|Friday, 20 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-06-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 16 June 2010 Issue No: 3518
 China's vice-premier visits Greece, 14 agreements signedGreece and China signed 14 bilateral agreements on Tuesday, during a visit to Greece by China's Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, a prominent member of the Communist Party of China Politburo. Zhang arrived in Athens on Monday on a three-day visit, at the invitation of Greek Vice-Premier Theodoros Pangalos, his Greek counterpart.
Following meetings earlier on Tuesday with Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Pangalos, during which the agreements were signed, Zhang was attending a dinner being given by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday afternoon.
In statements before the dinner, Papandreou underlined that bilateral relations between Greece and China were excellent and would be further deepened as a result of the agreements signed earlier the same day, as well as Greek-Chinese cooperation on a international and regional level.
Zhang said the agreements reflected China's desire for stronger ties with Greece and appeared confident that it will overcome its current financial difficulties, adding that China will encourage substantial investments in Greece. He also conveyed greetings from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
During the meeting with Pangalos, Zhang made statements expressing the China's support for the Greek government and its efforts to overcome the economic crisis, saying that there was a "joint desire by Athens and Beijing to strengthen our beneficial cooperation in order to deal with the economic crisis".
Pangalos and Zhang were later joined by the Greek and Chinese delegations for expanded talks, during which the two sides signed 14 agreements dealing with the shipping sector, transport, tourism and telecoms, and also for the export of Greek olive oil to China.
In joint statements afterward, Zhang said that he had been given much encouragement by Pangalos.
"We exchanged views in depth on how to expand cooperation in every sector and arrived at a broad agreement. Greece encourages Chinese companies to come to Greece and find opportunities for investment," he said.
Even though the signs of global economic recovery were becoming stronger, the repercussions of the global financial crisis still remained, Zhang noted, stressing that Greece and China both desired to strengthen their friendly and beneficial cooperation to tackle the crisis together.
Pangalos, on his part, said the talks had been "friendly and creative for our economic and political relations.
Talks between the two delegations referred to both existing and potential future cooperation, with special emphasis on the opportunities created through the planned privatisation programme. Interest was expressed in installing a container terminal at Thriasio, in the Greek Railways Organisation (OSE), ports and airports, as well as possible cooperation in education and culture.
The agreements signed on Tuesday
The first agreement signed by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli and Chinese Transport Minister Li Shenglin provides a favourable charter regime for Greek shipping, while another four agreements to build Greek cargo ships at China Ocean Shipping (COSCO) shipyards was signed between Greek ship owners and COSCO.
Greek shipowners also signed an agreement with COSCO Bulk Carrier on forming a joint-venture and two charter agreements for Greek ships.
In the telecoms sector, Hellenic Telecommunications Organi-sation (OTE) CEO Panagiotis Vourloumis signed an agreement with Huawei Technologies, while China's BCEGI and Helios Plaza signed an agreement for the construction of the hotel and shopping complex Pireaus Plaza.
Finally, four agreements were signed for the export of Greek olive oil.
 President recieves Chinese vice-premierPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received visiting Chinese counterpart, State Council vice-premier Zhang Dejiang, and both sides praised the excellent Greek-Chinese relations, stressing the prospects for their further development.
Zhang made note of Papoulias' participation in the struggle against the dictatorship, as well as his role in promoting friendship with the Chinese people.
He further noted the Chinese company Cosco's activities in the port of Piraeus.
"You are the oldest fighter of the anti-fascism struggle, an old friend of the Chinese people. You contributed substantially, and for many years, to the development of bilateral relations. In 2008, ahead of the (Beijing) Olympic Games, you attended both the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony and the Olympic Flame handover ceremony to China. This reflects your friendship and love for China. Particularly after the outbreak of the international monetary and credit crisis, when the Chinese shipping group Cosco was participating in the utilisation and exploitation of the port of Piraeus, you personally too, care to promote that project," Zhang said, addressing Papoulias.
The Greek President recieved Zhang and the members of the Chinese State Council (Cabinet) accompanying him, expressing his conviction that the bilateral relations between the two countries have sound foundations and an upward course.
"Two great ancient civilisations meet in a heartfelt understanding and in a relationship of strategic partnership cooperation. Our relations are very good and the prospects for their further development equally good," Papoulias said.
 Pangalos meets with Chinese vice-premierGovernment vice-president Theodoros Pangalos met on Tuesday with his visiting Chinese counterpart, State Council vice-premier Zhang Dejiang, who arrived in Athens on Monday on a three-day visit at the former's invitation.
Pangalos and Zhang were later joined by the Greek and Chinese delegations for expanded talks, during which 14 agreements will be signed in sectors including shipping, tourism and telecoms, and also for the export of Greek olive oil to China.
 ND leader Samaras meets with PRC vice-premierMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met with visiting PRC Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang on Tuesday.
Samaras stated afterwards that they focused on issues concerning investments, tourism, energy, and China Ocean Shipping (COSCO) Group. He underlined that "the Chinese appear determined to help through their investments."
The ND leader accepted an invitation to visit China.
 PM Papandreou addresses cabinet meetingPrime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, denounced an "attempt by hospital suppliers to blackmail the government".
The prime minister said that negotiating that took place with the suppliers was tough, adding that in the past years when they had remained unpaid they had not complained.
"Now that we have come to pay them, they came at this moment to create a problem with procedures, I would say almost extortionate," Papandreou further said.
He praised Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou for their steadfast stance in the negotiating and expressed the hope that the issue has reached a favourable end and that the suppliers have received the message.
Papandreou also stressed that the government will support the public health system in every way and for this reason, as he said, he has excluded hospitals and the health sector in general from arrangements on hirings. "We will not negotiate this," the prime minister pointed out, while noting that for existing extravagance, profiteering and corruption neither is the International Monetary Fund to blame nor the European Commission.
The prime minister raised the issue of replacing all that the Greek people have lost with their sacrifices to enable the country to exit from the crisis. "Our aim, he said, is for us to reach a viable economy" and added that on achieving this goal not only will it not be necessary for one to think of new sacrifices "but for us to be able to replace what the Greek people have lost as well."
Papandreou underlined that "the dimension of this undertaking is both a patriotic and a national issue" and noted that in order to achieve the specific aim wider unanimity and consensus is necessary.
He further said that the welfare state is also a necessity, that must be completely reshaped so that the money of the Greek people is utilised properly.
Papandreou also referred to Thursday's European Union summit where recent economic developments in all the European countries will be discussed and where, as he pointed out, new austerity is being imposed and indeed by different political forces. He also stressed that the Greek crisis has its own particularity, but the problem is not the same as what Germany and France have or the northern countries.
In any case, the prime minister said, the issue of the overindebtedness and of the borrowing of the EU's countries must not be faced with austerity but with the attraction of investments or investments that will be supported by the increase of one's own resources.
About 13 bills were discussed at the cabinet meeting and Papandreou, referring to the plethora of legislative initiatives, stressed that this shows that the government's work is being speeded up.
 Gov't cites formula for gradual settlement of hospital supplies debtFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou reached an agreement in principle on Tuesday to gradually pay off =debts of state hospitals to procurement suppliers.
According to the agreement, after the debts of 1.2 billion euros are paid off in cash, a special settlement will be into effect for the years 2005, 2006 and part of 2007.
Specifically, the remainder of the debts of 2005 and 2006 that amount to 245 million euros will be paid off immediately in cash.
The 2007 debts of 1.1 billion euros will be paid out with zero-coupon one-year state security bills; two-year state securities will be issued to cover the 2008 debts estimated to 2.2 billion euros, while the 2009 debts amounting to 2.05 billion euros will be paid out with three-year state securities.
Additional debts of 100 million euros for the period 2007-2008, corresponding to 300,000 euros per company active in the state hospital procurement sector, will be paid off in cash.
The state securities are negotiable and can be liquidated immediately by the banks.
The debts that were rejected by the Court of Audit because they concerned direct contracts will be legalized.
Papaconstantinou stated after the meeting that "old debts have been paid off and old practices are being left behind".
On her part, Xenoyiannakopoulou underlined that "the government assumed its share of responsibility. Now everybody else involved should assume their own to bring the operation of state hospitals back to normal."
 ND official on hospital debtsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party health sector chief M. Salmas on Tuesday stressed the danger of the burdening of military hospitals with debts, commenting on the 13 measures announced by Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
"The National Health System, despite the fact that it has found itself in an emergency, cannot be saved by extraordinary measures of the Armed Forces. Evidently, the government has not realised the problem of the accumulation of the debts of hospitals," he said.
 ND leader confers with GSEE leadershipMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Tuesday with the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) presidium.
After the meeting, ND shadow alternate economy minister Christos Staikouras said that the progress in execution of the state budget, due to the shortfall in revenues caused mainly by the freeze on tax rebates and the expenditures of the public investments program has skyrocketed inflation to 5.4 percent and resulted in the what he called "groundless and off the mark" downgrading of the Greek economy by ratings firms such as Moody's, indicate that the difficulties for the Greek economy are ahead of us.
ND, he added, has submitted and will submit more recommendations for minimizing the risks emanating from the memorandum signed with the EU and for maximizing the benefits for the future of the Greek economy.
ND employment affairs official G. Vroutsis said that the meeting was constructive, adding that both sides agreed that the combination of the recession, inflation and unemployment was "eating away" at incomes.
GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos said that the discussion with Samaras focused on the crucial issues faced by "the forces of labor, given the harsh, unfair and anti-social measures that have been taken".
For GSEE, he stressed, the pressing and top issues are social security, the signing of collective labor agreement and especially the national general collective labor agreement, protection of employment and shielding of the unemployed.
 LAOS' leader Karatzaferis on the Siemens caseOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis referred on Tuesday to the reasons that led his party back to the parliamentary committee investigating the Siemens kickbacks and bribery scandal.
Karatzaferis said in a radio interview that his party is back in the committee because "all the preconditions set for its return were met."
"The pressure exerted as a result of LAOS' decision to walk out led to a flow of information in no time," he stressed.
He also praised Minister of State Haris Pampoukis' move to demand information from the current management of German multinational Siemens as regards the scandal involving the company's Greek subsidiary, stressing that "either it provides information or is excluded from contracts."
 Education Minister Diamantopoulou meets with SAE President TamvakisEducation, Life-long Learning and Religious Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou met with World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis and discussed issues concerning the Greek-speaking education for Greek children abroad.
During the meeting, Diamantopoulou referred to the major effort launched by the ministry to support and promote the Greek language abroad which is placed under the aegis of Republic President Karolos Papoulias. The minister stressed that within the framework of this effort the Greek language will be taught in 400 schools worldwide.
The education system for the Greeks living abroad will be restructured following meetings with Greek Diaspora representatives and the overall institutional framework will be presented in Oct. 2010.
As regards the Greek educators transferred abroad, Diamantopoulou confirmed that there will be no spending cuts.
Tamvakis stressed that the effort has SAE's unreserved support.
 Dep. Min. Nikitiadis meets with Cypriot education and culture ministerNICOSIA (ANA-MPA / A. Viketos)
Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis said in Nicosia on Tuesday that the memorandum of cooperation to be signed soon by Greece and Cyprus will launch a new era in relations between the two ministries.
Nikitiadis, on a two-day visit to Cyprus, made the comments after a meeting with Cypriot Education and Culture Minister Andreas Demetriou during which they exchanged views on issues concerning the two ministries.
On his part, Demetriou was optimistic that the memorandum will be signed very soon during the visit of Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos to Cyprus. He also said that Education, Life-long Learning and Religious Affairs Minister Anna Diamantopoulou will be involved in the preparation of the memorandum because it also deals with education issues.
Dep. Min. Nikitiadis has concluded his visit to Cyprus and is expected in Athens this afternoon.
 Environment minister receives Turkish ambassadorEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Tuesday received Turkey's ambassador to Greece Hasan Gogus.
The meeting focused on = steps made by both sides to implement provisions included in the memorandum of cooperation for the protection of forests and a joint statement on the environment and energy, adopted during the recent visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Athens.
They also underlined the importance of the materialisation of the extension of a natural gas pipeline (ITGI) project, taking under consideration the recent package of agreements on natural gas issues reached between Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Birbili also accepted an invitation to visit Turkey.
 Turkey on ECHR ruling concerning Princes island orphanageANKARA (ANA-MPA - A. Abatzis)
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to return a historic orphanage on the largest of the Princes' islands to the Ecumenical Patriarchate within three months. The disputed building is on the island of Buyukada (or 'Prinkipo' in Greek), the largest among the nine islands in the Sea of Marmara.
Commenting on the ruling, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and chief negotiator for Turkey in Europe Egemen Bagis said on Tuesday that the decision had been expected and had simply now appeared in writing.
According to Bagis, a formula has been worked out with the Ecumenical Patriarchate for carrying out repairs to the building, which was in a very bad state, and converting it into a centre for environmental studies.
"We are in talks with the Patriarchate, which views the issue positively," he added.
In past statements, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has said the Patriarchate intended to turn the building into an environmental centre if it was restored.
The Turkish minister did not refer to the other aspects of the ECHR ruling, which impact on the legal standing of the Patriarchate in Turkey. One of the arguments used by Turkey in refusing to return the orphanage to the Patriarchate was the fact that it does not recognise the Patriarchate as a 'legal entity' and thus able to own and manage property. This argument was rejected by the ECHR ruling - as well as Turkey's claim that the building was a part of the Greek-Orthodox endowment to the orphanage - and ordered the property's return.
Sources within the Turkish foreign ministry told the ANA-MPA that the Turkish government was currently "examining the issue" and had not yet decided whether Turkey would appeal the ruling.
On the issue of the Patriarchate as a legal entity, Turkish legal experts noted that this would require changes to Turkish law concerning vakufs, or religious endowments.
 Rehn criticises Moody's decision to dowgrade Greek credit ratingEU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn on Tuesday criticised a decision by Moody's Investors Service to downgrade Greece's credit rating.
Addressing a European Parliament session, the EU Commissioner said the decision was "strange and unfortunate" and stressed that Greece has adopted measures to restoring its public finances. "This decision comes at a time strange and unfortunate, following an agreement reached over a program of a macro-economic recovery between Greece, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund," Rehn said.
"The measures adopted by the Greek government reflect its commitment to reforming the statistics analysis system, consolidating public finances and restoring a sustainable long-term economic growth," the Commissioner said.
He added that the decision by Moody's "did not represent the performance of Greek bonds and to the various negative consequences which have been significantly limited following the adoption of the economic program".
 Moody's dowgrades major Greek banksMoody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Greece's largest banks citing doubts over the Greek government's ability to supporting the country's banking system.
The rating actions on the affected banks are as follows: National Bank of Greece (downgraded to Ba1/Not-Prime from Baa2/Prime-2), EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA (downgraded to Ba1/Not-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3), Alpha Bank AE (downgraded to Ba1/Not-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3), Agricultural Bank of Greece (downgraded to Ba2/Not-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3), Emporiki Bank of Greece SA (downgraded to Baa3/Prime-3 from Baa2/Prime-2), and General Bank of Greece SA (downgraded to Baa3/Prime-3 from Baa2/Prime-2). Moody's has also confirmed the long-term debt and deposit ratings of Piraeus Bank SA at Ba1 and Attica Bank SA at Ba2.
In addition, Moody's has placed the Baa2 long-term deposit rating of Marfin Egnatia Bank SA (MEB) on review with direction uncertain, while the short-term Prime-2 rating has been placed on review for possible downgrade.
Moody's notes that Tuesday's rating actions are not driven by a change in the agency's view on the Greek banks' intrinsic financial strengths, which are captured in the banks' stand-alone ratings, the BFSRs. Nor do they reflect a change in the rating agency's assumptions regarding the likelihood of systemic support for each bank. The rating agency added, however, that concerns about liquidity pressures and asset quality deterioration had led to some downward adjustments in the banks' stand-alone ratings earlier this year.
The credit rating agency downgraded Greek government bonds to junk status on Monday.
 Moody's decision to again downgrade Greek bonds scrutinisedLONDON (ANA-MPA)
A top Moody's analyst on Tuesday defended the international ratings agency's decision, a day earlier, to downgrade Greek government bonds by an eyebrow-raising four notches, Ba1 from A3.
Asked by the ANA-MPA on Tuesday to justify the downgrade when its own report stated that the possibility of a Greek default is less likely, Sarah Carlson, Moody's lead sovereign analyst for Greece, said:
"Ratings are moved when we think that a country's creditworthiness changes. The probability of default associated with a Ba1 rating is low (historically it has been around 7 percent over a five-year time horizon).
The decision was thoroughly criticised by top EU officials, including Commissioner Olli Rehn, as well as lambasted by the Greek government.
Queried on whether the downgrade merely rekindles the "spectre" of a possible sovereign debt default, Carlson said:
"The downgrade is perhaps a reminder that Greece has a significant economic recovery and debt challenge ahead of it, beyond the scope of the IMF/EU programme. I don't think it brings back the spectre because we say clearly that the risk of default is quite low."
In defending the agency's controversial decision to announce the downgrade now instead of waiting for a Troika (IMF, Commission, ECB) report in July on Greece's fulfilment of criteria envisioned in the eurozone-IMF bailout package, she said Moody's announced it would "change the rating once new policy measures had been announced and we had fully evaluated their impact on both growth and the fiscal position.
"We even said approximately when the downgrade would occur. Finally, we also indicated that any downgrade was likely to be multi-notch and might take the rating to sub-investment grade territory," Carlson concluded.
 ECB imposes additional 5-pct haircut on Greek bondsThe European Central Bank (ECB) will impose an additional 5.0 pct penalty on Greek government bonds used by banks as security for ECB funds, following a decision by Moody's Investors Service to cut the country's debt to junk status.
"An additional haircut of 5 pct will be applied," an ECB spokesman told Reuters.
The extra "haircut" means that commercial banks will receive less money in exchange for Greek bonds than they would if they used government bonds from any other eurozone nation.
The ECB has a sliding scale for assessing the risk of assets, with sovereign bonds at one end and asset-backed securities at the other.
The ECB said last month it would keep accepting Greek government bonds regardless of their credit rating, but haircuts announced in October 2008 still apply.
 Commercial rent prices down 10% in 2009, reportCommercial rent prices fell by 10 pct on average in 2009, while the percentage of available commercial space in the centre of Athens jumped to 16.8 pct in the second half of 2009, up from 15.1 pct in 2008, with the commercial real estate market suffering significantly from a decline in the retail business as a result of an economic recession, a survey by Hellastat announced on Tuesday.
The survey said average rent prices in manufacturing and logistic spaces fell but at a smaller rate, reflecting limited supply of high-quality spaces and relocation difficulties in the market. The return of the market ranged from 8.5 pct to 9.0 pct in 2009, Hellastat stated.
The house market was suffering in the past two years because of lower demand and oversupply (around 200,000 houses are available), resulting to lower building activity (-34 pct in the 2007-2009 period) and transactions dropping 43 pct over the same period.
The report said the outlook of the sector was not favourable since adverse economic conditions pressured both demand and supply in the market. Hellastat said it expected house prices to fall by 5-10 pct this year and stressed that home buyers focused more on smaller and used homes. It expected that home transactions would be 50 pct lower in 2010.
The report said total turnover of a sample of 300 enterprises in the sector, showed a 1.0 pct increase in 2009, after rising by 4.0 pct in the previous year. Net profits rose by an average 4.4 pct last year, after falling by 16 pct in 2008. Debt burden was stable in the last three years, although short-term bank borrowing was an essential problem for 86 of enterprises.
 Athens Metro strike, public transport stoppageAthens Metro employees will stage a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, while all public transport employees will hold a 5-hour work stoppage on Thursday from 11am to 4pm.
The Metro employees are striking in a show of support for some 285 contract colleagues whose contracts are expiring and are facing loss of their jobs, following a report by Public Administration Inspector Leandros Rakintzis that their contracts should not be renewed because they were hired illegally during the pre-election period.
The public transport work stoppage is in protest of the cutbacks in the employees' salaries and the changes planned to the social security system, as well as in pursuit of institutional demands.
 University entrance exam markers continue strikeThe highschool teachers union federation on Tuesday announced that markers for nationwide university entrance examinations will extend their strike until Friday, at least, having failed to reach agreement with the education ministry over proposed pay cuts.
The decision was made after a stormy four-hour session of OLME's board ending just before 16:00 in the afternoon. There will be another meeting on Thursday to decide what action to take in the following week, while teachers intend to protest at the finance ministry on Wednesday.
 Cruise ship to dock at Thessaloniki this summerThe cruise ship "Ocean Majesty", with a capacity of 1,000 passengers, will dock at the seaport of Thessaloniki during the summer season, beginning June 25.
Its vessel's voyage will start from Izmir, Turkey and will arrive in Thessaloniki after stopovers to several Aegean islands, the Thessaloniki Port Authority S.A. announced on Monday.
 Stocks end moderately lowerThe stocks market reacted relatively calmly to a Moody's decision a day earlier to downgrade Greek bonds. The composite index in the Athens Stock Exchange fell 0.69 pct -ending a five-day rally- to end at 1,530.04 points, with turnover remaining a low 111.170 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 1.05 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.02 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.09 pct. The Media (3.52 pct) and Telecoms (2.56 pct) sectors scored gains, while Food (2.13 pct) and Constructions (2.11 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 91 to 83 with another 58 issues unchanged. Nutriart (15 pct), Edrasi (11.11 pct), Varvaressos (10 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (13.67 pct), Epsilon Net (10 pct) and Medicon (9.82 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.34%
Personal & Household: +2.54%
Raw Materials: -0.96%
Travel & Leisure: -0.43%
Food & Beverages: -2.13%
Financial Services: +1.27%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.62
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.54
HBC Coca Cola: 17.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.06
National Bank of Greece: 10.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.14
Bank of Piraeus: 3.95
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond markets rose to 109 million euros on Tuesday, of which 52 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 57 million were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2015) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 21 million euros. The yield spread between the Greek and German 10-year benchmark bonds widened sharply to 651 basis points, form 572 bps on Monday. The Greek bond yielded 9.17 pct and the German Bund 2.66 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. 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.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.32 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover jumping to 121.839 million euros Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 27,306 contracts worth 99.080 million euros, with 32,428 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 52,563 contracts worth 22.759 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Ellaktor's contracts (8,266), followed by Eurobank (2,324), MIG (7,095), OTE (6,513), Piraeus Bank (965), National Bank (6,802), Alpha Bank (5,326), Intracom (2,845), Marfin Popular Bank (3,390), GEK (3,150), Cyprus Bank (1,406) and Hellenic Postbank (618).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.235
Pound sterling 0.838
Danish kroner 7.497
Swedish kroner 9.698
Japanese yen 112.66
Swiss franc 1.411
Norwegian kroner 7.914
Canadian dollar 1.273
Australian dollar 1.441
 16th Kalamata International Dance FestivalThe Kalamata International Dance Festival is the crown event of the year for the city's International Dance Centre, which was founded in the spring of 1995 for the purpose of supporting and promoting the art of dance via research, education, and artistic activities and creativity.
Currently in its sixteenth year as an active presence in the Greek dance scene, thanks to the support of the local authorities, the Kalamata Festival has earned itself a special place on the festival map of the Mediterranean South, and built bridges to international dance creativity.
A number of influential figures, whose work is shaping the history of contemporary dance, made their first Greek appearance at Kalamata, while the Festival has also taken care to promote and support Greek creativity in the field by commissioning works from talented Greek choreographers and supporting new companies in their experimental explorations.
Another integral part of the Festival are the seminars and talks aimed at dance students and professions alike, while other parallel events include publications and video dance productions.
From the very start, the Festival was programmed with two considerations in mind: the wide range of trends in contemporary dance and the ever-larger audiences this art-form attracts. Today, sixteen years down the line, every year sees a widely-varied audience enthusiastically respond to the call of the Festival.
Kalamata, the city of dance, is set to host its 16th annual programme of events between the 15th and 22nd of July, 2010.
 Arcturos unveils findings of study on brown bearsA research study monitoring Greek brown bear populations has revealed two distinct genetic sub-groups living in neighbouring regions, creating something of a puzzle for scientists at loss to explain why they don't intermingle. The study, unveiled during a press conference on Tuesday, combines satellite/mobile phone tracking and DNA analysis to gather information on a population of some 300 individuals.
According to the head of the study run by the non-governmental bear conservation group Arcturos, Alexandros Karamanlidis, the bears on the Grammos mountain range have a different genetic imprint from those in the Askios region of central Macedonia.
"The bears of the two regions have no external differences, only genetic ones. They are essentially two sub-groups, with a different genetic profile, and we are now trying to discover why they haven't become one," he said.
He suggested that an unsuitable habitat and the Siatista-Krystallopigi road, where several traffic accidents involving bears have occurred, may be a barrier to genetic communication between the two groups. There was also a possibility that the more recent Askios population may have come from another area.
The research programme has been conducted by Arcturos in collaboration with a mobile phone provider since 2008 and involves fitting captured bears with GPS-GSM collars and using the mobile phone network and genetic analysis to track their movements.
Among others, it has shown that the brown bear population has grown since 2000, with the minimum number now greater than 300 individuals. It has also revealed differences in the behavioural patterns of male and female bears, with males covering greater distances and appearing more tolerant of human activity, coming closer to inhabited areas.
The programme is currently underway in Grammos, Grevena, Florina, Kastoria and Kozani.
 Japanese Embassy essay competitionA trip to Japan will be the prize for the winner of an essay competition organized by the Japanese Embassy in Athens.
The essay titled: "What would you do to strengthen the relationship between Japan and your country or the EU?" should be written in English and participants should be Greek nationals aged 25-35.
The essays must be submitted no later than July 14, 2010.
For more information visit: www.gr.emb-japan.go.jp <http://www.gr.emb-japan.go.jp> or send email to: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>.
 Fair on WednesdayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 22C and 39C. Fair in Athens, with variable 2-3 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 25C to 39C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 24C to 36C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe medical supplies shortage in Greek state hospitals, Jean-Claude Trichet's (European Central Bank-ECB presi-dent) encouraging statements and Greece's new downgrading by Moody's, and the EU-ECB-IMF troika's warning for high inflation and long-lasting recession dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "National Health System (ESY) paralyzed - Unbelievable condition in hospitals, patients at risk".
APOGEVMATINI: "The patients in God's hands - National Health System left without gauzes, blood and medicines".
AVGHI: "Unscrupulous interests and government strangling the National Health System".
AVRIANI: "Moody's foresees 'sudden death' for Greek economy".
ELEFTHEROS: "Former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis: 'They will not dictate to me what to do - I decide when I will speak'."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Lives in danger in hospitals".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Troika sees the light - They now acknowledge that we cannot bear another cutback in salaries".
ESTIA: "A generation leaves ruins behind it - It has spent more than it has produced".
ETHNOS: "Civil servants' relief fund in the 'red'."
IMERISSIA: "New suspicious quadruple blow from Moody's - Sudden downgrading of Greek economy".
KATHIMERINI: "Hope that the GDP reduction will be less than 4 percent - New downgrading by Moody's".
LOGOS: "Troika's warnings for ....high inflation and long-lasting recession".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Moody's heavy downgrading of the Greek economy took us by surprise".
NIKI: "Scandals and recession are leading the political system to a crash".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Condition in hospitals is tragic".
TA NEA: "Four bravos from Olli Rehn (EU Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs), Jean-Claude Trichet (ECB president) Josef Ackermann (Deutsche Bank CEO) and troika inspectors, and new provocation by Moody's".
TO VIMA: "Moody's plays dirty".
VRADYNI: "Government and troika are devastating the social state".
 Security Council renews UNFICYP mandateNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN Security Council, in a resolution with which it renews the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
(UNFICYP) for a further six months, welcomes the progress made so far in negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus problem and the prospect of further progress in the near future towards a comprehensive and durable settlement that this has created.
The Security Council also urges full exploitation of this opportunity, including by intensifying the momentum of negotiations, preserving the current atmosphere of trust and goodwill, and engaging in the process in a constructive and open manner.
In its resolution, the Security Council ''welcomes the analysis of developments on the ground over the last six months in the Secretary-General's reports, in accordance with his mandate,'' and also welcomes ''the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the prospect of further progress in the near future towards a comprehensive and durable settlement that this has created.''
It ''urges full exploitation of this opportunity, including by intensifying the momentum of negotiations, preserving the current atmosphere of trust and goodwill, and engaging in the process in a constructive and open manner,'' and also urges ''the implementation of confidence-building measures, and looks forward to agreement on and implementation of further such steps, including the opening of other crossing points.''
The Security Council ''reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions, expresses its full support for UNFICYP and decides to extend its mandate for a further period ending 15 December 2010,'' and furthermore ''calls on both sides to continue to engage, as a matter of urgency and while respecting UNFICYP's mandate, in consultations with UNFICYP on the demarcation of the buffer zone, and on the United Nations 1989 aide-memoire, with a view to reaching early agreement on outstanding issues.''
It also ''calls on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore in Strovilia the military status quo which existed there prior to 30 June 2000.''
Furthermore, the Security Council ''requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of this resolution, including on contingency planning in relation to the settlement, by 1 December 2010 and to keep the Security Council updated on events as necessary.
It also ''welcomes the efforts being undertaken by UNFICYP to implement the Secretary-General's zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including the conduct of pre-deployment awareness training, and to take disciplinary action and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel.''
The Security Council furthermore ''decides to remain seized of the matter.''
In its resolution, the Security Council notes that the Government of Cyprus is agreed that, in view of the prevailing conditions on the island, it is necessary to keep UNFICYP beyond 15 June 2010.
It also echoes the Secretary-General's firm belief that the responsibility for finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves, stressing that there now exists a unique opportunity to make decisive progress in a timely fashion, and reaffirming the primary role of the UN in assisting the parties to bring the Cyprus conflict and division of the island to a comprehensive and durable settlement.
The Security Council commends the political leadership shown by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, and warmly welcomes the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the leaders' joint statements including those of 23 May and 1 July 2008.
It strongly urges the leaders to increase the momentum in the negotiations to ensure the full exploitation of this opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Furthermore, it emphasises the importance attached by the international community of all parties engaging fully, flexibly and constructively in the negotiations, echoes the Secretary-General's view that a solution is well within reach, and looks forward to decisive progress in the near future building on the progress made to date consistent with the hope expressed by the two sides on 21 December 2009 that, if possible, 2010 would be the year of solution.
The Security Council welcomes the intention of the Secretary General to keep the Council informed of further developments and progress, and noting the Secretary-General's intention to submit a report in November 2010 on the state of the process, and also welcomes the implementation of some of the confidence-building measures announced by the leaders, and calls for a renewed effort to implement the remaining measures and for agreement on and implementation of further steps to build trust between the communities.
It reaffirms the importance of continued crossings of the Green Line by Cypriots, encourages the opening by mutual agreement of other crossing points, welcomes the continuing construction work towards opening the Limnitis/ Yesilirmak crossing point and urges implementation of the second phase of the restoration of the Ledra Street crossing.
Convinced of the many important benefits for all Cypriots that would flow from a comprehensive and durable Cyprus settlement, the Security Council encourages both sides clearly to explain these benefits, as well as the need for increased flexibility and compromise in order to secure them, to both communities well in advance of any eventual referenda.
It highlights the supportive role the international community will continue to play in helping the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to exploit fully the current opportunity, takes note of the assessment of the Secretary-General that the security situation on the island and along the Green Line remains stable, and urges all sides to avoid any action which could lead to an increase in tension, undermine the good progress achieved so far, or damage the goodwill on the island.
In its resolution, the Security Council also refers to progress made in proceeding with demining activities, the activities of the Committee on Missing Persons, bicommunal contacts and events, and the work of Special Adviser Alexander Downer and Special Representative Taye Brook Zerihoun, and welcomes the appointment of Lisa Buttenheim as the new Special Representative.
It also echoes the Secretary General's gratitude to the Government of Cyprus and the Government of Greece for their voluntary contributions to the funding of UNFICYP, and his request for further voluntary contributions from other countries and organisations.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Leaders discuss property issueNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The property issue has been discussed during Tuesday's meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and T/c leader, Dervis Eroglu, in the framework of the direct negotiation process aimed at finding a mutually accepted solution to the Cyprus problem.
As Lisa Buttenheim, the newly appointed UNSG's Special Representative in Cyprus and Head of the UN Peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) said, the meeting of the two leaders lasted two hours. The leaders agreed to meet again on 23rd of June, 9th of July, 22nd of July and 28th of July. All the meetings will begin at 10 am.
The representatives of the two leaders, Presidential Com-missioner George Iacovou and T/c leader's advisor, Kudret Ozersay, will continue to meet, she added. Iacovou and Ozersay will also visit Limnitis area to observe the progress of the work.
Asked if at the coming meetings the leaders will continue the discussion on the property issue, Buttenheim said that this question should be raised to the two leaders. Upon a question if they were any new proposals in this meeting, she said that she can not come on what it was discussed but "it was in a friendly atmosphere".
The last meeting on June 3, 2010, was postponed at Christofias' initiative, after statements by Eroglu who questioned the basis of the talks.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began peace talks in September 2008. Talks now continue with the President and Eroglu.
President: Positions submitted by two sides
The two sides submitted their positions, President Christofias has said referring to his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot Leader Deervis Eroglou on Tuesday.
In his statements following his return to the Presidential Palace from the venue where the talks take place, President Christofias said "we have started. Both sides submitted their positions".
He added that the meetings will continue on dates announced "both at the level of the leaders and advisors".
Asked whether the positions submitted on Tuesday are new ones, he said that "today, the two sides have reiterated their positions".
In response to another question, he said that advisers to the two leaders will visit the Limnitis area ''to review the work carried out".
Asked whether he has raised the issue of territorial adjustments and settlers or he intends to do so, he replied: ''of course I have raised it and I will continue to do so".
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