|Monday, 11 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 3 November 2010 Issue No: 3635
 Parcel bombs neutralised; authorities on high alertFive presumed parcel bombs were neutralised on Tuesday following the detection of four such rigged parcels on Monday in various parts of central Athens along with the arrest of two suspects in connection with the case, minutes after the duo allegedly submitted such a package to a courier firm.
On Tuesday, two explosions were recorded outside the Swiss and Russian embassies as authorities used controlled detonations to neutralise the devices outdoors. Another three suspected parcel bombs were neutralised through controlled explosions the same day. One was at the Bulgarian embassy, a second was intercepted near Parliament and a third at the courier firm 'Geniki Tachidromiki' at the junction of Rizari and Georgiou streets in central Athens.
The third package was addressed to the German embassy in Athens but embassy staff refused to accept this when it was delivered and called police. Shortly afterward, a bomb squad neutralised the parcel through a controlled explosion at the courier firm's offices where the package was returned.
The package detected by security officers in Parliament was addressed to someone working at the Chilean embassy and the sender was identified as the company Larco. This package was sent to security officers at the prime minister's office for inspection using specialised equipment for detecting explosives.
The equipment confirmed that the package was dangerous and it was then taken out into the courtyard in Parliament and neutralised via a controlled explosion.
Parliament security also investigated a suspicious package sent to the political office of former premier Costas Simitis, which contained a replica of an explosive device but finally proved harmless.
Following the controlled explosion at the Bulgarian embassy, there was a telephone call between Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Mladenov. The Bulgarian minister thanked Droutsas for the immediate and professional response of Greek security forces.
Yet another suspicious package was reported later on Tuesday afternoon at the military airport in Elefsina and a bomb squad was sent up to investigate but gave the parcel the all-clear, finding that it actually contained documents.
A controlled explosion of the package sent to the Panama embassy, meanwhile, showed that this was harmless and contained documents.
Similarly, two parcels delivered to the Pagrati police station by a courier firm employee as suspicious were found to contain magazines and newspapers.
Meanwhile, authorities formally pressed charges against the two men caught a day earlier for allegedly sending a bevy of parcel bombs to foreign embassies around Athens.
At the time of their arrest on Monday afternoon in the Pangrati district of Athens, 22-year-old chemistry student Panagiotis Argyros and 24-year-old Gerassimos Tsakalos were carrying two such parcel-bombs, one of which was addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
A first-instance court public prosecutor has press charges for four criminal offences and four misdemeanours against the pair. These include acting together to commit terrorist crimes, forming a terrorist organisation, with repeated counts of conspiracy in the supply, construction and possession of explosives and bombs, as well as causing explosions.
The misdemeanour charges against them are for causing damages, illegal weapons possession, refusing to give fingerprints and refusing to state their identity.
Both suspects declined to make any statement to the public prosecutor and later appeared before the 2nd special examining magistrate, where they again stated that their refusal to participate in the legal process.
Nevertheless, the magistrate gave the two an extension to appear before her next Thursday morning at 10.
Expectedly, all courier firms in the country and Hellenic Post (EL.TA) offices were placed on high alert, while security at embassies and other possible targets was stepped up. The spate of mail bombings is, nevertheless, completely unrelated, according to local authorities, to the more serious instances of parcel bombs mailed from the Middle East earlier this week to US addresses, as the parcel bombs in Athens are linked to self-styled urban anarchist cells and not to Islamic terrorists.
On Monday, one of the three parcel bombs intercepted by authorities had been destined for Sarkozy. The booby-trapped parcel was found on one of two arrested suspects.The parcel that exploded was addressed to the Mexican embassy in Athens and the blast caused minor injuries to a woman working there.
Also on Monday, a third parcel addressed to the embassy of the Netherlands was found by police at the offices of ACS couriers, in Pangrati, and a fourth, addressed to the Belgian embassy in Athens, was found on the two suspects.
At the time of their arrest, the two suspects were both carrying Glock-type automatic handguns concealed in bags, one with three clips and the second with two clips, and receipt for the package they had delivered to the ACS courier firm. The 22-year-old, who had dropped off the parcel-bomb at the 'Swift Mail' courier firm, was wearing a disguise that included a wig, a baseball cap. He was also wearing a bullet-proof vest.
The same man, wearing the same disguise, had allegedly stopped by the firm's offices the previous Wednesday to inquire about the procedure for sending packages. His disguise had made an impression on the clerk, who recognised him when he dropped off the booby-trapped parcel on Monday and realised that there was something suspicious about the parcel, she told police.
Finally, a police crime lab ballistics report on the two 9mm weapons was completed on Tuesday morning, with neither of the handguns used in attacks by terror group "Revolutionaries' Sect", although the investigation was continuing to see whether they have been used in other terrorist actions or in incidents of common crime.
Controlled detonation of two envelopes at Athens airport
Bomb disposal squads carried out a controlled detonation for two envelopes that were discovered at the trade terminal of Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport earlier on Tuesday evening.
According to initial reports, the enevelopes were trapped and the one was destined for Europol at The Hague and the other for the European Court.
Foreign ministry briefs embassies on parcel incidents
The ministry of foreign affairs on Tuesday briefed all foreign embassies in Athens on the arrests made by Greek Police (EL.AS) in relation to the parcel bomb incidents in the Greek capital, advising their personnel to display extra caution when handling correspondence and parcels.
The foreign ministry also contacted the foreign embassies that were the recipients of suspicious envelops through the mail.
The foreign diplomatic missions expressed appreciation to the foreign ministry for the speedy update and the Greek Police's swift and successful reactions, the foreign ministry announced.
Government condemns parcel-bomb attacks
The government on Tuesday strongly condemned those respon-sible for a barrage of at least nine parcel bombs targeting embassies in Athens, describing them as "criminals making a futile attempt to terrorise and disturb social peace".
Government spokesman George Petalotis went on to praise the readiness of the Greek police force, saying it had shown excellent reflexes in coping with the crisis that included the arrest of two key suspects that were caught with booby-trappped parcels on Monday.
The police investigation and operations were continuing and in full deployment, he added.
Questioned about the timing of the attacks, which came just one week before local government elections that are expected to be bruising for the government, if not both main parties, Petalotis refused to speculate or comment on what he called "conspiracy theories".
"The only thing that we can do is condemn [the attacks] and the police can do its job well, as it is doing at the moment," he added.
So far, all the parcel bombs detected contained a relatively small quantities of explosives that are not considered enough to kill.
Parliament president on parcel bombs
"The deputies and Parliament are not intimidated by such deplorable acts," Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos underlined on Tuesday, briefing the MPs on the controlled explosions set off outside the sentry box in the legislature's courtyard after a couple of suspicious parcels were located and isolated.
Representing all Parliament wings, Petsalnikos stressed that such actions are unacceptable, deplorable and condemnable.
"Democracy and the national parliament cannot be intimi-dated," he pointed out, adding that "democracy is as strong as our country. We move forward united, to take the country out of this difficult situation."
KKE reaction to urban terrorism
Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday spoke about a "terrorism setting that is being put together just before the local government elections this Sunday and only a few days after Bin Laden's reappearance, launching threats against France and its President Nicolas Sarkozy."
The KKE, in a statement, issued in response to the parcel bomb incidents in Athens, calling on the people "to be skeptical and wary of media reports, be vigilant and display a critical mind as regards the developments, based on who benefits, and the purpose served by the provocative actions and the phobic atmosphere that is being created."
Karatzaferis on urban terrorism; meets Russian envoy
Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis on Tuesday referred to the recent incidents in Athens involving parcel bombs and stressed that, "undoubtedly there is intervention through terrorism, aimed at destabilising and throwing the country's effort out of tune."
Commenting on a television interview by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, aired on Monday evening, Karatzaferis said he is "satisfied with the new approach" adopted by Samaras, adding that it is "a good effort aimed at opening a constructive dialogue after the Nov. 7 local government elections."
On an unrelated development, Karatzaferis held a scheduled meeting at his party's offices in Athens with Russian ambassador to Greece Vladimir Chkhikvishvili.
In comments afterwards, Karatzaferis stressed that Russia is a great friend of Greece and expressed certainty that the already good bilateral relations will improve further on the political, diplomatic and economic levels.
 Russian Foreign ministry on explosive device at Russian embassy in AthensMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
"The parcel-bomb sent to the Russian embassy in Athens today (Tuesday), burst into flames and did not explode, before the Greek police were informed," according to a relevant announcement by the Russian Foreign ministry.
According to the Russian Foreign ministry the suspicious "parcel-small package" was delivered to the Russian embassy after noon, where "according to the established checking procedure for incoming mail this parcel was checked with the necessary precaution measures." During the checking procedure "a fire broke out" and when the fire was extinguished elements of an explosive device were detected.
According to the Russian foreign ministry's announcement "the Greek police were notified, that is carrying out a preliminary investigation for this incident," while "more analytical conclusions can be drawn after the report of the special bomb disposal experts."
The Russian Foreign ministry also notes that simultaneously with the incident at the Russian embassy certain attempts of similar terrorist acts occurred, however "fortunately in all the cases there were no victims and destruction."
Earlier the Russian agencies had reported from Athens a statement by the Russian embassy's press spokesman Anton Zanin that the diplomatic delegation was working normally, and that the controlled explosion and the destruction of the explosive device took place by a special unit of the Greek police next to the embassy's building.
 PM Papandreou addresses rally in IoanninaPrime Minister George Papandreou called on all citizens to participate in the November 7 local government elections "because it is a vote of responsibility for the country, for our country and local administration."
Addressing a rally at a hotel's convention centre in the northwestern city of Ioannina on Tuesday, Papandreou said "the salvation and reshaping of our country is an affair and a decision of all of us. I am certain that the citizens, in their overwhelming majority, willl confirm and will strengthen the wind of change that is blowing in our country."
Referring to the economy, Papandreou said: "Many are watching our efforts and successes amazed. We won and are winning crucial battles but we have not yet won the war. We acquired reliability. The right to raise our stature and to protect the interests of our country. As we did in the past days as well, at the European Union's Summit, where we averted the adoption of an unacceptable proposal, for those countries in the European Union having great fiscal problems, as we, to be deprived of the democratic right of their vote."
In another point in his address, the prime minister underlined that "we are faithful to our slogan 'either we change or we sink'." And he went on to say "and on the contrary, the size and intensity of the crisis was and is for us a further reason for us to change quicker. And this is what we did and we are doing."
Papandreou also referred to the latest terrorist acts in Athens, saying that "we condemn unequivocally and we stand merciless, merciless towards whoever attempts, in vain, to disrupt with terrorist acts social peace and to deal a blow at the image of our country internationally in a particularly difficult period.
"For us the security of the citizen is a right of the citizen. Security in his life, his work, his daily life. The government and the relevant services will continue the systematic, organised effort, that has given specific results recently."
 PM Papandreou visits Environmental Training CentrePrime Minister George Papandreou visited the Environmental Training Centre in Konitsa, northwestern Greece, on Tuesday and was briefed by the leadership of the Education Ministry on Environmental Training, through the platform of the "Digital School."
In a brief address to the children, he congratulated the teachers and the inhabitants of the region who have embraced this effort.
The prime minister stressed that a main aim of the whole effort is for the new technology to be included in the way of training through the "Digital School."
 ND leader makes address in AlexandroupoliMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, speaking in the northern city of Alexandroupoli on Tuesday, called for a vote against the memorandum in the local elections, adding that the "extortionate dilemmas" of Prime Minister George Papandreou do not intimidate him and ND is ready in the event that PASOK takes the responsibility of Parliamentary elections.
Referring to the possibility of his party participating in an all-party government, the ND leader said: "Our problem is not to distribute ministries. Our problem is for the disastrous policy of suffocation to change. And a Recovery and Growth Policy to be adopted. Whoever wants to distribute ministries with a government implementing a suffocation policy can do it. Not us. We shall insist on a radical turn to Recovery and Growth. And the Greek people will send this message," he said.
He criticised Papandreou and vice president Theodoros Pangalos over the issue of the debt's restructuring, terming their "contradicting statements as paranoia".
"It is paranoia for the prime minister to come out and say that 'he rules out the restructuring of the debt' and then his vice president to come out and say that the restructuring of the debt is not something bad and we must not rule it out," he further said, adding that "someone of the two does not know what he is saying unless they have a secret agenda and the vice president is preparing the people. The Memorandum Policy does not avert bankruptcy. It brings it closer. They may have accepted it but we reject it."
 KKE leader addresses rally in ThessalonikiCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a rally at the Vellidis Convention Centre in Thessaloniki on Tuesday, appealed to voters to "spoil the plans" of the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy parties in the November 7 elections.
Papariga said "those who are responsible for the continuous worsening of the position of the people cannot and do not want to give solutions to the problems. No more tolerance."
She added that "plutocracy wants to herd the people into the two parties, PASOK and ND, to one or the other of their candidates. They know that both parties and the regional governors and mayors elected by them will not dispute their interests, their thirst for profits and cheap labour power."
 Hytiris: PM not bluffing with issue of snap electionsAlternate Culture Minister Telemachos Hytiris on Tuesday reiterated that the prime minister is not "bluffing" when referring to the possibility of snap elections, in a bid to solidify and consolidate support amid the unprecedented economic crisis battering the country and a series of austerity and restructuring measures taken to overcome the crisis.
Speaking to a local radio station, and in reply to a comment by main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who dismissed the notion that Papandreou will call a snap election, Hytiris, a former government spokesman in a previous PASOK government, said:
"I believe he (Samaras) does not know Papandreou that well, despite the fact that they were college mates. The prime mini-ster is very determined and decisive. It would not be prudent to believe that this is a bluff, because it is not; the situation is not one of a whim or bluff. All of us politicians, including Mr. Samaras, must stand based on the current situation and reality."
 Gov't: No debt restructuringThe government spokesman on Tuesday categorically dismissed the possibility of a restructuring of the country's public debt, while adding that such speculation, along with claims of a possibility of extending the repayment period, are only hypothetical.
"We are interested in unwaveringly meeting our goals. The more we depart from our goals, the more we depart from the stability we are aiming for," spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said, while emphasising that there is "no hidden government agenda".
Moreover, speaking during his regular press briefing, Petalotis replied that there was "no trend towards escapism", while adding that PM George Papandreou spoke with "sincerity, clearly defining the issues and problems..."
He also said the premier called on voters to again give ruling PASOK a mandate via the upcoming local government election.
 ND ready for general elections, party spokesman underlinesNew Democracy is ready for elections any time the prime minister chooses to declare them, the main opposition party's spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos repeated on Tuesday. He refused to speculate, however, on whether Prime Minister George Papandreou would finally go through with that decision.
Quoting ND leader Antonis Samaras, Panagiotopoulos stressed that ND was "ready to wage the battle of general elections" if the prime minister decided to hold them.
"But what Mr. Papandreou must know, and Mr. Samaras said this yesterday, is that he will shoulder the cost of an initiative such as a premature resort to the polls," he pointed out.
"Such initiatives during the most crucial winter the country has seen in the last 50 years provoke upheaval, provoke problems, provoke disturbance, provoke a climate that in no case helps the economy of the country," he underlined.
The spokesman once again criticised the government's policy as one that "led nowhere" and said that ND had consented to several measures for structural changes but could not consent to measures that were leading the country to "ram into a rock" and a period of deep recession and stagflation.
He also criticised the prime minister of 'panicking' and using the early elections card, underlining that "panic was a poor counsellor for a prime minister of the country".
 Dimaras: 'anti-memorandum policy won't win out due to my election'Expelled PASOK MP Yiannis Dimaras, who has emerged as one of the top contenders for the post of Attica regional head, emphasised on Tuesday that main opposition New Democracy (ND) will not be justified to maintain that an "anti-memorandum policy" has won out in case he is elected.
Dimaras, a noted investigative journalist and long-time PASOK cadre, made the comments in a radio interview, a few days after it was revealed that he had met with ND leader Antonis Samaras and following criticism he attracted for alleged secret contacts with the party.
Dimaras also accused political parties of hypocrisy when they speak about independent local government candidates.
 Kouvelis: local gov't election shouldn't treated as referendumDemocratic Left party leader independent MP Fotis Kouvelis on Tuesday stated that the upcoming "local government elections will send a political message but they should not be treated as a referendum."
Speaking in a press conference, he strongly criticised the prime minister for the election "dilemma" he set in his all-channel televised interview a week ago, and announced that the Democratic Left will run as an independent party in the next general elections, whenever they take place, rejecting cooperation scenarios with the ruling PASOK party.
Kouvelis underlined that the policy followed by the government and the prime minister has led the country to an extended election campaign period.
 FM Droutsas receives Pakistani ambassadorForeign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Tuesday received the ambassador of Pakistan Irfan-ur-Rehman Raja, who expressed the gratitude of Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani for the moral and material support provided for his country by Greece during the deadly floods in August.
Earlier, a letter of thanks was addressed by the prime minister to the Greek ambassador in Pakistan, Petros Mavroidis.
Droutsas and the Pakistani ambassador discussed the prospect of an exchange of visits and the latter reiterated an invitation to the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to visit Pakistan.
The two sides also discussed the possibility of the reactivation of the Joint Economic Committee between the two countries.
 Frontex unit deployed on border with Turkey to stem illegal migrationThe deployment of European border guard forces under Greek command was launched on Tuesday in the northeast Evros region along the river border with Turkey, following an official request by the Greek government.
The Frontex Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABITs) will be briefed by Greek authorities upon their arrival in the Orestiada municipality, focusing on the EU and national legislation provisions concerning migration inflow and illegal migration, legal issues -- use of weapons and handcuffs, arrests, etc. -- as well as the geography of the 12.5 km-long river bank along which they will be deployed.
The RABITs will patrol the region together with Greek forces to help curb illegal migration. The European border guards will be under the command and coordination of Greek authorities, bear their countries' insignias and use their weapons only in self-defence.
They will move into designated regions defined in an already approved operational plan. The deployment of the 175-member team and their equipment (including vehicles, thermal cameras etc) will serve as a deterrent against illegal immigrants streaming over from Turkey, a problem that has assumed explosive dimensions in the specific region.
The EU gave the green light to the deployment following a request by Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis. A new action plan prepared by the Greek government in an effort to tackle migration inflow was presented to the responsible EU bodies as early as Sept. 15 and was met with a positive response.
"The migration flow along our national borders is very intense. Our country cannot be left alone to cope with a phenomenon which is European and not regional. As such, it calls for European solutions and coordination," Papoutsis told ANA-MPA. referring to the illegal migration problem.
"The RABITs deployment along the Evros River brings Europe to its borders. This was a political goal that was met. Aside from that, we are sending messages to the international community, the countries from which the migration flow originates, as well as, to Turkey, of which we expect greater cooperation in dealing with the international ring of migrant smugglers that trade on the migrants' hope for a better life," Papoutsis said.
 Papanikolis-class submarine commissionedA new Papanikolis-class submarine was commissioned on Tuesday for active duty in the Hellenic Navy, during a ceremony held in Kiel, Germany, in the presence of Hellenic Navy General Staff Chief Vice-Adm. Dimitrios Elefsiniotis and shipbuilder HDW president Andreas Burmester.
Based on initial plans, the specific submarine was scheduled to be part of the Greek naval force in late 2005.
Another three submarines are currently under construction at the Skaramangas Shipyards.
 Draft bill on e-prescription of medicines passed, in principleDeputies from ruling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy (ND) and the small right-of-centre Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party on Monday evening approved, in principle, a bill envisioning the electronic prescription of medications, a measure the government hopes will combat the widespread practices of overcharging, over-prescription and exploitation of consumers and health funds.
Communist party (KKE) deputies voted against the draft bill, while demanding abolition to VAT rates on medicines, while MPs of the other small leftist party in Parliament, SYRIZA, voted "present".
 Last witness testifies in Parliament inquiry into structured bonds scandalThe Parliamentary fact-finding committee investigating the sale of overpriced structured bonds to Greek social insurance funds on Tuesday ended its sessions with the examination of the last witnesses testifying in the case.
The committee's report on the affair is now due shortly after the local government elections on November 7.
 2011 budget for Parliament ratifiedThe Greek Parliament's budget for 2011, once again dominated by spending cuts, was passed on Tuesday with the support of ruling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against the budget and the other left-wing party MPs in Parliament abstained. The MPs also approved accounts of Parliament spending for 2009.
Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos said that the focus, for a second year in a row, was to restrict spending in light of efforts to reduce the fiscal debt and deficit but without affecting the quality of services provided by Parliament.
Under the new 2011 budget, every MP will see his total pay reduced by 1,600 euros a month or a total of 20,000 euros a year, in addition to reductions arising from changes in the way that MP salaries are taxed. According to Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos, net monthly pay for Parliamentarians will not exceed 6,500 euros and total spending for Parliament will account for 0.38 percent of the state budget.
The Parliament president also announced that the justice ministry will soon unveil changes in the way that the assets and income of MPs were checked, with more efficient inspection of what MPs actually own, carried out by bodies where MPs are not a majority.
At the same time, Petsalnikos angrily ruled out proposals to shut down Parliament's television channel, as suggested by the central bank governor, noting that this employed only 12 journalists and was relatively low-budget, as well as being the only conduit by which citizens might be informed on what occurred in Parliament. He made it clear, however, that it would be difficult for Parliament to acquire its own radio station.
 Bill on fast track procedureThe bill on the speeding up of strategic investments (the so-called fast track procedure) was ratified in its articles at the Production and Trade Committee, with a series of changes on behalf of Minister of State Haris Pamboukis.
The bill was voted by the government majority and the deputies of the New Democracy (ND) and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) parties, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) voted against the articles.
 Greece, Turkey seek closer cooperation in SMEsGreece and Turkey on Tuesday signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the next three years.
The memorandum was signed between EOMMEX and KOSGE, Greece's and Turkey's organisations for SMEs, respectively, in the presence of Greek foreign affairs deputy minister Spyros Kouvelis and Turkey's external commerce deputy minister Ahmet Yakici.
The memorandum was signed on the sidelines of a forum, organized by the Greek foreign affairs ministry in Istanbul on "support policies and prospects of cooperation between small- and medium-sized enterprises" in the framework of a recent meeting of the joint Greek-Turkish economic commission.
EOMMEX chief executive Athina Lazou also visited the permanent secretariat of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation and discussed the framework of actions of a task group for SMEs, operated by the BSEC, whose coordination is run by EOMMEX for the two-year period 2010-2011.
Addressing the forum, Lazou said Greek authorities were currently implementing a series of measures aimed at strengthening business activity and competitiveness by SMEs, creating a business-friendly environment with less bureaucracy.
She said that around 850,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises were currently operating in Greece, accounting for 99.9 pct of total enterprises in the country.
A total of 820,021 enterprises were very small enterprises (with a workforce up to 9 persons) accounting for 95.6 pct of total enterprises. This category employs 1,540,000 workers or 58 pct of total employment in the private sector.
Another 25,789 enterprises are small enterprises (with a workforce from 10 to 49 persons) accounting for 3.0 pct of total enterprises. This category employs 460,000 workers or 17.3 pct of total employment.
Finally, 3,579 enterprises were medium-sized enterprises (with a workforce between 50-249 persons), accounting for 0.4 pct of total enterprises. This category employs 312,000 workers or 11.8 pct of total employment.
Large enterprises (with a workforce of more than 250 persons) total 431 and account for 0.1 pct of total enterprises. This category employs 343,810 workers, or 13 pct of total employment in the country.
 Eurobank Properties reports lower nine-month resultsEurobank Properties on Tuesday reported profits totaling 8.15 million euros in the nine-month period from January to September, from 34.88 million euros last year, for a decline of 77 pct.
The company attributed this development to lower estimated value of its real estate property portfolio, hit by adverse economic conditions prevailing in the country, an extra tax charge of 4.4 million euros and lower interest revenues in the nine-month period.
On the other hand, leasing revenues rose 10 pct to 34 million euros, financial expenses fell 30 pct and operating expenses dropped 14 pct in the January-September period.
Operating earnings rose 11 pct to 29.6 million euros and funds from operations fell 5.0 pct.
Eurobank Properties said its shares were traded at a discount of 49 pct on the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Geniki Bank reports 304 mln euros loss in Jan-SeptGeniki Bank on Tuesday reported a loss of 304.1 million euros in the nine-month period from January to September, after a loss of 51.4 million euros in the corresponding period last year, reflecting higher bad debt provisions by the bank.
Operating income totaled 126.2 million euros, down 14 pct from 2009, reflecting lower income from interest and commissions. Operating expenses (excluding provisions) totaled 116 million euros, down 2.0 pct from 2009.
The bank said that general economic conditions, which worsened dramatically in the nine-month period negatively affected the quality of its lending portfolio. As a result the bank raised its provisions over band loans to 312.7 million euros.
Loans totaled 3.6 billion euros in December 2010, down 8.1 pct from December 2009, while deposits and repos totaled 2.4 billion euros, down 9.3 pct over the same period.
Geniki Bank is currently underway a share capital increase plan, worth 339.7 million euros, which is expected to be completed in December.
 Greek PMI falls to 43.6 points in Oct.Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell further to 43.6 points in October, down from 44.7 points in September, reflecting a further worsening of conditions in the Greek manufacturing sector, with significant declines in new orders, production and employment levels.
Incoming new orders fell for the 14th consecutive month, while Greek manufacturers further cut their production levels, with inventories falling significantly in October, along with further cuts in workforce.
Employment in the manufacturing sector shrank significantly, with more than 18 pct of manufacturers reporting cuts in their workforce. Greek manufacturers also reported a decline in their purchasing activity and a significant worsening of the average suppliers' return.
The PMI index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Credit expansion slowed further in SeptemberCredit expansion slowed further in September, to 1.2 pct from 1.4 pct in August, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. The central bank, in a report, said that only enterprises managed to report a net funds flow from banks, while households recorded a negative funds flow in the month.
Net financing to enterprises totaled 1.1 billion euros in September, for a credit growth rate of 2.2 pct, unchanged from August. Shipping (8.6 pct in September from 4.5 pct in August), constructions (3.3 pct in September from 1.8 pct in August) and electricity-water-natural gas (26.1 pct in September from 24 pct in August) recorded the biggest percentage increases, while manufacturing (-1.9 pct), commerce (-2.3 pct), recorded negative rates. Tourism slowed to 4.4 pct in September from 4.7 pct in August, while communications and transport (excluding shipping) turned negative (-0.6 pct) from 0.2 pct in August.
Net mortgage and consumer loans to households was a negative 175 million euros in September, from a positive 500 million euros in September 2009. Net mortgage loan was a negative 66 million euros in September for an annual growth rate of 1.0 pct, down from 1.6 pct in August.
Consumer loans was a negative 167 million euros for a growth rate of -2.1 pct in September from -1.5 pct in August.
 Sea cruise traffic up at port of PiraeusSea cruise passenger traffic rose in the nine-month period from January to September this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2009, Piraeus Port Authority announced on Tuesday.
The authority, in its report, said transit passengers totaled 1,165,938 in the nine-month period, down 6 pct from last year, while sea cruise passengers embarking from Piraeus port totaled 366,212 (up 13.5 pct). The number of cruise ships visiting the port of Piraeus was 879, up 1.8 pct from 2009.
George Anomeritis, the Piraeus Port Authority's chairman and chief executive, noted that "despite an international and domestic economic crisis and some negative phenomena in the sea cruise sector, Piraeus continued to be the main sea cruise port in eastern Mediterranean".
The port authority said Piraeus is the most affordable port of its size in the Mediterranean, noting that it has frozen prices to 2008 levels until April 1, 2011.
 Local gov't employees' strike on November 19.The local government employees federation (POE-OTA) has called a 24-hour strike on Friday, 19 November, and an abstention from work or a strike for Saturday and Sunday 20 and 21 November.
The workers are demanding reparation of their lost income, the signing of collective labor agreements and hiring of more personnel.
According to POE-OTA, if the demands ae not met, the board will decide an escalation of the mobilisations.
 Work stoppage at ISAP trainThe ISAP train employees' federation has called a four-hour work stoppage from 12 noon to 4 :00 p.m.on Wednesday to enable employees to take part in their General Assembly.
 Apogevmatini newspaper files for bankruptcyOne of Greece's oldest natiowide-circulation newspapers, Apogevmatini, on Tuesday filed for bankruptcy.
The C.I. Sarantopoulos company, which owns the historic afternoon daily, on Tuesday morning filed a bankruptcy petition Apogevmatini.
The newspaper was founded in the beginning of the 20th century by the Botsis family.
 Stocks end 0.96% higherStocks recovered part of Monday's sharp losses at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market rising 0.96 pct to end at 1,518.64 points.
Turnover was a low 92.569 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 0.65 pct, the Mid Cap index was 0.87 pct down and the Small Cap index eased 0.38 pct. PPC (4.82 pct), Ellaktor (3.18 pct), Alpha Bank (3.04 pct), Eurobank (2.61 pct) and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (2.18 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks.
MIG (5.19 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (6.34 pct) were major losers.
Utilities (3.88 pct) and Food (2.17 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Financial Services (3.46 pct) and Health (2.39 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 91 to 65 with another 46 issues unchanged. Vell Group (13.64 pct), Audiovisual (8.57 pct) and Evrofarma (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Neorio (18.31 pct), Altec (12.5 pct) and Geniki (10.16 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.57%
Personal & Household: -1.36%
Raw Materials: +0.92%
Travel & Leisure: +0.83%
Food & Beverages: +2.17%
Financial Services: -3.46%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.74
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.18
HBC Coca Cola: 19.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.39
National Bank of Greece: 7.51
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.33
Bank of Piraeus: 3.42
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek bond spreads widened further on Tuesday reflecting investors' worries over economic developments in EU regional countries. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 838 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, up from 700 bps in October 25. Turnover was a low 59 million euros, of which 33 million were buy orders and the remaining 26 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 21 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month 1.047 pct and the one-month rate 0.84 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.78 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 44.886 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,102 contracts worth 36.055 million euros, with 24,476 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,847 contracts worth 8.831 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,101), followed by Eurobank (1,670), MIG (1,713), OTE (1,847), Piraeus Bank (1,841), Alpha Bank (2,516), Marfin Popular Bank (1,000), Cyprus Bank (822) and Motor Oil (307).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released
by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.413
Pound sterling 0.881
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.397
Japanese yen 114.09
Swiss franc 1.387
Norwegian kroner 8.268
Canadian dollar 1.428
Australian dollar 1.413
 European Theatres Union General Assembly in GreeceThe General Assembly of the Union of Theatres of Europe will be hosted in Greece by the National Theatre from Friday 5 until Sunday 7 November. The meeting will be attended by some of the most important personalities of the European theatre.
The Union of Theatres of Europe is a network of theatres that was created in March 1990 at the initiative of Giorgio Strehler and Jack Lang and the cooperation of the French Culture Ministry. Today, with 19 of the most important theatres of Europe included among its members, it is exercising intense axctivity in the sector of culture.
In the framework of the convening of the General Assembly and on the occasion of the presence of the important personalities in Greece, the National Theatre will organise a Round Table on the main theme "Culture in a period of crisis", under the auspices of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the minister, Pavlos Geroulanos.
 Chestnut season celebrated with annual festivals throughout GreeceThe chestnut season is celebrated every autumn, from mid-October to mid-November, in many regions across Greece with special events organized to promote the chestnut's nutritional value.
In antiquity, the chestnut tree was regarded in Greece as the tree of Zeus. Mount Olympus, home of the gods of the ancient Greeks, was said to have had an abundance of chestnut trees producing this sweet, edible nut.
Once peeled of their hard, dark brown outer shells and bitter inner skin, chestnuts can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, roasted, boiled, mashed, preserved and candied. A special type of coffee with calming effects is produced from dried chestnuts, while the chestnut tree leaves are used for their therapeutic properties in lung diseases and rheumatism.
The annual "Chestnut Festival" took place during the weekend of October 30-31 in the mountainous village of Kastanitsa, Arcadia prefecture.
The 27th annual festival is one of the most important agricultural and cultural events of the region.
Similar celebrations are also held in Paleochori in Kavala prefecture, Damaskinia in the prefecture of Kozani, Agiasos on the island of Lesvos, Karitsa in the prefecture of Larissa and in Arna in the prefecture of Laconia. (ANA-MPA)
The sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), originally native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, was introduced into Europe from Sardis in Asia Minor; the fruit was then called the 'Sardian Nut'. It has been a staple food in Southern Europe, Turkey and southwestern and eastern Asia for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas
Alexander the Great and the Romans planted Chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. The Greek army is said to have survived their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. thanks to their stores of chestnuts. Ancient Greeks like the physician, pharmacologist and botanist Dioscorides and Romans such as Galen, the prominent physician and philosopher of Greek origin, wrote of chestnuts to comment on their medicinal properties. To the early Christians chestnuts symbolized chastit. Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates. In some parts of Italy a cake made of chestnuts is used as a substitute for potatoes.
 One arrested after shootout between police in Paleo FaliroOne foreign national was arrested and another was wanted after an exchange of fire took place at noon on Tuesday between two unidentified individuals in a private car and a police motorcycle squad in the coastal Paleo Faliro district of southern Athens.
According to reports, police attempted to make a routine check on the car, but the driver sped off while one of the two men in the car opened fire on the officers.
Police returned the fire and managed to arrest one of the two suspects, an Albanian national who was later found to be an inmate out on a prison furlough that expired on Tuesday, no less.
A manhunt was continuing to find and arrest the second suspect.
The suspects are believed to have robbed, at gunpoint, a local supermarket earlier in the day.
 Fishing boat sinks outside Piraeus portA fishing boat sank early Tuesday outside Piraeus port. The four-member crew on board, two Greeks and two foreign nationals, were rescued and are safe.
According to early information, the fishing boat rammed into a larger boat, the captain of which was not aware of the incident and sailed away.
 Canellopoulos Museum reopens in AthensThe Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum in Athens' Plaka district has reopened after being expanded and modernized to ensure that its collection is displayed in the best possible way.
The museum was set up to house the private collection which Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos, donated to the Greek state in 1972, and comprising roughly 3,000 items and works of art from prehistoric to modern times.
Admission to the museum is free.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and light winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 23C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with light winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 22C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceThe political clash ahead of the local government election on November 7, and the performance of state revenues, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS: "Counter-terrorism squad suspects 'Cells of Fire'.
AVGHI: "The elections' opportunity must not be lost".
AVRIANI: "Independent candidate for Attica prefect Yannis Dimaras' momentum terrifies the system".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The bell sounds for 13,014 employees in 15 Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO)".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras: There is a solution for a rapid exit from the crisis. If prime minister George Papandreou wants general elections, we are here".
ESTIA: "National understanding needed".
ETHNOS: "Death rehearsals with parcel bombs".
IMERISSIA: "Political virus in the economy - Heavy climate and deterioration of economic indices".
KATHIMERINI: "Shortfall in revenues a threat".
LOGOS: "Safari for state's debtors".
TA NEA: " 'Registered-mail' terrorism".
NAFTEMPORIKI" 2 billion euros black hole from the plunge in revenues".
NIKI: "The secret behind the terror-parcels".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Respond to the blackmail by voting for 'Laiki Syspirossi' (Communist Party of Greece (KKE) backed ticket)".
TO VIMA: "Cells of Fire and ... Revolutionaries' Sect in the background".
VRADYNI: "Progress, not slow death".
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