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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-08-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 28 August 2010 Issue No: 3578


  • [01] Gov't: People realise major changes, even sacrifices needed
  • [02] PM meets with education ministry leadership
  • [03] FinMin, BoG Gov. discuss econ developments, bank results
  • [04] FinMin on SMEs
  • [05] ND lashes out at gov't over memorandum
  • [06] LA.OS leader predicts 'ecumenical gov't'
  • [07] Air force chief cuts China visit short
  • [08] Condition of F-16 pilot extremely serious but stable
  • [09] Ex-Siemens associate admits to slush fund handovers; forgets recipients
  • [10] Athens mayor on hand for 'Tracing Istanbul' art exhibition
  • [11] NBG group net profits at 146 mln euros for 1H
  • [12] Denationalisation advisers for banks
  • [13] Katseli on Competition Committee
  • [14] 59th conf' of European Civil Aviation in Athens
  • [15] Stocks post marginal gains
  • [16] ADEX closing report
  • [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [18] Hellenism's agent of revival in Afghanistan
  • [19] Condemnation of Iranian stoning sentence
  • [20] 2 wildfires reported
  • [21] Memorial events for WWII-era mass killings in Hortiatis
  • [22] Drug arrest in Athens
  • [23] Fair on Saturday
  • [24] The Friday edition of Athens ' newspapers at a glance

  • [01] Gov't: People realise major changes, even sacrifices needed

    A government spokesman on Friday emphasised that "we believe that we have the consent of the people in the major effort that we are making; that they have realised that great changes are needed even sacrifices."

    As regards a set of particularly gloomy perceptions of the local economy by Greek citizens -- as gauged by a recent Eurobarometer poll -- spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said the survey in question took place in May, when both efforts and procedures to buttress the country were at their peak. Conversely, he underlined that the most important finding is a maturity of the citizenry.

    Asked whether the government is thinking of changing terms of the memorandum, as requested by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), Petalotis said that "to a very large degree the policies are the government's ... with the aim of exiting the crisis ... we do not need to change anything because, although difficult, decisions are necessary, not only for us to exit the crisis, for but us to proceed with major changes."

    On the question of local administration elections, Petalotis said a phenomenon is being observed of the opposition trying to turn the local elections into an anti-memorandum rally.

    "We took the decision to change the country's local administration map, to have real local administration," he said, adding that the government is interested in people appearing who believe in the "Kallikratis" institution and are able to lead it forward.

    Regarding the decision for a hiring of advisers by the prime minister, the spokesman said the names will be available in a very short period of time, with their publication allowing for comparisons to be made with the procedures followed during New Democracy's governance.

    [02] PM meets with education ministry leadership

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday met with the political leadership of the education ministry, including Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, days after the college entrance scores were announced.

    According to reports, details of a recently tabled draft bill on continuing adult education were discussed, along with proposed changes in all education levels, especially in the tertiary level.

    The ministry is expected to unveil its reforms, along with a new college entrance system, for public debate in the coming months.

    [03] FinMin, BoG Gov. discuss econ developments, bank results

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou met on Friday with the Bank of Greece (BoG) Gov. George Provopoulos, with talks focusing directly on the latest and closely watched economic developments -- implementation of the memorandum, reforms - as well as conditions in the domestic banking system.

    The minister briefed Provopoulos on the hiring of three international advisors to evaluate the state's share in banks, and the trio's pending proposals on strategic actions that must be applied in the domestic financial system.

    On his part, Provopoulos briefed the Greek FinMin on banks' 1H results and credit expansion as well as on his recent meeting with the heads of the country's largest bank directors.

    [04] FinMin on SMEs

    Issues concerning the financing of small and medium-size enterprises, the subsidisation of businesses to preserve jobs, the joining of the development law of as many businesses as possible were the main points focused on in the discussion that the directorate of the General Confederation of Professional Owners of Small Manufacturing Units and Merchants of Greece had with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli.

    [05] ND lashes out at gov't over memorandum

    A main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman on Friday again lashed out at the government over the memorandum signed by the Greek state with the EU Commission, ECB and IMF.

    Following an earlier announcement by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos said ND party leader Antonis Samaras has warned the government over the memorandum's risks, while at the same time proposing specific solutions for an exit from the fiscal and economic crisis plaguing Greece.

    [06] LA.OS leader predicts 'ecumenical gov't'

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis on Friday repeated his proposal for an "ecumenical government" to be sworn-in, while charging that the current Papandreou government has thoroughly disappointed voters.

    "He (PM George Papandreou) doesn't trust his (human) resources, that's why he's creating a shadow government at the Maximos Mansion (government house) with 20 advisers."

    Karatzaferis predicted that such an ecumenical government will assume power, sooner or later.

    Moreover, the LA.OS leader also expressed his support for the candidacy of controversial former ND MP Petros Mantouvalos for Piraeus mayor in the upcoming local government elections.

    [07] Air force chief cuts China visit short

    The commander of the Hellenic Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Vassilios Klokozas, cut short his official visit to the People's Republic of China this week and is returning to Greece, following a mid-air training accident south of Crete on Thursday that left one F-16 pilot dead and another two pilots injured.

    [08] Condition of F-16 pilot extremely serious but stable

    The condition of a pilot whose F-16 collided on Thursday with a similar aircraft during a routine air force exercise south of the island of Crete was reported as extremely serious but stable on Friday morning.

    The 34-year-old pilot sustained a punctured lung, head injuries and a fractured pelvis, and a significant loss of blood. He was transferred to an Irakleio, Crete hospital.

    The pilot of the other F-16 is also hospitalised in Irakleio with leg fractures.

    [09] Ex-Siemens associate admits to slush fund handovers; forgets recipients

    An appellate-level prosecutor in Athens on Friday issued a felony indictment against a former Siemens Hellas associate following the latter's testimony a day earlier before a Parliament committee investigating the Siemens kickback and bribery scandal in Greece.

    The man, civil engineer Pantelis Karakostas, confessed to funneling money from Siemens' slush fund in 1998, although he told MPs on the committee that he "forgot" the names of the recipients.

    The indictment includes a felony count of bribery and money laundering of proceeds gained via illegal activities. The prosecutor also issued an order preventing Karakostas from departing the country.

    [10] Athens mayor on hand for 'Tracing Istanbul' art exhibition

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis will travel to Istanbul on Friday at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in order to attend the launch of a group art exhibition featuring 101 Greek artists, entitled "Tracing Istanbul".

    The exhibition, which coincides with Istanbul serving as the 2010 European Capital of Culture, involves two components and will be held at the Sismanoglio Hall in Istanbul from Aug. 28 to Sept. 23, and at the Halki theological school from Aug. 29 to Sept. 23.

    The second component also marks the opening of the seminary for the first time in 30 years.

    Bartholomew will conduct the launch on Sunday.

    In early October the exhibition will relocate to two halls of the City of Athens Technopolis in Gazi, to be hosted by the City of Athens' cultural organisation for a month.

    Financial News

    [11] NBG group net profits at 146 mln euros for 1H

    Net profits of the National Bank group amounted to 146 million euros in the first half of 2010, burdened by one-off extraordinary tax contributions, losses from its portfolio of Greek state bonds and continuing high risk factors. The group's net profits in the second quarter totalled 125 million euros compared to 21 million euros in the previous quarter.

    Losses from activities in Greece amounted to 159 million euros and are due, according to the bank's announcement, to the one-time tax burdens totalling 93 million euros and losses from the bonds portfolio amounting to 249 million euros (compared to profits totalling 272 million euros in the first half of 2009). Moreover, the results of the six-month period in Greece were also affected by the 55-percent increase in predictions for loan risk, which amounted to 467 million euros (compared to 301 million euros in the first half of 2009).

    In Turkey, the net profits of Finansbank in the first half of 2010 amounted to 251 million euros, increasing by 8 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2009. On a quarterly basis, profit-making of Finansbank was maintained at the historic high level of the first quarter of 2010.

    [12] Denationalisation advisers for banks

    The international firms Deutsche Bank AG London Branch, HSBC BANK PLC and Lazard Freres SAS were chosen by the inter-ministerial restructuring and denationalisation committee as advisers of the Greek state, within the framework of the restructuring of the country's banking system.

    As announced by the finance ministry, the advisers will undertake the task of determining and assessing the state's strategic options, the evaluation of its participation in the banking system, as well as the assessment of the consequences of different options on the local credit system, particularly from the point of view of effectiveness and monetary stability.

    [13] Katseli on Competition Committee

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, speaking in an interview with the radio station of Piraeus on Friday, said that in the next two months a revision of the entire institutional framework governing the Competition Committee, that had not changed since 1977, will be tabled in Parliament for ratification.

    Katseli also said that the increase in inflation is the result of two basic sources. The one is the increase in indirect taxation and of VAT.

    "By about 70 percent the increase in prices in past months is due to this. And the rest is due to the maintaining in certain sectors, not all, of prices quite high, if one is to exclude taxes," she said, among other things.

    [14] 59th conf' of European Civil Aviation in Athens

    The 59th European Civil Aviation conference opened in Athens on Friday, with Deputy Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Nikos Sifounakis inaugurating the sessions.

    [15] Stocks post marginal gains

    Stocks posted marginal gains on Friday at the Athens Stock Market, up 0.34 percent to end the market's composite index at 1,547.01 points. Turnover was a low 61.80 million euros. The weekly performance was 2.69 percent down.

    The Big Cap index increased by 0.21 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.31 pct higher and the Small Cap index was dropped slightly by 0.07 pct. Insurances (6.31) and Commerce (3.52) posted the biggest gains of the day, while Chemicals (4.90 pct) and Utilities (2.42) posted the biggest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, advancers surpassed decliners by 77 to 74 with another 57 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +6.31%

    Industrials: -0.52%

    Commercial: +3.52%

    Construction: -0.38%

    Media: +0.73%

    Oil & Gas: -0.20%

    Personal & Household: +0.41%

    Raw Materials: +0.90%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.09%

    Technology: -0.03%

    Telecoms: +1.31%

    Banks: +0.06%

    Food & Beverages: +2.68%

    Health: -0.27%

    Utilities: -2.42%

    Chemicals: -4.90%

    Financial Services: +0.76%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.20

    ATEbank: 1.09

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.58

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.85

    National Bank of Greece: 10.15

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.10

    OPAP: 11.30

    OTE: 5.42

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.15

    Titan: 15.16

    [16] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a small discount 0.63 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday with turnover rising to 35.938 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 8,054 contracts worth 30.477 million euros, with 26,690 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,043 contracts worth 5.461 million euros, with investment interest focusing on MIG contracts (4,033) followed by Eurobank (1,088), OTE (229), PPC (287), OPAP (295) and Piraeus (460).

    [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.281

    Pound sterling 0.827

    Danish kroner 7.507

    Swedish kroner 9.449

    Japanese yen 108.6

    Swiss franc 1.310

    Norwegian kroner 8.042

    Canadian dollar 1.359

    Australian dollar 1.443

    General News

    [18] Hellenism's agent of revival in Afghanistan

    Alexander the Great's achievements were one of his favorite childhood tales, whereas ancient Greece and classical antiquity piqued his curiosity from a very young age. His fascination with Hellenic civilisation, in fact, took Omar Sultan all the way to the University of Thessaloniki to study the classics and archaeology.

    Decades later the classically-educated Sultan serves his native Afghanistan as Central Asian country's deputy culture minister.

    As fate would have it, Sultan was also a student researcher on the team assembled by noted 20th century Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos to excavate the ancient site of Vergina - which the Andronikos' team later established as one of the pre-eminent Macedonian royal seats of antiquity. It was fitting that an Afghan archaeologist was present at the excavation of the significant Macedonian royal city, as the dynasty's legendary warrior-king, Alexander the Great, was responsible for bringing Hellenic civilisation all the way to ancient Bactria ( Afghanistan ) and much of the Near East - an era known to historians today as the Hellenistic era.

    Sultan, a fluent Greek speaker, was born in Kabul in 1949 where he passed his childhood and went to the local school, where he would enjoy his first introduction to ancient Greek civilisation.

    "What I remember from my childhood is being overwhelmed by ancient Greek history. Stories referring to Alexander the Great and classical antiquity were of great interest to me. I studied whatever I could that dealt with Greek civilisation. My joy was unbelievable when in 1969, at the age of 19, I won a scholarship for the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki," he recalls.

    The young Afghan student arrived in Thessaloniki without any knowledge of Greek but he studied hard.

    "In Thessaloniki I had the best time of my life. I was a young man from a foreign country but my fellow students embraced me from the first moment. I can't forget the wonderful places I visited and the friends, the food but most of all the university and my professors, and, of course, the unforgettable experience of the excavation in Vergina as a student of Prof. Andronikos," he states:

    In 1975, Sultan concluded his studies and returned to his native country, where he worked as a high government councilor for two years. In 1978 he briefly returned to Greece for a couple of months before heading back to Kabul , roughly a year before the Soviet invasion of the country following a coup.

    He subsequently found himself in the United States , and specifically at the University of North Carolina , where he taught archaeology until 2002.

    Following the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan , the Karzai government invited him back to the ravaged country to assume the post of deputy culture minister.

    "My top priority was to safeguard and promote the Afghan culture. When I returned to Kabul from the United States the archaeological museum of the city was destroyed. The Taliban and incessant warfare had destroyed many of our monuments. The land was devastated and the people ravaged. Young people should know our culture, but because of the war there was a danger they would not; I had a great deal of work to do".

    " Greece has helped us immensely in the rehabilitation of our destroyed monuments. I contacted then Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and after a series of talks, the Greek government, via UNESCO, offered us US$750,000 for the restoration of Kabul 's archaeological museum. It was a great achievement. More than 500 Afghan students and pupils visit the museum every day and we are extremely happy for that," Sultan said in perfect Greek.

    [19] Condemnation of Iranian stoning sentence

    Six female regional general secretaries have sent a letter to the editor of the Paris daily "Liberation" expressing their condemnation over a death sentence handed down on a 43-year-old Iranian woman for alleged adultery.

    The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has attracted international attention after a provincial court in Iran sentenced the woman to die by stoning, no less.

    [20] 2 wildfires reported

    A couple of wildfires, the most worrying near the Porto Heli resort in southern coastal Greece, were reported on Friday.

    The other wildfire was reported on the island of Cephallonia, mostly confined to a region of low vegetation and brush. Conversely, a large fire-fighting force was dispatched to the Hinitsa site near the resort, in Argolida prefecture.

    [21] Memorial events for WWII-era mass killings in Hortiatis

    Memorial events organised by the municipality of Hortiatis, outside Thessaloniki, will begin on Saturday on the occasion of the 66th anniversary of the execution of 149 local residents by German and Axis occupation forces on Sept. 2, 1944.

    This year's events will culminate on Thursday with the holding of a memorial service. As regards accompanying cultural events, they will conclude on Wednesday with a concert by noted Greek composer Dionysis Savvopoulos.

    [22] Drug arrest in Athens

    A 30-year-old Albanian national was arrested on Friday at the northwest Athens district of Nea Philadelphia and charged with drug dealing. After a stake-out, police stopped him and found five kilos of hashish on his possession.

    Weather Forecast

    [23] Fair on Saturday

    Fair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 19C and 39C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 24C to 39C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 23C to 36C.

    [24] The Friday edition of Athens ' newspapers at a glance

    EU kudos on the course of the Greek economy and the fiscal adjustment, union reactions against the memorandum, changes in banking system and sweeping reforms in the education sector in the future mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens ' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Coterie of advisors hired by premier's office - ND criticises Prime Minister George Papandreou".

    APOGEVMATINI: "28,385 sudden hirings of school teachers".

    AVGHI: "Government calls the cutbacks in social spending a 'social'."

    AVRIANI: "Troika's loan-shark gang devastates Greek enterprises".

    ETHNOS: "Closures and mergers of (tertiary) technological institutes".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Money does exist for foreign advisors and ruling party's friends - Greatest provocation amid period when salaries and pensions are being cut".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "A massive casino to collect money - Government legalises slot machines, web poker, roulettes and horse races".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "How Greeks see condition of the economy: 98 percent respond: Black".

    ESTIA: "The bad side of Greeks' nature".

    KATHIMERINI: "Agony over the recession despite EC's kudos - Taxation at the epicentre".

    LOGOS: "State revenues puzzle Finance Ministry".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Changes in banking system underway".

    NIKI: "Rumours over Greece's bankruptcy return".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "People must not pay plutocracy's debts".

    TA NEA: "Ten changes in university entry exams".

    TO VIMA: "Government will legalise gambling in order to collect 700 million euros".

    VRADYNI: "They're killing us - Research shows heightened cancer rates in Asopos River region".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: "" * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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