|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 29 July 2010 Issue No: 3553
 Government orders civil mobilisation to end truckers strikeThe government on Wednesday decided to order a civil mobilisation to end a strike by truck owners that has starved Greece of fuel, by order of Prime Minister George Papandreou. The decision was made after a Wednesday meeting between transport ministry officials and striking freight truck owners, including tanker trucks that transport fuels, ended in deadlock.
Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas had earlier left open the possibility of a civil mobilisation order (requisition of labour) if the strikes continued.
Asked whether this was a possibility as he emerged from a meeting with EU-IMF inspectors, Reppas said the ministry was "looking into" this option and stressed that "the state is not defenceless, society is not unprotected".
The minister also emphasised that he would not make amendments to the draft bill opening the road freight market tabled in Parliament, which truck owners object to.
Transport ministry general secretary Haris Tsiokas, who had participated in the negotiations with truck owners earlier on Wednesday, said the government continued to be in favour of dialogue but would not allow the country to become paralysed.
During the meeting, the striking truck owners rejected the government's proposal to end their strike and then begin dialogue on the measures, as well as a second proposal offering them a second free licence as compensation.
The strikers are asking that the draft bill should not be tabled until the end of August, an option that has been ruled out by the government since it is bound by the EU-IMF memorandum for the financial support package to Greece.
Truck owners are also demanding compensation equal to the value of the licences they now hold and security for the pension rights.
After the outcome of the meeting, the owners' representatives said that they will recommend the continuation of the sector's mobilisations.
Tsiokas said the ministry had presented proposals for further measures that would help truck owners cover their investment during the transitional period. He urged truckers to consider continuing dialogue in a calmer atmosphere and "not in a regime of blackmailing Greek society".
 PM visits Centre for Public Administration (EKDDA)Prime Minister George Papandreou visited the National Centre for Public Administration and Decentralization (EKDDA) on Wednesday, stressing that it can contribute decisively to the efforts aimed at reforming the public sector and the life-long learning and training of civil servants. He added that the organization's goal is to bring a change to the state and shape a new relationship with the people based on trust.
"Our goal is the country's reconstruction and the creation of a productive society based on transparency, meritocracy and life-long learning for civil servants," Papandreou underlined.
"The crisis can be turned into an opportunity to carry out long overdue reforms," he added.
Papandreou observed that "a functional state costs less and the proper relation between civil servants and the citizens will contribute effectively to the change of the state."
"Our goal is to ensure the definitive change of our country to the best so that we will never be faced with such a crisis again," he underlined, adding that "the government is betting on that."
The prime minister was accompanied by Interior Minister Ragoussis and Dep. Min. Dolios.
 Bulgarian Presidency statement on Parvanov-Papandreou meeting in SofiaSofia (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov welcomed the holding of the first joint session of the governments of Bulgaria and Greece, in Sofia on Tuesday, as a new step towards consolidating the friendly relations between the two countries, a statement released by the president's press office said, following Tuesday's meeting between Parvanov and visiting Greek prime minister George Papandreou.
"The Bulgarian head of state welcomed the organization of the first joint sitting of the Bulgarian and Greek governments in Sofia and determined the event a new step towards strengthening of the Bulgarian-Greek friendly relations. The two agreed that the new form of a bilateral dialogue creates an effective mechanism for maximum coordination of the policies of the two countries and brings more pragmatism in all spheres of cooperation," the statement said.
It added that Papandreou briefed Parvanov on the results of the joint session, and also on the series of agreements signed between the two countries on Tuesday in the fields of transport, energy, agriculture and food, security, environmental protection, foreign affairs, culture, tourism, employment and others.
Papandreou also "expressed Greece's gratitude for Bulgaria's support in the EU over the establishment of the Union's constructive position on Greece's efforts to tackle the effects of the financial crisis and confirmed Greece's support for Bulgaria's Schengen accession," the announcement said, adding that the Greek prime minister "also pointed at the stability of the Greek banks in Bulgaria and, in this sense, President Parvanov expressed hopes for the speedy overcoming of the difficulties in the financial-economic and social sector in Greece".
It said that Parvanov and Papandreou "evaluated highly the level of the bilateral trade exchanges between the two countries, the serious presence of Greek investments in Bulgaria and the high tourists exchange", while the two officials also discussed "several issues of the bilateral relations and placed emphasis on the speedy realization of the projects concerning construction and modernization of the infrastructure in the field of energy, transport, and the opening of new border checkpoints".
The statement further said that the two leaders confirmed the upcoming opening of a new border checkpoint at Ivaylovgrad-Kyprinos, and also "stressed the need for higher dynamics in the realization of the goals targeted for achieving equal EU integration of the countries of the Western Balkans", and share the view that integration of the region into the EU "is the only way to strengthen democracy and secure long-term economic stability.
Parvanov "confirmed support" for the Greek government's '2014 Agenda' initiative for EU accession of all the western Balkan countries by that date "and his hope that by 2014 the Western Balkan countries will have finalised the necessary reforms and will have begun accession talks, the statement added.
The two men also discussed the "great importance of the partnership cooperation relations between the EU and the countries of the Black Sea and Caspian region".
Papandreou also conveyed to Parvanov the greetings of Greek President Karolos Papoulias, while Parvanov, in turn, said he was looking forward to Papoulias' upcoming visit to Bulgaria and the joint official celebrations planned for the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Parvanov further noted the prospect of exchanges of cultural exhibitions between the two countries in the context of the anniversary celebration.
 Gov't spokesman Petalotis interviewed by Bulgaria's BNTClose cooperation with Bulgaria is a matter of strategic choice for Greece and Bulgaria was responding in the best possible way, Greek government spokesman George Petalotis said in an interview with Bulgaria's BNT state television channel broadcast on Tuesday.
The interview was given during a visit to Sofia by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou at the head of a team of Greek ministers in order to hold high-level talks on bilateral cooperation.
Petalotis pointed out that a similar meeting had been held with Turkey and stressed that Greece and Bulgaria, as neighbouring countries that were partners within the European Union, had a very broad potential range of cooperation in all areas.
He also noted that the two countries faced similar problems, such as funding their state health systems, where an exchange of views and experience would be very useful.
Asked about the protests by Greek farmers that had resulting in the closure of the Greek-Bulgarian border and created serious problems for Bulgarian exports, Petalotis said that the Greek government made "every effort to resolve the serious problems of Greek farmers" and stressed that such issues were much more easily solved when there was direct contact, dialogue and mutual understanding.
Concerning the stalled Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project, he stressed that Athens' priority was to make the region of the Balkans an energy hub, which would serve this interests of both Greece and Bulgaria and surrounding countries.
"Greece has an energy strategy and we are interested in the implementation of the plan," he added, stressing that all the parameters and specifications for the pipeline must be observed.
The spokesman categorically ruled out the prospect of a default by either Greek banks or the Greek state, stressing that the government's aim was to take the Greek economy to a much higher level than that before the crisis.
 Defense Minister Venizelos met with Bulgarian counterpartThe Greek-Bulgarian defense cooperation, with an emphasis on air cooperation, considering that the Bulgarian airspace is linked with the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Larissa, central Greece, as well as issues of mutual interest within the framework of NATO and the EU common security and defense policy dominated in the meeting National Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos had with his Bulgarian counterpart Anyu Angelov.
The two met in Sofia on Tuesday within the framework of the joint session of Greece-Bulgaria Supreme Cooperation Council.
They also focused on joint activities within the framework of the SE Europe defense ministers' cooperation (SEEDMC), the multinational SE Europe brigade (SEEBRIG) and the European force HELBROC established with the participation of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus.
Bulgaria's participation in NATO's Response Force (NRF) in 2012, when Greece will assume command, was also discussed.
A military cooperation agreement was signed in the presence of the prime ministers of Greece and Bulgaria.
 Defence Minister Venizelos meets EU-IMF inspectorsThe execution of the national defence ministry budget, the outlook for the next fiscal years, the implementation of existing legislation on the earnings of civil servants and the reassessment of the five-year armaments programme (EMPAE) were discussed on Wednesday in the meeting of Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos with the visiting team of inspectors of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) "troika".
They also discussed forecasts concerning the cost and delivery of armaments programmes in the immediate future.
Afterwards, Venizelos told reporters that the meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere, in a constructive spirit and with full understanding of the special role of the ministry of national defence.
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.
 EU-IMF experts briefed on transport issuesInfrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas on Wednesday informed EU, ECB and IMF experts visiting Athens that the government is planning to merge Athens' existing public transport organisations into two large bodies, one dealing with rail systems like the ISAP electric railway, metro and tram and another with the various bus services.
An infrastructure ministry official said the issue was raised during a meeting between Reppas and the EU-IMF team of experts at the finance ministry, in the presence of Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou. According to the same official, the deficits currently run up by the various publicly funded transport bodies is greater than 2.5 billion euros, of which 400 million are debts of the public sector to transport bodies.
The mergers are not expected to result in staff lay-offs, however, but only transfers of staff to other services and positions.
Concerning the debt-ridden Greek Railways Organisation (OSE), which is currently operating at a massive deficit of 10 billion euros, the ministry intends to present a restructuring plan on a technical level on Friday. Of OSE's deficit, 7.5 billion euros was the result of loans taken out to improve its infrastructure.
With respect to taxis - which currently operate on the basis of state-issued licences - the ministry is mulling a new organisation of the profession and the companies operating within it and a new regulation for the sector.
Presenting figures on his ministry's progress in implementing programme projects, Reppas said the ministry's monitoring system currently estimated the implementation rate to be 65 percent and the budgets are at 139 percent.
 Interior Minister on institiutional changesInterior Minister Yannis Raggoussis met on Wednesday with a visiting team of inspectors of the IMF, ECB and European Commission 'troika'. After the meeting Raggoussis told reporters that he briefed the delegation on the institiutional changes that his ministry is implementing his ministry and the results.
More specifically, the Minister underlined that the changes are "institiutional changes that guarantee that the Greek economy's exit from the crisis will be permanent and not temporary, and will guarantee that this time the Greek people's sacrifices will not be in vain".
 Troika experts meet health ministry's leadershipThe health ministry's leadership met on Wednesday with EU, ECB and IMF experts visiting Athens.
According to reports, the troika experts expressed satisfaction over the implementation of measures for the decrease of expenditures in hospitals.
 Troika experts meet ND leaderEU, ECB and IMF experts visiting Athens met on Wednesday with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras.
According to reports, talks focused on issues regarding growth and ND's proposals for Greece's exit from the crisis which were unveiled recently by Samaras.
 Justice Minister Kastanidis on measures for speedier administration of justiceThe first package of measures included in two draft laws destined to ensure speedier administration of justice and settlement of differences, were presented to the appropriate parliamentary committee on Wednesday by Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis.
The measures include the practice of mediation in civil and commercial cases enacted for the first time in Greece that will lead to speedier and more affordable settlement of differences.
Kastanidis characterized the procedure as flexible and fast, confidential and non binding, stressing that there are no winners or losers as both parties win.
If the case reaches the courts, the rights or obligations of the interested parties are unaffected and the mediation is regarded as "never done".
The draft laws will be presented for discussion during the parliament's summer sessions.
The parliamentary committee was also briefed on a justice ministry initiative concerning judicial protection in the award of public contracts in accordance with Directive 2007/66/EC.
The draft law establishes a system of regulations aimed at averting the likelihood of signing public contracts prematurely before the necessary judicial control takes place. In addition, the courts will have the authority to declare an illegal public contract as void or inapplicable and even impose sanctions.
Cases concerning public contracts will be judged by the administrative appellate courts, while the Council of State (CoS) will be authorized to rule on major public contracts of over 15 million euros in the sectors of water supply, energy, transport and postal services.
Kastanidis stressed that the incorporation of the EC Directive into the national legislation will contribute to lifting dysfunctions in the award of public contracts and remedy the inability of the justice system to control such dysfunctions.
 Loverdos denies rumors of cash flow problems in auxiliary fundsEmployment minister Andreas Loverdos categorically denied on Wednesday press reports that the EU-IMF troika inspectors currently in Greece have ascertained cash flow problems in the country's auxiliary funds, and assured that the funds have full financial adequacy for many years to come.
As such, he also assured that there is no issue of cuts in the auxiliary pensions, and attributed the rumors to "professionals of lies".
"No auxiliary fund of the three visited by troika representatives today (Wednesday) has a cash flow fund," he said, adding that the rumors were lies and were being spread "perhaps in order to create a political issue that supposedly the troika representatives, in visiting the auxiliary funds, ascertained financial problems leading to cuts in the auxiliary pensions".
"That is totally untrue," he said. "Quite the opposite, from the troika's visits to three social security funds -- TEADY, TAITEKO and ETEAM -- it was ascertained that they have financial adequacy for many, many more years."
"Some professionals of lies are saying the opposite purposely in order to create a political issue," Loverdos said, during a briefing of a relevant parliamentary committee.
 Parliamentary parties condemn terrorismThe parliamentary parties condemned terrorism late Tuesday, following the "Revolutionaries' Sect" terror group's assumption earlier in the day of last week's killing of journalist Socrates Giolias.
The terror group claimed responsibility for the attack in a 7-page proclamation to the Athens-based daily newspaper "Ta Nea" on Tuesday, giving the reasons why it targeted Giolias and making threats against the police force, public prosecutors, prison guards and prison governors, as well prison social workers.
The ruling PASOK and opposition parties' parliamentary spokespersons condemned terrorism in statements on Tuesday night.
"Democracy cannot be terrorised, but is reinforced through the collective effort of the Greek people in the fight against terrorism, which will continue unwavering and with success," PASOK spokesman Christos Papoutsis said.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Costas Markopoulos said that the "threats against politicians, journalists, publishers and prison governors indicate that something is changing the way that some sick minds want to terrorise".
He said the government will have the assistance and support of everyone in order to do its job as quickly as possible and to give a speedy solution to the 'Damoclean sword' of terrorism.
"Today's proclamation must serve as an incentive to us to carry out our responsibility towards society," he added.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) spokesman Thanasis Pafilis said that "terrorist organisations comprise manipulation of the system and disorient the people, but they will not succeed".
"It is the duty of the government to uncover them so that we will one day learn the truth, as was the case when it was revealed that the apartment in which Aldo Moro was held had been leased by the CIA," Pafilis added.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) spokesman Asterios Rondoulis said that "the message that we must send to them (terrorists) is that with their latest terrorist action they gained absolutely nothing".
"The only thing they earned was social abhorrence and the citizens' universal refusal to accept such actions, which are tainted with blood," he added.
 Police examining terror group's proclamation on Giolias murderCounter-terrorism squad experts are carefully examining the "Sect of Revolutionaries" proclamation claiming responsibility for the murder of journalist Sokratis Giolias, Greek police said on Wednesday.
The proclamation was sent to the newspaper "Ta Nea" on Tuesday and published in full by the paper on Wednesday.
Concerning a reference within the proclamation that Giolias had in recent months had a two-man police guard, police headquarters confirmed that two men on motorbikes had been accompanying the journalist recently but said that only one was a police officer.
They clarified that the police officer in question was serving as a guard for the Supreme Court president but was not acting on the orders of his superiors, while neither the police nor the president of the Supreme Court had been informed of his activities.
The man involved told his superiors that he was helping out Giolias because they were old friends who met through their involvement in sports.
The proclamation itself is seen by experts as a "show of strength" on the part of the terror organisation, since the seven-page written text was accompanied by a photograph of their equipment that included three Kalashnikov automatic rifles, 12 guns, a revolver, and a semi-automatic thought to be a "Scorpion".
The guns are also arranged in such as way as to be reminiscent of the way the now dismantled "November 17" presented its own arms cache.
A large part of the proclamation was devoted to the group's inactivity over the last 13 months, which it said was a stage of preparation for taking its action onto another level, when it would emerge "more capable, more meaningful and more dangerous".
"During this time several of us trained in weapons, learned new techniques, read and were informed on unknown until then fighting situations, exchanged experiences and thoughts with other fighters and restocked in the supplies/equipment sector."
It also refers in detail to the operation to kill Giolias, from the initial surveillance to his final execution, saying the journalist "had made his choices".
"He chose to live as a rodent in the kingdom of mud, his sordid circle, and we as wolves outside of the herd".
As the main reason for targeting Giolias, the group gave the journalist's "dominant position in the electronic form of new journalism".
Aside from Giolias, the proclamation contained heavy-handed criticism of other well-known television journalists and high-profile publishers, such as Makis Triantafyllopoulos, Petros Kostopoulos, Themos Anastasiadis, Nikos Hatzinikolaou, George Kouris and Dimitris Kontominas.
The group stressed, however, that it is not imposed with the blogs that made Giolias its target and was in favour of anonymity as a "necessary shield of protection for enemies of the establishment and a healthy condition for truly alternative, self-managing mass media."
The group claimed that it took pains to ensure that Giolias' execution would not take place within his home with his wife and child but warned eye-witnesses not to cooperate with police in any way, saying that anything else would be "unacceptable".
The proclamation went on to say that the execution of the specific journalist and the urban guerrilla attacks of the last year had created a negative image of security in Greece abroad and were a direct blow to the Greek tourism industry.
"The ultimate planning and duty of an urban guerrilla is to disorganise the interior of his country, to strike the national economy and stain the public image abroad," it said. This section was also in the proclamation sent on the murder of police officer Nektarios Savvas in June 2009.
As its next targets, the group turned its fire on the DIAS police units and threatened public prosecutors and prison system staff, warning them to "change their stance" in their treatment of prisoners.
Police are taking the organisation's threats seriously and have instructed police officers on patrol to exercise exceptional caution.
They are also carefully analysing the phrases used in the proclamation, whose author they believe is the same as the one who wrote the "Sect's" first proclamation after the attack on a police station in Korydallos and on Alter television station. They hope this will help them gain clues concerning the identity of the culprits and their background.
 Sakis Tzakopoulos to run for Thessaloniki mayorFormer chairman of the Technical Chamber of Central Macedonia and former managing director of EYATH (Thessaloniki Water Board) Sakis Tzakopoulos announced on Wednesday that he will run for mayor of Thessaloniki in November's local administration elections.
Tzakopoulos made the announcement at a press conference, clarifying that he will stand as an independent candidate.
 Gov't unveils ambitious development investment programThe Greek government on Wednesday unveiled a development program aimed at improving the country's energy sector, strengthening environmental protection and upgrading quality of life in the country.
The program was presented by the political leadership of the Environment, Energy and Climatic Change ministry and aims to attract and implement development investments worth 44.44 billion euros by 2015, which are expected to create 210,000 new jobs, of which 27,000 will be permanent.
The Program of Development Interventions focuses in the future, between 2020 and 2030. For a Greece responding timely to international financial, social and environmental challenges. A Greece seeking to play an important role, locally and regionally in a new reality brought by "green economy".
The main characteristics of the program are: attracting and implementing development investments budgeted at 44.44 billion euros by 2015, creating more than 210,000 new job positions of which 27,000 permanent, boosting economic activity in constructions, equipment production, financial services, services and communications, transferring significant know-how through the creation of new sectors and products, better management of human resources and achieving significant fiscal benefits.
The Development Interventions Program aims at dealing with climate change through the transition in a competitive economy of low coal consumption. Investment budget is projected at 31.8 billion euros while job creation is project at more than 169,000. Sustainable management and protection of natural resources (an investment budget of 2.3 billion euros with 11,00 job positions is envisaged). Upgrading living quality with respect to the environment (investment budget of 9.5 billion euros with 30,000 new jobs). Strengthening mechanisms and institutions of environmental governance (investment budget of 846.7 million euros with 2,400 new jobs).
"Through this program, the government is promoting solutions for the most significant problems facing the Greek economy today, seeking to achieve independency and sustainability," a ministry announcement said.
 Gov't on new law for over-indebted consumersThe government is offering tangible support to Greek households, government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Wednesday, referring to a law allowing allowing over-extended Greek households to reschedule their debts with credit institutions.
Under the law passed by Parliament on Tuesday, loan recipients who are unable to make payments can apply for an out-of-court compromise with their creditors as of Sept. 1, 2010, while the relevant court procedure will be activated in the beginning of 2011 when courts will undertake to rule on debt settlements.
Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli presented details of the new legislation in a press conference on Wednesday.
Roughly 150,000 loan recipients are expected to make use of the legislation for over-indebted consumers passed in parliament on Tuesday.
 Airport passenger traffic up 0.1 pct in H1Passenger traffic in the Athens International Airport remained virtually unchanged compared with last year's levels in the first half of 2010, recording a 0.1 pct increase. The number of passengers totaled 7.2 million in the January-June period, despite a 3.5 pct decline in the number of flights, particularly in the second quarter of 2010.
This performance maintained the Athens International Airport's position within the European average in passenger traffic (-0.3 pct) and in the number of flights (-3.8 pct).
International passenger traffic rose 0.4 pct in the first six months of the year, compared with the corresponding period in 2009, totaling 4.5 million passengers, while domestic traffic eased 0.4 pct (2.8 million passengers), with the Middle East (+18 pct) and Asia (+4.0 pct) recording traffic increases.
The airport announced it would offer a seasonal financial incentive to airlines recording an increase in passenger traffic, valid until October 2010, along with access in a wide data base.
 Credit expansion slowed further in JuneCredit expansion slowed further in June, with the annual growth rate of lending to domestic enterprises and households easing to 2.5 pct from 2.8 pct in May and 4.2 pct in December 2009, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. The central bank, in a report, said lending to enterprises was unchanged while lending to households continued falling in June.
New lending to domestic enterprises totaled 469 million euros in June for an annual growth rate of 3.4 pct, unchanged from May but down from 5.1 pct in December 2009. Credit expansion in the manufacturing sector accelerated in June, although the annual rate remained negative (June -0.6 pct, May -2.0 pct, December 2009 -3.5 pct), as in the shipping sector (6.0 pct, 3.2 pct and 4.0 pct), electricity-water-gas (36.4 pct, 23.0 pct and 14.7 pct) and the other sector (6.5 pct, 5.6 pct 10.4 pct).
On the other hand, credit expansion slowed in commerce (June -1.6 pct, May -1.3 pct, December 2009 4.2 pct), the constructions sector (2.2 pct, 2.4 pct, 2.7 pct), tourism (4.3 pct, 5.7 pct, 7.8 pct) and communications-transport (23.4 pct, 26.1 pct, 25.5 pct).
New lending to Greek households was a negative 133 million euros, for an annual growth rate of 1.5 pct in June from 2.0 pct in May and 3.1 pct in December 2009. Net new mortgage lending was 34 million euros in June for an annual growth rate of 2.5 pct, from 3.0 pct in May and 3.7 pct in December 2009. Consumer loans' growth was zero in June, after a negative 0.1 pct in May and a 2.0 pct growth in December 2009.
 Hellenic Exchanges say net profit down 41 pct in H1Hellenic Exchanges SA on Wednesday reported a 41 pct decline in its consolidated net after-tax earnings to 10 million euros in the first half of 2010, from 16.9 million euros in the same period last year, burdened by an extra tax charge of 7.9 million euros.
Consolidated turnover rose 11 pct to 35.5 million euros in the January-June period, from 32 million last year, operating spending fell 6.0 pct to 10.9 million and net earnings per share -including an extra tax charge- was 0.15 euros, down from 0.26 euros per share in 2009.
Turnover in the second quarter of 2010 fell 15 pct to 16.4 million euros, with revenues from clearing operations falling 25 pct to 4.8 million euros. Revenues from share transactions fell 24 pct to 3.1 million euros, while revenues from the derivatives market rose 18 pct to 2.6 million euros.
 Stocks fall on profit takingGreek stocks edged lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as investors took profits after a two-day rally in the market. The composite index fell 0.26 pct to end at 1,688 points, with turnover shrinking to 144.465 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 0.72 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.89 pct higher and the Small Cap index eased 0.55 pct. The Raw Materials (5.74 pct), Utilities (4.25 pct) and Chemicals (4.14 pct) scored gains, while Health (2.26 pct) and Banks (1.53 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 105 to 70 with another 54 issues unchanged. Atlantic (20 pct), Klonatex (16.67 pc) and Cardico (15.79 pct) were top gainers, while Vell Group (19.64 pct), Zampa (9.56 pct) and Euroholdings (7.69 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.41%
Personal & Household: +2.08%
Raw Materials: +5.74%
Travel & Leisure: +0.15%
Food & Beverages: -0.96%
Financial Services: -1.43%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Motor Oil.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.84
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.69
HBC Coca Cola: 17.74
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.05
National Bank of Greece: 11.55
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.40
Bank of Piraeus: 5.07
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 38 million euros on Wednesday, of which 33 million were buy orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were sell orders. The 32-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 9.0 million euros. The 10-year Greek bond yielded 10.19 pct, down from 10.28 pct on Tuesday.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month 1.14 pct, the three-month 0.90 pct and the one-month rate 0.64 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.71 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange with turnover rising slightly to 69.456 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,489 contracts worth 56.600 million euros, with 22,893 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,495 contracts worth 12.856 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,864), followed by Eurobank (1,867), MIG (1,378), OTE (768), Piraeus Bank (1,291), Alpha Bank (2,338), Marfin Popular Bank (716), Mytilineos (1,099), Cyprus Bank (823), Hellenic Postbank (765) and ATEbank (1,186).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.309
Pound sterling 0.840
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.555
Japanese yen 114.92
Swiss franc 1.387
Norwegian kroner 8.044
Canadian dollar 1.349
Australian dollar 1.463
 German pupils bring message of peaceThis year marks the 66th anniversary of the massacre in 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 leaving behind a toll of 228 dead, 117 women and 111 men, and among them 53 children under the age of 16.
A praiseworthy initiative of the Evangelical Church of Nuremberg, which commenced in the 1980s and consists of the hosting of German pupils at Distomo and Greek pupils in Nuremberg, Germany on alternate years, continues this year in cooperation with the municipality of Distomo and the Cultural Association of Distomo.
The purpose of these visits is to keep alive the historical message of fraternity of the two peoples and of peace.
The hope and desire of the Greek and German youngsters, which ANA-MPA met and talked to during a visit to the Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum, is "Never again war - Peace throughout the world".
The visiting German pupils and their escorts said they were enthused with the history, culture, beauty and hospitality of Greece, admitting that they know much more about Ancient Greece than modern-day Greece.
Some of the comments:
Sophie: "At first I had reservations about what I would face at Distomo, but the welcome of the local residents and their hospitality made me feel very comfortable and helped me understand that they accept us as friends."
Claudia (one of the German children's two escorts): "We consider this trip a big opportunity to get to know the children and residents of Distomo, to learn more about the region's history and to take a step forward as the generation of reconciliation. Yesterday we visited the Monument at Distomo and were truly moved".
Julienne: "I felt shock as I watched the documentary 'A Song for Argyris', a few days before we came to Greece. I felt very badly about what had been done in the Distomo region by the German soldiers during WWII. But our presence here today sends a message of reconciliation and peace."
Katerina Pantiska: "We are thrilled that these children are here. With this exchange we want to show that we can reconcile with these people. There is nothing that divides us, they are not our enemies, we have forgiven what happened at Distomo. We don't forget it, but we can be friends without prejudices. This is true not only for us, but for all the residents of Distomo, because they are all glad about this exchange between Greece and Germany. I believe that this friendship between us will continue and will last beyond this short visit of the German pupils to Greece."
Mina Kotsou, member of the board of directors of the Cultural Association of Distomo: "This effort began in the 1980's, at the initiative of the Evangelical Church of Nuremberg, and from the first moment the people of Distomo embraced it, there was no hostility towards the children. Distomo does not feel hate towards the German people. On the contrary we await them every year with much love. There is no prejudice, even by those people who have lost people dear to them. The Distomo residents do not hold on to hate, although we do not forget our dead, whom we honor every year. This exchange has precisely that purpose: to promote friendship among the young people and consolidate world peace. Preservation of hatred serves no one. What we want is that there will never be another Distomo.".
The young pupils from Germany will spend seven days in Greece, and will depart on Sunday. On Wednesday they will visit Nafplio and Epidaurus, on Thursday Livadia, on Friday Itea and Galaxidi and, naturally, they will also make excursions to the nearby beaches for summer swimming.
History of the Reparations
Seeking the fate of the reparations sought by the Distomo residents from the German state, ANA-MPA spoke with lawyer Kelly Stamouli, daughter of the late lawyer Ioannis Stamoulis, who began the judicial struggle. Below is her full statement on the course of the judicial marathon up to the present:
"In 1995, a lawsuit was drafted and submitted by Ioannis Stamoulis in which the relatives of the victims of the 3rd Reich in Distomo sought from the German state their material and moral compensation for the crimes/atrocities committed against their relatives by the soldiers of the 3rd Reich. Legally, this move is considered a "global first", since for the first time reparations were demanded individually by the relatives of victims from a foreign State (in other words by individuals and not by a state).
Thus, in 1997, Ruling number 137/97 of the Livadia Court of First Instance was issued, which vindicated the Distomo residents and called for reparation for mental anguish.
In 2000 the German state sought annulment of the ruling in Areios Pagos (the Greek Supreme Court), claiming that Germany held the privilege of extraterritoriality -- in other words that it is not possible for (Germany) to be on trial in a foreign country for crimes committed in the past. It considers, in other words, that Germany must face trial in the German courts and not in the courts of another country (!!!)
Areios Pagos Plenary ruling no. 11/2000 was issued, which rejected the German state's petition for reversal, and thus from that moment Germany was obliged to pay to the Distomo residents the amounts of money ruled by the Livadia First Instance Court in 1997 (approximately 60 million euros, with interest, up to the present).
Germany refused to submit the sums of money it owes by virtue of the above ruling, and thus Ioannis Stamoulis proceeded to a forced execution of the ruling against the German State's property assets in Greece.
The German state immediately filed for annulment (in 2002) and claimed that in order for forced execution (of the ruling) against (German) assets in Greece prior permission of the Justice Minister was required under provision 923 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It is noted that such a provision does not exist in any other country in the world!!!
The annulment petition of the German state was upheld by the Greek court, and as such the Distomo residents were unable to collect their money since all the Justice Ministers since 2000 to the present refuse to give permission.
In 2004 Ioannis Stamoulis, realising the impasse caused by each given Justice Minister, 'set in motion' Regulation 44/2001 of the European Council by virtue of which the irreversible Greek ruling of the Livadia court might be declared enforceable in another member state of the European Union. He chose Italy to set this process in motion and indeed, in November 2008 (after a four-year battle in Italy, as well), the Livadia court's ruling was declared enforceable in Italy. In other words the Distomo residents may be vindicated by the Italian judges, since the Greek state obstinately refuses to be sensitised and compensate the Greeks...
It is noted that the Greek Justice Ministry can at any time give the green light for continuation of the procedure of forced execution, and consequently for the compensation, finally, of the Greeks for the German atrocities. The current Justice Minister has not taken a clear-cut position on his intentions regarding this issue, which has been beleaguering so many Greeks for so many years.
In the meantime, Germany has taken recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, questioning to what degree Italy acted legally in recognising (declaring the Greek decision enforceable in Italy) to the Greeks the right to receive compensation from Germany's assets in Italy. It is rumored that Germany had recourse to The Hague in order to discourage other countries from seeking reparations (via individual recourse, like the Distomo residents) for the crimes of the 3rd Reich. Two months ago, with a Decree, the prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, suspended all procedures of execution against property assets of a foreign state until the end of 2011.
It is evident that the Distomo issue has now taken on global dimensions, and it is being proven that Ioannis Stamoulis' initiative and battle has agitated the international legal circles!"
 Armed robbery in Stylida, central GreeceTwo armed robbers, wearing jockey hats and sunglasses, stormed an ATEbank (Agricultural Bank of Greece) branch in the coastal town of Stylida, Fthiotida Prefecture, in central Greece on Wednesday morning and made off with the sum of 24,000 euros using a getaway car they had stolen a few hours earlier.
The robbers were spotted and chased by a police patrol car but they escaped arrest after abandoning their vehicle and disappearing into nearby olive groves.
 Fire in Sithonia, HalkidikiA wild fire was reported at around 15:00 on Wednesday at Manolakoudi on the Itamos mountain range of Sithonia, the "second leg" of the Halkidiki peninsula.
Two aircraft, one helicopter, 20 firemen and 10 fire-engines, assisted by units on foot, were sent to put out the blaze.
 Foreign tourists discovered antiquities in the sea region of CorfuA clay vessel and a large fragment of pottery were located at the bottom of the sea by two foreign nationals on board the French flag leisure boat "ISALIO" that had anchored at Garitsa Bay off the Ionian Sea island of Corfu.
The findings were brought to the surface on Tuesday after the local Coast Guard was informed of the discovery and will be handed over to the responsible authorities.
 Sunny on ThursdayMainly sunny weather is forecast on Thursday, with a few clouds from the afternoon. Winds mainly from northerly directions, 3-7 Beaufort. Temperatures from 14C to 35C. Sunny in Attica with temperatures between 24C and 33C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18C to 31C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe fuel shortages at petrol stations due to tanker truck owners' ongoing strike, the EU-IMF troika's inspections and its recommendations for lay-offs and closing of deficit-making Public Utilities and corporations (DEKO), and the Revolutionaries' Sect terrorist group proclamation claiming journalist Socrates Giolias' killing, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Black-out throughout the country - Petrol stations' reservoirs empty - Truck owners decide to continue their strike and escalate mobilisations".
APOGEVMATINI: "PASOK's bullies in action: They are attempting to hide evidence and are threatening witnesses (in the parliamentary fact-finding commissions)".
AVGHI: "College diplomas for sale".
AVRIANI: "Revolutionaries' Sect proclamation/'memorandum' with threats against politicians, publishers, entrepreneurs, judges, journalists and police".
CHORA: "Troika demands 14,000 layoffs in DEKO".
ELEFTHEROS: "Half of PASOK implicated in Vatopedi scandal".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "At last, find a solution now - People' reserves have 'run out' of patience".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Plan ready for civil mobilisation of strikers - Drivers and products blocked by the truck strike".
ESTIA: "The damage to tourism is immeasurable - Country's reputation abroad devastated".
ETHNOS: "Government toughens its position towards truck owners: Ultimatum for civil mobilisation".
IMERISSIA: "Bank stocks rally - 4.13 percent surge in Athens Stock Exchange and scenarios for deals".
KATHIMERINI: "Government studies the possibility of civil mobilisation if the truck owners do not accept government's proposal for an additional licence".
LOGOS: "Greece has run out of petrol - Problems on the islands - Government-truck owners clash reaches the extremes".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Rumours of bank deals boost bank share prices".
NIKI: "Justice 'takes up arms' against the memorandum of shame - Block on salary and pension cuts".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Privatisations- downgrading of the Tertiary (Higher) Education - Education Ministry grants operating licenses to 30 of the 40 Post-Lyceum Educational Centres (franchise Colleges) in Greece that have filed applications".
TA NEA: "Show of force and threats of new attacks contained in Revolutionaries' Sect proclamation".
TO VIMA: "The auxiliary pensions at the IMF's mercy".
VRADYNI: "What the new development bill foresees: Investments by the dropper".
 Leaders meet in very good atmosphere, Downer saysNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, continued the discussion on property issue on Wednesday in a very good atmosphere, Alexander Downer, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General on Cyprus, has said.
Speaking after Wednesday's meeting, which took place in the framework of the direct negotiations at the United Nations Protected Area of Nicosia, Downer said that the leaders had a meeting, for slightly under two hours, in a very good atmosphere.
"It was a very positive atmosphere today. They continued the discussions about property, and the representatives will be meeting again on Friday afternoon (30th July) to continue with those discussions, and the leaders are to meet again on the 4th of August next week, and then they have a meeting on the 10th of August as well", he said.
Replying to a question on the substance of the talks, on the property issue, Downer reiterated that Wednesday's meeting was a very good meeting.
"This is one of those issues where the quality of the meetings inevitably varies from time to time, as you would expect in every single negotiation that ever takes place anywhere in the world. But today's (Wednesday) meeting was held in a very good atmosphere", he noted.
As to the substance of the negotiations, Downer said that he is not going to get into the substance of the negotiations, noting that all negotiations have to be held with a degree of privacy.
Peace talks began in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Eroglu, who succeeded Talat in April this year.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 President Christofias and Eroglu attend dinnerCyprus President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Dervis Eroglu attended a dinner on Wednesday night at Eroglu's residence in Cyprus occupied areas.
Both leaders were accompanied by their spouses.
Present at the dinner were UN Secretary General's Special Adviser Alexander Downer and the advisers of the community leaders with their spouses.
"This is a social meeting of two Cypriots who represent the two communities, in an effort to create social, human relations," President Christofias said.
This is the second social encounter between the two community leaders, since Eroglu replaced Mehmet Ali Talat in April, as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community attended a dinner, hosted by the UN, at a local restaurant, in the UN controlled buffer zone in May 25.
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