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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-12

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

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

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 Issue No: 3616

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek budget deficit down 31.1 pct in Jan-Sept
  • [02] Juncker spokesman clarifies comments on Greek economy, corruption
  • [03] KKE leader on discussion on Juncker statements
  • [04] ND leader Samaras attacks memorandum option
  • [05] Pamboukis, Dollis conclude visit to Israel
  • [06] FM Droutsas inaugurates Centre of Southeastern Europe
  • [07] PM to meet president, vice president of Rights of Man National Committee
  • [08] Education Minister visits Silicon Valley
  • [09] Papoutsis-Kaklamanis meeting touches on illegal immigration
  • [10] Ministers meets pharmaceutical manufacturers' reps
  • [11] Deputy employment minister meets UN official
  • [12] NBG to sell stake in Finansbank
  • [13] Eurostat team in Athens; final 2009 budget deficit figures this month
  • [14] Greece regaining credibility in int'l markets
  • [15] Almunia response question on supermarket cartel in Greece
  • [16] Consumers group against power company rate hikes
  • [17] EL.PE cheif cites massive illegal trade in fuel sector
  • [18] Rail workers to strike over railway overhaul plan
  • [19] Union calls on local gov't employees to abstain from work next weekend
  • [20] Greek mutual funds market's assets up in Q3
  • [21] Greek exports up 18.7% in Aug.
  • [22] Industrial production down 2.1% in Aug
  • [23] Building activity down 29.1 pct in July
  • [24] Stocks end 1.32% higher
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [28] Special guard sentenced to life for shooting death of teen
  • [29] Document forgery ring members arrested
  • [30] Thessaloniki man arrested for possession of child porn
  • [31] PDO-status for Santorini fava
  • [32] Rainy on Tuesday
  • [33] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [34] US official: Cyprus talks need to be a Cypriot-led process
  • [35] Buzek: UN resolutions basis for Cyprus solution Politics

  • [01] Greek budget deficit down 31.1 pct in Jan-Sept

    The monthly rate of decline of Greece's budget deficit surpassed targets included in an economic policy program, official figures showed on Monday.

    A finance ministry announcement said the country's budget deficit shrank to 16.234 billion euros in the January-September period, from 23.579 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2009, for a decline of 31.1 pct (official budget target 26.9 pct or 29 pct for the eight-month period based on the updated target in August).

    Regular budget net revenues grew 3.7 pct in the nine-month period, although September figures showed a recovery reflecting higher VAT revenues (up 17 pct compared with September 2009).

    [02] Juncker spokesman clarifies comments on Greek economy, corruption

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    A spokesman for Eurogroup president and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday confirmed that the latter, during a recent address in Washington, briefly referred to the Greek economy, saying that "a few years ago when Greek economic competitiveness figures showed that the country would enter a very difficult economic and fiscal condition, everyone in the rest of Europe knew that Greece was facing a very serious problem with corruption".

    Speaking to the ANA-MPA, Juncker's spokesman noted that the Eurogroup's president, because of his position, was unable to make any public comments on the issue. He also noted that the Eurogroup's president, in order to show a change in Greek authorities' position towards the problem, said that Prime Minister George Papandreou, soon after the 2009 general elections - when the full extent of the Greek problem was finally acknowledged -- said Greece faced serious problems with corruption.

    Meanwhile, Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn, declined to comment on the Eurogroup president's comments regarding Greece.

    Speaking to reporters in Brussels, the spokesman said the European Commission had merely "rung the alarm bell" over the condition of the Greek economy several times in the past.

    "We did not discover what was happening with the Greek economy in February 2010," he said, adding that the European Commission had underlined, several times in the past, the risk of deviation of fiscal data and the lack of credibility of Greek statistics.

    Gov't spokesman

    In Athens, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis underlined on Monday that PM Papandreou never referred to a "corrupt country" in talks with Juncker, stressing that the former also did not say he "governs a corrupt country".

    Petalotis cited the clarification made by Juncker's spokesman, which he said explains that the Eurogroup head was referring to a public discussion and not to confidential talk with the Greek PM.

    Strauss-Kahn comment

    Turning to the ongoing economic news, the spokesman said "the strict materialisation of our goals, as set in the Stability and Development Programme, will get us out of the crisis."

    Petalotis' last statement was in response to a statement by IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who said the D.C.-based organisation is prepared to give Greece more time to repay its loan.

    The government spokesman added that it is "too premature to enter such discussions when it appears that our goal is being met."

    ND, opposition

    In an opposite reading of the statement, a top main opposition New Democracy official said the Juncker statements over the Greek economy's decades-old problems "constitute vindication of the positions adopted by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras."

    ND alternate sector head Christos Staikouras emphasised that "everybody knows in this country, and Juncker has admitted it, that the problems we are facing today were created in the period 1981-89. The governments that followed were unable to solve the problem but they were not the ones that had created it."

    On his part, ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos lashed out at Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, charging that the latter is ethically and politically accountable because "he rushed to insinuate that (Juncker was referring to) former PM (Costas) Karamanlis, in an effort to misdirect public opinion away from the government policy's dead-ends".

    Panagiotopoulos said the "Juncker confessions" are a proof of the huge damage Papandreou's "corrupt country" statements have inflicted on the country's image

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis, moreover, said problems stemming from corruption in the country continue.

    Referring to the statement Juncker spokesman Guy Schuller, Karatzaferis said it is of minor importance which of the three premiers (two former or the current) made the comment on corruption, noting that Europe was already aware of the situation.

    On its part, the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party attacked both main parties, ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy, over the furor triggered by Juncker's statements.

    "The Greek people now know full well that the responsibility for the tragic state of the economy today belongs both to PASOK and ND, since they jointly built the rotten two-party political system of the last decades and together carried out the most extreme neoliberal policies at society's expense," the party said.

    Finally, independent MP Dora Bakoyannis, a former foreign minister in the preceding ND government, said she was not under the impression that Greece would go bankrupt when she was a minister.

    As regards the Eurogroup chief's controversial comment and the Greek prime minister he referred to, Bakoyannis maintained that it was Papandreou, stressing that "when he visited foreign countries he used every chance he had to say 'my country is corrupt'."

    [03] KKE leader on discussion on Juncker statements

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said on Monday that the discussion on statements y Euroegroup president Jean-Claude Juncker on corruption in Greece was disorientating.

    "Mr. Juncker came out and said that a prime minister told me that I am governing a corrupt country and we knew this over the past 20 years. Well, we do not deal at all with this. And we also tell the people not to deal with it. It is pure disorientation."

    [04] ND leader Samaras attacks memorandum option

    Main opposition New Democracyn (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, speaking on the Ionian island of Corfu on Monday, sharply criticised Prime Minister George Papandreou over recent statements by Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker.

    "As it is being revealed today, Mr. Juncker did not mean some other former prime minister, he meant the present prime minister, George Papandreou. A prime minister's job is not to defame his country. A prime minister's job is not to judge the country 'from outside', as a 'third' person, as a 'neutral observer.' His job is to solve problems. The prime ministers do not criticise the countries that elected them. They rule them. The prime ministers do not 'comment' on the problems of their countries with the darkest colours. They solve them," Samaras said.

    Samaras also criticised Finance Minister George Papacon-stantinou, saying that "he tried for two days to accuse New Democracy, attributing the Papandreou statements to the former prime minister. Now that it has been revealed who Mr. Juncker meant, what do they have to say. Will they say sorry at least? Is there, maybe, the word 'sorry' in their vocabulary?"

    The ND leader further said "Mr. Juncker, the president of the Eurozone, comes forward and reveals the following: That the problems of Greece have their roots three decades ago. What a coincidence. This is precisely what I have been saying for months. That Greece made 'growth' and 'social policy' with borrowed money. And it did not do it in the past years, it did it in the past decades. And for this I requested, if a Factfinding Commission is to be established on the economy, it must go back to 1981. Senior European officials are noting precisely the same thing now."

    Samaras reiterated his proposal that a "Factfinding Commission should go after October 2009 as well. So that we can see exactly how we have been led to the memorandum, while we could have avoided it, as other countries avoided it."

    Samaras said in his address that the memorandum was not a one-way path and that "we resorted to the troika through mistakes and omissions of the present government."

    "The memorandum is proving to be unfair, painful and ineffective," Samaras stressed and called for the non-imposition of more taxes but for growth measures to be taken.

    Samaras met also with local officials, including Corfu prefect Stefanos Poulimenos, and walked through the streets of the capital, where he spoke with citizens and shop owners in the commercial center.

    [05] Pamboukis, Dollis conclude visit to Israel

    JERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/P. Haritos)

    The 48-hour official visit to Israel by Minister of State for investments Haris Pamboukis and Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis came to an end on Monday evening.

    The visit came as a continuation of contacts between the prime ministers of Greece and Israel over the past two months and mainly concerns the promotion of agreements made by the two leaders.

    The meetings with ministers and members of the Israeli government such as the Industry, Trade and Employment Minister Ben Elieyer, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, the secretary general of the Defence ministry Amos Gilant, as well as the national security adviser and close associate of the Israeli prime minister Uzi Arant focused, as expected, on the sectors of cooperation for specifying these agreements, as well as the appointment of the members of a corresponding interministerial committee, such as the one created on the Greek side as well and that is coordinated by Pamboukis.

    Speaking to the ANA, Pamboukis said "we have decided to deepen our relations with Israel parallel to the deepening of relations that we are attempting with other countries as well, traditionally friendly countries, as well as some new ones, that are coming to be added. This visit took place jointly with Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Dollis and the secretary general of the Foreign ministry Mr. Zepos."

    The Greek delegation, apart from contacts with Israeli government officials, also visited companies that are active in the sector of new technologies and have shown investing interest and an inclination for cooperation with Greece.

    Shortly before the completion of the visit to the region, the Greek officials visited the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem where they met with Patriarch Theofilos III.

    During the meeting with Ayalon, which was being held in Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, Netanyahu briefly left a Cabinet meeting he was chairing in an adjoining room for an impromptu appearance at the meeting with the Greek delegation to underscore his support for the efforts of the two sides to accelerate the procedures and finalise specific areas of cooperation.

    The prime ministers of Greece and Israel, George Papandreou and Netanyahu, respectively, had recently exchanged visits and agreed on a series of agreements which the two sides are now working on to make more specific.

    New technologies, the management of water resources and Greece's utilisation of pioneering technology in a series of areas in which Israel is a pioneer were at the center of the discussions.

    The areas of immediate priority agreed on were technology at the service of farm goods production, the development and operation of desalination plants, which experts consider the only way to confront the phenomenon of drought, and meeting the increased demand in energy through the development of aeolic (wind) parks.

    The two sides also discussed the development and advancement of winter tourism programs with specific proposals for northern and central Greece and the Peloponnese, so as to boost a market that is vibrant in the summer months but slows considerably in the winter.

    Further, renewable energy sources (RES) and security were also high on the list of sectors for the development of cooperation.

    [06] FM Droutsas inaugurates Centre of Southeastern Europe

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday inaugurated the Centre of Southeastern Europe for missing and under exploitation children. The specific Centre was created with the cooperation of the "Child's Smile" and the International Centre for children missing and victims of exploitation.

    "This centre is proof of trust in our country that we can be leaders in many things in our region and play the leading role that our country deserves," the minister said.

    Droutsas added that he will be a helper and great supporter of all these efforts, saying that "the Foreign ministry and I personally will always be with you in this effort."

    [07] PM to meet president, vice president of Rights of Man National Committee

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will be meeting in Parliament on Tuesday morning with the president and vice president of the National Committee for the Rights of Man, Kostis Papaioannou and Linos-Alexandros Sisilianos respectively.

    [08] Education Minister visits Silicon Valley

    Education minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Monday begins a three-day visit to Silicon Valley in California, USA, for a series of meetings with Greek and foreign university professors, researchers, young entrepreneurs involved in high technology innovation, and patent and intellectual rights experts.

    According to a ministry announcement Diamantopoulou, at her initiative, will also have meetings with 55 Greeks active in research and applied technology, with the aim of a systematic and organised transfer of knowhow from Silicon Valley to Greece.

    The goal of the initiative, as is the goal of similar initiatives by France, Sweden and Israel, is to create a network of researchers-entrepreneurs between Silicon Valley and the country and the attraction of post-graduate research in Greece.

    The minister will further brief interlocutors on the Research and Technology General Secretariat's recent program introducing incentives to attract young, eminent scientists to return to Greek universities and research centers.

    [09] Papoutsis-Kaklamanis meeting touches on illegal immigration

    Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis received Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Monday for a meeting focusing on issues affecting the Greek capital and citizens' security.

    According to a press release by the municipality, Kaklamanis raised the issue of transferring the remaining Organisation Against Drugs (OKANA) drug rehabilitation units from the inner city, while he reiterated the urgent need to drastically minimise the uncontrolled entry of illegal migrants into Greece.

    "We all consider Athens to be our city, the city where we live and which faces the biggest problems in terms of our social cohesion and, chiefly, the pressure resulting from the wave of migrants our country faces, together with Europe as a whole, of course. We all understand that this situation cannot continue," Papoutsis said, adding:

    "... We must guarantee the safety of every Athenian citizen as well as the safety of all citizens throughout the country. Because safety is the precondition for each individual's creativity, for their quality of life and, most importantly, for safe living conditions for our society as a whole," he said.

    [10] Ministers meets pharmaceutical manufacturers' reps

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos held a meeting with representatives of the national union of pharmaceutical manufacturers on Monday, stressing that an important criterion for the assessment of hospital directors will be the savings they achieve next year, compared to the expenditures of the hospitals they run.

    On their part, the representatives said they were satisfied with the meeting, noting that they were given the opportunity to express their views to the minister in detail.

    [11] Deputy employment minister meets UN official

    Deputy Employment Minister Anna Dalara stressed the government's determination for the creation of a just and effective asylum and initial reception system for new arrivals, during her meeting on Monday with Laura Boltrini, who is responsible for the Information Sector of the UN High Commission's Regional Office for Refugees in Rome.

    "At the specific moment, the prime minister's decision for the immediate activation of a Special Interministerial Committee shows in practice the political will and the decision for central, coordinated and systematic management and care for a big problem, that touches on the duties of many ministries," the deputy minister said.

    Financial News

    [12] NBG to sell stake in Finansbank

    National Bank of Greece (NBG) will begin procedures to sell an equity stake of up to 20 pct in its subsidiary Finansbank with the hiring of consultants to the sale. The bank is expected to complete the sale in the period January 15-February 15, 2011, with Turkish and other foreign investors already having expressed interest.

    National Bank on Monday completes a share capital increase plan, with positive messages sent both from the participation of institutional investors and private investors.

    Speaking to reporters, in New York, National Bank's chief executive, Apostolos Tamvakakis, said the bank's move to proceed with a share capital increase plan amid a period of introversion for Greek banks - due to the consequences of the ongoing fiscal and economic crisis in Greece - was expected to allow the bank to gradually regain access to interbank markets.

    He said NBG would also take the first step towards becoming more independent from European Central Bank funding (National Bank has borrowed 22 billion euros from ECB out of a total of 96 billion euros borrowed by the domestic banking system).

    The share capital increase plan also allows the bank to repay the state's preferred shares, worth 350 million euros, resulting to an increase in its Tier I capital adequacy ratio to 14.6 pct, one of the highest in Europe.

    National Bank's executives stressed that a successful completion of a share capital increase plan would be a vote of confidence to the Group and the Greek economy in general.

    Tamvakakis said National Bank would not use the money from its share capital increase plan to move with a takeover or a merger deal in cash.

    [13] Eurostat team in Athens; final 2009 budget deficit figures this month

    A large Eurostat delegation arrives in Athens on Monday to collect data regarding the closely watched and recently revised budget deficit for 2009. Final conclusions over the height of the Greek budget deficit for 2009 will be announced at around Oct. 22.

    According to officials in Athens, a revision of the deficit figure -- which according to reports will be above 15 percent -- by Eurostat will not affect the ongoing economic stability programme.

    [14] Greece regaining credibility in int'l markets

    Greece was not the focus of (negative) media interest, as it was a year ago, during this year's annual IMF/World Bank summit here, most analysts and financial reporters agreed.

    While Greece looks like it is overcoming the crisis, with worries over the impact of a Greek fiscal crisis on Eurozone almost extinct following the creation of a support mechanism by IMF/EU and ECB, it was expected that the country gradually lost international media's intense interest.

    The media turned their attention to more global issues this year, such as the so-called foreign currency war, a growing lack of balance between rich and emerging economies, recovery rates, the fear of a double dip, a chronic issue of job creating growth, etc.

    The message coming from a series of high-ranking meetings between Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou with his foreign counterparts from USA, Russia and China, the head of IMF and institutional investors, clearly stated in public comments was that Greek economy has made significant progress adopting all measures envisaged in a memorandum to exit the crisis.

    The Greek finance minister repeatedly expressed his satisfaction over the fact that Greece was gradually regaining its lost credibility and markets' confidence, something clearly seen in a gradual shrinking of Greek state bond spreads. He added, however, that "nothing has been gained yet, nothing is finished", sending a message against complacency.

    Papaconstantinou reiterated that the government had no "hidden agenda" of new measures and stressed that the government's economic policy was not dictated by forthcoming local elections early next month.

    IMF's head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, acknowledged the significant progress made by the Greek government.

    He said that the IMF was ready to extend the time of repayment of loans offered to Greece, in the framework of a 110-bln-euro support package- if European Union countries agreed to such a move, although he stressed that such a decision would depend on the condition of the global economy.

    [15] Almunia response question on supermarket cartel in Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia on Monday referred to the Greek competition commission for any solution to the problem of a potential price-fixing supermarket cartel in the country.

    Almunia stated that, in general, the food and retail markets have a national dimension with distinct legal, economic, political and cultural characteristics and, therefore, national competition authorities are more suitable to handle competition problems arising in these markets.

    Almunia reached the decision in response to a question by Coalition of the Left (SYRIZA) MEP Nikos Hountis who requested information on the fines imposed by the competition commission on supermarkets and the size of those fines.

    [16] Consumers group against power company rate hikes

    The Consumers' Institute (the new INKA) in an announcement on Monday called for the repeal of Public Power Corp. (PPC) rate hikes, stressing that citizens are feeling "trapped in the midst of a generalised economic and social crisis and inflation."

    INKA said "the increases in low- and medium-household consumptions are accompanied by increases for agricultural and industrial rates and decreases for the commercial rates. It is a policy of government madness that is contrary to the interests of society and the people."

    [17] EL.PE cheif cites massive illegal trade in fuel sector

    The Greek state is losing hundreds of million of euros annually from illegal trade in the fuel market, G. Kostopoulos, Hellenic Petroleum's (EL.PE) chief executive emphasised on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, Kostopoulos said chronic problems are hitting state revenues and the sector's healthy enterprises.

    Amongst others, he referred to smuggling, counterfeiting, piracy, "shaved" deliveries to consumers, lack of transparency, limited inspections, delays in the imposition of fines, fake exports and other illegal activities, calling for intensified inspections on fuel transport and stricter fines.

    Kostopoulos also presented Hellenic Petroleum's strategy, saying sales of fuel fell 15.6 pct in the first half of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009, an unprecedented decline not only for Greece but for international markets as well. Fuel sales fell at a much slower pace in the US and western Europe, while in Hungary - a country also supported via IMF lending - the decline was 5-6 pct. He attributed the decline to higher taxation on fuel prices.

    Hellenic Petroleum Group has invested 2.5 billion euros in the last two-and-a-half years and plans to invest another 1.2-1.3 billion euros by the end of 2011, while new hirings surpassed 550 workers. The group's investment programme included upgrading the Elefsina and Thessaloniki refineries, a project aimed to lower emissions and to boost diesel production.

    Finally, Kostopoulos said Hellenic Petroleum was expected to express formal interest in 49 pct of the Natural Gas Distribution Co. and expressed his reservations over a plan to build a power plant in Astakos, western Greece.

    [18] Rail workers to strike over railway overhaul plan

    The railway workers' union federation POS on Monday said its members will adopt a hardline, militant stance to government plans for the overhaul and development of Greece's debt-ridden railways. They will begin with a 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday when the draft bill comes before a Parliament committee for discussion, followed by a series of 24-hour rolling strikes on dates to be decided later.

    POS rejected the draft bill in its entirety on the grounds that it abolishes and privatises a large section of the rail network, privatises the company TRAINOSE that provides rail services, sells off Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) real estate and also scraps collective labour agreements and the wage scale.

    In statements to the free press newspaper "Free Sunday", Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas defended the draft bill and stressed that a country in the midst of an economic crisis, which had cut civil service salaries and benefits to save one billion euros, could not at the same time continue to pay 1.2 billion euros a year to cover OSE's deficit.

    The minister pointed out that OSE's total income in 2009 was 250 million euros while its costs for the payroll alone had been 271 million euros, apart from hundreds of millions of euros in operating costs and other obligations. He stressed that with figures like the above, the Greek railway system was steaming ahead toward self-abolition and closure that would leave all its employees out of a job.

    He added that the draft bill for reforming OSE would secure the jobs of railway staff and salaries that would be above the average for public-sector workers.

    [19] Union calls on local gov't employees to abstain from work next weekend

    The local government workers' union POE-OTA has called on members to abstain from their duties next weekend Oct. 16-17.

    According to an interior ministry circular, the city halls and community offices will have to be open on these dates to issue documents requested by the candidates running in the local government elections of Nov. 7.

    The mobilisation was called in protest to the government's decision not to pay municipal and prefectural employees the same amount usually paid for overtime work during elections.

    [20] Greek mutual funds market's assets up in Q3

    Institutional management in Greece offered positive results in a period of intense volatility in international markets and concern over the course of the Greek economy, with performances beating the main markets' indexes. Capital under management in the third quarter of 2010 totaled 12.03 billion euros, up 2.17 pct, reversing the negative trend of the first two quarters.

    In the mutual funds market, assets under management totaled 8.2 billion euros in the third quarter, up 150 million euros from the previous quarter, reflecting a significant slowdown in capital outflows and an improvement in the prices of Greek bond and stock shares. All categories of Funds of Funds offered high returns, with equity funds of funds yielding 20.61 pct and combined funds of funds yielding 9.09 pct.

    Closed-end investment funds' assets rose in the third quarter of 2010 to 220.45 million euros, with the sector trading at an average weighed discount of -41.69 pct in September 30 with an average weighed return of 5.02 pct so far this year. All five closed-end investment fund companies offered returns well above the performance of the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange. Assets under management totaled 2.78 billion euros.

    [21] Greek exports up 18.7% in Aug.

    The value of Greek export-deliveries grew 18.7 pct in August this year to 1.173 billion euros, up from 988 million euros in August 2009, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said that the value of import-arrivals in the country dropped 29.7 pct to 2.427 billion euros from 3.455 billion euros in August 2009.

    [22] Industrial production down 2.1% in Aug

    Industrial production fell 2.1 pct in August compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 9.7 pct recorded in August 2009, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics agency said the average industrial production index for the period January-August 2010 fell 5.8 pct, after a decline of 10.2 pct in the same period last year.

    The statistics agency attributed the 2.1-pct decline in the industrial production index to a 3.1-pct rise in mining production, a 3.9-pct decline in manufacturing, a 0.2-pct rise in electricity and a 2.3-pct increase in water production.

    [23] Building activity down 29.1 pct in July

    Building activity dropped 29.1 pct in volume in July this year, for a 24.8 pct decline in the January-July period, substantially contributing to an economic recession in the country, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics agency, in a report, said a total of 5,156 building permits were issued in July, down 20.1 pct compared with July 2009. Only two out of the 13 regions of the country reported n increase in building volume (Thessaly 9.6 pct, Central Macedonia 4.0 pct), while Attica (48 pct), Western Macedonia (47.9 pct) and Ionian Islands (41.6 pct) recorded the biggest percentage declines.

    In the seven-month period from January to July, building volume was down 24.8 pct and permits were down 10.6 pct. All 13 regions recorded declines.

    [24] Stocks end 1.32% higher

    Stocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market rising 1.32 pct to end at 1,548.70 points. Turnover was a low 85.316 million euros. Banks remained at the focus of attention, with National Bank's share price rising 3.87 pct, Alpha Bank gaining 4.08 pct, while Eurobank and ATEbank rose 4.27 pct and 4.40 pct, respectively.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.85 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.15 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.62 pct. The Insurance (3.04 pct), Personal Products (3.03 pct) and Banks (2.73 pct) were top gainers, while Utilities (1.30 pct) and Commerce (0.98 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 102 to 65 with another 44 issues unchanged.

    Ionian Hotels (11.11 pct), Akritas (9.86 pct) and FHL Mermeren (8.70 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (11.54 pct), Vivere (10.91 pct) and Lanacam (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +3.04%

    Industrials: -0.36%

    Commercial: -0.98%

    Construction: +1.71%

    Media: -0.84%

    Oil & Gas: +0.98%

    Personal & Household: +3.03%

    Raw Materials: +1.90%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.76%

    Technology: +2.01%

    Telecoms: -0.18%

    Banks: +2.73%

    Food & Beverages: -0.68%

    Health: +0.58%

    Utilities: -1.30%

    Chemicals: -0.44%

    Financial Services: +2.01%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and OTE.

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.36

    ATEbank: 0.95

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.66

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.50

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.85

    National Bank of Greece: 8.05

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.13

    OPAP: 12.00

    OTE: 5.58

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.05

    Titan: 15.82

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.33 pct from 9.82 pct on Friday. Turnover in the market rose to 146 million euros, of which 126 million were buy orders and the remaining 20 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover 25 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.47 pct, the six-month rate 1.20 pct, the three-month rate 0.98 pct and the one-month rate 0.76 pct.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.76 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 39.453 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,429 contracts worth 31.649 million euros, with 29,241 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,019 contracts worth 7.803 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contract (4,912), followed by Eurobank (896), OTE (1,425), Piraeus Bank (1,277), Alpha Bank (943), Marfin Popular Bank (335), Ellaktor (476), Intralot (386), Mytilineos (334), Cyprus Bank (1,493) and ATEbank (1,340).

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.404

    Pound sterling 0.881

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.345

    Japanese yen 115.15

    Swiss franc 1.351

    Norwegian kroner 8.188

    Canadian dollar 1.421

    Australian dollar 1.426

    General News

    [28] Special guard sentenced to life for shooting death of teen

    A first instance felony court on Wednesday handed down a life sentence to a special guard charged in the December 2008 shooting death of a 15-year-old boy in the Exarchhia district of Athens that sparked widespread rioting around the country.

    The court, in the western town of Amfissa, sentenced special guard Vassilis Korkoneas to life plus 15 months imprisonment for homicide, and his partner, officer Vassilis Saraliotis, to 10 years for complicity.

    In a decision later the same afternoon, the Amfissa mixed jury court refused to suspend Saraliotis' sentence pending an appeal by a vote of six to one.

    The court also ordered that Korkoneas be deprived of his right to vote indefinitely while Saraliotis was deprived of voting rights for two years.

    [29] Document forgery ring members arrested

    Four foreign nationals, alleged members of a travel documents forgery ring, have been arrested by the coastguard in a coordinated operation in Piraeus and the island of Rhodes, it was made known on Monday.

    One foreign national was arrested in the port of Akantias on Rhodes at noon on Sunday as he escorted two other foreign nationals who had no legal travel documents after the arrival in port of a car/passenger ferry they were on.

    Two forged travel documents with pictures of the other two men he was escorting were found in the possession of the alleged ring member, as well as 2,800 euros in cash, which were seized.

    A second man was arrested on board a car/passenger ferry in the port of Piraeus as he picked up a package sent from Rhodes containing photographs for forged passports. During a search of the man's house in the Pangrati district of Athens two other men he was living with were arrested on charges of setting up a criminal gang involved in document forgery and the issue of fake passports and working licences.

    [30] Thessaloniki man arrested for possession of child porn

    A 33-year-old man from Ilioupolis, Thessaloniki was arrested and charged on Monday for possession of child pornography. His arrest was made during a massive Greek Police (ELAS) operation in several Greek cities.

    The suspect had a laptop, external hard drive and a DVD in which files of child porn were stored.

    [31] PDO-status for Santorini fava

    Santorini fava has been given Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status together with seven other European agricultural products in the updated EU list of PDO and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) products.

    A total of 88 Greek products (27 olive oils, 10 table olives, 20 cheeses, 23 fruit, vegetables, legumes, dried fruits and nuts, one bakery product, 1 type of fish, 1 type of honey, 1 essential oil, 2 mastich products and 1 spice), including Santorini fava, have received PDO and PGI designation in the EU.

    Applications are pending for the designation of eight more products: Chios tangerine, Naxos potato, Ileia raisin, Siteia buttermilk, Elassona lamb, Halkidiki olive oil and Taxiarchis dried figs.

    The fava bean, now designated as "fava Santorinis", has been growing on the volcanic island for more than 3,500 years, according to historical sources.

    Weather Forecast

    [32] Rainy on Tuesday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 9C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with southerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 26C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 18C.

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

    The aftermath of Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker's statements and the Memorandum mostly dominated the front pages of Athens' newspapers on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Everyone knew about the impending Greek economic crisis - Eurogroup leader Jean-Claude Juncker had informed Greece's political leadership".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The masks have fallen - Everyone knew - They let us reach the brink of the cliff and...then came the Memorandum".

    AVRIANI: "The politicians are corrupt - Juncker must reveal the name of the prime minister who spoke so vilely against the country".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "First the fortune to ETBA (Hellenic Bank for Industrial Development), then the defeat, then silence - ND, PASOK and EU all knew about the deluge coming in Greece, that is why (then New Democracy prime minister) Karamanlis in 2008 took care to convert his entire investment portfolio into ETBA bonds at secure and steady interest rate".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Juncker 'executed' the liar Papandreou and PASOK - The Europeans had known since Andreas' (Papandreou, PASOK prime minister in 1981-89 and 1993-96) era about the economy, but kept quiet".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Jean-Claude Juncker: I meant Papandreou - The Eurogroup president reveals, via Eleftheros Typos, which prime minister had described Greece as 'a country of corruption'."

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Juncker lights fires in EU and Greece - Self-criticism by the Eurogroup president 'fingers' France, Germany".

    ESTIA: "The entire truth about the Memorandum - The painful measures and the structural changes".

    ETHNOS: "Tax Bureau setting up 5 traps with presumed proof of income (lifestyle) - Which categories of taxpayers at risk from the new system".

    IMERISSIA: "Window for extension (of EU-IMF loan) - Towards extension of surveillance, assistance".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Extension of (EU-IMF) loans' duration the alternative solution".

    TA NEA: "Supermarkets: 'Looting' with carbon-copy prices".

    VRADYNI: "The Juncker serial - Political storm after the Eurogroup chief's statements".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [34] US official: Cyprus talks need to be a Cypriot-led process

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The US strongly believe that the Cyprus talks need to be a Cypriot-led process that will lead to the reunification of the island under a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    This was stated Monday by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Tina Kaidanow, who was received in the morning by President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.

    In her statements after the meeting, Kaidanow assured that the US would invest their energy and would help the two sides in Cyprus reach a solution that will reunify the island.

    "I said again what we have said many times, which is that we believe very strongly that this needs to be a Cypriot-led process and that this process should end we hope in the reunification of the island under a bizonal, bicommunal federation", she said.

    Kaidanow added "we will invest as much energy and help as the sides need in order to get to that goal".

    "I am here mainly just to talk to everyone to again see where things stand in the discussions", the US official went on to note.

    Concluding, she said that she reiterated to the Cypriot President her congratulations on the 50th anniversary of Cyprus' independence as well as US President Barack Obama's congratulations on that occasion.

    The Republic of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN led Cyprus talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, under a federal roof.

    [35] Buzek: UN resolutions basis for Cyprus solution

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek has said that UN Security Council resolutions are the basis for a solution of the Cyprus problem, and pointed out that any reference that he sought to legalise any illegality concerning direct trade between the EU and Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas was a complete misunderstanding.

    Speaking in Nicosia after a meeting on Monday with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Buzek said that there was no decision yet on the issue of direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, and expressed hope that a reunited Cyprus would exercise the EU rotating Presidency in the second half of 2012.

    President Christofias noted that he briefed Buzek on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and thanked him for his full support to efforts to achieve a solution providing for a bizonal bicommunal federation.

    On the issue of direct trade, President Christofias said he was not in dispute with Buzek, and expressed hope that the European Parliament, at the end of the day, would observe the position of the EU for one Cyprus, with a single sovereignty, a single international identity and a single citizenship.

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