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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-26

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

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

Friday, 26 November 2010 Issue No: 3655

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cabinet discusses reforms to state-sector services, organisations
  • [02] Droutsas meets Hungarian foreign minister, discusses EU issues
  • [03] BSEC FMs' meeting in Thessaloniki
  • [04] Deputy FM Dollis to visit Germany
  • [05] Greek leadership receives visiting Archbishop of Canterbury
  • [06] Samaras to chair ND Parliamentary group meeting on Fri.
  • [07] Bakoyannis announces foundation of 'Democratic Alliance' to Parliament president
  • [08] UNEP head briefed by environment minister
  • [09] KKE leader tables question on Aegean issues
  • [10] LAOS party on public sector hirings
  • [11] Terror group claims responsibility for mail bombs
  • [12] Van Rompuy praise for Greece's 'unbelievable' deficit reduction
  • [13] Gov't ministers meet with Scandinavian investors
  • [14] Bill on equal opportunities for men and women in employment ratified
  • [15] Treasury & Loans Fund to boost banking operations
  • [16] Economic recession sharply raises unemployment in Greece
  • [17] Initiative to boost dive tourism
  • [18] MoC on constructions signed by Greece, Egypt
  • [19] Extension of metro, tram lines to Piraeus on schedule
  • [20] Greek trade deficit down 40.9 pct in Sept
  • [21] Marfin Popular Bank reports improved 9-month results
  • [22] Citibank to close 31 branches in Greece
  • [23] Duty Free Shops report lower nine-month results
  • [24] Athens Prefecture: Shops open on Sunday December 12
  • [25] Seamen to extend their strike until Sunday
  • [26] Stocks on 5-day slide
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [29] Parliament on cracking down violence against women
  • [30] Archbishop to undergo surgery to remove kidney stone
  • [31] Former Minister Papadopoulos in hospital
  • [32] Hunter fatally shot in NW Greece
  • [33] Two arrested for repeatedly stealing outboard boat motors
  • [34] Police: Man who rushed onto field during Barcelona match an Iraqi asylum seeker
  • [35] Arrests for cable theft in N. Greece
  • [36] Rainy on Friday
  • [37] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [38] Government comments on UNSG's report on Cyprus
  • [39] UN SG proposes strict recommendations to community leaders in Cyprus Politics

  • [01] Cabinet discusses reforms to state-sector services, organisations

    Reforms to broader state-sector services and organisations, including the debt and deficit-ridden Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) and loss-making Athens public transport companies, were the main issues discussed on Thursday during a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou.

    Addressing the meeting, Papandreou said that 2011 would be the year for major reforms and expressed confidence that the government would succeed in achieving its targets, as it had in 2010.

    The premier asked the ministers to submit their proposals for their specific area of responsibility by Friday, ranking them in order of priority so that they might be included in an implementation schedule.

    Referring to the economic crisis, Papandreou stressed that Europe had nothing to fear if it moved forcefully and without fatalism with respect to markets. Concerning the current debate on setting up a permanent crisis resolution mechanism that is to be discussed at the December EU summit, the Greek premier stressed that this needed to be a "smart mechanism" able to respond to the psychology of markets.

    Papandreou did not spare his predecessor Costas Karamanlis, comparing his own handling of the crisis and that of the Irish prime minister who "even though conservative, did not follow the example of Karamanlis, who abandoned ship and passed a bomb onto the next government".

    "He took all the responsibility on himself, so that the next government would not be 'saddled' with the mistakes of the past".

    Among the issues considered was the abolition of a rural police force and the transfer of all officers to forestry services, setting up a board to examine the staffing needs of the civil aviation service and the use of any surplus staff to cover the needs of other ministries, as well as the transfer of 5,416 seasonal fire fighters to a new status of five-year terms as 'Assistant Fire Fighters' instead of the current eight-month contracts.

    The cabinet also discussed a plan for grouping regional airports in the country, after the completion of which the government may consider leasing some of these to the private sector.

    During the meeting, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou also carried out a complete briefing on the course of the economy and announced each ministry's targets in the next three months.

    The government meeting also examined a draft bill presented by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on marine strategy for maintaining and restoring the marine environment until the year 2020.

    A ministry announcement said that the draft bill will harmonise legislation in Greece with the EU framework directive on marine strategy, which calls for a range specific actions that must be completed by binding deadlines.

    This includes an initial assessment of the environmental state of the seas and a definition of what constitutes a good environmental state for sea water, as well as the setting of environmental targets and indices by the year 2012.

    By the end of 2013, member-states must have delineated protected regions for every region or sub-region of the sea in order to create a coherent and representative network of protected marine regions and by 2014 established programmes for monitoring the state of the marine water environment.

    By the end of 2015, member-states must have set up programmes of measures for ensuring the good state of the marine water environment until the end of 2020 and have set these in motion by the end of 2016 at the latest.

    [02] Droutsas meets Hungarian foreign minister, discusses EU issues

    BUDAPEST (ANA-MPA - M. Savva)

    In statements after a meeting here on Thursday, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and his Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi said that they had agreed on Greece's proposals for an EU-Turkey summit in June, as well as on preparing for a summit meeting of European and Balkan states in 2014 - when Greece holds the EU rotating presidency - in order to promote the European accession prospects of the western Balkans.

    The two ministers also expressed agreement with efforts to set up a permanent crisis resolution mechanism for EU member-states and referred to cooperation between Greece and Hungary on issues concerning the common European future.

    Concerning the issue of financial governance, Martonyi pointed out that this would be enhanced through the creation of a system that would take form during the six months that Hungary took over the rotating EU presidency, starting in January.

    "As countries of medium size we must insist that everything is done with respect for the spirit and the letter of the Treaty and with respect for the principle of equal treatment," the Hungarian minister said.

    Regarding the Balkans, Droutsas and Martonyi both emphasised the importance of the future accession of western Balkan countries as a lever for resolving the problems troubling the region.

    "We envisage a summit of all Balkan countries with the EU, a 'Thessaloniki -2' that will give these countries a decisive political push toward the EU," Droutsas said.

    Concerning Turkey's accession prospects and the possibility of an EU-Turkey summit, Droutsas noted that European countries all agreed on the positive aspects of Turkey's EU course but "we also agree that this has now reached a point that might be termed problematic, in the sense that the negotiations are not progressing in the way we would like, the negotiations are not proceeding at a fast pace, Turkey is not implementing the obligations it has undertaken and, on the other hand, the promise that was given to Turkey for full accession has grown dim."

    The Greek minister said that the proposal of holding a summit was an idea for politically reaffirming the commitments made by each side.

    "On the one hand, the EU's commitment to accept Turkey as a full member-state and, on the other hand, to reaffirm the obligations that Turkey has undertaken toward its EU partners," he said.

    He emphasised the need to give a new and real momentum to a process that now seemed to be reaching a point of stagnation.

    During statements to reporters, Markonyi and Droutsas referred to the close cooperation between Greece and Hungary on all levels and the need to further enhance bilateral relations.

    They pointed to margins for further developing cooperation in the areas of energy, tourism and transport with emphasis on the "Danube Strategy".

    [03] BSEC FMs' meeting in Thessaloniki

    The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Foreign Ministers' meeting will take place in Thessaloniki on Friday, chaired by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas. The meeting is the last official event held within the framework of the Greek BSEC Chairmanship, launched on June 1, 2010 under the theme "Black Sea Turns Green".

    Droutsas will open the meeting and at noon, before hosting a reception in honor of the participants. Deputy FM for economic diplomacy issues Spyros Kouvelis will also address the meeting.

    A joint statement signed by all BSEC foreign ministers will recognize the Black Sea region as vulnerable and sensitive to the climate change, underlining that all member-states agree to undertake a joint effort putting an emphasis on the sustainable development plans and the prevention of natural disasters, while promoting innovative and green entrepreneurship.

    Greece will submit the statement to the UN Climate Conference in Mexico next month on behalf of BSEC and its members.

    The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) will host a business forum on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting to focus on the different aspects of "green development" and entrepreneurship.

    [04] Deputy FM Dollis to visit Germany

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis will visit Berlin on November 26-27 to participate in a conference on Greek-German relations organised by the Friedrich Ebert foundation.

    Dollis will also be meeting the Parliamentary Greece-Germany Friendship Committee, Federal Deputy Education Minister Thomas Rachel, Federal Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer, the Social Democrat Party's Parliamentary Group President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as well as expatriate agencies.

    On November 28-29 Dollis will be in Munich to address an event being held to honour Greek immigrants in the framework of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the German-Greek Accord on the attraction of Workers in 1960. He will also be meeting expatriate agencies and the Coordinating Organ of Federations of Europe.

    Lastly, on November 30 the Deputy Foreign Minister will travel to Istanbul to represent the Greek government at the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Throne celebration (Throne Celebration of its founder Apostle Andreas).

    [05] Greek leadership receives visiting Archbishop of Canterbury

    The conviction that any issues that may exist between the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece and the Church of England will be settled was expressed by Republic President Karolos Papoulias, who received visiting Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, on Thursday at the presidential mansion.

    Dr. Williams was later received by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for a 40-minute meeting.

    During his talks with Papoulias, the latter said he is closely following the work performed by the Church of England in a period with many social problems "and with people who suffer, particularly those seeking a better future".

    "I am pleased that relations with the Church of Greece are very good. We have certain issues that need to be solved and I am certain that our representatives will solve them," Papoulias said.

    On his part, the head of the Church of England stressed that the timing of his first visit to Greece is very important, considering the problems with which both countries are faced. "The Church of Greece is facing poverty and other social problems using new methods. We would like to cooperate and ? exchange notes," he pointed out.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury also met with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece at the latter's office at the Archdiocese.

    The two religious leaders had a brief discussion in the presence of bishops and priests of both Christian Churches.

    Archbishop Ieronymos expressed his joy over the visit of the head of the Church of England, adding that in him "we see an excellent professor of patristic theology, a sincere friend of Orthodoxy and a scholar of the Orthodox doctrine."

    The Archbishop of Canterbury underlined the common points shared by the two Churches, stressing that "the Church has played an important role in the history of both countries."

    [06] Samaras to chair ND Parliamentary group meeting on Fri.

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party parlia-mentary group will meet on Friday in the wake of the local government elections, the updated memorandum and the developments recorded within the party instigated by the forming of the Democratic Alliance party and the resignation of two ND MPs.

    ND leader Antonis Samaras, who will chair the meeting, will set the party's strategy and back the anti-memorandum stance. He will also set the framework of an understanding with the government to be followed in case such an initiative is undertaken by the prime minister.

    Ex-prime minister and ND leader Costas Karamanlis is expected to attend Friday's session.

    [07] Bakoyannis announces foundation of 'Democratic Alliance' to Parliament president

    Independent MP Dora Bakoyannis met on Thursday with the Parliament president Philippos Petsalnikos and formally announced the foundation of her new party "Democratic Alliance".

    After the meeting Bakoyannis told reporters that she had conveyed her party's aim, which was to act as a catalyst within the political system "so that we are all pressed into making the changes and rifts that will give hope to Greece to exit from its current difficult position".

    "Our goal is national consensus, not in the sense of alliance governments but by seeking a common ground between the political parties while each side retains its differences," Bakoyannis noted.

    Referring to main opposition New Democracy (ND) MPs that resigned from ND's parliamentary group but did not give up their seats in Parliament, Bakoyannis stressed that "Greek MPs are not pawns and report only to those who sent them to parliament, therefore they are accountable only to the people who voted for them".

    [08] UNEP head briefed by environment minister

    Environment, Climate Change and Energy Minister Tina Birbili on Wednesday briefed visiting UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UNEP Achim Steiner on the government's policy for the development of the renewable energy sources, during a meeting at the ministry.

    Birbili also referred to her ministry's initiatives on the protection and administration of water reserves and the natural environment as well as the legislation on Greece's forest maps.

    According to a relevant announcement, the two sides exchanged views on the Mediterranean Action Plan and Prime Minister George Papandreou's Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative.

    [09] KKE leader tables question on Aegean issues

    Communist Party leader (KKE) Aleka Papariga on Thursday tabled a question in Parliament requesting information on what she called Greek-Turkish negotiations over territorial waters and the continental shelf issue in the Aegean. The communist leader also referred to what she called the "co-exploitation" of the Aegean Sea as well as Greece's participation in NATO's nuclear programme.

    Papariga cited what she called recent Lisbon Summit decisions, criticising a new strategic doctrine and "imperialistic aggressiveness".

    [10] LAOS party on public sector hirings

    The Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, referring to the freeze on hirings in the public sector, said in an announcement that the fewer the people in Public Administration, the more productivity will increase, adding that "it was high time."

    LAOS leader George Karatzaferis also said in a statement, referring to foreign affairs, that "America wants a solution in the Aegean and on the issue of Cyprus. The President of the Republic of Cyprus gave an indication on certain things that are in the making. On the issue of the name of Skopje (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), where they have reached the name Republic of Macedonia-Vardaska. For all this to happen it is necessary on the one hand for there to be a strong (ruling) PASOK and on the other, to the left and right, there to be opposition problems."

    [11] Terror group claims responsibility for mail bombs

    The "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" terror gang, in a proclamation posted on an Internet website on Thursday, assumed responsibility for 14 parcel bombs sent to embassies and leaders of European countries in early November.

    The proclamation, that also contains an appeal to similar extremist groups in Europe and Latin America, for the first time uses the title "revolutionary organisation" and features an emblem, while the author or authors claims that the arrests of members of the group do not signal the end of their activities.

    They also claimed that the parcel bombs did not target embassies' staff and for this reason contained a minimum quantity of gunpowder, adding that they ?wanted to send a message" without injuring a person.

    Financial News

    [12] Van Rompuy praise for Greece's 'unbelievable' deficit reduction

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has praised the Greek government's response to the debt crisis and said that the reduction of Greece's deficit by 4 percent in just one year was an "unbelievable"achievement.

    Van Rompuy made the statement in an interview entitled "The euro acted as a sleeping pill" published by the Flemish-language Belgian weekly review "Knack" on November 17.

    During a brief review of the Greek crisis, the European official stressed that the EU had to "swim against the stream" in order to create the right conditions for achieving a stable economic growth that would make the European social model viable and preserve the EU's role on a global level.

    He said that the Greek debt crisis had been particularly acute in the previous May and that it "took some time for everyone to realise that, in this case, national interests coincided with European interests".

    Van Rompuy noted that everyone had been preoccupied with reactions on a national level and whether it was fair for tax-payers to pay for the mistakes made by another country, until they realised that there was no other alternative except to help Greece.

    "The sequence of events was a learning experience for everyone," Rompuy noted, adding that the power of the European structure now lay in the fact that no one desired to abandon it since it had already progressed a long way and interests were now interlinked.

    Analysing the crisis in the euro zone, the European Council president repeated that the euro had acted as a "sleeping pill" for markets, allowing some countries to create artificial growth rates and economic bubbles while others were taking the necessary measures to maintain the credibility of the common currency. Then markets "woke up" suddenly and the slightest incident was enough to create unforeseeable situations.

    According to Van Rompuy, several EU countries had then responded in the right way and Greece was among them, with the measures that reduced its deficit by 4 percent.

    "This percentage is unbelievably high," the European Council president added, noting that several other countries had taken necessary action and reforms prompted by the debt crisis.

    [13] Gov't ministers meet with Scandinavian investors

    Senior government ministers met in Athens on Thursday with executives of Scandinavian investment groups handling mainly pension capital, estimated at 300 billion euros.

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli and Minister of State Haris Pamboukis briefed them on the progress of the reforms implemented and outlined the overall planning of the government as regards the stabilisation plans and the development of the Greek economy.

    [14] Bill on equal opportunities for men and women in employment ratified

    The Employment ministry's bill on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities for men and women in work and employment was ratified with the addition of amendments on providing financial support for low pension earners and the payment of the special bonus for invalids, as well as the amendment on the extension of the ban on smoking in cars when children of up to 12 years old are on board.

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos defended the last amendment, terming it imperative for the protection of minors, since it has been proved that harm caused by smoking is multiplied in a closed space, a problem that is not solved with an open window.

    "From then on all the rest will be discussed at the Social Affairs Committee, where every party can submit its views," he said, referring in general to the issue of the ban on smoking in closed public spaces.

    [15] Treasury & Loans Fund to boost banking operations

    The finance ministry on Thursday announced a plan to separate operations of the Treasury and Loans Fund, in a move aimed at boosting the banking activities of the organisation.

    Under the plan, the fund will continue offering treasury public services, while a subsidiary company will operate as a banking entity.

    A ministry announcement said a survey will be drafted on the plan, noting that the new structure of the Treasury and Loans Fund will help in the development of the organisation. The move is part of the 10 major challenges facing the Greek economy, presented by Finance Minister George Papacon-stantinou on Tuesday.

    The next move, expected by the end of the year, is a restructuring plan for ATEbank, in agreement with the troika and the European Union's competition agency over approving the Greek state's participation in a share capital increase plan by the bank.

    [16] Economic recession sharply raises unemployment in Greece

    Higher indirect taxes and particularly a rise in VAT rates from 11 to 13 pct will lead to a deeper economic recession in the country with a direct impact on labor and a dramatic increase in unemployment, GSEBEE, the union of small- and medium-sized enterprises said on Thursday.

    GSEBEE, in an announcement, stressed that the consequences of this economic policy would also negatively affect state revenues.

    The union noted that according to Hellenic Statistical Authority figures, unemployment soared to 12.2 pct in August 2010 from 9.0 pct in August 2009, while an analysis of the labor market estimated that around 120,000 job positions would be lost in the second half of 2010. GSEBEE said that job losses could reach 200,000, totaling 300,000 if included self-employed and employers.

    The union said the current unemployment increase was definitely linked with economic recession and could only be combatted through anti-cycle policies (public investments) or through a radical redesigning of job policies in the country.

    [17] Initiative to boost dive tourism

    Legislative initiatives aimed at boosting dive tourism in Greece will be presented by the ministry of culture and tourism, an initiative aimed at gaining a greater share of the two-million-euro market in Europe, deputy minister Giorgos Nikitiadis said on Thursday.

    Speaking in the conference on "Biodiversity and Diving Tourism in the Greek Seas", organized by the Society for the Protection and Promotion of the Underwater Environment and its Coastal Area, Nikitiadis assured the interested parties that all necessary moves will be made to create diving parks, stressing that the sector's needs will be met.

    [18] MoC on constructions signed by Greece, Egypt

    Construction companies in Greece and Egypt signed a memorandum of cooperation for joint projects in the two countries, as well as in African and Middle East countries, within the framework of the 7th joint Greek-Egyptian inter-ministerial committee that met here.

    The meeting was chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis.

    The memorandum was signed by Association of Greek Contracting Companies (SATE) President Giorgos Vlachos and Egyptian Deputy Minister of State for cooperation with the countries of Western Europe and the EU Mustafa Abdou Mohamad Eisa.

    As provided by the agreement, SATE and the Egyptian Federation for Building and Construction Contractors will undertake initiatives for closer cooperation.

    [19] Extension of metro, tram lines to Piraeus on schedule

    The works for the extension of the metro and tram lines to Piraeus will proceed as scheduled, a ministry of infrastructure, transport and networks statement underlined on Thursday.

    The statement was issued in response to comments made by opposition party cadres, alleging that the sum already allocated for the specific project will be used in other regions, and calling on the people of Piraeus to demonstrate against such designs.

    The ministry statement clarified that these are mature projects, denying that the sum allocated will be used in other regions in the greater Athens area. In addition, it was stressed that any delays observed were anticipated within the framework of the objections raised by tender participants.

    Construction works are expected to be launched in Dec. 2011, the ministry promised.

    [20] Greek trade deficit down 40.9 pct in Sept

    Greece's trade deficit fell sharply in September as an economic recession hit imports in the country. The trade deficit fell by 40.9 pct in September, for a decline of 33.8 pct in the nine-month period from January to September, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The value of import arrivals totaled 2.896 billion euros in September, from 4.253 billion euros last year, for a decline of 31.9 pct, while the value of export-deliveries totaled 1.152 billion euros, from 1.3 billion euros in 2009, for a decline of 11.4 pct.

    The trade deficit totaled 1.744 billion euros in September this year from 2.953 billion in September 2009, for a decline of 40.9 pct.

    The value of imports in the January-September period totaled 26.560 billion euros down 22.4 pct from 2009, while the value of exports totaled 11.165 billion euros, up 1.8 pct over the same period.

    The country's trade deficit fell 33.8 pct in the January-September this year to 15.395 billion euros, from 23.242 billion euros in the corresponding period last year.

    [21] Marfin Popular Bank reports improved 9-month results

    Marfin Popular Bank Group on Thursday announced that net profits more than tripled in the third quarter of 2010 to 30.1 million euros, compared with the second quarter, while nine-month net profits totaled 90.9 million euros (excluding an extra tax charge of 8.2 million euros).

    Interest income totaled 181.9 million euros in the third quarter, up 7.0 pct from the same period last year, reaching the highest quarterly level in the last two years.

    Net income from rights and commissions rose 4.0 pct to 51 million euros in the third quarter of 2010, while revenues were up 4.0 pct to 256.7 million euros.

    The loan to deposit rate was unchanged at 105 pct, while the capital adequacy ratio rose to 11.8 pct in the third quarter of 2010, reflecting strong profitability and improvement in assets. A forthcoming share capital increase plan, along with a convertible bond issue, is expected to boost its pro forma capital adequacy ratio to 16 pct.

    Net interest margin rose to 1.84 pct in the nine-month period from January to October, from 1.68 pct in the same period last year, while organic income from banking operations rose 11 pct to 690.3 million euros. Financial and other income shrank to 85.6 million euros this year, from 181.5 million euros in 2009, although figures improved in the third quarter of the year.

    Assets totaled 42.7 billion euros, 6.0 pct up from 2009. Loans rose 8.0 pct, while deposits grew 1.4 pct.

    [22] Citibank to close 31 branches in Greece

    Citibank announced a large scale restructuring of its activities in Greece closing 31 branches out of a total of 72 branches in its network in the country.

    A bank announcement said the decision was part of a general strategy for the restructuring of its presence in Greece amid a current economic crisis which has affected the main sectors of the domestic banking market, particularly retail banking. The aim is for the bank to focus on operations with comparative advantage, such as asset management and credit cards, where Citibank has a leading share in the market. Citibank said the program did not envisage dismissals in its workforce but a voluntary retirement plan.

    Citibank embarked on an ambitious expansion of its retail network in Greece with the aim to surpass 100 branches, but decided to change its strategy in view of adverse economic developments in the country.

    Citibank established its operations in Greece in 1963 offering banking services to shipping companies and corporate business. In the 1980s it began expanding in the retail banking business.

    [23] Duty Free Shops report lower nine-month results

    Duty Free Shops SA on Thursday said consolidated sales fell 2.8 pct to 454.1 million euros in the January-September period this year, compared with the same period in 2009, while net after tax and minorities earnings fell to 32.8 million euros from 36.9 million euros over the same periods, respectively.

    Consolidated EBITDA fell to 76.1 million euros in the nine-month period this year, form 78.5 million in 2009, with EBITDA margin at 16.7 pct and consolidated pre-tax earnings fell to 51.5 million euros from 52.6 million euros.

    George Velentzas, Duty Free Shops' general manager said the results were encouraging compared with adverse conditions prevailing in the domestic retail market in the last two years.

    Parent sales fell 6 pct to 187.3 million euros, pre-tax profits rose 8.0 pct to 45.9 million euros and net after tax earnings fell 3.2 pct to 30.8 million euros.

    [24] Athens Prefecture: Shops open on Sunday December 12

    The Athens Prefecture responded positively to a request by the Athens Commercial Society for shops to remain open on Sunday December 12, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

    The Prefectural Council's decision, that was taken with a majority vote, clarifies that the measure will be applied only on Sunday December 12, 2010, with the full implementation of labour legislation regarding the rights of employees who will be working on that day.

    [25] Seamen to extend their strike until Sunday

    Greek seamen on Thursday decided to extend a strike that has paralysed ferry services to the Greek islands until Sunday, the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) announced.

    The union, which has been on strike since Tuesday, decided to hold another 48-hour strike starting at 18:00 on Friday and ending at 18:00 on Sunday.

    The extended strike is expected to cause major problems for Greek islands that are currently cut off from the mainland, while there are already strong protests from farmers on Crete that are unable to dispatch their goods.

    The PNO is pushing for the signature of collective labour agreements for its members working on ferries and freighters in the Mediterranean and Greek seas.

    [26] Stocks on 5-day slide

    Stocks continued moving lower for the fifth consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday. The composite index of the market eased 0.70 pct to end at 1,440,64 points, with turnover a low 64.941 million euros. The Big Cap index eased 1.01 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.38 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 1.63 pct. MIG (1.75 pct), OTE (1.35 pct) and Piraeus Bank (0.66 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while ATEbank (5.48 pct) and National Bank (3.92 pct) were top losers.

    The Chemicals (2.14 pct) and Telecommunications (1.35 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains, while Insurance (6.51 pct) and Media (3.05 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 103 to 55 with another 51 issues unchanged. Altec (20 pct), Iktinos (13.16 pct) and Vell Group (10.0 pct) were top gainers, while Koumbas (16.67 pct), Imperio (10.71 pct) and Shelman (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -6.51%

    Industrials: -1.47%

    Commercial: -2.89%

    Construction: -1.54%

    Media: -3.05%

    Oil & Gas: -0.29%

    Personal & Household: -1.75%

    Raw Materials: -1.50%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.38%

    Technology: +0.23%

    Telecoms: +1.35%

    Banks: -1.77%

    Food & Beverages: -0.08%

    Health: -1.85%

    Utilities: -0.76%

    Chemicals: +2.14%

    Financial Services: +0.97%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.50

    ATEbank: 0.69

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.40

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.40

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.57

    National Bank of Greece: 6.37

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.98

    OPAP: 12.41

    OTE: 6.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.05

    Titan: 14.87

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.74 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 22.583 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,439 contracts worth 14.905 million euros, with 35,640 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,798 contracts worth 7.678 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,099), followed by Eurobank (629), MIG (1,893), OTE (783), Piraeus Bank (5,122), Alpha Bank (555) and ATEbank (222).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.342

    Pound sterling 0.853

    Danish kroner 7.515

    Swedish kroner 9.344

    Japanese yen 112.24

    Swiss franc 1.343

    Norwegian kroner 8.192

    Canadian dollar 1.356

    Australian dollar 1.370

    General News

    [29] Parliament on cracking down violence against women

    The International Day on cracking down on violence against women was honoured on Thursday by Parliament which held a special Plenum session.

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos spoke of one of the biggest problems of our times and stressed that victims of violence are women all over the world, women of every educational and financial level. "The balance of course leans negatively towards the sensitive groups, such as those of women immigrants and of financially impoverished women," he said.

    Petsalnikos said that "the constructive unification of our forces is necessary, the sensitisation of all society and our solidarity towards the problem," stressing that the Greek Parliament supports this year's campaign by the Interparliamentary Union for November 25 that aims at the building of partnership relations on combatting violence against women.

    [30] Archbishop to undergo surgery to remove kidney stone

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos is expected to be admitted into hospital late on Thursday in order to undergo a surgery to remove a kidney stone from his bladder.

    According to Athens Archiodecese the surgery was scheduled and the Archbishop is expected to leave from hospital in the weekend.

    [31] Former Minister Papadopoulos in hospital

    A former minister under previous PASOK goverments, Alekos Papadopoulos was admitted to NIMITS Hospital in Athens after suffering a mild stroke. Papadopoulos was still being treated in hospital on Thursday but was out of danger.

    [32] Hunter fatally shot in NW Greece

    A 36-year-old man was killed on Wednesday during a boar hunt in Grevena prefecture of northwestern Greece.

    The victim, part of a group of 14 hunters, was fatally shot by a 56-year-old fellow hunter and friend. The latter man was detained at the scene after police arrived.

    [33] Two arrested for repeatedly stealing outboard boat motors

    Two men, aged 25 and 39, were arrested charged with 47 counts of theft committed between July and October 2010 related to the eyebrow-raising theft of outboard motors they from six leisure boat dealerships and a local marina in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, police announced on Thursday. The total value of the stolen loot is roughly 100,000 euros.

    [34] Police: Man who rushed onto field during Barcelona match an Iraqi asylum seeker

    A 26-year-old Iraqi was identified on Thursday as the man who rushed onto the pitch of a Panathinaikos FC-Barcelona FC football game on Wednesday evening at the Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA), a match for the Champions League.

    The man was detained by stadium security staff and turned over to police, but not before he was shown making an indecent gesture towards Barcelona and Argentine national team superstar Lionel Messi.

    Police said the man retains a temporary residence card and has submitted a request for political asylum.

    Panathinaikos was soundly defeated by Barcelona 3-0 before nearly 70,000 fans.

    [35] Arrests for cable theft in N. Greece

    Three Bulgarian nationals, a 29-year-old and two 22-year-olds, were arrested for cable theft on a Hellenic Rail(OSE) line in northern Greece, Sidirokastro police in the northern prefecture of Serres announced on Thursday.

    A total of 500 meters of cable and special tools were found in their possession and seized.

    Weather Forecast

    [36] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 23C. Local showers in Athens, with southerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 16C.

    [37] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Developments in main opposition New Democracy (ND) after a MP left the party, government promises to accelerate reforms, the issue of civil servants' transfers and the mergers of numerous state-run and loss-making enterprises and the course of the economy in Greece and Europe mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Express transfers of 25,000 civil servants and 12,000 lay-offs in public sector".

    AVGHI: "Not a single euro for growth".

    AVRIANI: "People disgusted by the new apostasy (referring to a handful of ND deputies leaving the party)".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Another four detention centres for illegal migrants to be established".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Employers, bankers and businesspeople hiding behind troika".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Clear explanations"

    ESTIA: "Unbelievable chaos prevails in public sector".

    ETHNOS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou furious with ministers".

    IMERISSIA: "Growth measures now, otherwise we sink".

    KATHIMERINI: "Fear of domino in eurozone".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Effort to start development".

    LOGOS: "79 state-run agencies will shut down".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Local administration merger plan a guillotine for working class families".

    TA NEA: "Closed professions- How they'll open, what will be abolished".

    TO VIMA: "Additional 2 percent contribution".

    VRADYNI: "Criminals killing for a few euros".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [38] Government comments on UNSG's report on Cyprus

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The government of Cyprus considers as positive the fact that the UNSG's report on Cyprus reaffirms the basis of the solution of the Cyprus problem, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Thursday.

    Commenting on the report of the UN Secretary General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, Stephanou said that the report covers the efforts undertaken for a solution of the Cyprus problem from 2008 until today, adding that the government will examine it thoroughly and act accordingly.

    In statements to the press, the government spokesman said that the report refers to the basis for the solution of the Cyprus problem, which is a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as outlined in the relevant UNSC resolutions and provides for one state with one and single sovereignty, one citizenship and one international personality.

    He added that another positive element in the UNSG's report is the reference on the UN resolutions on Cyprus, including resolution 186 (1964) and the two joint communique issued by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, 23 of May and 1 of July 2008.

    The UNSG's report, he added, reaffirms the framework of the procedure followed at the Cyprus talks, which is of Cypriot ownership and that those negotiations aim at the achievement of a mutually agreed solution, which will be subject of approval by the two Cypriot communities in two simultaneous and separate referenda.

    Underlining that this procedure excludes any strict timeframes and arbitration, Stephanou noted that the report says that the negotiations are based on the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

    The spokesman said that in his report, the UNSG adopts the logic of linking some negotiating chapters including the chapter on territory. He recalled that the Greek Cypriot side had proposed a discussion linking the chapter of properties with the chapters of territory and settlers, in order to speed up and facilitate the process.

    Furthermore, Stephanou said that the report includes some "problematic references regarding the role of political leaders and the media in the creation of a political climate that could support the efforts to reach a solution".

    Stephanou said that the UNSG's references should make all think about the wording used publicly in the domestic front, the messages they send abroad.

    He expressed the view that the UNSG's report should have avoided those references, adding that at the same time, the UNSG's representatives should avoid public statements, which trigger other statements and references, thus resulting to a vicious cycle.

    Moreover, he expressed conviction that if the Turkish side becomes more constructive and flexible and begins to move within the UN framework, then a strong impetus could be given to the Cyprus negotiations.

    Replying to questions regarding the Geneva meeting, that will take place in January between the UNSG and the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, he said that in the light of that meeting, the Greek Cypriot side will continue to work intensively and constructively in an effort to achieve progress and reach new convergence.

    "We will continue to work with self confidence on the basis of the principles for a solution as outlined in the UN resolutions on Cyprus, the principles of international and European law and the High Level Agreements 1977 and 1979."

    The Cyprus talks between the two communities in Cyprus, under UN auspices, began in September 2008 with a view to find a negotiated settlement to reunite the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    [39] UN SG proposes strict recommendations to community leaders in Cyprus

    UNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The report of the UN Secretary General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus provides strict recommendations to the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, as regards the future of the peace process on the island. The report was given to the members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, and on Friday it will be published.

    The UN Secretary General, even though he avoids writing down analytically the convergences the two sides reached in the negotiations, provides a description on the current phase of the negotiations.

    Ban Ki-moon notes that the process so far has been characterized by periods of sluggish activity together with some flashes on dynamism ahead of important events. "It is my concern that the political environment in the second quarter of 2011 will likely not be conducive to constructive negotiations. Parliamentary elections in the south are scheduled for May, while elections will be held in Turkey in June. In any society, intense political moments such as elections are rarely a time for compromises or flexibility. If substantive agreement across all chapters cannot be concluded ahead of the election cycle, the talks may go into abeyance and there is a serious risk that the negotiations could founder fatally."

    Ban announces his intention to conduct a broader assessment of the UN presence in Cyprus, in the coming months, with a view to recommend ways to adjust to ongoing developments.

    In relation with his meeting with the two leaders in Geneva on January 2011, Ban stresses that at this time, "the leaders should be fully prepared with a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement. I ask them to dedicate significant efforts to meeting this goal".

    Ban acknowledges that the question of property is arguably the most complex of the issues under negotiation and recognize the efforts made by both sides to date to tackle the issue in a serious manner.

    The UN SG notes that the Greek Cypriots hold, as a matter of principle, that the Greek Cypriots with property in the north should be able to choose between exchange, compensation or reinstatement.

    This is unacceptable to the Turkish Cypriots who say that 70 to 80 per cent of the property in the north is owned by Greek Cypriots and if all Greek Cypriot property owners were to be allowed reinstatement it would be impossible for the Turkish Cypriots to secure bizonality.

    The Turkish Cypriots request a ceiling on the number of Greek Cypriots who can have their properties reinstated. For the Greek Cypriots this is unacceptable. For the time being these two positions are irreconcilable, he adds.

    The SG makes it clear that to negotiate successfully a bizonal, bicommunal federation, the two leaders will have to reconcile these and other seemingly irreconcilable issues across all six chapters.

    "These include the issue of territory, as the Greek Cypriots have made it clear that it will be impossible for them to move forward without linking property discussions to the territory chapter. The Turkish Cypriots recently have said that territory is an issue they will only discuss in a multilateral conference, including the two parties to the talks and the guarantor powers. On the Treaty of Guarantee, the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey insist that the Treaty remain while the Greek Cypriots want it terminated", he notes.

    The report is divided into six chapters. The introduction describes the UN presence and efforts in Cyprus. "The Cyprus problem has been on the agenda of the Security Council for close to 47 years. The Secretary-General was first asked to use his good offices to seek out a durable solution in Cyprus in March 1964 (Security Council resolution 186 (1964). Since then successive Secretaries-General and their Special Advisors have undertaken efforts to assist the two sides to achieve a comprehensive settlement, including the intense yet unsuccessful efforts between 1999 and 2004", he says.

    The SG gives, in the second chapter of the report, the background of the process, noting that "the current round of negotiations was initiated following the agreement of 21 March 2008 between the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Demetris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat."

    In the third chapter of the report, the SG describes the status of the process. Ban breaks down the talks into three specific stages: the preparatory period, the first stage of the negotiation process (up to the elections in the north); and the second and most current stage, involving a new Turkish Cypriot leader. "If we include the preparatory period as an integral part of the current negotiations, the talks have now been ongoing for just over two and a half years", he notes.

    In his observations, that constitutes the fourth chapter of the Report, Ban notes that a guiding principle of these negotiations is that they are both "Cypriot-led" and "Cypriotowned", something that has been strongly supported by the United Nations in its words and actions. As such, he continues, "both leaders must necessarily take responsibility for the course of the talks, for their success or their failure. No-one else can do this. Cypriot leadership means that it is the leaders who must propel the process forward and defend it against those who would seek to derail it".

    The UN Secretary General stresses the consequences of the public statements made by the two leaders and the political leaders about the process. "Throughout the process, political leaders, both in government and opposition have accused the other side of undermining the talks. Occasional outbursts by the leaders about each other have not contributed to building public confidence in the leadership and the peace process", he says.

    Ban notes that unfortunately, "the only detailed information that the public has been given of the negotiations is as a result of selective leaking of texts through media. Not surprisingly, polls show the public in general would like to be better informed about what is happening in the talks and able to have more input into the process".

    He adds that leaving citizens largely in the dark until a comprehensive solution is more fully at hand is to potentially face an unprepared and unreceptive public at the time of the referenda.

    "I have been very disappointed to see a steady stream of untruthful and highly negative remarks about the United Nations reflected in the media. This criticism and misinformation about the UN is most unfortunate. Efforts by opponents of a solution to undermine the UN's credibility directly undermine the process itself", he points out.

    In the fifth chapter, titled conclusion, Ban stresses that "now is the moment to dedicate all efforts to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion. Having stated their commitment to the shared goals of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, the leaders of Cyprus are expected to make good on their commitment to that outcome. I also urge all regional actors to contribute positively, wherever they can, to help bring these negotiations to a rapid and successful conclusion. The United Nations stands ready to maintain its enabling role of a Cypriot-led, Cypriot-owned process".

    At the same time, he points out that "the destiny of Cyprus is largely in the hands of the leaders of both communities. In the coming days and weeks, they will set the future course for the island and its citizens. It is their choice to make", he adds.

    In his recommendations that constitute the sixth chapter of the Report, Ban referred to his meeting with the leaders in January. At this time, the leaders should be fully prepared with a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement. I ask them to dedicate significant efforts to meeting this goal, he says.

    In addition, he urges both leaders to carefully consider interactionsn with the press and to focus messages on convergences and the way ahead.

    "While recognizing the confidential nature of the negotiations, I would encourage the leaders to step forward individually and jointly to deliver more constructive and harmonized messages", he says, and stresses that parliamentarians and political actors on both sides should more consistently demonstrate their support for the negotiation process by allowing the two leaders adequate space to negotiate a potential settlement in good faith.

    Finally, he says that the United Nations presence in Cyprus, comprising the Office of my Special Adviser, UNFICYP, UNDP and other UN agencies and programmes, has been operating in a distinct, yet coordinated and coherent manner to support the efforts of the two sides to find a comprehensive and durable settlement.

    "In the coming months, I plan to conduct a broader assessment of the United Nations presence in Cyprus, with a view to recommend ways to adjust to ongoing developments", Ban concludes in his report.

    The Cyprus talks between the two communities in Cyprus, under UN auspices, began in September 2008 with a view to find a negotiated settlement to reunite the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

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