evening an event on the theme "Is Europe in crisis?" with distinguished economists and political analysts, such as Jean Pisani-Ferry, Andre Sapir and Lord Liddle, as the main speakers.

    The speakers admitted that the international monetary crisis has found the European Union unprepared. They also referred to the causes of this unprecedented crisis and proposed the taking of prompt measures coupled with a strong political will for tackling it, and the creation of stable structures for the future.

    Former Greek prime minister Costas Simitis, also present at the event, wondered during the debate which followed whether the EU still nourished a common vision for reforms and changes that would lead to European integration.

    Financial News

    [14] Gov't cites investment projects worth 6 bln euros

    Economy, Competition and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli on Thursday announced the immediate launch of a number of joint public/private sector projects, budgeted at more than 2.0 billion euros and the promotion of private investments worth 4.0 billion euros that she said were "stuck" in a bureaucratic hurdle over the recent period.

    Speaking to reporters, the minister said the government would proceed with a total re-evaluation of joint public/private sector projects approved by the previous governments, several of which either were delayed, or lacked any development aim, as she said.

    Katseli said that from a total of 52 such projects approved, budgeted at 5.7 billion euros, only one was currently implemented (seven fire stations budgeted at 25 million euros). She said the government would launch joint public/private projects, including schools, college dormitories, court houses, urban transport infrastructure, waste management facilities and armed forces infrastructure, worth 2.09 billion euros.

    Katseli said new proposals were currently examined, covering bio-cleaning, desalination units, marinas and ports, real estate property management, theme parks, tourism infrastructure, IT projects, hospitals and schools. The government will draft a five-year programme to ensure funding from a Public Investments Program and EU funds.

    Commenting on rising inflation (5.4 pct in May), she said a government decision to raise taxes was pushing prices higher and said this trend will continue in July.

    [15] ND official on projects announced by Katseli

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Political responsibility for Growth and Competitiveness Sector chief Kostis Hatzidakis, commenting on Thursday on statements by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, said that Katseli "announced 90 percent of projects scheduled by New Democracy through the Public, Private Partnership (SDIT)."

    Hatzidakis said, among other things, that "the government discovered the SDIT with a 9-month delay. And after 9 months of criticism it is adopting almost 90 percent of the projects that New Democracy had scheduled. We welcome the government's turn, but we call on it to proceed with great speed."

    [16] Katseli addresses con'f in Athens

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli referred to the emphasis given by Greece on the promotion of private investments speaking on Thursday in the Regional Conference of SE Europe and Mediterranean on public-private partnerships.

    Katseli stated that the government seeks to increase private investments through "an ambitious reform programme that will include the opening of markets, reduction of entrepreneurship cost and promotion of public-private partnerships.

    Referring to the prospects for global development, she stated that they are still uncertain as a result of the economic crisis. She pointed out that private investments will help the country meet its goals for drastic spending cuts in the state budget, support the economic activity and create a strong basis for its future development by boosting competitiveness.

    "Public-private partnerships were used in different sectors, in small-scale projects and in social infrastructure projects," she said, adding that these initiatives were based on experience acquired through major public-private projects such as, the Rio-Antirrio Bridge, the Attiki Odos motorway and Athens' international airport.

    [17] Petalotis: Greece is meeting economic targets

    Those investing in Greece's economic collapse were being proved wrong, government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Thursday, in comments on the state of the Greek economy.

    Questioned about a poll among Bloomberg subscribers, 73 percent of whom predicted that Greece will eventually default, the spokesman stressed that "this is not the climate that prevails worldwide".

    It was known that Greece's unreliability has been reversed and this was apparent in statements like those of European Commission Olli Rehn, who ruled out the possibility of default and Greece's exit from the eurozone, he said.

    Petalotis added that the poll was conducted among analysts and investors and that this fact "was also worth considering".

    He pointed out that the country's deficit had been reduced by 40 percent in the first five months of 2010, relative to the same months in 2009, that spending was down by 10 percent and revenues up by 8 percent.

    The spokesman underlined that Greece met the targets foreseen under the agreement with its EU partners and the IMF, and had thus secured the second installment of 9 billion euros under the EU/IMF bail out package.

    Petalotis also stressed that there were many positive measures taken by the government that had been "obscured" by assumptions, theories and disaster-mongering. Among such he listed a freeze on electricity rates, the "social domestic invoices" giving 10 percent reductions to special vulnerable groups and efforts to reduce the cost of pharmaceutical spending, where the aim was to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals by 1.1 billion euros in 2010.

    Concerning the publication of details of the memorandum signed by Greece with the EU/IMF in the magazine 'Epikaira', Petalotis pointed out that this was a contract for a loan and as such provided guarantees to the creditor.

    "There is no sale of public property in the memorandum but it is evident that those who lend us must have secured guarantees, as happens with every loan," he replied in response to questions.

    [18] OAED statement on its reserve assets

    The Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) issued a statement on Thursday in response to a press release by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP Nikos Nikolopoulos as regards the 711 million euros missing from the organization's reserve assets.

    The statement mentions that in the period Oct. 1, 2009 - Dec. 31, 2009 the revenues of OAED reached 654.6 million euros and expenditures rose to 957 million euros. As a result, the liquid assets in Jan. 1, 2010 dropped to 160 million euros amidst rising unemployment.

    According to the statement, the OAED deficit in 2009 reached roughly 600 million euros for the first time in the 55 years since its establishment. The 2009 deficit exhausted the reserves of OAED as well as LAEK's (Employment and Vocational Training Fund).

    In addition, the debt of the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) to OAED skyrocketed to 6.5 billion euros in 2009 from 2 billion euros in 2003 corresponding roughly to 2.5 pct of the country's GDP.

    OAED pointed out that the main cause that led the organization to this dramatic economic state can be traced back to the political choices made in recent years, pointing the finger at the implementation of programmes and policies without the necessary funds.

    [19] Unemployment rate at 11.6% in March

    Greek unemployment jumped to 11.6 pct of the workforce in March this year, up from 9.2 pct in the same month last year and 9.0 pct in March 2008, although it fell from 12.1 pct in February 2010, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the number of unemployed people totaled 578,723 in March, up 121,699 from March 2009 (an increase of 26.6 pct), while the number of employed people totaled 4,423,899, down 1.5 pct over the same period. The economically non-active population totaled 4,292,663 people at the end of March.

    Unemployment among women was almost double compared with men (15.9 pct and 8.5 pct, respectively), while the 15-24 age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (29.8 pct), followed by the 25-34 age group (15.4 pct). The Ionian islands (23 pct), southern Aegean (16.7 pct), eastern Macedonia-Thrace (16.1 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, while western Greece (7.9 pct), the Peloponnese (8.1 pct) and Attica-greater Athens area (10.5 pct) the lowest rates.

    [20] Greek employers face major difficulties in finding skilled labour, study

    Greek employers are facing difficulties in covering all available job positions, a report by Manpower based on a sample of 750 Greek employers in March stated on Thursday.

    The report said the Greek job market suffered a significant shortfall in necessary skills, although the talent mismatch rate was down by eight percentage points compared with March 2009. Manpower, in its report on "Teachable Fit: A new approach for easing the talent mismatch," recommended a new approach in the selection of workers, focusing on candidates able to obtain the necessary skills, abilities and knowledge for a specific job.

    Manpower's annual report, published for the fifth consecutive year, covers 36 countries around the world based on a total of 35,000 employers. Greece participated in the report for the third year. The report showed that 29 pct of Greek employers faced difficulties in finding workers with the necessary skills, although the rate was down from 37 pct in 2009. The Greek rate, however, was up by six percentage points compared with the average rate of EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), currently at 23 pct.

    Japan (76 pct), Brazil (64 pct), Argentina (53 pct), Poland (51 pct), Australia (45 pct) and Hong Kong (44 pct) topped the list of countries where employers faced the biggest difficulties in covering job positions, while Ireland (4.0 pct), UK (9 pct), Norway (11 pct) and US (14 pct) faced the smallest difficulties.

    In the Greek market, Manpower said sales executives and customer support executives were the top sectors facing the most significant shortfall in job positions.

    [21] Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum 2010

    The potential for stronger bilateral business relations between Greece and China was underlined in the two-day Business Forum that opened in Athens on Thursday hosted by the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber on the occasion of its 15th anniversary.

    Addressing the forum, Deputy Rural Development and Foods Minister Mihalis Karhimakis pointed out that the volume of bilateral trade is growing, while reforms aimed at reducing tariffs and eliminating technical obstacles in transactions and red tape will bring more investments to both countries.

    Great cooperation potential was observed in the exports of Greek olive oil and other locally produced goods, tourism, scientific personnel communication, joint ventures, monument restoration and earthquake protection projects.

    Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) president Alekos Holevas referred to the Greek pavilion in the Shanghai Expo 2010 stressing that it has already been visited by roughly 600,000 people.

    Hellenic-Chinese Chamber President Konstantinos Yiannidis underlined the important role it can play particularly in the current economic circumstances.

    [22] Loverdos assures stability programme success

    Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos assured on Thursday that the goal of the Stability Programme for 2010 will be met.

    Speaking in parliament, he announced that pharmaceutical expenditures in the Social Security Foundation (IKA) dropped 5 pct in May compared to the same month last year, while compared to April 2010 it was reduced by 3.5 pct.

    Loverdos stressed that the goal set concerning spending cuts of 1.1 billion euros and putting an end to "the prescription medicine transaction orgy" will be met.

    [23] Budget deficit shrinks 38.8% in Jan-May

    Greece's state budget deficit shrank 38.8 pct in the January-May period, surpassing a budget target for a 35.1 pct annual reduction this year, the finance ministry announced on Thursday.

    A ministry announcement said the budget deficit fell to 8.973 billion euros in the five-month period, from 14.655 billion euros last year and stressed that this development reflected lower spending and higher revenues, while it noted that the figures did not fully reflect additional measures taken in March and May.

    Budget net revenues rose 8.3 pct in the January-May period, down from an annual target for an 11.7 pct growth rate, while spending fell 10.6 pct, surpassing an annual target of 4.8 pct. Primary spending fell 11.3 pct, while spending on interest fell 7.5 pct.

    The Public Investment Programme's spending fell 29.6 pct while revenues were down 43.3 pct in the five-month period.

    [24] "Arkadiko Panorama" trade exhibition opens in Tripolis

    Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas inaugurated on Wednesday evening the 6th regional general trade fair "Arcadiko Panorama" in the Industrial Zone of Tripolis (central Peloponnese).

    Parliament deputies, prefects, mayors and other officials attended the inauguration ceremony.

    Over 180 exhibitors from all over Greece are taking part in the exhibition, which is organised by the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    [25] Cruise ship passengers sent off with gift baskets at port of Piraeus

    Local government officials on Thursday bid farewell to passengers reboarding a docked cruise ship at the port of Piraeus, the "AIDA", with gift baskets filled with traditional Greek products and travel maps, part of stepped up efforts by the government and tourism enterprises to boost the cruise sector.

    Piraeus municipal officials, the mayor and local primary school pupils were on hand at the dock.

    The Greek government has pledged to lift the decades-old cabotage regime still in force in Greece, thereby allowing foreign-flagged cruise ships to commence and carry out cruises from and between Greek ports of call.

    [26] Stocks continue moving higher

    Stocks continued moving higher at the Athens Stock Exchange, although in very thin trading conditions on Thursday. The composite index of the market rose 1.0 pct to end at 1,476.47 points, with turnover a low 98.234 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.71 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.11 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.24 pct down. The Food (4.10 pct) and Health (3.44 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (3.46 pct) and Telecoms (1.75 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 88 to 84 with another 59 issues unchanged. Alco (17.65 pct), Technical Publications (17.39 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farming (12.50 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (20 pct), Varvaressos (16.67 pct) and ATTIKAT (15 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.46%

    Industrials: +0.70%

    Commercial: +0.51%

    Construction: +0.97%

    Media: +1.86%

    Oil & Gas: +3.09%

    Personal & Household: +0.82%

    Raw Materials: +1.98%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.30%

    Technology: -1.04%

    Telecoms: -1.75%

    Banks: +0.06%

    Food & Beverages: +4.10%

    Health: +3.44%

    Utilities: -0.79%

    Chemicals: -0.10%

    Financial Services: +2.15%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Bank of Cyprus.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.50

    ATEbank: 1.05

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.42

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.77

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.96

    National Bank of Greece: 9.50

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.80

    OPAP: 11.70

    OTE: 5.60

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.81

    Titan: 15.50

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 31 million euros on Thursday, of which 22 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 9 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (June 19, 2020) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros, followed by the three-year bond with 8.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 555 basis points, from 561 bps on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.16 pct and the German Bund 2.61 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month rate was 1.26 pct, the six-month rate 0.97 pct, the three-month 0.73 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.30 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 63.153 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,052 contracts worth 56.556 million euros, with 29,482 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,327 contracts, worth 6.603 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,850), followed by Eurobank (764), MIG (2,025), OTE (914), Piraeus Bank (674), Alpha Bank (921), Mytilineos (476), Hellenic Petroleum (363) and ATEbank (397).

    [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.214

    Pound sterling 0.831

    Danish kroner 7.498

    Swedish kroner 9.654

    Japanese yen 110.72

    Swiss franc 1.389

    Norwegian kroner 7.927

    Canadian dollar 1.258

    Australian dollar 1.442

    General News

    [30] The School of Aristotle in Esvoria, Naoussa

    The School of Aristotle in Esvoria, Naoussa, is a place of universal interest with racing waters and deeply shaded-caves mentioned by writers of antiquity.

    It is the place where the greatest philosopher of Antiquity, Aristotle taught classical Greek thought and the ideals of Platonic philosophy to the son of the King of Macedonia Phillip II, Alexander, and the other nobles of the Macedonian court.

    The encounter of these two greatest personalities of the ancient world at the Nymphaion of Mieza -- Aristotle, the scientist, and the great military commander, Alexander - impacted the future of mankind, and of the entire Western Civilization.

    The Nymphaion, the sanctuary dedicated to the Nymphs, is situated in a very impressive natural landscape, where the ancient relics -the wall prop of a two-floor arcade of Ionic columns forming a is preserved - combined with the three natural caves which are found there -- constitute the main grounds of the school.

    The vertical surface of the rock, where the openings for supporting the roof's girders are discernable, comprised the back-end of the shady porch (stoa), (350 B. C. and after), where Aristotle taught "the ethical and political word" (Plutarch VII, 668) to the Macedonian nobility's young offspring.

    At the Archaeological Museum of Veroia, tiles and clay pugs from the porch (stoa) roof are on display.

    The landscape where the Master walked with his students on the riverbanks, full of paths with dense vegetation, while surrounding cool streams gushed from the springs and serenely flowed, is complemented by an even larger cave a little further off, with two carved entrances, and a distinct devotional use.

    [31] Lavrio forestry service head arrested for taking bribes

    The head of the Lavrio forestry service was led before a public prosecutor on Thursday, following arrested by Greek Police internal affairs officers on a charge of extortion and accepting bribes.

    The arrest was made on Wednesday, based on a report by a private individual that accused the Lavrio forestry service chief of demanding 1,000 euros in order to give him certificates defining two parcels of land that he owned as farming land.

    The man lodging the complaint was supplied with marked notes and handed over the bribe in the presence of a police officer that accompanied him.

    The suspect was then immediately searched and 300 euros in marked notes were found on his person. With the assistance of the arrested suspect, police found the remaining 700 euros carefully hidden in the forestry service toilets.

    [32] Major heroin haul found in foreign truck

    Athens Police in cooperation with the financial crimes squad SDOE intercepted a total of 74 kilos and 500 grams of heroin found hidden in the fuel tank of a truck driven by a 28-year-old Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) national.

    The investigation conducted revealed that the suspect, who has been led before a prosecutor, is a member of a large Skopje-based ring engaging in heroin trafficking from Turkey to western European countries and Greece.

    Police had received information that a large quantity of heroin would enter Greece from Turkey hidden inside a truck with fYRoM license plates. The suspect was arrested when police stopped the truck on the Athens-Lamia motorway in the early morning hours of Thursday.

    The truck was led to the Athens Police crime lab where the special crypt was found with the heroin packaged in a way that would make it undetectable by sniffer dogs.

    [33] Illegal migrants intercepted on Zakynthos

    A total of 16 illegal migrants were intercepted by coast guard officers on a beach in the northern part of the Ionian Sea island of Zakynthos, where they most likely were waiting to board a vessel to Italy.

    The coast guard and the local police are investigating the case, focusing on how the illegal migrants arrived on the island and the means they used to reach the area where they were found.

    Weather Forecast

    [34] Fair on Friday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 32C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 32C.

    [35] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Developments in the Siemens case, the social security system, the labour issue and Finance Ministry George Papaconstantinou's reassurance that the next loan package from the E-IMF is secured, and Prime Minister George Papandreou's visit to Libya dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Parliamentary fact-finding commission on Siemens scandal decided the opening of 25 bank accounts".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Huge increases in real estate objective values".

    AVGHI: "Government discussing the possibility of concession of management of the Water Board to private companies".

    AVRIANI: "Bank accounts of professionals, contractors and go-betweens implicated in Siemens case to open".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Siemens scandal: The list with the names".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Lay-offs: Easy and cheap".

    ESTIA: "Greece produces bureaucracy- It is the main obstacle to development".

    ETHNOS: "Reversals from the drop in university entry base passing grades".

    IMERISSIA: "Reserved optimism - The second installment of the loan secured".

    KATHIMERINI: "Provocative 1.3 billion euros 'favour' to former Olympic Airlines employees".

    LOGOS: "Political figures on Siemens lists".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Upcoming 'troika' inspection, with lower deficit".

    NIKI: "The course to the ballots - Five parametres that will judge the recourse to double elections (early general and scheduled local government elections) in November".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The people shouldn't pay for the debts and the deficits- Not a single euro for the plutocracy".

    TA NEA: "Reversals in labour relations through express procedures".

    TO VIMA: "25 persons alleged to be involved in the Siemens case under the microscope".

    VRADYNI: "Growth policy is the answer to the disaster scenarios".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] Draft resolution on UNFICYP approved

    UNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have agreed on the text of a draft resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus and on the Secretary General's good offices mission.

    Diplomatic sources have said that in the agreed draft, the controversial paragraph in the preamble, which included a wish for a solution of the Cyprus problem by the end of 2010, has been amended.

    It now includes the words "if possible", in the phrase expressing a wish for "the negotiations to be concluded by the end of 2010".

    This phrase, the same sources point out, has watered down attempts to use the wish for a solution by the end of the year as a deadline in the ongoing negotiating process. However, it has not eliminated the wish expressed by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for a solution by the end of 2010.

    The agreed draft resolution will be distributed on Thursday afternoon to the rest members of the UN Security Council, when they will be briefed by the UN SG Special Advisor on the Cyprus issue Alexander Downer.

    After the briefing by Downer, the Security Council will have unofficial consultations with the view to adopt the resolution by Friday.

    Downer had on Wednesday consultations with officials of the UN Secretariat and held meetings with the Permanent Representatives of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the members of the Security Council.

    UN-led peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    UNFICYP arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 after intercommunal fighting broke out between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.

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