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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 30 March 2011 Issue No: 3754


  • [01] PM: 'We need a new European model'
  • [02] Cabinet meeting on social issues, employment
  • [03] Meeting on parliamentary fact-finding commissions on scandals
  • [04] Samaras: ND prepared for elections whenever they take place
  • [05] Gov't dismisses cooperation speculation with ND as 'fantasy'
  • [06] DM briefs Parliament on country's participation in Libya operations
  • [07] Tsipras meets with Palestinian envoy to Athens
  • [08] Karchimakis meets with AKEL leader
  • [09] S&P cuts Greece's credit rating to BB-
  • [10] FinMin calls on banks to detail how they'll utilise liquidity support
  • [11] Greek PPI up 8.5 pct in Feb
  • [12] Business briefs
  • [13] Stocks end 1.97% down
  • [14] Greek bond market closing report
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [17] Playwright Kambanellis dies
  • [18] 'Heracles to Alexander the Great' exhibition at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum
  • [19] Tension in Keratea over planned landfill
  • [20] Major water canal break
  • [21] Athens contract sanitation workers continue strike
  • [22] Guards suspended after escape of 2 inmates from prison psychiatric ward
  • [23] Three arrested after police find stolen copper wire in Roma camp
  • [24] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [25] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM: 'We need a new European model'

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing the conference of Socialist MEPs in Athens on Tuesday, referred to what he called a "new model in Europe and a strengthening of our institutional organs; a need that appeared intensely in the European Union operation."

    Papandreou added that Europe must become more democratic in order to tackle its problems.

    The prime minister further cited the need for a new model of growth, governance and a new cooperation model in the Union.

    "We are facing many challenges and one of the greatest is that without the models of social justice, transparency and democratic governance we shall continue to live in a situation in which banks will borrow with 1 percent and lend with 10 percent."

    Referring to the European Accord, he stressed that it must be implemented to generate jobs and economic growth.

    On the question of debt management, Papandreou said every country must have the ability of deciding by itself on the manner in which it will handle its debt crisis in a viable way.

    Additionally, he referred to the situation that his PASOK government inherited from the previous government, as he stressed that Greece is not a poor country, instead it was governed in a poor manner.

    Speaking earlier at a press briefing on the sidelines of conference, together with the European Parliament's Socialist Group president Martin Schultz, he expressed optimism that Greece will succeed and exit the current crisis without recourse to a new support mechanism or bailout.

    Moreover, he expressed his thanks to the Socialist group, which played a decisive role in European decisions and supported Greece as well, as he said.

    The Greek PM spoke of improvements in the text of conclusions both for the Eurobonds and the tax on fiscal transactions as well as the support mechanism.

    Replying to a question on the ratings firms and another downgrading for Greece, Papandreou said ratings firms have graduated into an absolute panic, while he reminded that it was the same firms that had given AAA status to the toxic financial products that created the initial banking crisis.

    "We must see who takes the decisions, he said, and added that the assessment firms are not accountable and this is something that the European Union must see."

    [02] Cabinet meeting on social issues, employment

    A wide-ranging Cabinet meeting was convened on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister George Papandreou, as the meeting focused on so-called "social issues", particularly efforts to sustain and boost employment.

    Related initiatives, such as continuing adult vocational training and retraining schemes -- as buffers to the spectre of unemployment -- were discussed. In terms of implementation, responsibilities of individual ministries and cooperation amongst ministries was discussed. Priorities were also set.

    Several top ministers along with the head of the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) and the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) participated in the meeting.

    [03] Meeting on parliamentary fact-finding commissions on scandals

    Prime minister George Papandreou chaired a meeting of ruling PASOK MPs on Monday to examine matters pertaining to the prospective establishment of parliamentary fact-finding commissions on outstanding aspects of the Siemens kickbacks scandal, the structured bonds affair and the case of the German submarines.

    According to sources, Papandreou is positive to the establishment of such a parliamentary commission on the submarines after the relevant case file is forwarded to parliament, for the investigation of involvement of politicians.

    On Tuesday, the prime minister will chair an inter-ministerial meeting on social issues, with the participation of finance minister George Papaconstantinou, education minister Anna Diamantopoulou, health minister Andreas Loverdos, employ-ment and social security minister Louka Katseli, and the governors of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

    [04] Samaras: ND prepared for elections whenever they take place

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday that his party is prepared for elections, whenever they take place, addressing a meeting of his party's executive committee.

    He also stressed that he will not accept "co-governance with a PASOK that cannot find agreement even with itself, nor collaborations with those who backed the Memorandum", in a reference to the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party and to independent MP and former ND minister Dora Bakoyannis, who now heads her own fledgling Democratic Alliance party.

    Samaras further warned that he will not consent to "God-sent, non-institutional solutions".

    "I was elected (to the ND leadership) to change everything and to give hope to the Greek people. I do not play petty-part games, nor do I owe anything to anyone save for hope to the Greek people," he said.

    The ND leader further attributed recent rumors of internal party problems to "a war against ND" at a time when ND's policy is gaining ground in Greece and at a time when he himself was waging a struggle in Europe for Greece while the government policy is sliding into new impasses and PASOK was in a difficult position, and just ahead of the unveiling of the proposal being prepared by ND providing an alternative solution for the Greek economy.

    [05] Gov't dismisses cooperation speculation with ND as 'fantasy'

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday lashed out at main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, stressing that "scenarios" of his party joining the government with ruling PASOK are nothing more than a "new fantasy" and an "idle wish".

    Petalotis made the comment in response to an earlier statement by Samaras, according to which he will not accept being in a coalition government with PASOK.

    Petalotis said PASOK has received a popular mandate to lead the country out of the crisis and called on ND to contribute to the efforts aimed at overcoming the crisis, which was created in part by the ND government, as he charged.

    [06] DM briefs Parliament on country's participation in Libya operations

    "Greece did what was dictated by its national interest, and it did not abstain from Libya operations because it would have been damaging," Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos told MPs on Tuesday.

    Speaking before a Parliamentary standing committee convened to focus on developments in the southern Mediterranean and particularly in Libya, Venizelos underlined that Greece's participation in a supportive capacity will continue unchanged for as long as it is needed.

    Responding to relevant questions by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MPs, Venizelos stressed that "we have no intention, nor have we offered to participate in land operations". He added that the Hellenic Navy frigate sailing off Libya faces no risks, and he pointed out that it "will not enter Libya's territorial waters without the permission of Libyan authorities".

    Referring to the monthly cost of Athens' participation, Venizelos stated that it is estimated at roughly 6-6.5 million euros, underlining that the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) decision on the Greek participation was based on Article 28 of the Constitution.

    He also flatly rejected an allegation according to which the frigate "Limnos" was recently attacked by a missile while sailing near Libya.

    On their part, ND MPs expressed support over the decision, while raising the question of whether the benefits stemming from the country's participation have been well-calculated.

    Absolute opposition to the operations was expressed by the opposition Communist Party (KKE) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).

    In an unrelated matter, Venizelos referred to the Italian research vessel Explora, which was recently harassed by a Turkish Navy vessel on grounds that it was allegedly in Turkish territorial waters, despite the fact that it was in a Greek zone near the extreme southeastern Aegean island of Kastellorizo.

    He stated that as it was subsequently revealed that the Italian owners of the vessel had requested parallel permission from Turkish authorities, in violation of the international law, and as a result, Athens revoked the permission it had granted the company to conduct research in other Greek sea regions, such as off the Peloponnese.

    The Italian-flagged vessel had undertaken to draw up a route to be followed by an underwater fibre optics cable linking Italy with Israel.

    [07] Tsipras meets with Palestinian envoy to Athens

    Developments in the Arab world and a signature collection campaign in the EU for recognition of the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders dominated a meeting on Tuesday between Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras with Palestinian envoy to Athens Samir Abou Ghazaleh.

    Tsipras expressed his party's solidarity to the fair struggle of the Palestinian people, as he said, as well as to the Arab states' struggle for democratisation and social rights. Moreover, he condemned the war in Libya and Greece's involvement.

    He stressed that the demands of the Arab people can be won only through political means and consultations, contributing to peace and stability in the Mediterranean.

    [08] Karchimakis meets with AKEL leader

    Ruling PASOK national council secretary Michalis Karchimakis met on Tuesday with visiting secretary general of the Cyprus AKEL party Andros Kyprianou.

    No statements were made after the meeting, which was also attended by PASOK international relations secretary Paulina Lampsa

    Financial News

    [09] S&P cuts Greece's credit rating to BB-

    Standard & Poor's on Tuesday downgraded Greece's credit rating by two notches, from BB+ to BB-, and maintained a negative outlook for the country. In an announcement, the credit rating agency said the results of an EU Summit confirmed its estimates that a restructuring of a public debt was possible precondition for a country's borrowing form a permanent European Stabilisation Mechanism, which will replace the current European Financial Stability Fund from July 2013. (ANA-MPA)

    [10] FinMin calls on banks to detail how they'll utilise liquidity support

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, in letters addressed to the managements of local banks that have participated in a programmme to boost liquidity, requested a detailed presentation on the manner in which the support will be utilised.

    According to an announcement by the ministry, Papacon-stantinou briefed the bank's managers that with a draft bill to be tabled in Parliament immediately to extend a "support pylon" in the form of guarantees, amounting to an additional 30 billion euros.

    [11] Greek PPI up 8.5 pct in Feb

    Greece's Producer's Price Index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew 8.5 pct in February this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after recording a 6.7 pct increase in February 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development -which means higher inflationary pressures in the coming months if higher production costs were rolled over to consumption- to an 8.0 pct increase in the domestic market index and a 10.5 pct rise in the external market index.

    The producer's price index was up 1.4 pct in February from January 2011.

    [12] Business briefs

    -- Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling on Tuesday reported a parent loss of 31.9 million euros in 2010 and consolidated net profits of 423.2 million euros, up 6.0 pct compared with 2009. It was the first time ever that the company presented losses in its Greece activities, after several years of profitability.

    -- Jumbo Group on Tuesday said its sales fell 1.0 pct in the eight-month period from July 2010 to February 2011, totaling 345 million euros and said it expected sales to fall by 1.0 pct or to be flat during the current fiscal year (July 2010-June 2011).

    -- Attica Bank on Tuesday said its pre-tax profits totaled 1.3 million euros in 2010, from 12.6 million euros in the previous year, while after tax and pre-extra tax charges results showed a loss of 1.9 million euros. After tax and extra tax charges showed a loss of 7.1 million euros, from profit of 5.6 million euros in 2009.

    -- Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, has recommended the introduction of a "guaranteed check" in credit transactions, a move aimed to limit the increasing menacing problem of bounced checks. The central bank's proposal also envisages that check books issued by commercial banks have a specific number of individual checks, while the bank issuing the booklet guarantee payment of stated sums - a figure which should be fixed.

    [13] Stocks end 1.97% down

    Stock ended sharply lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by a new downgrading of Greece's credit rating by Standard & Poor's. The composite index of the market ended 1.97 pct down to 1,579.76 points, with turnover remaining a low 111.06 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 2.44 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.37 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 2.91 pct. The Insurance (1.54 pct), Chemicals (1.26 pct) and Oils (0.03 pct) sectors scored gains, while the Financial Services (4.91 pct), Health (4.56 pct), Commerce (3.85 pct) and Banks (3.66 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses. PPC (0.75 pct), Jumbo (0.55 pct) and Motor Oil (0.33 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (5.88 pct), Piraeus Bank (5.77 pct), ATEbank (5.13 pct) and Ellaktor (5.40 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 122 to 41 with another 46 issues unchanged. PC Systems (20 pct), AXON Holdings (10.53 pct) and Karelias (9.89 pct) were top gainers, while Elfico (18.92 pct), Imperio (12.82 pct) and Rilken (9.92 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.54%

    Industrials: -1.07%

    Commercial: -3.85%

    Construction: -1.89%

    Media: -1.41%

    Oil & Gas: +0.03%

    Personal & Household: -0.11%

    Raw Materials: -2.22%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.61%

    Technology: -3.64%

    Telecoms: -3.30%

    Banks: -3.66%

    Food & Beverages: -0.02%

    Health: -4.56%

    Utilities: -0.08%

    Chemicals: +1.26%

    Financial Services: -4.91%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.95

    ATEbank: 0.74

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.09

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.05

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.45

    National Bank of Greece: 6.43

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.60

    OPAP: 16.60

    OTE: 8.20

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.47

    Titan: 17.60

    [14] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 949 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.79 pct and the German Bund 3.30 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 23 million euros, of which 19 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 4.0 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 7.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate was 1.98 pct, the six-month rate 1.53 pct, the three-month 1.21 pct and the one-month rate 0.94 pct.

    [15] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.68 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining a low 39.188 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,795 contracts worth 32.126 million euros, with 26,301 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,475 contracts worth 7.062 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,847), followed by Eurobank (916), OTE (741), PPC (515), Piraeus Bank (2,320), Alpha Bank (1,838), Mytilineos (307), Cyprus Bank (634), Hellenic Postbank (463) and ATEbank (442).

    [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.417

    Pound sterling 0.888

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.056

    Japanese yen 116.52

    Swiss franc 1.306

    Norwegian kroner 7.967

    Canadian dollar 1.384

    Australian dollar 1.386

    General News

    [17] Playwright Kambanellis dies

    One of the most prominent 20th century Greek playwrights, journalist Iakovos Kambanellis, died on Tuesday at the age of 89.

    Kambanellis (also spelled Kampanellis) was born on the island of Naxos in 1922 and studied design at a private academy in Athens. He was a survivor of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in WWII.

    He wrote the scenarios for at least 12 films, two of which he directed, while he collaborated with noted Greek theatrical director Karolos Koun.

    His works include "Mauthausen", "Stella", "The backyard of miracles", "Our large circus", "Neighbourhood of angels".

    Moreover, Kambanellis wrote extensively in local newspapers and magazines, while he also produced theatrical play adaptations on the radio.

    The ministry of culture expressed deep regret over Kambanellis' passing, characterising him as one of the leading Greek playwrights of the post-war era.

    "He gave a new life to the Greek theatre, defining its style while, at the same time, he influenced international theatre," a culture ministry statement reads.

    [18] 'Heracles to Alexander the Great' exhibition at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum

    A major exhibition titled "Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital o Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy" opens next week at Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.

    This major exhibition will showcase the treasures of Aegae, the royal capital of the kingdom of Macedon.

    More than 500 extraordinary new discoveries from the royal tombs of Aegae will go on display for the very first time at the Ashmolean. These magnificent objects trace the rise of power of the governing Temenids, descendants of Heracles and the ruling dynasty of Alexander the Great, and focus on the roles of the kings and queens, and their immediate court, according to the museum.

    Aegae was unknown before its discovery at the modern village of Vergina, in northern Greece, 30 years ago. Since then, excavations have revealed a startling wealth of objects, from intricately crafted gold jewellery to glass perfume bottles and clay busts. This exhibition will feature the reconstruction of four burial tombs, displaying the recent finds of gold and silver treasure for the first time anywhere in the world, the Ashmolean added.

    The main goal of the exhibition is to promote the evolution of the Macedonian kingdom and the era of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great is believed to be a descendant of the mythical hero, Hercules. The exhibition is co-organized with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the IZ Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

    The exhibition opens on April 7, and will run through August 29.

    [19] Tension in Keratea over planned landfill

    Tension continued in Keratea, eastern Attica, on Tuesday after residents protesting the construction of a landfill in their district emptied several truckloads of rubble on all the roads leading to Lavrion throughout the night.

    The only access open for vehicles is the Athens-Sounion coastal road.

    Incidents broke out at dawn when a municipal plow truck attempted to remove the rubble.

    Protestors attacked and burned the plow truck, while they also scuffled with police.

    [20] Major water canal break

    The Athens waterworks (EYDAP) on Tuesday afternoon attributed low water pressure in certain township close to the greater Athens area to the collapse of part of the Mornos canal's walls.

    The massive break occurred the village of Saranti, in Viotia prefecture, north of the Greek capital.

    [21] Athens contract sanitation workers continue strike

    Uncollected rubbish began to pile up on the streets of Athens as industrial actions by municipality of Athens contract workers continued, with the ongoing City Hall sit-in and the occupation of the municipal garbage truck terminal.

    All initiatives undertaken by Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, aimed at finding a solution to the crisis, were unsuccessful.

    Strikers called for a "political solution" for the roughly 2,000 contract workers facing redundancy.

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras met with the strikers on Tuesday morning and called for a solution to their problem.

    Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga met with them on Monday.

    [22] Guards suspended after escape of 2 inmates from prison psychiatric ward

    Two Albanian inmates escaped in the first hours of Tuesday from the psychiatric ward of the Korydallos prison near Piraeus, and three guards were suspended after the incident.

    The inmates cut the bars of the window in the first-floor psychiatric cell with a file and descended to the courtyard on the back side of the building on sheets they had knotted together.

    Police have launched a search for the two escaped inmates, while the justice ministry has ordered a Sworn Administrative Inquiry (EDE).

    A police officer and two guards at the psychiatric ward have been placed on suspension.

    [23] Three arrested after police find stolen copper wire in Roma camp

    Two tons of stolen copper wire used for traffic signal networks were found concealed during a police operation in a Roma camp in Zevgolatio, Corinth prefecture, on Tuesday, and three people were arrested

    A police investigation turned up that the copper wire belonged to the Proastiakos urban railway.

    Three people were arrested and will be brought before a Corinth prosecutor.

    The copper was seized and removed to the Corinth security police facilities until it is turned over to its rightful owner.

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 22C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 18C.

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

    The Greek economy and speculation of new harsh measures were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Partisan committee 'cooks up' the appointments of directors in public sector".

    AVGHI: "Government to sell off Public Power Corporation, beginning with the utility's management".

    AVRIANI: "The chaos in the government speeds up the bankruptcy".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Threat to the pensions".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government setting traps for 1 million professionals".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The money exists, but they (50,000 long-term unemployed) lost the jobs".

    ESTIA: "Government doesn't pass the grade".

    ETHNOS: "25 changes to taxes for professionals".

    IMERISSIA: "Privatisations divide the government".

    KATHIMERINI: "Dangerous governmental arrhythmia".

    LOGOS: "New package of measures coming".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Last-ditch effort to jump-start growth".

    NIKI: "7-day spring for measures to collect 22 billion euros".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Steady work for all is the people's firm and lasting need".

    TA NEA: "Romania, the 'Fukushima' of the Balkans".

    VRADYNI: "The death of the salesman".

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

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