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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-14

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

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

Tuesday, 14 December 2010 Issue No: 3669

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM discusses EU permanent support mechanism, enlargement, migration with visiting Hungarian counterpart
  • [02] Parliamentary committee begins discussion of omnibus bill on Monday
  • [03] PASOK MPs critical of omnibus bill on labour agreements
  • [04] ND to vote for 10 of 18 articles in omnibus bill on utilities, labour relations
  • [05] Cabinet council to discuss five bills on Tuesday
  • [06] Government again urges opposition parties to back reforms
  • [07] ND leader addresses dinner hosted by Chambers of Commerce
  • [08] Hellenic-Russian Society conference on Russia-Greece-Cyprus
  • [09] Deputy Energy minister on Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline
  • [10] Cooperation agreements with FRONTEX, France ratified
  • [11] President receives LAOS leader
  • [12] Government on protests over Keratea landfill
  • [13] Strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday set to paralyse Greece
  • [14] Unrest in Athens public transport sector
  • [15] Aegean Airlines Wednesday flights cancelled - Tuesday's rescheduled
  • [16] Health sector to observe Wednesday's nationwide 24-hour strike
  • [17] Economic and Social Committee meets Chinese delegation
  • [18] Infrastructure minister meets Japanese ambassador
  • [19] Contract on sea cruises to be signed on Tuesday
  • [20] ESEE predicts major decline in retail market turnover
  • [21] Two out of five Greeks on verge of poverty, Eurostat says
  • [22] Remittances sent to Greece by Greeks abroad on the rise in 2009
  • [23] Louis Cruises receives passenger line of the year award
  • [24] Bourse ends 0.46 pct lower on Monday
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [28] 'A World of Votive Offerings' on display at the HAU
  • [29] Greek-Turkish disaster rescue units hold first meeting in Athens
  • [30] Female migrant smuggler arrested in northwest Greece
  • [31] Drug arrest in northwest Greece
  • [32] Cloudy on Tuesday
  • [33] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM discusses EU permanent support mechanism, enlargement, migration with visiting Hungarian counterpart

    Prime minister George Papandreou met on Monday with his visiting Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban, for talks that included a permanent EU support mechanism, EU enlargement and migration issues.

    In joint statements to the press afterwards, Papandreou said they had the opportunity to discuss a permanent EU support mechanism "which in recent months, and due to the crisis in Greece and not only, in the eurozone, has become a central issue for the course of Europe, the European economy and the eurozone".

    Papandreou also noted that the matter of revision of the Lisbon Treaty will be discussed on Thursday and Friday (EU summit), adding that the Hungarian EU presidency will have the responsibility of moving the process forward at European level in the coming months.

    The Greek premier further expressed the country's unconditional support for Hungary, which assumes the EU presidency in the first half of 2011, on the targets it has set out for the EU, "in this big family which can and has so much to do".

    Orban pointed out the difficulties faced by the Greek and Hungarian economies, noting "we realise that a different mix of economic and political decisions is needed for each country, otherwise we cannot succeed", and wishing Greece that it will be able to take control of the situation and once again become one of the more successful European countries.

    The Hungarian premier said that a revision of the Lisbon Treaty is needed, but agreed with Papandreou that it should be a limited revision.

    Orban further said that Greece has a special place in the hearts of the Hungarian people because "it is the origin of European civilisation", adding that "without Greece, Europe cannot have stability".

    Papandreou said that the accession course of the Balkan countries is a priority for the EU, and definitely for Greece and Hungary.

    The premier said that he and Orban, in the context of the discussion on EU enlargement, also discussed Turkey's accession course "which we both support, under the required prerequisites".

    The two prime ministers further discussed the Cyprus issue, ahead of Orban's meeting with Cyprus president Demetris Christofias.

    Papandreou also said that they discussed Greece's backing for Bulgaria's and Romania's accession to the Schengen area.

    "Enlargement is very important for us. It is a reunification of Europe, and that is why the Balkans are important," Orban said, noting that the Hungarian EU presidency hopes to conclude the negotiations for Croatia, which will enhance the European prospect of the other Balkan countries.

    Another topic of discussion was migration within the EU borders, on which Papandreou stressed the need for a "systematic European policy".

    He also noted that another matter discussed was that of the Roma, on which he and Orban agreed should be a central issue during the Hungarian presidency.

    "We need to see how those communities may feel that they are incorporated with all the proper educational, social and financial services, functionally," Papandreou said.

    "One target of the Hungarian presidency will be to expand the European strategy for the Roma," Orban said in turn.

    The Hungarian prime minister also expressed the desire to visit Greece again in the spring.

    Papandreou later met with the general secretary of the French presidency Claude Gueant, but no statements were made after the meeting.

    [02] Parliamentary committee begins discussion of omnibus bill on Monday

    Discussion of the omnibus bill tabled by the government last week containing changes to labor relations, cuts in DEKO (public utilities and organisations) salaries and taxation changes opens at noon Monday in parliament's standing Committee on Economic Affairs, under "urgent" procedures.

    The draft law, which was tabled on Thursday amid a flurry of protests, will be voted on by the parliament plenary on Tuesday.

    Prime minister George Papandreou will hold separate meetings on Tuesday with the political party leaders to discuss the upcoming EU summit, at his own initiative.

    Papandreou will meet consecutively with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis. The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance has turned down the prime minister's invitation.

    [03] PASOK MPs critical of omnibus bill on labour agreements

    Ruling PASOK MPs in the finance and labour section of PASOK's Parliamentary group on Monday expressed strong criticism of the government's omnibus bill for reforming private-sector labour relations, wage cuts in public utilities and further tax hikes.

    In a joint session with Finance Minister George Papacon-stantinou and Labour Minister Louka Katseli, during which the two ministers presented the draft bill, ruling party MPs disagreed on several measures introduced by the bill and especially with the decision to table the bill as urgent, so that there could be minimal debate on the issues.

    They also questioned whether the decision to table the bill as urgent might not make it harder for the prime minister to achieve consensus with the leaders of the opposition parties.

    [04] ND to vote for 10 of 18 articles in omnibus bill on utilities, labour relations

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) on Monday said that it will vote for 10 out of 18 articles in the government's omnibus bill on labour relations and reforming state utilities, while voting against the bill in principle during the first reading on Tuesday in Parliament.

    ND press spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said that ND, "will support isolated provisions that are in the right direction, but will also demand the withdrawal or amendment of other regulations which, instead of promoting the recovery and growth of the economy, instead sink it into shrinkage and recession".

    ND, he added, criticises the government both for the content of the omnibus bill and for tabling such crucial legislation using "urgent procedures", which allows the main opposition party only 11 minutes to present its position during the parliamentary debate of the bill ahead of its voting.

    According ND Parliamentary rapporteur Yiannis Vroutsis, the main opposition intends to back articles for reforming state utility companies and enterprises on provision that this is extended to the bourse-listed companies as well. It intends to vote against the measures concerning collective labour agreements and increasing VAT, however.

    He also criticised the government for tabling such important and controversial legislation as urgent, accusing it of abusing democratic principles.

    ND is also against a measure that will write off some 24 billion euro in uncollected taxes on the grounds that it is impossible to collect.

    [05] Cabinet council to discuss five bills on Tuesday

    The cabinet council will be convening on Tuesday and will focus on five bills, including the restructuring of Attica region urban transport, as well as the draft law on structural changes in the health system.

    The session will follow contacts that Prime Minister George Papandreou will be having with party leaders at the Maximos Mansion and which will be starting in the morning.

    [06] Government again urges opposition parties to back reforms

    Government spokesman George Petalotis on Monday issued a call to Greece's opposition parties and political forces to "rise to the occasion and accept their historic responsibility" by supporting the government's efforts to reform the country.

    He stressed that changes the problematic structures of the past was a "question of being responsible and saving the country".

    "We are waging a battle in which no one is unneeded but instead the entire political world is daily judged for its determination or timidity, its decisiveness or its absence of argument, its sincere or opportunistic intent for the country's progress," Petalotis added.

    The spokesman said that Greece would be attending the crucial EU summit in Brussels, where the future structures of the EU would be decided, "armed" with the Greek people's willingness for progressive change and the speediest possible exit from the crisis.

    He noted that Greece was showing great dedication to meeting the targets of the Memorandum and that this made Athens stronger on a diplomatic level.

    In response to questions, Petalotis said the government was prepared to consider opposition party proposals during the prime minister's meetings on Tuesday with the political party leaders, provided they were compatible with the final goal, which was to overcome the crisis.

    Commenting on the refusal of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras to attend the meeting with the prime minister, Petalotis noted that Tsipras would be judged based on his response.

    "We always address an open invitation for consensus and chiefly for discussion. Everyone can come to this with their views and every dialogue has its benefits," he added.

    He denied that there was an issue of party discipline over the government's omnibus bill, noting that the government favoured consensus and that PASOK MPs were aware of the need for changes.

    "Society is for the big changes in public utilities," he added, noting that the huge wages in state organisations could not be tolerated when the public sector was trying to rein in wasteful spending.

    Meanwhile, the spokesman strenuously denied and condemned a report in the newspaper "Demokratia" claiming that Petalotis' own associates were receiving wage packets of 6,500 euro a month, accusing it of sensationalism and libel.

    According to Petalotis, the paper had actually taken the budget for the running costs of his entire office - including equipment, travel, over-time, legal fees and phone bills - and divided this by the number of staff working there to arrive at that sum. He also emphasised that the amount concerned the budget and not spending that had actually been carried out.

    The actual wages paid to his staff ranged between 900 euro and 1280 euro, he added.

    [07] ND leader addresses dinner hosted by Chambers of Commerce

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Monday addressed a dinner hosted at a hotel in Thessaloniki by five bilateral Chambers of Commerce (Hellenic-American, Hellenic-German, Hellenic-British, Hellenic-French and Hellenic-Italian), stressing that he will offer consensus for recovery if it is requested of him, but he will not provide consensus for measures leading to further decline.

    "If consensus is requested of me for recovery, I will offer it. I speak of recovery that will be felt in the market immediately, not of half measures. Recovery. Nothing less," Samaras said.

    "There is a way for us to exit from the vicious circles, there is hope, but with a different policy: With immediate recovery, not with decline. With longterm and viable growth, not with subsidence. Whoever wants to discuss with us how we shall achieve the immediate recovery, we are here and we shall help more than even the most optimistic hopes. But if they want us to agree to measures that lead to further decline, no. We shall not give such consensus to the deadlocks and suffocation. Let them seek consensus for suffocation elsewhere, not from us," the ND leader added.

    He also noted that the "alliance of the willing" is becoming all the more smaller, all the less an "alliance" from less and less "willing."

    Samaras further said that "even those who initially supported the memorandum, without knowing very much what they were voting for at the time, are now beginning to awaken. Both within and outside the government..."

    Before his address, Samaras held a meeting with representatives of Thessaloniki's production classes, listening to their problems and accepting proposals regarding their demands.

    [08] Hellenic-Russian Society conference on Russia-Greece-Cyprus

    The future prospects in relations shared by Russia, Greece and Cyprus were underlined in the Hellenic-Russian Society Conference on "Russia-Greece-Cyprus: Political Economic and Cultural Partnerships, Present and Future" held on Monday under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry.

    The importance of the materialization of the South Stream pipeline and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline in the current difficult conjuncture was highlighted in a message by Republic President Karolos Papoulias read in the opening of the conference.

    President Papoulias' message referred to the close relations shared by the two peoples reflected in their centuries-old ties.

    "Bilateral relations are founded on true friendship and mutual trust," he said, underlining "the rich Greek and Russian cultural heritage, the common struggles undertaken and the steadfast support of the Russian people to the efforts for a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem."

    Speaking in the conference, government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos stated that Greece's relations with Russia are of major and strategic importance and referred to tourism, stressing that in a period of crisis, tourist arrivals from Russia increased 50 pct, predicting a further increase in the coming year.

    He criticized Bulgaria as regards the issue of the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, stressing that it is a project of major importance for the Greek government.

    Referring to the stance adopted by the Bulgarian government, he said that implementing the project appears to be difficult. He maintained that pressures are being exerted by oil companies trying to block the construction of the oil pipeline adding, however, that the dead end is not insurmountable. "The Bulgarian leadership should realize that it is against the interest of the Bulgarian people to adopt a policy that isolates the country," he stressed.

    On behalf of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, the conference was addressed by Hellenic-Russian Society 2nd vice-president MP Simos Kedikoglou, who stressed that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is an environmentally-friendly project contributing to a reduction in oil-tanker traffic in the Dardanelles Strait, underlining that this argument should be taken under serious consideration.

    The conference was addressed representatives of the opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parties, the ambassadors of Russia and Cyprus to Athens, a Russian Duma representative and other Russian officials.

    According to Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis, meanwhile, Greece could well become the top European destinations for Russian tourists in the next two years, following Greek initiatives to hasten the issue of visas to visiting Russians and policies to attract Russian tourists to Greece.

    [09] Deputy Energy minister on Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline

    Deputy Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis addressed a message to the Bulgarian govern-ment on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline from the podium of the Greek-Russian conference in Athens on Monday.

    Maniatis noted that Greece, one of the two member-states of the European Union participating in the project, has approved the preliminary environmental study based on all the strict European specifications and is in the assessment process for the final study.

    "Bulgaria's concern for the environmental repercussions of the project are known. However, the pipeline constitutes the most important international intervention to decrease the risks of an accident with tankers in the Dardanelles," Maniatis said.

    Regarding the "South Stream" natural gas pipeline that will carry natural gas through Bulgaria and Greece to Italy and will serve needs of the Greek market as well, Maniatis said that the project budgeted at 750 million euros is anticipated to be completed in 2015.

    [10] Cooperation agreements with FRONTEX, France ratified

    The relevant Parliamentary committee on Monday approved the Citizen Protection ministry's bills on the ratification of Greece's agreements with FRONTEX and the French government.

    The first agreement concerns the hosting of FRONTEX's operational office in Piraeus and the second cooperation between the governments of Greece and France on internal security issues.

    The ruling PASOK, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) parties expressed support for the two agreements, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) voted against them.

    [11] President receives LAOS leader

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    The LAOS leader said afterwards that "we are making an effort, in a period that adds worries, multiplies problems, deprives us of opportunities and divides our courage", and spoke of a "barometric low".

    [12] Government on protests over Keratea landfill

    Government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Monday that the plans to create a landfill in Keratea were part of a general regional waste management plan for Attica that was legal and had been accepted by the Council of State.

    The spokesman was commenting on violent clashes between police and Keratea residents protesting against the planned landfill over the weekend.

    Petalotis stressed that Greece was obliged to have its own waste management network by the European Union and was currently having to huge fines for illegal and dangerously polluting dumps that were spread around the country, which were each costing the government 200,000 euro a day.

    He also pointed out that there were currently three such illegal dumps within Keratea itself, one of which had caught fire and was burning for three months in 2007.

    The spokesman stressed that the planned landfill would bring Greece in line with EU requirements and those of protecting the environment, greatly benefit Attica's entire population of five million people. He also stressed that, if work on the landfill had not begun, Greece would have lost EU funding available for the project.

    Financial News

    [13] Strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday set to paralyse Greece

    Work stoppages and strikes looked set to bring the country to a virtual standstill on Tuesday and Wednesday as more and more trade unions announced their intention to participate in labour action announced by the large umbrella trade union groups in Greece, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY.

    The two union federations, which between them represent the majority of the Greek workforce, have called strikes and rallies to protest against the government plans to abolish labour entitlements, beginning with a three-hour work stoppage throughout Attica on Tuesday between 12:00 and 15:00 and a rally at Syntagma Square opposite Parliament at 13:00 the same day.

    Action will escalate with a 24-hour general strike on Wednesday, which will also coincide with a nationwide media strike, and a rally on the same day at 11:00 at Pedio tou Areos in central Athens.

    Hundreds of flights into and out of Athens international airport will be cancelled, as air-traffic controllers have decided to join Wednesday's strike, which will also affect hospitals and health services, public services, banks, all forms of public transport, including ferries and taxis, pharmacies, public utilities, courts and the media.

    Commuters using public transport will have to work around a 24-hour strike on Tuesday, a half-day strike on Wednesday when buses and trains will operate on a shorter time-table in order to allow strikers to travel to the rally in central Athens and possibly a further 24-hour strike on Thursday.

    Public transport staff are striking in protest against government plans to cut their pay and extensive staff transfers between the public transport networks. Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) trains will also not be running on Tuesday after the individual OSE unions declared three-hour work stoppages at different hours that cover almost the entire day.

    On Wednesday, Athens buses and trolleys will be on the streets between 9:00 in the morning and 9:00 at night while the metro and electric railways will run between 10:00 a.m. and 18:00 p.m. OSE and Proastiako trains will not be running at all on Wednesday, while taxi drivers will hold a four-hour work stoppage between 10:00 a.m. and 14:00 p.m.

    Public transport staff are also gearing up for a second 24-hour strike on Thursday, when they will also be joined by OSE and Proastiakos train staff that have already decided to strike.

    The OTOE bank workers' union has announced plans to join strike action decided by GSEE and ADEDY on Tuesday and Wednesday, as have workers at the Hellenic Telecommu-nications Organisation (OTE) telecoms utility and staff in Greek courts. Pharmacists and journalists will participate in the 24-hour strike on Wednesday.

    The seamen's union PNO has announced a 24-hour strike on Wednesday for all categories of ships, its 21st strike during the current year, prompting an angry reaction from ferry boat operators that accused the union "of exceeding all limits for tolerance and understanding". The association of Greek dock workers, meanwhile, extended a Tuesday work stoppage between noon and 15:00 p.m. to all ports and harbours throughout the country and will hold a 24-hour nationwide strike on Wednesday.

    [14] Unrest in Athens public transport sector

    Employees of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) occupied the Organisation's mansion in Karolou street in Athens on Monday afternoon, while chaos was reported in streets around the building.

    Other employees have blocked the ETHEL (Athens public bus transports) company's three big garages in the districts of Elliniko, Anthousa and Rouf and were not allowing buses out to carry out scheduled routes.

    According to reports, a similar situation was being observed at trolley garages as well.

    However, fixed route means were operating as normal so far.

    Employees are protesting the government's plans for changes governing the organising sector for public transport, as well as changes in labour relations that will take place with a bill to be ratified in Parliament on Tuesday with an urgent process.

    [15] Aegean Airlines Wednesday flights cancelled - Tuesday's rescheduled

    Aegean Airlines flights will not be carried out on Wednesday 15 December, as air traffic controllers and Civil Aviation employees will be participating in a 24-hour strike declared by the the two major umbrella trade federations GSEE and ADEDY.

    Moreover, Aegean Airlines announced that flight departure hours for Tuesday 14 December have been rescheduled and specifically the flights: Athens-Thessaloniki, Athens-Milan and Athens-Tel Aviv and back. Passengers should contact the airline for more information.

    [16] Health sector to observe Wednesday's nationwide 24-hour strike

    All public hospitals in Greece will operate with skeleton staff on Wednesday, the day of a nationwide 24-hour strike called by the two umbrella trade unions in the public and private sectors, ADEDY and GSEE.

    Following a decision by the hospital doctors' federation OENGE, its members will strike demanding "dignified working conditions and better salaries".

    The hospital staff federation POEDHN will also participate in the nationwide strike demanding recognition of hazardous vocation status and more hirings.

    There will also be a skeleton staff at Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) clinics on Monday after a decision by the doctors to observe 48-hour strikes on Dec. 13-14 and on Dec. 16-17. IKA personnel will participate in the Dec. 15 strike called by ADEDY and GSEE.

    The Dentists' Federation called on its roughly 14,500 members to participate in Wednesday's strike "protesting against the complete absence of social state and the new tax collecting measures".

    [17] Economic and Social Committee meets Chinese delegation

    Greece's Economic and Social Committee (ESC) on Monday held a meeting with a delegation from its Chinese counterpart led by Xing Yuanmin, Deputy Secretary of Tianjin Municipal CPC Committee, Chairman of the Municipal Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The Greek government was represented by Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries ministry general secretary George Vlachos.

    According to an announcement, the two sides discussed changes that must take place in Greece and the crucial role of the social partners in this process. ESC chairman Christos Polyzogopoulos highlighted the necessity of closer cooperation with China as a means of exiting the crisis.

    Xing invited the Greek ESC to send a delegation of trade unionists and business people to China in 2011 to explore ways of attracting potential investments, promising to facilitate such contacts.

    [18] Infrastructure minister meets Japanese ambassador

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas on Monday had a meeting with Japanese Ambassador in Athens Hiroshi Toda.

    Reppas briefed the ambassador on the programme to restructure the Greek railways organisation and Toda outlined Japan's experiences following the privatisation of its own railways. They also discussed more environmentally-friendly modes of transport as an alternative to private cars.

    [19] Contract on sea cruises to be signed on Tuesday

    A joint ministerial decision that defines the necessary supporting documents and the content of the contract for sea cruises performed by ships under non-community flags originating in Greek ports will be signed on Tuesday by Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis and Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Gerou-lanos.

    The goal of the joint ministerial decision is to provide incentives to sea cruise companies to operate in Greek ports.

    [20] ESEE predicts major decline in retail market turnover

    This year's retail market turnover will be down 3 billion euros as a result of consumers' income reduction, the large numbers of jobless and the increases in indirect and special taxes in the fourth quarter of 2010, the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) announced on Monday.

    The consumers are called to support the Greek market in the Christmas holiday season as forecasts for the domestic market are ominous foreseeing a plummeting turnover, ESEE underlined.

    Business turnover in the Christmas holiday season corresponds to 20-25 pct of the annual turnover.

    [21] Two out of five Greeks on verge of poverty, Eurostat says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    Two out of five Greeks are living on the verge of poverty, having already received social benefits from the state, while one out of 10 lacks resources to pay his way, according to data by Eurostat for 2008 publicised here on Monday.

    According to Eurostat, the people on the verge of poverty are those living in households with an income below 60 percent of the average national income. In the European Union of the "27", 16.5 percent of citizens (81 million people) lived on the verge of poverty (having received social benefits).

    Greece is the fourth country in the EU with the highest percentage of people living on the verge of poverty. Latvia is first (25.6 percent), followed by Romania (23.4 percent), Bulgaria (21.4 percent) and Greece (20.1 percent or 2.2 million citizens).

    The lowest percentages are recorded in the Czech Republic (9 percent), Holland and Slovakia (11 percent).

    Moreover, 11.2 percent of Greece's population (1.2 million citizens), face serious difficulties in paying the rent for their home, heating, receiving a meal with meat or fish three times a week and meeting unexpected expenses etc.

    [22] Remittances sent to Greece by Greeks abroad on the rise in 2009

    Remittances sent to Greece by Greeks living and working abroad increased to 908 million euros in 2009 from 891 million euros in 2008, according to Eurostat.

    Roughly 125 million euros came from Greeks living and working in other EU member-states, while 783 million were sent by Greeks living in third countries, whereas in 2008, approximately 127 million euros came from EU member-states and 764 million euros from third countries.

    In general, workers' remittances in the EU namely, money sent by migrants to their country of origin, fell 7 pct in 2009 to 30.2 billion euros from 32.6 billion euros in 2008. The decline is the result of the economic crisis which has interrupted the upward trend recorded in recent years, Eurostat said.

    [23] Louis Cruises receives passenger line of the year award

    The Passenger Line of the Year Award was received by Louis Cruises in the 2010 Lloyd's List Greek Shipping Awards ceremony in Athens, recognized as the best in the Greek shipping industry.

    Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis attended the ceremony held last Friday in the presence of leading political, business and shipping sector personalities.

    [24] Bourse ends 0.46 pct lower on Monday

    Stocks ended slightly lower on the Athens bourse on Monday, after a day of jittery trade within a narrow range of just 16 points. The General Share Price Index closed 0.46 percent lower at 1,499.39 points, with turnover at 87.96 million euro.

    The Big Cap index dropped 0.84 pct, the Mid Cap index was down 0.34 pct and the Small Cap index dropped by 1.85 pct.

    The biggest gains during the session were posted by the Travel index (1.61 pct), Foodstuffs (1.45 pct) and Utilities (1.34 pct) while the biggest losses were in Health (-4.00 pct) and Media (-3.01 pct) and Chemicals (-2.93 pct).

    Broadly, advancers trailed decliners by 52 to 108 with another 41 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.98%

    Industrials: -0.88%

    Commercial: -0.20%

    Construction: -0.50%

    Media: -3.01%

    Oil & Gas: -0.35%

    Personal & Household: +0.25%

    Raw Materials: -2.61%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.61%

    Technology: -1.00%

    Telecoms: +0.84%

    Banks: -2.23%

    Food & Beverages: +1.45%

    Health: -4.00%

    Utilities: +1.34%

    Chemicals: -2.93%

    Financial Services: -0.54%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.42

    ATEbank: 0.81

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.44

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.79

    National Bank of Greece: 6.82

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.22

    OPAP: 13.50

    OTE: 7.22

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.38

    Titan: 15.63

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bond fell on Monday to 827 basic points from 878 on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.73 pct and the German Bund 2.96 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 2 million euros, wholly sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.53 pct, the six-month rate was 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 0.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 93.097 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 22,484 contracts worth 79.929 million euros, with 34,096 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,446 contracts worth 13.168 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,117), followed by OTE (4,844), Piraeus Bank (1,950), Alpha Bank (1,854), Eurobank (1,620), MIG (1,473) and Hellenic Postbank (956).

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.337

    Pound sterling 0.850

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.219

    Japanese yen 112.44

    Swiss franc 1.309

    Norwegian kroner 7.989

    Canadian dollar 1.346

    Australian dollar 1.349

    General News

    [28] 'A World of Votive Offerings' on display at the HAU

    An exhibition with votive offerings from all over the world as well as depictions of present-day devotional practices and works of contemporary art inspired by votive offerings is currently on display at the Hellenic American Union (HAU) in downtown Athens.

    The HAU and the Hellenic Folklore Research Centre of the Academy of Athens present the exhibition "A World of Votive Offerings", which runs through December 22.

    Even today, the votive offering, which was found in religious ceremonies in many ancient civilizations, remains a widespread devotional practice, according to the organisers.

    The exhibition features votive offerings from all over the world as well as present-day dedicatory practices and works of contemporary art inspired by the votive offerings.

    The works on display come from Nikos Papageorgiou's collection of votive offerings, the Museum of the Hellenic Nobel Collection, the Jewish Museum of Greece, the Museum Kresow in Poland and the 21st Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities in Corfu.

    A show of works by Greek artists entitled Wishes and Miracles is being held parallel to the exhibition.The different artistic approaches to the theme transform the exhibition into an interesting aesthetic and thematic journey.

    Art historian Louisa Karapidaki curates the exhibition.

    [29] Greek-Turkish disaster rescue units hold first meeting in Athens

    The mixed Greek-Turkish natural disaster rescue unit, whose goal is to offer aid to victims of natural disasters, had its first meeting in Greece on Monday.

    The Turkish members of the team arriving to take part in common action coordination sessions with their Greek counterparts were welcomed by Deputy Citizens' Protection Minister Manolis Othonas.

    The two teams kicked off their cooperation under the auspices of the United Nations, which praised the effort as a unique example of trilateral cooperation to deal with natural disasters.

    Othonas noted that the "disaster diplomacy" initiated when the two countries came to each others aid during the twin earthquakes in Greece and Turkey in 1999 could lead to positive results in dealing with disasters in the Mediterranean, such as during the recent fires in Israel.

    [30] Female migrant smuggler arrested in northwest Greece

    A Georgian woman was arrested in the port of Igoumenitsa, northwest Greece, accused of being a member of a ring smuggling illegal migrants abroad, local police said on Monday.

    Authorities found four forged Romanian identity cards in her possession, intended for the use of four Iraqi nationals that were about to board a ferry to Italy.

    The female migrant smuggler and the illegal migrants were arrested and led before a prosecutor.

    [31] Drug arrest in northwest Greece

    A 42-year-old Albanian national was arrested in Plataria, Thesprotia Prefecture in northwest Greece, after police found162 kg of unprocessed cannabis in his car, local drug enforcement authorities said on Monday.

    The car had been spotted moving suspiciously in the port city of Igoumenitsa and was placed under surveillance. The drugs were found in the vehicle during a police search that took place when the suspect stopped the car to check into a hotel in the town of Plataria.

    Weather Forecast

    [32] Cloudy on Tuesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -8C and 17C. Periodically cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 1C to 12C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 5C.

    [33] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The opening of discussion in parliament of an omnibus bill containing changes to labor relations, cuts in DEKO (public utilities and organisations) salaries and taxation changes, and worker mobilisations, were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The entire Opposition takes battle positions..."

    AVRIANI: "The insurance companies' 'bubble' has snapped".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Golden salaries - 6,430 euros monthly each for six aides of the government spokesman".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Political fraud with the 'source of wealth' statements for purchase of first home".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Strike carols - 'Explosion' of worker mobilisations from today, continuing to after Christmas".

    ESTIA: "October 2011 a landmark date" for the economy.

    ETHNOS: "The changes to pensions in all the social security funds".

    IMERISSIA: "Salary reductions in 10 listed DEKO".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "New measures for (collection of) 12.8 billion euros in the 3-year period 2012-2014".

    TA NEA: "The provisions of the bill on primary healthcare in the ESY (National Health System) and IKA (state Social Security Foundation)".

    VRADYNI: "Auxiliary health benefits to be cut".

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