|Tuesday, 20 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 23 March 2011 Issue No: 3749
 PM Papandreou briefs Parliament on Libya, says 'Greece will not become the evasive neutral'Prime Minister George Papandreou, briefing Parliament on Tuesday on the government's stance in relatioin to the events in Libya, stressed that "Greece will not become the evasive neutral in the developments in the region. This stance would not help national interests."
Papandreou justified the options of the international community on Libya so that, as he said, the mass slaughter of civilians and a consequent mass immigration wave will be averted, as well as for democratic developments in the wider region to be served.
He stressed that Greece's presence on the side of the countries in favour of armed pressure on the Gaddafi regime, with the approval of the UN Security Council, as well as the Arab League and the African Union, is in agreement with the steadfast positions of its foreign policy for respect for international law and serves national interests.
"As a country, we have an interest to contribute to the strengthening of our international credibility without the logic of double standards," Papandreou said, noting that when Greece calls for the implementation of the UN Security Council's resolutions on Cyprus and FYROM, it cannot oppose today's. The military actions against Libya, however, must also be accompanied by an overall political approach, that will aim at the promotion of national understanding in this country and at respect for legality.
"Many may be thinking only of today. We as a friend of the Libyan people must also think of the day after. They must know that they have a friend, with principles, unselfish, prepared to help the Libyan people in the rebuilding of their country. Greece will not become the evasive neutral in the developments. Greece's absence would not help our national interests. We shall be present with the force of principles, with respect for our commitments and for the need for the region's democratic revival," Papandreou underlined.
"Those friends or not, who had forgotten our country's considerable geostrategic role are recognising it and discovering it again today. This element must be taken into consideration seriously and colour the EU's decisions that concern Greece as well. Greece is and shall be a real pole of principles, stability and prosperity in the region," he added.
 ND on developments in Libya: 'Our country's stance correct'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos, representing party leader Antonis Samaras at the off-the-agenda discussion in Parliament called by Prime Minister George Papandreou for a briefing on the developments in Libya, appeared consensual, supporting the government's actions and terming as correct Greece's stance on developments in Libya.
"Our stance is determined by the national interest of the country and international legality, with foundations and moral base, the Security Council resolution," Avramopoulos said.
In parallel, he stressed the need for all parties to contribute to the shaping of a national stance that will strengthen, as he said, the country's prestige and will render it a factor of peace and stability in the wider region of the Mediterranean.
"Greece must declare itself present in the developments, honour and utilise its strategic advantages combined with its steadfast and longstanding friendship with the Arab world. Greece is neither small nor weak. Its presence must be rid of phobic syndromes and at the same time have a crystal-clear position," Avramopoulos stressed.
"International legal order must continue its efforts because otherwise it will place the region in prolonged instability with uncontrollable situations. What is necessary here where we have arrived is an integrated, concerted action plan and all countries must contribute with the aim of consolidating peace and security in the region," he concluded.
 Opposition parties on developments in LibyaCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday during a discussion on developments in Libya, said "you are absolutely dangerous both you (ruling PASOk) and (main opposition) New Democracy, as governments that are absolutely determined to act in the framework of NATO and of international law. You offered Greece. From this aspect you are dangerous. The time will come when the Greek people will pay dearly for your participation in these wars. We shall struggle so that you shall pay dearly."
Papariga pondered "why is the war taking place in Libya. Now you discovered the dictatorship of Gaddafi, of your friend. And when was it determined that Gaddafi is an antidemocrat," adding that "as far as we are concerned he was never a friend, nor did we ever have relations. But we must clarify that popular uprisings took place in Egypt and Tunisia since 2007 and 2008 and local uprisings. In Libya it did not take place."
The KKE leader further said "what the EU and the U.S. and the Greek government do not like that in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya despite the privatisations the state sector is still extensive" and that "you want to abolish this state capitalism for the benefit of the absolute deregulation of the market."
Speaking during the same discussion, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis termed Greece's participation in the armed intervention in Libya a "great mistake", stressing that there are no benefits for Greece, "but on the contrary dangers are lurking".
"The leaders of the countries with half of the world's population, China, Russia, India, Brazil are against. Why are we going with the Americans. Greek weapons have never killed an Arab. Why now. Were there bombing operations until Sunday morning by the frigate Themistoklis," Karatzaferis asked, also disputing the prime minister's allegations that the intervention in Libya respects international legality.
Lastly, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group president Alexis Tsipras expressed his categorical opposition to both the military intervention in Libya, "the new alliance of the willing", as he said, and to Greece's involvement in the war.
Tsipras spoke of an "irresponsible option of the government" and termed as "hypocritical" the interest of the west in democracy in Libya, stressing that "their aim is to set foot in the region, so as to control the developments that the spontaneous popular uprisings might trigger."
 Greek, German FMs discuss Libya, nuclear reactors in BerlinBERLIN (ANA-MPA/Y. Papas)
Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas met with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle in Berlin on Tuesday, with talks focusing on the operations in Libya.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Droutsas said he and Westerwelle analysed the current situation and developments in depth, and reiterated that Greece, in compliance with its obligations under the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, and with absolute respect to international law, is providing facilities of a supportive nature to friend and ally countries, but is not actively taking part in the operation with its own forces at this stage.
Droutsas explained that, in the event that NATO reaches a decision for activation of the Alliance in imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, Greece will have a "limited participation", elaborating that this will comprise a frigate that is already in the region for other reasons, a helicopter and a radar aircraft.
The Greek foreign minister ruled out any Greek participation with F-16 fighter planes, while he also stressed that there is no risk to Greece, and especially Crete, from Gaddafi's arsenal.
The two ministers also discussed the matter of nuclear reactors, in the wake of the Japan disaster. The target, Droutsas said, is to push for a new inspection of all the nuclear facilities in Europe and to establish uniform and very high standards for nuclear plants in Europe.
While in Berlin, Droutsas will deliver an address at an event organised by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) on the economic and financial crisis and its impact on the EU at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation that will also be attended by SPD parliamentary group leader and former foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn.
Droutsas will further take part in a meeting of the SPD parliamentary group at the Bundestag.
 DM Venizelos on LibyaDefence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday clarified that the facilities of a supportive nature that Greece is providing to friendly and allied countries, regarding the war in Libya, emanate from the UN's legislative framework, the regulatory framework of the UN's resolution 1973 on Libya and article 28 paragraph 2 of the Constitution regarding our accession to the UN.
Referring to the means that have been announced that Greece provides in the framework of NATO, Venizelos said it is very important for the research and rescue helicopter to be operating within the national jurisdiction region, the provision of a picture at CAOC-7 in Larissa through the Early Warning Airborne System as well as the fact that the French aircraft carrier has requested to act from the Athens FIR's region since it is linked with the submission of flight plans and research and rescue operations.
In parallel, he reiterated that there is absolutely no problem in Greece from the weaponry systems possessed by Libya. Their radius is greatly smaller even if their theoretical radius level is taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, National Defence General Staff chief Ioannis Yiangos was at the Souda naval station and the 115 Combat Squadron on Monday night and by early on Tuesday morning. Norway's aircraft, including a C-130 have landed in Souda and Qatar's aircraft were expected during the day.
 Greece is ready for diplomatic initiatives in the problem of Libya"Greece is ready to undertake diplomatic initiatives leading to the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 for a peaceful solution to the problem of Libya that will satisfy all political forces in the country and avert greater military action in the region," Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis on Tuesday stressed.
Speaking in an Athens private radio, he said that as regards the Greek participation "our country's and our government's position is very clear. We respect international law and we defend the UN decisions and our relations with our allies and partners".
 Gov't on Libya; EU summit"Greece had made it clear from the beginning - in the Paris Summit - that its participation will have nothing to do with war operations," government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday stressed as regards Greece's role in the developments in Libya.
He stressed that Greece has made it clear that any facilitations will be supportive in nature as dictated by international conventions and organizations such as, NATO and the EU, adding that it will participate mainly in the humanitarian aspects of the situation.
Petalotis also underlined that Greece is in favour of peaceful solutions through the diplomatic route.
As regards the goals of the government in view of the EU Summit on Friday, he underlined that Greece "will be faced with tough negotiations and the different interests of countries many of which are in crisis and therefore, our work and our struggle continues until the positive decisions for our country are ratified in this summit."
On the utilization of the state-owned real property he stated that a plan will be unveiled shortly.
Referring to the behaviour of certain individuals who try to obstruct the contact between the premier or the government ministers and the people he stated that it "reminds of fascist practices", and used tough language referring to Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras.
 ELIAMEP holds discussion on 'developments in the Middle East and Greece's position'The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) organised a discussion on Tuesday on developments in the Middle East and Greece's position.
Four scientists, Alexandros Koutsis, honourary professor at the Pantios University, Sotiris Roussos, alternate professor at the Peloponnese University, Evangelos Venetis, researcher at ELIAMEP and the general director of ELIAMEP Thanos Dokos, with ANA-MPA's managing director Nicolas Voulelis as coordinator, referred to various aspects of the developments that are rocking the Arab and islamic world.
The questions to which the four speakers were called on to reply concerned the causes and the character of the uprisings, the relations existing between the different countries and mainly the prospects emerging.
As regards Greece's participation in particular in the implementation of resolution 1973 on Libya, it was stressed that Greece rightly offered facilities to the allies with which it is linked with contractual commitments, but there were questions as to whether it has a processed strategy on the Mediterranean. Also underlined was the lack of analyses and experts who will be preoccupied with the region, which constitute's Greece's southern neighbourhood.
 ND leader Samaras' contacts ahead of the EPP summitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, currently on a visit here on the occasion of the European People's Party (EPP) summit on Thursday, met with the chairman of the EPP group in the European Parliament Joseph Daul.
Samaras also chaired the weekly meeting of the ND MEPs and later in the afternoon he was scheduled to meet with European Parliament Budget Committee Chair Alain Lamassoure.
The ND leader will also meet with Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, the president the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and Portuguese main opposition leader Pedro Coelho, while on Thursday he will meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
On Monday, Samaras met with European Commissioner for financial programming and the budget Janusz Lewandowski and with German MEP and budget committee member Reimer Boge.
The ND leader stated that the meetings focused on the way Europe can deal with deficits, debts and recession, as well as, on issues concerning the economic governance and the stability of the euro. They also focused on the utilization of the European budget by countries like Greece to serve as an antidote to the crisis.
 President calls for unity in message on March 25, 1821 anniversaryPresident of the Republic Karalos Papoulias called for the unity of Hellenism to overcome today's challenges and for Greece to succeed in overcoming the economic crisis, in a message to Greeks abroad issued on Tuesday for Friday's March 25 national holiday.
"In the present era, the main characteristic of which is the economic crisis, a comparable unanimity and vigilance is mandatory in order for a creative response to be given to the existing challenges and difficulties we have ahead of us. Despite the adverse conditions arising both at national and international level, we do not forget that only united can we make the impossible feasible," the President said.
Addressing the country's "ambassadors abroad", as he called the overseas Greeks, Papoulias stressed that they are the bridge between the homeland and the countries in which they live, work and progress.
The celebration of the March 25 anniversary of the 1821 war of independence against Ottoman rule "is for all Greeks, wherever they are, a day of national uplifting and pride", Papoulias said in his message, adding that all of Hellenism on that day pays tribute to the 1821 freedom fighters who "with self-deprivation and heroism sacrifices their lives in the name of liberty, national independence and democracy".
"The Greeks of the Diaspora were not absent from that historic calling of the national revolution that changed the tide of modern Greek history, sending the message of 'liberty or death' to all of Europe and the world. It was also their intervention that contributed to the victorious outcome of the national liberation struggle against an empire that appeared to be invincible," Papoulias said.
 Health minister calls for WHO assistance to face illegal migration-associated public health risksHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday requested the assistance and substantive support of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe in the management of public health risks stemming from the illegal migration phenomenon.
In a letter addressed to WHO / Regional Office for Europe, he underlined that Greece is the entry gate for thousands of illegal migrants in their quest for a better life in the EU. He added that the immediate priority of the health ministry in cooperation with the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO) is to boost monitoring and effectiveness when faced with public health risks associated with the transmission of infectious diseases as a result of illegal migration.
Loverdos stressed that it is clear that this considerable risk has no borders and in case it is not faced effectively it could concern many European countries. He also pledged that he will bring the issue to the European health ministers meeting in April chaired by Hungary.
The health minister underlined that a WHO delegation should visit the country as soon as possible to assess the situation and exchange views for immediate cooperation with KEELPNO.
 Traces of radioisotopes detected on people arriving from JapanRadiological checks conducted on individuals who arrived in Greece from Japan have detected traces of radioisotopes, "minute quantities", on their personal effects, Greek Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) on Tuesday announced. A total of 47 people have been checked so far. Additional checks were conducted in five cases and the findings were not alarming to call for further action.
Radiological checks can be conducted at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Thessaloniki's Macedonia International Airport and at the GAEC facilities.
Similar measures have been taken in other European countries as well such as, Spain, Germany, Italy and others. Voluntary radiological checks are being conducted mainly on individuals coming from the evacuated region near the Fukushima nuclear plant.
 FinMin: Privatization program in final stagesThe government is entering the final stage of launching an ambitious privatization and state property management program as an inter-ministerial privatizations commission meeting on Wednesday will appoint the first consultants after examining the framework of the program.
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said a draft plan would be ready in the next few weeks -to be discussed with the troika and approved by the cabinet, while the ministry will also present it to Parliament. The ministry expects to have completed the appointment of privatization consultants by the end of June.
The Greek minister said government plans so far do not include any specific number of real estate properties, but only the approach of having a better management. This framework includes making a record of real estate property, improving their value and clearing of any bureaucratic obstacles. Papaconstantinou stressed, however, that an early estimate raises the value of real estate assets of non-listed public sector enterprises to around 8.0 billion euros.
"There might be something by summer," the minister said, adding that despite the fact that there were thoughts of promoting the securitization of future revenues, there were problems with overdue debt to the public sector. Papaconstantinou said he has regular contacts with Deutsche Telekom but stressed that there was no talk of selling an additional equity stake of OTE to the German group. He reiterated he supported the creation of a state pylon in the Greek banking sector and underlined that privatization proceeds would be used to cut the country's public debt although he noted that the government has not yet specified the way (bond repayment, repurchase from the secondary bond market, etc.).
Papaconstantinou said the government will unveil, in the next few months, the necessary interventions to deal with possible risks in the execution of the state budget for 2011 although he noted that no decision has been taken yet on whether these interventions would cover revenues or spending. Commenting on a shortfall in budget revenues in the first two months of the year, Papaconstantinou said the budget's overall picture was better compared with the same period last year and stressed that any decisions on cutting spending would be taken on a political level.
The Greek Finance minister said ministry officials have already begun drafting a macro-economic scenario of a Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy Framework 2012-2015 and that each government ministry has set up a task force to specialize on the measures. The ministry has already briefed the Prime Minister over this work and reiterated that the Medium-Term Framework would not include any horizontal cuts in wages and pensions, higher tax factor or more cuts in a Public Investment Program. The program is expected to be approved by the cabinet by April 15 and ratified by the Parliament by May 15.
Commenting on the decisions reached by EU member-states, Papaconstantinou sounded optimistic that the package would be approved by an EU Summit this week and stressed that extending the repayment period of the 110-bln-euro loan and lowering its interest were a done deal. "These positive developments do no substitute the government's effort in the framework of the memorandum," towards achieving fiscal consolidation, the Greek minister said, adding that by the end of the first quarter Greece would have fully met most actions envisaged in the memorandum and stressed there was a hope that the country would not have to resort to a support mechanism to cover the 25 billion euros needed to be raised through markets in 2012.
 Burgas-Alexandroupoli bill to be discussed at cabinet meeting on WednesdayThe bill on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline will be discussed on Wednesday during a special cabinet meeting, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis announced on Tuesday evening, inaugurating an event on the Greek energy economy at the Athens Concert Hall.
He added that an amendment will be included in the same bill on the founding of three new companies for providing gas in Eastern Macedonia, Central Macedonia and Central Greece.
The deputy minister also announced that the preparation of the bill on the creation of a hydrocarbonates research agency (oil and natural gas) has been completed that will anticipate a decrease in taxation for businesses that will come to the country to invest as well as an increase in the extent of regions that will be provided for research.
 Greek state budget deficit up 8.5 pct in Jan-FebGreek state budget deficit fell by 55 million euros in the January-February period this year, compared with budget provisions, to 1.024 billion euros, the Finance ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry said that the deficit widened by 8.5 pct compared with the same period in 2010, reflecting non-repeated measures and a higher-than-projected economic recession in the last quarter of 2010. Net regular budget revenues totaled 7.95 billion euros, down 9.1 pct, reflecting lower tax proceeds, while spending grew 3.3 pct, boosted by repayment of state hospitals' debt with primary spending falling 0.1 pct and interest spending down 1.4 pct in the first two months of the year. Revenues of a Public Investments Program soared 354.5 pct, while spending fell 67.9 pct in the two-month period.
The finance ministry said net regular budget revenues were down by 860 million euros compared with budget provisions, while revenues of a Public Investments Program were up by 603 million euros. Spending were up by 284 million euros, compared with budget provisions, while Public Investment Program's spending were down 595 million euros.
 Alpha Bank says profits down 62.2 pct in 2010Alpha Bank Group on Tuesday said its net profits fell 62.2 pct in 2010 to 147.8 million euros, affected by an economic recession in the country. The bank said its profits totaled 85.6 million euros after an extra tax charge of 61.8 million euros.
Capital under management totaled 41.6 billion euros and saving deposits totaled 38.3 billion euros at the end of December 2010. Deposits in Greece totaled 31.1 billion euros, of which savings were 12.5 billion euros and time deposits were 18.6 billion euros. In Southeastern Europe, deposits totaled 6.8 billion euros, up 7.8 pct from the previous year. Private banking funds totaled 2.5 billion euros and mutual funds assets totaled 1.3 billion euros.
Lending, pre-write offs, fell 2.9 pct to 51.5 billion euros last year, reflecting an 1.1 pct fall in Greece and a 4.7 pct drop in Southeastern Europe. In the fourth quarter, lending portfolio assets fell 500 million euros, mainly in lending to medium and large enterprises.
Retail banking pre-tax earnings totaled 87.7 million euros in 2010, from 112.9 million in 2009, in mortgage credit lending growth slowed to 0.9 pct to 11.3 billion euros, consumer loans' growth fell 4.8 pct to 3.6 billion euros and credit cards value was stable at 1.5 billion euros. Loans to small enterprises fell 3.3 pct and to very small enterprises were down 1.3 pct.
Commenting on the results, Yiannis Costopoulos, the bank's chairman, said "Greece has commited to implementing a fiscal restructuring program which was expected to bring fundamental changes in the structure of the Greek economy. During this significant effort, Alpha Bank stands on a solid basis: confidence of both shareholders and customers and the dedication of its workers."
"With confidence in our values, we believe we can deal successfully any adverse conditions and challenges based on our strong business abilities," Costopoulos noted.
 Mytilineos Group reports significantly improved 2010 resultsMytilineos Group on Tuesday said its turnover surpassed the 1.0 billion euros target set by the board, boosted by improved performance abroad and higher aluminium prices in international markets. Consolidated turnover totaled 1.001 billion euros last year, up from 661.8 million euros in 2009. A group announcement said an export strategy, combined with the implementation of an investment plan supported and expanded the group's growth, leading to the fulfillment of both profitability and sales targets for the year.
The 2010 results included the non-repeated income of 32.4 million euros resulting from the sale of a METKA subsidiary in January 2010.
EBITDA jumped 62 pct to 192.7 million euros in 2010, from 118.9 million in 2009, boosted by a significant increase in the profits of MEKTA and positive performance of its metals sector. Net after tax and minorities earnings soared to 60.9 million euros from 13.7 million euros, despite a 7.5 million euros burden from an extra tax charge.
METKA reported a turnover of 613.7 million euros in 2010, form 339.4 million euros in 2009, EBITDA jumped to 133.7 million euros from 60.6 million euros and EBITDA margin rose to 17.4 pct. Net after tax and minorities earnings jumped to 87.1 million euros last year from 35.2 million euros in 2009.
 Olympic Air, Cyprus Airways sign partnership agreementOlympic Air and Cyprus Airways on Tuesday announced they would join forces in the framework of a wide-spread cooperation to deal with increasing competition and a crisis hitting the air transport sector along with strengthening their presence in the wider Southeast European market.
Under the agreement, signed by the chairmen of the two airlines, Yiannis Karadakas and George Mavrokostas respectively, the two airline companies will operate code-sharing flights. The partnership will begin March 27 with code-sharing flights connecting Athens, Rhodes, Heraklion (Crete) and Thessaloniki with Limassol and Paphos. The code sharing agreement will expand from April 15 covering all 38 destinations included in Olympic Air's and Cyprus Airways' flight schedule programs.
The agreement also covers other sectors of operations, such as handling services, VIP lounges and more efficient management of airport infrastructure.
 ADEDY holds rally against Competitiveness AccordThe Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) called on working people in a rally it held in Klafthmonos Square in Athens on Tuesday afternoon, in light of the European Union's summit, and in a relevant announcement,to express their opposition to the harsh austerity and the restriction of their rights that are being promoted for the benefit of capital and bankers.
The demonstrators held orange-coloured flags that wrote "All in the streets", while hoisting a banner saying "They are stealing the rights of a century, all together on the path of the struggle" and "Wherever the IMF passes schools close." Moreover, a joint banner hoisted by members of ADEDY and the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) stressed "The competitiveness accord and the memorandums are leading us to poverty."
Lastly, slogans against the war in Libya were also heard that, as the demonstrators underlined, is taking place for the oil.
 Industrial new orders up 9.1 pct in JanThe new orders index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) rose 9.1 pct in January this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 4.4 pct recorded in January last year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this increase to a 6.5 pct rise in the domestic market index and a 32.7 pct jump in the external market index.
 Industrial turnover index up 13.9 pct in JanThe turnover index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) jumped 13.9 pct in January this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 0.4 pct recorded in January last year, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this increase to a 5.6 pct rise in the turnover index in the mining sector and a 14 pct jump in manufacturing. The domestic market turnover index rose 5.0 pct in January, while the external market turnover index soared 39.3 pct.
 Stocks end 0.18% downGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as the market showed signs of consolidation after several sessions of high volatility. The composite index of the market eased 0.18 pct to end at 1,611.21 points, with turnover shrinking to 90.806 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.48 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.53 pct and the Small Cap index fell 1.03 pct. Viohalco (3.59 pct), OPAP (3.06 pct), Motor Oil (2.73 pct) and Titan (2.4 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (3.70 pct), Alpha Bank (3.56 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (2.11 pct) were top losers.
The Travel (2.91 pct) and Constructions (1.79 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (3.37 pct) and Insurance (3.44 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 88 to 67 with another 52 issues unchanged. Unibios (14.29 pct), Creta Farm (13.08 pct) and Alpha Grissin (10 pct) were top gainers, while Altec (14.29 pct), Euromedica (13.99 pct) and Atlantic (11.11 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.39%
Personal & Household: +0.72%
Raw Materials: +0.51%
Travel & Leisure: +2.91%
Food & Beverages: -1.37%
Financial Services: +1.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.14
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.25
HBC Coca Cola: 18.85
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.52
National Bank of Greece: 6.78
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.95
Bank of Piraeus: 1.55
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 925 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 902 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.5 pct and the German Bund 3.25 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 52 million euros, of which 35 million were sell orders and the remaining 17 million euros were buy orders. The six-month Treasury bill was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 10 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 1.94 pct, the six-month 1.49 pct, the three-month rate 1.18 pct and the one-month rate 0.89 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.81 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to a low 18.470 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3.513 contracts worth 13.121 million euros, with 25,346 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,293 contracts worth 5.349 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,857), followed by Eurobank (700), OTE (1,085), Piraeus Bank (1,698), Alpha Bank (1,104), Mytilineos (563) and Hellenic Postbank (350).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.432
Pound sterling 0.874
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.003
Japanese yen 116.07
Swiss franc 1.294
Norwegian kroner 7.969
Canadian dollar 1.402
Australian dollar 1.415
 Wooden boat with 119 illegal migrants spotted off CorfuA total of 119 illegal migrants, possibly from Afghanistan, were spotted in the early morning hours on Tuesday on board a wooden boat in distress 28 nautical miles west of the Ionian island of Paxi. The vessel had originated from the seaport of Igoumenitsa, northwest Greece, destined for Italy. Coast Guard patrol boats picked up 41 migrants from the 3-meter wooden boat, while 78 refuse to leave it.
According to the Corfu port authority, it received a call from the Corfu police late Monday night about a foreign national who had phoned the police emergency line saying he was on a boat that was taking on water, with an unknown number of other migrants.
The Harbor Corps' Search and Rescue Center-Coastguard was immediately alerted as well as the nearby port authorities, and an operation was immediately launched after the wider area after the telephone call from the migrant was pinpointed as coming from the sea area southwest of Corfu, the announcement said.
Three Coastguard patrol boats, a Super Puma all-weather helicopter and an airforce C-130 aircraft, the tugboat 'Thyella', the sea taxi 'Lakka Paxi' and vessels sailing nearby were mobilised in the search for the distressed boat, which was later spotted by the Malta-flag freighter 'Alexandra'.
 Bangladeshi body count reaches 13, one person still missingThe body count of Bangladeshi nationals, missing since the night of March 5 after they jumped off the ship "Ionian King", has reached 13 after another body was found floating in Souda bay on the island of Crete on Tuesday.
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.
A total of 35 persons were found on land and rescued from the sea at the time.
The latest body count has reached 13, while one person is still missing.
 Athens' Acropolis Museum among the finalists for the EU "Mies van der Rohe" AwardBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
The Acropolis Museum in Athens designed by architect Bernard Tschumi is among the six finalists, announced on Tuesday by the European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation, competing for the 2011 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - the Mies van der Rohe Award.
The finalists have been short-listed from 343 works in 33 European countries. The award ceremony will take place on June 20 at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona, Spain.
The 6 finalists are, Neues Museum (Berlin, Germany) - David Chipperfield Architects / David Chipperfield; Bronks Youth Theatre (Brussels, Belgium) - MDMA - Martine De Maeseneer Architecten / Martine De Maeseneer, Dirk Van den Brande; MAXXI: Museum of XXI Century Arts (Rome, Italy) - Zaha Hadid Architects / Zaha Hadid, Patrick Schumacher, Gianluca Racana; Concert House Danish Radio (Copenhagen, Denmark) - Ateliers Jean Nouvel / Jean Nouvel; Acropolis Museum (Athens, Greece) - Bernard Tschumi Architects / Bernard Tschumi; Rehabilitation Centre Groot Klimmendaal (Arnhem, The Netherlands) -Architectenbureau Koen van Velsen / Koen van Velsen.
The prize highlights excellence in contemporary buildings and the contribution to the development of new ideas and technologies in urban development. Launched in 1987 and co-funded by the EU Culture Programme and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation, the 60,000-euro prize is the most prestigious award in European architecture and is awarded every other year to works completed within the previous two years.
Works nominated for the prize are put forward by independent experts from all over Europe, as well as the member associations of the Architects' Council of Europe national architects' associations, and the advisory committee for the prize.
 World Water Day 2011More than 2.8 billion people worldwide face daily problems of quality water availability, while climate change has caused a variety of repercussions on the planet's water reserves.
March 28 has been designated by the United Nations as the World Day for Water, and despite the policies applied for conservation and qualitative upgrading of water resources, the outlook remains gloomy
Clean water is becoming a luxury item, and will become even rarer due to climate change, especially in the vulnerable region of the Mediterranean Basin.
Developments in rainfall over the past 60 years have been studied by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) professor of hydrogeology Georgios Soulios, based on figures collected by the National Meteorological Service (EMY) and 13 stations throughout Greece.
In recent years, rainfall has literally "gone mad", Prof. Soulios told ANA-MPA, noting that the reduction in annual rainfall ranges from 1mm in Athens to 8mm on the island of Corfu.
The chief problem in Greece is pinpointed in the absence of water resource management practices and excessive consumption.
"?he more and heavier it rains, the more that rainfall is reduced with the passing of the decades," Soulios explains.
Apart from the rate of rainfall, its distribution has also changed. More specifically, winter rainfall is on the decline, whereas it is on the rise during the summer when, however, the water evaporates on the surface due to high temperatures, and thus the underground water strata are not supplied.
Greece has water reserves of approximately 30 billion cubic meters that flow both on the surface and underground. Of those, only 20 billion cubic meters are exploitable, of which 12 billion are surface waters and the rest underground waters, says Soulios.
Regarding consumption, of the 10-11 billion cubic meters of water that are exploited in Greece, 80 percent goes to agriculture, 6 percent to industry, and the rest to urban consumption, he says.
Also, of the 10-11 billion cubic meters of water consumed, 80 percent is from underground waters and only 20 percent from surface waters, such as dams, Soulios notes, adding: Consequently, we need to increase the projects regarding surface waters for greater exploitation of the waters, and a turn to alternative sources, such as desalinated water.
 Defendant in terrorist case released with restrictionsOne of the defendants in the terrorist group "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" case, Panagiotis Massouras, will be released from custody with restrictions on Wednesday following a decision by the Court of Appeals Judges' Council, was announced on Tuesday.
Massouras is released in accordance with relevant legislation after 18 months in custody.
He is banned from leaving the country and will have to appear at a local police station twice a month.
 Daylight saving time on SundayGreece will switch to Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the early morning hours on Sunday, March 27, a measure that will be into effect until the last Sunday in October.
At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, clocks should be set one hour forward to read 4 a.m. The switch to "summer time" will come into effect in all European Union countries.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 18C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 15C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 13C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEuropean and Greek economic issues mainly dominated the front-page headlines in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Mini social security system reform with 17 regulations".
AVGHI: "What is Greece doing in the war?"
AVRIANI: "They threw objects at Papandreou, too (during his visit to Syros)".
ELEFTHEROS: "Pangalos giving 'weapons' to FYROM on the name".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government cutting EKAS (low pension benefit) from thousands of pensioners".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "How to retire earlier - Purchase of plasmatic years".
ESTIA: "Business 'nightmares' - Economist bashes Greek bureaucracy".
ETHNOS: "Purchase of plasmatic years for retirement with 165 euros per month".
IMERISSIA: "The euro-fund 'locks in' - Eurogroup decision a message to the markets".
KATHIMERINI: "Mutiny by ministers".
LOGOS: "NATO divided - New sanctions against Libya".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Eurogroup creates European restructuring mechanism".
NIKI: "The war of the 'czars' - Red lines on the DEKO (public utilities and organisations)".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Anti-imperialism action by the peoples against the war in Libya".
TA NEA: "Sweeping bill - Retirement easier, receiving EKAS more difficult".
VRADYNI: "Looting of the social security funds".
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