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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 30 July 2010 Issue No: 3554


  • [01] PM: Opening of closed professions will help growth
  • [02] PM visits Fire Brigade Operations Center
  • [03] Alt. FM Droutsas to visit Belgrade and Pristina
  • [04] Alt. FM Droutsas to meet with UN special envoy Downer
  • [05] Labor minister briefs troika experts of program implementation
  • [06] EU-IMF troika meets BoG governor
  • [07] Parliament passes laws on salary raises, exploiting state assets
  • [08] GSEE calls for ILO intervention; union leaders meet troika reps
  • [09] New IKA-ETAM governor approved by Parliament
  • [10] Crucial meeting between striking truckers and transport minister
  • [11] Striking truckers to decide Friday
  • [12] Environment ministry sets up National Water Council
  • [13] ND leader addresses supporters in Mytilini
  • [14] Tsipras visits Crete, opposes development on Elafonissi
  • [15] Appeals to CoS against austerity measures
  • [16] Consulates closed in restructuring of foreign ministry services
  • [17] Greek-US talks on energy issues
  • [18] Defence minister presents EU deal for Skaramangas Shipyard
  • [19] Interview by Dep. Min. Nikitiadis: 'Initiatives reverse Greece's negative image abroad'
  • [20] Greek PPI up 6.5 pct in June
  • [21] Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling reports positive H1 results
  • [22] ASE surpasses 1,700 level
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [26] Five people sustained stab wounds during scuffle
  • [27] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] Kyprianou and Downer discuss Cyprus problem and solution prospects
  • [29] Downer sees positive sentiments and hope after leaders‘ dinner

  • [01] PM: Opening of closed professions will help growth

    Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday the opening of closed professions was not an issue of the Memorandum signed between Greece and European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) but that his government "considers it as a help to young people, as a move that opens the market and the possibilities for better and cheaper services."

    "It essentially opens the possibilities for growth," the premier also said while addressing a cabinet meeting that focused on the opening of closed professions. Papandreou asked from Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou to go ahead with the shaping of a general framework of principles regarding the issue.

    The prime minister also said that the measures his government has taken aimed at "handling the situation it inherited," adding: "We now continue our work, a work of permanent changes and overturnings."

    Papandreou noted that his governmemnt has "managed, despite difficulties and with the Greek people's sacrifices to save the country, by achieving what many, inside and outside Greece, considered unfeasible."

    "Greece begins to change," he said.

    Referring to the EU-IMF support package loan to Greece, the prime minister said that it provided the country with time and allowed it to begin from a different starting point. He also said the year 2011 will be a difficult one, but with the government intensifying its efforts on its social programme and growth by creating the appropriate climate for investments.

    "We are those who will take the country out from supervision. We are those who will secure the possibility of taking decisions without supervisions," Papandreou underlined.

    [02] PM visits Fire Brigade Operations Center

    Prime minister George Papandreou on Thursday visited the Fire Brigade's Operations Center and the 6th fire brigade station, where he congratulated the corps on its "super-human efforts".

    He also praised the corps for its successful coordination in tackling fires, adding that efforts are being made to upgrade the fire stations in material means.

    The premier further stressed that coordination between the fire brigade and local governments and volunteers is the key to preventing a repeat of past tragedies.

    "We are in the middle of the summer, and hope that everything will go well," Papandreou added.

    [03] Alt. FM Droutsas to visit Belgrade and Pristina

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will depart for Belgrade and Pristina on Friday and will be received by Serb President Boris Tadic and Patriarch Irinej of Serbia. A Greek-Serbian Memorandum of Cooperation on European Union issues is scheduled to be signed at the meeting he will have with Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.

    In Belgrade, he will be meeting with Greek businessmen, while in Pristina he will have contacts with Kosovo leaders Fatmi Sejdiu and Hashim Thaci.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stated that the visit will be carried out in light of the ICJ advisory opinion, and after consultations with the EU partners and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in the General Affairs Council in Brussels.

    "Greece's message is that the future of the region lies in the EU," Delavekouras pointed out.

    "We believe that the advisory opinion can serve as a springboard for a substantial political process that will facilitate cooperation and understanding with a view to the European future of the region," the FM spokesman stated.

    "Greece's position on the issue of Kosovo is well known and not changing. We should focus on the future and leave the past behind. Greece has a specific role in the region and is called on to meet its responsibilities," Delavekouras stated. He also pointed out that Greece has a decisive role in the European perspective of the western Balkan region referring to the Thessaloniki strategy and the Agenda 2014 roadmap.

    [04] Alt. FM Droutsas to meet with UN special envoy Downer

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will meet with the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras announced on Thursday.

    The Alt. FM will express Greece's full support of Cypriot President Demetris Christofias' package of proposals as regards the negotiation.

    "These proposals can lend momentum to the negotiation process and significantly improve the climate. They show that President Christofias is a step ahead in the initiatives to resolve the Cyprus issue," Delavekouras said, adding that "hopefully, the Turkish side will respond positively."

    [05] Labor minister briefs troika experts of program implementation

    The implementation of a stability program by the Labor and Social Insurance ministry was at the focus of a meeting between Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos and troika experts on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, the Greek minister said talks covered all policies and troika experts agreed that the ministry was moving ahead of schedule with the program.

    Loverdos said the ministry was not experiencing any problems with supplementary pensions to any pension fund and said that a report on the country's pension system was expected by October. He also presented figures showing a 25.8 pct reduction in spending for pharmaceutical products by the Social Insurance Fund (IKA) and expressed his satisfaction over improved contribution revenues by other pension funds.

    IKA reported an 1.8 pct decline in revenues reflecting higher unemployment in the country.

    [06] EU-IMF troika meets BoG governor

    A team of inspectors of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika met on Thursday afternoon with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos in the presence of Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

    Provopoulos briefed the inspectors on the state of the Greek banking system and the results of a stress test regarding the Greek banks.

    On Friday morning the inspectors are due to meet Papaconstantinou while they are expected next week to draw up their report on the basis of which a second tranche of the EU-IMF support package loan to Greece will be disbursed.

    [07] Parliament passes laws on salary raises, exploiting state assets

    Parliament on Thursday passed legislation that will freeze the powers of labour arbitration tribunals to award salary increases for a year, even in the private sector. Also passed were measures giving the government powers to proceed with the exploitation of state assets without going through the Court of Audit.

    The controversial legislation was passed by 53 votes for and 47 against, having the support of ruling PASOK and in some cases the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party. The amendment on salary increases was tabled by Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos in response to two decisions by the Organisation for Mediation and Arbitration (OMED) that gave specific professional groups an annual salary hike greater than that agreed in the memorandum signed by Greece for the EU-IMF bailout package.

    In addition to the one-year freeze on OMED salary increases, it restricts increases in the lowest salaries and wages to the levels of average European inflation for the space of two years.

    Also passed were measures allowing the finance ministry to use state bonds as a compensation payment to laid-off Olympic Airways staff and postponing the collection of a tax on TV advertisements until October.

    More broadly accepted was an amendment that makes the State General Accounting Office in charge of monitoring the execution of the budget, which was also supported by main opposition New Democracy.

    Answering to charges of effectively abolishing labour arbitration, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said the bill did not abolish OMED or collective labour agreements but was a signal that when the country "is in the current fiscal state and social bodies had taken some very responsible decisions, no one has a right to diverge from them."

    Replying, ND MP Kostas Markopoulos accused the government of trying to relieve employers from the obligations to give salary increases in exchange for the indirect taxes and emergency levy that they paid.

    In criticism of the amendment for exploiting state assets without going through the Court of Audit, opposition parties questioned whether the measure was constitutional.

    The finance minister clarified that the legislation aims to give the Interministerial Privatisations Committee the power to evaluate state assets that is not given by current legislation, such as for radio and television frequencies.

    He said that the law imposing a pre-contract inspection of agreements greater than one million euros had not been applied to privatisations since 2002. This position was, however, disputed by ND, while other MPs noted that the Court of Audit staff association had condemned the measure.

    The left-wing parties, in particular, were highly critical of the measure that delayed payment of TV advertising taxes, pointing out that the government made no delay in "looting the income of workers".

    [08] GSEE calls for ILO intervention; union leaders meet troika reps

    The urgent activation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) standing control mechanism was requested by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) in a memorandum submitted on Thursday. In this the union alleged that fundamental International Labour Contracts were being violated by legislative measures adopted by the government.

    The key-points of the memorandum concern the state's intervention in collective labour agreements with the adoption of permanent measures, the abolition of minimum wages, the disruption of labour relations, the impact on workers' rights, the serious reductions in salaries and pensions and radical social insurance reforms.

    GSEE maintained that "the country's commitments to its international creditors cannot be used to justify the attack on workers' fundamental rights that are guaranteed by the Greek Constitution and binding International Labour Contracts."

    Meanwhile, in a meeting with the representatives of the IMF, ECB and European Commission, known as the "troika", GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos reiterated the steadfast position of the private sector umbrella union that the measures adopted are "tough and socially unjust", referring particularly to the cuts in low pensions.

    Panagopoulos stated that there should be no more interventions in the private sector, adding that the trade unions and the employers have proved that they can handle the sector's problems on their own through negotiations.

    [09] New IKA-ETAM governor approved by Parliament

    Parliament on Thursday approved the appointment of Rovertos Spyropoulos as the new governor of Greece's largest social insurance fund that insures the majority of private-sector employees, IKA-ETAM.

    The vote was virtually unanimous, having the support of both main parties and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS).

    During a hearing in Parliament, Spyropoulos said that his main goals will be to reduce contribution evasion, which currently stands at an estimated 30 percent, by at least 5 percent per year; to complete and extend IT infrastructure in order to better monitor the fund's activities and operations; rationalise spending and re-examine supervision for pension payments; strict monitoring of all spending on medical, pharmaceutical and hospital care and better use of IKA-ETAM's massive real estate assets.

    Other targets cited by Spyropoulos were the creation of a consortium-style structure between IKA-ETAM and other large social insurance bodies, such as the free-lancer workers and farmers funds OAEE and OGA, for joint procurements and inspection of supplies in order to rationalise spending on drugs and medical equipment; the transfer of IKA central services to a new building that will house the labour and social insurance ministry in Rendi and re-evaluation of existing leases for IKA branches throughout Greece; finally, he announced plans to inaugurate the post of an IKA-ETAM officer at Citizens Service Centres from the second half of 2010, who will provide advice on IKA-related issues and decentralise the process for awarding pensions.

    [10] Crucial meeting between striking truckers and transport minister

    Striking truck owners and Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas were in talks for some four hours on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to reach a compromise that would defuse the tension and peacefully end a strike that has starved Greek markets of fuel.

    On Wednesday, the government responded to the open-ended strike by ordering a civil mobilisation to force truckers to return to work.

    After the conclusion of Thursday's meeting, a representative of the truck owners, including tanker trucks that transport fuels, said only that the sector's federations were currently meeting and would soon announce what stance they intend to take.

    Among truck owners demands to end their strike action was that the minister promise to delay any vote on a draft bill that seeks to open up their currently closed profession until the end of August. This demand had been provisionally agreed to on Wednesday by ministry general secretary Haris Tsiokas.

    In the meantime, prefectures were beginning to issue the orders requisitioning individual truck owners' services and their vehicles so that the market might be supplied with fuel and resume its operation.

    Earlier on Thursday, truck owners clashed with police on Thursday morning outside the ministry after they attempted to storm the ministry in protest against the civil mobilisation order.

    Police used tear gas to turn back the strikers, who tried to storm into the building to meet with Reppas.

    Orders to individual truckers began being served from 6:00 a.m. by administrative process-servers, but defiant truck owners originally said they would ignore them.

    Refusal to obey the order carries penalties of up to five years imprisonment (the maximum term for a misdemeanor) and the risk of having their licence revoked.

    The government legislation seeks to open up the currently closed road freight market that is open only to licensed "public use" trucks. The last government licences were issued in the 1970s and opening this market is among Greece's obligations to the EU.

    [11] Striking truckers to decide Friday

    Striking truck owners and Infrastructure, Transport and Net-works Minister Dimitris Reppas ended their marathon talks on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to reach a compromise that would defuse the tension and peacefully end a strike that has starved Greek markets of fuel, without reaching a compromise.

    A representative of the truckers union said Thursday night that their general assembly on Friday will be deciding on the continuation of the strike or not.

    On Wednesday, the government responded to the open-ended strike by ordering a civil mobilisation to force truckers to return to work.

    [12] Environment ministry sets up National Water Council

    The Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry on Thursday set up a National Water Council that will serve in an advisory capacity to the National Water Commission on national programs for the protection and management of the country's water resources and draw up an annual report for the Commission on the condition of the water environment of the country, the implementation of legislation on the conservation and management of water and on compatibility with EU legislation.

    The 26-member Council will be chaired by the Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister, and also comprise one representative each of the five parliamentary parties, experts in related fields, a representative each of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) and Union of Prefectural governments of Greece (ENAE), a representative each of the country's regional Water Boards, and representatives of the national confederation of agricultural cooperatives (PASEGES), the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), the Public Power Corporation (PPC), the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the Technical and Geotechnical Chambers of Greece (TEE and GEOTEE), the Geological and Metallurgical Research Institute (IGME), the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (ELKETHE), the National Center for Scientific Research (EKEFE Demokritos, two representative for the non-governmental environmental organisations, and others.

    The National Water Council will be convened at least once a year by its chairperson.

    [13] ND leader addresses supporters in Mytilini

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras addressed supporters on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Thursday evening, saying that the current economic crisis was the crisis of Greece's political system and of the economic model.

    He further admitted that his party did not succeed, during its 2004-2009 governance, in contrilling the deficits in most public utility companies.

    Commenting on ruling PASOK's policies, Samaras said that when it came into office it swelled the deficit it iherited while refusing to take immediate measures.

    The Memorandum which Greece signed last May with the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave to the country temporary liquidity but it does not provide an exit from the crisis, Samaras also said, adding that no more sacrifices are now needed nor extra restricting measures.

    The main opposition leader also called for the implementation of measures that woud serve growth.

    Referring to Greek national issues, Samaras also accused the ruling PASOK of resorting to compromises.

    "Violations, on the part of Turkey, in the Aegean have increased cnsiderably during yoiur governance. You are the party which allowe for an overturning of balances against our country. You are the party that supported the Annan plan (for a solution of the Cyprus problem). You are the party which encourages Turkish intransigence," Samaras noted.

    [14] Tsipras visits Crete, opposes development on Elafonissi

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alexis Tsipras expressed opposition to designs aimed at surrendering to land developers the island of Elafonissi, located SW of the port city of Chania on the southern Aegean island of Crete.

    Speaking in Chania, Tsipras said on Thursday that the plans to build a quarry on Elafonissi, a place of unique natural beauty, and turn it into real estate in spite the local opposition, are inconceivable, characterizing them a "crime" and pledged to bring the issue to Parliament.

    Later in the evening, Tsipras will attend an event hosted by SYN's youth movement at the old port of Chania.

    [15] Appeals to CoS against austerity measures

    Ten professional associations, trade unions and pensioner unions and 22 private individuals filed an appeal with the Council of State (CoS) on Thursday demanding that the economic measures imposed by the government be declared void, characterized as unconstitutional and in violation of the European legislation, the European Human Rights Convention and international treaties.

    Among the petitioners are the Athens Bar Association, the Athens Journalists' Union, the civil servants' union ADEDY, the National Health System (ESY) medical doctors, the Technical Chamber of Greece, military officers associations and university professors.

    In a press conference they outlined the reasons that led them to this decision citing procedural violations in passing the relevant legislation in parliament; illegally conferred authority from the parliament to the minister of finance and violation of the right to property (referring to the salary and pension cuts) guaranteed by the European Human Rights Convention.

    [16] Consulates closed in restructuring of foreign ministry services

    Greece on Thursday announced the suspension of operation of its Consulates General in Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig and Naples and Consulates in Nice and Durban, in the framework of the foreign ministry's plan for reduction of expenditure and rationalisation of its services.

    Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras made the announcement during a regular press briefing, adding that the Consulates General in London, Paris and Brussels will be abolished, while consular offices will be established in the Greek Embassies in those cities.

    The changes are part of a broader program of modernisation and restructuring of diplomatic services, Delavekouras said, adding that details of the program will be announced in the autumn.

    Financial News

    [17] Greek-US talks on energy issues

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis held talks on Thursday with U.S. State Department's Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard L. Morningstar, on developments regarding energy issues in southeast Europe and central Asia.

    According to reports, special emphasis was placed on the reordering of natural gaz supply sources, with the Greek minister referring to the creation of an energy centre in Astakos, western Greece, and cooperation with Qatar.

    [18] Defence minister presents EU deal for Skaramangas Shipyard

    National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday announced that the European Commission had accepted a solution regarding the state subsidies to the Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramanga, under which sections of the shipyard would be sold off and it would be confined only to military-related activities for the next 15 years.

    The minister outlined details of an agreement reached on Wednesday between representatives of the Greek finance and defence ministries with the European Commission during a press conference to unveil a draft bill on career advancement and the new command structure within the Greek Armed Forces.

    Venizelos clarified that the civilian activities at Skaramangas would be taken over by another company, while non-military activity could also be developed by the shipyards at Elefsina and Neorio for which the restrictions did not apply. According to the minister, this would also help to establish a balance in the sector, which needed restructuring.

    He stated that Hellenic Shipyards will not be nationalised and that the government was seeking to find the cheapest solution in negotiations with arms systems manufacturers.

    The minister repeated that the agreement must be ratified by Parliament with the broadest possible majority and in a climate of consensus.

    In April, the European Commission announced that it will refer Greece to the European Court of Justice for failing to comply with a 2008 decision calling for the recovery of 230 million euros in illegal subsidies from Hellenic Shipyards SA. The Commission has asked from the recovery of the above sum plus interest.

    [19] Interview by Dep. Min. Nikitiadis: 'Initiatives reverse Greece's negative image abroad'

    "The image of Greece abroad is changing," Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis underlined on Thursday, referring particularly to the German market and "the visible change" in the stance of his German counterpart who suggested setting up a committee in support of Greek tourism. The proposal was made about two weeks ago during Nikitiadis' formal visit to five German cities.

    "The visits abroad by Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and ministry general secretary George Poussaios were a major contribution to the efforts made aimed at reversing the country's image in foreign markets," Nikitiadis stressed in an interview with ANA-MPA.

    He also commented that the materialization of the "one stop shop" office, for the immediate settlement of investment requests, is close.

    Nikitiadis stated that the ministry's goal for the immediate future is to have the number of Russian tourists visiting Greece raised to 1 million. He said that an estimated 300,000 Russian tourists will visit Greece this summer season but next year's arrivals are expected to increase 20-40 pct.

    He announced the adoption of measures to ensure speedier issuance of visas and stressed that Greece's tourism campaign will focus on Russian cities with a population larger than one million, stressing that Visa Centre branches will open in all major cities in Russia.

    Referring to the National Tourism Organization (EOT) offices abroad, he underlined that they need to undergo general overhaul, adding that certain of them will have to close and others to be better staffed.

    [20] Greek PPI up 6.5 pct in June

    Greece's Producer's Price composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) rose 6.5 pct in June compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 9.2 pct recorded in June 2009, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics agency, in a report, said the index rose 0.8 pct in June from May, after an increase of 2.2 pct recorded in the same period last year. The annual 6.5 pct increase of the index reflected a 6.1 pct rise of the domestic market index and an 8.1 pct increase of the external market.

    [21] Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling reports positive H1 results

    Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling on Thursday reported a 3.0 pct increase in its comparable operating earnings (EBIT) in the first half of 2010 to 320 million euros, compared with the same period last year.

    Net cashflow totaled 251 million euros in the January-June period, up by 129 million euros over the same period, while the volume of sales fell 2.0 pct to 1.009 billion boxes and net sales revenues rose 1.0 pct to 3.300 billion euros.

    The Group said its first half results included an extra tax charge of 21 million euros.

    Net cashflow rose in the second quarter of 2010 to 186 million euros, while the volume of sales fell 2.0 pct to 578 million boxes and net sales revenues rose 2.0 pct to 1.923 billion euros. Comparable operating earnings (EBIT) fell 2.0 pct to 264 million euros.

    Commenting on the results, Doros Konstantinou, the group's chief executive said: "Our wide geographical presence offered us the opportunity to achieve a strong operating performance in the first half." He added that Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling remained competitive with the help of its commercial strategy in the market, raising market shares in several markets.

    [22] ASE surpasses 1,700 level

    Greek stocks resumed their upward trend on Thursday, after Wednesday's mild correction, as buyers took the upper hand in the market pushing the composite index above the 1,700 level. The index rose 1.21 pct to end at 1,708.38 points, with turnover at 129.893 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.0 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.77 pct up and the Small Cap index rose 1.88 pct. All sectors, with the exception of the Insurance (-0.32 pct), ended higher with the Media (6.91 pct) and Health (5.48 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 165 to 35 with another 43 issues unchanged.

    Vovos (17.32 pct), CPI (16.0 pct) and NEL (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Elmec Sport (9.59 pct), Xylemporia (8.70 pct) and Alsinco (8.64 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.32%

    Industrials: +3.50%

    Commercial: +0.86%

    Construction: +0.92%

    Media: +6.91%

    Oil & Gas: +1.83%

    Personal & Household: +0.54%

    Raw Materials: +3.54%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.48%

    Technology: +2.20%

    Telecoms: +1.29%

    Banks: +0.55%

    Food & Beverages: +1.84%

    Health: +5.48%

    Utilities: +0.50%

    Chemicals: +3.01%

    Financial Services: +5.32%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.98

    ATEbank: 1.23

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.65

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.05

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.11

    National Bank of Greece: 11.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.16

    OPAP: 11.58

    OTE: 6.28

    Bank of Piraeus: 5.18

    Titan: 17.00

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 43 million euros on Thursday, of which 20 million were buy orders and the remaining 23 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 15 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 10.26 pct, up from 10.19 pct on Wednesday.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month at 1.15 pct, the three-month rate was 0.90 pct and the three-month was 0.64 pct.

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.06 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 54.200 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,942 contracts worth 42.186 million euros, with 22,893 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 18,440 contracts worth 12.014 million euros with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,321), followed by Eurobank (1,079), MIG (2,850), OTE (1,516), Piraeus Bank (891), Alpha Bank (1,412), Marfin Popular Bank (1,264), ATEbank (711) and Hellenic Postbank (530).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.317

    Pound sterling 0.843

    Danish kroner 7.509

    Swedish kroner 9.546

    Japanese yen 114.55

    Swiss franc 1.376

    Norwegian kroner 8.034

    Canadian dollar 1.361

    Australian dollar 1.461

    General News

    [26] Five people sustained stab wounds during scuffle

    Five youngsters, four of them locals aged 15 and 16, and one Albanian national were admitted to a hospital in Veria, northern Greece, to be treated for stab wounds sustained during a scuffle in the village of Diavatos in the prefecture of Imathia.

    The clash erupted between local and Albanian youngsters for no serious reason.

    Two of the four locals are in the hospital ICU, while the other three victims are treated for lighter injuries.

    An Albanian was arrested while an investigation is underway to locate the rest of the assailants.

    [27] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The civil mobilization of truck owners and commandeering of their vehicles decided by Prime Minister George Papandreou late Wednesday, EU-IMF "troika's" first positive assessment on the course of Greek economy and the Civil Servants' Umbrella Union (ADEDY) and other unions' recourse to the Council of State charging unconstitutionality of the Memorandum, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government decided civil mobilisation - Strikers remain firm".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Government's clash with truck owners at the extremes".

    AVGHI: "Civil mobilisation unlawful".

    AVRIANI: "Has the government no sense?".

    CHORA: "Troika 'cooking up' government reshuffle".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Truck owners' reply to the civil mobilisation: Come and take them - Government unreliable".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government starts with trucks in order to open nine more closed-shop professions".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Commandeering of (fuel) trucks following Prime Minister's decision - Series of reactions".

    ESTIA: "Dangerous criminalisation for the falsification of statistics".

    ETHNOS: "Civil mobilisation of strikers the way out - Government makes decisive move after the SOS from the economy".

    IMERISSIA: "Message to guilds - Commandeering finally decided".

    KATHIMERINI: "Civil mobilisation ends the impasse - Truck owners threaten not to comply".

    LOGOS: "Civil mobilisation vs. 'hostage situation' after the collapse of the dialogue between truck owners and government - Strikers refuse to back down".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Hope for normalisation after government's decision for civil mobilisation".

    NIKI: "Cutbacks in salaries unconstitutional'.

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Ruthless government aims to smash the right to strike".

    TA NEA: "Bill on closed-shop professions by the end of the year".

    TO VIMA: "Government's clash with guilds at the extremes".

    VRADYNI: "Storm over the civil mobilisation - Truck owners threaten with roadblocks".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] Kyprianou and Downer discuss Cyprus problem and solution prospects


    The Cyprus problem, the course of negotiations to reach a settlement, the prospects of reaching a solution, and the role of Turkey, the EU and the UN in those efforts, were discussed during a meeting on Thursday between Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou and the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer.

    Speaking after the meeting, Kyprianou said that ''we meet at intervals, we exchange views basically on the Cyprus problem, the course of negotiations, and in general the international situation which may affect developments in the Cyprus problem.''

    ''The meeting is always useful. On the one hand, I was given the opportunity to hear from Mr. Downer and the UN how they view the course of the talks, and for them to hear my personal views and those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,'' he said, adding that ''these meetings always have a constructive outcome.''

    Asked what they discussed during Thursday's meeting, Kyprianou referred to the state of affairs of the talks, future prospects and the role of Turkey, the EU and the UN.

    To questions concerning an international conference on the Cyprus problem, Kyprianou said they did not discuss such a possibility, noting that ''at the moment there is a process of talks and of course everyone's efforts are for this specific process to be successful.''

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [29] Downer sees positive sentiments and hope after leaders‘ dinner

    UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said here Thursday he has every reason to have positive sentiments and some sense of hope for the future of Cyprus.

    Speaking about Wednesday night's dinner between President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Dervis

    Eroglu at Eroglu's residence in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, Downer expressed certainty that the two leaders can work together to solve the Cyprus problem.

    "This was as I would describe as a foreigner and outsider, a truly Cypriot occasion, this dinner. The two leaders, their wives, the representatives talking about Cyprus in ways that only Cypriots can talk about their own island and sharing such a passion and love for their own island", he said after the opening of the Joint Communications Room (JCR) in the buffer zone in Nicosia.

    Downer added that he did not want to sound "excessively optimistic but I came away from that dinner thinking that these people can work together, they can solve the Cyprus problem", noting "it is not beyond their reach." And the UN, he continued, would like very much to see that and try to encourage that in best way possibly.

    The UN diplomat said there was the dinner on Wednesday evening and have the dinner and the opening today, "so it is nice to have a succession of really constructive things".

    He expressed the view that people will not just think about the history of Cyprus, but the people on the island should think about the future as well. "Think where this island is ultimately going to go, what visions people have for it, what visions politicians have for it in the medium and long term and what this island would like for these people's children and grandchildren and what are their ambitions for those people".

    Downer said there is a history and "yes we have learnt from history, yes it is important to understand history but at the same time we can only live at the present and look at the future".

    Noting it is "very important that all of us have the sense of forward looking hope", Downer concluded by saying "I think from my experience last night there is every reason to have positive sentiments and some sense of hope for the future of this very, very beautiful island".

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Peace talks began in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Eroglu, who succeeded Mehmet Ali Talat in April this year.

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