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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-27

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

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

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 Issue No: 3551

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU-IMF troika inspectors begin meetings in Athens
  • [02] Greek gov't sees speedier structural reforms, cuts GDP fall this year
  • [03] PM due in Sofia on Tuesday
  • [04] Droutsas at EU General Affairs Council
  • [05] Govt unveils draft bill to reorganize civil aviation authorit
  • [06] Air Traffic Controllers' 'work to rule' protest delays flights
  • [07] Air controllers and ministry reach a compromise
  • [08] Reppas unveils draft bill on road safety
  • [09] Petrol station owners threaten with strike
  • [10] Gov't unveils draft bill to reform road freight sector
  • [11] Fear of petrol shortages
  • [12] Queues continue in fear of petrol shortage due to truckers' strike
  • [13] Papariga urges protests against EU-IMF terms
  • [14] Campaign to boost domestic tourism launched
  • [15] Nikitiadis in Moscow to promote Greek tourist product
  • [16] Katseli meets new BSCP bank head
  • [17] Greek textile industry's production down 18.8pct in Jan-May
  • [18] Trade deficit down 28.2pct in May
  • [19] Environment minister meets European Commissioner Damanaki
  • [20] Greek stocks end significantly higher
  • [21] Greek bond market closing report
  • [22] ADEX closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [24] Free access to Government Gazette in electronic form
  • [25] Art exhibition on Crete's olive grove
  • [26] Hospital robbery in Thessaloniki
  • [27] Fires in Crete, Achaia
  • [28] Drug arrests on Zakynthos island
  • [29] One person killed, another seriously injured in building explosion, fire on Crete
  • [30] Cloud and showers on Tuesday
  • [31] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] EU-IMF troika inspectors begin meetings in Athens

    A team of inspectors of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) "troika" held its first meetings in Athens on Monday morning with finance minister George Papaconstantinou and afterwards with the head of the finance ministry's Council of Economic Experts George Zanias.

    The troika is in Athens for the first full review of the country's economic stability program since the activation of the support mechanism for the Greek economy. The troika will draw up a report on the basis of which a second tranche of the economic aid package for the Greek economy will be disbursed.

    The EU-IMF inspectors are slated to complete their work here on August 6, after which the Commission will issue its report in mid-August and the IMF in late August, to enable release of the 9 billion euros second tranche of the support loan to Greece by mid-September.

    The troika is slated to hold a succession of meetings on Wednesday with several ministers, including Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping minister Louka Katseli, Employment and Social Security minister Andreas Loverdos, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou and Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, while it will also visit the Bank of Greece (BoG), the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the Public Debt Management Organisation and the finance ministry's financial crimes unit (SDOE).

    The financial situation in the DEKO (public utilities and organisations), the debt-ridden state hospitals, local government organisations and social security/pension funds will come under the inspectors' microscope, while the IMF believes that large margins exist for further saving of resources in those sectors. According to an IMF report, in the first five months of the year alone, hospital and funds' expenditures overshot the target by 1.5 billion euros.

    The troika will also be briefed on the fiscal finances, with emphasis on the drastic reduction of the deficit by 45.4 percent in the first half of the year, was was substantially above the 39.5 percent target for the entire year, and also on the drastic curtailment of expenditures in the same period that has also substantially exceeded the target for the year. As for a substantial shortfall in revenues, the finance ministry has stressed that there will be no divergence from the targets given that the revenues from the increases in VAT and special consumer taxes have not yet entered the state coffers.

    The agenda of talks with the Greek authorities also includes deregulation of the energy market, the opening up of the so-called 'closed' professions, accelerating absorption of NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) funds and restructu-ring of the banking system.

    An interim report in mid-July by the IMF found the Greek stability program to be "broadly on track", with the Greek authorities having made considerable progress in putting public finances on a sustainable path and having implemented major reforms ahead of schedule.

    [02] Greek gov't sees speedier structural reforms, cuts GDP fall this year

    The Greek government may implement restructuring plans for its loss-making public sector enterprises this year, similar to the one implemented for Hellenic Railways, while auditors will be placed in all state hospitals immediately, a finance ministry top official told ANA-MPA on Monday.

    Speaking to ANA after a meeting between Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou with a troika group of experts -who officially began their second round of inspection in the Greek economy- the official said the meeting focused on the trends of basic fiscal data, structural changes envisaged in a memorandum -particularly on cutting spending in public sector enterprises, state hospitals and pension funds.

    The troika experts were informed in detail by the Greek minister over the course of the budget in the first half of 2010 and were reassured that a target set for cutting the fiscal deficit this year would be fully met, even under an extreme scenario of a deep recession or exceeding public spending.

    The finance ministry official said the Greek state has set aside a 4.0-billion-euro "pillow" -resulting from a big cut in spending- which could be used to cover any extra needs of the budget, while a cut in Public Investments Program's spending were attributed to delays in implementing public works.

    The Greek government expects that economic recession would be lower than initial forecasts, around -3.0 pct and -3.2 pct this year, while on the inflation front, the ministry told troika experts that prices were moving upwards because of higher taxes, while a more intense effort was needed to boost competition in the market and to absorb these effects through lower profit margins. The Greek Finance minister informed the troika over pending changes in the tax system, while he did not exclude small changes in the memorandum and particularly over timetables of implementing structural changes (such as deregulation of professions).

    The troika group of experts -totalling 30 experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF- will meet with other government ministers, trade unions, government agencies, political parties and employers' unions before drafting a pre-tax over their recommendations for the Greek economy which become the basis for approving a second tranche of an EU/IMF loan, worth 9.0 billion euros, by mid-September.

    [03] PM due in Sofia on Tuesday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou is to carry out an official visit to Bulgarian on Tuesday, meeting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov immediately after his arrival in Sofia.

    Afterwards both premiers will preside over a joint meeting of Greek and Bulgarian government officials that is expected to be crucial for the future of the stalled Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, the two prime ministers will sign a joint declaration and bilateral agreements will be signed by ministers of the two countries.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Papandreou will be received by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

    [04] Droutsas at EU General Affairs Council

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)

    Turkish actions in the Aegean over the past months, developments regarding Kosovo, the results of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's visit to the Middle East and Iran are the issues to which Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas referred to while addressing reporters after an EU General Affairs Council meeting.

    Droutsas said that he had underlined to his EU counterparts that with its behaviour and actions, Turkey shows "deficits of reliability both towards Greece and the European Union, and mainly regarding its obligations, as an EU candidate member, to maintain good neighbourly relations with European countries."

    The minister added that Greece has "the will and the means to react effectively when it considers it expedient" and underlined Turkey's obligation to abide by the International Law on the sea, as the 27 EU member-states have done.

    With its stance over the past months, Turkey in substance undermines bilateral contacts between Athens and Athens, Droutsas also noted.

    Regarding Kosovo, Droutsas said that despite the recent International Court of Justice's Advisory Opinion on Kosovo - which concluded that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not break international law - Greece together with other EU member states which have not recognised Kosovo's independence "hold to this position".

    Underlining the Greek side's intention to promote the European prospect of the Balkans, Droutsas said that Greece is ready to assume its responsibilities as a Balkan country that is also an EU member-state and announced his intention to visit Belgrade and Pristina.

    "Greece is a country which can address itself both to Serbia and Kosovo and will exhaust all possibilities for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution," the Greek minister added.

    [05] Govt unveils draft bill to reorganize civil aviation authorit

    The Greek government on Monday unveiled a new draft bill aimed at reorganizing the country's Civil Aviation Authority, based on international practices and European rules on single European skies, improving the performance and viability of a European Civil Aviation System.

    Presenting the draft bill, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas the new bill envisages that Civil Aviation Authority would maintain the same number of three directorates (aviation services, air transport and administration support).

    The draft legislation also envisaged new regulations for the exploitation and development of regional airports in the country, either through concession of contracts to private investors, or through setting up societe anonymes owned by the state. Civil Aviation Authority will continue to have control over air traffic and flight safety in the country.

    The new legislation also envisages the deregulation of ground services in all Greek airports, in a move designed to drastically improve services, promoting competitiveness, creating new jobs, cutting air passenger costs and attracting more flights.

    Commenting on a strike mobilization by civil aviation staff, the minister said it was unjustified and stressed it was causing a big damage to the Greek economy and to society.

    The draft bill will be put for consultation with all interested parties before being tabled to Parliament.

    [06] Air Traffic Controllers' 'work to rule' protest delays flights

    Greek air traffic controllers' continued a "work-to-rule" protest on Monday, after a series of rolling 24-hour strikes called by their union and due to start Sunday were stopped by courts as illegal. The action, begun on Sunday, has caused delays in flight schedules as not all aircraft are allowed to approach Greek air space.

    The strike was called by the union in protest against pension reform plans and a halt to new recruitment.

    According to data from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA), delays of more than one hour have affected 42 departures between midnight and 9:00 a.m. Monday.

    Delays of up to four hours were reported in some flights on Sunday.

    Infrastructure, Networks and Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas is due to hold a press conference on Monday morning to answer questions on both a truck owners' strike and the "work-to-rule" protest by air traffic controllers. Both groups are protesting against draft bills recently unveiled by his ministry.

    [07] Air controllers and ministry reach a compromise

    Talks between the infrastructure, transport and networks ministry and Greek air traffic controllers were held on Monday afternoon in an attempt to find a solution to the problem created by the controllers "work-to-rule" protest on Sunday and Monday.

    The two sides reached a compromise resulting in the controllers' decision to call off a 24-hour strike next Saturday.

    The two sides are also expected to meet again on Tuesday to discuss some points of a draft bill unveiled by the ministry.

    [08] Reppas unveils draft bill on road safety

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas presented details of a draft bill designed to increase road safety during a press conference held on Monday, with emphasis on ensuring that vehicles undergo regular technical inspection.

    The draft bill envisages the formation of a national council on road safety, a general directorate on road safety, mechanisms for supervising, checking and improving the system at Vehicle Technical Inspection Centres (KTEO) and a new regime governing the opening and operation of garages, petrol stations and fuel gas stations.

    Reppas explained that the national council on road safety will deal with all the factors affecting road safety and support the work of the appropriate ministerial committee. The general directorate will be responsible for supporting the work of the national council, carrying out the policies decided by the ministerial committee and codifying the relevant legislation.

    Among others, the bill intends to set up a mechanism to ensure that all vehicles are tested for road-worthiness.

    According to Reppas, some KTEO centres currently pass up to 90 percent of the vehicles tested, a suspiciously high number. Furthermore, 35-40 percent of vehicles have not had a KTEO inspection at all, even though there is a high fine of 400 euros for those that fail to do so.

    The new laws will allow owners that have not promptly taken their vehicles for inspection to carry out the test and then present the card they are given within 10 days, at which time the fine will be reduced to just 50 euros.

    Also introduced for the first time is a regulation requiring motorbikes and three-wheeled vehicles to have a noise pollution card, as well as incentives for setting up garages and fuel gas stations that will encourage use of natural gas-powered cars in Greece.

    In the articles concerning petrol and fuel gas stations, the draft bill abolishes previous restrictions concerning the minimum distance between petrol stations (previously 200m) but introduces new restrictions requiring petrol stations to have a distance of at least 50m from places where more than 50 people are likely to gather.

    This effectively means that petrol stations currently housed beneath apartment blocks, hotels and other similar establishments will have to be closed down or moved within the next 12 years.

    [09] Petrol station owners threaten with strike

    Petrol station owners in Greece were threatening strike action on Monday in response to a draft law sponsored by the ministry of infrastructure, transport and networks that abolishes the minimum safety distance between filling stations.

    They warned that they will go out on strike if the draft law is tabled in parliament without the government having taken their positions into consideration.

    In a statement issued by POPEK, one of the sector's two associations, the ministry is accused of making a "surprise move" by presenting the draft law for the cabinet's approval last Friday. They stressed that they had received assurances last Friday morning that the specific draft law would not be voted on sooner than September and after a public debate.

    [10] Gov't unveils draft bill to reform road freight sector

    The Greek government on Monday presented a draft bill aimed at "putting in order" the country's road haulage sector. Presenting the draft bill, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas said the bill would be tabled in Parliament this week. Speaking to reporters, Reppas said the last transportation licence to a truck was approved in 1971 and the sector was long considered a closed profession. The transportation truck sector accounts for 7.0 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product's revenues, comprising of 33,000 vehicles and employing around 110,000 people.

    The draft bill aims to create a modern, integrated regulatory framework for road haulage in the country, integrating European legislation, and creating modern conditions and preconditions for freight transport. It also takes into account the Greek reality and the necessity for a gradual transition to a new regime.

    The Greek minister said that the draft bill envisages that anyone can have access to the profession, creates a new modern system for approving licenses, deregulation of transport charges, introduction of road transport companies, offering incentives for new investments, creation of a fund to support road safety and environmental protection.

    Under the draft bill, the deregulation of the market will be carried out over a three-year gradual transition period, ending in January 1, 2013.

    Reppas acknowledged that truck drivers had the right to strike, but noted that there were obligations towards society as well. He urged citizens to remain calm and said that oil companies could use their own vehicles to supply the market with fuel. The Greek minister stressed, however, that this situation could not be continued, although he said that the government was not considering any drastic measures to end the strike.

    [11] Fear of petrol shortages

    Consumers fearing petrol shortages as a result of a truck owners' strike starting at midnight queued up to fill their cars with petrol on Sunday afternoon, while some petrol stations had already run dry.

    The queues continued on Monday, with even longer lines, as the truckers began an indefinite strike in protest against a draft bill to open up the road freight market, including that of fuel, that is currently served only by licenced vehicles.

    It is expected to cause serious shortages of goods on the market, while the first problems were apparent on Sunday as huge lines formed outside petrol stations, with motorists trying to stock up on petrol before they depart for their summer holidays.

    Coming at the peak of the tourist season, the strike is a heavy blow to struggling tourist enterprises, which have so far seen their turnover reduced compared to last year's levels and had pinned their hopes on the July-August period to raise their sales.

    The strike may even affect ferry lines, since truck owners have said they will not make an exception for ships.

    Apart from fuel, shortages in basic consumer goods may also start to appear in the coming week.

    Infrastructure, Networks and Transport Minister Dimitris Reppas is due to hold a press conference on Monday morning to answer questions on both the truck owners' strike and a "work-to-rule" protest by air traffic controllers that is expected to cause flight delays. Both groups are protesting against draft bills recently unveiled by his ministry.

    The owners of state-licensed road freight vehicles moved planned strike action originally scheduled to start on August 27 forward to midnight Sunday, after the government announced planned legislation to open up the currently closed road freight market.

    [12] Queues continue in fear of petrol shortage due to truckers' strike

    Consumers fearing petrol shortages as a result of a truck owners' strike starting at midnight queued up to fill their cars with petrol on Sunday afternoon, while some petrol stations had already run dry.

    The queues continued on Monday, with even longer lines, as the truckers began an indefinite strike in protest against a draft bill to open up the road freight market, including that of fuel, that is currently served only by licenced vehicles.

    [13] Papariga urges protests against EU-IMF terms

    Workers should already been preparing protests for the next months ahead because the EU-were now targeting social insurance funds, state hospitals and former public utility companies, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed on Monday in comments on a visit to Athens by EU-IMF experts conducting a review of Greece's progress in carrying out the stability programme.

    She warned of upcoming mergers, buy-outs and privatisations for state enterprises and cited the acquisition of Olympic by Aegean to create a local airline monopoly as proof that the excuse given for privatisations, namely to increase competition on the markets, was altogether false.

    "Whatever is left even partly state-owned will go to private owners, if they show an interest, and chiefly what we see is that in various ways, through the state budget and through Kallikratis, there will be a slashing of benefits and imposition of new taxes. Workers must therefore now prepare for a great struggle with the central slogan 'we don't recognise the debt, we don't recognise the memorandum," Papariga said.

    KKE's leader also stressed that her party would not accept the strike-breaking positions of the government, which she said imposed strikes because it wanted to facilitate the concentration the sources of profit and generating wealth in few hands and wanted to "crush the right to strike".

    Financial News

    [14] Campaign to boost domestic tourism launched

    A promotion campaign aimed at boosting domestic tourism was launched on Monday in the presence of Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.

    The campaign under the title "Alliance for Greece" was put together by communication sector organizations seeking to reach the soul of the Greek people through a dynamic social message.

    Three television ads, featuring verses written by world-renowned Greek poets like Elitis, Ritsos and Mavilis, aired on July 20 within the framework of "Greece, a part of our soul" promotion campaign, which is cost-free for the Greek Tourist Organization (EOT). In a follow-up promotion campaign, the protagonists will be real Greek people.

    [15] Nikitiadis in Moscow to promote Greek tourist product

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th.Avgerinos)

    Visiting Greek Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis held a series of talks here on Monday with Russian tourism officials.

    "Our target is the taking of immediate measures, such as the opening of new visa centres in big cities of Russia, the dispatching of consular staff to facilitate (visa issuing) procedures, reinforcing incentives and encouraging for more charter flights from Russia, so as to highlight Greece as an every year destination regarding agrotourism, sports, pilgrimage tourism and conferences," Nikitiadis said after talks with his Russian counterpart Oleg Kazlov.

    Greece, Nikitiadis added, is for the abolition of visas between Russia and the EU, along with Germany, Italy and Finland. "Such a development would mean an increase in the number of Russian tourists to Greece surpassing one million, (from 300,000 now)" he said.

    He also said that he had heard positive messages on the part of tour operators he met who spoke of an increase of 20-25% next year.

    Nikitiadis will hold a press conference for Russian and Greek reporters on Tuesday.

    [16] Katseli meets new BSCP bank head

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli met on Monday with the new president of the Black Sea Cooperation Pact (BSCP) bank Andrey Kondakov.

    The talks focused on the bank's recent developments regarding its cooperation with several Greek authorities and other agencies.

    [17] Greek textile industry's production down 18.8pct in Jan-May

    The Greek textile industry reported an 18.8 pct decline in its production volume in the first five months of 2010, after reporting reduced losses in 2009 equal to the 16.5 pct of its revenues, a report by ANA-MPA said on Monday.

    Production volumes fell 21 pct in May, according to data released by Hellenic Statistical Authority, and were down 54.5 pct compared with May 2005. Last year was one of the worst years for the Greek textiles industry, although the sector managed to reduce its losses. The report, based on the balance sheet of the 65 largest textile industries with sales of more than 3.0 million euros and total sales of 691.1 million euros, showed that 53.8 pct of total companies in the sector reported net profits of 15.6 million euros, while the 30 remaining reported net losses of 129.8 million euros. Compared with 2008, net results improved by 13 pct. Revenues were down 4 pct and gross earnings fell 21 pct, while EBITDA were down 26 pct and operating earnings (EBIT) fell 3.0 pct, reflecting reduced amortizations. Gross earnings margins fell to 3.8 pct in 2009, from 4.7 pct in 2010.

    The 35 profitable enterprises reported net sales of 379.2 million euros, while sales by the 30 loss-making totalled 311.9 million euros. Total sales fell 4.0 pct.

    [18] Trade deficit down 28.2pct in May

    Greece's trade balance deficit fell by 28.2 percent in May, while the deficit for the first five months of the year dropped by 23.9 percent, according to provisional figures released on Monday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

    The total value of imports-arrivals in May amounted to 2872.8 million euros (3599.1 million dollars) in comparison with 3538.2 million euros (4815.2 million dollars) in May 2009, recording a drop of 18.8%. The total value of imports-arrivals excluding oil products recorded a drop of 306.7 million euros or 10.3% in comparison with the corresponding month of 2009.

    The total value of exports-dispatches in May amounted to 1293.5 million euros (1630.4 million dollars) in comparison with 1340.2 million euros (1834.9 million dollars) in May 2009, recording a drop of 3.5%. The total value of exports-dispatches excluding the oil products recorded a decrease 108.5 million euros or 8.6% in comparison with the corresponding month of 2009.

    The deficit of the trade balance in May amounted to 1579.3 million euros (1968.7 million dollars) in comparison with 2198.0 million euros (2980.3 million dollars) in May 2009 recording a drop of 28.2%. Excluding the oil products the deficit of the trade balance recorded a decrease of 198.2 million euros or 11.5% in comparison with the corresponding month of the year 2009.

    [19] Environment minister meets European Commissioner Damanaki

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili in a meeting on Monday with Greek European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki underlined the importance of closer cooperation with the European Commission focusing on the prospects for greater absorption of EU Fisheries Programme funds.

    Birbili and the European Commissioner referred to the progress recorded in the sector of fish farming in Greece, currently occupying a leading place on a European level.

    Damanaki referred to the fish farming spatial planning draft law prepared in Greece which is destined to contribute to the immediate solution of sector key issues and added that there have been requests by other EU members to use it as a model.

    [20] Greek stocks end significantly higher

    Greek stocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as the market welcomed the results of Friday's European stress tests on Greece banks. The composite index surpassed the 1,600 level again to end at 1,625.21 points, up 2.18 pct. Turnover was a low 107.721 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 3.12 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 1.72 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.42 pct higher.

    Banks (4.53 pct) and Financial Services (4.62 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (1.48 pct) and Utilities (2.49 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 104 to 58 with another 51 issues unchanged.

    Shelman (17.65 pct), Hellenic Postbank (16.77 pct) and Cardico (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Xylemporia (19.70 pct), Sanyo Hellas (10.53 pct) and Unibios (9.09 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.48

    Industrials: -1.27%

    Commercial: -0.06%

    Construction: +3.17%

    Media: -0.22%

    Oil & Gas: -0.23%

    Personal & Household: +0.20%

    Raw Materials: +1.01%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.85%

    Technology: +1.51%

    Telecoms: +1.85%

    Banks: +4.53%

    Food & Beverages: +2.78%

    Health: +0.90%

    Utilities: -2.49%

    Chemicals: -0.93%

    Financial Services: +4.62%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.40

    ATEbank: 1.06

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.10

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.97

    National Bank of Greece: 11.17

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.00

    OPAP: 11.00

    OTE: 6.07

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.59

    Titan: 16.94

    [21] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 24 million euros on Monday, of which 17 million were buy orders and the remaining 7 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros. The 10-year Greek bond yielded 10.36 pct, down from 10.39 pct on Friday.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.41 pct, the six-month rate 1.14 pct, the three-month 0.89 pct and the one-month rate 0.64 pct.

    [22] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a small premium (0.06 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 42.859 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,299 contracts worth 32.859 million euros, with 21,822 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,865 contracts worth 10.001 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,547), followed by Eurobank (2,700), MIG (1,512), Piraeus Bank (1,435), Alpha Bank (2,599), Cyprus Bank (530), Hellenic Postbank (1,384) and ATEbank (2,344).

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.303

    Pound sterling 0.840

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 9.562

    Japanese yen 113.21

    Swiss franc 1.368

    Norwegian kroner 8.066

    Canadian dollar 1.350

    Australian dollar 1.454

    General News

    [24] Free access to Government Gazette in electronic form

    The free access to all Government Gazette issues was announced by the interior ministry on Monday.

    They will be available online for visitors of the National Printing Office site (www.et.gr <http://www.et.gr>) for reading, storing and printing.

    [25] Art exhibition on Crete's olive grove

    A figurative arts exhibition titled "The ancient olive grove of Crete in the depth of time", featuring 317 works of art including sculptures, paintings, photographs and mosaics signed by Greek and foreign artists, will run until Aug. 31 at the International Exhibition Centre of Crete at Gournes, near the city of Heraklion.

    The exhibition, inaugurated on July 25, is open for the public free of charge.

    Organizers are the local Cultural Associations Network and the Technological Educational Institute in cooperation with the four Prefectural Administration authorities of the island.

    [26] Hospital robbery in Thessaloniki

    Four armed robbers, one of them holding a hand grenade, targeted the cashier's desk of AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki on Monday in early afternoon.

    The culprits made off with an undetermined amount of money, police said.

    [27] Fires in Crete, Achaia

    A wildfire was raging Monday in the Handra region of Lefki, in Siteia prefecture on the island of Crete, while two fires that were burning near Patras have been contained.

    A fire broke out late Sunday in the Handra region of Lefki, in Siteia prefecture on the island of Crete.

    According to the Fire Brigade, a team of 20 firefighters with five fire engines, assisted by a foot division and a water-dropping helicopter, were battling the blaze, which was burning in a rocky area with low shrubbery.

    Meanwhile, two fires that broke out earlier on Sunday in the areas of Kastritsi and Platani, near the western port city of Patras, Achaia prefecture, have been contained, while a strong team of firefighters remain at both spots as it is feared that high winds in the area may cause flare-ups.

    The Achaia fires have burned tens of acres of forest and farm expanses and crops.

    [28] Drug arrests on Zakynthos island

    Four individuals, among them one foreign national, were arrested on the Ionian Sea island of Zakynthos charged with possession of a large quantity of hashish.

    The arrests on Sunday afternoon were made on board a boat that carried out short excursions to Laganas Bay, habitat of the endangered loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta, and in a private house in the region of Agios Sostis.

    [29] One person killed, another seriously injured in building explosion, fire on Crete

    One person was killed and another was seriously injured in a fire that broke out after a series of explosions in a car repair shop in the basement of a building in Iraklio, on the island of Crete, early Monday morning, while 12 other people were also injured.

    A series of explosions occurred at dawn in the car repair shop and spread to the building above it.

    A charred body was found in the repair shop, while a 70-year-old woman who was trapped in the burning building was in serious condition in hospital.

    Another 44-year-old woman was hospitalised in an intensive care unit with serious respiratory problems, while her 13-year-old daughter was hospitalised also hospitalised.

    A total of 10 people were rushed to the emergency room, of which 6 were released after first-aid treatment.

    All the injured people are residents of the apartment building.

    A strong firefighting force, rescuers and 9 ambulances rushed to the scene to contain the fire and rescue people trapped in the blaze.

    The basement, where the car repair shop was housed, was totally destroyed, while six cars parked outside the building suffered serious damage.

    The explosions also broke windows in surrounding buildings.

    Weather forecast

    [30] Cloud and showers on Tuesday

    Cloud and brief showers are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds variable, 3-6 Beaufort. Temperatures ranging between 18C and 33C. Scattered cloud in Attica, with temperatures from 23C to 33C. Cloudy and wet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 21C to 29C.

    [31] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika inspection and the economy were the main front-page items in Monday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Thousands of bogus disabled - The government has finally admitted it and is beginning checks".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Hospitals and DEKO (public utilities and organizations) in the troika inspectors' vise - Troika inspectors begin work again today".

    AVRIANI: "Government-guilds head-on collision - They're killing what is left of the economy".

    CHORA: "Blatant blackmail for PPC - Either you sell off 40 percent or you don't get the 3rd tranche (of the EU-IMF loan) - Troika and IMF gradually filling in the picture of the occupied banana republic".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New objective values of real estate set fire to 12 taxes".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Troika begins inspection in 10 critical sectors - 'Interrogation' for six ministers".

    ESTIA: "The negative image can change after the self-degradation of the recent months".

    ETHNOS: "Express retirement - Guide for the fictitious years in all the funds".

    IMERISSIA: "The markets will judge the stress tests' results - Everything open for the banks".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The GDP revision plans being examined".

    TA NEA: "Schools: New hirings halved, while 10,000 teachers retiring".

    VRADYNI: "Troika of new measures - Economy and banks to be put through the sieve".

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