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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-02-02

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

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

Wednesday, 2 February 2011 Issue No: 3710

CONTENTS

  • [01] Plan to combat unemployment eyed by gov't
  • [02] C-130s return with Alexandria evacuees
  • [03] Patriarch of Alexandria expresses hope for end to crisis
  • [04] Gov't on public transport strikes; economy
  • [05] ND spokesman: New austerity measures pending
  • [06] German FM on Greek reforms, debt
  • [07] Ministers discuss Greece's case against Siemens
  • [08] Greece not discussing out-of-court settlement with Siemens, gov't says
  • [09] Health minister on changes to ambulance service, KEELPNO head resignation
  • [10] Education minister to visit London
  • [11] DM meets with DCNS chief, French ambassador
  • [12] Credit Suisse upgrades Greek equities
  • [13] Thessaloniki eyes closer tourism, trade ties with Israel
  • [14] Credit expansion turn negative in 2010
  • [15] Greek PMI fell further in Jan.
  • [16] Piraeus Bank successfully completes 807-mln-euro share capital increase
  • [17] ASE best performer among Euro markets in Jan.
  • [18] Stocks soar 4.41% Tues.
  • [19] Greek bond spreads fall below 800 bps
  • [20] Greek bond market closing report
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [23] 'Chemistry: Our Life, Our Future - The Nobel Chemistry Prizes 1901-2010' exhibition in Athens
  • [24] Strikes by pharmacists, public transports
  • [25] H1N1 deaths reach 21; Greece in midst of epidemic says minister
  • [26] Anarchist literature found on robbery suspects
  • [27] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] Spokesman: Turkish stance \ not helping talks
  • [29] FM discusses Cyprus issue with Barroso Politics

  • [01] Plan to combat unemployment eyed by gov't

    Establishment of a social economy fund was the focus of a meeting on Tuesday at the Maximos Mansion, chaired by PM George Papandreou.

    Labour & Social Insurances Minister Louka Katseli presented the proposal,which primarily aims to combat unemployment by subsidising entrepreneurship. Another goal is to extend the tourism season in the country, thereby boosting tourism sector-related businesses.

    Additionally, the initiative envisions greater incentives to preserve existing jobs spots in areas with high unemployment.

    In later statements, Papandreou appeared optimistic over the economic prospects of both Greece and Europe, adding that Athens reversed the perception of "Greece being the only problem of Europe to now being an active part of the solution".

    [02] C-130s return with Alexandria evacuees

    The three C-130 military transport planes sent to evacuate Greeks from the Egyptian city of Alexandria landed at Athens International Airport on Tuesday with a total of 184 evacuees on board.

    The three planes had flown to Alexandria on Tuesday morning to pick up the Greeks wishing to leave the country following the upheaval in the country in recent days.

    Evacuation of Greeks from Egypt

    The three C-130 military aircraft took off for Egypt from the Elefsina military airport on Tuesday morning, one of them carrying deputy foreign minister for overseas Greeks affairs Dimitris Dollis, to evacuate 215 Greeks who have asked to return to Greece.

    Speaking to reporters before take-off of the first plane, which he was boarding, Dollis said that "we are setting off with three C-130s for Egypt, which will transport 215 of our people, from Alexandria", adding that "hopefully we will be back in the afternoon and everything will go well".

    Dollis is heading to Egypt on the first plane, to coordinate the evacuation operation of the Greeks from Alexandria.

    He said that, according to information, Monday night was fairly good, and "we are awaiting the development of the demonstration in Cairo so as to have a better picture in the late afternoon", adding that "a fluid situation requires caution and cool-headedness".

    Dollis said the return should be expected after 4:00 in the afternoon, depending on the time needed to board the Greeks in Egypt.

    "I believe that the matter will have been organised by the time we arrive there. We have arranged things in the best possible way, but naturally in a fluid situation one cannot everything to go perfectly. The anxiety is for our people who are having a tough time. For us, it is relatively easy to go get them. We are trying to do is to allay their fear," Dollis added.

    He further noted that "it is easy to sit in a ministerial chair and engage in analyses...the least that Greece can do is rush to the assistance of its citizens".

    [03] Patriarch of Alexandria expresses hope for end to crisis

    ALEXANDRIA (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)

    "The Patriarchate of Alexandria is on the side of all the people that are in pain regardless of whether they are Greek, Egyptian, Arab or any other ethnicity," Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa stressed here on Tuesday.

    Speaking to the ANA-MPA, the Patriarch made the statement in response to the dramatic situation in the Mideast country and hours before a scheduled demonstration in the centre of Cairo.

    "The latest incidents, with more than 100 people dead and thousands injured, have caused immense sorrow, because we share brotherly relations with the Egyptians going back thousands of years," the Patriarch said.

    "We hope that Egypt will find its way and continue to be the most important gateway to Africa. We are aware of the problems faced by its people, a beautiful and tormented people. We are aware of the historic significance of the country we live in and the Patriarchate of Alexandria, which has existed in the land of the Nile for 2,000 years will continue to be part of the history of Egypt ... I pray that there will be no more victims amongst our innocent fellow human beings," the Patriarch concluded.

    [04] Gov't on public transport strikes; economy

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday referred to the public transport strikes that plagued commuters in the greater Athens area this week, while again ruling out the likelihood of snap elections.

    Additionally, the spokesman dismissed a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel, which claimed that a discussion is underway for a constitutionally guaranteed deficit ceiling.

    Speaking to a private radio station in Athens, Petalotis referred to the problems created by the public transport strikes, stressing that "this ugly situation in public transports cannot be allowed to continue ...decisions will be made very soon".

    He underlined that "the government is not a mere observer ... we are exhausting all means available to ensure that there will be dialogue? which should not be considered as a sign of weakness".

    He once again ruled out the likelihood of snap elections, underlining that there is no reason for elections.

    Referring to a relevant magazine report, the spokesman also stated that there is no question of a constitutionally guaranteed deficit ceiling.

    [05] ND spokesman: New austerity measures pending

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Tuesday launched a sharp attack on the government, accusing it of intending to proceed with the implementation of new austerity measures in the immediate future.

    Speaking at a press briefing, Mihelakis stressed that an extension of the repayment period for the country's debt will have to take place under specific preconditions, such as an interest rate reduction, adoption of specific measures that lead to growth and establishment of the Eurobond.

    He underlined that "any decision should not be accompanied by new measures because neither the economy nor the society can withstand them".

    The ND party spokesman also stated that market liquidity will be among the issues up for discussion in the meeting ND party leader Antonis Samaras and European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet will have in Frankfurt on Feb. 9.

    Referring to the German proposal for a constitutional revision focusing on deficit, Mihelakis stressed that it will be considered by ND if it is adopted by all EU countries.

    "The fiscal problem is not only our own. It is a European problem and any decision should be made after a comprehensive discussion," he stressed.

    The ND spokesman repeated the party's position that the "university asylum" should be abolished, stressing that "the freedom to express new ideas simply cannot be the prerogative of 10 (university) buildings in Athens and Thessaloniki."

    Asked about a group of illegal migrants currently staying in a downtown Athens building who are continuing a hunger strike as part of demands for legalisation, he stressed that the law should be enforced, pointing out that each case should be examined separately.

    [06] German FM on Greek reforms, debt

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA / G. Pappas)

    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Thursday praised the course of reforms in Greece, although he declined to comment over speculation regarding any extension of the repayment period of Greece's debt and a repurchase of Greek bonds.

    "I praise the reforms that have been put on track in Greece as well," Westerwelle told the ANA-MPA, during a briefing of foreign correspondents here.

    "We have repeatedly acknowledged this, and I am doing it now," he added.

    Regarding the Greek debt crisis, Westerwelle said that "a debt crisis can not be handled in the short run through new lending possibilities."

    As regards a possible extension of the repayment period of Greece's debt and a repurchase of Greek bonds, the German minister declined to comment, merely saying "we are in phase of talks on all issues ... conjecture does not contribute to stabilisation."

    "I will not take part in a public debate concerning such conjectures."

    [07] Ministers discuss Greece's case against Siemens

    A government meeting to discuss Greece's case against Siemens was held at the office of Minister of State Haris Pamboukis on Tuesday. Participants included Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis and Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

    In statements afterwards, Kastanidis said the government will draw up a single action plan, through which Greece would seek to be compensated for Siemens' delinquent behaviour at the expense of the Greek state.

    Asked whether the government would also resort to legal action, the minister replied: "Obviously".

    He clarified that the government was currently making a systematic list of its demands against the German-based multinational and that all available evidence would be used, including the conclusions of a recent Parliamentary inquiry into the Siemens kickbacks scandal. This stage of the process was expected to be complete by April, he added.

    The government, which recently announced its intention to seek compensation from Siemens for damage to the Greek state's interests as a result of the multinational's kickbacks to public officials and political parties, is expected to fight the case on three main fronts. It will seek compensation for the C4I security system, for moral damage suffered by the Greek State and the imposition of penalties for perceived violations of competition laws.

    Relations between the multinational and individual state-sector Greek enterprises are being treated as separate cases and the management of each such company will have to seek compensation on its own account if they believe this is warranted.

    The claims of the Greek State concerning the C4I have already been referred to international arbitration while the case for moral damages is being investigated, as Pamboukis told Parliament earlier.

    The parts of the case relating to competition rules are the province of the Competition Commission, which has already initiated an investigation at the request of the Parliament Examining Committee that investigated the case. This asked that the Competition Commission look into whether Siemens abused its dominant position on the market or made secret arrangements with its competitors in the framework of public tenders for state contracts.

    [08] Greece not discussing out-of-court settlement with Siemens, gov't says

    Greece is not currently discussing or considering an out-of-court settlement with Siemens for the compensation being sought by Athens for scandals involving kickbacks paid by the multinational company, Greek government spokesman George Petalotis said on Tuesday.

    "At the moment we are talking about a series of actions that are already underway and others that have already been decided in order to redress the damage to the Greek state from the Siemens scandal," the spokesman added in response to questions.

    Petalotis pointed out that apart from these actions, there were also fines imposed for unfair competition, law suits that had already been filed by organisations in which the Greek state was a shareholder and that had been harmed by the contracts with Siemens. The spokesman also raised an issue of "moral damages" to the Greek state that had to be compensated, describing this as a "very complex legal issue".

    He noted that all the necessary legal actions must be taken and from that point on there would be a basis for estimating the extent of the damage from the company's actions, at which point it would be at the discretion of Siemens and the Greek State to take action to fully compensate for this damage to public sector to the highest degree.

    [09] Health minister on changes to ambulance service, KEELPNO head resignation

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday unveiled plans for a comprehensive review of Greece's emergency ambulance system, as part of an effort to rationalise and reduce health care costs.

    Among the steps proposed by the ministry is a law that will require national league football and basketball clubs to cover the costs of ambulances for their athletes themselves, so that emergency service EKAB ambulances are no longer kept on standby for major sports events.

    "For every EKAB ambulance stationed at a sports venue, 70,000 people are deprived of that specific service," Loverdos pointed out.

    During a press conference, health ministry officials presented figures concerning the track record of EKAB motorcycle paramedics during their first four months of operation, saying that they had responded to 460 calls that included quite serious incidents.

    The ministry also unveiled plans to renew the ambulance fleet with the purchase of 200 new ambulances, the first purchased since 2004, and said that an operational plan was being drawn up to determine the exact needs of the ambulance service.

    Officials noted that one of the major problems at the moment were the way people used the ambulance service, since only 10-15 percent of calls received each day were real emergencies.

    Commenting on strikes by doctors and the incident with protesting doctors outside the health ministry on Tuesday morning, Loverdos said that the ministry had not ordered riot police to intervene and stressed that the ministry "conducts dialogue, does not use violence".

    He criticised the doctors' attempt to try to force their way into the ministry, however, as well as the continued strikes by pharmacists, stressing that the bill liberalising their profession also insured its viability.

    Asked about the resignation of the head of the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases Dr. Georgios Saroglou, the minister said that this had been a surprise and announced that a new head of the centre will be appointed in June.

    [10] Education minister to visit London

    Greek education minister Anna Diamantopoulou will be on London on Wednesday for a two-day visit and contacts with British officials on education issues.

    On Wednesday night, Diamantopoulou will deliver a lecture at the Greek Observatory of the London School of Economics on the theme "Reforming the Greek Universities".

    The minister will give a press conference in the British capital on Thursday.

    [11] DM meets with DCNS chief, French ambassador

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with France-based naval defence company DCNS President and CEO Patrick Boissier and French ambassador to Athens Christophe Farnaud, a meeting that reportedly focused on the Hellenic Navy's armaments programme.

    The meeting was also attended by national defence policy and general director Dimitris Chronopoulos and defence armaments and investments general director Dimitris Georgiopoulos.

    On Jan. 18, Venizelos had met with the deputy director of France's directorate general for armaments, Jacques de Lajugie.

    Financial News

    [12] Credit Suisse upgrades Greek equities

    Credit Suisse has upgraded Greek equities to "benchmark" from "underweight", citing cheap equity valuations and a range of supportive macroeconomic factors, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.

    The broker pointed to a projected cyclically adjusted budget surplus in 2011; the lowest private sector debt-to-GDP ratio in Europe; an already pessimistic economic growth forecast; low leverage in Greek banks; and a good chance the maturity of Athens' EU/IMF financial aid package will be extended.

    Greece's leading share index .ATG is up 3.5 percent on Tuesday after gaining 12.7 percent last month. The index lost nearly 36 percent last year on concerns over its ability to finance itself sustainably.

    Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange rallied 4.4 percent on the news on Tuesday, outperforming major European markets.

    [13] Thessaloniki eyes closer tourism, trade ties with Israel

    Efforts to boost tourist arrivals from Israel are being launched by the Central Macedonia regional government and the municipality of Thessaloniki.

    Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris on Tuesday told the ANA-MPA that the target set is to attract more tourists and highlight the city's medieval Jewish history, while forging closer relations with the state of Israel on the economic and business levels. He also underlined that relevant issues will be discussed in a meeting scheduled for Wednesday with representatives of the city's historic Jewish community.

    Boutaris, who is also the president of the city's tourism promotion organization, announced that he will visit the 17th International Mediterranean Tourism Market in Tel Aviv next week and meet with the city's mayor, noting that Thessaloniki and Tel Aviv are twinned cities.

    The Central Macedonia Regional authority will participate in the exhibition to promote local ski resorts, as well as traditional summer destinations and alternative tourism sites.

    Tourism sector-related issues were touched in the meetings that Israeli ambassador to Athens Arye Mekel had with Boutaris and the governor of the Central Macedonia Region on Monday.

    In statements made after the meetings, Mekel pointed out that the atmosphere in Greece's cooperation with Israel has improved while there is interest in forging new relations in sectors of common interest such as tourism, culture and economy.

    [14] Credit expansion turn negative in 2010

    Credit expansion turned negative in 2010, with the annual growth rate of credit expansion to enterprises and households falling to -0.2 pct last year, from 4.1 pct in 2009, the Bank of Greece announced on Tuesday.

    This development mainly reflects lower lending to households. Lending to enterprises recorded a net flow of 488 million euros in December 2010, for an annual growth rate of 1.0 pct, down from 5.1 pct in 2009. The debt of enterprises and self-employed to banks totaled 139 billion euros at the end of 2010, up from 133.7 billion a year earlier. The figures excluded figures for public sector enterprises.

    Lending to households was a negative 1.4 pct last year, after an increase of 3.1 pct in 2009, for a total debt of 117.8 billion euros (119.6 billion euros in 2009).

    The debt from mortgage loans fell to 80.4 billion euros in 2010, from 80.5 billion in 2009, for an annual growth rate of -0.4 pct. The debt from consumer loans fell to 35 billion euros from 36 billion euros in 2009, for annual growth rate of -4.2 pct.

    [15] Greek PMI fell further in Jan.

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 42.8 points in January, from 43.1 in December, to a seven-month low, reflecting shrinking production, employment and inventories in the country.

    The index continued falling for the 17th consecutive month. Incoming new jobs in the Greek manufacturing sector fell in January, although at a slightly slower pace compared with December, reflecting adverse financial conditions, low demand and high inventories.

    Greek manufacturers used their available funds to cover pending works, although production fell more rapidly in the first month of the year. Greek manufacturers continued cutting their workforce, their purchases and inventories in January in an effort to manage their costs amid adverse business conditions prevailing in the country.

    Demand for raw materials fell further in the first month of 2011, along with delivery times. The cost of inflows rose sharply reflecting higher energy and raw materials prices, along with higher VAT rates.

    The Purchasing Managers' Index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [16] Piraeus Bank successfully completes 807-mln-euro share capital increase

    Piraeus Bank on Tuesday announced the successful completion of a share capital increase plan worth 807,054,045 euros. The bank said the plan was 129.43 pct oversubscribed.

    Piraeus Bank said its equity capital, following completion of the share capital increase scheme, totaled 4.1 billion euros, boosting its capital adequacy ratios by 200 basis points (pro forma based on figures of Sept. 30, 2010). The bank's pro forma Equity Tier I was set at 9.5 pct, its Tier I at 10.8 pct and its total capital adequacy ratio at 11.7 pct.

    A bank statement said the successful completion of the plan offered Piraeus Bank to ability to deal with challenges in an economic environment from a more powerful position, to strengthen its presence in the banking market, to expanding the ability of raising capital through a gradual stabilisation of the interbank market and to take advantage of growth prospects in the wider region, when conditions allow it.

    [17] ASE best performer among Euro markets in Jan.

    The Athens Stock Exchange was the best performer among Europe's main stock markets in January, followed by the markets of Nicosia, Milan and Madrid, while it was also the best performer among the world's 80 largest markets, with a monthly advance of 12.69 pct.

    The Greek market discounted an urgent and general solution to the Eurozone's debt crisis.

    The rally began in mid-January when a Eurogroup meeting, on Jan. 17, left the door open for a significant strengthening of a European Financial Support Fund. Final decisions are likely to be taken at an EU summit in March 25, or during an urgent summit in early March.

    Also, favourable tax changes, such as reducing a tax on non-distributed earnings from 24 pct to 20 pct and replacing a 40-pct tax on distributed earnings with a 25-pct withholding tax, contributed to the positive climate on the Athens bourse.

    The Big Cap index rose 11.70 pct in January, the Mid Cap index was up 8.4 pct and the Small Cap index ended 12.3 pct up. The market's capitalization grew by 7.792 billion euros to 62.727 billion euros.

    ETEM (82.4 pct), Foodlink (64.2 pct), Alco (61.1 pct), Athina (60 pct), Korinth Pipes (59.1 pct), Fieratex (50 pct), Halcor (46.8 pct), Elval (41.2 pct), Sprider (40.7 pct) and Mihaniki (39.4 pct) were top gainers, while Euroholdings (37.5 pct), Elbisco (36.1 pct), CPI (35.9 pct), Petzetakis (35 pct), Xylemporia (31 pct), Paperpack (30.6 pct), Nutriart (29.2 pct) and Atlantic (23.5 pct) were major losers.

    Only three blue chip stocks ended lower in January (Piraeus Bank 14.1 pct, Titan 5.9 pct and Marfin Popular Bank 1.6 pct), while Thessaloniki Port (31.1 pct), Sidenor (26.4 pct), Duty Free Shops (22.1 pct), Terna Energy (17.4 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (14.3 pct) were major gainers.

    All sector indices, with the exception of the Insurance index (down 7.7 pct), moved higher in January, led by Industrial Products (12.3 pct), Commerce (22 pct), Oil/Gas (20.6 pct), Raw Materials (23 pct), Travel (12.5 pct), Telecoms (23 pct), Banks (10.7 pc) and Chemicals (16.3 pct).

    [18] Stocks soar 4.41% Tues.

    Stocks soared on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 1,650 level at the Athens Stock Exchange. Buyers took the upper hand in the market encouraged by hopes over a favourable solution to the Greek debt crisis, a significant decline in Greek bond spreads, a successful completion of a share capital increase plan by Piraeus Bank and positive recommendations for the Greek bourse by Credit Suisse.

    The composite index jumped 4.41 pct to end at 1,663.60 points, with turnover rising to a massive 238.587 million euros. The Big Cap index jumped 5.35 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 2.74 pct and the Small Cap index ended 2.74 pct higher. Eurobank (10.75 pct), Alpha Bank (10.75 pct), Cyprus Bank (9.39 pct), National Bank (7.65 pct) and Piraeus Bank (6.02 pct) were major gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (2.25 pct), Motor Oil (0.65 pct) and Titan (0.58 pct) were losers. The Telecoms sector was the only one to end lower (-2.25 pct), while Banks (8.07 pct), Financial Services (5.71 pct) and Health (5.60 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 159 to 36 with another 40 issues unchanged. Proton Bank (19.72 pct), Ridenco (14.19 pct) and Eurobank (10.75 pct) were top gainers, while Xylemporia (14 pct), Attikat (12.5 pct) and Allatini Ceramics (10.2 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +4.64%

    Industrials: +1.94%

    Commercial: +1.94%

    Construction: +2.08%

    Media: +0.22%

    Oil & Gas: +3.43%

    Personal & Household: +2.30%

    Raw Materials: +3.00%

    Travel & Leisure: +4.60%

    Technology: +1.14%

    Telecoms: -2.25%

    Banks: +8.07%

    Food & Beverages: +2.65%

    Health: +5.60%

    Utilities: +2.16%

    Chemicals: +3.11%

    Financial Services: +5.71%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Alpha Bank and PPC.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.74

    ATEbank: 0.79

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.26

    HBC Coca Cola: 22.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.38

    National Bank of Greece: 7.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.74

    OPAP: 15.40

    OTE: 7.37

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.76

    Titan: 15.35

    [19] Greek bond spreads fall below 800 bps

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank below 800 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, reflecting investors' optimism over developments in dealing with a debt crisis in the Eurozone.

    A Commission spokesman last week confirmed discussions over a plan for the repurchase of Greek debt, while the German central banker recommended extending to 30 years the repayment period of a 110-billion-euros loan to Greece. An EU Summit on Friday will discuss details of a "total solution" to Eurozone's debt crisis.

    [20] Greek bond market closing report

    Press reports asserting that the European Financial Support Fund will adopt a more aggressive policy in a plan to resolve Eurozone's debt problems, by buying securities of over-indebted countries through private placement, generated enthusiasm in regional bond markets on Tuesday.

    In the Greek electronic secondary bond market, the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 776 basis points on Tuesday, from 810 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.97 pct and the German Bund 3.21 pct.

    Greek CDS (credit default swaps) fell to 827 basis points. Turnover in the market was an improved 110 million euros, of which 72 million were buy orders and the remaining 38 million euros were sell orders. The five-year bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 28 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate was 1.66 pct, the six-month rate 1.33 pct, the three-month rate 1.08 pct and the one-month rate 0.91 pct.

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.40 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 73.774 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 14,104 contracts worth 53.735 million euros, with 35,995 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 55,421 contracts worth 20.021 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts, followed by Eurobank (2,523), OTE (2,178), Piraeus Bank (6,784), National Bank (11,050), Alpha Bank (2,566), Intracom (1,232), Intralot (1,122), Mytilineos (1,104), Cyprus Bank (1,145) and Hellenic Postbank (923).

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.386

    Pound sterling 0.860

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 8.875

    Japanese yen 113.09

    Swiss franc 1.305

    Norwegian kroner 7.945

    Canadian dollar 1.382

    Australian dollar 1.375

    General News

    [23] 'Chemistry: Our Life, Our Future - The Nobel Chemistry Prizes 1901-2010' exhibition in Athens

    A unique international exhibition titled "Chemistry: Our Life, Our Future - The Nobel Chemistry Prizes 1901-2010" opens Tuesday evening at the National Research Foundation in central Athens, organised by the Museum of the Hellenic Nobel Collection under the auspices of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    Described by international media as "a unique opportunity for the global scientific and cultural projection of Greece", the exhibition is organised in the context of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry.

    Rare objects of research, unpublished documents, photographs, diaries, books and other items from Alfred Nobel's (1833-1896) Chemistry Products Factory in the Italian town of Avigliana will be presented for the first time in Greece (at the National Research Foundation, 48 Vassileos Constantinou Avenue, Athens) and in Italy (Avigliana municipality, Turin, on the 150th anniversary of the Republic of Italy 1861-2011).

    All the items of both Exhibitions belong to the Museum of the Hellenic Nobel Collection, the result of 20 years of methodical work and research throughout the world.

    A rare Collection of precision scales used by Alfred Nobel in Avigliana for his chemistry experiments (1870-1895), the invention of dynamite (1866) and tens of other patents, will be on display for the first time, and only in Athens.

    Also on display, in both exhibitions, is a unique collection of photographs from the Avigliana laboratory, which belonged to the personal collection of the German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941), later a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Museum of the Hellenic Nobel Collection discovered Kaiser Wilhelm's II photography Collection in Argentina and acquired it in 2000.

    On display for the first time to the Greek public are:

    1) Stamps: Special editions and commemorative envelopes of postal services on Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Chemistry laureates of the 20th century.

    2) Rare commemorative medals of Alfred Nobel and the 20th century Nobel Chemistry laureates.

    3) Research objects from Alfred Nobel's laboratory at the Avigliana factory.

    4) Original British patents and explanatory drawings, color and black & white lithographs of Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Chemistry laureates of the 20th century.

    5) Rare photographs with the signature of the Nobel Chemistry laureates of the 20th century.

    The exhibition is prologued by 12 Nobel Chemistry laureates, and will be on display through March 12.

    [24] Strikes by pharmacists, public transports

    Strikes by pharmacists against changes envisioned in draft bill for liberalising their profession along with transport strikes in the greater Athens area were announced for on Wednesday.

    Pharmacies in Piraeus will open on Wednesday and will be closed again on Friday and on Monday, Feb. 7 following a decision by the Piraeus Pharmacists Association to participate in the strikes called by the Panhellenic Pharmacists Association.

    The Piraeus pharmacists will decide on their future stance in a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

    Meanwhile, public transport strikes continue in Athens. Buses, trolleys and the electric railway will not run on Wednesday, while the Metro and tram will run according to schedule unless their personnel make a last minute decision to participate in the strike mobilizations.

    Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas underlined that dialogue cannot continue indefinitely and that the government has given the opportunity to the public transport employees to express their views.

    The draft law on public transport will be voted in parliament in no less than 15 days.

    [25] H1N1 deaths reach 21; Greece in midst of epidemic says minister

    Another four people died on Tuesday as a result of complications caused by an H1N1 virus infection, bringing the death toll to 21.

    Earlier Tuesday, Deputy Health Minister Mihalis Timosidis said that Greece is currently in the midst of an H1N1 epidemic that is likely to continue for several more weeks, after news that the death toll as a result of the flu had risen to 17.

    Six people died as a result of complications caused by an H1N1 virus infection since Monday evening, when the number of deaths stood at 15.

    The minister said that health authorities were on alert and he described the measures taken to cope with the flu epidemic as adequate. He also urged members of the population at higher risk from flu to get vaccinated, even at this stage of the epidemic.

    According to the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO) a total of 94 people have been admitted to intensive care units as a result of H1N1 since the start of the year of which 47 remain in ICUs at present.

    [26] Anarchist literature found on robbery suspects

    Police in Thessaloniki on Tuesday reported finding handwritten anarchist literature and draft anarchist material in the possession of two suspects arrested for an armed robbery that took place in Thessaloniki on Monday.

    The two are accused of robbing a youth centre in Neapolis while an auction of confiscated vehicles by the Organisation for the Management of Public Materials (ODDY) was underway.

    During a raid of the suspects' homes, as well as that of a young woman in Thessaloniki's Ano Poli district, police also found an air-gun, a can of pepper spray, a wig, a round stamp of the Thessaloniki university Polytechnic, small quantities of drugs, computers and USB storage devices and a large number of keys and phone cards.

    The items confiscated have been centre to the Northern Greece Crime Investigation Sub-directorate to be examined in police laboratories and investigators are looking into the possibility that the two may also be involved in other crimes.

    So far they have been charged with forming a criminal gang, robbery, weapons and drugs violations, receiving stolen goods, harbouring a criminal, insubordination and giving false testimony.

    The two suspects are accused of storming the second floor of the Neapoli youth centre while the car auction was taking place with their faces covered, brandishing hand-guns and a grenade. They used these to threaten the auction committee and others present, forcing them to hand over 36,000 euro in cash, two cheques of 2,500 euro and 87 receipts issued by ODDY.

    The pair were immediately spotted by motorcycle police, however, who launched a pursuit and managed to catch the 23-year-old near the site of the robbery, while the 28-year-old escaped on foot.

    At the time of his arrest the 23-year-old suspect was carrying a loaded gun, an assault grenade and a portable radio transceiver with earphones.

    Police launched a manhunt and eventually tracked down the second suspect in the early hours of Tuesday, in Thessaloniki's Ano Poli district.

    Authorities have released the names and photographs of those arrested and appealed to the public to come forward with any information they may possess concerning their identity, contacting Thessaloniki's Security headquarters in full anonymity and confidentiality.

    [27] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The economy and regular inspection by the EU-IMF troika and the crisis in Egypt were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Working hours in public services changing at Troika's demand".

    AVGHI: "Life sentence - Berlin advancing plan for European permanent austerity".

    DIMOKRATIA: "30 years occupation - What the 'permanent fiscal balance' means for Greece".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "e-Governance unconstitutional".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Fear of wave of migrants from N. Africa".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Extra VAT for 800,000 businesses".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Revolt hanging from a thread - Mubarak collapsing, despite EU-US desire to salvage his policy".

    ESTIA: "Huge blame for the deficits".

    ETHNOS: "5 Richter from Troika for working people - New wave of upsets in private sector".

    IMERISSIA: "Labor and social security fronts opening up - Five new demands by Troika".

    KATHIMERINI: "Ultimatum to Mubarak".

    LOGOS: "Egypt and the domino of uprisings".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Timetable for exit from (European) debt crisis".

    NIKI: "Increases from you, strikes from us - February will turn out to be the hottest month of the year".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Uprising of the Egyptian people - Imperialist aspirations for control of the developments".

    TA NEA: "The Merkel package for Greece and Europe".

    VRADYNI: "Settlement of outstanding tax cases with no end - Finance ministry decision sends settlement-seekers back to the Tax Bureau offices".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] Spokesman: Turkish stance \ not helping talks

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA)

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Tuesday that if the Turkish Cypriot side was as consistent as the Greek Cypriot side with the basis of negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, then the course of the negotiations would be much better.

    He also pointed out that if the Turkish Cypriot side had maintained a constructive stance, then it would have been possible to get closer to an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem very soon.

    Stephanou noted that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, ''breaking his promise to end the blame games, continues to make statements accusing the Greek Cypriot side and the President of the Republic Mr. Demetris Christofias'' regarding their meeting in Geneva with the UN Secretary General.

    He said Eroglu has been claiming that the Greek Cypriot side went to Geneva last week without a plan, dismissed his and thus there was no result.

    Stephanou pointed out that in Geneva, Eroglu ''made a proposal that provided for suffocating deadlines and led the process to a deadlock, suggesting a four- or five-party meeting to close the Cyprus problem.''

    ''The proposal that Mr. Eroglu is advertising is totally outside the framework of UN Security Council resolutions, which clearly determine the process and the role of the involved parties,'' he said.

    He added that, ''contrary to Mr. Eroglu, President of the Republic Mr. Christofias, defending principles, submitted constructive proposals in Geneva, which however were dismissed by the Turkish Cypriot side, which is insisting on 'two state' reasoning.''

    ''The proposals of the Greek Cypriot side are always within the framework of UN Security Council resolutions and are based on the agreed basis for a solution providing for a bicommunal bizonal federation with political equality, as the UN describes in its resolutions on Cyprus, for a single state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international identity. If the Turkish Cypriot side was as consistent with this basis, then the course of negotiations for the Cyprus problem would surely be much better,'' he stressed.

    Stephanou noted that, ''if the Turkish Cypriot side accepts in practice the basis of the solution that has been agreed on and is defined in UN resolutions on Cyprus, as well as the linking of chapters in the negotiations, such as those concerning property, territorial readjustments and settlers, that is if it maintains a creative and constructive stance, then it will indeed be possible to reach within range of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem soon, a development that is a precondition for convening an international meeting under UN auspices with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the guarantor powers and the Republic of Cyprus, to discuss and solve the international aspects of the problem.''

    Asked when President Christofias and Eroglu would be resuming negotiations, Stephanou said a date had not been set and that in any case the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer was not in Cyprus.

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

    President Christofias and Eroglu are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations with an aim to reunify the island.

    [29] FM discusses Cyprus issue with Barroso

    BRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou had a tete a tete meeting Tuesday in Brussels with President of the European Commission Manuel Barroso, with whom he exchanged views on recent developments regarding the Cyprus issue.

    The meeting took place in the framework of regular contacts held between them as former colleagues at the European Commission.

    According to information, the meeting had no fixed agenda, but they focused on the Cyprus issue and recent developments.

    The Republic of Cyprus is a full EU member state since May 2004. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. UN-led talks which began in September 2008 are still going on, with a view to reunite the island.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS


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