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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-15

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

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

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 Issue No: 3743

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM briefs President on eurogroup summit outcome
  • [02] Finmin: Eurogroup summit made 'good decision'
  • [03] Gov't: Summit results a success for Greece
  • [04] ND to take position on Greek debt after EU summit
  • [05] ND leader: terms of Memorandum must change
  • [06] KKE attacks PASOK, ND over EU decisions
  • [07] FM on Turkey, Libya
  • [08] Greece condemns 'barbarous murder" of Israeli family in West Bank
  • [09] PASOK National Council secretary meets Palestinian ambassador
  • [10] Minister of State held meeting with Siemens executive
  • [11] Turkish frigate enters national territorial waters
  • [12] Greek minister joins call for 30% C02 emissions cut
  • [13] Greek bond spreads down significantly
  • [14] Social insurance contributions cut for enterprises by 10% this summer
  • [15] KKE leader visits Elefsina shipyards
  • [16] Bank of Greece reports lower 2010 results
  • [17] Budget deficit down 29% in Jan-Feb
  • [18] Real GDP in 2010 fell by 4.5 pct
  • [19] Industrial production down 5.2pct in January
  • [20] Industrial import price index up 6.1 pct in Jan
  • [21] Hellenic Russian Chamber of Commerce to hold conference on Greek real estate market
  • [22] Motor Oil to issue 450-mln-euro bond loans
  • [23] Stocks jump 5.15% on Monday
  • [24] Greek bond market closing report
  • [25] ADEX closing report
  • [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [27] Raid on two terror safehouses in Athens, Volos - Seven detained for questioning
  • [28] Incident while migrants depart from mansion
  • [29] Greek journalists to hold 24-hour strike on Thursday
  • [30] Three bodies, possibly of missing Bangladeshis, found in Souda Bay
  • [31] Fair on Tuesday
  • [32] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [33] President: Cyprus-Israel agreement on EEZ will enhance cooperation
  • [34] President Christofias meets Israeli PM
  • [35] Government condemns illegal arrest in occupied Varosha Politics

  • [01] PM briefs President on eurogroup summit outcome

    Prime minister George Papandreou called the decisions taken at Friday's extraordinary eurogroup summit as a "message of security to the markets" and "an important landmark that indicates Greece's positive course", at a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday during which he briefed the latter on the outcome of the summit and the decision to extend the repayment period for Greece's 110 billion euro EU/IMF bailout loan and reduction of the interest rate.

    Greeting Papandreou at the Presidential Mansion, Papoulias noted that "something is moving", and displayed special interest in the conditions of the negotiation and the stance of the France-Germany front.

    The two sides had a different approach, but that finally contributed to Greece's ability to discuss a broader package, Papandreou said.

    It was acknowledged that Greece has made very important steps, that the Greek people have made sacrifices and that this should be rewarded, Papandreou said, warning however that this does not mean that the struggle has ended.

    The premier said the course achieved by the government and also the people was acknowledged, while a message of security was sent to the markets that the EU will back Greece on the course it has decided to take.

    "We still have much to do for the better and for the economy, but also for the citizens," Papandreou added.

    In a later statement after the 75-minute meeting with the President, Papandreou said he briefed Papoulias in detail on the important decisions taken at the summit, adding that it was a "tough negotiation" but "positive decisions" were taken.

    "We proved that Greece can, when it wants to. It was a rewarding of the people's efforts and sacrifices. We won a big battle, but the struggle continues for a Greece of lawfulness, transparency and growth," Papandreou said.

    He added that the country must exit from the crisis and stand on its own strength, and that the immense wealth that Greece has must be exploited to take the country out of its present situation.

    [02] Finmin: Eurogroup summit made 'good decision'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Arriving at a meeting of EU finance ministers' on Monday, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said that the decisions taken at the Eurogroup summit on Friday were a "good decision" that would help resolve the European crisis.

    He said that Monday's meeting between Eurogroup finance ministers would tease out the details of the agreement, which he said would further help Greece.

    "We are dedicated to our programme of reforms and continuing fiscal stabilisation," he added.

    According to Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker, Eurogroup leaders had taken a "good decision" on Friday and now had to take similar steps for Ireland.

    Juncker said Monday's meeting of finance ministers would seek to make progress on various aspects of the decisions made on Friday but without anything being made final.

    [03] Gov't: Summit results a success for Greece

    Greece was no longer the "discredited" country that the previous New Democracy government had left in its wake, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Monday when referring to the results of the Eurozone leaders' summit the previous Friday.

    "We are no longer the problem. On the contrary, we propose solutions and help shape crucial decisions and policies that bring the country out of a dead-end and create a different Europe," he told reporters, stressing that this was the result of "tough negotiations in which nothing was handed to us on a plate".

    The government was able to negotiate and convince its EU partners because Greece once again had credibility and already made the difficult decisions and sacrifices necessary, he added.

    Concerning the obligation to exploit state property and assets, Petalotis underlined that this was first and foremost the government's own decision.

    "Not just because we need revenue today and there is an immediate need to reduce the debt but because we have unused public property that is not even registered," he pointed out.

    Petalotis emphasised that this use of state assets will definitely go ahead but "on no account meant the sale of public land", adding that details of proposed privatisations were being worked out and would be announced after careful study.

    He denied that the privatisations were a "term" for the EU leaders' agreement to extend repayment of Greek loans, noting that this was something that would have to take place anyway.

    Another negotiating success for Greece was the fact that it avoided having fiscal stability imposed as a Constitutional provision, which would have a "negative treatment of our country and an indication of unreliability," Petalotis said. Instead, this provision would take the form of an act of law, rather than an article in the Constitution.

    The spokesman ruled out the prospect of early elections or a reshuffle and criticised main opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras for speculating that the Memorandum would extend beyond 2013, stressing that there was no chance of a new Memorandum or new measures.

    He said that Samaras did not appear to understand his party's role as main opposition in the framework of a national effort being made by the government. He called on ND and the other opposition parties to understand the "enormous" national effort that exiting the crisis demanded.

    [04] ND to take position on Greek debt after EU summit

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) will wait for the final decisions to be taken at the March 25 EU summit before taking formal positions on the Greek debt and the future of the eurozone, and immediately afterwards it will submit an integrated proposal for exploitation of the state assets under the code-name "Zappeion 2", ND press spokesman Yiannis Michelakis told a press briefing on Monday.

    Asked to comment on Friday's informal eurogroup summit in Brussels, Michelakis accused the government of having a "secret agenda" that includes new, harsh measures.

    "The government is celebrating as if it has solved the problem, but a change of policy is mandatory. We believe there is a secret agenda. We will study the decisions and then take a position on them," the ND spokesman said.

    He said that ND will submit in the near future an integrated proposal for exploitation of the state property, in the context of its presentation of ND's updated economic plan for the country's exit from the crisis that will be unveiled by party leader Antonis Samaras immediately after the March 25 EU summit.

    "Let's wait and see whether Mr. Papandreou's commitment that he will table legislation prohibiting the sale of state assets will come to pass," Michelakis added.

    [05] ND leader: terms of Memorandum must change

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Monday called for drastic changes to the terms of the Memorandum for the EU-IMF loans to Greece, saying that this would benefit not just Greece but also the Eurozone.

    He said that developments made a change of policy imperative so that there could be economic recovery and growth.

    Commenting on the results of the European Union summit, Samaras said that this would help bring some relief in the repayment of the 110-billion-euro loans to Greece. He pointed out, however, that adopting ND's proposals for encouraging growth would have much greater impact, as just one percent of GDP greater growth would reduce the percentage of debt three times faster.

    [06] KKE attacks PASOK, ND over EU decisions

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday attacked both the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) parties, respectively, over their stance regarding decisions taken at the European Union Summit and Eurogroup summit last week.

    In a statement, KKE accused the ruling party that the "off-sets from the decision entail unbearable (austerity) measures for the people," while reprimanding ND for its criticism, charging that it "is false and superficial" but actually agrees with the basic decisions of the summit.

    [07] FM on Turkey, Libya

    Full respect of International Law and Greece's sovereign rights and territorial integrity is the "absolute framework" of Greece's talks, with which Turkey must abide, Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said on state television on Monday, stressing at the same time that Greece is devoted to a genuine effort for rapprochement between the two countries.

    Responding to questions on Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu's recent visit to Greece, Droutsas said that "we see a Turkish leadership that appears to be more open, in relation to the past, and it is our obligation to make use of every window of opportunity".

    Droutsas criticised Turkish activity in the Aegean, however, noting that the infringements of the Athens FIR and violation of Greek national airspace were continuing, as were overflights by Turkish military jets over the Greek islands, while there was also "increased mobility by the Turkish navy in the Aegean.

    On Davutoglu's recent statements reiterating the Turkish position for an "exchange" with Turkey's lifting its casus belli towards Greece for Greece's waiver of its right to extend its territorial waters, Droutsas stressed that "these are inconceivable things" and "not comparable", adding that one side cannot ask of the other side to waive a right that emanates from international law.

    On Libya, Droutsas stressed that Greece took a position against violence from the outset, and has been a leader in humanitarian missions. Regarding Athens' policy on the Gaddafi regime, the foreign minister said it is important that the EU express itself with one voice, and that any decision by the international community should have the legitimisation of the UN Security Council.

    [08] Greece condemns 'barbarous murder" of Israeli family in West Bank

    Greece on Monday condemned the killing of a five-member Israeli family, including three children, in the West Bank, and called for resumption of the peace process and abstention from unilateral actions that undermine the process.

    "We unreservedly condemn the murder of a five-member family of Israelis with their three children and express our deepest condolences and support to their loved ones. The murder of children in their sleep is an unholy and barbarous act that the human mind cannot conceive," foreign minister spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said in a statement.

    "The murderers must be led to justice immediately," he added.

    Delavekouras said that the efforts for peace in the region must continue with coolheadedness, and resumption of the peace process and abstention from unilateral actions that undermine the prospects of the process are mandatory.

    The positions of the Greek government on the colonisation issue are well-known, and are positions clearly dictated by international law, the spokesman added.

    "However, any act of violence against the unarmed population is deplorable, from wherever it originates," Delavekouras concluded.

    [09] PASOK National Council secretary meets Palestinian ambassador

    Ruling PASOK party National Council secretary Mihalis Karhimakis met on Monday with Palestinian ambassador to Greece Shamir Abu Gazaleh, reiterating PASOK's solidarity for the struggles of the Palestinians, as well as the initiatives for a peaceful solution to the Middle East problem and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

    The latest developments in Palestine and the wider region of the Middle East were discussed during the meeting.

    The Palestinian ambassador invited Karhimakis and the party's International Relations Secretary Polina Lampsa, who was present at the meeting, to visit Palestine in the coming months.

    The embassy's adviser Moustafa Azuz was also present.

    [10] Minister of State held meeting with Siemens executive

    Minister of State Haris Pamboukis had a meeting with senior Siemens executive Peter Solmssen to discuss outstanding issues between the multinational and the Greek State, including a kickbacks investigation now being investigated by Greek justice. The two men also looked into Siemens contracts that are still underway but where delivery has delayed, such as the construction of the metro extension to Elliniko.

    The meeting took place on Friday in Germany, with the minister apparently stressing that the public works could not continue to be mired, regardless of any 'unsettled accounts' between the two sides.

    It followed an exchange of letters between Pamboukis and the management of Siemens, both the parent-company and the Greek subsidiary, in which the minister raised the issue of compensation of the Greek state and asked for Siemens' assistance in completing the investigations that are now underway.

    [11] Turkish frigate enters national territorial waters

    The Turkish frigate BARTIN entered national territorial waters between Skyros-Evia at 20:30 with a northerly course, the Defence ministry announced.

    According to the announcement, the Turkish frigate sailed from a port of Izmir and moved with a southerly course between Chios and the Turkish coast.

    It then sailed south of Chios and followed a westerly course, sailing in international waters. At 20:30 it entered national territorial waters.

    Throughout the entire trip, the announcement concluded, the Turkish frigate is being watched by Navy units.

    According to latest reports the Turkish ship has left national territorial waters.

    An announcement by the Greek Defence ministry said the ship is a corvette and left national territorial waters at 21:04.

    Financial News

    [12] Greek minister joins call for 30% C02 emissions cut

    Greece's Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili has joined six of her European Union counterparts in calling for a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020, instead of the current European target of 20 percent. The move would not only protect the environment but also create jobs and help protect Europe from future spikes in the price of oil, the ministers said.

    The proposal was made in a letter sent by the seven European environment ministers to the European Commission on Sunday, one day before the environment ministers' council in Brussels.

    The ministers signing the letter consider the revised target necessary in order to ensure meeting an 80 percent emissions reduction target by the middle of the century, so that the EU becomes a leader in the effort to transition to a low carbon economy.

    In a study released last May, the European Commission said that raising the climate target to 30 percent by 2020 was technically feasible because of the economic downturn, which had driven down the cost of implementing the 20 percent target to 48 billion euro a year by 2020, instead of initial estimates of 70 billion euro a year.

    A recently released study by the German environment ministry, meanwhile, said that raising the target would help boost growth in Europe by 0.6 percent a year and create six million new jobs.

    Joining the call for deeper emissions cuts were the environment ministers of Britain, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden.

    [13] Greek bond spreads down significantly

    Greek bond spreads and CDS prices fell significantly on Monday as the market reacted positively to the results of an EU Summit last Friday offering Greece an extension in repayment of a 110-billion-euro loan and lowering its interest by one percentage point. The market also welcomed a decision by EU leaders to raise the funds of a European Financial Stability Fund along with offering the ability to purchase state bonds in the primary market.

    Greece's credit default swaps fell by 60 basis points to 985 bps, with all other regional Eurozone states' swaps falling with the exception of Ireland. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased below 940 basis points, from 965 bps early in the day.

    Dimitris Drakopoulos, an economist at Nomura International in London, told Bloomberg that a decision allowing the EFSF to buy state bonds in the primary market could facilitate Greece to return to capital markets in the first quarter of 2012.

    [14] Social insurance contributions cut for enterprises by 10% this summer

    The Greek government on Monday announced cuts in social insurance contributions for enterprises, acknowledging that social insurance contributions in Greece are amongst the highest in the European Union.

    Labour & Social Insurance Alternate Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis, speaking during an event organised by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, announced a 10-pct cut in social insurance contributions for enterprises, starting this summer, while he acknowledged that a tight incomes policy adopted by the government and a ceiling on remuneration for top managers prevented the system from attracting skilled executives.

    Koutroumanis said actions taken by the ministry have begun bearing results, while he stressed that there was no isolated solution for the country's social insurance system, but constant interventions were needed.

    Finally, he said that the government's measures are necessary and not dictated by the EC-ECB-IMF "troika".

    [15] KKE leader visits Elefsina shipyards

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga visited the Elefsina shipyards on Monday and expressed her solidarity to the workers and the need for a major enterprise not to close.

    Papariga stressed that for her party, support for the workers is self-evident, pointing out that KKE is also interested in working people having a permanent and stable job and an important production unit not to close which, regardless of how it operated until now, has the possibility of offering a great deal to the country, of course, under certain basic preconditions and in specific conditions.

    "We have enterprises in Greece, places of production activity, construction, repairs of ships, we have what we say a shipbuilding and repairs industry," she said and underlined her party's position for "a united group of enterprises, which must belong to the state, but this is not enough."

    [16] Bank of Greece reports lower 2010 results

    Bank of Greece on Monday said its profits fell 16.5 pct to 190.4 million euros in 2010, from 228.2 million euros in 2009 and said the board will seek shareholders' approval to a plan to pay a 2.60 euros per share dividend to shareholders, down from 3.2 euros in 2009.

    Net revenues from participating in a single monetary policy of the Eurosystem, portfolio interest, commissions and other operations totaled 1.044 billion euros last year, down 8.3 pct from the previous year. Net revenues from interest and financial transactions eased 0.3 pct to 831 million euros, net revenues from commissions fell 19 pct to 141.5 million euros and revenue from shares and holdings fell to 12.3 million euros. The central bank said expenses fell 6.3 pct last year, with general operating expenses falling 13.2 pct to 381.2 million euros. Provisions rose significantly to 2.385 billion euros in 2010.

    [17] Budget deficit down 29% in Jan-Feb

    Greece's state budget deficit fell 29 pt in the first two months of 2011 to 1.17 billion euros from 1.61 billion euros in the same month last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Monday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said budget revenues fell 10 pct to 7.608 billion euros at the end of February, from 8.460 billion in February 2010, while budget spending rose slightly to 8.572 billion euros, from 8.555 billion euros over the same period, respectively.

    [18] Real GDP in 2010 fell by 4.5 pct

    Greek real GDP (market prices) declined by 4.5 percent in 2010 against 2009, according to spot figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Monday in an estimation report on the Annual National Accounts.

    More specifically, ELSTAT announced the size and the rate of change of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Gross National Income (GNI) for the year 2010.

    Current prices (nominal change): The GDP (market prices) of 2010 reached 230.2 billion euro in comparison with 235.0 billion euro in 2009 (a 2.1% decrease).

    Constant Prices Previous Year (real change): The GDP (market prices) of 2010 at 2009 prices reached 224.5 billion euro in comparison with 235.0 billion euro in 2009 (a 4.5% decrease).

    [19] Industrial production down 5.2pct in January

    Industrial production in Greece dropped by 5.2 percent in January against the corresponding month in 2010, according to figures released on Monday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

    More specifically, the Production Index in Industry recorded a decline of 5.2% in January 2011 compared with January 2010. In January 2010, the annual rate of change of the IPI was -3.9%.

    The decline was attributed to the following annual changes of the subindices of the industrial sections: a. Mining and quarrying production increased by 0.1%. b. Manufacturing production decreased by 4.5%. c. Electricity production decreased by 8.2%. d. Water supply production decreased by 4.8%.

    [20] Industrial import price index up 6.1 pct in Jan

    The import price index in the industrial sector rose 6.1 pct in January compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 4.7 pct recorded in the corresponding period in the 2010-2009 period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed the 6.1 pct increase in the so-called imported inflation to a 2.1 pct rise in the import priced index from Eurozone states and a 10 pct jump in the import price index from other states. The index was up 0.8 pct in January from December 2010, after an increase of 1.2 pct recorded in the same period in 2010.

    [21] Hellenic Russian Chamber of Commerce to hold conference on Greek real estate market

    "New opportunities in the Greek real estate market for Russian investors" is the theme of a conference to be held on March 16 2011 at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry by the Hellenic Russian Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Federation of real estate offices of Russia and the Federation of real estate agents of Greece, under the auspices of the Greek Foreign Ministry, the Russian embassy and with the support of the "Invest in Greece" Agency.

    The conference and the meetings that will follow are expected to be attended by the representatives of the over 20 big Russian real estate offices that are specialised in the sale of country houses and tourist real estate of the Mediterranean in the Russian market, including offices through which investments of many millions of euros have already taken place in Crete and Corfu.

    [22] Motor Oil to issue 450-mln-euro bond loans

    A Motor Oil extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Monday approved a board plan to issue three bond loans, worth up to 300 million euros, as a part of a plan to restructuring the company's existing short-term debt and its transformation to long-term debt.

    The shareholders' meeting also approved the issuing of two other bond loans worth 150 million euros as part to boost its cash flow following a rise in refinery production with the addition of a new crude distillation unit.

    [23] Stocks jump 5.15% on Monday

    Stocks surged on Monday as buyers took the upper hand in the Athens Stock Exchange, encouraged by a decision reached in an EU Summit last week offering lower interest and more time for Greece to repay its 110-billion-euros loan. Market sentiment was also boosted by expectations of a speeding up of privatizations and renewed scenarios over bank mergers. Buying activity focused on bank shares. The composite index of the market jumped 5.15 pct to end at 1,662.38 points, surpassing the 1,600 level after 11 sessions, while turnover soared to 239.867 million euros. The Big Cap index jumped 6.24 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 3.49 pct and the Small Cap index rose 5.22 pct.

    Hellenic Postbank (11.73 pct), National Bank (10.12 pct), MIG (10 pct), Eurobank (9.83 pct) and ATEbank (7.69 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks.

    The Banks (8.71 pct), Financial Services (8.55 pct) and Raw Materials (5.85 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while only the Insurance sector ended lower (1.59 pct).

    Broadly, advancers overwhelmingly led decliners by 156 to 24 with another 39 issues unchanged. Sanyo Hellas (18.18 pct), Intrakat (14.42 pct), Livanis (13.43 pct) were top gainers, while Allatini Ceramics (16.22 pct), Attikat (14.29 pct) and Tegopoulos (12.9 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.59%

    Industrials: +3.55%

    Commercial: +0.04%

    Construction: +2.29%

    Media: +5.41%

    Oil & Gas: +3.67%

    Personal & Household: +2.87%

    Raw Materials: +5.85%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.62%

    Technology: +5.02%

    Telecoms: +5.14%

    Banks: +8.71%

    Food & Beverages: +0.78%

    Health: +3.42%

    Utilities: +5.60%

    Chemicals: +4.81%

    Financial Services: +8.55%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.25

    ATEbank: 0.84

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.52

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.23

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.67

    National Bank of Greece: 7.18

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.14

    OPAP: 16.20

    OTE: 8.18

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.59

    Titan: 17.64

    [24] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell significantly to 915 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 953 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.38 pct and the German Bund 3.23 pct. Turnover in the market rose to 94 million euros, of which 39 million were buy orders and the remaining 55 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 20 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.94 pct, the six-month rate 1.49 pct, the three-month 1.17 pct and the one-month rate 0.89 pct.

    [25] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.42 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 140.527 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 26,061 contracts worth 100.243 million euros with 32,957 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 85,702 contracts worth 40.283 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (12,836), followed by Eurobank (3,800), MIG (5,801), OTE (11,341), PPC (2,329), Piraeus Bank (7,062), National Bank (12,705), Alpha Bank (12,541), GEK (1,373), Mytilineos (3,515), Cyprus Bank (3,466), Hellenic Postbank (2,570) and ATEbank (2,120).

    [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.406

    Pound sterling 0.872

    Danish kroner 7.518

    Swedish kroner 8.911

    Japanese yen 115.07

    Swiss franc 1.304

    Norwegian kroner 7.891

    Canadian dollar 1.370

    Australian dollar 1.395

    General News

    [27] Raid on two terror safehouses in Athens, Volos - Seven detained for questioning

    Counter-terrorism police launched a coordinated raid on two suspected terror safehouses in Athens and Volos early Monday in an ongoing investigation into the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" urban terror group, and found a substantial arms cache.

    The raids took place at dawn in the town of Nea Ionia near Volos and in Athens, and took seven people -- five in Volos and two in Athens -- for questioning. The suspects are five men and two women.

    Counter-terrorism police found and seized two kalashnikov assault rifles, six pistols, a revolver, large amounts of ammunition, wigs, police uniforms, bullet-proof vests, police wireless radios and beacons, PCs and other objects that were being examined at the police crime lab.

    According to police sources, three of the detainees are wanted for participation in the Cells of Fire.

    Official announcements are to be made later in the day by police headquarters.

    [28] Incident while migrants depart from mansion

    An incident with the previously hunger-striking illegal migrants camped out at the Hypatia mansion reportedly occurred at noon on Monday during their evacuation, with two of the migrants threatening to set themselves on fire in demand of full residency papers.

    Several of the other migrants nevertheless intervened, preventing the two from dousing themselves with kerosene.

    The 250-plus migrants, all from North African countries, reportedly headed back to Crete, from where they were brought to Athens last month by supporters in a bid to demand legalisation for all illegal immigrants in Greece.

    [29] Greek journalists to hold 24-hour strike on Thursday

    Greek journalists are to hold a 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday, called by the national journalists' union federation POESY and its individual member unions in order to demand the signature of collective labour agreements, protection of wages and preservation of jobs. The strike will begin at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday and end on 6:00 a.m. on Friday.

    Among others, unions want municipal mass media to continue operating, regulation for the labour and social insurance rights of those employed in Internet media, and guarantees for the wages of journalists at the state broadcaster ERT, the ANA-MPA and DEPTHE.

    [30] Three bodies, possibly of missing Bangladeshis, found in Souda Bay

    Three dead bodies, believed to be those of Bangladeshi nationals missing since March 5 after they jumped off the ship "Ionian King" into the sea, were discovered in Souda Bay, Crete on Monday.

    The first body was sighted at 13:45 by Greek naval forces, while the other two were located shortly afterward. All three bodies are in a state of advanced decay, according to reports.

    The "Ionian King" was carrying a shipload of Bangladeshis that had been evacuated from strife-torn Libya to Crete, where they faced extradition back to their own country. As the ship approached the harbour, 49 people on board the ship jumped into the freezing waters in a desperate attempt to escape the authorities. Three were recovered dead at the time and another 11 were missing.

    Weather Forecast

    [31] Fair on Tuesday

    Fair weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 21C. Fair in Athens, with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 7C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 18C.

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

    The extension of the repayment period for Greece's EU/IMF bailout loan and reduction of the interest rate, other economic issues and mergers of primary and secondary public schools dominated the front pages of Athens' dailies on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Limitless oil deposits in Greece".

    AVRIANI: "DEKO (public utilities and organisations) to be auctioned, the green (PASOK-affiliated) trade unionists prepare for war, take to the streets".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Hunger and poverty for the next 20 years".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou terrified and at a loss at (Sunday's extraordinary) Cabinet meeting".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Closure of 1,065 public schools from the Memorandum tsunami".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Three breathers, three nooses - The Troika is here to stay till 2023, when the final tranche of the loan repayment is scheduled".

    ESTIA: "Last chance for Greece".

    ETHNOS: "List of the schools that are being merged throughout the country".

    IMERISSIA: "The hour of denationalisations".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Auspicious arrangement for settlement of Greek debt that will be paid for dearly".

    TA NEA: "The new map of the schools".

    VRADYNI: "Changes to the EKAS (low pension benefit)".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [33] President: Cyprus-Israel agreement on EEZ will enhance cooperation

    JERUSALEM (CNA/ANA)

    The recent agreement between Cyprus and Israel on delimiting the Exclusive Economic Zones of both countries has been an important development which will lead to further cooperation in the field of energy, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has pointed out.

    In statements at a press conference following his meeting on Monday with the President of Israel Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem, President Christofias thanked his counterpart for his invitation to visit Israel. "I am looking forward to having a useful and constructive visit, which will further deepen our multifaceted relations and will open new avenues of mutually beneficial co-operation between our countries and peoples", he said.

    President Christofias noted that Cyprus established diplomatic relations with Israel immediately following the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in August 1960, adding that since then, "our relations have developed steadily with considerable improvement on all levels".

    "Our meeting today gave us the opportunity to review bilateral relations. These relations have seen a considerable qualitative and quantitative improvement, especially over the past three years. This is testified with the seven intergovernmental Agreements and Memoranda that have been signed during this period, with more to come during this visit", he said, noting that "our recent agreement on delimiting our respective Exclusive Economic Zones has been an important development which, I believe, will lead to further co-operation in the field of energy."

    The president said that he briefed President Peres on the efforts to reunify Cyprus and on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.

    "I underlined that our aim is the achievement of a just, viable and functional solution that would reunify the state, the people, the institutions and the economy on the basis of the principles of international law and in the context of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as described by the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council", he stressed.

    Christofias also said that he had expressed his readiness to pursue all avenues that will lead to the reunification of Cyprus and to a solution that will result in one state, with one indivisible sovereignty, one international personality and one citizenship. A state, he continued, where human rights will be fully respected and its legal citizens will prosper.

    Furthermore, he stated that they discussed the situation in the Middle East Peace Process. "It is our sincere hope that obstacles will be overcome and the peace process will be revived so that the efforts for a comprehensive solution will bear fruit. A solution that will bring about peace, stability and prosperity not only for the Israelis and the Palestinians but for the whole region and its peoples", he pointed out.

    President Christofias said that Cyprus, as a neighboring state which maintains good relations with all parties involved, and as a member of the European Union, fully supports the efforts of the Quartet for a solution on the basis of UN resolutions and the respect of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the states of the region, including the State of Israel. "I express our readiness to contribute in every way we can, in order to support the efforts for peace", he said.

    In addition, he expressed the belief that a solution to the Palestinian issue can be achieved by peaceful means and will lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with the State of Israel. "The State of Israel and a Palestinian state can and must coexist and live as neighbors peacefully, securely and under conditions of mutual respect", he pointed out.

    During the meeting, Christofias said they have discussed the developments of the past few months in the region and for which they have expressed their serious concern. "We agreed", he said, "that we will continue to monitor these developments in the hope that soon the situation will be normalized and that democratic procedures will prevail".

    Finally, Christofias wished the people of Israel a future of peace, a future of prosperity and social progress and to President Peres, health and the strength to succeed in his challenging task.

    President Peres, in his statements, said that President Christofias' visit constitutes an historical event in the relations between Cyprus and Israel, noting that nothing separates the two countries. He thanked President Christofias for the help that Cyprus offered to the Jewish people, during the time they spent on the island (at the time a British colony) after the Holocaust.

    In addition, Peres thanked President Christofias for his personal interest and the help that Cyprus offered to Israel during the Carmel Mountain fires.

    Peres stressed the cooperation between Cyprus and Israel on medicinal and agricultural sectors, adding that new opportunities for cooperation have opened. He added that the two countries geographically and politically are close to each other, noting that Israel and Cyprus could develop the natural wealth in the region, such as natural gas. Peres called on the two countries to cooperate in the fields of science and technology. "We do not cooperate against anyone. We cooperate against the exposure of people to several dangers", he added.

    President Peres pointed out that he had a good meeting with President Christofias, and said that each country faces problems. He stressed that Israel is in favour of a united island for the prosperity of the people of Cyprus. "You have been forced to a situation that you wish to be ended", he said.

    Finally, Peres said that President Christofias' visit to Israel constitutes the beginning of a new and important relation between the two countries.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations with an aim to reunify the island under a federal roof.

    [34] President Christofias meets Israeli PM

    Cyprus' immediate response to Israel's call for help to extinguish the fire that broke out last year on Mount Carmel in Israel is a token of friendship, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, addressing the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, who is currently on an official visit to the country.

    President Christofias and his entourage visited the Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem, where they held talks with Netanyahu.

    President Christofias gave Netanyahu an album with pictures of Jews who sought refuge in Cyprus during and after the Second World War.

    Netanyahu wondered whether pictures of his family members and friends were also included in it. He thanked Cyprus and President Christofias personally for the immediate response of Cyprus to the call of Israel for help when the ravaging fires broke out last year.

    ''You're the first I called,'' Netanyahu said, addressing the President Christofias, noting that ''you responded immediately. This is a sign of friendship and really you have been a big help.''

    He added that his country has more flying means of extinguishing a fire today and assured President Christofias that ''we are at your disposal if you need us".

    Christofias thanked the Israeli Prime Minister and wished Cyprus would not need such help.

    [35] Government condemns illegal arrest in occupied Varosha

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The government has condemned once again the illegal arrest of former MEP Yiannkis Matsis and Loizos Afxentiou by the so-called Turkish Cypriot police.

    Nicosia has also denounced the "court hearing" which the two men, who were released Monday afternoon after being fined, had to attend.

    Acting Government Spokesman Christos Christofides said the government has made representations to the UN and the EU concerning this incident and noted that "we hope there will be no such actions in the future since they are unacceptable and provoke the feelings of the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and create a bad climate for the ongoing negotiations."

    The incident happened on Saturday morning, when four MEPs accompanied by a group of people went to Varosha in Turkish occupied Famagusta, on the east, to inspect the damage of cultural heritage sites in the northern Turkish occupied territories of Cyprus.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations, with an aim to reunify the island, under a federal roof.

    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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