|Sunday, 24 June 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 6 November 2010 Issue No: 3638
 PM Papandreou: 'We are forging ahead, we are not stopping'Prime Minister George Papandreou concluded the election period with an address at the Sporting indoor stadium in Athens on Friday evening, focusing on the slogan "we are going again, we are forging ahead, we are not stopping."
Papandreou reiterated that early genearl elections "were not and are not" in his intentions and for this reason called "for a vote of responsibility from every citizen so that a good reply will be given to the dilemma of whether we shall continue forward with changes or retreat to adventures."
The prime minister underlined that he will not hesitate "if the unpatriotic", as he termed it, "attempt to undermine the country's effort continues to call on the Greek people to decide on how the country will proceed from now on."
Papandreou said that the elections were unprecedented for two reasons: firstly, because it is the first time that elections are taking place for the emergence of elected regional governors and secondly, because these elections are taking place in the middle of a titanic national effort, as he said, for the country. He said that the government has two national goals before it and these are the goal of the country's salvation and the goal of its recovery. The prime minister accused the opposition and mainly the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of "undermining this national effort and attempting to distort the meaning of the local elections."
He accused the main opposition ND party of "never having assumed its responsibilities courageously" on the position that the country found itself. Instead of this, as he said, it deserted to let the bomb explode in the hands of PASOK. He also accused it of having the role of first fiddle in the orchestrated effort to intercept the country's course towards salvation.
Moreover, he accused it that while the government has been working for the country's salvation over the past year, ND was undermining over this period and poisoning Greek society with divisive slogans and dangerous dilemmas.
Papandreou reiterated that 2011 will be the last year of recession, 2012 the first year that the country will return to growth and 2012 with the end of the memorandum the foundations will have been laid for Greece of justice, prosperity and growth for the benefit of all.
 ND spokesman on PM's addressMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos, commenting on Prime Minister George Papandreou's address at a rally at an indoor stadium in Athens on Friday evening, spoke of "panic before the elections".
"Panic before the elections is a bad adviser for Mr. Papandreou, because it forces him to move between a bluff on early elections, insults against the opposition and provocations against the intelligence of the Greek people," Panayiotopoulos said.
 PM tells youth 'Country's bankruptcy would be bankruptcy of your own dreams and visions'Prime Minister George Papandreou spoke to the country's youth through a discussion he had on the Internet on Friday on the problems they are facing in their studies, work, day-to-day life and their effort to join production, stressing that "the country's bankruptcy would also be the bankruptcy of your own dreams and visions."
Papandreou added "do not give up, on the contrary, now is the opportunity through the difficulties and the crisis existing, precisely because they exist, for us to see things with sincerity and to tackle them."
The prime minister stressed that the internet discussion was taking place before the local administration elections, which he termed important on the one hand "because we must continue a programnme of changes" and, on the other hand, for the new institutions introduced by "Kallikratis" to be utilised, pointing out at the same time that many possibilities will be given to young people in this framework.
In his brief introduction, before replying to questions by participants and to questions sent through twitter and facebook, the prime minister said that despite the great difficulties existing today for young people in various sectors, what the government faced in the past year was the country avoiding bankruptcy.
Moreover, he referred to the government's legislative initiatives to consolidate a feeling of justice for the citizen, such as the handling of "huge" tax evasion.
Papandreou mentioned, among other things, that over 2,000 cases of doctors have already been handled and added that there have been confiscations of houses of certain tax evaders. The state must do its job and the citizens must honour their obligations, he said.
Furthermore, he focused on initiatives taken by the government recently for employment, emphasising the replacement of the unemployment benefit with an employment benefit.
Asked whether he will proceed with the full separation of the State and the Church and the taxation of the Church, he expressed support for separation and said that a dialogue has already begun with the Church on the issue.
"Changes are necessary in education and maybe in Greece they are more frequent because we have a very concentrated system," Papandreou further said, explaining that the Education minister on each occasion has great power to make changes with a small decision.
 PM interview in Italian magazinePrime minister George Papandreou said that his PASOK government had decided several months ago that "bankruptcy is not an option", and for that reason began severe cutbacks in expenditures, salaries, waste, measures that were "painful but necessary", in an interview with the Italian magazine Panorama appearing on Friday.
Asked whether Greece was now out of danger, he said "Let's put it this way: we are out of the immediate danger of bankruptcy, but we need to maintain a steady course in order not to risk it".
On the imminent local government elections on Sunday, Papandreou explained that the polls could "give the green light to our plans", stressing that it will be a "vote of responsibility" on the part of the Greeks, "who must decide if they are prepared to continue following me".
To another question on whether he meant his threat to call early general elections if the local government elections outcome was negative for his government or if it was just propaganda, Papandreou said "no, it's true".
"If the interest groups that have been affected by our reforms say 'enough, we have to stop the changes that are underway', then I have no other option than to take recourse to the entire Greek people," the premier said.
To another question on public sector cutbacks, Papandreou noted: "We were in a state of imminent bankruptcy. We needed to give blood for the patient to live. We took the least possible money possible from the poor, the pensioners, and more from the more well-off employees. The problem is not only state bureaucracy, but also the private sector. Tax evasion needs to be fought with greater determination. But we couldn't do that in just two months. That was the real injustice. Now it must be corrected."
 Opposition leaders hold campaign tours ahead of Sunday's voteOpposition leaders conducted last-minute tours on Friday ahead of the Nov. 7 municipal and regional elections.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Friday toured the 2nd Piraeus constituency and called on the government to change its policy.
Speaking during his visit to the Keratsini district, Samaras urged PM George Papandreou "to feel the people's agony for the future and get the message they have been sending instead of blackmailing the voters". He added that the message is crystal clear, "change of policy for development and hope; opt for a different way; change course".
During a visit to the Elefsina Shipyards, opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga stressed that her party is proud for defending the rights of workers, farmers and the self-employed.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis visited the stand of his party's candidate for Attiki regional governor in Athens and called on the leaders of the ruling PASOK and main opposition ND to work together "to save the country".
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras speaking in Athens' Peristeri district expressed certainty that the government "has prepared another package of austere measures to be implemented as early as the day after the local government elections."
 No exit polls after Sunday's electionsTelevision audiences in Greece will watch the outcome of the first round of the local government elections on Sunday, Nov. 7, without the preceding exit polls, following a decision by all local television channels to cancel such announcements, particularly due to high costs.
 Malmstrom visits Frontex team in Evros, refers to deal with TurkeyThe European Union was close to a deal with Turkey on the re-admission of undocumented migrants, European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Friday during a press conference held in the northern Greek city of Orestiada, close to the Greek-Turkish border.
Noting that the EU had been negotiating for some time for an agreement with Turkey on migrant re-admission, she said that "very few points" remained to be settled for an agreement to be reached.
"It is an issue that we have discussed with the Greek side and is something that will make the situation much easier for Greece," she added.
Malmstrom had earlier visited the region in order to inspect a Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RaBIT) force deployed along a sensitive region of the border by the EU's external border control agency Frontex. The Commissioner was accompanied Greek Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, French Immigration Minister Eric Besson and Frontex chief Ilkka Laitinen.
After a briefing on the operations plan of the mixed Greek and Rabit patrols now policing the border, followed by a visit to a Greek migrant reception camp in Evros, Malmstrom and the other officials held a press conference and thanked the various EU member-states that contributed guards and equipment to the Frontex force.
The Commissioner noted that Greece was "under extraordinary pressure" from the flow of illegal migrants and that this problem concerned the whole of Europe. She referred to the overcrowded conditions at the migrant facility she had visited and noted that Greece and the local community were experiencing an "unusual" situation in terms of illegal migration.
The Commissioner stressed that the EU was in consultation with the Greek side and helping to promote actions that will improve conditions of control and reception of migrants, as well as a series of related issues, such as asylum procedures.
Papoutsis expressed the Greek government's satisfaction with the EU's immediate response to Greece's request for help, stressing that the phenomenon was not just local but concerned all of Europe.
"These are not just the borders of Greece, they are the borders of Europe," he pointed out.
The Greek minister, while noting that Greece and the EU were sympathetic to the plight of illegal migrants, also emphasised the existence of organised rings "trafficking in human hope" and the need to "guarantee EU cohesion and solidarity".
Referring to an upcoming meeting of EU justice and interior ministers on Monday, Papoutsis said that Greece was willing to discuss "terms and conditions of a long-term European cooperation" that would include strict regulations and a stable framework concerning asylum rules in the EU but would at the same time seek a review of the Dublin II regulation in order to resolve the problems this had created.
Under Dublin II, migrants apprehended anywhere in the EU are returned to the country from which they first crossed into the EU border.
He stressed that Greece is looking for cooperation with the Turkish side and hoping for the fastest possible conclusions to negotiations on a migrant readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey.
Besson also noted the poor conditions at the migrant reception centre he had visited in Evros, saying that these were indicative of the situation caused by large migration flows to Greece.
"We have to discuss long-term solutions on Monday in Brussels. Europe must find solutions," the French minister stressed.
The Rabit border guards have already begun patrols alongside Greek forces and will be under the command of a Greek officer, their operations coordinated by Greek authorities. Their patrols will cover some 12.5 kilometres of the Greek-Turkish land border that were previously only guarded by the military and not patrolled by border police.
A total of 175 Rabit guards from 24 countries have been pledged to assist Greece, of which 155 from 16 countries had arrived in Evros on Thursday night. In addition to providing extra man power, they will assist efforts to intercept illegal migrants using specially trained dogs, thermal-imaging cameras, powerful binoculars, high-tech tracking systems, helicopters and vehicles.
They will also assist in tracing the identity and nationality of illegal migrants lacking papers and help improve migrant management, since every one of the countries participating has different experiences of illegal migration in relation to the distribution of nationalities of its illegal migrants.
Their presence in Greece is a temporary measure, with the mission lasting two months until the end of the year.
 Athens reiterates support for Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline projectMOSCOW (ANA-MPA / Th. Avgerinos)
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas reiterated during a meeting with foreign press correspondents in Athens that he will visit Russia before the end of the year, ITAR-TASS reported.
Referring to cooperation prospects, Droutsas stressed that there are "many sectors that allow for bilateral cooperation, aside from the military-technical cooperation," pointing out that "energy plans such as, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis and the South Stream pipeline projects, are of major importance for Greece."
He underlined that "the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project plan has Greece's full support" and "we are doing everything possible in order for it to materialize."
Droutsas reminded that the Greek minister of environment & energy had met recently with her counterpart in Moscow and, among others, they had agreed on closer bilateral cooperation. They also agreed on the establishment of a joint working group to study all necessary issues and be in close contact with the Bulgarian side to clarify if (the Bulgarian side) shares the same intentions as regards the materialization of the project. "That is the reason I believe it is not right to say that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis project is dead," he commented.
 Papoutsis on delivery service securityCitizens Protection minister Christos Papoutsis stressed the need to strengthen the legislation on speed delivery security and introducing systematic checks, speaking in Evros on Friday.
He said it has become evident that there is a void in speed delivery security globally, and therefore coordination of efforts is necessary, adding that the issues will be discussed at the EU justice and interior ministers' meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Papoutsis further said that proposals have been put forward, but what is required is strengthening the relevant legislation and stricter checks at private delivery companies
 ND lashed out at gov't over tax policyThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party lashed out at the government on Friday as regards the way the measure of closing outstanding tax obligations is being implemented.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said many of the notices sent to taxpayers include errors, causing widespread confusion. "This is yet another example of how little respect the government has for the people".
He also said the ruling PASOK party befooled the Greek people before last year's general elections and imposed the memorandum, while now "the PM blackmails with snap elections hurting the country's prestige in international markets."
 Karamanlis sources deny 'necessary evil' press reportsSources close to New Democracy (ND) former prime minister Costas Karamanlis denied press reports appearing on Friday citing Karamanlis as describing the Memorandum as a "necessary evil" during the latter's meeting two days earlier with the presidium of the merchants' association.
The sources said that "there is no differentiation from ND's official position on matters of the economy", and clarified that "any other interpretation is arbitrary and out of context".
The sources further stressed that the phrase "necessary evil" was never voiced by the former prime minister.
 Merchants' federation president: Press reports citing Karamanlis statement not trueThe head of a national merchants' federation on Friday flatly denied various press reports attributing statements to former Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis during a meeting with members of hte association a day earlier.
"During a particularly friendly meeting with the former prime minister, Mr. Costas Karamanlis, not one of the people present heard the ex-premier saying that the memoradandum was a 'necessary evil'."
The statement was made by National Confederation of Greek Trade president Vassilis Korkidis.
 Three violations by Turkish aircraft over Farmakonissi, AgathonissiA formation of six Turkish aircraft entered the Athens FIR without submitting a flight plan and carried out three flights over Agathonissi and Farmakonissi in the eastern Aegean at noon on Friday.
According to the National Defence General Staff, "the first overflight took place over Farmakonissi at an altitude of 22,000 feet, at 13:08 p.m.
"At 13:10 p.m. and 13:19 p.m. the formation's aircraft carried out overflights above Agathonissi at an altitude of 24,000 and 26,000 feet respectively, while leaving the Athens FIR.
"The Turkish aircraft were intercepted and recognised, by respective Greek fighter planes in accordance with international rules, according to a steadfast tactic."
 Honorary Italian consulate in PiraeusItaly's honorary consulate at the port of Piraeus was inaugurated on Friday, in the presence of Italian ambassador to Greece Francesco Paolo Trupiano and the embassy's consular coordinator, Martin Brook.
Italy's honorary consul, Mauro Renaldi, officially opened the office to the public following a raising of the flag ceremony.
Piraeus hosts dozens of Italian-flagged vessels on a daily basis.
 FinMin winding up consultations with ministers for 2011 state budgetFinance minister George Papaconstantinou is winding up a series of meetings with ministers ahead of the drafting of the ministries' budgets and the state budget for 2011.
The next-to-last meeting took place Friday morning with Minister of State for international economic relations Haris Pamboukis, while a final meeting with employment and social security minister Louka Katseli has been planned for the coming week, after which the ministry services will roll up their sleeves and put together all the pieces of the puzzle for the final draft of the new budget.
The finalised text, slated to be tabled in parliament on November 18, will envisage a new major cutback in budget expenditure, with the main focus on the general government agencies, public utilities and organisations (DEKO), local government, social security funds and state hospitals.
According to ministry officials, a big cutback in expenditure is non-negotiable, given the upward revision of the 2009 fiscal deficit to above 15 percent of GDP, a 2.05 billion euros shortfall in state revenues in the first eight months of the year, and a recession that has exceeded forecasts.
A Troika team is due in Athens on November 15 for a review of progress in the Greek economy required for approval of a 9 billion euros third tranche of the EU-ECB-IMF loan to Greece. The troika of European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) experts will also review the course of execution of the 2010 budget and the provisions of the 2011 budget, and whether the expenditure cuts planned are satisfactory or whether additional measures will be required, in the troika's view.
 Finance ministry submits report outlining its positions on Memorandum to Council of StateThe finance ministry on Friday submitted a report to the Council of State plenum that outlines the ministry's positions concerning the cuts to pensions and broader public-sector wages that were imposed as part of the Memorandum signed by Greece in order to obtain financial assistance from the European Union and IMF.
On November 23, Greece's highest administrative court will convene to discuss petitions filed by the Athens Bar Association, the civil servants union ADEDY and other bodies that consider the measures taken unconstitutional.
The report focused less on legal aspects of the measures and more on their financial-political necessity, arguing that they were the best way of protecting national intersts and the Greek economy from collapse and of securing essential funds for national security, education, health and social insurance.
Specifically, the finance ministry describes the measures as "absolutely necessary" because otherwise the state would have been unable to pay wages and pensions and defends the decision to resort to the memorandum as the "mildest possible in view of the disastrous repercussions of any other political choice".
It also disputed arguments that the method used for the adoption of the Memorandum did not meet Constitutional requirements and cited past CoE decisions that allowed rights to assets (including wages and pensions) to be restricted when this was demanded for reasons of more general social or public interest.
 Commission awaits final figures for Greek economy before making recommendationsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The European Commission will await publication of Eurostat's final figures over Greece's fiscal deficit and public debt for the period 2006-2009, as well as the lifting of any reservations over Greek statistics, before replying on whether additional measures may be needed to cut the country's fiscal deficit, Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for Commissioner Olli Rehn said here on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, the EU spokesman said a Commission delegation will visit Greece in the second half of November to assess implementation of fiscal adjustment measures in the country.
Based on this assessment, a decision will be taken over the release of the third tranche of a loan agreement to Greece. Altafaj added that a quarterly assessment offered the most precise picture over the country's fiscal condition.
 Greece to auction six-month T-bills on TuesdayGreece will auction a six-month Treasury bills issue on Tuesday, November 9, seeking to raise 300 million euros from the market.
The T-bill issue will have a maturity date of May 13, 2011, while the settlement date was set for November 12.
The auction will be held with competitive bids by primary dealers in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, while the finance ministry will also accept non-competitive bids.
The finance ministry will not pay any commission.
 EU claims back 347.47 million in CAP expenditure from GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
In a decision adopted on Friday, the European Commission will ask Greece to pay back sums amounting to 347.47 million euros in EU farm money that is considered "unduly spent". The money is being claimed back because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures for agricultural expenditure.
In total, the Commission will recover 578.5 million euros of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) expenditure from 19 member-states for the above reasons.
The decision followed the regular clearance of accounts for the European Agricultural Guarantees Fund (EAGF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), in which the three most significant corrections involved Greece.
This included the sum of 210.9 million euros for a poor Land Parcel Identification System-Geographic Information System (LPIS-GIS) and deficiencies in on-the-spot controls in respect of claim year 2006 for area-aids expenditure, including area-based rural development measures.
Other sums to be recovered from Greece are:
54.7 million euros charged to Greece with regard to dried grapes for reductions in the minimum yield, plot specialisation, ineffective vineyard register and weaknesses in scheme management and control for the financial years 2003-2007;
50.16 million euros charged to Greece for failure to reduce aid payments for non respect of veterinary requirements regarding the maintenance of sheep registers, for deficiencies in on-the-spot and administrative checks and for absence of specific risk criteria for Less Favoured Area additional premium controls;
19.76 million euros charged to Greece for tobacco deliveries after the regulatory deadlines, incorrect approval of first processors and transfer of cultivation contracts.
3.97 million euros charged to Greece for deficient controls of specific measures for the smaller Aegean Islands for financial years 1999-2001 (continuation of an earlier conformity clearance procedure annulled by the Court of Justice at a lower flat rate correction);
4.168 million euros for inadequate documentation of and deficiencies in the controls carried out, for incomplete control instructions, for non-application of sanctions for non-compliance and for absence of a risk analysis in respect of the 2005 claim year;
3.778 million euros for late payments, overshooting of financial ceilings, rural development allocations and ineligible expenditure for the financial year 2007;
0.012 million euros as a correction proposed for overshooting of financial ceilings in 2008.
 Greece-Azerbaijan sign maritime transport agreementAn agreement on maritime transport between Greece and Azerbaijan was signed on Friday at the Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries ministry between delegations of the two countries.
The agreement concerns the promotion of cooperation between the two countries in the maritime sector, the increase in the participation of ships of the participant sides in bilateral and international marine trade, the provision of mutual facilities for both ships and seamen and cooperation between the two countries to eliminate obstacles appearing in international shipping.
 Joint Greek-Turkish com't for Evros cooperationA joint committee responsible for water and flood management in the northeast basin of Evros, along the Greek-Turkish land border, will be set up by the two countries, in accordance with an agreement reached during a meeting held in Ankara on Nov. 2.
The meeting of the Greek and Turkish delegations was held in the Turkish capital as a follow-up to the joint statement of cooperation signed in Athens between the Greek environment minister and Turkey's forestry minister.
Based on the joint text adopted, the 12-member committee (six members from each side) will promote cooperation on issues of viable development, protection and water management, as well as, on the management of flooding in the Evros basin, in compliance with the principles defined in relevant EU Directives.
The committee will meet twice a year in the presence of experts if necessary and will have the authority to set up working groups to focus on specific issues.
Bulgaria's participation, particularly in flood management, was acknowledged as necessary. Greece will undertake an initiative to promote the tripartite cooperation within the framework of the Joint Declaration signed by Greece and Bulgaria in Sofia last July.
 Surface water protection measures eyed by ministerial decisionThe environment, energy and climate change ministry on Friday announced the issuing of a joint ministerial decision instituting the adoption of measures against surface water degradation.
The decision signed will contribute to the necessary updating of state legislation and to the adoption of new Environmental Quality Standards (EQS).
The joint ministerial decision, which will incorporate EC Directive (105/2008/EC) into the state legislation, was signed by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis and Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis.
 Cooperation in research, tech between Greece, IndiaA bilateral cooperation between Greece and India in the sectors of research, technology and innovation was activated on Friday with the signing of a cooperation protocol by the Greek ministry of education and India's science and technology ministry covering the period 2010-2013.
Greece participates in 30 inter-state collaborations in the sector of research and technology involving EU and third countries.
 BSEC SG awarded by international road transport unionThe International Road Transport Union (IRU) on Friday awarded its highest distinction to Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Secretary General Amb. Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos for his work as BSEC secretary general, during a ceremony held in Geneva.
The event was also attended by Greece's permanent representative at the United Nations, who represented the Greek presidency of the BSEC.
IRU President Janusz Lacny praised Chrysanthopoulos' contribution to boosting cooperation between the BSEC and IRU and thus facilitating the further growth of road transport around the Black Sea region.
Receiving the award, Chrysanthopoulos referred to infrastructure built to promote transport, such as the Black Sea Ring Highway, and the BSEC transit permit that allows trucks to travel in the participant countries using just a single permit.
The IRU was holding a general assembly in Geneva on Friday to discuss global developments in the road transport sector.
 Greek bank deposits down in Sept.Savings deposits in Greek banks continued falling in September, after a recovery in August, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.
The central bank, in a report, said that Greek households and enterprises resumed their withdrawal of bank deposits, intensifying a liquidity problem in the domestic banking system.
Part of the lower deposits also reflects changes in foreign currency rates. Deposits in foreign exchange fell to 17.8 billion euros in September from 19 billion euros in August, while deposits in euros (by enterprises and households) rose slightly to 195 billion euros in September from 194 billion in August.
The central bank said deposits by households and enterprises fell to 212.8 billion euros, from 213.02 billion euros in August, with the private sector withdrawing a total 25 billion euros from banks. Deposits were down 10.5 pct in the nine-month period from January to September, reflecting a 10.3 pct decline in households' deposits.
Part of this capital went to banks abroad, while several households are forced to lower their savings deposits to cover current spending needs. Households' saving deposits fell to 176.5 billion euros in September from 177.4 million euros in August.
 Olympic Air - Etihad Airways cooperationOlympic Air announced on Friday the start of a joint flight code cooperation with Etihad Airways. The Greek airline will offer to passengers the opportunity to fly to Sidney and Melbourne via Abu Dhabi, the largest transit station in the Middle East.
The new itineraries were inaugurated on October 31.
With the cooperation framework, Olympic Air will provide tickets with its own code number for Etihad flights from Athens to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi to Sidney or Melbourne and vice-versa. These flights will be carried out with Etihad's aircraft and crews.
According to the flights plan, Athens is airlinked daily with Abu Dhabi and back while the airlinks from Abu Dhabi to Sidney are scheduled every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and the return flight every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Flights from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne and back will be conducted on daily basis.
 Car registrations down 3.17pct in Jan-OctCar sales dropped 31.7 pct in the 10-month period from January to October this year, offering more proof of the crisis hitting the domestic car market.
The independent Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday that car registrations (including both new and used) totalled 168,981 vehicles in the January-October period, down 31.7 pct compared with the corresponding period last year. Car registrations were down 22.1 pct in the 10-month period in 2009.
October sales fell 31.5 pct compared with the same month last year.
New motorcycles registrations totalled 56,409 units in the January-October period, down 14.1 pct from the same period last year. In October motorcycle sales fell 16 pct.
 Stocks ease lower on Fri.Stocks ended the last trading session of a volatile week with small gains at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday. The composite index of the market rose 0.67 pct to end at 1,507.79 points, after falling as much as 1.43 pct during the session. The index was down 2.56 pct in the week.
Turnover was 112.169 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 0.61 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 0.61 pct and the Small Cap index eased 0.58 pct. ATEbank (7.69 pct), Viohalco (4.27 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (2.50 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (0.88 pct) and Cyprus Bank (0.60 pct) were top losers.
The Food (1.97 pct) and Industrial Products (1.80 pct) sectors scored gains, while Insurance (2.97 pct) and Technology (1.85 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 98 to 58 with another 54 issues unchanged. Klonatex (20 pct), Tegopoulos (18.52 pct) and Ideal (9.30 pct) were top gainers, while Altec (14.29 pct), Euroline (13.56 pct) and Alapis (10.78 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.88%
Personal & Household: +0.24%
Raw Materials: +1.66%
Travel & Leisure: +0.84%
Food & Beverages: +1.97
Financial Services: +0.94%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.51
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.04
HBC Coca Cola: 19.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.44
National Bank of Greece: 7.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.13
Bank of Piraeus: 3.30
 Greek bond market closing reportMarket worries over political developments in the country maintained pressures on Greek bond spreads, with Credit Default Swaps' returns rising to 8.8 pct, while the CDS margin surpassed the 9.0 pct level.
The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds jumped to 909 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, from 888 basis points on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.50 pct and the German Bund 2.41 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 81 million euros, of which 22 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 59 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 12 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month rate was 1.273 pct, the three-month rate 1.050 pct and the one-month rate 0.85 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.55 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover a low 40.783 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,934 contracts worth 31.152 million euros, with 26,044 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 18,964 contracts worth 9.631 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,030), followed by Eurobank (1,457), MIG (822), OTE (324), OPAP (202), Piraeus Bank (1,931), GEK (300), Alpha Bank (2,922), Intracom (413), Marfin Popular Bank (670), Cyprus Bank (742), Hellenic Postbank (354) and ATEbank (466).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.419
Pound sterling 0.874
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.365
Japanese yen 115.33
Swiss franc 1.365
Norwegian kroner 8.184
Canadian dollar 1.421
Australian dollar 1.397
 Veria: Ancient Roman roads in building basementsOne usually finds parking and storage spaces in the basements of apartment buildings, but beneath three buildings n Veria, the basements contain the remains of ancient Roman roads that were uncovered during digging for the foundations, and have been expropriated by the culture ministry.
The first of the three sites, the "basement" of the Veltsidis building on Mitropoleos street, were open to the public for a week, in the framework of events commemorating the city's liberation from Ottoman rule. Here lies one of the best preserved sections of the Roman road running to ancient Elimeia.
The other two basements also contain sections of Veria's ancient road network, which more or less coincides with the present-day road system, and the municipal authorities have submitted a study to the culture and tourism ministry seeking funding to keep all three basement sites open to the public year-round.
 Greek Greenpeace office on 'Building the future' programmeThe "Building the future" programme which the Environment, Energy and Climatic Change ministry has announced, is a decisive step in the right direction for saving energy in the household sector, according to Greenpeace's Greek office.
It stresses, however, that strong tax incentives for citizens are necessary for its implementation and substantive participation by banks.
The non-governmental organisation terms the "Building the future" programme probably the most ambitious programme for the energy upgrading of buildings in Europe.
The programme aims at the energy upgrading of about one million buildings by 2020, mainly through voluntary agreements with the industry so that the latter can provide real cuts of at least 20 percent in products and services for saving energy.
 Garbage truck fueled by frying oilA garbage truck that will be powered by used frying oil is planned to be placed in circulation by Thessaloniki municipality in a symbolic action to support recycling.
The specific truck will run on new-generation biofuel deriving from frying oils used in tavernas and restaurants, in the framework of an innovative programme in cooperation with the National Centre for Research and Technology (CERTH), the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and the local Association of Restaurateurs and Grill House owners.
Thessaloniki municipality obtained the vehicle under the European Union programme LIFE+Biofuels-2G on boosting the use of biofuels in an urban environment.
 Thessaloniki Airport briefly evacuated following warningThessaloniki's Macedonia International Airport was briefly evacuated for precautionary reasons on Friday afternoon following a bomb warning call to a newspaper office.
The airport was cordoned-off and bomb experts with K-9 units searched the grounds.
French man falls from sixth floor; in serious condition
A 22-year-old French man was severely injured after falling early Friday from the sixth floor of an apartment building in Athens.
The man was rushed to hospital where he is reported in serious condition.
Police are investing the circumstances of the accident.
 Search on for 80-year-old missing at seaThe Greek coast guard launched a search at sea on Friday for an elderly man from the island of Serifos that went missing after setting sail from the island in a small plastic-hull boat.
Authorities are scouring the waters between Serifos and Kalamaki to find the 80-year-old, who apparently set off alone last Monday in order to reach a small island in the Saronic Gulf.
 Drug dealers arrested in HeraklionFour Albanian nationals were arrested on Friday following a police operation in Ammoudara region in Heraklion on Crete island. Police confiscated one kilo of hashish while six other persons who purchased drugs from the suspects are being questioned.
Authorities are examining the possibility that the four foreign nationals are part of a drug dealing ring.
 Fair on SaturdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 26C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 11C to 26C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 22C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe sharp hike in spreads for Greek bonds, the closure of outstanding tax obligations and rampant speculation over early elections mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government withdraws "closure of outstanding tax obligations".
AVGHI: "Let's finish them off with our vote".
AVRIANI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou destroying the country'.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Prime Minister and members of the government have turned three VIP aircraft into air taxis".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Double elections an institiutional deviation".
ESTIA: "Tragic mistakes over the last 12 months".
ETHNOS: "People decide on early elections".
IMERISSIA: "Crisis in bonds markets - Greece, Ireland and Portugal hit red'.
KATHIMERINI: "Elections fuss skyrockets spreads, paralyses country".
LOGOS: "Closure of outstanding tax obligations optional".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Spread rate skyrockets to before memorandum levels".
TA NEA: "Elections in George's (Papandreou) balance scale".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Protest rally in Syntagma square against government and troika".
TO VIMA: "Former prime minister Costas Karamanlis cite memorandum as necessary evil".
VRADYNI: "The medicine (memorandum) was the venom".
 Cypriot and Syrian Presidents inaugurate business forumNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Presidents of Cyprus and Syria Demetris Christofias and Bashar Al Assad inaugurated on Friday the Cyprus-Syria business forum, expressing their wish to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.
The first business forum was organised by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) on the occasion of Al Assad's visit to Cyprus, in the presence of businesspeople from both countries.
Addressing the forum, President Christofias said ''today's event provides an excellent forum for exploring the world of trade and investment opportunities in Cyprus and Syria.''
''A strong and productive relationship between Cyprus and Syria is important to both our economies and will help to strengthen even further our bilateral ties as far as trade, investments and tourism are concerned,'' the President said, adding ''our government has much higher ambitions for deepening our relationship and the presence here today of so many business people and entrepreneurs, shows how committed our countries are to making this relationship successful.''
He added that Cyprus welcomes Syrian businesspeople ''eager to invest and promote business activities, and as a European Union member country, offers attractive benefits and opportunities for companies wishing to establish their business on the island or use it as a hub to access the European Market.''
Concluding, Christofias expressed hope ''that it will be both productive and stimulating and will help strengthen our trade and economic cooperation for the development and prosperity of our two countries.''
On his part, Al Assad recalled President's Christofias visit to Damascus last year, noting that this visit ''was a pivotal step in strengthening ties between our countries.''
The Syrian President referred to the future of the two countries, stressing that ''key to this future is a new and active partnership one can build on our common interests and priorities.''
Referring to developments in Syria and the region, Al Assad outlined his country's initiative to transform Syria into a link between the Middle East and Europe in the fields of transport, energy and tourism.
''Cyprus shares this strategic location as both a member of the EU and as a direct neighbour to Syria and as such it should be a part of this regional dynamic,'' he said adding ''through bilateral and regional agreements in this field, we can be sure that our region is one that is characterized by inclusive growth and sustainable development.''
Welcoming the two Presidents, CCCI President Manthos Mavrommatis said that their presence ''indicates the importance of the forum and their commitment to foster closer economic ties between the two countries.''
''Your presence here today reinforces our efforts in developing and strengthen economic relations between Cyprus and the friendly country of Syria,'' he noted.
Mavrommatis also said that ''the Cyprus Chamber realizes the great potential for economic collaboration with Syria and promises to assist, promote and strengthen business cooperation between the two countries, especially in this period that Syria's relationship with the EU is progressing and new and promising investment opportunities arise in our close neighbourhood.''
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