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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-02-05

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

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

Saturday, 5 February 2011 Issue No: 3713

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek PM to visit Cairo on Sunday
  • [02] PM on EU special Summit
  • [03] Eurozone leaders' draft report on econ governance, EFSF
  • [04] PM in Brussels for EU Special Summit on energy, innovation
  • [05] KKE on EU Summit meeting
  • [06] Deputy foreign minister discusses energy issues in Azerbaijan
  • [07] Migrant issue discussed in parliament
  • [08] Migration issue a 'bomb'
  • [09] Interior minister on civil service wage scale, working times
  • [10] Gov't: Negotiations to slash road tolls
  • [11] KKE opposition to private sector involvement in waste management
  • [12] Tsipras accuses gov't of planning 'constitutionalised poverty'
  • [13] UN chief: Hope for speedy resolution of FYROM name issue
  • [14] FinMin Papaconstantinou on tax evasion, case involving publisher
  • [15] More German speculation over restructuring of Greek debt
  • [16] Greece to auction six-month T-bills on Tues.
  • [17] Minister slams planned farmer protests as 'untimely and unfair'
  • [18] Dynamic Greek presence at Tel Aviv's IMTM exhibition
  • [19] Union opposes private sector pay cuts
  • [20] MIG chairman may be charged with attempted extortion of 'Errikos Dynan'
  • [21] CoS upholds IBC lease contract
  • [22] Crisis undermines Athens' real estate investment outlook
  • [23] Car registrations drop 58.6% in Jan.
  • [24] Stocks up 4.43% this week
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [28] Images of the Greek Resistance exhibition at Benaki Museum
  • [29] H1N1-related deaths reach 27 in Greece
  • [30] Playwright Iakovos Kampanellis in intensive care unit
  • [31] Businessman gunned down in Egio
  • [32] Firebombs at Art Theatre before play concerning PAOK
  • [33] Metro work stoppage on Tuesday afternoon
  • [34] Cloudy on Saturday
  • [35] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek PM to visit Cairo on Sunday

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced here on Friday night that he would be travelling to Cairo on Sunday.

    Speaking to reporters at the end of a one-day special summit of EU leaders on energy, innovation and economy, Papandreou said that he would be holding meetings with Egyptian political leaders.

    The Greek premier also held telephone conversations on Friday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei.

    Papandreou underlined the special interest Greece places on Egypt, as the latter "is in our neighbourhood".

    In parallel, the Greek premier drew attention to the possible danger of an "explosion of a refugees wave towards Greece" in the case tragic events in Egypt continue.

    He said he had the opportunity to discuss on Friday developments in the north African country with Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed ElBaradei and other Egyptian personalities. He added that he also held telephone contacts with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and that he informed Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on his Cairo visit on Sunday.

    Ashton will also visit Cairo, following Papandreou's visit, after a relevant EU summit decision.

    [02] PM on EU special Summit

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris/M.Aroni)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said here on Friday night that Greece was no more the problem but part of the solution of Europe's economic problem.

    Addressing reporters at the end of a one-day special summit of EU leaders on energy, innovation and economy, Papandreou said that for the past year, his government has been "trying to tackle the borrowing needs of the country as well as the reliability deficit the previous New Democracy government left behind," adding that the present government has managed to overcome all these problems.

    The Greek premier said he was satisfied as regards the prospect of creating an EU permanent mechanism for economic crises and expressed hope that a final agreement would be reached in the coming weeks, which would provide a solution, once and for all, to Eurozone countries facing debt problems.

    Regarding proposals that werte tabled during Friday's special EU Summit, Papandreou said that Greece had "nothing to fear regarding these proposals as it has already implemented them at 90 per cent."

    [03] Eurozone leaders' draft report on econ governance, EFSF

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    Eurozone leaders have reached a consensus, in principle, on strengthening the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), according to a draft report on the results of the Summit obtained by ANA-MPA.

    The draft communiqu? said Eurozone leaders and the EU's institutions underlined their strategy over sustaining financial stability in the Eurozone, including a legislative package on economic governance, banks' stress tests and the restructuring of the financial sector along with implementing a so-called six-month program.

    The 17 leaders stressed that the package of decisions should be completed by March and set four steps: a) implementing existing programmes with Greece and Ireland, b) implementing measures aimed at strengthening fiscal conditions and creating growth prospects in Eurozone member-states, and with the European Commission, in cooperation with European Central Bank, assessing progress, c) the Eurogroup will present specific proposals on strengthening EFSF and its flexibility to offer the necessary support and d) completing all operational characteristics of a European Stability Mechanism.

    The European Council's conclusions also called for a "general approach" to be presented in March, based on European Commission's recommendations on "economic governance" and urged for actions to reassure full implementation of recommendations made by a Task Force for a final agreement with the European Parliament to be reached by the end of June. The Council also called for "ambitious stress tests" on European banks and urged member-states to come up with specific plans -based on community rules on state subsidies- for dealing with any "weak" links in the banking system.

    The communiqu? also said that a European Council in March will decide on a limited reform of the Lisbon Treaty, necessary for decisions over a European Stability Mechanism.

    [04] PM in Brussels for EU Special Summit on energy, innovation

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in comments before the summit, said the challenge for Europe and the eurozone is to manage certain "systemic problems" in the latter's economies, adding that the current summit and another in March will be significant for establishing the conditions to create a permanent solution.

    A key objective of the negotiations will be the establishment of a single energy market.

    The summit dealt with stimulating innovation and European economic reform issues, as well as the situation in Egypt and Tunisia.

    [05] KKE on EU Summit meeting

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga on Friday referred to the EU Summit meeting being held the same day in Brussels, stressing that debt is not the main issue in the "competitiveness pact".

    Papariga said the main issue, in her opinion, is the complete deregulation of the energy market, "which will bring the country face-to-face with fierce rivalry", as she said.

    [06] Deputy foreign minister discusses energy issues in Azerbaijan

    Agreements to involve Greece's Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) in the EU-Azerbaijan team for the South Corridor natgas project and to promote cooperation in renewable energy sources were among results achieved by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on his visit to Azerbaijan on February 1-3.

    Speaking to the ANA-MPA after his return on Friday, Kouvelis said the goal of the trip was to put Greece in position where it could secure adequate quantities of natural gas in order to immediately implement the ITGI pipeline.

    Kouvelis said the Greek side had supported the ITGI pipeline as the most 'mature' of the projects currently underway in the framework of the South Corridor. He said the pipeline was part of an overall plan and that this was indicated by decisions such as the agreement between Greece, Italy and Turkey, the agreement between the three companies DEPA-Edison and Botas, the fact that a Greek-Turkish pipeline was already in operation and an agreement the previous December between DEPA, Edison and Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD to set up the company IGB to take charge of the construction of a new natgas pipeline between Greece and Bulgaria that will form a part of the ITGI.

    He noted that the IGB, in particular, was an important development for implementation of the ITGI and had been termed as a "project of European interest" by the EU.

    Concerning the decision to involve DEPA in the South Corridor, Kouvelis said this highlighted DEPA's role on a European level and indicated that Azerbaijan was positively disposed to a good level of cooperation with Greece.

    The deputy foreign minister also reported a series contacts with Azerbaijan's officials for promoting bilateral economic relations in a variety of sectors and co-chaired a Mixed Ministerial Committee with Azerbaijan's Industry Minister Natiq Aliyev.

    Kouvelis had a series of meetings with Azerbaijani ministers to discuss cooperation in renewable energy sources, with emphasis on the transfer of knowhow from Greek companies in areas such as environmental management.

    The deputy minister's trip to Baku is his second, while exchanges of visits between the two countries are expected to become more frequent during 2011. The Greek side also hopes to organise a visit by a business delegation in the near future, pointing out that Azerbaijan currently enjoys extremely rapid growth rates.

    Kouvelis' next trip will be to Cyprus, where he is to be the central speaker at a forum on "Cyprus: Gateway for Greek businesses to the Arab World" on Monday. During the visit, he will be received by Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou and Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides.

    [07] Migrant issue discussed in parliament

    The migrants that staged a takeover of an Athens University Law School building in central Athens were not illegal migrants, but migrants that are illegal today because they were unable, due to the crisis, to fulfil the required 150 working days to renew their papers and who in the preceding years were legally in Greece and paying their contributions to the state Social Security Foundation (IKA), citizens' protection minister Christos Papoutsis said in parliament on Friday, responding to accusations by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MP Thanassis Nakos that the ministry remained 'inert' in the face of the takeover.

    According to Nakos, both the minister and the ministry services had been aware of the plans for the transport of the migrants to Athens for their protest, but did nothing to stop on the island of Crete, from where they left for Athens, or in the port of Piraeus on their arrival.

    Papoutsis warned that one should not confuse people who legally lived and worked in Greece for many years, incorporated in the local job markets and who today, for various reasons, do not have residency permits, with illegal migrants.

    He added that the migrants who held working permits have paid substantial sums to IKA. "We cannot send them to jail because this year they have been hit by unemployment and they are unable to fulfil the 150 work stamps per year -- the more so when the State has been in deliberations for reducing the required number of work stamps since the time of ND's governance," Papoutsis said.

    Addressing himself to Nakos, the minister asked: "Don't you know that you were in discussions with these people? Aren't you ashamed of coming today to accuse the government?"

    Papoutsis further said that the migrants that resorted to the Law School building were being awaited by the deputy labor minister (for a discussion) "and I would have considered it inconsistent if the police authorities obstructed them from making the journey".

    Meanwhile, approximately 50 members of the Solidarity Initiative for migrants and migrants gathered Friday outside the offices of the Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) on Friday, calling for the legalisation of all migrants in the country and equal civil and social rights and obligations with Greek workers.

    In an announcement, the demonstrators said the ESIEA building was chosen for the protest because the mass media were reproducing the government's "official language and phraseology" on the issue, charging that the "the propaganda of fascist and racist slogans has become the formal language of the state".

    [08] Migration issue a 'bomb'

    The migration is a huge issue, "a veritable bomb", for Greek society, but it is not a localised, nor a Greek phenomenon and concerns the entire European Union, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis told a conference of the national federation of police employees on Friday, adding that this was the reason why Greece has put the matter to the EU.

    Greece "asked Europe to come here" and extend assistance through FRONTEX (the European border guard force), and chiefly with frontex's Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABITs) along Greece's land border in Evros, precisely in order to create a clear symbolism "that Greece, the Greek authorities, are protecting and guarding the European borders in collaboration and with the assistance of Frontex," he added.

    At the same time, with the collaboration of the Hellenic Navy and Army, "we are trying to develop mechanisms -- first of all monitoring mechanisms, but also illegal migrant reception mechanisms," the minister continued.

    On measures to combat illegal migration, Papoutsis said that the cooperation with the reception countries and their embassies here for the re-entry of illegal migrants "is not the best it could be", but stressed that the re-entry agreement between the EU and Turkey achieved a week ago "is a big step" in that direction.

    "In three weeks from now, on February 24, the agreement will be adopted -- without problems, I hope -- by the EU Council of Ministers," Papoutsis said.

    The minister further outlined steps being taken to improve the working conditions of the police.

    [09] Interior minister on civil service wage scale, working times

    Deputy Interior Minister George Dolios on Friday noted that the new wage scale for the civil service was not an attempt to reduce total payroll costs in the public sector, in statements to the local radio station Flash.

    "If there is a reduction in payroll cost this will arise as a result of other initiatives, other reasons," he stressed, noting that the new wage scale will apply to both existing public-sector staff and newcomers.

    He also underlined that the new afternoon opening hours for certain public-sector services would not be achieved by split shifts, nor by working for longer than eight hours, stressing that the ministry hoped that the civil servants' union federation ADEDY would itself take an initiative in this direction.

    "It is not fair, it isn't right for workers in the public sector to work for fewer hours than those in the private sector. We will see which social groups cannot be served by the public sector during morning hours and based on the needs of these social groups we will choose certain peak services that will also work during afternoon hours in order to provide a better service," he explained.

    According to the minister, this was envisaged happening within 2011 but not immediately.

    An announcement issued by ADEDY on Friday, however, said the union would not accept any reduction in labour, salary and social insurance entitlements in the public sector, stressing that measures such as a generalised increase in work hours in the public sector would not solve any of the problems but merely hoped to make an impression on the public.

    It also ruled out participation in dialogue on the new wage scale unless the government first agreed to accept its positions for restoring paycuts through abolition of the 13th and 14th wages or the minimum wage proposed by ADEDY.

    With respect to changes in work times, ADEDY said that it would only discuss those for services concerning the interior ministry itself and only if they did not involve split shifts, higher number of work hours and fewer jobs or changes in the way work hours were used.

    [10] Gov't: Negotiations to slash road tolls

    The transport ministry is in the middle of negotiations with consortia holding national motorway concessions as well as financing banks, Deputy Minister Yiannis Magriotis said on Monday.

    "We are discussing a reduction of road toll fees, and we will be successful. The contracts will be corrected and this will happen very soon," he stressed.

    Magriotis clarified negotiations are underway to implement "drastic cuts" in road tolls for under construction stretches of highways, an overall reduction of tolls by concessionaires, introduction of discounts and special discounts for residents of local communities along tollway routes.

    Finally, he underlined that toll fees are part of motorway financing and that if protests and so-called "no-pay movements" continue then specific projects could face the risk of remaining incomplete.

    [11] KKE opposition to private sector involvement in waste management

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga on Friday expressed complete opposition to proposals envisioning the allocation of waste management contracts to private companies that will operate four processing plants.

    After meeting with municipal workers union (POE-OTA) representatives, Papariga said her communist party is against the sector's privatisation.

    [12] Tsipras accuses gov't of planning 'constitutionalised poverty'

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group leader Alexis Tsipras accused the government in statements on Friday of having already agreed with the European Union to a new austerity plan and "constitutionalised poverty for the entire European South", without consulting either the Greek people or the Greek Parliament.

    "The government has no right to put its signature to this despicable policy," he added, asserting that it was "sheer madness" that was deepening the crisis further instead of giving the people of Europe the prospect of exiting the crisis.

    "They are choosing to protect the interests of the banks over those of people," Tsipras said, saying that it was now a historical necessity to form a broad front of political forces of the Left that would extricate the country from this prospect of controlled bankruptcy and default.

    [13] UN chief: Hope for speedy resolution of FYROM name issue

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that the FYROM name issue will be resolved speedily, in a statement in Berlin on Thursday after a meeting with the German President.

    Ban said that the issue has been discussed with his personal envoy on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, who has held talks with the countries concerned.

    The UN chief expressed sincere hope that the name issue, which has been outstanding for many years and has substantial effects on bilateral relations and relations in the region, will be resolved as soon as possible, in reply to a question on the name dispute between Greece and FYROM.

    Ban added that he will do his best to encourage his envoy and the sides concerned -- the governments of Greece and FYROM -- to engage in the dialogue with sincerity.

    Nimetz is due to hold his next meeting with the Greek and FYROM representatives to the name talks on February 9 in New York.

    Financial News

    [14] FinMin Papaconstantinou on tax evasion, case involving publisher

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Friday referred to the timely issue of tax evasion and tax dodgers, while speaking in Parliament and in reply to a tabled question, stating, amongst others, that "there is a sense that the powerful and the celebrities are not being punished. This will end."

    Papaconstantinou made the statement in response to a current question by independent MP Dora Bakoyannis concerning the case of publisher and television presenter Themos Anastasiadis, who was stopped at the Swiss-French border a few years ago with 5.5 million euros in cash and checks.

    The finance minister underlined that the current government has nothing to fear as regards tax evasion issues, adding that the economic prosecutor's office will be established soon to ensure that the processing of relevant cases will be sped up.

    On her part, Bakoyannis stressed that the Anastasiadis case is long overdue, adding that questions have remained unanswered for the past three years.

    Referring to the specific case, Papaconstantinou said the financial crimes squad SDOE is close to completing its investigation, while the imposition of fines will depend on its outcome. He added that the SDOE findings will be forwarded to a prosecutor, who will then decide whether criminal charges will be filed.

    [15] More German speculation over restructuring of Greek debt

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA / G. Pappas)

    Goldman Sachs Germany chairman Alexander Dibelius on Friday warned of the dangers of a possible Greek default, urging a restructuring of the country's debt.

    "It cannot be allowed to be led to a Greek default. For this reason a restructuring of the Greek debt is necessary," Dibelius told the newspaper 'Bild', while he cited a necessary "a mixture of support, discipline and pressure for Greece in order (for it to) return to the road of virtue".

    Dibelius said that although Greece represented only 2.0 pct of the European economy, the country has become a symbol of debt crisis in the Eurozone, stressing that the country's problems cannot be allowed to lead to the failure of a large monetary system.

    Professor Willem Buiter, the chief analyst for Citigroup, said Greece needed a 50-pct cut in its debt, although a political decision necessary for the restructuring was being delayed.

    "Economic reasons impose the immediate restructuring of the Greek debt, but political reasons delay this decision, waiting for the completion of measures to deal with any turbulence in the banking system," Buiter told "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung". The German economist said more than 50 pct of the Greek debt, totaling 360 billion euros, is held by foreign investors.

    [16] Greece to auction six-month T-bills on Tues.

    Greece on Tuesday will auction a six-month treasury bills issue seeking to raise 300 million euros from the market. A finance ministry announcement said the issue will be offered tax-free to private investors on the precondition that the bills would be held until their maturity. A previous auction of Treasury-bills last month was several times oversubscribed, with interest rising slightly to 4.9 pct from 4.82 pct in October.

    [17] Minister slams planned farmer protests as 'untimely and unfair'

    Agriculture Minister Costas Skandalidis on Friday strongly criticised protests announced by Greek farmers, slamming them as "untimely, unfair and incomprehensible" at a time of economic crisis. He also warned that there was absolutely no margin for meeting their demands.

    Speaking during a press conference at the Zootechnia 2011 agricultural exhibition in Thessaloniki, Skandalidis urged farmers not to repeat "the folkloric scenes" witnessed during the 2010 farmers' protests, when tractors had blockaded the Greek-Bulgarian border and even prompted direct intervention by the Bulgarian prime minister, who came to speak with them at the border.

    Skandalidis said the ministry would continue dialogue with farmers but had essentially rejected their demands in advance. He underlined that demands for an increase in VAT returns to 15 percent or untaxed fuel were simply "unfair". Concerning their demand for reduced payments to the farm insurance agency ELGA, Skandalidis pointed out that the government was already paying out more than ELGA received in contributions from farmers.

    The minister noted that legislation would soon be passed that would reduce the powers of the middlemen and ensure farmers were better paid for their products, while a new framework for farming cooperatives would be voted into law before Easter. He also announced planned initiatives to help newly-established farmers.

    Following lengthy talks with Skandalidis in Thessaloniki on Thursday evening, representatives of farmers in northern and central Greece announced the start of a new round of protest mobilisations as of February 7 in support of their demands. In an announcement on Friday, the farmers' union PASY also called farmers in the Peloponnese to take part in rally being organised next Monday in the central square of Tripolis.

    Skandalidis is due in Tripolis on that day for talks with the regional council on supporting farmers and promoting Peloponnesian produce.

    Protests by Greek farmers have become an essentially annual phenomenon during the winter months when there is generally less work on farms, with farmers using their tractors to block national highways and border checkpoints in order to press demands for lower costs, greater subsidies and help in paying debts.

    [18] Dynamic Greek presence at Tel Aviv's IMTM exhibition

    Greek tourist destinations will be promoted at the 17th International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv, Israel next week, where the east Mediterranean nation will have a strong presence and its own pavilion.

    The tourism trade fair, to take place between Feb. 8-9, is expected to offer fertile ground for the promotion of Greece's tourism market for Israeli tourists.

    Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) officials have also hinted at the possibility of greater tourism arrivals in the country due to the current turmoil in North Africa.

    Tourist arrivals from Israel posted an impressive 200-pct increase in 2010, corresponding to 250,000 tourism arrivals in Greece.

    [19] Union opposes private sector pay cuts

    General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos on Friday stated that the troika (IMF-ECB-EU), the government and employers should "abandon any thought for pay cuts in the private sector".

    He pointed out that those responsible for state deficits are "the habitual tax-dodgers" and not the private sector employees who are "the country's production force".

    The union president called on the government to respect and defend the institutional framework for collective labour bargaining and collective work contracts, adding that this is the only way to settle the terms and conditions for private sector salaries.

    [20] MIG chairman may be charged with attempted extortion of 'Errikos Dynan'

    Appeals court public prosecutor Pantelis Stragalis on Friday ordered that Marfin Investment Group chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos be charged with the attempted extortion of the 'Errikos Dynan' foundation, as the legal representative of Marfin Bank. The order to prosecute has been sent to the first-instance court prosecutors' office.

    Stragalis also ordered that charges be brought against anyone else responsible and called for an inquiry into whether the bank was guilty of breach of faith.

    The case was initiated after the head of the Errikos Dynan Foundation Andreas Martinis sued Marfin Bank for extortion, unfair competition and breach of faith.

    The Errikos Dynan accused the bank of unjustifiably foreclosing on loans to the Foundation after it began collaborating with GAIA SA without any reason arising from the terms of the loan contract and even though the bank had multiple securities against its loan.

    The Errikos Dynan accused the bank of unfair competition in order to preserve an oligopoly of maternity hospitals owned by the Marfin group.

    Based on a preliminary inquiry when the Errikos Dynan first first filed against Marfin, a first-instance court public prosecutor found that the charges could not be upheld and asked that the suit be put on file. Stragalis did not agree with this assessment, however, and has asked that the case be prosecuted after all.

    [21] CoS upholds IBC lease contract

    A Council of State (CoS) plenum on Friday ruled that a long-term lease contract signed in August 2006 between Lamda Development and Olympic Real Estate S.A. for the International Broadcast Center (IBC), located in the Maroussi district of northern Athens, is legal.

    The CoS plenum issued five rulings (414 - 418 / 2011) that upheld the 40-year contract, under which Lamda Development purchased the right to use the 53,853-sq.m. building that hosted the IBC during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The building today hosts a large and upscale shopping mall.

    The local association of merchants, a cultural association and 28 private citizens had appealed to the CoS, requesting that the lease contract be declared null and void.

    [22] Crisis undermines Athens' real estate investment outlook

    Athens ranked 26th among 27 European cities in the list of investment interest for real estate, a report by Pricewater-houseCoopers said on Friday.

    The report, based on 600 real estate professionals, ranked Istanbul at the top and Dublin at the bottom of the list. The report said that low rankings for Athens and Dublin reflected professional investors' worries over fiscal problems facing Greece and Ireland, while Istanbul's top position reflected a rapid growth rate in Turkey. London and Munich followed Istanbul in second and third place, while Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg were also included in the top 12 European cities.

    [23] Car registrations drop 58.6% in Jan.

    Car registrations dropped 58.6 pct to 13,562 units (new or used ones) in January 2011, compared with the same month last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Friday. The statistical service, in a report, said vehicle registrations were up 24.9 pct in January 2010.

    Motorcycle registrations fell 13.3 pct to 3,429 units in the same period, after a decline of 10.2 pct recorded in January 2010, the service said.

    [24] Stocks up 4.43% this week

    Stocks ended lower during the last trading session of a positive week, ending a seven-day rally in the Athens Stock Exchange which pushing the composite index of the market 9.17 pct higher. The index fell 0.80 pct to end at 1,661.68 points, after flirting with the 1,700 level in intra-day trading. Market sources said talk of a share capital increase plan by Alpha Bank -dismissed by the bank- turned market participants to sellers. The index rose 4.43 pct in the week. Turnover was 145.502 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.21 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 1.08 pct and the Small Cap index fell.

    Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (2.79 pct), OPAP (2.56 pct) and Ellaktor (2.03 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (7.0 pct), MIG (3.95 ct) and PPC (3.76 pct) were top losers.

    The Food (2.61 pct) and Travel (2.34 pct) sectors scored gains, while Health (3.41 pct), Utilities (3.25 pct) and Banks (2.51 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 108 to 73 with another 36 issues unchanged. Intrakat (15.73 pct), Hellenic Postbank (11.11 pct) and Euroholdings (10 pct) were top gainers, while Paperpack (20 pct), Unibios (11.11 pct) and Olympic Catering (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.93%

    Industrials: +0.24%

    Commercial: -1.28%

    Construction: +1.00%

    Media: -0.89%

    Oil & Gas: -0.77%

    Personal & Household: -0.89%

    Raw Materials: -2.06%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.34%

    Technology: -0.01%

    Telecoms: -2.15%

    Banks: -2.51%

    Food & Beverages: +2.61%

    Health: -3.41%

    Utilities: -3.25%

    Chemicals: -1.22%

    Financial Services: -2.51%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.65

    ATEbank: 0.80

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.03

    HBC Coca Cola: 22.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.33

    National Bank of Greece: 7.59

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.84

    OPAP: 16.00

    OTE: 7.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.61

    Titan: 15.59

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 756 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.8 pct and the German Bund 3.24 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 42 million euros, of which 14 million were buy orders and the remaining 28 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 25 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.68 pct, the six-month was 1.51 pct, the three-month 1.34 pct and the one-month rate 0.91 pct.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.88 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 50.683 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,526 contracts worth 37.430 million euros, with 34,222 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 30,733 contracts, worth 13.253 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (8,534), followed by Eurobank (1,468), PPC (1,307), Piraeus Bank (3,771), National Bank (5,799), Alpha Bank (2,792), Hellenic Postbank (1,284), Hellenic Petroleum (897), OTE (981) and Cyprus Bank (624).

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.374

    Pound sterling 0.853

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 8.889

    Japanese yen 112.31

    Swiss franc 1.305

    Norwegian kroner 7.87

    Canadian dollar 1.355

    Australian dollar 1.351

    General News

    [28] Images of the Greek Resistance exhibition at Benaki Museum

    An exhibition of period photographs of the Greek Resistance by leading post-war photographer Kostas Balafas opens on February 11 at the Benaki Museum's Piraeus Street Annex in central Athens.

    For the first time, such a breadth of items -- 60 photographs of a total 2,000 negatives -- will be on display from the life-long work of today's 90-year-old Balafas, which the photographer recently donated to the Benaki Museum.

    Kostas Balafas is one of the leading Greek exponents of humanist photography in the post-war period. The part of his oeuvre dedicated to ordinary working-class people and, particularly, to the inhabitants of isolated villages in Epirus, has been repeatedly publicised over the past 20 years through exhibitions and publications.

    As he personally enlisted in the 85th Regiment of ELAS (Greek Popular Liberation Army) in 1945, he recorded on camera the struggle of the people of Epirus against the invaders, well aware that he was recording historical moments for future generations. Using film stock that fell from the sky - literally, as it fell off an Italian bomber - he recorded villages destroyed, the plotting involved in the start of an armed struggle, the marches and battles of the resistance fighters, mourning mothers, as well as celebrations on the liberation of Ioannina.

    All this material remained hidden for 31 years under the wooden floor of a house in Ioannina. In 1991, the photographer himself edited and paid for the publication of the book Kostas Balafas. Antartiko - Guerrilla Warfare in Epirus, Black-and-white photographs 1940-1944. The exhibition presents the photographic series depicting Resistance in Epirus, which is held at the Benaki Museum, along with the rest of his oeuvre.

    To mark the exhibition, on February 27, 2011, there will be a one-day conference on: Photography during the Resistance years. Greece, 1941-1944.

    The exhibition will run through April 30.

    [29] H1N1-related deaths reach 27 in Greece

    Deaths related to complications of H1N1 flu have reached 27 in Greece, with the virus showing heightened activity in the country over the past weeks according to the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO).

    Fourteen new cases of the flu were reported on Friday and a total of 131 people have been admitted to intensive care with symptoms of H1N1 since the start of the year, of which 70 are still in an ICU. In the vast majority of the cases, laboratory tests isolate the A(H1N1) 2009 strain of the virus.

    KEELPNO warned that the incidence of the virus will be increased in coming weeks.

    "The flu can be severe, especially for people that belong to high-risk groups. However, a small percentage of healthy individuals may also present with serious complications," it said.

    Given the higher mortality rate as a result of the disease it advised measures that include vaccination, with priority given to vulnerable members of the population and healthcare staff. KEELPNO stressed, meanwhile, that it was still not too late for vaccination. It also advised the public to observe strict rules of hygiene, especially of the hands, and a proper use of anti-viral medication according to the instructions of doctors, noting that this should begin as quickly as possible and possibly without first requiring laboratory confirmation.

    [30] Playwright Iakovos Kampanellis in intensive care unit

    Playwright Iakovos Kampanellis is being treated in an intensive care unit in an Athens hospital.

    Kampanellis who is suffering from a kidney failure is being subjected to blood dialysis. According to reports, the condition of his health is considered very serious.

    [31] Businessman gunned down in Egio

    An unidentified businessman was gunned down outside his home in Egio at dawn on Friday.

    According to an eye-witness, who alerted police, a gunman wearing a hood was waiting for the businessman outside the latter's home, opened fire on him when the victim emerged from the house, and fled.

    The businessman was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital he was rushed to.

    According to initial information the businessman was riddled with more than five bullets.

    Egio security police are investigating the homicide, and have launched a manhunt for the perpetrator.

    [32] Firebombs at Art Theatre before play concerning PAOK

    About 25 people equipped with cocktail molotov bombs, smoke bombs, crowbars and other items burnt and destroyed a large part of the stage at the Art Theatre in central Athens on Friday night, 40 minutes before an event concerning soccer and titled "Travelling with PAOK" was to be presented.

    Chaos prevailed for a long time, while police did not have time to intervene in time and the unidentified persons abused the public waiting for the performance to start in the theatre, located in the Athens district of Plaka.

    Director Stavros Tsiolis, the play's writer, said "wild situations prevailed. They smashed everything they found in front of them."

    [33] Metro work stoppage on Tuesday afternoon

    Athens metro workers are to hold another work stoppage next Tuesday, between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon.

    During the work stoppage, metro staff will attend a general assembly in order to discuss the situation that has arisen after the draft bill on reforming public transport was tabled in Parliament and decide what further action to take.

    Weather Forecast

    [34] Cloudy on Saturday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 2-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -5C and 14C. Cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 3C to 12C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -1C to 10C.

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

    The extended working hours in the public sector as of October and other economic issues were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Friday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "IKA will have access to asset statements of those with overdue debts (contributions) to the state social security foundation".

    AVGHI: "No-pay movement".

    AVRIANI: "How to secure your pension from the public sector".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Salaries, bonuses up in the air in public sector, too".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The Memorandum making Greek youths leave the country (for work abroad)".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Continuous 8-hour workday and afternoon in public sector, municipalities, regional services".

    ESTIA: "Fiscal chaos 90 years ago - Insert of ESTIA's issue of February 4, 1921 - Incredible similarities with the present".

    ETHNOS: "8-hour workday and upsets in salaries - Reversals in public sector as from October".

    IMERISSIA: "Uniform VAT in eurozone - Radical changes with Merkel plan".

    KATHIMERINI: "Arrangement for Greek debt by end-2011".

    LOGOS: "Indefinite mobilisations by IKA doctors".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Plan for 'New Eurozone' with commitments and measures".

    NIKI: "Strike 'no. 2' against public sector".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Free public health - Abolition of corporate action".

    TA NEA: "Civil servants - 40-hour workweek, with work in afternoons, too".

    VRADYNI: "OEK (Labor Housing Organisation) loans being abolished".

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