|Tuesday, 24 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 28 July 2010 Issue No: 3552
 PM: Greece and Bulgaria are 'strategic partners'SOFIA (ANA-MPA - B. Borisov)
Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday underlined the huge potential for cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria, in a joint press conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov after the first joint session of the Greece-Bulgaria High-Level Cooperation Council held in Sofia.
"Our meeting today deepens and establishes a strategic relationship of partnership between us," Papandreou underlined, while earlier he had referred to a "qualitative leap" in relations between the two countries after Bulgaria's accession to the EU and NATO.
In the framework of the meeting between ministers of the two governments, Greece and Bulgaria signed a raft of bilateral agreements dealing with various outstanding issues and declaring the two sides willingness to further develop bilateral ties.
"We are now part of a common region, no longer separated by our borders, while there are huge prospects for our cooperation. Today we made a first approach at overcoming these and possibly for a final solution to a series of outstanding bilateral issues that we had inherited from the past, but also to promote our common goals in new areas: trade transactions, economic cooperation, energy cooperation, cross-border cooperation, employment, defence cooperation and fighting crime," the Greek premier said.
Papandreou underlined the importance of the agreements signed by the two sides on Tuesday, expressing conviction that this effort was backed by the people of both countries.
Talks during the meeting also covered the effects of the economic crisis in the region and globally and ways to work together in order to address the problems, while during talks on cooperation in the energy sector, Papandreou underlined that the currently stalled Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project remained among Greece's top priorities.
Referring to the talks, he said that renewable energy sources remained a strategic option and that the two sides had agreed to promote the South Stream and TGI natural gas pipelines.
In his own statements, Borisov repeated Bulgarian concerns about the detrimental environmental impact of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and that Bulgaria's decision to back away from the project was prompted by the hope to ensure protection of the Black Sea and the Burgas coast.
He said the Bulgarian government was now waiting for the findings of an environmental impact study for the pipeline that was due to be completed in October.
Borisov also expressed hope that, together with Papandreou, the two countries would mark the 130th anniversary since Greece and Bulgaria established diplomatic relations on September 9 by inaugurating a new border crossing on the Greek-Bulgarian border.
The premier further briefed his Bulgarian counterpart and attending members of the Bulgarian Cabinet on Greece's Stability Program "on the basis of which we have taken drastic measures needed to support our economy".
Pointing out that Greece had overshot targets for reducing its budget deficit, Papandreou stressed that the positive assessments of the Eurogroup and the finance minister were clear indications that Greece was a reliable country, responsible in terms of its international commitments and once again building its reliable image on a firm basis.
Responding to questions, the Greek premier underlined the importance of big international projects for securing a steady, permanent and unimpeded supply for Greece and Bulgaria as well as Europe with energy. He also referred to the prospects of a broad bilateral cooperation in developping renewable energy sources and "green development".
Papandreou was later received by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, who noted that the Greek premier's visit "is a proof of continued and consistent contacts between the two countries' governments, beyond changes in the governance."
 Papandreou: Greek-Bulgarian relations a 'pillar of stability' in the regionGreek-Bulgarian relations have made a "qualitative leap" in recent years, prime minister George Papandreou said during an official visit to Sofia on Tuesday, noting that "from neighbors we have become partners in the EU, we have become allies in NATO, and from friends we have become strategic partners".
Addressing the inaugural meeting of the Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation High-Level Council, which he chaired together with Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov, Papandreou said that the "dynamic progress" in bilateral relations between the two countries serves as a "strong message to all the countries of the region", especially in light of the "recent difficult period in which the two countries belonged to different political and military camps".
"I believe that the present good relations between our two countries are a pillar of stability in the Balkans and more widely, I would say, in Europe," Papandreou said.
The Greek premier also stressed the importance he places on the firm advancement of his Agenda 2014 initiative, which envisions the accession of all the western Balkan countries to the EU by that target year.
He further added that the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Greece and Bulgaria should serve as the springboard for further development of their bilateral cooperation in a wide range of sectors "to which today we are giving a strong boost".
Referring to what he described as the dynamic development of economic cooperation between the two countries in recent years, Papandreou noted that more than 1,500 Greek enterprises are active in the Bulgarian market today, while the total Greek investments in the neighboring country exceed 2.8 billion euros, while trade between the two countries reached 1.8 billion euros in 2009.
Papandreou said that the level of economic cooperation was "absolutely satisfactory", adding that large margins existed for its further development given that both countries are now equal partners in the large European family.
The premier further stressed the economic and also the geopolitical significance of the major energy projects, noting that there was close cooperation between Athens and Sofia for their materialisation. He also underlined the importance placed by the two countries on green development and their sensitivity on environmental protection in the context of their cooperation in the strategic sector of energy.
On the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline plan, Papandreou stressed that Greece's interest in the project remains undiminished and that it is awaiting the outcome of the environmental studies being carried out by Bulgaria, too.
The future materialisation of two additional major energy projects -- the South Stream natural gas pipeline and the new pipeline that will link Bulgaria's natgas distribution network with the TGI natgas pipeline -- are also of strategic importance for enhancing Greece's and Bulgaria's role and presence in the European and global energy map, Papandreou continued.
The premier further briefed his Bulgarian counterpart and attending members of the Bulgarian Cabinet on Greece's Stability Program "on the basis of which we have taken drastic measures needed to support our economy".
 Greece-Bulgaria sign tax and energy protocolsGreece and Bulgaria on Tuesday signed a joint declaration over tax and customs administration issues, in the framework of a Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation Council held in Sofia. The aim of the joint declaration is to deal with VAT fraud and customs violations at the borders of the two countries, along with combating smuggling.
Under the declaration, the two countries also agreed to set up two work groups, based in Greece and Bulgaria, comprising of tax and customs experts, to recommend measures and actions aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation.
Greece and Bulgaria also signed a cooperation protocol to promote the South Stream natural gas pipeline project and its inclusion in inter-European energy networks as a priority project for the European Union. The protocol was signed by Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili and Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Traycho Traykov.
The Greek minister, in her address during the Cooperation Council, said the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project was a top priority for the Greek government and expressed her confidence that technology and European legislation would calm local communities' fears over the environmental impact of the project. The two countries also agreed to speed up procedures for completion of a project to build a second inter-connection electricity line.
 Greece, Bulgaria sign agreements during PM's visitGreek and Bulgarian ministers on Tuesday signed a number of bilateral agreements for cooperation in various issues, in the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, after the founding meeting of a Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation Council held in Sofia.
Among the agreements signed was a Joint Declaration for exchanging information and knowhow relating to water resources, signed by Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili with Bulgarian Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova.
The joint declaration reaffirms the two countries' desire to take action to protect river water resources by taking the necessary coordinated action for rationalised management and protection of their joint water heritage.
The two countries share several rivers that run through northern Greece such as the Evros, Ardas, Strymonas and Nestos.
Agreement on culture and education
A bilateral agreement on culture and education was the second signed in the presence of the two premiers after the Council meeting, by Greek Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Bulgarian Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov.
The agreement calls for the foundation of a Bulgarian Cultural Foundation in Athens, equivalent to its Greek counterpart in Sofia, the joint organisation of an archaeological exhibition on relations between Greece and Bulgaria from early antiquity until the Roman era, Greek participation in the study, preservation and promotion of various Bulgarian archaeological finds and the translation of Greek and Bulgarian academic publications on historic monuments in the two countries.
The agreement also outlines various joint activities and events relating to more modern culture, such as evenings dedicated to Greek and Bulgarian writers with an influence in both countries, poetry evenings, culture exchanges between the two countries' national theatres, state orchestras and others.
Agreement on tourism issues
Geroulanos also signed an agreement with Bulgarian Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traycho Traykov that seeks to promote cooperation between the two countries in various tourism-related activities, including the organisation of joint tourism packages of Chinese, Japanese and U.S. tourists, exchange of knowhow, promotion of various kinds of specialist tourist products, exchange of information, especially concerning investments, and joint organisations of events such as famtrips, conferences, festivals, exhibitions and cultural weeks.
 Greece-Bulgaria sign joint declaration on transportsInfrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas and Bulgarian Transport, Information Technology and Communications Minister Aleksandar Tsvetkov signed in Sofia on Tuesday a joint declaration in the sector of transports and more particularly of railways.
The joint declaration was signed in the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boy-ko Borisov, after the founding meeting of a Greece-Bulgaria Cooperation Council held in Sofia.
Reppas also met with Bulgarian Minister of Regional Develop-ment and Public Works Rosen Plevneliev.
 PM to address World Conference of CretansPrime Minister George Papandreou will address on Friday the sessions of the World Conference of Cretans which will be held in Agios Nikolaos on the island of Crete.
The conference, entitled "The Cretans' Communities: Vision and Action", is organised by the World Council of Cretans and the prefecture of Lassithi.
 Statistical figures tampering case file reaches parliamentThe case file on the tampering of figures concerning the country's fiscal situation was forwarded to Parliament on Tuesday to examine the likelihood of criminal responsibility on behalf of former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, former finance ministers George Alogoskoufis and Yiannis Papathana-siou and former health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
The relevant case file was forwarded to Supreme Court Assistant Prosecutor Athanasios Katsirodis by First Instance Court Chief Prosecutor Eleni Rantou after completing the preliminary investigation.
In consultation with Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes, the case file was then forwarded to Parliament to decide on whether it will set up a fact-finding committee to investigate the likelihood of ministerial liability.
 Prosecutor intervention for unobstructed access to oil refineries by fuel trucksLawsuits will be filed against individuals accused of obstructing access to oil refineries by fuel trucks that are privately-owned or oil company-owned based on an order issued by Thessaloniki Prosecutor Evangelos Mademlis on Tuesday.
Owners of state-licensed fuel trucks, in an open-ended strike called in protest to the opening of the road freight market, allegedly created obstacles to privately-owned fuel trucks wishing to enter or exit oil refineries.
Striker representatives have denied the allegations.
 Situation at airports normalising after compromiseThe situation in airports throughout Greece was returning to normal on Tuesday after a compromise reached between air traffic controllers and the transport ministry on Monday afternoon.
According to data from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA), flights were being conducted normally on Tuesday, with only minor delays which, however, are unrelated to a "work to rule" action by protesting air traffic controllers launched on Sunday.
The situation began to normalise gradually since Monday afternoon after a meeting between air traffic controllers and infrastructure, transport and networks deputy minister Nikos Sifounakis.
During the meeting, the two sides appeared to iron out some of their differences on a bill being advanced by the ministry for the reorganisation of the Civil Aviation Authority and reassurances by the ministry on the sector's financial and administrative independence.
The two sides will meet again on Tuesday in the context of the deliberation on the draft law.
After the meeting, air traffic controllers also called off a 24-hour strike scheduled for Saturday.
 Queues lengthen as petrol stations run dryMore than 80 percent of the petrol stations throughout Greece had run out of unleaded gas on Tuesday morning, as tanker truck owners entered the second day of 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 state-licenced vehicles.
The situation was aggravated on Tuesday as strikers were not allowing private tanker trucks owned by fuel companies to enter refineries.
Only the supply of state services, mainly hospitals, was being allowed, while huge queues have formed outside petrol stations that have not yet exhausted their reserves.
Literally adding "fuel to the fire", petrol station owners are threatening to launch their own strike on Wednesday, in protest of a draft law unveiled by the infrastructure, transport and networks ministry reducing the minimum distance allowed between filling stations from the present 200 meters to 50 meters.
The Federation of Petrol Station Owners is due to meet on Tuesday to finalise its position.
 Franchise colleges receive operating licensesOperating licenses have been granted to 30 of the 40 Post-Lyceum Educational Centres (Colleges) based in Greece that filed applications, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou announced in a press conference on Tuesday.
The minister stressed that the sector will henceforth operate on the basis of specific rules, while the National Accreditation Centre for Continuing Vocational Training (EKEPIS) that recommended the licensing will continue to monitor the sector.
The licensed colleges will only be allowed to offer courses in departments for which they have signed contracts with foreign universities they represent as franchises.
 ERT president resignsERT SA (the state-run tv and radio) president Giorgos Gampritsios submitted his resignation on Tuesday evening.
In an announcement Gampritsios said he resigned for personal reasons and his decision had nothing to do with the ERT's supervising authority or his collaborators.
Responding to Gampritsios, Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos thanked him for his "significant services" to ERT.
 Opinion poll records public opposition to gambling market expansionThe expansion of the gambling market attempted by the government through the introduction of thousands of VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals) nationwide is unpopular with Greeks, based on the results of a survey conducted by the VPRC survey company in July on behalf of the movement Citizens Against Gambling.
Disagreement with the government initiative allowing the operation of thousands of electronic slot machines across the country was expressed by 77 pct of those who answered the survey questionnaire. Moreover, 86 pct of people believe that electronic slot machines constitute a serious addiction; 74 pct blame them for raising crime; 94 pct believe that they have a devastating effect on family income and 58 pct say they familiarize people with gambling.
Roughly 3.7 million people, corresponding to 42 pct of the Greek population, gamble on a monthly basis each spending an average 94 euros a month. The annual turnover from gambling is 348,287,334 euros.
Signs of addiction to gambling were shown by 13 pct of the survey sample, while 20 pct admitted that members of their immediate family faced a similar problem.
 Economic recession to be lower than initial forecastsThere were several encouraging signs that the economic recession in Greece will probably be lower than initial forecasts, economy ministry officials and troika experts agreed during a meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting at the economy, competitiveness and shipping ministry focused on developments in the inflation rate and absorption of EU community funds. Speaking to ANA-MPA, a top ministry official said troika experts underlined the fact that prices remained high despite an economic recession in the country, with ministry officials noting that excluding the tax burden on prices, the inflation rate fell to 1.19 pct in June from 1.93 pct in January and stressed that prices were falling in some sectors, such as food, while in the hotel-restaurant sector prices continued moving upwards.
Economy ministry officials presented a package of measures aimed at containing/reducing prices, such as lower prices on pharmaceutical products, improvements in commercial real estate, a freeze in school fees, stricter control of intra-group transactions and a new regulatory framework on competition.
The ministry stressed that its aim was to achieve a 15 pct absorption rate of EU funds by the end of the year (currently at 8.4 pct). Greek authorities have applied to the EU to approve handouts totaling 800 million euros, with another 1.3 billion euros scheduled for October and 660 million euros in December. Troika experts noted delays in promoting specific operational programs (environment, administrative reform, transport-infrastructure).
 IOBE, American-Hellenic Chamber and Boston Consulting press conference on economyDeregulating the goods and services market could give Greece a 13 percent boost in GDP, according to the general director of the private Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday.
Speaking during a press conference held at the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, Stournaras predicted further gains of 3.5 percent of GDP from a more flexible labour market and said that the new pension system would contain spending on pensions to 15 percent of GDP by 2060, saying that this would have otherwise rise to 24 pct if no measures were taken.
Specifically for the transport sector, Stournaras said that deregulation and opening closed markets could yield a 10 percent rise in GDP in a relatively short space of time, specifically over the next five years that would be crucial for the economy.
The press conference was held to mark one year since the release of a study carried out by the American-Hellenic Chamber, IOBE and Boston Consulting on the developmental model of the Greek economy. This had made 123 specific policy proposals, of which only 15-20 percent were adopted and included in the pre-election programmes of the two main parties.
Since then, however, about 60-65 percent of the proposals have either been carried out or are in the stages of being adopted since they are included in the memorandum signed with the EU-IMF for the bailout package for Greece.
Stournaras noted that the situation in Greece seemed to have stabilised but did not allow room for complacency since there was still a danger that it might be derailed and market confidence was slow in returning, with bond spreads still standing firm at 780 basis points in spite of the measures that had been taken.
A representative of Boston Consulting referred to more specific problems bedevilling the Greek public sector where correction was necessary, while the head of the American-Hellenic Chamber Yanos Gramatidis stressed that the work of the government was "in the right direction" but had to continue along the same lines, regardless of the political cost.
 Arab-Hellenic Economic forum to be held Sept 23-25The 3rd Arab-Hellenic economic forum, one of the most significant events internationally, will be held in Athens on September 23-25. The forum, organized by the Arab-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Development and the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV), is a continuation of the previous two forums held in 2006 and 2008 and aims at enhancing economic and business relations between Greece and the Arab world, stretching from western Mediterranean to the Arab Gulf.
This year's forum seeks to highlight investment and business opportunities in several Arab countries, which sustain their growth dynamism despite adverse global conditions, helped by their natural resources, infrastructure projects and available funds.
The forum will also highlight recovery prospects of the Greek economy, the country's geostrategic position for investment activities both in the country itself as in the wider southeastern Europe, jointly with dynamic Greek enterprises.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias has been invited to inaugurate the forum, while Prime Minister George Papandreou will address the official dinner reception. Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli will also address the forum along with the Minister of Trade and Industry of Lebanon, Mohamad Safadi, Palestinian Finance Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh, the president of Arab Countries Chambers Union, Adnan Kassar and other officials.
The forum is expected to bring together more than 300 Greek and 250 Arab enterprises and business executives.
Business delegations from Egypt, Algeria, UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Djibouti and Tunisia have already confirmed their participation in the forum.
 Campaign to attract Russian touristsCulture and Tourism deputy minister George Nikitiadis held a series of talks in Moscow on Monday with Russian tourist authorities as part of the ministry's revamping of its strategy and effort to maximise the penetration of the Greek tourism product on the Russian market.
The steps the ministry intends to push forward include opening up more visa centers in major Russian cities, sending consular employees to faciliate procedures, enhancing incentives and urging more charter flights from Russia, aiming to render Greece an annual destination with a broad variety of specialised tourism products, such as agrotourism, sport tourism, religious tourism and conference tourism, "which are gradually becoming more widely known in Russia," Nikitiadis said after talks with his counterpart Oleg Kazlov.
The Greek official also pointed out that Greece has for some time taken a stand in favor of abolition of the visa requirement between the EU and Russia.
Such a development would mean that the number of Russian tourists to Greece could exceed one million (from the current 300,000), he noted, adding that he has had positive messages from the largest tour operators he met with, who estimate a 20-25 percent increase in Russian tourists to Greece next year.
"Greece is one of the most popular destination countries, and we are attracted not only by its history and our common traditions but also by the huge prospects for quality relaxation," Kazlov said.
 Professional yacht sector sends emergency signalThe Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association on Tuesday warned the sector was facing extinction suffering its worst year in its history because of the economic crisis.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, Antonis Steliatos, president of the Association said reservations for professional yachts with crew were down more than 80 pct this year, compared with 2009, with 11 vessels being out of commission because of reduced demand.
Reservations for sail ships are also down, with revenues suffering a sharp fall this year, although no specific figures could be offered since there was not single charter policy in the sector.
The Association said that Greek lacked the necessary numbers in marinas, while existing infrastructure was not competitive. "Our country has almost 5,000 islands and isles and a coastline stretching for thousands of kilometres. It is unacceptable that Croatia with 1/10 of Greek coastline to have 108 modern marinas and Turkey to have a better network of marinas than Greece," Steliatos said.
According to official figures, Greece has 19 organised marinas and another 12 under construction, with a capacity of 6,661 vessels.
 Software piracy up significantly in H1Software piracy rose significantly in Greece in the first half 2010, Business Software Alliance (BSA) said on Tuesday. Reports over the use of illegal software by Greek enterprises jumped 60 pct in the January-June period, compared with 2009, with Greek enterprises spending 1.0 million euros for the purchase of the necessary software licenses.
BSA, in a report, said it was necessary to adopt policies to protecting copyrights in the country, since Greece ranked third in the EU in software piracy with a percentage of 58 pct, worth 173 million euros.
"Enterprises can and must deal with the piracy problem in Greece," Kostas Samaras, a representative of BSA in Greece said. "Part of dealing with the problem is to be aware that bad use of software can have many forms," he added.
BSA receives around 4,000 reports for use of illegal software in Europe, Middle East and Africa each year.
 Alpha Bank issues 1.0-bln-euro covered bondAlpha Bank on Tuesday announced the successful issuance of a covered bond issue, worth 1.0 billion euros, in the framework of a covered bonds program up to 8.0 billion euros, approved by the bank.
The covered bond issue was listed in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and was rated A and Baa3 by Fitch and Moody's, respectively. The covered bond issue can be used as collateral for raising liquidity from the European Central Bank. Alpha Bank said the issue would further strengthen its liquidity.
 Greek stocks jumped 4.13 pct on TuesdayGreek stocks soared on Tuesday, helped by a strong performance of bank shares based on rumors over mergers and acquisitions in the domestic banking market. The composite index of the market ended 4.13 pct higher at 1,692.35 points, with turnover a strong 227.357 million euros.
ATEbank (15.09 pc), Piraeus Bank (11.98 pct), Eurobank (10.50 pct) and Alpha Bank (11.30 pct) were top gainers. The Big Cap index soared 5.30 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 2.87 pct and the Small Cap index ended 2.30 pct higher. Banks (7.48 pct) and Raw Materials (5.38 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 156 to 40 with another 48 issues unchanged.
Koubas (20 pct), Cardico (18.75 pct) and Parnassos (13.85 pct) were top gainers, while Klonatex (14.29 pct), NEL (12.50 pct) and Edrasis (12.50 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.23%
Personal & Household: +1.60%
Raw Materials: +5.38%
Travel & Leisure: +3.91%
Food & Beverages: +0.73%
Financial Services: +3.68%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.01
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.10
HBC Coca Cola: 17.93
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.99
National Bank of Greece: 11.74
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.63
Bank of Piraeus: 5.14
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 88 million euros on Tuesday, of which 54 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 34 million euros were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 25 million euros. The 10-year Greek bond yielded 10.28 pct, down from 10.36 pct on Monday.
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.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 81.615 million euros. Volume in the Big Cap index totaled 15,089 contracts worth 62.894 million euros, with 23,509 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 31,703 contracts worth 18.721 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,983), followed by Eurobank (3,347), MIG (2,179), OTE (1,640), Piraeus Bank (2,039), Alpha Bank (3,556), Marfin Popular Bank (2,621), Mytilineos (964), Hellenic Postbank (1,898) and ATEbank (2,867).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.313
Pound sterling 0.844
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.537
Japanese yen 114.7
Swiss franc 1.388
Norwegian kroner 8.063
Canadian dollar 1.348
Australian dollar 1.451
 'Sect of Revolutionaries' claims responsibility for Giolias murderThe terror group "Sect of Revolutionaries" has claimed responsibility for the murder last week of journalist Sokratis Giolias in a proclamation given to the Athens-based daily newspaper "Ta Nea" on Tuesday.
The proclamation, which will be published in full by the paper on Wednesday, refers to the reasons why the group targeted Giolias and is extremely disparaging of several high-profile Greek television journalists and editors, including Themos Anastasiades, Makis Triantafyllopoulos, Nikos Hatzinikolaou, Petros Kostopoulos, George Kouris and Dimitris Kontominas.
The proclamation also contains threats against the police force, public prosecutors, prison guards and prison governors, as well as the social workers working in prisons.
The location of the proclamation was given to journalists in "Ta Nea" at 14:30 on Tuesday afternoon by an unidentified caller. Two journalists following up the call found a CD at the location indicated, which contained a seven-page proclamation on the Giolias killing.
 Missing 17-year-old swimmer found drownedThe drowned body of a 17-year-old boy that went missing while swimming off the coast of Zaharo in Ileia prefecture two days ago was found between the villages of Kakovato and Zaharo on Tuesday.
The boy's father had also died while participating in the search for his missing son on Sunday. Both were foreign nationals.
 German pupils bring message of peaceIn continuation of a tradition that began in the 1980s and continues today, a group of German pupils bearing a message of peace and reconciliation are in Greece as guests of the municipality of Distomo, the site of one of the biggest massacres of WWII during the Nazi occupation of Greece.
This year marks the 66th anniversary of the massacre at Distomo on June 10, 1944, which has gone down in world history as one of the biggest massacres of unarmed civilians in WWII, and was carried out by the German Nazi's just before their defeat and withdrawal from Greece.
The toll was 228 dead, 117 women and 111 men, and among them 53 children under the age of 16.
The praiseworthy initiative of the Evangelical Church of Nuremberg, which commenced in the 1980s and continues this year in cooperation with the municipality of Distomo and the Cultural Association of Distomo, consists in the alternate hosting of German pupils at Distomo and Greek pupils in Nuremberg, Germany.
The purpose of these visits is to keep alive the historical message of fraternity of the two peoples and of peace.
During their week-long visit, the German pupils visited the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum on Tuesday, while on Wednesday they will visit Nafplio and Epidaurus, followed by
Livadia on Thursday and Itea and Galaxidi on Friday, before departing for home on Sunday.
ANA-MPA met with the visiting pupils at the Acropolis, and the most important message they conveyed was: "Never again war. Peace throughout the world".
 Glider crash reported in central GreeceAuthorities were continuing to search the sea around Agios Nikolaos, near the coastal town of Antikyra in Viotia Prefecture, central Greece, on Tuesday following an eye-witness report of a glider crash on Monday evening.
The Coast Guard mobilized following a report by a camper who allegedly had witnessed the crash. A towboat and local people participate in the search.
 Sizeable arms cache seized in Mani, southern GreeceA large number of arms and explosives were seized in Mani in Peloponnese, southern Greece, during a police raid in two private houses that belonged to the same owner who was not present at the time and is still wanted by the authorities.
Police confiscated a military rifle, a Browning pistol, 3 revolvers, a hunting rifle, a semiautomatic Beretta, two Floberts, 2 flare guns, 7 flares, 1,164 cartridges, 168 cap gun cartridges, a backsword and a set of Tasco binoculars.
An investigation is underway to determine the origin and the purpose of the arms cache.
 Sunny on WednesdaySunny weather is forecast through Greece on Wednesday, with the exception of a few isolated showers in the north. Winds northwesterly, 3-7 Beaufort. Temperatures will range from 18C to 34C. Sunny in Attica, with temperatures between 24C and 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 21C to 29C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe tanker truck owners' strike and resulting petrol shortages, the air traffic controllers' 'work to rule' action and the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) "troika" team's inspection were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Long queues outside petrol stations - Strong impact of tanker truck strike".
APOGEVMATINI: "OSE (Hellenic Rail Organisation) 'model' for the loss-making DEKO (public utilities and organisations) - What Papaconstantinou (finance minister) promised to the troika inspectors, who are currently in Greece".
AVGHI: "Whatever the troika says".
AVRIANI: "The chaos caused by the tanker truck owners' strike brings civil mobilisation".
CHORA: "The government on vacation, the troika in the ministries".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government threatens with civil mobilisation - With two policy lines, the government attempts to face the chaos it has created".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government-trucks head-on collision - Liquid fuel stations drying up in the midst of summer holidays".
ESTIA: "Hour of truth for the economy - Structural measures are mandatory".
ETHNOS: "Final blow to tourism, market - Chaos at airports and petrol stations from the strikes".
IMERISSIA: "The guilds paralyzing the country - Black-out in transports, chaos at the airports".
KATHIMERINI: "The country in the vise of strikes - Problems in the movement of goods and fuel - Government unwavering".
LOGOS: "Chaos in the air, queues at the petrol stations - Final blow to the market and tourism by the strikes".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika calls for acceleration of structural changes".
NIKI: "Bankers get off scot free...Salary earners foot the bill".
RIZOSPASTIS: "New, harsher measures against the working people - Government, European Commission, IMF, European Central Bank".
TA NEA: "We've run dry - Cry of agony for commerce and tourism - The reserves at the petrol stations have been exhausted".
TO VIMA: "Triple blockade on transports, vacations, economy - Clash over the opening up of the closed professions".
VRADYNI: "9.7 billion euros in bonds 'burn' PASOK".
 Cyprus protests Turkey's restrictions on Cypriot airlinesNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Minister of Communications and Works Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis has protested strongly to the EU and international organizations the restrictive measures which Turkey applies against Cypriot aircraft.
The protest letter she sent was addressed to the EU Commissioner responsible for Transport Siim Kallas, the General Director of EUROCONTROL David McMillan, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and her EU counterparts.
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern areas, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Ankara, in spite of repeated calls from Brussels, refuses to open its air space to Cypriot aircraft, an obligation it has to meet as part of its accession negotiation course.
This refusal forces the national carrier, Cyprus Airways and Eurocypria, a chartered airline, to avoid Turkish air space and fly over Greece by necessity, often making a detour which adds flying time to various destinations, such as Moscow.
Marcoullis asked the European Commissioner to decisively intervene to rectify this illegal and unacceptable situation, in line with European and international law.
This violation, the minister points out, continues, despite the fact that accession negotiations between Turkey and EU are underway and in spite of the recent aviation agreement between Turkey and Brussels.
In the letter, Marcoullis said that European air space faced another problem caused by the air-traffic controllers' ''work to rule'' strike in Greece. This strike, she noted, caused delays on the flight schedule of several airlines, which however, had the opportunity to change their schedule and avoid the Greek air space.
This was possible for all EU member states, except one, Cyprus, she pointed out. "Cyprus was the only member state that could not avoid Greek air space, because it cannot use the Turkish air space as a result of the illegal prohibition that Turkey has imposed on all Cypriot airlines", she stressed in the letter.
The Turkish prohibition caused significant losses to the two airlines, Cyprus Airways and Eurocypria, due to the cancellation of flights and delays. In the case of Cyprus Airways, the losses reached half a million euro daily.
Marcoullis also stressed to Kallas that the Turkish embargo violates the fundamental principles of the EU on transport, and especially the principle of equality on competition, the right to use the shortest route for safety, economic and environmental reasons.
 Community leaders to sit at dinner with UN top envoyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Alexander Downer, UN SG's Special Adviser on Cyprus, has said that the UN will attend a dinner on Wednesday night between the leaders the two communities, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
According to sources from the Presidential Palace, the dinner will take place at the house of the Turkish Cypriot leader, in the northern occupied part of Nicosia, at 8 o‘clock (1700 GMT) on Wednesday. At the dinner, the two leaders will be accompanied by their spouses. The advisors of the two leaders, George Iacovou and Kudret Ozersay will also attend the dinner.
Downer, speaking after a meeting he had on Tuesday with President Christofias at the Presidential Palace, said that on Wednesday there is the meeting between the two leaders and at night the dinner. "So, I am looking forward to a nice day tomorrow and hopefully the leaders will make good progress", he said.
Asked about the dinner, Downer said that he would prefer to leave the two leaders to talk about and announce it. "There has been an invitation to us to attend the dinner", he said.
On the direct negotiations, and asked if he believes that President Christofias' proposal to link the property issue with the territorial issue can help the negotiations move forward, Downer said that "we have to wait and see how the negotiations go tomorrow (Wednesday) and over the next few weeks. We have got the whole series of meetings lined up, and clearly there is a focus of the negotiations at the moment on the property question and that's pretty much what we are focusing on the course of tomorrow".
Downer referred to a meeting between Iacovou-Ozersay on Monday, saying that they had a talk about the whole issue of the property question.
Replying to a question whether the UN have any proposals about the property issue, Downer said that the UN do not have proposals on the property issue. "We do what we can to help the two sides, to build bridges. You know at the end of the day, the positions of the two parties is a matter for them and not a matter for us", he noted.
Asked if the proposal to link the two issues is still on the table, Downer said it is up to the Turkish Cypriots to speak for themselves on this matter. "It is not up to us to be the commentators about their positions. We will leave that to them", he concluded.
President Christofias and Eroglu are engaged in talks to find a negotiated settlement to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Talks began in September 2008 between Christofias and the then leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat.
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