|Saturday, 18 August 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 22 July 2010 Issue No: 3547
 PM Papandreou holds talks with Israeli President PeresJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/P.Haritos)
Greek Prime Minsiter George Papandreou held talks here on Wednesday afternoon with Israeli President Shimon Peres who expressed his support to the Greek government's handlings regarding the state of the economy.
"I wish Greece's exit from this crisis and never return to the point where you found yourselves," Peres told Papandreou.
"I wish you the end of the crisis to be a new start, Greece and Israel are now more than ever close to each other, historically, politically and in many other sectors, while we are every day assessing the improvement and development of our relations," the Israeli president also pointed out.
Responding to Peres, Papandreou thanked him for his wishes, adding that the crisis "is a challenge for us to overcome it and win."
"We managed to take a series of difficult and painful measures thanks to the support by the people. Having taken all necessary measures for containing and cotrolling the public debt and having overcome the difficult part, we can now hope for the better," the Greek premier said.
"I am happy to be here...I am here in my double capacity, as President of the Socialist International and as Prime Minister of Greece. But the main thing is that for the first time a Greek Prime Minister visits Israel, since its recognition. It is important that we develop the bilateral cooperation, the regional cooperation in the broader region of Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and there are many issues on which we can cooperate in order to promote peace," Papandreou also said.
Immediately after his talks with Peres, the prime minister visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and met with the Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos III, who decorated Papandreou with Cross of the Holy Sepulchre.
"We offer this Cross and we wish success in your task," Patriarch Theophilos said.
 Papandreou arrives in Jerusalem for two-day visitJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/P.Haritos)
Papandreou arrived in Jerusalem for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Wednesday, carrying out the first visit by a Greek prime minister to Israel since the country was recognised by Greece.
Among the issues to be discussed during the visit is the situation in Gaza and ways to find a final a viable solution to the humanitarian problem, the Palestinian problem, the prospects created by the indirect negotiations and the possibility for direct talks between the two sides, the situation in Lebanon and the general climate in the Middle East.
Taking part in the mission is Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and government spokesman George Petalotis.
Papandreou also met on Wednesday with Holocaust survivors of Greek descent that are now Israeli citizens.
The Greek premier's programme on Thursday includes a visit to the Holocaust Museum, a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who will host an official dinner in his honour, a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and a meeting with Israel's main opposition party leader Tzipi Livni that will end his round of contacts in Israel.
His programme in the Palestinian Territories and Ramallah includes a visit to the Yasser Arafat Mausoleum and a meeting with the Palestinian Authority's prime minister Salam Fayyad to be followed by an official dinner given by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
 PM confers with Cyprus President en route to Israel, PalestineNICOSIA (ANA-MPA)
Greek prime minister George Papandreou on Wednesday called on Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to seriously study proposals recently submitted by Cyprus president Demetris Christofias to the UN-brokered negotiations for a Cyprus solution, in statements to the press after a meeting with Christofias during a brief stopover by the former at Larnaca Airport en route to Israel and Palestine.
Papandreou said that the Cypriot president, with the package of proposals he submitted, "is one step ahead in the efforts for resolving the Cyprus issue".
Papandreou, who also holds the foreign affairs portfolio, reiterated that the Cyprus issue is a top priority of Greek foreign policy, adding that a solution to the Cyprus issue is a condition for the full normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations.
He also reiterated that the Cyprus solution reached must reunite the island, put an end to the Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island republic, and be founded on the UN resolutions and the principles of the EU.
Christofias, in turn, said that he and Papandreou decided coordination between Athens and Nicosia, at diplomatic level, for advancing the proposals he has placed on the negotiations table.
 Samaras visits Ioannina, stresses ND plan for exiting crisisMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras visited the headquarters of Ioannina prefecture in northwestern Greece on Wednesday, where he met Ioannina Prefect Alexandros Kahrimanis.
In statements at the prefecture, he focused mainly on ND's programme for the economy and said that this would help ensure a faster exit from the economic crisis while demanding fewer sacrifices from the Greek people for less time and with better results than the current memorandum signed by PASOK.
"This memorandum, for us, demolishes many of the expectations the Greek people have for their future," he added.
According to Samaras, the Greek people were currently being asked to make unprecedented sacrifices, both in terms of their severity and duration, which would not be rewarded as they should by the Greek State.
Samaras also officially named Kahrimanis as ND's official candidate for the Epirus regional authority and wished him good luck.
He is due to visit the Ioannina municipality on Thursday for talks with Ioannina Mayor Nikos Gondas, who will also be a candidate in the November local government elections.
 ND leader addresses supporters in IoanninaMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras addressed on Wednesday evening supporters in the northwestern city of Ioannina.
Samaras referred to the presence of two Turkish vessels in the continental shelf of Greek islands, terming it "all but innocent" and called on Prime Minister George Papandreou to immediately brief the country's Council of Foreign Policy and the Parliament's standing defence and foreign affairs committee on the issue.
The ND leader also spoke of his party's proposals regarding the economy, saying that the proposals opened a road "with less sacrifices than those proposed by the ruling PASOK" and "better results".
 Gov't to cancel pay raises above levels agreed with EU, IMFLabour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday reiterated plans for legislation that will prevent labour arbitration mechanisms from awarding private-sector pay raises above those agreed with the EU and the IMF for the emergency bail-out package given to Greece.
The minister cited as justification the national general collective labour agreement signed by the unions and the main employer groups, which calls for a freeze on wage raises in 2010.
He had originally unveiled his intentions on Tuesday, in response to decisions by the Organisation for Mediation and Arbitration that had awarded pay raises ranging from 1.5 percent to 3 percent in 2010 for seven types of employees.
Loverdos stressed that the country was making a collective effort to combat the crisis and stressed Greece's obligations in terms of the memorandum of agreement it has signed with the EU and IMF, noting that the government had an obligation to defend this.
 Health system upgrade bill debated in parliamentParliament on Tuesday night passed in-principle (first reading) a health ministry bill on upgrading the National Health System (ESY), with the votes of the ruling PASOK party MPs.
The opposition parties voted against, although main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputies voted in favor of certain individual provisions (Articles).
Health minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou said that it was the state's duty to keep the ESY standing in this difficult conjuncture and to remedy inequalities, solve problems and open up a door to the future as regards the system's development and operation.
ND rapporteur Narios Salmas criticised the bill as dealing with matters of secondary and minor importance, while the plethora of Ministerial and Presidential Acts required for its implementation "render it inapplicable", while Communist Party of Greece (KKE) parliamentary spokesman Haralambos Haralambos charged that the bill "materialises the vision of the creation of businesses in the field of health, with the working people, depending on their buying power, purchasing the product that their pocket can afford".
Responding, Xenoyiannakopoulou said that the government was called on to solve a difficult equation, that of facing the country's fiscal derailment while at the same time backing the ESY "which is at the core of the social state".
She noted that health sector expenditure posted a 16 percent reduction in the first five months of the year, falling to pre-2007 levels, while the government's hiring in the health sector, at a time when hiring in the rest of the public sector has been frozen, was proof that the government was treading public health as a top priority issue.
Xenoyiannakopoulou added that her ministry's next bill will deal with primary healthcare, noting that the bill, to be tabled in the second half of the year, will have to do with the training, quality and evluation of medical personnel, and will be followed by a bill concerning the rules of operation and supervision of the private health system.
 Former premier's aide released after posting 400,000 euros bailYiannis Angelou, the influential aide of former prime minister Costas Karamanlis, was released on bail of 400,000 euros and forbidden from leaving the country after testifying for several hours to special examining magistrate Irene Kalou concerning the Vatopedi monastery land-swaps case.
Angelou testified on Tuesday and this was the highest amount of bail imposed on any of the others accused in the affair, who have so far been asked to post bail ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 euros.
The former premier's aide has been accused of moral instigation of breach of faith.
 ND protests treatment of Angelou in Vatopedi land swaps caseMain opposition New Democracy was harshly critical on Wednesday of the high bond imposed on former premier's aide Yiannis Angelou by the examining magistrate conducting the inquiry into the Vatopedi Monastery land swaps with the Greek State.
"The treatment reserved for Yiannis Angelou violates the basic principles of law and criminal justice. In any case, what everyone now understands is that PASOK is not interesting in uncovering the truth nor in investigating it fully," ND press spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said when asked to comment on the decision.
He accused the ruling party of trying to misdirect public opinion and "fabricate" guilty parties in order to divert attention "from the huge mistakes and omissions of its government".
The decision was also strongly criticised as political by ND's shadow minister for justice Anastasios Nerantzis, who accused PASOK of "framing" the main opposition party and said that there was no new evidence to justify a change of position in the case.
He also protested at the high bond and travel restrictions imposed on Angelou, saying that this "went above the purposes of the law, a treatment fitting to confessed or multiply proven offences and which concerns other defendants for other crimes".
 Deputy FM Kouvelis speaks to ReutersGreek Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis said that Greece has invited Libya's sovereign wealth fund to invest in energy, real estate and privatisations of state firms.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Kouvelis said that earlier this year Greek officials had met executives from the Libyan Investment Authority, the north African country's sovereign wealth fund.
"We had explained to them what the investment opportunities in Greece are these days," he said.
"These investments opportunities range from energy to tourism to real estate to also the privatisation of public companies. There is quite a lot of discussion about that," Kouvelis told Reuters, adding that the Greek government did not discuss any loans.
 Strong barbs against Supreme Court justice from ZorbasThe former head of Greece's independent authority against money-laundering George Zorbas testified for nine hours in Parliament concerning the structured bonds transactions by Greek state insurance funds. His testimony included strong barbs against former Supreme Court chief prosecutor George Sanidas and behaviour that he said had obstructed his own investigation.
Zorbas began testifying before a Parliamentary examination committee on Tuesday morning and continued until late on Tuesday evening, fully standing by his authority's initial reports of an orchestrated plan behind the purchase of the 'toxic' bonds by the funds involved. He particularly emphasised the actions of Sanidas and appeals court prosecutor George Koliokostas in returning his reports on the affair as "not lawful" by citing technicalities.
"At the same time as they returned by reports as not lawful, these were selectively leaked to the press," Zorbas said, noting that even the heads of the state insurance funds involved were aware of their contents.
"I had the impression that there was a deliberate withholding of evidence by the prosecutors dealing with the investigation. There was a deliberate effort by the prosecutors to not reveal the truth," he assserted at another point.
He also strongly criticised Sanidas for failing to promptly request that the accounts of North Asset Management executive George Papamarkakis in the Cayman islands be frozen. According to Zorbas, Sanidas had refused to act on confidential information from the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) that the company's accounts could be frozen in spring 2007.
According to Zorbas, Papamarkakis's commission was in the region of 19.4 million euros and much would have been revealed if his accounts had been opened promptly.
He was also closely questioned about the decision to remove him as head of the authority in the midst of his investigation into the structured bonds affair, saying that the reason cited was an "inability to cooperate" but that the decision necessarily brought his investigation into where the money had gone to an end.
Zorbas stressed, however, that he was unable to add anything further evidence than that contained in his existing reports while noting that the Greek Parliament was at last able to see and judge their contents.
"Neither I nor anyone else can at this stage speak about existing evidence. The evidence will be offered by a criminal court. I refer to incidents that made an impression on me and hampered my own investigation. Beyond this I have said nothing else. But I did say that justice should have completed this investigation which, whether we wanted this or not, has taken on the dimensions of a political scandal," he said.
Criticism was also levelled against the Bank of Greece and its failure to exercise the supervisory powers given to it under the law, a failure that Zorbas attributed to "indifference and complacency" of central bank agencies. He also questioned the bank's professed inability to evaluate the real market value of the bonds purchased by the state insurance funds, saying that Greek justice should have pressed the Bank of Greece to provide an estimate.
According to Zorbas, the specific investment was also too risky an investment to conform with the provisions of Greek law for investing social insurance fund reserves.
"A social insurance fund is not a societe anonyme company that seeks profit in all directions. The reserves are needed for people's pensions. It cannot carry out high-risk actions and we have laws that state this. These laws were violated in ways that are not inexplicable but are entirely unacceptable. And several people are responsible for this," Zorbas underlined.
The issue now at stake was to find out what had happened to the huge commission given to North Asset Management, Zorbas added.
"Did Papamarkakis keep it all? I don't think so," he concluded, noting that the case had now been dragging on in the hands of justice for nearly four years.
In three reports on the affair compiled and released in 2007, Zorbas had referred to clear signs that finance ministry officials were aware of the "bond's trading route abroad" and also that the fund chairmen that had approved the investments were "were neither inexperienced nor ignorant".
The first report released on August 7, 2007 concerned a 280-million-euro structured bond deal by the civil servants supplementary pension fund TEADY. The second and third dealt with structured bond deals made by the main pension fund for Athens journalists and media personnel TSPEATH and the pension fund TEAYFE, which were released on December 14, 2007 and May 13, 2008, respectively.
The first report concludes that "the acts of purchase and sale of bonds on behalf of TEADY appear damaging" and "the bonds resulted in damage to the assets of the insurance funds".
Concerning the transactions for the 130-million-euro bond deal by TEAYFE, the Zorbas report referred to evidence of "planning and scheming" and indications of the involvement of financial companies whose executives "had a wide circle of highly-placed acquaintances".
Regarding the second 130-million-euro structured bond acquired by TSPEATH, the Zorba report claims "sufficient indications of a breach of faith to criminal degree in its issue and sale transaction" as well as "clear signs of bribery and bribe-taking".
 Draft bill for lifting cabotage tabled in ParliamentA draft bill that will finally lift cabotage in Greek seas and allow non-EU flagged cruiseships to call at Greek ports was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The government anticipates that lifting cabotage rules will help develop maritime tourism in the country and also boost Greek firms linked to the sea cruise market.
The draft bill strives to make it possible for its provisions to apply during the current tourism period, with procedures designed to allow the signature of contracts between the state and shipping companies in just 30 days.
The draft bill regulates issues concerning the employment and insurance of Greek seamen hired on cruise ships, as well as collecting a special levy for each passenger to be paid into a seamen's unemployment and health fund, investments by shipping companies and terms for the extension or early termination of a contract. It also stipulates that the precise content of contracts will be decided through a joint decision of the finance and culture and tourism ministries.
For Greek seamen, it provides that they will work under the terms envisaged by the collective labour agreement for their sector and will continue to be insured with their current social insurance fund, in accordance with Greek legislature.
Early termination of the contract between the state and shipowner can be initiated by the state if a violation of the terms of the contract is observed, while there are also terms that allow the shipowner to initiate termination.
The draft bill stipulates that the ship carrying out cruises must transport more than 49 passengers and that the duration of the cruise must be at least 48 hours, with a minimum 12-hour stay in the port from which the cruise begins. They must also carry out a round trip, beginning and ending the cruise at the same port.
Other conditions for allowing vessels of third countries to call at Greek ports are that the country in question allows EU and EEA-flagged cruise ships to dock at its own ports and that they first sign a three-year contract with the Greek State. Concerning the special levy for each passenger, the bill provides that this will be reduced by 7 percent for every Greek port that the ship calls at during the cruise, with the exception of the port of embarkation.
Article four of the bill provides for the issue of temporary permits from the economy, competitiveness and shipping industry to shipping firms carrying out cruises until the contracts with the state are signed by December 31, 2010 at the latest.
 Greek exports to Black Sea region up 2.4 pct in 2005-2009Greek exports to countries in the Black Sea region grew by an annual average rate of 2.4 pct in the 2005-2009 period, faster than total Greek exports (0.1 pct), while imports were up 1.86 pct almost equally up compared with total Greek imports (1.95 pct) in that period, the Panhellenic Exporters' Association said on Wednesday.
In a report, based on provisional data by the Hellenic Statistical Authority for the first four months of 2010, Greek exports to Black Sea countries grew 8.3 pct to 1.017 billion euros, with Greek exports growing 2.1 pct in general, reflecting mainly higher exports to Turkey (35.4 pct) and Russia (27.2 pct).
Imports from Black Sea countries fell 31 pct in the January-April period to 1.319 billion euros, from 1.912 billion euros in the same period last year, reflecting a 56.7 pct drop in imports from Russia, a 41.4 pct fall in imports from Ukraine and a 12.6 pct fall in imports from Turkey. Greek imports fell by 15.8 pct in the four-month period.
Despite these developments, Greece maintained a trade deficit of 301 million euros in its trade transactions with Black Sea countries, although down from a deficit of 972 million euros last year.
Exports grew mostly towards Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia (including Montenegro and Kosovo), with industrial products accounting for more than 60 pct of exports to the region through the 2005-2009 period, while agricultural products accounted for 11 pct (2006) to 20 pct (2009).
 Greece submits National Renewable Energy Action Plan to EU CommissionGreece hopes to invest 16 billion euros in renewable energy sources (RES), out of a total investment in the energy sector of 22 billion euros, based on the National Renewable Energy Action Plan that it submitted to the European Commission on Wednesday.
An Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry announcement said the action plan includes estimates for the structure of the energy sector and measures to increase RES penetration so that it meets targets under which RES will contribute 20 percent of total energy consumption by 2020.
The ministry also notes that the EU will start imposing a carbon emission trading rights cost on power production using fossil fuels as of 2012, which the plan will avoid and thus save the country 1.3 billion euros over the next decade.
After improvements that may arise after consultation with the Commission, the plan will be the basis for a ministerial decision regulating RES penetration in the country's energy balance. This will be re-evaluated and updated every two years to keep step with market developments, improved technology and demand.
 Construction costs up in Q2The Price Index of Work Categories in Construction of New Residential Buildings and the Construction Cost Index of New Residential Buildings increased by 0.3% and 2.1%, respectively, in the 2nd quarter of 2010 compared with the 2nd quarter of 2009, according to figures released on Wednesday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
The Price Index of Work Categories in Construction of New Residential Buildings in the 2nd quarter 2010 compared with the 2nd quarter 2009 recorded a rise of 0.3%. The previous year the index decreased by 0.3%.
The Price Index of Work Categories in the 2nd quarter 2010 compared with the 1st quarter 2010 recorded a rise of 0.1%. The previous year the index remained unchanged.
The twelve-month average index, from July 2009 to June 2010, compared with the same index from July 2008 to June 2009, decreased by 0.3%. The previous year the twelve-month average index increased by 2.5%.
The Price Index of Construction Cost of New Residential Buildings in the 2nd quarter 2010 compared with the 2nd quarter 2009 recorded a rise of 2.1%. The previous year the index decreased by 0.6%.
The Price Index of Construction Cost in the 2nd quarter 2010 compared with the 1st quarter 2010 recorded a rise of 0.9%. The previous year the index remained unchanged.
The twelve-month average index, from July 2009 to June 2010, compared with the same index from July 2008 to June 2009, increased by 0.2%. The previous year the twelve-month average index increased by 3.0%
 Construction material costs rise 3.4pct in JuneThe Material Costs Index in Construction of New Residential Buildings recorded a rise of 3.4% in June 2010 compared with June 2009, according to figures released on Wednesday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTATE). The previous year the index decreased by 2.8%.
The Material Costs Index in June 2010 compared with May 2010 remained unchanged. The previous year the index increased by 0.1%.
The twelve-month average index, from July 2009 to June 2010, compared with the same index of the period from July 2008 to June 2009, increased by 0.6%. The previous year the twelve-month average index increased by 3.4%.
 Greek oil market changed drastically in 2009, survey showsThe domestic oil products market witnessed the most drastic redistribution of powers and earnings last year, and this trend continues in 2010, a survey by Stat Bank said on Wednesday.
The survey, based on the 85 largest oil producing and trading enterprises in Greece, showed that total net earnings by the two refinery enterprises in the country (Hellenic Petroleum and Motor Oil) totaled 350 million euros in 2009, after a loss of 42.7 million euros in 2008. The refinery industry reported a profit margin of 5.7 pct, while oil trading companies -despite a rise in profitability- reported a profit margin of 0.68 pct.
A change in refineries' credit policy from April 2009 -drastically cutting the credit time horizon to enterprises- was the main reason for the redistribution of powers in the domestic oil markets. Refineries cut credit times from 40 to 20 days, pressuring petrol stations enterprises. The survey showed that around 1,100 petrol stations were currently facing serious problems or have closed around the country. The market suffered additionally from a three rounds of rises in a special fuel consumption tax and two VAT rises. The oil market recorded an 18-19 pct decline in sales volumes in the first half of the year.
Refineries sales fell 32.8 pct reflecting a sharp fall in international oil prices in 2009, while sales of the 76 largest oil trading companies fell 16 pct and profits jumped by 77 pct. Sales totaled 11.5 billion euros, while profits totaled 78.36 million euros. The survey concluded that deals by Hellenic Petroleum and Motor Oil to acquire the retail sales networks of BP and Shell in Greece, respectively, will change more drastically the landscape in the domestic fuel market.
 Publishing sector reports higher profitability in 2009The book business was hit by the economic crisis, with total revenues falling in 2009, a report by ANA-MPA said on Wednesday. The report, based on the financial results published by the 15 largest publishing firms in the country, showed that revenues fell by 1.8 pct in 2009 to 118.48 million euros, from 120.62 million euros in 2008. Simultaneously, total pre-tax earnings rose by 5.82 million euros compared with 2008, reflecting improved profitability, while net earnings rose to 4.42 million euros in 2009 from 3.03 million euros in 2008.
Patakis Publications reported a 4.5 pct decline in sales and a 33 pct drop in net earnings in 2009.
Livanis Publications reported a 4.4 pct rise in sales and a 82.4 pct drop in net earnings.
Savvalas Publications reported an 11.5 pct decline in sales and a 60.4 pct rise in net earnings.
Psihogios Publications reported a 29.7 pct rise in sales and a 94 pct jump in net earnings.
Malliaris Publications reported a 0.7 pct decline in sales and lower net earnings.
Kastaniotis Publications reported a 15.1 pct decline and lower net earnings.
Hellenic Letters reported a 21.7 pct decline in sales and net losses.
Modern Times reported an 1.7 pct rise in sales and net losses.
Stamoulis Publications reported a 2.8 pct rise in sales and a 51.1 pct drop in net earnings.
Fytrakis Publications reported a 50.3 pct jump in sales and net losses.
Minoan Publications reported a 2.8 pct rise in sales and a 24.6 pct rise in net earnings.
Kedros Publications reported reported a 23.1 pct decline in sales and a 25 pct fall in net earnings.
Oceanis Publications reported a 7.3 pct decline in sales and a 44.8 pct drop in net earnings.
K. Papadopoulos reported a 9.4 pct decline in sales and a 98 pct jump in net earnings.
Harlenic Publications reported an 1.2 pct decline in sales and a 10.1 pct rise in net earnings.
 Greek stocks end lowerGreek stocks ended moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, unable to hold on to the early significant gains. The composite index of the market fell 0.54 pct to end at 1,570.59 points after rising as much as 1.44 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 74.998 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 0.59 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.32 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 0.46 pct down. The Media (2.07 pct) and Personal Products (1.54 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food (1.64 pct) and Telecommunications (1.62 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 77 to 73 with another 57 issues unchanged. Akritas (20 pct), Mouzakis (10.71 pct) and Technical Publications (10 pct) were to gainers, while Mohlos (14.29 pct), Sfakianakis (9.38 pct) and Neorio (9.09 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.10%
Personal & Household: +1.54%
Raw Materials: -0.18%
Travel & Leisure: -0.34%
Food & Beverages: -1.64%
Financial Services: -1.10%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.83
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.50
HBC Coca Cola: 17.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.02
National Bank of Greece: 10.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.10
Bank of Piraeus: 4.33
 Greek bond market closingTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 174 million euros on Wednesday, of which 103 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 71 million euros were sell orders. The three-month Treasury bill issue was the most heavily traded security of the day with a turnover of 77 million euros. The Greek 10-year benchmark bond yielded 10.51 pct, up from 10.49 pct on Tuesday.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.40 pct, the six-month rate 1.13 pct, the three-month rate 0.88 pct and the one-month rate 0.63 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 36.161 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,440 contracts worth 28.576 million euros, with 19,389 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,382 contracts worth 7.585 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,817), followed by Eurobank (782), MIG (911), OTE (471), Piraeus Bank (420), Alpha Bank (2,161), Marfin Popular Bank (653), Mytilineos (380), Hellenic Postbank (862) and ATEbank (676).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.292
Pound sterling 0.846
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.535
Japanese yen 112.41
Swiss franc 1.354
Norwegian kroner 8.077
Canadian dollar 1.339
Australian dollar 1.460
 Wildfire at Makrohorafo on SamosThe fire brigade on the island of Samos on Wednesday said that it was battling to contain a fire that had simultaneously broken out at five different locations in the Makrohorafo region at 15:30 in the afternoon, for reasons as yet unknown.
The fire spread quickly due to strong winds blowing in the area and appeared to be heading toward the Panagitsa region on the island. Samos's entire fire-fighting force, including volunteer fire-fighters, has turned out to control the blaze, assisted by two fire-fighting planes and one helicopter.
No residential areas are under threat at the moment, with fire-fighters struggling to contain the blaze before nightfall.
 Unknown man shot dead in ExarhiaAn unidentified man in his mid-30s, who according to initial reports may have been Polish, was shot in the central Athens district of Exarhia on Wednesday morning and died of his injuries shortly afterward.
The man was found seriously injured at the junction of Ippokratous Street and Eressou Street and died in the ambulance on his way to "Erythros Stavros" hospital.
Acting on a report from a woman that she had heard gunshot while in "Agios Nikolaos", police initially started their investigation in the Agios Nikolaos district in Acharnes but then decided to follow the blood trail from where the injured man was found and came to the Agios Nikolaos Church on Asklipiou Street, about 100 metres from where he was found.
They have not yet found any eye-witnesses to the incident that led to the man's shooting, however. While the initial reports described the injured man as Polish, police say that this is now in question because he was not carrying any identifying documents.
 Fugitive hostage-taker arrested with aid of EKAM special policePolice on Wednesday finally succeeded in locating and arresting a foreign national that had concealed himself inside an apartment block on Macedonia Street in Patras after fleeing a police pursuit.
During a sensational police chase on Tuesday, the same man had shot and injured a police officer that tried to follow him on a motorbike and had briefly taken a woman hostage in his attempts to escape arrest.
He was taken into custody at 2:30 on Wednesday morning, after remaining hidden in the apartment building for more than seven hours. His arrest was made with the help of a special EKAM counter-terrorism squad from Athens after the building had first been evacuated.
The police chase on Tuesday had been initiated by police officers from the prefecture of Ileia that were investigating a series of robberies and burglaries that had taken place in the area.
 Bulgarians intercept 73 illegal migrants at Greek borderBulgarian authorities intercepted 73 illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka at a border post with Greece, hidden in a truck carrying watermelons.
An announcement by the Bulgarian interior ministry said the migrants were discovered on Tuesday afternoon after police on the Bulgarian side of the border became suspicious of a truck with Bulgarian number plates, driven by a Greek, that was carrying watermelons from Greece to Hungary.
A special scanner revealed a hidden crypt inside the truck, equipped with a ventilation device, into which were packed 73 people, including two women and two small children.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe economy, the banking sector, and the proceedings of the parliamentary fact-finding commission on the structured bonds affair were the main front-page item in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Interest-free subsidies loans for door/window frames".
APOGEVMATINI: "Salary increases to be frozen with law - The social partners may have agreed (on salary increases of 1.5-3.0 percent for the next three years), but the...troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) disagrees".
AVGHI: "They're keeping the (institution of) Arbitration, but abolishing its decisions (salary increases decided between employer and employee organisations)".
AVRIANI: "The scam with the structured bonds produced 'black' political money".
CHORA: "The Turks having a free-for-all in the Aegean on the day of the black anniversary (of the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus 36 years ago)".
ELEFTHEROS: "Low-interest loans and direct subsidies for energy-conserving 'face-lifts' of older houses and apartment buildings".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Panic in counter-terrorism police - They're looking for the next target without a compass".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Salary cuts 'on trial' - Appeals judge takes recourse in Salary Court against the government's measures".
ESTIA: "The negative climate worsening - Some quarters are systematically recycling the misery".
ETHNOS: "Restrictive conditions for (former prime minister) Karamanlis' right hand Yiannis Angelou over the Vatopedi scandal".
IMERISSIA: "Everything open for banks - The government's plans with the upheavals".
KATHIMERINI: "The changes enter the final stretch - Arrangement of OSE's debts, truck licenses and banks".
LOGOS: "Prime minister bringing back the 'social package' of measures - Papandreou: We need more, not less, Europe".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Messages of improvement from industry, shipping".
NIKI: "Brussels blocks Piraeus Bank and 'Czar' (finance minister George Papaconstantinou - Stop from European Commission of (Piraeus Bank's proposed) acquisition of (state's major shareholdings in) ATEbank and TT-Hellenic Postbank".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government abolishing the (collective labor) agreements containing salary increases with legislative intervention".
TA NEA: "Battle of the banks over deposits - The interest rates will remain high until September".
TO VIMA: "The 'Revolutionaries' Sect' executioner kills (journalist Socrates Giolias) with 13 bullets".
VRADYNI: "The Aegean in state of siege - Double Turkish provocation with 'Cesme' (hydrographic vessel) and 'Piri Reis' (research vessel)".
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