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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-18

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

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

Thursday, 18 November 2010 Issue No: 3648

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek gov't has finalised 2011 budget, officials say
  • [02] PM gives interview to BBC
  • [03] PM to chair cabinet meeting; scheduled trips abroad
  • [04] No concern over approval of third tranche of EU-IMF loan, Greece says
  • [05] Rehn spokesman: No postponement of disbursement of 3rd tranche of loan to Greece
  • [06] Rehn: Decision on disbursement of EU loan in Jan. pre-scheduled
  • [07] Austrian FM: Vienna won't block third loan tranche to Greece
  • [08] Athens: Greece and Germany not opponents
  • [09] ND on economy; layoffs
  • [10] Events commemorating 37th anniversary of Polytechnic students' uprising wind up on Wednesday
  • [11] Polytechnic march in Athens comes to an end
  • [12] PM's message on Nov. 17 Polytechnic anniversary
  • [13] Parliament observes minute's silence for November 17 anniversary
  • [14] Papoulias begins state visit to Sofia, meets with Bulgarian President
  • [15] President Papoulias meets Bulgarian PM Borisov
  • [16] President Papoulias sends double message to Ankara, fYRoM
  • [17] Parliament plenary refers 5 former
  • [18] Eurogroup: Greece on track, significant progress made
  • [19] Eurogroup statement on the situation in Greece
  • [20] Minister meets with OECD leadership
  • [21] Environment minister and Romanian ambassador discuss energy issues
  • [22] Registered unemployment up 3.75% in Oct.
  • [23] Mobius raises equity stake in Hellenic Exchanges to 5.02%
  • [24] Jumbo says sales stable, profits down in Q1
  • [25] Stocks end 1.97% down
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [29] Bank manager killed in bank robbery
  • [30] Ferry crashes at Lefkada, no injuries
  • [31] G. Sklavounos museum inauguration in Amfiklia this month
  • [32] Osodi's 'Oil Rich Niger Delta' photo series on display in Athens
  • [33] People trapped from heavy rainfall on Corfu
  • [34] Rainy on Thursday
  • [35] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [36] President's proposals gaining ground
  • [37] UK High Commissioner: Cameron supports President Christofias
  • [38] Rompuy says Turkey obliged to behave as all EU member states Politics

  • [01] Greek gov't has finalised 2011 budget, officials say

    The Greek government finalised decisions over a 2011 budget plan after a meeting between Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and EU-ECB-IMF "troika" officials in Athens on Wednesday. The meeting was attended by Lucas Papademos, a former European Central Bank vice-president and currently an adviser to Prime Minister George Papandreou.

    The budget will be tabled to Parliament on Thursday.

    Finance ministry officials said than an additional fiscal adjustment, following an upwards revision of the country's fiscal deficit for 2009 and 2010, would be made fully in 2011, with the fiscal deficit expected to be cut from 22 billion euros to 17 billion euros.

    The memorandum, signed with the EU, ECB and IMF, already envisages measures to cut the deficit, worth 9.15 billion euros, with additional measures expected to be included in the new budget, measures aimed to save an additional 3.5-4.0 billion euros. These measures will focus mainly on further cuts in public spending and will not mean more decreases in salaries and pensions, the finance ministry reassured.

    Ministry officials said talks over a third tranche of loan were "on the right track" and noted that news that disbursement of the loan from Eurozone states would be made in January "is something we knew for weeks and was linked with technical reasons".

    The same officials emphasised that the Greek state has adequate liquidity to cover its needs to the end of January and noted that most state bond maturities were in March.

    [02] PM gives interview to BBC

    LONDON (ANA-MPA)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking in an interview with the BBC, said that "Greece shall survive and will forge ahead. There is no question of restructuring of the debt or of bankruptcy," adding that his aim is to save Greece "without having a problem if I am not re-elected."

    Speaking to the British network's programme "Hard Talk", the Greek prime minister focused mainly on the restoration of the country's credibility, "since within the year a decrease of the deficit by 6 percent will have been achieved," as he said, while stressing that as of 2012 Greece will begin the repayment of the loans and the decrease of its debt.

    [03] PM to chair cabinet meeting; scheduled trips abroad

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will chair a cabinet meeting on Thursday focusing on the state budget, the establishment of a national fund for entrepreneurship and development, labour arbitration procedures and the establishment of asylum and migrant reception agencies.

    Papandreou will attend the NATO Summit meeting in Lisbon on Nov. 19-20, while on Nov. 29-30 he will be in Tripoli, Libya for the 3rd Africa-EU Summit meeting.

    On Dec. 1-2, he will be in Astana, Kazakhstan, to attend the OSCE Summit.

    [04] No concern over approval of third tranche of EU-IMF loan, Greece says

    The Greek government on Wednesday said there was no concern over the approval of a third tranche of a support loan to Greece, worth 9.0 billion euros, from the International Monetary Fund and the Eurozone.

    A Finance ministry announcement said the approval comes in two stages, as was the case with the previous two tranches. First, from the Eurozone, an agreement was needed by an Ecofin meeting in December on the EU's part of the loan, based on the assessment of the Stability Program, to be finalised next week. This procedure would require around 10 working days and for this specific reason, disbursement of the money was expected in early January.

    The ministry said this procedure has been previously agreed with the European Commission and would not create any liquidity problem to the country.

    Second, a decision by the International Monetary Fund on the IMF's part of the loan would be taken by an IMF board council in December, with the disbursement of the money expect during the same month.

    [05] Rehn spokesman: No postponement of disbursement of 3rd tranche of loan to Greece

    There is no issue whatsoever of postponement to January of the disbursement of the eurozone member countries' share of a 9 billion euros third tranche of the EU-IMF support loan to Greece, EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn's spokesperson Amadeu Altafaj said on Wednesday in Brussels. The Finance ministry in Athens also said on Wednesday that there is absolutely no worry over when the third tranche of the loan will be disbursed, prompted by press speculation of a delay in the disbursement.

    Altafaj's clarification came after statements by Austrian finance minister Josef Proll earlier in the day intimating that the disbursement of the third tranche, scheduled for December, could be postponed to January.

    In Athens, a finance ministry announcement said that, as with the two previous tranches, there are two steps.

    First, the political decision for the disbursement of the of the eurozone members' share of the third tranche of the loan will be taken at the Ecofin council in December, based on the evaluation of the progress in Greece's stability program, which will be wound up next week by a team of EU-IMF inspectors currently in Athens.

    Given the structure of the simultaneous payments by all the eurozone countries, the procedure requires at least 10 working days and, for that reason, the disbursement will be completed in the beginning of January, the ministry said, adding that this had been previously agreed with the European Commission and creates absolutely no cash problem for Greece.

    Second, the decision for the payment of the IMF's share of the third tranche will be taken at the IMF's board in December, and the disbursement will also be made in December, the finance minister clarified.

    [06] Rehn: Decision on disbursement of EU loan in Jan. pre-scheduled

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)

    EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn on Wednesday said a decision for the disbursement of a third tranche of a Eurozone loan to Greece in January was programmed from the beginning, adding that a political approval of the loan would be taken during an Ecofin meeting in December.

    Speaking to reporters after an Ecofin meeting here, Rehn said he felt the need to offer the necessary clarifications after some confusion was created over the issue.

    The EU Commissioner also noted that an EU Council in December would reach a decision following the troika experts' report on the condition of the Greek economy.

    Rehn reiterated his heightened satisfaction over the fact that Eurostat has finally ratified Greek statistics without any reservations, following years of efforts. He cited this as a significant development since Greece was now in a position to present credible statistics.

    [07] Austrian FM: Vienna won't block third loan tranche to Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    "Our position is clear. We are awaiting specific figures from Athens in the next few days, in December, and then we will pay our share, within the framework of a third tranche of a Eurozone loan to Greece, worth 190 million euros," Austrian Finance Minister Josef Proell told the ANA-MPA here on Wednesday, regarding Austria's final stance on the issue.

    The Austrian minister reassured that "we will not block payment of the third tranche of the loan, but we want to see Greece's accurate figures before sending the money".

    The comments pushed up the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds in the domestic electronic secondary bond market. The yield spread rose to 920 basis points in midday trading, while Greek CDS widened to 965 bps, after falling to 945 bps early in the day.

    [08] Athens: Greece and Germany not opponents

    Greece and Germany are not opponents but partners working toward the same goal, which was to protect the eurozone and the common currency, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas stressed on Wednesday.

    Droutsas, who had accompanied Prime Minister George Papandreou on a visit to Paris for a meeting of the Socialist International council, was referring to opposing views expressed by Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel concerning a proposed "debt restructuring" mechanism for Eurozone countries that needed help meeting their debts.

    Papandreou's position in Paris was one that "reflected reality" and a "responsible position for both Greece and other countries facing difficulties but also for the entire Eurozone and the euro," Droutsas stressed in an interview with the radio station 'Real'.

    He emphasised, however, that Papandreou's criticism of Merkel's plan did not mean that Greece and Germany were "necessarily on a course of conflict" and pointed out that Europe was currently experiencing unprecedented situations.

    "We are in a negotiation, at this time, as to how the European Union must deal with the challege that it faces in view of the European Council in December and at this time different views and positions will definitely be expressed," he added.

    Commenting on a statement by Austria's finance minister Josef Proell about possibly not releasing the third tranche of the loan to Greece, Droutsas pointed out that Proell had since issued a later statement that altered his previous one.

    In related comments, meanwhile, government spokesman George Petalotis underlined that the later release of the third tranche of the loans to Greece in January would not create cash flow problems for the country.

    He noted that the release of the funds in January had been decided some time ago with the European Union and was due to technical issues arising from the structure of the simultaneous payments by all countries in the Eurozone.

    Petalotis also pointed to statements made by European Commissioner Olli Rehn and his spokesman on Wednesday, confirming that the political decision to release the third tranche of the loan was always scheduled to take place at the European Council in December and the money released in January.

    The spokesman also underlined that there was no "Greek-German conflict" and only different approaches to the issue of how private investors should participate in the European financial support mechanism.

    He noted that Greece had a "right and obligation" as a result of the forced adjustment it was having to undergo over the past year to have an opinion on how issues similar to those of Greece might be solved.

    [09] ND on economy; layoffs

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party expressed vindication referring to the stance adopted by its leader Antonis Samaras and the questions he had posed as regards the European support mechanism and the likelihood of controlled bankruptcy.

    ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said on Wednesday that Samaras had stated after the meeting he had in Brussels with the European Council President Herman van Rompuy last month that he is categorically opposed to the incorporation of the idea of controlled bankruptcy in the under-construction European mechanism.

    Samaras had stated that "a controlled bankruptcy is a bankruptcy for the country experiencing it and controlled for all the rest, while it also weakens the unity of the Euro-zone."

    Panagiotopoulos maintained that ND will support the government in all its efforts to resist a mechanism that would incorporate the dangerous process in question. However, he criticized Prime Minister George Papandreou for raising no objections during a relevant discussion held in the EU Summit bodies last month.

    ND flatly rejected the likelihood of layoffs in the public sector and stressed that the necessary reforms should be made smoothly, suggesting that the analogy should be, one civil servant hired for every five who retire.

    He pointed out that the ND leader has tabled specific proposals for spending cuts in the public sector, mergers and privatizations, adding that the state-owned real estate property should also be utilized.

    [10] Events commemorating 37th anniversary of Polytechnic students' uprising wind up on Wednesday

    Three-day events commemorating the 37th anniversary of the November 17, 1973 Polytechnic student's uprising that led to the collapse of the 7-year military dictatorship in Greece culminated on Wednesday, with officials and the public laying wreaths and placing flowers at the Polytechnic monument.

    Prime minister George Papandreou placed three red carnations on the Polytechnic monument at noon, while Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras also paid tribute at the monument at noon.

    Earlier, parliament president Philippos Petsalnikos, heading an all-party parliamentary delegation, laid a wreath at the monument.

    The gates of the Polytechnic, which opened to the public on Monday at the commencement of the memorial events, closed at 1:00, as people gathered for the annual march through the streets of Athens that ended in front of the US Embassy.

    [11] Polytechnic march in Athens comes to an end

    The traditonal march marking the anniversary of the Poly-technic uprising came to an end in Athens on Wednesday evening and almost all the streets have been opened to traffic.

    The only location remaining closed is in front of the Athens Polytechnic in Patission avenue in downtown Athens.

    Incidents broke out with protesters shortly before the end of the march in Athens, while tension also prevailed in the port city of Patra when anti-establishment individuals stoned police, resulting in riot police following using teargas.

    [12] PM's message on Nov. 17 Polytechnic anniversary

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday called on young people to take into their own hands the "revolution for the self-evident" and the major reforms that need to be implemented.

    In a message marking the 37th anniversary of the November 17 Polytechnic students' uprising in 1973, the premier underlined that "our generation had struggled for liberation from an importee junta, for bread, education and freedom" and now "we are being called to transform our freedom into creative initiative, imagination and innovation. To change the economy in order to be viable, green, competitive; to change education to provide us with the means that will allow us to stand on our own feet, to break loose from dependencies and supervisions."

    He called on the young people to take into their own hands the changes that need to be made in their neighborhoods, in the new municipalities, the university schools, green development, the creation of a state of law, of transparency in transactions, of meritocracy and justice "and united to create the country we deserve".

    [13] Parliament observes minute's silence for November 17 anniversary

    The Greek Parliament on Wednesday a minute's silence to mark the 37th anniversary of the November 17 student uprising of 1973, following speeches by representatives of the political parties.

    The annual debate was begun by Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos, who said Parliament paid homage to the young people that had dared to resist the junta of the colonels, which was toppled by popular outcry some six months after the events at the Polytechnic and the regime's harsh crackdown on the student protests.

    There followed speeches by ruling PASOK Parliamentary spokesman Christos Protopappas, main opposition New Democracy's Costas Tzavaras, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) spokesman Spyros Halvatzis, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MP Asterios Rondoulis, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Panagiotis Lafazanis and Democratic Left MP Thanassis Leventis.

    The Parliament was next addressed by Education, Lifelong Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou.

    [14] Papoulias begins state visit to Sofia, meets with Bulgarian President

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday stressed the strategic significance placed by Greece on the energy sector, speaking in Sofia after a meeting with Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov.

    Papoulias on Wednesday began a two-day state visit to Bulgaria that includes talks with the political and state leadership, while he and Parvanov will jointly inaugurate a Greece Bulgaria Business Forum on Thursday.

    Speaking to the press after his meeting with Parvanov, Papoulias described this year's 130th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as an "important landmark", and praised the level of bilateral relations at all levels, while also expressing satisfaction over the standard of the cooperation "particularly in today's adverse international environment".

    In that context, he noted the recent opening of the new Kyprinos-Ivaylovgrad border crossing on their joint frontier-- which was officially inaugurated by Papoulias and Parvanov in Evros in September -- and the inaugural meeting of the Greece-Bulgaria High Level Cooperation Council in June, as well as the continuing materialisation of the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB).

    The two Presidents also exchanged vies on the Western Balkans' accession to the EU, and ways in which Greece and Bulgaria could contribute to the speedy achievement of this, under the general and specific conditions set out by the EU.

    Papoulias further briefed his Bulgarian counterpart on the Cyprus issue which, he stressed, "remains a problem of invasion and occupation", and on EU-Turkey relations.

    Parvanov, in turn, described their meeting as "very friendly and cordial" and indicative of the intensive dialogue and exceptional friendship between Greece and Bulgaria, "the relations of which embody the meaning of the concept of relations between two European partners".

    After also noting the recent inauguration of the Kyprinos-Ivaylovgrad border crossing, Parvanov noted the increasing flow of tourists over the common borders of the two countries and expressed hope that this trend will be consolidated with the opening of more border crossings.

    The Bulgarian president also expressed satisfaction over the growth of bilateral economic relations "despite the economic crisis", and noted that Greece is among the top foreign investors in Bulgaria.

    He further expressed hope that the Business Forum the two Presidents will jointly inaugurate on Thursday will be a new step in the direction of further boosting bilateral economic ties.

    Parvanov said he was also satisfied with the recent positive developments in the South Stream energy plan (natural gas pipeline), expressing his conviction that the developments will be auspicious for the interests of both Bulgaria and Greece.

    Foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and agricultural develop-ment minister Costas Skandalidis, who are accompanying Papoulias on his visit to Sofia, are scheduled to have meetings with their Bulgarian counterparts.

    [15] President Papoulias meets Bulgarian PM Borisov

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who began a two-day official visit to Bulgaria on Wednesday morning, met in the afternoon with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

    No statements were made after the meeting, in which President Papoulias was accompanied, among others, by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Costas Skandalidis and the Greek ambassador in Sofia Danai-Magdalini Koumanakou.

    The first day of President Papoulias's visit to the Bulgarian capital also includes a meeting with the mayor of Sofia Iordanka Fadakova and a dinner that will be hosted in the Greek President's homnour by his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov.

    [16] President Papoulias sends double message to Ankara, fYRoM

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias sent a message to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) from here that "as long as they insist on their intransigent positions, so much the more they shall keep the door of NATO closed and the accession procedure towards the European Union frozen," as well as to Ankara that the issue of Cyprus is an issue that "deeply affects Greek-Turkish relations" and constitutes "a substantive obstacle for the European Union's relations with Turkey."

    Speaking during the official dinner hosted in his honour by his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov, President Papoulias, referring to fYRoM, stressed that "the problem lies in that Skopje show the entire geographical area of Macedonia as the fatherland of their own nation," and noted that "Greece supports a solution that will reflect the reality of the region."

    On the question of Cyprus, President Papoulias said that "it is an international issue of invasion and occupation" and added that "Greece supports a solution that will respect the principles of freedom, democracy, the state of law and of human rights. A European solution that will implement the acquis communautaire and will implement the resolutions of the Security Council for Cyprus."

    Also referring to Greek-Bulgarian cooperation in the energy sector, President Papoulias said that "with the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and the South Stream pipeline, the energy weight centre in the wider region moves towards our countries."

    The President of the Republic also reiterated Greece's support for the accession course of the countries of the Western Balkans to the European Union, provided that they fulfill the criteria of Copenhagen and praised Greek-Bulgarian cooperation, both at political and economic level, an issue on which he had a lengthy discussion with Parvanov in the morning.

    [17] Parliament plenary refers 5 former

    ND ministers to Special Judicial Council over Vatopedi-state land swaps affair

    The parliament plenary late Tuesday voted to refer three former New Democracy (ND) government ministers to a Special Judicial Council over controversial Vatopedi Monastery-state land swaps, while no action was taken against the other two of the five former ND ministers whose referral had been recommended by an ad hoc parliamentary preliminary investigation committee that investigated possible criminal liability in the affair.

    The plenary decided the referral of former agriculture ministers Evangelos Bassiakos and Alexandros Kontos and former deputy finance minister Petros Doukas, but not of former minister George Voulgarakis and former government spokesman and minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos in the land swap case referring to Lake Vistonida and surrounding areas.

    The plenary on Tuesday decided the referral of Bassiakos, Kontos and Doukas only for instigation and complicity in breach of trust against the state, and not for moral instigation of money laundering and fraud against the state, as recommended by the parliamentary probe committee.

    The Special Judicial Council will rule on whether or not the five former ministers will be referred to a Special Court on ministers' accountability.

    By a majority vote of the ruling PASOK MPs sitting on the committee, the parliamentary preliminary investigation committee probing possible criminal liability in the affair had recommended in its conclusions in mid-October the referral of Roussopoulos on charges of moral instigation in illicit property benefit on the part of Vatopedi Monastery and third parties through felony acts of fraud and breach of duty at the expense of the state, and Kontos, Doukas and Bassiakos on charges of moral instigation of legitimisation of revenues from criminal activities, felony breach of duty and fraud that produced illicit property benefit on the part of Vatopedi Monastery and third party companies of invisible and visible shareholders who purchased the real estate properties conceded to the monastery, and as accessories of Roussopoulos. It had also recommended referral of Voulgarakis with "serious indications" of having committed the felony of violation of duty resulting in loss at the expense of the state.

    Separate reports were submitted to the probe committee by the representatives of the five parliamentary parties sitting on the committee.

    According to critics of a series of controversial deals, the state exchanged prime real estate holdings throughout Greece, including buildings in the Athens Olympic Village, for remote tracts of land where development is either restricted or prohibited, such as forestland, RAMSAR-protected areas around Lake Vistonida, and even archaeological sites.

    This specific case concerns suspect land deals by the Vatopedi Monastery, where low-value property on the shores of Lake Vistonida was exchanged for prime pieces of public real estate in other parts of the country in transactions carried out by Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation which were approved by ministers.

    Financial News

    [18] Eurogroup: Greece on track, significant progress made

    The Eurogroup Council expressed satisfaction with progress in Greece's stability program, the substantial reduction of the fiscal deficit achieved in 2010, and over Eurostat's full validation of the Greek fiscal statistics, in a statement issued late Tuesday in Brussels, which also pointed out the need for reduction of state spending in 2011.

    In reference to the Eurogroup statement on the situation in Greece, the group president Jean-Claude Juncker noted the Greek government's strong tommitment to take the necessary additional measures in the context of the 2011 budget, so that next year the ambitious target of containing the fiscal deficit at 17 billion euros will be achieved.

    He said that the Greek government must clarify the final details of the additional measures and include them in the 2011 budget and in the revised Memorandum, and stressed the need for further reduction of state spending and for accelerating the structural reforms, particularly in the areas of taxation, job markets, the business environment and public administration.

    Juncker further noted the significant progress made, stressing that Greece is on track, but that the fiscal effort must continue in 2011 so that it will remain on track.

    Below is the full text of the Eurogroup statement on the situation in Greece, issued on Tuesday. Separate statements were also issued on the situation in Ireland and Portugal.

    [19] Eurogroup statement on the situation in Greece

    "The Eurogroup, the European Commission and the ECB welcome the efforts undertaken by the Greek Government to comply with the agreed adjustment programme, in view of a substantial reduction of the deficit in 2010 and the abrogation of the excessive deficit by 2014. In particular, we acknowledge that, with the substantial execution of the programme achieved over the past 5-6 months, the required adjustment is broadly on track.

    We note the recent validation by Eurostat of fiscal data notified by the independent Greek statistical authority for 2009. Based on methodology fully in line with European standards, there is, as expected, a substantial revision in government deficit and debt data for 2009. This revision is expected to affect the 2010 deficit figures. We welcome the support given by the Commission (Eurostat) and some Member States to provide assistance to Greece in the area of fiscal and other macroeconomic statistics. We also welcome the efforts of the Greek authorities to correct the deficiencies in the administrative and accounting systems in parallel with improvements in the statistical system.

    In this respect, we welcome the strong commitment of the Greek government to undertake the required additional measures in the budget for 2011, in order to confirm the ambitious deficit target of 17 billion euros next year. The government is currently specifying the details of such additional measures in the 2011 budget as well as in the revised Memorandum of Understanding. We stress in particular the need for further expenditure reductions, as well the acceleration and deepening of structural reforms in particular in the area of taxation, labour markets, business environment, health care and the efficiency of public administration.

    We remain confident that the significant progress made during the course of this year will continue, allowing the consolidation of the Greek budget to remain on track."

    [20] Minister meets with OECD leadership

    The potential for cooperation between the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Greek government in the sectors of investment law, exports and small-medium sized businesses, was discussed in the meeting Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis had in Paris on Wednesday with OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria and the organization's Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan.

    The meeting was held within the framework of the efforts made by the government to shape a long-term development strategy that will lead Greece out of the crisis.

    Chryssohoidis briefed the head of the OECD on the course of the Greek economy and both sides underlined the importance of a strategic planning.

    The creation of a positive atmosphere that will highlight the development prospects for the Greek economy, while boosting competitiveness, was pointed out as a key-element in the effort made to lead the Greek economy out of the crisis.

    Chryssohoidis also addressed the OECD conference on the small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurship and outlined the priorities of the Greek government.

    [21] Environment minister and Romanian ambassador discuss energy issues

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Wednesday held talks on energy issues with Romanian Ambassador to Athens George Ciamba.

    They also discussed the prospects of enhancing cooperation on a bilateral and regional level, agreeing to intensify efforts to promote trilateral cooperation between Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. Such trilateral cooperation should be extended to energy issues, including liquified natural gas, renewable energy sources and electricity, they said.

    [22] Registered unemployment up 3.75% in Oct.

    The number of unemployed people registered with the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) rose 3.75 pct in October to 609,249, compared with September, a report stated on Wednesday.

    The highest rise in the figures among the country's regions were recorded in Southern Aegean (44.03 pct). The number of long-term unemployed people grew by 15,928 or 3.75 pct last month, with the Ionian Islands (+16.53 pct) recording the biggest percentage increase of the month.

    The number of unemployed people eligible for unemployment benefits totaled 183,161, down 7.46 pct in October from September, while the number of seasonally unemployed workers in the tourism sector grew 80.85 pct.

    OAED said 35.11-pct of people seeking work live in the Attica region (greater Athens area), while 20.64 pct of unemployed people live in central Macedonia.

    New hirings totaled 91,594 in October, up 1.03 pct from September but down 9.78 pct from October 2009, while lay-offs totaled 31,241 in the month and termination of contract work agreements totaled 77,850 in October.

    [23] Mobius raises equity stake in Hellenic Exchanges to 5.02%

    Franklin Templeton Investments Corp, headed by noted Wall Street analyst Mark Mobius, on Wednesday said it has raised its equity stake in Hellenic Exchanges Group to 5.02 pct, up from 4.99 pct.

    Mobius was the first foreign investor to invest in the Athens Stock Exchange in the mid-1980.

    He manages a portfolio of 34 billion US dollars of Templeton Asset Management. A few weeks ago Mobius announced that he bought National Bank's shares, saying their value was very attractive.

    [24] Jumbo says sales stable, profits down in Q1

    Jumbo Group on Wednesday reported a 5.15 pct decline in its net profits to 16.63 million euros in the first quarter of the fiscal years (July 2010-June 2011), from 17.53 million euros in the same period last year. The Group said sales were stable at 116.47 million euros, hit by a truck drivers' strike during the crucial school opening season.

    Consolidated EBITDA fell 9.8 pct to 24.25 million euros in the July-September period, from 26.89 million euros last year. Jumbo Group said two new super stores opened in Greece, one in Preveza and another in Larissa, with three new stores expected to open in the current quarter (Cyprus, Sofia and Ioannina). The six new stores are expected to add 2% to sales growth the current year.

    [25] Stocks end 1.97% down

    Stocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Bank shares were mostly hit after a negative report for the sector by Citi and Merrill Lynch. The composite index of the market dropped 1.97 pct to end at 1,464.68 points, with turnover a low 81.880 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.82 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.02 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 1.25 pct. Motor Oil (1.88 pct), OTE (1.63 pct) and Piraeus Bank (0.98 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (5.12 pct), Ellaktor (4.72 pct) and Eurobank (3.57 pct) were top losers.

    The Chemicals (2.33 pct) and Telecoms (1.63 pct) sectors were the only ones to score gains, while Food (5.05 pct) and Media (4.12 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 131 to 33 with another 48 issues unchanged. Vell Group (11.11 pct), Vioter (10.53 pct) and Akritas (9.62 pct) were top gainers, while Altec (16.67 pct), AEGEK (12 pct) and Tzirakian (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.60%

    Industrials: -0.27%

    Commercial: -2.08%

    Construction: -2.95%

    Media: -4.12%

    Oil & Gas: -0.01%

    Personal & Household: -2.40%

    Raw Materials: -1.95%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.62%

    Technology: -3.93%

    Telecoms: +1.63%

    Banks: -1.88%

    Food & Beverages: -5.05%

    Health: -1.50%

    Utilities: -2.77%

    Chemicals: +2.33%

    Financial Services: -2.00%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.55

    ATEbank: 0.74

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.80

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.07

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.55

    National Bank of Greece: 6.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.05

    OPAP: 12.74

    OTE: 6.25

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.08

    Titan: 15.50

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remained above 900 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.68 pct and the German Bund 2.59 pct. Turnover in the market was a thin 12 million euros of which 9 million were buy orders and the remaining 3.0 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 4.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month 1.27 pct, the three-month rate 1.04 pct and the one-month rate 0.84 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.81 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 37.370 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,120 contracts worth 31.298 million euros, with 33,402 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,121 contracts worth 6.072 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts 3,162), followed by Eurobank (656), MIG (2,254), OTE (926), Piraeus Bank (1,834), Alpha Bank (1,221), Marfin Popular Bank (1,079), Cyprus Bank (251), Hellenic Postbank (209) and METKA (387).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.358

    Pound sterling 0.855

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.473

    Japanese yen 113.4

    Swiss franc 1.353

    Norwegian kroner 8.250

    Canadian dollar 1.388

    Australian dollar 1.391

    General News

    [29] Bank manager killed in bank robbery

    The manager of an Alpha bank branch in Orestiada, northeastern Greece was killed on Wednesday in a shoot-out during a robbery at the bank.

    A gunman stormed into the bank and immobilised employees and customers at gunpoint, and grabbed a sack full of banknotes.

    The bank manager chased the gunman, calling out for help, but the robber shot him at least three times in the abdomen in his attempt to escape, fatally injuring him.

    Police pursued the hold-up man and arrested him.

    The victim was rushed to Orestiada hospital, where he died a little later.

    [30] Ferry crashes at Lefkada, no injuries

    The Malta-flagged ferry "Kolossos", owned by NEL Lines, crashed and ran aground early Wednesday on a rocky coast in Vassiliki bay on the Ionian island of Lefkada.

    The ship had set sail from Corinth with a 20-member crew, carrying 58 trucks and 10 drivers to Ancona, Italy. The ship suffered a small rift in its sealed tanks but is not in danger of sinking.

    A tugboat from Patras was en route to the scene, with a group of divers who will examine the extent of the damage to the vessel. An oil recovery vessel from Skaramangas was also on the way to be on stand-by in the event of an oil slick.

    No injuries were reported.

    [31] G. Sklavounos museum inauguration in Amfiklia this month

    The municipality of Amfiklia in south-central Greece -- now the Amfiklia-Elatia extended municipality -- will inaugurate the Academician Georgios Sklavounos Museum on Sunday, Nov. 28, in the township, which lies on the eastern foothills of Mt. Parnassus.

    The inauguration of the museum and its exhibits, in cooperation with the University of Athens medical school, will take place in a specially modified hall within the Amfiklia town hall.

    A bust of the noted early 20th century anatomist and medical instructor will also be unveiled during the event, sponsored by Athens medical school professors P. Skandalakis and D.A. Lappas.

    The German-educated Sklavounos, a native of the Amfiklia district, is considered as the father of modern anatomy by generations of 20th Greek physicians, with his opus being the 1906 edition "The Human Anatomy".

    [32] Osodi's 'Oil Rich Niger Delta' photo series on display in Athens

    Internationally acclaimed Nigerian-born, London-based free-lance news photographer George Osodi will introduce his work to the Greek public on Thursday in the framework of a series of meetings with artists organised by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, coinciding with the opening of an exhibition of Osodi's photograph series titled "Oil Rich Niger Delta" (2003-2007).

    The photojournalism and artistic documentary photographer's works, which often critically deal with his home country Nigeria, have already been displayed in numerous solo and group exhibitions in many parts of the world. Osodi's repertoire includes classic photographic motifs: portraits with dramatic foregrounds and backgrounds, formally composed close-ups and rhythmically structured still lifes - the only difference being that these images are not taken in a studio but are photographs of men, women and children living their everyday lives against the backdrop of the oil industry.

    Osodi was born in 1974 in Lagos, Nigeria. He studied Management at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos and afterwards worked as a photoreporter for Comet Newspaper (1999-2002) and with Associated Press news agency (2002-2008). He has covered many assignments for local and international media, and his photos have been published in many international media, including the New York Times, Times Magazine, The Guardian of London, The Telegraph, USA Today, the International Herald Tribune, Der Spiegel, CNN, BBC Focus on Africa Magazine, and many more.

    He was awarded the first prize for the Fuji African Photojournalist of the year in 2004.

    Entrance to the presentation is free for all, and a discussion with the audience will follow.

    [33] People trapped from heavy rainfall on Corfu

    Severe problems have been caused on the island of Corfu from heavy rainfall that began late Tuesday'

    According to the Fire Brigade, at present, the rescue of 30 persons who have been trapped in houses near torrents is in progress.

    Landslides and falling trees throughout the island, even in the city of Corfu, have been reported.

    Reinforcements have been sent to the island from Epirus.

    Weather Forecast

    [34] Rainy on Thursday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 22C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 21C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 17C.

    [35] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Germany's stern position on the overindebted countries, the troika's position on labour issues and cutbacks and the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises' (SEB) stance on lay-offs in the public sector, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New swoop on civil servants".

    AVGHI: "Tanks then (during the Athens Polytechnic uprising against the junta), troika now".

    AVRIANI: "Germany pushing us full speed to bankruptcy".

    ELEFTHEROS: "They (EU) have declared us....bankrupt, but Prime Minister George Papandreou belies it".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Cut whatever you find".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Extraordinary measures in the middle of the night".

    ESTIA: "Greece targeted again".

    ETHNOS: "Salaries in private sector in danger".

    IMERISSIA: "Germany's show of power".

    KATHIMERINI: "Threats for the third tranche of the loan".

    LOGOS: "Eurozone is teetering".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Europe presses for more 'necessary measures'."

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Merciless industrialists demand lay-offs in public sector and cutbacks in social spending".

    TA NEA: "Roadblock against Merkel".

    TO VIMA: "Merkel uses the third tranche of the loan as a blackmailing weapon".

    VRADYNI: "In a state of Fear".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] President's proposals gaining ground

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The package of proposals submitted by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias offer solutions for various issues concerning the Cyprus problem, and have been gaining ground internationally, Deputy Government Spokesman Christos Christophides said on Wednesday.

    Referring to Thursday's meeting in New York between UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Christophides said the Greek Cypriot side was going to the meeting well-prepared, with an aim to pave the way for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Replying to questions, Christophides said ''the triptych of proposals submitted by the President of the Republic offers a way out for various issues concerning the Cyprus problem.''

    ''These proposals are gaining ground internationally,'' he said.

    Asked about Thursday's meeting in New York, Christophides said ''our side is going to this meeting very well-prepared, it knows what it is pursuing and will try to achieve it, with an aim to pave the way that will lead to that which is the strategic aim of our side, the solution of the Cyprus problem.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President Christofias and Eroglu are currently engaged in negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem. The President recently put forward a three-tier proposal in a bid to help make headway at the talks.

    The first proposal provides for linking discussions on property to territory and immigration, citizenship, aliens and asylum. Property and territory are considered to be two of the most hotly contested issues at the talks.

    The second proposal calls for the implementation of Security Council resolution 550 which provides for the return of the fenced off area of Varosha - under Turkish occupation since 1974 - to the UN. The objective of the proposal is to restore the town and return it to its legitimate inhabitants. The proposal envisages also the opening of the city's port for trade for the Turkish Cypriots, under EU supervision, as well as the restoration of the walled city of Famagusta (old part of the city).

    The third proposes the convening of an international conference on Cyprus, once the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side are within reach of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem. The conference is to be called by the UN, and apart from the Republic of Cyprus and the island's two communities, the EU, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Cyprus' three guarantor powers will attend (Greece, Turkey and Britain are the guarantor powers according to the 1960 Constitution).

    [37] UK High Commissioner: Cameron supports President Christofias

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    British High Commissioner in Nicosia, John William Matthew Kidd, has described Thursday's meeting between the UN

    Secretary General and the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, as important.

    "It is an important thing that is happening, it is a good sign that the UN, not just Alexander Downer but the UNSG himself is interested and wants to help the process go forward", he said.

    The British diplomat said British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had a telephone conversation with the Cypriot President, supports President Christofias in his efforts to reach a solution in Cyprus.

    He also noted that Thursday's meeting is a good opportunity for the two sides to discuss with the UN Secretary General "whether they have been able to make progress whether they are working on making further progress and I hope that they will be able with his help to identify how they can continue to make progress in the future".

    Invited to comment on President Christofias' position that the Turkish side needs to make more steps, he said "I think he is right and others are right that to get from where we are now to a final result is going to need concessions from both sides, it is going to need that give and take phase, which will have to include steps from the Turkish side as well, so that seems to me to be perfectly normal and natural".

    Answering questions, the High Commissioner noted that both sides have made concessions, offers and have come up with ideas, particularly in the past few weeks in the area of property.

    Asked whether the Cypriot President can count on UK support, he said that President Christofias "will be able to expect support from the UK and the Prime Minister for anything that he does to try to move us courageously towards an agreement".

    [38] Rompuy says Turkey obliged to behave as all EU member states

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the European Council Herman van Rompuy has said that Turkey must behave the way all EU member states.

    Speaking at the European Policy Centre (EPC), Van Rompuy noted that "accession negotiations with Ankara continue despite the fact that there are many obstacles relating to member states."

    He also said that all these problems must be solved and underlined that Turkey must understand that as a member state it will not be able to behave differently than other member state.

    With regard to prospects for Turkey's EU accession course, Rompuy stressed that EU-Turkey negotiations are open ended.

    He added that "there is no real agreement within the EU concerning the best formula-accession or another formula."

    Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member, occupies 37% of the territory of Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004. Ankara does not recognise Cyprus and refuses to meet its EU commitments to Cyprus.

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