|Sunday, 18 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 25 March 2011 Issue No: 3751
 PM Papandreou statement ahead of EU summitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, on arrival at the European Union summit, stressed that Greece has shown its credibility in taking very difficult decisions to render its economy viable and fair.
"We can look at the future with greater confidence and optimisnm today," the prime minister said and pointed out that this was recognised by all at the recent Eurogroup summit on March 11.
"Now is the time," Papandreou further said and underlined that "now all of Europe must send a very strong and convincing message to the international markets that it supports a stable euro as well as all the eurozone countries."
 PM calls for immediate ceasefire in LibyaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking upon his arrival at the commencement of a European Union summit here on Thursday, called for an immediate ceasefire so that the "violence against the people of Libya by the regime of the country will come to an end".
The Greek prime minister said Athens is fulfilling its share of support for a UN Security Council resolution on the Libya conflict and its interpretation.
According to Papandreou, now is the time for political and diplomatic initiatives and solutions to be prepared, "so that the way can be paved for democratic and peaceful developments in Libya."
 PM's meetings on sidelines of EU summitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
Prime Minister George Papandreou held meetings here on Thursday with former European Commission president Jacques Delors and Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who is responsible for immigration and internal affairs, on the sidelines of an EU summit.
Papandreou met with Delors at 1:30 p.m. (Athens time), while at 3:30 p.m. he was due to meet with his counterpart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Nikola Gruevski, followed at 4:45 with Malmstrom.
 PM meets with fYRoM counterpartBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)
Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday met with his counterpart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Nikola Gruevski, on the sidelines of the EU Summit held here.
The meeting lasted 45 minutes, and according to Greek diplomatic sources, was held at the initiative of Gruevski.
The thorny "name issue" was among the topics discussed, focusing on prospects of ongoing UN-mediated negotiations, which should continue under the same auspices, as both sides have agreed.
They also discussed developments in the Middle East.
Diplomatic sources pointed out that such contacts between the prime ministers of the two neighbouring countries aim to reinforce the atmosphere of trust between the two sides.
 Crucial EU summit opens ThursdayA crucial two-day EU summit opens in Brussels on Thursday afternoon, chaired by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, focusing on the economy, growth and jobs.
The 27 EU heads of state and government will also take stock of the situation in Libya and the EU's southern neighborhood and discuss assistance to bring relief to the affected population in Japan.
The leaders are due to agree on a comprehensive package of measures to safeguard financial stability and to promote sustainable growth and employment. This includes final approval of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a new fund which in 2013 will replace the present temporary one to support eurozone countries in the event of major economic difficulties.
The European Council is also expected to adopt the Pact for the euro, which will strengthen economic policy coordination with the aim of improving competitiveness.
As regards international issues, the summit will discuss the latest developments in Libya and, more generally, in the EU's southern neighbourhood. It will also consider the situation in Japan and the lessons to be learned in the field of nuclear safety.
According to the invitation letter sent by Rompuy to the EU heads of state and government, the leaders will begin the meeting on Thursday afternoon by addressing the economic part of the agenda.
"As an important step in the new framework of the European semester, we should give guidance for national economic policies with a view to implementing our Europe 2020 Strategy. The objective is also for the European Council to adopt the comprehensive package of measures that should allow us to turn the corner of the financial crisis and continue our path towards sustainable economic growth and employment. Much work has been invested into this package over the last weeks in different fora and I am therefore confident that we will be able to finalise it rapidly on Thursday afternoon," the letter said.
As for the traditional working dinner of the EU leaders on Thursday evening, the leaders will begin by "taking stock of the events unfolding in Libya and the Southern neighbourhood".
"We should agree on first concrete steps to bring rapid support to the countries of the region and ensure that the orientations we set on 11 March are implemented as swiftly as possible. Regarding Japan, it will of course be of crucial importance for our meeting to stress our determination to support our Japanese friends as they strive to overcome the challenges they face. We should also draw the lessons of these events, notably in terms of nuclear safety," Rompuy continued.
According to the itinerary set out in the European Council chief's letter, on Friday morning, the EU leaders "will go through and approve our draft conclusions".
 ND leader at EPP summitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Greece's main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras charged here on Thursday that the economic policy implemented by the current Greek government "is not successful, as it fails in all its predictions."
Speaking after a European Peoples' Party (EPP) summit in Brussels, Samaras said: "We do not disagree with the targets of stabilising and reforming the economy, but with the mix of policies that are being implemented. Because they entrap the economy in a vicious cycle of recession and over-indebtedness and because they lead to even harsher and ineffective measures."
Regarding the EU's Summit upcoming decisions, the ND leader underlined the significance of a new economic strategy for decreasing deficits of the Union's member-states, as well as for controlling European debt, the establishment of a Permanent Support Mechanism and competitiveness.
However, he expressed his reservation over issues such as the participation of the private sector in risks emanating from state bonds, something which, as he said, would increase borrowing costs for many countries, such as Greece, as thus would create problems instead of greater stabilisation.
Regarding the crises in North Africa, the Greek main opposition leader noted that southern European countries, such as Greece, should be supported "through common policies, such as a common policy regarding migrants."
"Because our countries face a greater threat ... Europe can implement policies of stabilisation in the wider region from these countries (in southern Europe). These countries are valuable for Europe due to geopolitical reasons. We are not the weak links of Europe," Samaras underlined.
 Confrontation between government, main opposition party on ND leader's statementsA confrontation took place between government spokesman George Petalotis and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on statements made on the Greek economy in Brussels by ND leader Antonis Samaras, following the summit of the European Peoples' Party (EPP).
"We are pleased of course that Mr. Samaras participating in the EPP's summit in Brussels is expounding to his counterparts, his party's view," Petalotis said. "It is, however, at least, once again, an impropriety, at a time when the prime minister, George Papandreou, is negotiating with the leaders of EU countries the improvement of our borrowing terms and the creation of a prospect for our country, with the main argument being our credibility and the great steps that we have taken together with the citizens, the ND leader to be defaming and distorting reality, stressing that in Greece the policy being applied is not succeeding, since it is failing in all its predictions," he added.
"Unfortunately, however, for ND, but fortunately for Greece, at the same time that Mr. Samaras is speaking of dangers internationally and in extension is calling on our partners not to trust us, the European leaders of all the political groups trust us and reward our national effort, accepting our arguments," the government spokesman further said and added that "ND, therefore, after ruining the country, is now investing in danger talk. On the contrary, the government is investing in the strength of the Greeks."
Mihelakis replied that "Mr, Petalotis, before speaking about New Democracy, must remember what Mr. (Prime Minister George) Papandreou was saying, as well as Mr. (Finance Minister George) Papaconstantinou on Greece and the Greeks abroad," reminding of the expressions "Titanic", "corrupt country", "economy in the intensivce care ward."
The ND spokesman concluded by saying "but because he is disputing if the PASOK government's economic policy 'is succeeding', we advise him to ask the thousands of unemployed, pensioners, the self-employed professionals, the farmers. And he will find out in this way."
 DM briefs ND vice-president on Libya developmentsThe defence ministry's leadership on Tuesday will brief a parliamentary standing committee over Greece's supportive nature in Allied operations in Libya, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos referred to the issue during the meeting on Thursday with main opposition New Democracy (ND) vice-president Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Venizelos briefed Avramopoulos on the situation in Libya, military planning and requests by Allies for facilitations of supportive nature on Greek soil.
Greece has been a stabilising factor in the region and is responding to its contractual obligations, Avramopoulos said after the meeting.
The ND vice-president stated that the search for a headquarters that will manage the entire operation will complicate things and called on the UN Security Council to monitor the operations that are in progress in the region.
 Greek Foreign Ministry condemns force against demonstrators in SyriaThe Greek Foreign Ministry, in a statement by its spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras, condemned the exercising of force that led to the death of demonstrators in Syria and called on Damascus to respect and guarantee the citizens' rights.
The statement was made in reply to questions by reporters.
 Karatzaferis sees snap elections in 2011Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Thursday again projected that Prime Minister George Papandreou will hold snap elections before the end of the year, while he lashed out at the government ministers, calling them "inadequate".
Speaking to an Athens private radio, Karatzaferis said snap elections will be held in the fall because "the premier will not last much longer", considering "the inadequacy of his government members".
Referring to main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, he accused him of displaying "phobic syndromes", whereas he (Karatzaferis) is open to dialogue.
As regards the support his party offered to the memorandum, Karatzaferis referred to the "greatest political act" on his part, because between the political costs and the survival of the country "I chose the second".
Referring to what he called permission given by Turkey to an Italian cable-laying to conduct work off the southeastern most Greek island of Kastellorizo, Karatzaferis called on Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas to resign.
 President receives Athens mayorPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias held talks with Athens Mayor George Kaminis on Thursday to discuss an ongoing occupation of the Athens city hall by contract workers that are due to lose their jobs in the municipality.
During the meeting, Papoulias said that the city and its residents had to be the first priority for the municipality of Athens.
Kaminis complained that the behaviour of the contract workers was harming democratic institutions, since they had occupied the premises of the municipal council. He stressed that he was trying to find solutions for the staff facing dismissal and noted that "this is not time for occupations and such kinds of actions".
 Traditional March 25 parade on held in AthensThe customary pupils' parade through downtown Athens, with Syntagma Square at its centre, was held on Thursday a day before the March 25 Greek Independence Day celebration. Pupils from 12 elementary schools, 10 junior high schools, 15 high schools and physical education institutes, as well as members of various societies, unions, the boy scouts and Special Olympics athletes participated.
The parade began with the Athens municipality's philharmonic orchestra passing in front of the dignitaries' stand. The government was represented by Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, who congratulated the pupils and their teachers at the end of the parade.
Earlier, a brief commotion occurred in the main square when a group of educators and supporters gathered to protest a wide-ranging plan for school mergers around the country.
 PM on March 25 anniversaryPrime Minister George Papandreou, in a message on the anniversary of the March 25, 1821 War of Independence, expressed certainty that "just like 190 years ago, we shall stand worthy of our history again, united in difficulties and with courage before the challenges that are awaiting us."
The message stresses that "just like then, the same now, it is up to us. Just like then the same now we shall succeed so as to feel proud as Greeks once again, not only for the country that was bequeathed to us by the fighters of '21 but for the new Greece as well, that we have already started to build together."
Papandreou pointed out in his message that "above all we are celebrating the will of a people to claim the right to freedom, independence, their very own standing."
 Cyprus President congratulates Greek leadership for Greek National DayNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, has sent congratulatory messages to the Greek leadership on the occasion of the Greek National Day, March 25, assuring that the excellent cooperation between the two governments at all levels will continue.
In his message to President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, President Christofias pays tribute to the 1821 generation for "putting into action the dreams and hopes of the old generations, giving the Greek people the utmost gift, their freedom and freedom as people".
In his message to Prime Minister George Papandreou, President Christofias expresses his deep appreciation and gratitude to the support of the Greek government and people in the efforts of the people of Cyprus to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, which will constitute the real freedom and reunification of the island.
"I am convinced that the excellent cooperation between our governments at all levels will continue and will give a decisive push in achieving our common goals," President Christofias added.
Greeks celebrate on 25th March the 1821 revolution, marking the launch of the Greek struggle for independence from Ottoman rule.
Cypriot President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have been engaged in direct negotiations which began in 2008 with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.
 Work stoppages at ANA-MPAWork stoppages have been called at the ANA-MPA on Thursday by the Union of Athens Journalists (ESIEA) and the Union of Athens Media Employees (EPIEA).
The three work stoppages are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, 2:00-5:00 p.m., and from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Thursday..
The work stoppages are in protest of a second 10 percent salary cut decided for ANA-MPA staff, and efforts to classify the national news agency as a "DEKO" (public utilities and organisations).
 Piraeus Bank group reports lower 2010 resultsPiraeus Bank group on Thursday said pre-tax profits totaled 11 million euros last year, while net profits distributed to shareholders totaled 4.0 million euros in 2010, from 236 million euros in 2009. The Group said an extra tax charge of 24 million euros pushed results distributed to shareholders to a loss of 20 million euros from profits of 202 million euros in 2009.
Pre-provision and financial results earnings rose 2.0 pct to 611 million euros in 2010 from 600 million euros in 2009.
Assets rose 6.0 pct to 57.7 billion euros, loans after provisions totaled 37.6 billion euros, unchanged from 2009, saving deposits fell 2.0 pct to 30 billion euros, while the bank's loans/saving rate was unchanged at 107 pct. Loans in delay more than 90 days totaled 7.6 pct.
Assets in markets outside Greece accounted for 21 pct of group assets, with international activities accounting for 48 pct of pre-provision earnings, 37 pct of net interest revenue, 59 pct of branch network and 52 pct of human resources.
Pre-tax and provisions earnings from international activities totaled 294 million euros and pre-tax earnings fell 39 pct to 52 million euros.
Commenting on the results, Mihalis Sallas, the bank's chairman, said "improvement of the terms and lending mechanism for Greece by the European Union significantly facilitates the implementation of a stabilization and economic restructuring program. In this effort. The Greek banking system is contributing in a realistic and responsible way. It restructures its assets, supporting efforts made by healthy enterprises and boosting its capital base despite existing limitations in liquidity."
Stavros Lekkakos, chief executive of the bank said the bank resisted pressures from an economic recession, supported by strong net interest revenue.
 Strikes in public health sector announcedDoctors at IKA-ETAM, Greece's largest social security fund, announced a 48-hour nationwide strike for March 29-30, while the Athens and Piraeus Medical Associations called on members to abstain from their duties on those days.
A union representing hospital doctors announced a 24-hour strike for March 30, while a 24-hour strike and work stoppages are being considered by public hospital personnel.
IKA-ETAM doctors demand renewal of their work contracts, underlining that the fund's healthcare services are facing a "complete dissolution".
The Federation of Hospital Doctors (OEGNE) called a 24-hour strike for March 30 demanding no cuts or mergers that will tear apart the National Health System (ESY), also, dignified wages for all employees and free public healthcare.
On March 31, the Federation of Public Hospital Staff (POEDHN) will hold a 24-hour strike at the Region's hospitals, while a five-hour work stoppage will be held at the hospitals in Athens and Piraeus between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
 Stocks up 1.78% in weekStocks ended significantly higher during the last trading session of the week at the Athens Stock Exchange (the market will be closed on Friday on the occasion of a national holiday), amid a positive climate in other European markets despite worries over a political crisis in Portugal.
The composite index of the market rose 2.13 pct to end at 1,622.15 points, for a net gain of 1.78 pct in the week. Turnover, however, remained a low 88.119 million euros. The Big Cap index jumped 2.44 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.79 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.80 pct.
3E (0.21 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end lower and Jumbo remained unchanged, while MIG (7.41 pct), Mytilineos (4.13 pct), National Bank (4.36 pct) and PPC (3.68 pct) were top gainers. The Commerce (5.45 pct), Financial Services (4.73 pct), Utilities (3.20 pct) and Banks (2.94 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (1.56 pct), Media (0.89 pct) and Food (0.22 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 88 to 56 with another 52 issues unchanged. Euromedica (19.14 pct), AXON Holdings (18.52 pct) and Imperio (15.15 pct) were top gainers, while Varvaressos (20 pct), Edrasi (14.29 pct) and Alter (11.49 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.14%
Personal & Household: +0.52%
Raw Materials: +3.77%
Travel & Leisure: +2.38%
Food & Beverages: -0.22%
Financial Services: +4.73%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.05
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.67
HBC Coca Cola: 18.63
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.67
National Bank of Greece: 6.94
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.85
Bank of Piraeus: 1.57
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.46 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 32.952 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,021 contracts, worth 26.045 million euros, with 25,856 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,829 contracts worth 6.907 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,197), followed by Eurobank (878), MIG (799), Piraeus Bank (1,005), Alpha Bank (1,530), Marfin Popular Bank (1,076), Mytilineos (998) and GEK (424).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.424
Pound sterling 0.881
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.017
Japanese yen 115.25
Swiss franc 1.292
Norwegian kroner 7.946
Canadian dollar 1.392
Australian dollar 1.399
 City of Athens to observe 'Earth Hour' on SaturdayThe city of Athens is calling on citizens to participate in the global "Earth Hour" initiative by switching off their lights on Saturday, March 26, at 20:30, for more than one hour.
Earth Hour is an awareness-raising effort concerning climate change and energy conservation, during which people around the world switch off their lights for more than one hour.
The city of Athens is once again actively participating in this international initiative to combat climate change and, on the evening of March 26, will switch off its lights at 8:30 p.m. for one hour and 30 minutes in several prominent locations around the city.
 Bulgarian authorities arrest Greeks for migrant-smugglingSOFIA (ANA-MPA - B. Borisov)
Bulgarian authorities on Thursday morning reported the arrest of two Greek nationals that were caught trying to smuggle 18 illegal immigrants past the Kulata border checkpoint into Bulgaria.
The two men were a driver and passenger of a truck with Greek licence plates and the illegal immigrants were found among their freight during a routine check by Bulgarian customs officers.
The two Greeks attempted to escape by running into the fields but were arrested after a brief pursuit.
 Bus and trolley routes changed for national holiday paradeBus and trolley routes going via Syntagma in the centre of Athens will be changed on Friday, Greece's Independence Day national holiday, because of the customary military parade going past Syntagma Square.
The changes in bus routes will begin to apply from 6:30 a.m. based on the instructions of traffic police.
For those using the airport bus X95, this will start and end at Ethniki Amyna metro station instead of Syntagma Square from 7:30 a.m. until 12:15 p.m.
Also during the same hours, Athens trams will start and stop at Vouliagmeni station instead of Syntagma.
 Fair on FridayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 22C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 17C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "631 million euros from the EU for reorganisation of public sector being lost".
AVGHI: "Government giving everything to the banks".
AVRIANI: "State lending to banks to purchase unwanted Greek treasury bills that foreign rating firms have classified as 'junk'."
ELEFTHEROS: "George (PM Papandreou) to ministers: Don't fear the booing, the yoghurts and the parades".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hiring of 'ghost' consultant illegal".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "22 percent unemployment sinking the social security funds".
ESTIA: "State revenues collection 'waterloo'."
ETHNOS: "Upsets for pupils, students, professors".
IMERISSIA: "8 privatisations on track - The first 'package' for collection of 15 billion euros".
KATHIMERINI: "Uncertainty in EU due to Portugal - Collapse of Portuguese government after parliament's failure to pass austerity package".
LOGOS: "Sweeping energy bill".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Upset in Portugal, which alters the balances".
NIKI: "Closures of businesses that do not pay their contributions to the social security funds".
PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "Karamanlis: Papandreou will call early general elections in the autumn".
PONTIKI (weekly): "The 'game' with the denationalisations".
RIZOSPASTIS: "New murderous plans by NATO - Ground forces, too, in Libya".
TA NEA: "Retirement superannuity: Who will receive it and when".
VRADYNI: "Retirement superannuity at risk in public sector".
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