|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 14 October 2010 Issue No: 3618
 PM chairs strategic planning team meetingPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a meeting of a top govern-ment policy strategic planning team, where he noted afterwards that "the government continues its programme and the people's sacrifices will bear results."
The meeting focused on government priorities and the ruling party strategy in view of next month's local government and regional elections.
 PM Papandreou meets finance staff ministersPrime Minister George Papandreou has concluded his meetings in his office in Parliament on Wednesday with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Employ-ment Minister Louka Katseli and Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, while deputy minister George Koutroumanis was present in the meeting with Katseli.
The Finance minister briefed the prime minister on the latest developments in the Greek economy, the course of the budget's implementation, as well as on the contacts he had during his recent trips abroad.
The issues of unemployment were the focus of the meeting between the prime minister and Employment Minister Katseli with the latter briefing him on the four programmes, 3 of Man Power Employment Organisation (OAED) and 1 of ESPA, that are "running", while another nine are expected, which will be supporte in a combined way by OAED and ESPA. More specifically, the issues of support for jobs, the joining of young people to employment, the return of longterm unemployed, local labour agreements, issues concerning businesses in crisis and business agreements were discussed
 Gov't dismisses speculation over suppport mechanism repayment extension; debate in ParliamentThe government spokesman on Wednesday was repeatedly queried on the prospect of an extension of the repayment period for the 110-billion-euro EU-ECB-IMF support mechanism extended to Greece, an issue that has dominated press speculation in the local press over the last two days.
"The government is not discussing extensions. It discusses the firm observance of our goals because this brings results and is the only way out of the crisis. Rest assured that there will be no new terms or measures in the case of any formal discussion and decision," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said, adding: "a discussion is going on in the IMF ... Greece has made no such request, nor is it participating in this discussion".
FinMin in Parliament
Meanwhile, more verbal sparring occurred in Parliament between ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) parties.
The debate opened when Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis called on ND to present specific measures to Parliament with which it will succeed in eliminating the deficit, followed by a request made by ND MP Nikos Legas, who called on Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou to submit the deficit figures he has sent to the EU.
Papaconstantinou responded that "the figures will be announced by Eurostat on Oct. 22" while he stressed that "things have changed since ND was in power ... the National Statistical Service is an independent authority and often the ministry of finance is not notified of the official figures it sends".
 FM to tour Middle EastForeign minister Dimitris Droutsas will tour the Middle East next week for talks on the Middle East issue and bilateral relations, ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras announced on Wednesday.
Droutsas will visit Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territory, Egypt and Lebanon from October 17 to 20.
The visit to the Middle East is taking place during a very critical conjuncture in the region, Delavekouras told a regular press briefing, and noted Greece's traditional good relations with the Arab world and the enhancement of its relations with Israel.
"We desire expansion of this cooperation," Delavekouras said, adding that Droutsas' visit will be an opportunity for political discussions as well and for the "deepening" of Greece-Israel relations.
Replying to a relevant question, the spokesman said that Syria was not included in this present tour for "practical reasons".
Asked whether Syria's recent recognition of FYROM with its constitutional name was intended as an expression of displeasure over the strengthening of Greece's relations with Israel, Delavekouras stressed that the recognition was not in line with the friendly relations between Greece and Syria, particularly given the support to Syria that has been forthcoming from Greece.
The matter has not closed, the ministry spokesman said, and called on Syria to take a clear-cut position on that matter that is in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.
On the Middle East, Delavekouras said that it is currently in an exceptionally crucial and sensitive phase and Greece, as a key player with interests in the region and interest in stability in the Middle East, has the duty assist, with all its power, the continuation of the negotiation process which, he stressed, is the only way for a viable peace.
 FM, DM in Brussels for NATO summitGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be in Brussels on Thursday to represent Greece at the NATO foreign and defence ministers' summit.
 Environment Minister meets with US envoyEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili met on Wednesday with the new US envoy to Athens Daniel Bennett-Smith who paid a courtesy visit to her ministry.
The two officials discussed the cooperation prospects between the two countries in the sectors of green growth, climate change and energy ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, with emphasis on renewable energy sources and energy conservation.
Birbili presented the new bill on the funding of environmental interventions, the Green Fund and the forest maps approval noting that it will be a tool for the exercise of environmental policy as well as forest wealth protection. The minister also underlined her ministry's priorities on urban revamping and interventions and the actions on upgrading existing buildings in the city. Moreover, a special reference was made to drinking water issues, with the emphasis on depleted chromium.
The US envoy expressed major interest on the Ministry's actions, noting that similar policies is following the American government. In this framework the two sides agreed to further improve their cooperation by exchanging their experience and knowhow.
 Environment Minister in Luxembourg on ThursdayEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili will be in Luxembourg on Thursday to participate in the EU Environment Ministers' Council.
The Council discussions will focus on biodiversity, the targeted 20 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and on preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun.
Birbili will have bilateral meetings with European Commissioner for the environment Janez Potocnik and the EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard.
 Greece calls for immediate withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from CyprusGreece on Wednesday called on Turkey to withdraw its occupation troops from Cyprus and return occupied Famagusta (Varosha) to the Greek Cypriots.
The call was made by Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras when asked during a regular press briefing to comment on recent statements by Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu for an international conference on the Cyprus issue.
Delavekouras noted that Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has proposed a framework within which such a conference could take place, provided that substantial progress in the UN-brokered Cyprus talks has first been achieved.
This progress, the spokesman added, is being obstructed by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
Delavekouras called on Turkey to exercise its influence which, he said, stems from the 40,000 strong Turkish occupation force on the island.
If Turkey truly desires a speedy solution, as does Greece, it must immediate withdraw its occupation troops and return Varosha, the foreign ministry spokesman said.
 FM spokesman: Turkey must stop over-flights"Turkey should cease over-flights if it wants improvement of relations with Greece," foreign ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras emphasised on Wednesday, speaking at a regular weekly press briefing and referring directly to continued Turkish violations over the populated eastern Aegean isle of Agathonissi.
Delavekouras stressed that the practice is in conflict with the rules of good neighbourliness, which constitute a criterion for Turkey's EU accession course.
 Athens: No bypassing of UN process f or fYRoM 'name issue' solutionA foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday again called on the leadership of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) to focus all its attention on the ongoing process for resolving the still pending "name issue", namely, via the efforts and mandate of UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz.
Speaking at a regular weekly press briefing, spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras warned against any possibility that the NATO and EU accession process will be bypassed to allow for fYRoM's membership without a previous resolution to the "name issue".
"Everyone now agrees that fYRoM's leadership is procrastinating," he stressed, reminding that the neighbouring country's prime minister failed to attend last month's UN General Assembly meeting in New York City, an absence that deprived the two prime ministers (Greece and fYRoM) of the opportunity to hold a face-to-face meeting.
"It should be clear that Greece will continue its constructive and positive stance, one recognised by all our partners ... it should become equally clear that without a solution to the fYRoM name issue there will be no progress in the latter country's Euro-Atlantic course," he concluded.
 Samaras on prospect of repayment extensionMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras visited the port city of Piraeus on Wednesday, accompanied by his party's mayoral candidate in the municipality, Vassilis Mihaloliakos, in view of the Nov. 7 local government elections.
In statements while touring Greece's largest port, Samaras again lashed out at Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, sharply criticising the latter for "insinuating comments" he has made in reference to former PM Costas Karamanlis.
The ND leader also called on the government to provide clarifications as regards the likelihood of an extension of the repayment period for the 110-billion-euro EU-ECB-IMF support mechanism received by the country.
Samaras stressed that any extension would be positive if considered in order to facilitate payments, adding however, that he would oppose such a prospect if it leads to a new memorandum and additional austerity measures.
 ND on Skaramangas, delay of sub deliveryMain opposition New Democracy (ND) defence sector head Theofilos Leontaridis on Wednesday spoke of a "negative" development that constitutes "major political issue" and creates "legitimate questions", referring to the Skaramangas Shipyards investment and the postponement in the delivery of a new Papanikolis-class submarine.
He referred to the setback in the sell of the Skaramangas majority shares by their current holder ThyssenKrupp to Abu Dhabi Mar and the delivery of the submarine, which was scheduled to take place on Oct. 15, he said.
The ND MP cited a "negative development" that creates legitimate questions as regards the legality of the procedure followed and the way the issue was handled by the responsible government minister.
 KKE leader lambasts government policy on energy, AegeanCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday blasted the government's energy policy as an "escalation of its anti-popular policy", while she also lambasted the government on its policy in the Aegean as well, criticising it of not determining Exclusive Economic Zones and of co-management with Turkey.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Papariga predicted developments that will be exceptionally negative for the country's interests.
She warned that the planned separation of the country's electricity transport and distribution networks from the main body of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), the gradual increase in household and agricultural electricity rates, the concession of the country's lignite deposits -- particularly those in Vevi and Drama -- to private concerns and the planned reduction of PPC lignite product at the Western Macedonia lignite center would have negative consequences.
On the speculation of extension of the repayment period for the EU-IMF support package loans to Greece, she said that it was tantamount to restructuring of the debt, adding that a negotiation will take place for such an eventuality, but it will be under terms imposed by the Troika and accompanied by new, harsh measures at the expense of the working people.
Papariga further anaylsed the government's energy strategy, in connection with Greek-Turkish relations, and accused the government of making a conscious strategic choice that was leading to co-management with Turkey in the Aegean and the concession of national sovereign rights.
She said that Turkey's dispute of Greece's right to apply the Law of the Seas in the case of the islands' continental shelf also concerns the country's right to mine their natural resources and potentially rich deposits.
Conversely, the Greek government has not only not taken any steps to consolidate the continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zones with the neighboring countries, but is in fact actually participating in and placing priority on advancing energy transport plans put forward in the region by the US and Israel, while the same holds true in the Ionian as well, where Turkey is increasing its presence with the backing of NATO, she continued.
The KKE, she continued, insists on maintaining the public nature of the PPC, and tandem exploitation of the domestic energy sources, as well as the establishment of a single state agency for energy.
She further proposed systematic exploration for new energy sources in the Ionian and the Aegean.
 LAOS leader meets with visiting Armenian parliament presidentVisiting Armenian National Assembly (parliament) president Hovik Abrahamyan met on Wednesday with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis in Athens.
The two sides discussed bilateral relations while Abrahamyan, who is heading a delegation of Armenian MPs, lauded the strong, long-standing ties between the two countries.
He also thanked Karatzaferis who, in 1966 with all the Greek MPs, condemned the Armenian Genocide, and stressed the need for further development of economic relations between the two countries.
Karatzaferis, in turn, noted the very good bilateral relations, and affirmed that he and his party will back the efforts of Greek entrepreneurs desiring to set up business activities in Armenia.
 SYN leader Tsipras in PatrasOpposition Coalition of the Left (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras stressed on Wednesday, while wrapping up his visit to the western port city of Patras, that "citizens should think about the country's future when they vote in the upcoming local government elections".
Tsipras also met with Hellenic Railways (OSE) employees, before stating that the privatisation of the rail operator will signal the collapse of the country's rail network. He also visited a residential area near the landfill site in Xerolakkas and met with local residents.
 Health minister on debts to hospital suppliersHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday announced that Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has signed the decision to pay off all debts to hospital suppliers for the years 2009 and 2010.
Speaking in a radio interview, the minister said debts dated before Dec. 2009 will be paid off by Dec. 31, 2010 while the procedure aimed at settling the 2010 debts will also get underway.
Loverdos stated that he is optimistic that the EU-ECB-IMF "troika" will allow a three-month extension he needs to complete health sector reforms.
 Greek MPs head to Munich for Siemens inquiryMP members of a Parliamentary committee of inquiry into the Siemens kickback and bribery scandal unanimously voted on Wednesday to extend the committee's investigation until Nov. 15, as eight members of the committee will travel to Munich to question the former head of Siemens Hellas.
MPs are expected to table written questions to former Siemens Hellas CEO Mihalis Christoforakos, who fled to Germany to avoid arrest in Greece, as well as other former and current executives of the German multinational.
According to reports on Wednesday, questions will be given in advance to the parties, with the opportunity to submit follow-up questions available. German judicial officials, nevertheless, will preside at the Q&A session in the presence of the Greek MPs, as foreseen in a German-Greek judicial assistance pact.
 Press report: Turkish foundation to return Prinkipo orphanage to PatriarchateISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Abatzis)
Press reports here on Wednesday claimed that Turkey's General Directorate of Foundations (Vakiflar Genel Mudurlugu) has decided to re-register the historic Greek Orthodox orphanage on Büyükada (Prinkipo) -- billed as the world's second-largest wooden structure -- with the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.
According to a newspaper report, the Turkish state organisation just barely met a three-month European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) deadline -- Wednesday was the last day -- to re-register the property, following a relevant ECHR ruling last June.
If confirmed, the development would mark the first time that such a property has been returned to a recognised religious minority by the Turkish foundation.
According to the same report by the "Haberturk" newspaper, registration of the property at the Turkish cadastre office in the name of the Patriarchate is expected to take place next week.
Ecumenical Patriarchate Bartholomew has previously stated that the orphanage will be turned into an inter-faith centre for dialogue and peace.
The orphanage was originally built as a hotel by renowned French architect Alexandre Vallaury in the 1890s; it was subsequently bought in 1903 and donated to the Patriarchate by Hélène Zafiropoulo-Zarifi, the wife of Ioannis Zarifi, a banker to then Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid ll, with the stipulation that it be used as an orphanage for ethnic Greek children. The orphanage was closed in 1964 at the height of tensions over Cyprus.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addresses conference in IstanbulISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed a conference organised by the Austrian Pro Oriente organisation and the Theology Faculty of the University of Istanbul.
"Turkey is unique among Muslim nations because it has always enjoyed a deeper harmony between traditional Turkish Muslim values and the secular values of civil society. Indeed, Turkey is exceptional inasmuch as it is 'Islamic and secular' rather than 'Islamic but secular.' It is the only Muslim society that has interacted with the ideals of the Enlightenment and of the French Revolution. Ataturk's vision for Turkey to join what he termed 'universal civilization' demonstrates that the interaction of Islam and modernity are neither self-contradictory nor mutually exclusive," the Patriarch said.
Bartholomew also said "we stand before perhaps the greatest challenge of history: namely, the challenge to tear down the wall of separation between East and West, between Muslims and Christians, between all religions and cultures of the world. As stewards of this unique historical moment, our challenge is to bridge the great divide and recognize our common human values. This is surely God's model for our world."
The Patriarch went on to say that "upon the creation of the Turkish Republic and its international recognition, numerous radical reforms were introduced aimed at founding a new secular state, including the emphasis on religious tolerance known as 'laik'. The result was the abolition of legal basis for all religious authorities. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Armenians, the Chief Rabbinate, the Roman Catholics and Protestants - all of whom existed under the Ottoman rule - were no longer recognized as foundations of public law."
He further stressed that "in an effort to apply absolute secular rule and impose a separation of church and society, during the early years of the Turkish Republic, the state ingnored the existence of these minorities, even resorting to pejorative description of the Ecumenical Patriarch as 'chief priest'."
The Patriarch then underlined that "for us, as Orthodox Christians, the ultimate consequence of such a policy was the forced closure in 1971 of the Theological School of Halki, the sole institution for training clergy locally and internationally since 1844."
 Minister: Answer to crisis is growth, not taxesPrices in domestic markets will fall by Christmas, Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis predicted on Wednesday.
Speaking to an Athens radio station, the minister urged businesses to adhere to the law and announced that a new development law would be ready in two weeks.
"We are creating new financing funds, we want to boost liquidity in the market and together with the banks we are moving towards comprehensive actions."
Chryssohoidis acknowledged that prices in the domestic market are very high because the country did not have a vigorous consumer movement and because market mechanisms did not work properly for many years, allowing businesses to set prices in "an illegal way", as he said.
"We have an issue with implementing the law. It is my duty, as a politician, to try to implement the law," he said.
He reiterated that high prices in a household basket of products mainly reflect the fact that multinationals sell their products by 20 percent to 30 percent higher in Greece compared with other European markets and urged enterprises to begin implementing the law. He also called for a national-wide advertising and promotion campaign for Greek products to support and boost Greek exports.
He also expressed concern over rising inflation, reflecting price rises by the state-run power utility, public transports, state and partially state-run enterprises as a result of tax increases.
"We must be very clear between us and say that collecting taxes and cutting spending is not working. We cannot live and survive as a country like this. The key work and answer is growth. However, there is a great enemy: recession. The result of real conditions in the economy and of market psychology. At this point, no major investor will invest in Greece. The Chinese are coming because it is their government's decision, a political decision. The Arabs are coming too because they have reached some political decisions over Europe or SE Europe," he said.
More ominously, Chryssohoidis warned that 25 percent of businesses will close because of the crisis, although some 10-15 percent of the loss will be filled with new enterprises. "The issue here is not to lose healthy enterprises because of the credit crunch in the market".
 New unemployment registrations up 3.16% in SeptNew unemployment registrations rose 3.16 pct in September compared with August, the Manpower Employment Organi-sation (OAED) announced on Wednesday.
The agency, in a report, said the number of unemployed people registered by September totaled 587,213, with long-term unemployed rising 5.84 pct.
The number of unemployed people receiving benefits totaled 197,922, up 3.27 pct from August, while new applications for unemployment benefits grew by 3,348 last month.
New hirings jumped 72.16 pct in September to 90,657, compared with August, but were 7.38 pct down from September 2009. Lay-offs totaled 31,570 in September, while job contracts ending totaled 40,998, for a total increase of 13.20 pct in September.
The Attica region (greater Athens area) accounted for 35.46 pct of unemployed people, while Central Macedonia accounted for 20.79 pct of total unemployed in September. The South Aegean region recorded the biggest percentage increase in unemployment registrations (8.75 pct).
 ND spokesman on unemploymentMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos on Wednesday criticised the government over the issue of unemployment, stressing that the new soaring in unemployment has been recorded last September as well shows that the deadlocks that the policy of the PASOK government is creating are multiplying.
"At the same time the prime minister convenes with his ministers, without deciding and implementing the necessary measures for the boosting of economic activity, such as those being proposed to him by the President of ND Antonis Samaras," he added.
 Bill on restructuring of Hellenic Railways OrganisationTransport Minister Dimitris Reppas termed the bill on the restructuring of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) an "intermediate stage to enable the existence of a transport policy that will make Greece a transit hub," while speaking at the Parliamentary Economic Committee during the first day of its discussion on Wednesday.
"The draft law, can change the railway setting in our country. If we want combined transport, of course the railway must have a better share and better infrastructures. And we are promoting a programme at the Thriasio Pedio, that will constitute the end of the country's major railway axes and will be linked with the port of Piraeus. The Port-Trade Centre-railway and road axes-airport line will be ready in 2011. A persistent effort is necessary for the plan to mature, but all begin from the first step - and the bill is the first step," Reppas said.
Replying to criticism by leftist parties on the government succumbing to the "Memorandum policy", but also in relation to the protests of employees, Reppas reminded the Organisation's huge annual deficit (1.2 billion euros), that is also due to a great degree to the "unnaturally high operating costs and to salaries."
 OSE strike on Thurs. to affect airport linkA 24-hour strike called by Hellenic Railways (OSE) employees on Thursday will affect the Athens Metro and as a result there will be no service from the Doukissis Plakentias station to Athens International Airport (AIA), as that particular section of track belongs to debt-burdened OSE.
There will be no suburban railway (Proastiakos) service as well.
The OSE union strike is held in protest to provisions in a draft law recently unveiled for the restructuring of the state-run and money-losing rail operator.
 Bus employees to hold six-hour work stoppage on MondayAthens will remain without buses for at least six hours on Monday, October 18, due to a work stoppage called by employees between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to participate in the General Assembly.
The Assembly, that will be held at the Sporting stadium in Patissia is expected with great interest by the employees since it will be taking place in the shadow of the new measures that are expected in the urban transport sector, in the framework of the effort being made by the government to decrease expenditures, as is anticipated by the agreement on the memorandum.
 Union of Greek Shipowner delegation's contactsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
A delegation of the Union of Greek Shipowners, headed by the Union's president Theodoros Veniamis, visited the European Union's headquarters in Brussels and the issues it discussed included maintaining and developing nautical know-how in Europe, handling the phenomenon of international piracy, the European legislative framework and its repercussions for maritime activities, issues concerning environmental protection and problems created in shipping as a result of the recent measures taken by the EU against Iran.
The Union's three-day contacts in the Belgian capital included, among others, the Commissioners Maria Damanaki (shipping policy), Viviane Reding (Justice) and Androula Vassiliou (education, culture, youth).
The delegation, as it stressed during a press conference it gave in Brussels, reminded the EU officials that European shipping represents 41 percent of the world's fleet and Greek shipping 40 percent of the European, reiterating its steadfast position that whatever decisions are adopted on shipping issues, including those concerning the protection of the environment, are preferable to be taken at the level of the International Maritime Organisation and not of regional, such as the EU for example.
As regards the issue of Iran, the Union expressed its concern over the repercussions that the sanctions of the EU, the UN and the U.S. will have on maritime transport, pointing out that the European regulation that is expected to be adopted soon is wider than the one imposed by the UN Security Council and harms certain aspects that will have a direct impact on the ships' enterprises and their insurance.
 OPAP managing director appointed as ELS VPOPAP S.A. managing director Yiannis Spanudakis has been appointed to the post of European Lotteries Sports (ELS) vice-president, during an ELS board meeting in Tel Aviv.
The 18-member ELS is an independent body that operates in cooperation with the World Lotteries Association.
 International Boat Show in AthensÔhe 32nd annual Athens International Boat Show will open to the public on Saturday at the premises of Athens' 'Eleftherios Venizelos' International Airport.
A wide range of products will be presented at the exhibition, including sailboats and cruisers, navigation equipment, rubber boats, fishing tackle and scuba diving equipment, as well as electronic systems and marine sports accessories.
The boat show will run through October 24.
 Industrial import price index up 4.6% in AugGreece's import price index in the industrial sector (so-called imported inflation) rose 4.6 pct in August of this year, compared with the same month in 2009, after a decline of 2.9 pct recorded in August 2009, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Wednesday.
The index was up 0.4 pct in August from July, after an increase of 1.7 pct recorded in the corresponding period last year. The statistics agency attributed the 4.6 pct increase of the index to a 1.4 pct rise in the import price index from Eurozone countries and a 7.9 pct jump in the index from other countries.
 Stocks jump 2.53% on WedStocks ended significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday. A new significant decline in Greek bond spreads, combined with a positive climate in other European markets and talk over developments in the domestic banking sector created a euphoric climate in the market. The composite index jumped 2.53 pct to end at 1,581.69 points, with turnover soaring to 176.421 million euros.
National Bank (5.41 pct), Mytilineos (4.98 pct), Alpha Bank (4.53 pct), ATEbank (3.85 pct) and Cyprus Bank (4.71 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks. The Big Cap index jumped 3.12 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.33 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.49 pct.
The Food sector (-0.35 pct) was the only one to end lower, while Raw Materials (5.04 pct) and Banks (4.44 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 141 to 31 with another 51 issues unchanged. Cardico (11.76 pct), Centric (10.20 pct) and Ekter (10 pct) were top gainers, while Electroniki (16.39 pct), Klonatex (14.29 pct) and ANEK (9.82 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.81%
Personal & Household: +2.96%
Raw Materials: +5.04%
Travel & Leisure: +1.27%
Food & Beverages: -0.35%
Financial Services: +2.71%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola, Bank of Cyprus, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.86
HBC Coca Cola: 18.23
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.82
National Bank of Greece: 8.58
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.15
Bank of Piraeus: 4.07
 Greek bond yields significantly down in SeptGreek state bond yields fell significantly in September, with the three-year benchmark bond yield falling by 176 basis points to 10.45 pct and the 10-year benchmark bond yield falling 101 basis points to 10.48 pct at the end of the month, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report on the Greek bond market, said the yield curve remained reversed, with the yield spread between the 30- and the three-year bond at -193 bps at the end of September, from -295 bps a month earlier. The average daily yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 824 bps in September from 937 in August.
The three-year bond price jumped to 87.05 pct at the end of September from 83.19 a month earlier, while the 10-year bond price rose to 74.80 from 69.94 and the 30-year bond price jumped to 58 from 53.18 pct over the same periods, respectively.
The value of transactions in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totalled 1.8 billion euros in September from 819 million in August and 51.8 billion euros in September 2009, while average daily turnover was 82.7 million euros, from 37.2 million euros in August.
The three-year bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 451 million euros in September.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.77 pct from 9.11 pct on Tuesday. Turnover in the market was a moderate 133 million euros of which 105 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 28 million were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security of the session with a turnover of 24 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate was 1.48 pct, the six-month rate 1.21 pct, the three-month 0.99 pct and the one-month rate 0.77 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.48 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover at 53.029 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,087 contracts worth 38.942 million euros, with 31,602 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,326 contracts worth 14.087 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (9,492), followed by Eurobank (1,706), MIG (919), OTE (1,526), Piraeus Bank (1,547), Alpha Bank (1,333), Cyprus Bank (2,258) and ATEbank (540).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.407
Pound sterling 0.888
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.340
Japanese yen 115.14
Swiss franc 1.345
Norwegian kroner 8.200
Canadian dollar 1.411
Australian dollar 1.424
 "Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece" exhibition in NY inaugurated by culture ministerNEW YORK (ANA-MPA)
Greece's culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Tuesday evening inaugurated the exhibition: "Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece" hosted by the Alexandros Onassis Public Benefit Foundation at its Cultural Center in Manhattan. The exhibition, which was initially presented at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, opened to the public on October 5 and will run through January 3, 2011, and admission is free.
Mythical heroes and heroines like Hercules, Odysseus (Ulysses), Achilles and Helen of Troy, among others, continue to inspire modern culture, with the exhibition venturing to explore the inherent human need for heroes by making it relevant to today's society, according to the organisers.
The exhibition has been organised by the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore in cooperation with the First Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, the San Diego Museum of Art and the Onassis Foundation (USA).
The age-old figures of Herakles, Odysseus, Achilles and Helen of Troy continue to fire the popular imagination today - and so does the concept of heroes, which began with the stories and images of these and other fabled Greek characters. Yet the very word "hero" has a different meaning in our society than it did in an ancient Greek world that seemed, to its people, to be alive with Greek heroes and heroines. To provide a better understanding of the lives, fates and meanings of the first heroes and heroines, to explore the inherent human need for heroes and to give audiences an opportunity to measure their own ideas of heroes against the ideas represented by a wealth of extraordinary Classical Greek artworks, the Onassis Cultural Center in Midtown Manhattan presents the exhibition Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece, on view from October 5, 2010 to January 3, 2011.
The exhibition brings together more than 90 exceptional artworks focusing on the Archaic, Classical and the Hellenistic period (6th-1st century BC), drawn from collections in the United States and Europe. Through these objects, which range from large-scale architectural sculptures to beautifully decorated pottery and miniature carved gemstones, the exhibition shows how the ancient Greek heroes were understood and how they served as role-models. It also explores this human need for heroes as role models through the arts of one of the oldest and most influential civilizations in history.
Highlights of the exhibition include a bronze Corinthian helmet from 700-500 B.C. (The Walters Art Museum); black-figure amphora depicting Achilles and Ajax playing a board game outside Troy (late 6th century B.C., Royal Ontario Museum); a black-figure column krater (c. 510 B.C.) depicting Odysseus escaping from the cave of the cyclops Polyphemos (Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe); a marble sculpture of the torso of an heroic athlete (Roman copy after an original by Polykleitos, c. 430 B.C., The Walters Art Museum); a sculpture of Herakles as a beardless youth, based on a Hellenistic model (first or second century A.D., Staatliche Museen zu Berlin); a marble sculpture of the head of Polyphemos (first or second century A.D., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston); a marble relief sculpture of scenes from the Trojan War (first half of the first century A.D., The Metropolitan Museum of Art); and a gold medallion with the bust of Alexander the Great (c. 218-235 A.D., The Walters Art Museum).
In inaugurating the exhibition, Geroulanos lauded the "important role" played by the Onassis Foundation in showcasing and projecting the elements that comprise the Greek cultural heritage.
Today's reality, he continued, is characterised by a multitude of problems and challenges, and noted the need to seek knowledge and values that "stem from our history, our myths, our heroes", and put forward the questions: "Who are today's heroes? What values do they represent?"
He also stressed the necessity, in this era of globalisation and economic crisis, to look to our cultural roots, our ancient civilisation, our heroes, in order to find our values, founded on knowledge, dialogue and humanism".
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) vice-president and former tourism minister Dimitris Avramopoulos underlined the timeless contribution of the heroes of Ancient Greece.
 Creation of National Marine Antiquities Museum plannedSubstantial underwater antiquities and other finds brought to light in the Aegean in exploration that is continuing full swing despite the economic crisis will be housed in a new National Marine Archaeology Museum after suitable premises are found, according to the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.
The creation of such a museum was recently approved after pending for 34 years, and the search is on for a suitable space to house it in the area of Piraeus or nearby Faliron, Department of Underwater Archaeology director Dr. Angeliki Simosi told ANA-MPA.
The department was set up after explorations conducted by the late French explorer and oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau in the Aegean, and archaeologists and researchers have since then brought to the surface significant artifacts of the country's "submerged history".
Among the finds are a quantity of 18th century BC gold coins discovered in 2007 off the port of the island of Rhodes, a Classical Era shipwreck off Peristera, Alonissos Island, indicating that ships above 100 tons were being built in antiquity, a 1st century BC statue discovered off Kalymnos island and, more recently, two more shipwrecks off Agaloudes, on Oinousses island.
 'Naked truth' exhibition at Frissiras MuseumÏne hundred and twenty works by 58 European painters are currently on display in the Frissiras Museum in Athens' historical district of Plaka. The exhibition, titled "Naked Truth", opened to the public on Wednesday and focuses on the different ways noted painters met the artistic challenge of depicting the naked human body.
Works by Costas Tsoklis, Demosthenis Skoulakis, Edouard Sacaillan, Maria Filopoulou and other noted artists works will be in display until 27 February 2011.
The exhibition attempts an exciting journey of exploring the way in which leading European and Greek painters approached the challenge of representing the naked human body. Starting with their works from the Frissiras Museum's permanent collection, the viewer is offered a unique chance to go through a kaleidoscope of multiple different and usually deeply personal itineraries of expression ranging from the timid awkwardness of their student years when they were making their first steps in art to the triumphs of their mature years when their efforts led to masterpieces that have left their indelible mark on contemporary European painting.
Rejecting fake and convention, at the forefront of this art stands the naked human figure in its true essence, either revealing the tragedy of human mortality, condemned to decadence and death or in its heroic form struggling to emulate the divine, according to the organisers.
 Culture ministry contract employees close AcropolisThe Acropolis archaeological site in Athens was closed Wednesday morning by protesting contract employees of the culture ministry.
The protestors are demanding that their specific-term contracts be converted to open end employment contracts.
The contract employees will continue mobilisations throughout the month, their president said.
 Culture ministry contract workers to stay outside Acropolis all nightCulture ministry contract workers have decided to spend the night outside the archaeological premises of the Acropolis and have sealed off the monument's entrance since the morning, demanding that they be granted permanent status and the payment of their outstanding salaries.
A public prosecutor and a small police force went to the Acropolis at noon to persuade the protesting employees to "free" the monument for tourists, but this was not achieved.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA,their president said that the contract workers will remain outside the monument all night until 8 in the morning, when it will be opening again for the public.
 Two workers seriously injured in steel plant fireTwo workers were seriously injured in a fire that broke out early Wednesday at a Hellenic Halyvourgia S.A. plant in Aspropyrgos, near Piraeus.
A strong team of 30 firefighters with 10 fire engines were battling the blaze, that broke out at 7:45 a.m. and was reported two hours later as having been partially contained.
The two workers were rushed to Thriassia hospital with serious burns, and one of the two was in critical condition.
Fire Brigade investigators were examining the causes of the fire.
According to early reports, the fire broke out in trash and flammable material and spread to the steel plant's metal melting (casting) funnel, where the flames were contained by the firemen, but oils and other material continued to burn, although this did not pose a threat.
 Perpetrators of Larissa ELTA embezzlement arrested in MontevideoTwo 35-year-old Greeks sought with an international arrest warrant by the Greek authorities for the embezzlement of about 1,400,000 euros from the Greek Post Office Service (ELTA) in the city of Larissa since last July were arrested in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Wednesday.
They are an employee of ELTA and a private citizen who had disappeared after the embezzlement. Following information by the Greek authorities that they were in Uruguay, Interpol was notified and with the assistance of the Greek embassy in Montevideo they were arrested by the authorities of Uruguay.
The Greek authorities have already activated the procedure for their extradition to Greece.
 Missing Afghan boy, 11, turns up safe in PatrasAn 11-year-old Afghan youth who disappeared from a UN-run refugee centre on the island of Crete on Monday was discovered unharmed on Wednesday on the Greek mainland, and specifically in the western port city of Patras.
The boy's disappearance had triggered a Europe-wide Amber Alert.
The 11-year-old reportedly told authorities that he left the Anogeia, Crete region to seek out a friend that had also left the juvenile refugee centre for Patras -- a port viewed as a "gateway" towards western Europe by Third World illegal migrants.
The youth is one of 25 minors hosted at the centre, operated under the auspices of the UN High Commission for Refugees and renovated from a dormitory owned by the National Youth Foundation.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSpeculation of a new memorandum after 2013, optimism on a change of the climate after the drop in the Greek spreads and the crisis in the building construction sector, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspaper.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Black market costs Greece 9 billion euros".
APOGEVMATINI: "The insistent minister of a 'country of corruption' - Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou unrepentant ".
AVGHI: "Education Minister asks police and parents' contribution to restore pupils to order".
AVRIANI: "Government's modus operandi for a new long-term Memorandum is a crime against the country".
ELEFTHEROS: "Stop lying Mr. Papaconstantinou".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "IMF's prisoners .....until 2020".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 110 billion euros debt longer and deeper".
ESTIA: "Why the indirect taxes are being increased".
ETHNOS: "150,000 newly-built apartments, houses, remain unsold - Constructors in despair".
IMERISSIA: "Optimism for reversal of climate".
KATHIMERINI: "DEKO (Public Utilities and Organisations) will be included in the Memorandum".
LOGOS: "European Commission shuts the door to extension of the debt repayment period".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The possibility of a new memorandum after 2013 is open".
NIKI: "Focus on the low incomes".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announcement calls for single state energy agency".
TA NEA: "Finance Ministry foreclosed on 70 houses in forty days".
TO VIMA: "DEKO and civil servants' salaries targeted".
VRADYNI: "Hostages of the European Union and IMF".
 Leaders continue discussion on property issueNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu continued discussions on the issue of property, during their meeting on Wednesday, in the framework of UN-led direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem.
Speaking after the meeting, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said that the leaders of the two communities would be meeting again on October 18 and 22, adding that their aides would be meeting on October 15 to schedule meetings for the next two weeks.
Asked if the leaders reviewed the work of their aides, Downer said that ''there was obviously some discussion about the work that the representatives have been doing over the previous few weeks at their meetings,'' adding that ''the leaders have not themselves met for quite some time'' due to the fact that they have been overseas.
''The representatives have been meeting and the representatives were able, in a more formal atmosphere, to report to the leaders what they have been doing. That did not take up the whole meeting. It was just a component of the meeting,'' he noted.
Asked if the leaders have asked for more active UN involvement at this point, Downer said ''not more or less, no, and our involvement has been fairly consistent through this process,'' adding that ''they have not asked for more, well, not more than has been the pattern.''
Invited to say what the pattern was, Downer said that ''obviously it depends on the day and circumstances.''
''Just so that people do not get carried away with conspiracy theories, the UN does not want to be involved in arbitration and mediation here. The UN wants to help with the process. So we spent a good deal of time at different levels, not just at my level, but at different levels talking to the two sides about the issues and exchanging views on the issues,'' he said.
He added that ''we also have at the UN a number of specialists who we use to help, who are people who have great expertise in the different chapters that are discussed in the Cyprus talks.''
''Their job is not to write solutions for the two sides or anything like that but to be sounding boards for the two sides. People to talk to, people with knowledge, people with experience and we hope that that is helpful. I think actually, if I think back over the last two years, it has been very helpful for them on a number of occasions. But you know at the end of the day they have to work out these solutions amongst themselves, we cannot tell them what to think. They have to work it all out themselves and be comfortable with it, because, as I have explained, contrary to the conspiracy theories which suggest that the UN has a secret plan to impose a solution on Cyprus, this has to be approved by two referendums,'' he pointed out.
Downer noted that ''you learn from history, and ultimately the leaders are going to have to put an agreement to the people in those two referendums as their agreement, not as someone else's agreement, and they are going to have to sell it as their agreement, and that of course will maximize the prospect of it being accepted by the public.''
''If it is a foreigner's agreement, and I know this from my own country, it will be very hard to sell, I suspect,'' he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops 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 Talat in April this year.
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