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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-15

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

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

Saturday, 15 January 2011 Issue No: 3695

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM-Papariga clash in parliament on foreign policy
  • [02] EU Commissioner urges Greek MPs to 'win back citizens' trust'
  • [03] Barnier: No possibility of Greece leaving eurozone
  • [04] Barnier briefed by Minister
  • [05] Samaras meets with visiting Commissioner
  • [06] Droutsas: Greece has never waived claim to German war reparations
  • [07] ND on gov't intervention regarding Distomo war reparations case
  • [08] Terror suspects identified, new finds
  • [09] Four terror suspects to prosecutor
  • [10] German woman, 27, arrested in ongoing urban terrorism probe
  • [11] Leftist party member charges police brutality
  • [12] ND relocating to new headquarters
  • [13] First 'political barometer' of the year
  • [14] Athens seminar focuses on closer Greek-Israeli relations
  • [15] Archbishop Ieronymos receives Israeli FM Lieberman in Athens
  • [16] 2000-2001 'swaps' case referring to ex-PM Simitis referred to Parliament
  • [17] Non-legal migrants in Greece flirting half million, ELIAMEP says
  • [18] Greek 2009 OSCE Presidency
  • [19] Commission begins consultation on Greek energy market
  • [20] Inflation in Greece the third highest in EU in Dec.
  • [21] Fitch cuts Greece's credit rating by one notch
  • [22] Greece to auction 500-mln-euro 3-month T-bills on Tues.
  • [23] State property exploitation discussed in Parliament
  • [24] Health minister's talks with pharmacists end in deadlock
  • [25] Authorities uncover price gouging scheme in medical supplies
  • [26] Metro employees suspend strikes
  • [27] Winter sales begin Saturday
  • [28] Stocks end week 3.96% up
  • [29] Greek bond yield up in Dec.
  • [30] Greek bond market closing report
  • [31] ADEX closing report
  • [32] 'Myrtis' moves to Thessaloniki
  • [33] Cloudy on Saturday
  • [34] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM-Papariga clash in parliament on foreign policy

    Prime minister George Papandreou and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga clashed in parliament on Friday over the government's policy vis-a-vis Turkey, with Papariga charging that the KKE has no confidence in the government's policy and the premier accusing her of slander.

    The clash came during a discussion, during the "Hour of the Prime Minister", of a current question tabled by Papariga, addressed to the premier, concerning his recent visit to Erzurum, Turkey and government policy on Greek-Turkish relations.

    Papandreou called the KKE leader a "common slanderer", accusing her of "adopting conspiracy theories and harmful speculation" and of "having become the best propagandist of the most extreme Kemalist general of the deep state in Turkey".

    He denied charges of secret diplomacy with Turkey, explaining that he believes in building a sincere relationship with the neighboring country.

    Papariga said that the KKE has no confidence in the foreign policy being followed by the PASOK government.

    [02] EU Commissioner urges Greek MPs to 'win back citizens' trust'

    European politicians have to win back their citizens' trust, European Commissioner for internal markets and services Michel Barnier told Greek MPs in the Greek Parliament on Friday. Barnier was speaking during a joint session of the Parliamentary committees for economic affairs, Production and Trade and European affairs.

    "You must not sacrifice the future for the present. You must explain to the citizens that the efforts they are making protect the future," he stressed.

    Barnier noted that there was discontent targeting Brussels among the general public but stressed that the answer lay in more Europe, not less, if European countries were to be protagonists and not spectators of events.

    "This is a vital necessity. Otherwise we will be sub-contractors under the influence of others and I do not want this for Greece or for France," he added.

    According to the Commissioner, the last 15 years had seen Europe adopt a system that was a "caricature of liberalism" and he stressed the need for transparency and greater regulation. He said he was determined to implement the G20 Road Map and ensure that no financial product was able to slip past the rules.

    Barnier pointed out that the Commission had set up three new supervising authorities in the last month that would act as a 'radar' for Europe's financial institutions.

    The Commissioner also spoke about the need for economic governance through the establishment of permanent tools that allowed prompt decisions.

    Barnier said the Commission had 50 proposals for the operation and growth of the EU's internal market, a market of 500 million consumers and 20 million businesses. He stressed that every citizen, every business and every speck of land was necessary for the growth of Europe and the operation of a "Social Market Economy".

    In reply to questions put by MPs, he said the proposal for a Eurobond was an "interesting idea" but urged Greek politicians to put more emphasis on the idea of project bonds. Concerning credit rating agencies, he said that there had to be improvements on issues of transparency, accountability and greater competition and said that the first decisions in this direction had already been taken.

    At the same time, he noted that "the thermometer is not responsible for the fever".

    About banks, he urged all sides to give credit to the European Central Bank for fulfilling its role so well and admitted that some banks had made mistakes. At the same time, he stressed that without banks there could be no funding.

    Finally, he noted that the economy had to take climate change into account.

    [03] Barnier: No possibility of Greece leaving eurozone

    "Greece is currently in a state of emergency, but has reasons to hope as there were prospects of a new growth. In difficult conditions, it has taken the right choice and makes hard efforts with meaning, while Greece also has to safeguard its role in the Eurozone," EU Commissioner for Single Market Affairs Michel Barnier underlined here on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference after completing a two-day visit to Athens, Barnier was adamant that he did not believe there was a possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone, and noted that such a question was not even update.

    "European states have shown their fraternity and markets must not underestimate this message" along the emphasis given by EU to "governance, supervision and coordination," the Commissioner said.

    Barnier praised Greece's "great determination" to integrating European legislation and stressed he was satisfied with the integration times although he stressed that greater attention should be shown towards "the quality of integration".

    Commenting over the possibility of consolidation in the Greek banking sector, Barnier said "the Commission is not offering instructions to all sectors", while he noted that "Greek banks were in a very good shape, particularly with their equity capitals. If they would proceed with restructuring or mergers, it would be their own decision".

    The French Commissioner noted that "Greece has real advantages - in agriculture, tourism and shipping - through an open type economy". He also praised the role of the Greek government in carrying out a very difficult task.

    [04] Barnier briefed by Minister

    The implementation of Directive 2006/123/EC on services in the internal market was among the issues under discussion on Friday during a meeting of Regional Development & Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis with visiting European Commissioner Michel Barnier.

    Chryssohoidis briefed the EU Commissioner that an action plan will soon be ready make Greece a more "enterprise-friendly country" through an improved business environment.

    They also agreed on joint actions by EU member-states, pointing out that Europe needs policies that will boost social economy and stressed that the necessary reforms should proceed to remove all obstacles to healthy entrepreneurship.

    [05] Samaras meets with visiting Commissioner

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met Friday morning with visiting European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier.

    Samaras outlined ND's positions on how Greece can exit the crisis, and told Barnier that the Memorandum was not the only option, adding that specific measures that will lead to growth are needed.

    "We discussed the EU internal market and our own (Greece's) problem," Samaras told reporters after the meeting, reiterating that "this crisis has proved that the Memorandum was not the only option, and it was not a solution. The only road to exit the crisis an hour earlier is the road of development," he stressed.

    Replying to press questions, Samaras said unemployment in Greece is a "big weight", and stressed that two in five shops have gone out of business.

    [06] Droutsas: Greece has never waived claim to German war reparations

    Greece has never waived its claim to war reparations from Germany for World War II atrocities, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas repeated in Parliament on Friday. He said that Greece's decision to exercise its right to participate in the proceedings between Germany and Italy on this issue at the International Court at the Hague was "self-evident

    Replying to a question by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Panagiotis Lafazanis, Droutsas said that this was a standing position of all Greek governments while noting that the issue was extremely complex, especially in terms of the legal parameters that required careful handling.

    He also noted that the political dimensions of the problem require accurate analysis that also took into account the diplomatic conjunction, while the human and historic issues touched a very sensitive chord in Greece because the country had paid an extremely heavy price during WWII and justifiably sought moral vindication, above all.

    "It is a decision that is hugely symbolic and in itself vindicates their long struggle over the years," Droutsas added.

    He also said that Greece regularly raised the issue of war reparations during meetings with German officials.

    Lafazanis, on his part, pointed out that Greece was the only country that had still not received war reparations from Germany 70 years after WWII and that the Greek government's intervention was too long delayed.

    The Greek government's move is made in support of the people of Distomo in south-central Greece, who, despite the fact that both Greek and European courts had ruled in favour of their claims for war reparations have been prevented from confiscating German state property in Greece.

    As a result, the people of Distomo resorted to a court in Italy, which upheld their claim to war reparations. Germany has now appealed against the Italian court's ruling at the Hague.

    Distomo was the scene of a massacre during WWII when 218 locals were executed as part of Nazi reprisals for the activity of partisans in the area.'The Distomo massacre case deadline at the International Court of Justice in The Hague expires on Jan. 14, 2011.

    [07] ND on gov't intervention regarding Distomo war reparations case

    The main opposition New Democracy party expressed its criticism of Prime Minister George Papandreou for his positions on the subject of German war reparations during his tenure as foreign minister, up until 2004.

    "The previous PASOK government, with the current prime minister then as foreign minister, not only failed to favourably handle the vindication of the Distomo residents by the Greek courts, but rather, proceeded with every action so that the decision would not be executed ... under the supposed criterion of national interest."

    The ND announcement, nevertheless, expressed satisfaction over Papandreou's decision to now approve of Greece's intervention at the International Court at The Hague over a similar WWII-era case.

    ND stresses, however, that according to a Memorandum signed by the PASOK government and with the acceptance of Article 7 of the Loan Contract, if Greece is vindicated at The Hague for war reparations against Germany, it will not be able to request an offset or counter-demand in relation to the loans received by country via the Memorandum.

    "The government signed the Memorandum without negotiating it. It accepted tough measures and abandoned the country's rights," ND charged.

    [08] Terror suspects identified, new finds

    Four suspects arrested by counter-terrorism police on Thursday night in an ongoing investigation into the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" terrorist group have been identified, police announced in the early hours of Friday.

    Police said there are outstanding arrest warrants against the four -- who had refused to allow their fingerprints to be taken and to provide information on their identity -- for the October 13, 2010 home-made bomb attack against the Public Power Corporation (PPC) offices in Thessaloniki. A 19-year-old suspect had been arrested just after the attack, and the following day arrest warrants were issued for four others -- the four arrested Thursday night in Athens.

    Searches of the four detainees' homes in the Athens districts of Vyronas and Tavros turned up a 9mm pistol, a round of ammunition, three laptops, keys, tool sets and other objects, which were all seized and are being examined at the police crime lab.

    The counter-terrorism squad was continuing its investigation to positively identify the suspects with the group's activities.

    According to newer announcements by police, more finds have been uncovered in the apartment in Vyronas that "give new dimensions to the issue of terrorism".

    Police said that in addition to the items found on Thursday, continuation of the search on Friday further turned up a Kalashnikov rifle with silencer and 100 rounds of ammunition for the rifle, 120 9mm bullets, identity and credit cars, seals for student IDs and ID cards, cash and other items, which are also being examined by the police crime lab.

    Police said that the discovery of the weaponry gives a different dimension to the case, adding their expectation that the investigation will lead to other activities apart from the Thessaloniki PPC arson attack that the four detainees are accused of.

    [09] Four terror suspects to prosecutor

    Four young men arrested by the counter-terrorism squad were led before a public prosecutor on Friday. There were outstanding arrest warrants against all four suspects issued by Thessaloniki's 5th examining magistrate for the bomb attack on a Public Power Corporation (PPC) building last October.

    All four were arrested on Thursday night as part of an ongoing investigation into the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" terrorist group. They initially refused to state their names or have their fingerprints taken but police announced that they had been identified early on Friday morning.

    The results of a ballistics report released later on Friday revealed that the 9mm pistol found in the two apartments on Thursday had not been used in any terrorist action. Police are continuing to investigate whether the weapon was used in any common criminal acts.

    They also discovered that the two apartments in Vyronas and Tavros were leased by the suspects at the end of October using fake IDs, a few days after the warrants issued against them in Thessaloniki. Both apartments were on a short lease that would have expired in February, while the suspects were posing as students.

    Ballistics report on the Kalashnikov rifle are still pending, as is the investigation of PC hard-drives and USB storage devices found in the Vyronas apartment. Counter-terrorism officers are looking into the possibility that the four may have been preparing to take part in a terrorist strike before the trial of suspected "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" members on Monday.

    [10] German woman, 27, arrested in ongoing urban terrorism probe

    A German woman, 27, was arrested by the anti-terrorist squad on Friday, a development linked to the arrest for four local men on urban terrorism-related charges in two separate Athens locations a day earlier.

    According to police, the woman is the daughter of a 55-year-old former "Red Army Faction" (RAF) operative, who herself was the subject of a 1993 international warrant by German authorities for participation in the ultra-leftist terror group.

    Police said the woman had contacts with all four of the suspects. The latter were identified as Haralambos Tsilianidis, 23, Dimitrios Fessas, 23, Dimitrios Dimtsiadis, 23, and Socrates Tzifkas, 21.

    An assault rifle and an automatic handgun, along with ammunition, were recovered from two Athens residences searched by the police.

    Hours later, a local prosecutor filed felony charges against the five. According to reports, the five suspects were brought before the prosecutor without attorneys, while they refused to make any statement in the prosecutor's office. Only the German national requested to contact an attorney.

    Charges include the establishment of a terrorist organisation and weapons possession

    The German mother of the 27-year-old arrested in Athens had surrendered to Lebanese authorities in 1999.

    [11] Leftist party member charges police brutality

    A member of Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party on Friday accused police of using excessive force in his questioning, following his detention by a counter-terrorism unit a day earlier in central Athens.

    Dimosthenis Papadatos, 30, claimed police punched him during his arrest and subjected him to prolonged questioning because of a stolen identity card found on him. According to Papadatos, he had found the ID on the street and was on his way to hand it over to police.

    A police statement issued in response flatly rejected the allegations as "having no relation with reality," adding that he was processed "in compliance with the law and in accordance with the necessary procedures".

    Police also underlined that the 30-year-old was arrested within the framework of counter-terrorism squad operations in Athens' Vyronas district. After verifying that he no involvement in a case under investigation he was taken to police headquarters because he had two identity cards in his possession. The 30-year-old was released soon after a case file was put together on the conditions under which the stolen ID came to his possession.

    The ID in question had been reported stolen to Athens' Nea Ionia police station in Jan. 2004, according to authorities.

    [12] ND relocating to new headquarters

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) is relocating its headquarters at the end of January, moving from the neo-classical mansion it has occupied since the late '70s to a modern office building on Syggrou Boulevard.

    The move is already underway, slated for completion by the end of the month to the 7,000 sq.m. office complex at 360 Syggrou Blvd. that will bring together the entire 640-strong ND staff which is currently scattered throughout 24 buildings and apartments around downtown Athens.

    The new building, at the corner of Syggrou and Doiranis street, has one entrance each from both streets.

    The ground floor features a large events hall with a seating capacity of 520, where the addresses and gatherings that up to now have been held at various hotels in Athens at a high cost will now take place, as well as a large library of political and related books, a pressroom complete with PCs and wireless internet access (with which the entire building is equipped), and a second events hall with a seating capacity of 120.

    Also located on the ground floor will be the party's administrative and financial services.

    The second floor will house all the so-called 'party mechanism', namely all the secretariats of the various party organs, an archive room and three conference halls, while the third storey will house the offices of ND leader Antonis Samaras, the two party vice-presidents, the press office and party spokesman Yiannis Michelakis.

    The building also has an indoor parking area with a capacity of 150, and a state-of-the-art security system with cameras, while access is restricted and allowed to party officials and staff with access cards. Temporary access cards will also be issued to visitors.

    ND officials told ANA-MPA that relocation of all the party services and offices to the new building will result in a 32 percent saving in operational costs (including rents, electricity, cleaning bills, fees, etc.), is fully energy efficient, and boasts an ultra-modern telephone network that allows communication with all the regional organisations of the party at zero cost.

    The neoclassical building on Rigillis street will not be abandoned, however, but will house the Constantine Kara-manlis Institute for Democracy, while Samaras will also keep an office there.

    [13] First 'political barometer' of the year

    Greek public opinion is worried of tension and social unrest in the coming months, and sees the country's international position as weakening, according the results of the first 'barometer' in 2011, conducted by the Public Issue polling agency on behalf of SKAI private tv/radio station.

    More specifically, 67 percent of the respondents felt that the country's international clout is weaker, while 84 percent anticipated a wave of strikes and other worker mobilisations.

    To another question, just 20 percent of the respondents said they are satisfied with the government's work, while 9 percent expressed satisfaction with the opposition.

    Despite a substantial decline in popularity, ruling PASOK still leads with 38.5 percent, against main opposition New Democracy (ND) with 30.5 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 10.5 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party with 5.5 percent and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) with 6.0 percent, while the non-parliamentary parties followed with the Ecologists-Greens with 2.5 percent, the Democratic Left with 2.0 percent, and the newly-formed Democratic Alliance also with 2.0 percent.

    As to who is the most qualified for prime minister, premier George Papandreou was selected by 41 percent of the respondents, followed by ND leader Antonis Samaras with 19 percent, while 37 percent opted for "no one".

    [14] Athens seminar focuses on closer Greek-Israeli relations

    Burgeoning Greek-Israeli ties were the focus of a seminar in Athens on Thursday, which coincided with a two-day visit to the east Mediterranean country by Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman and following recent high-profile reciprocal visits by each country's prime minister.

    Beginning his address in Greek before a packed hall in downtown Athens, noted Israeli academic Amikam Nachmani cited a number of sectors where Greece and Israel have common goals, interests and increased prospects for cooperation, particularly in already growing trade ties and economic relations.

    The Bar Ilan University professor, nevertheless, directly commented on the closely watched geopolitical implications stemming from the very public souring of relations between the Israeli and Turkish governments over the past few years, warning that Greek-Israeli ties -- as well as Turkish-Israeli ties -- should be independent of each other and not imply an "either/or" dilemma for any of the parties.

    Bilateral trade ties have significantly increased between the countries over the years, nearing the half-billion-dollar mark, with roughly a half a million Israelis visiting Greece last year, whereas Israel now serves as Greece's biggest export market in the Middle East.

    Besides prospects for military and security cooperation, both countries' recent concerns over illegal immigration, all-important energy sector cooperation, tourism, boosting trade and even employing Israeli technology in the desalinisation field were cited.

    The event -- co-organised by the Athens-based Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER) and the research unit on Global Governance and the EU at the Universidad de Zaragoza -- featured two separate sessions, the first entitled "Political and Economic Relations of Greece with Israel" and the second "Greek - Israeli Relations in the Wider Context of the Eastern Mediterranean."

    The first session was moderated by ANA-MPA Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis and included Nachmani; Johnny Modiano, the vice-chairman of the Greek-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Technology as well as IIER Director Charalambos Tsardanidis.

    Tsardanidis served as the moderator for the second session, with speakers including Stelios Stavridis, an ARAID senior research fellow at the Universidad de Zaragoza; Ekavi Athanassopoulou, a lecturer at the University of Athens, and Theodoros Tsakiris, head of the Observatory for European Energy Policy (EKEM).

    In further statements, Nachmani emphasised that rekindled relations between Greece and Israel should not be regarded by Turkey as a threat.

    "Greece is regarded by Israel as a gateway to Europe. This market was always regarded as very important," Modiano underlined, and referred to major bilateral cooperation programmes in sectors like tourism, defence, alternative energy source, desalination, water management, education and agro-technology.

    On his part, Tsardanidis pointed out that there are mutual interests, particularly in the political-economic field and in the sector of defence, underlining, at the same time, that Athens is currently undertaking high-level initiatives aimed at improving relations with Ankara.

    Tsakiris detailed the energy aspect of the Greek-Israeli rapprochement, referring to the planned Burgas-Alexandrou-polis oil pipeline and the discovery of underwater natural gas deposits in the east Mediterranean.

    In opening the event, Voulelis referred to "the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel where we see a historic, I would say, turning point in relations between Greece and Israel."

    [15] Archbishop Ieronymos receives Israeli FM Lieberman in Athens

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Friday received visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Archdiocese in Athens.

    The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, with the top Israeli diplomat citing the particular importance of dialogue between faiths.

    He also extended an invitation to Ieronymos to visit Israel.

    [16] 2000-2001 'swaps' case referring to ex-PM Simitis referred to Parliament

    A case file on alleged acts of fraud committed by former PM Costas Simitis and Cabinet members during the period 2000-2001 was forwarded to Parliament on Friday, in compliance with the ministerial liability provisions included in the Constitution.

    The file was prepared following a lawsuit tabled in April 2010 by Austrian economist Fayad Mulla-Khalli against Goldman Sachs for allegedly exposing the Eurozone to dangers in 2000-2001 through "swaps", which the latter claims allowed Greece to hide the full extent of its borrowing and to misrepresent the true size of its public debt.

    The lawsuit filed in the European Union concerns a period of time when Simitis was head of government in Greece.

    [17] Non-legal migrants in Greece flirting half million, ELIAMEP says

    The number of non-legal migrants in Greece has risen some 60 percent to 470,000 in the last two years, according to estimates released by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). This represents a huge jump since the last estimates released by ELIAMEP two years ago in the framework of the EU's Clandestino programme, which then placed their numbers at around 280,000.

    During a discussion on "Migration and the Economic Crisis" organised by ELIAMEP at the Ianos bookshop on Thursday night, researcher Thanos Maroukis said that 280,000 of the non-legal migrants were Albanians and other Europeans while the rest were from Asia and Africa.

    Presenting the data from research conducted with fellow-ELIAMEP researcher Anna Triantafyllidou concerning the movements of migrants and refugees from Asia and Africa to Greece, Maroukis predicted that migration flow would not halt unless the EU and the United States changed their policies toward these countries.

    As key factors encouraging migration he cited political instability and huge inequality in these countries and he predicted that the only change would be to the specific routes taken by migrants, which were proliferating along the EU's eastern borders.

    "Traffic through the islands was not reduced because of FRONTEX but because the mines were removed from Evros and the cheaper prices for passage from there (3,000 euro for passage using the Aegean and just 300 euro via Evros)," he said.

    Concerning government plans to erect a 12.5-kilometre fence along the Evros border, Maroukis predicted that this would not make any great difference.

    "What difference will a fence make when for the past 10 years authorities at the border of Turkey and Iran have been shooting indiscriminately when they locate the presence of non-legal migrants? What difference will it make to people who don't even believe their own relations when they describe the 'hell of the West'?"

    Among non-legal migrants in Greece, Maroukis distinguished between the communities that have been living in Greece for several years and "newly-formed" communities. Those belonging to the first group included Albanians, Pakistanis, Georgians and Bangladeshis.

    He said non-legal Albanians tended to find work in the same sectors as legally resident Albanians and faced similar problems as a result of the crisis. Among the legal migrants, a large number lost their legal status as a result of being unemployed and had been forced to return. An equivalent number of non-legal migrants went back to Albania and returned illegally to Greece for short-term seasonal work.

    Following the crisis in Greece's construction sector, Albanians have been forced out of the construction jobs where they were "traditionally" employed in Greece and the majority are now employed in agricultural work.

    Non-legal Pakistanis are chiefly employed in agricultural work but incidents of exploitation by employers are rampant and daily wages have dropped from 25-30 euro during the previous year to just 6-15 euro at present.

    Bangladeshis live mainly by working in the fields or as street hawkers and beggars at traffic lights. According to Maroukis, he found no evidence that they were being exploited by gangs.

    The second group of newly arrived migrant communities consists mainly of Afghans, Somalis, Algerians and Moroccans and people from the countries of West and sub-Saharan Africa. These groups mainly hope to reach other countries of western Europe and scrape a living while in Greece through occasional agricultural work or by offering cheap manual labour in cities, money borrowed from friends, credit extended by shops run by other migrants or money sent by relatives. Still others work in street markets, with other migrants as their main customers.

    Maroukis noted that living conditions among the second group were often extremely bad, with neither proper food or shelter. Two or more families were often forced to share single rooms in winter or lived outdoors in summer and ate at soup kitchens organised by the Church and non-governmental organisations.

    In the port-city of Patras, adults that have congregated there hoping to get passage to Italy or some other European country are often forced to find food in refuse.

    The migrants are victims of crime and violence in the centre of Athens, while a small but rising number of unaccompanied minors and youths has become involved in the drug trade and petty crimes.

    According to Maroukis, Islam has so far acted as a deterrent to more generalised criminal activity and a force that preserves social cohesion and dignity for those living in extreme poverty on the margins of society.

    "The freedom of religious expression of these people should not be persecuted and marginalised. On the contrary, it should be facilitated," he said and stressed the need for the new asylum system passed by Parliament to be implemented as quickly as possible.

    [18] Greek 2009 OSCE Presidency

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The Greek president of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, Petros Efthymiou, referred to recognition of the major contributions of the Greek OSCE presidency in 2009, such as strengthening the organisation's momentum and reviving its politcal character. He made the comment after a series important meetings he had at the OSCE headquarters here over the past three days.

    Additionally, he cited his unanimous election to the post during a vote in Oslo last July, saying the Parliamentary Assembly acquired a greater political presence, without this being limited only to issuing resolutions, but to making interventions.

    Financial News

    [19] Commission begins consultation on Greek energy market

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    The European Commission on Friday announced it has invited comments from interested parties on measures offered by the Greek government regarding its electricity market.

    The measures have been proposed to comply with a decision adopted on 5 March which found that Greece had infringed competition rules by maintaining rights giving the state-owned electricity incumbent Public Power Corporation (PPC) privileged access to lignite. Greece has proposed to grant access to 40% of lignite-fired generation to competitors of PPC in the Greek electricity market.

    Commenting on the decision, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaqu?n Almunia commented: "This case is about creating a level playing field between PPC and its competitors on the Greek electricity wholesale market. This is fundamental to ensure a greater choice of electricity suppliers and increase security of supply for consumers. I am looking forward to hearing the views of all stakeholders on the proposal of the Greek government".

    On 5 March 2008, the Commission found that Greece had infringed European competition rules, by granting to PPC privileged access to lignite, which is the cheapest source of electricity generation in Greece. That privileged access created inequality of opportunity between economic operators and enabled PPC to maintain or reinforce its dominant position on the Greek wholesale electricity market by excluding or hindering market entry by newcomers. Article 106(1) TFEU requires Member States to ensure that public undertakings and undertakings to which Member States grant special or exclusive rights comply with EC Treaty rules, including competition rules.

    The March 2008 decision called upon Greece to propose measures to correct the anti-competitive effects of the infringement. In 2009 Greece offered measures to tender four new lignite mines to competitors of PPC, which represent around 40% of the total exploitable Greek lignite reserves. These measures were made legally binding by a Commission Decision of 4 August 2009.

    The Greek Government requested however a review of the 2009 Decision due to its new energy policy. Greece has informed the Commission that it would continue using existing lignite mines but not open up new lignite mines. As an alternative measure to address the competition concerns the Greek Government proposes to give to competitors of PPC access to 40% of lignite-fired generation through drawing rights in existing lignite-fired power plants of PPC. Furthermore, participants will be offered participation in future power plant projects using currently available lignite.

    If the request for the review of the 2009 Decision is justified and the measures proposed by the Greek Government are adequate to meet the concerns identified by the 2008 Decision, the Commission could adopt a new Decision, on the basis of Article 106 TFEU, making the measures binding for the Hellenic Republic.

    [20] Inflation in Greece the third highest in EU in Dec.

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)

    Greece's was plagued by the third highest inflation rate in the EU-27 during December, Eurostat announced here on Friday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said Greek inflation reached 5.2 pct in December, up from 4.8 pct in November, 5.2 pct in October and 5.7 pct in September 2010. In the Eurozone, the inflation rate was an average 2.2 pct during the last month of 2010, slightly up from a 2.0 pct ceiling set by the European Central Bank. It was the highest inflation rate in the Eurozone since October 2008 (3.2 pct).

    The inflation rate was 1.9 pct in October and November, remaining on a steady upward trend for much of last year. This development led ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet to say that if the inflation rate continued its upward trend the central bank could decide to raise its base lending rate from the historic lows of 1.0 pct currently.

    In the EU-27, the inflation rate rose to 2.6 pct in December from 2.3 pct in November and October. Slovakia (1.3 pct), the Netherlands (1.8 pct) and Germany (1.9 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in December, while Romania (7.9 pct), Estonia (5.4 pct) and Greece (5.2 pct) the highest rates.

    [21] Fitch cuts Greece's credit rating by one notch

    The Fitch credit rating firm on Friday downgraded Greece's long-term credit rating by one notch to BB+, from BBB-, putting the Eurozone member-country to the category of less credible state bond issuers. (ANA-MPA).

    In a reaction, the finance ministry referred to progress in fiscal adjustment and structural changes as well as the recent positive assessment of Greece's course by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

    [22] Greece to auction 500-mln-euro 3-month T-bills on Tues.

    Greece will auction a three-month T-bill issue next Tuesday, Jan. 18, seeking to raise 500 million euros from the market.

    The Public Debt Management Organisation, in an announcement, said the T-bill issue will have a settlement date of Jan. 21, and an expiring date of April 26. The auction will be held with competitive bids from the market's primary dealers in the Greek electronic secondary bond market. The organisation will also accept non-competitive bids. The treasury bills issue carries no commission.

    [23] State property exploitation discussed in Parliament

    "Recording the public property in order to be better utilized is the government's priority in the first half of 2011," Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed in Parliament on Friday in response to a relevant question posed by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.

    The digitizing of the public property register is currently underway by the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corp. (KED) in cooperation with the National Cadastre, the finance minister stressed, adding that the utilization of the former Athens airport at Helliniko is also a priority.

    "As soon as the public property is registered its appraisal will get underway," the minister said, adding that a discussion on its utilization is useful when it is conducted based on specific facts. He stated, however, that "this process will not lead to a magic solution that will erase public debt and solve the problems of the Greek state".

    Papaconstantinou also clarified that the public revenues coming from the development of its real estate are being recorded in KED's accounts and operation plan.

    [24] Health minister's talks with pharmacists end in deadlock

    Talks between Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Greek pharmacists on legislation to open their profession ended in deadlock on Friday, with the two sides unable to reach agreement on the measures proposed by the government. The draft bill on the measures is due to be tabled in Parliament next Wednesday.

    Loverdos briefed pharmacists on replies sent by the European Commission to four inquiries on issues concerning deregulation of pharmacies. According to Loverdos, the Commission called for pharmacies to remain open on Saturdays and on the evenings of Monday and Wednesday, following regular shop opening hours. It also called for a partial relaxation of population restrictions for opening a new pharmacy.

    The minister announced that measures along these lines will be included in the draft legislation going to Parliament and that he was not prepared to negotiate on this issue.

    Pharmacists were also adamant in opposing the proposals, with the head of the nationwide pharmacists association announcing that they would take the matter to European courts on the grounds that directives exempting pharmacies from measures to open professions had been violated.

    The head of the Attica pharmacists association, meanwhile, essentially announced the closure of pharmacies around the capital at the weekend by means of withdrawing the list of pharmacies that remain open at the weekend for emergency needs.

    Under the new measures, current restrictions allowing only one pharmacy per 1,500 residents will be reduced to one pharmacy per 1,000 residents. Pharmacist associations claim that this will further increase the number of existing pharmacies - already high at 12,000 around the country - by about another 1,000.

    They also claim that the discounts that pharmacists are required to give social insurance funds based on their percentage of profit will in the medium term amount to 4.4 percent, instead of 2.5 percent, and that this violates the 1:3 ratio relative to the discount given by pharmaceutical firms.

    [25] Authorities uncover price gouging scheme in medical supplies

    The financial crimes squad (SDOE) uncovered an overpricing scheme in the health sector amounting to 10 million euros, it was announced on Friday.

    Three companies in Italy, Cyprus and Greece were allegedly involved in the scheme, revealed following an investigation into a company that supplied state hospitals with imported medical equipment used in heart surgery.

    The owner of the Greek company was also the owner of the Cypriot firm, part of a scheme to overcharge for medical supplies imported by the Greek company.

    Through the Cypriot firm the profits that resulted from the scheme filtered back to the Greek company via money orders to a third company, also owned by the same man and based in the Seychelles.

    [26] Metro employees suspend strikes

    The employees of the Athens Metro on Friday decided to suspend the 24-hour rolling strikes they had called.

    The move is temporary, and concerns the period during which the public dialogue on revamping public transports will be in progress.

    The Metro employees, in an announcement, noted that the dialogue concerns not only the relevant bill unveiled by the Infrastructure, Transport and Networks ministry but also a series of other matters they have been "fighting for" over the past 10 months.

    In the event that the dialogue proves fruitless, the mobilisations will be resumed, the announcement said.

    [27] Winter sales begin Saturday

    The winter sales period officially opens on Saturday, with shopowners hoping to drum up business with substantial discounts following a lackluster holiday period.

    According to the Association of Working Consumers of Greece, the reduction in real incomes and pensions, rising unemployment and a higher VAT rate on staple goods have changed the everyday priorities of the consumers, and therefore winter sales are eagerly awaited by consumers this year.

    [28] Stocks end week 3.96% up

    Stocks ended higher in the last trading session of the week, reflecting renewed optimism in markets over a swift solution to the debt problems facing regional European countries. The composite index rose 0.23 pct to end at 1,445.86 points, for a net gain of 3.96 pct in the week. Turnover, however, remained a low 95.131 million euros. MIG (3.03 pct), Alpha Bank (2.97 pct), Eurobank (2.43 pct) and Ellaktor (2.40 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (4.12 pct), OTE (2.86 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (2.84 pct) were top losers.

    The Personal Products (1.97 pct), Utilities (1.75 pct) and Financial Services (1.75 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (2.86 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.50 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 100 to 52 with another 55 issues unchanged. Dionic (18.42 pct), Unibios (14.29 pct) and Edrasi (12.5 pct) were top gainers, while Elbisco (19.67 pct), Imperio (10.71 pct) and Logismos (9.52 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +0.82%

    Commercial: +0.38%

    Construction: +1.33%

    Media: -1.05%

    Oil & Gas: -1.40%

    Personal & Household: +1.97%

    Raw Materials: +1.33%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.84%

    Technology: -0.85%

    Telecoms: -2.86%

    Banks: +1.00%

    Food & Beverages: -1.50%

    Health: -0.34%

    Utilities: +1.75%

    Chemicals: -0.71%

    Financial Services: +1.75%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Coca Cola 3E and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.81

    ATEbank: 0.73

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.91

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.85

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.82

    National Bank of Greece: 6.55

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.79

    OPAP: 13.20

    OTE: 6.80

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.63

    Titan: 16.00

    [29] Greek bond yield up in Dec.

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank by around 70 pct in December to 268 million euros, from 926 million euros in November and 17.5 billion euros in December 2009, the Bank of Greece said on Friday. The central bank, in a report, said average daily turnover was 11.7 million euros, down from 42.1 million euros in November 2010.

    The report said that Greek state bond prices fell and yields rose in December, with the exception of the 30-year benchmark bond, whose price and yield remained unchanged compared with the previous month. The five-year benchmark bond recorded the biggest increase (124 basis points), yielding 13.67 pct at the end of the month, while the three-year bond yield rose 110 bps to 14.33 pct. The 10-year benchmark bond yield rose 55 bps to 12.55 pct and the 15-year bond yield rose 46 bps to 11.10 pct.

    The average daily yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 906 bps in December from 897 bps in November.

    [30] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased further to 818 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 821 bps on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.17 pct and the German Bund 2.99 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 28 million euros, of which 24 million euros were buy orders. The five-year bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 9.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.50 pct, the six-month rate 1.22 pct, the three-month 0.9 pct and the one-month rate 0.75 pct.

    [31] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.58 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 42.774 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,580 contracts worth 35.086 million euros,with 30,590 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,975 contracts worth 7.687 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,245), followed by Eurobank (1,995), OTE (1,368), Piraeus Bank (2,904), Alpha Bank (1,221), Cyprus Bank (809), PPC (696), Motor Oil (342) and ATEbank (742).

    General News

    [32] 'Myrtis' moves to Thessaloniki

    The girl that put a face to distant antiquity, the reconstructed 11-year-old 'Myrtis' of ancient Athens, moved to a new 'home' at the Archaeological Museum in Thessaloniki on Friday. The nameless young girl that died and was buried in a mass grave during the plague that struck Athens in 430 B.C. will be on display there until mid-March. Following her 'resurrection' nearly 2,500 years after she died of typhoid fever - the plague that also struck down the statesman Pericles and one third of all Athenians

    The name 'Myrtis' is borrowed, given to her by scientists that worked on the reconstruction of her features. Following her 'resurrection' nearly 2,500 years after she died of typhoid fever - the plague that also struck down the statesman Pericles and one third of all Athenians at that time - she has now also been made a "Millennium Friend" and her picture posted on a website supporting the UN Millennium Goals as a message to the world about disease prevention.

    "My death was inevitable. In the 5th century BC we had neither the knowledge nor the means to fight deadly illnesses. However, you, the people of the 21st century, have no excuse. You possess all the necessary means and resources to save the lives of millions of people. To save the lives of millions of children like me who are dying of preventable and curable diseases.

    2,500 years after my death, I hope that my message will engage and inspire more people to work and make the Millennium Development Goals a reality," a letter posted next to her picture says.

    Orthodontics professor Manolis Papagrigorakis, the man who first conceived the project of reconstructing Myrtis, said his team has already begun working on reconstructions of the faces of a man and woman found in the same mass grave in Kerameikos.

    The exhibition "Myrtis: Face to face with the past" is centred on the facial reconstruction by scientists of an 11-year-old Athenian girl that lived and died in ancient Athens during the 5th century BC.

    Her bones were discovered in 1994-1995, in a mass grave with another 150 bodies, during work to build the metro station in Kerameikos. Her skull was in an unusually good condition and this inspired Professor Papagrigorakis to enlist the help of specialist scientists from Sweden to recreate her features, using the 'Manchester' facial reconstruction technique.

    The final result, wearing a linen dress made especially for the purpose by Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki based on images of clothing styles of that time, forms the backbone of an exhibition that explores both the various stages of a facial reconstruction. It also exhibits the finds uncovered by archaeologists at Kerameikos, which date around 430-426 B.C. and are linked with the plague that contributed to Athens' defeat from Sparta during the Peloponnesian Wars.

    Scientists decided to give 'Myrtis' brown eyes and brown hair, arranged in a Classical era style, like the majority of Athenians at that time but stressed that her true colors could only be discovered by expensive DNA analysis that has not yet been carried out.

    DNA analysis techniques have, however, found that Myrtis and two other bodies in the mass grave had died of typhoid fever, confirming theories about the historic plague.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Cloudy on Saturday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 1C and 19C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 17C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 4C to 15C.

    [34] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The bill on 'opening' closed-shop professions, the rise in unemployment and other economic issues were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Friday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The speculation on early general elections with 'candidates lists' increasing".

    AVGHI: "56,332 more unemployed in October".

    AVRIANI: "All the new pensions".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Papandreou's delay of many months in taking measures against the danger of Greece's bankruptcy cost the country 90 billion euros".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Low-interest loans-subsidies for 'face lift' of old homes".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New mutiny in PASOK against Papaconstantinou (finance minister)".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The costs entailed for the new, obligatory, energy-efficiency certificate for buildings".

    ESTIA: "Newspaper edition of January 14, 1901 contained as insert: The profession of pharmacists was a 'closed' one back then, too".

    ETHNOS: "The Memorandum for engineers and lawyers".

    IMERISSIA: "Dangerous explosion of unemployment to 13.5 percent".

    KATHIMERINI: "What terrifies the Greeks".

    LOGOS: "Balance 'exercises' on Siemens scandal".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "System of contributions (payments) to IKA (Social Security Foundation) changing completely".

    NIKI: "700,000 unemployed bringing OAED (state-run Manpower Employment Organisation) to its knees".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "PAME, PASEVE, PASY, OGE, MAS will open the tolls on the roads throughout the country today".

    TA NEA: "Engineers, lawyers take to the trenches".

    VRADYNI: "Shock: Report predicts unemployment will near 30 percent".

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