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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-04-05

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

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

Tuesday, 5 April 2011 Issue No: 3759

CONTENTS

  • [01] Finmin rules out 'horizontal measures' to rein in deficit
  • [02] PM has meeting with George Soros
  • [03] Greek premier receives Libyan emissary - Statements by FM
  • [04] FM: 'No issue of Gaddafi coming to Greece"
  • [05] Greek FM speaks to BBC on Libya crisis
  • [06] Greece suspends functioning of embassy in Libya
  • [07] Statement by government spokesman on statements by Turkish deputy PM
  • [08] ND on 'source of wealth' statements; Keratea protests; ANA-MPA coverage
  • [09] Tsipras attacks gov't from Thessaloniki
  • [10] LA.O.S on education reform; troika visit
  • [11] President Papoulias arrives in Baku
  • [12] BoG: Greek banks raise cost of lending in Feb.
  • [13] Transport ministry reports good progress in OSE reforms
  • [14] Athenian Brewery top working environment in Greece
  • [15] OPAP selects two companies for next phase of a tender to find an IT provider
  • [16] Court: Pending EL.PE strike legal
  • [17] Work stoppages at ANA-MPA ruled illegal
  • [18] Civil servants' union calls for strikes
  • [19] Business briefs...
  • [20] Stocks drop 2.24 pct
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [24] Ozone-layer 'hole' expected above Greece in April
  • [25] Elderly man shot and killed by burglars
  • [26] Rainy on Tuesday
  • [27] Athens Newspaper Headlines
  • [28] President Christofias and UN chief discuss meeting in June

  • [01] Finmin rules out 'horizontal measures' to rein in deficit

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Monday said the government would not take any further "horizontal" measures to rein in the deficit in 2011, such as those taken in 2010.

    "There will, of course, be a uniform pay scale. In the uniform pay scale the injustices that exist in the current pay scale for civil servants will be lifted. Whether this will take place immediately or over a transitional period is something to be examined but it is clear that these injustices will be lifted," the minister underlined.

    Speaking to NET state radio, the minister also ruled out another emergency levy and noted that a shortfall in revenue during 2011 had been covered in other ways, so that the deficit had actually been reduced by an additional 50 million euro above the original forecasts in the first two months of the year.

    He announced that corrective measures to make up for the smaller revenue would target both spending and revenue increase and would not be sweeping horizontal reductions to pay and pensions, or general tax increases as in 2010.

    According to Papaconstantinou, the greatest weight would now be given to encouraging growth through specific policies.

    He also claimed that an economic recovery had already begun, since the recession was becoming ever shallower and there were hopeful messages from the export sector, while 2011 was expected to be a bumper year for tourism.

    "In other words, 2011 will be the last year of recession for Greece. Secondly, we have the fiscal adjustment that is also absolutely necessary. At the end of 2011 we will have a deficit of 17 billion euro. This must fall to three billion and this implies political choices," he said.

    Finally, the minister referred to the privatisation programme and the management of state real property, which he said would have a dual goal: promoting growth and bringing in revenues to pay down the debt.

    During the same interview, Papaconstantinou once again ruled out the prospect that Greece will restructure its debt, noting that the cost of such a restructuring or 'haircut' of the Greek debt would be much greater than the benefit.

    He also pointed out that the cost would not only concern Greece but also countries in the rest of Europe, so that it was not a viable option on a European level and one that would hit poor households hardest.

    Papaconstantinou left open the possibility that Greece might not be able to return to borrowing on the markets in 2011, adding that it might then do so at the start of 2012.

    [02] PM has meeting with George Soros

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday had a meeting with well-known investor and financier George Soros, who visited the prime minister at his offices in Parliament. The meeting was later joined by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

    No statements were made afterward but sources said the meeting focused on the state of the global and European economies, especially in the eurozone, the difficulties facing the Greek economy and developments in Greece's neighbourhood, especially in north Africa.

    [03] Greek premier receives Libyan emissary - Statements by FM

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou received acting Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulati Al-Obeidi, an emissary of the Gaddafi regime, on Sunday evening in Athens.

    Afterwards, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said Athens had over the past days a series of contacts regarding developments in Libya.

    "The prime minister spoke, amongst others, with the Libyan prime minister and this contact resulted in the dispatch of a special emissary here in Athens, whom we received within the framework that Greece has underlined from the very first: the efforts for a political, diplomatic solution in Libya must continue," Droutsas said in a statement.

    "This emissary, as he has informed us, will continue his contacts in Turkey tomorrow (Monday) and then Malta.

    "On our part, we underlined, we reiterated the clear message of the international community: full respect and implementation of UN resolutions, an immediate cease-fire, end of violence and hostilities, particularly against civilians in Libya. Judging from the emissary's words, it seems that the (Libyan) regime is also searching for a solution.

    "What is necessary is a serious effort for peace and stability in the region. Greece will continue, in this effort, to offer its good services. We are in contact with all our partners and allies; we will brief them on our contacts as well as on Greece's ideas and proposals."

    Earlier on Sunday, the Greek premier's office announced the meeting following a request by Libyan prime minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi in a telephone call to Papandreou.

    The announcement by Papandreou's office also said that the Greek premier had a series of telephone contacts on the developments in Libya over the preceding 48 hours. He spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday, while on Saturday he spoke with the prime ministers of Qatar and Libya, as well as with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Sunday.

    In a follow-up, Droutsas was quoted by a local radio station on Monday as noting that is important that the international community and the Libya regime begin a process to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the North African country.

    He also called the contacts between Papandreou and the Libyan envoy "sincere".

    "We in Greece are doing the necessary legwork; we're recording our thoughts and proposals, which we will share with our partners in order to proceed," the Greek foreign minister said.

    [04] FM: 'No issue of Gaddafi coming to Greece"

    Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said told a private radio station on Monday that no discussion of Muammar Gaddafi leaving Libya was made during prime minister George Papandreou's meeting in Athens on Sunday evening with a Libyan emissary.

    "There is no issue of Gaddafi coming to Greece," Droutsas also stressed in a statement on Real FM radio station on Monday morning.

    The Greek premier received acting Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulati Al-Obeidi, an emissary of the Gaddafi regime, on Sunday evening in Athens following a request by Libyan prime minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi in a telephone call to Papandreou.

    Droutsas said that Greece is "in constant contact" with both the Libyan regime and the rebels.

    He opined that, for the time being, there is no issue of Gaddafi leaving Libya, but added that the regime in Libya is "receiving messages from the international community as well as the rebels", and it is an issue "that needs to be seriously discussed".

    [05] Greek FM speaks to BBC on Libya crisis

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, speaking Monday in an interview with the BBC World Service said that the government had reiterated to acting Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulati Al-Obeidi Greece's position in favour of the full respect and implementation of UN's resolutions.

    Referring to the meeting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had with the emissary of the Gaddafi regime, on

    Sunday evening in Athens, Droutsas noted: "We ascertained that the regime in Libya understands that we must discuss, that we must move, that we must seek a political solution to the crisis, and I could say that this is a first important step."

    The Greek minister also underlined that the Greek side is in contact with its partners and allies in order to discuss with them the next steps, adding that on Monday morning he had a telephone conversation with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and with other counterparts of his.

    "I will continue to be in contact with them, discussing and examining the next steps, as well as some ideas and proposals through which Greece can contribute" in this effort, Droutsas added.

    [06] Greece suspends functioning of embassy in Libya

    The Greek Foreign Ministry announced on Monday evening the suspension of the Greek embassy's functioning in Tripoli, Libya.

    According to a ministry announcement, Greek interests will be represented by the embassy of Hungary, the country which currently holds the EU six-month rotating Presidency.

    [07] Statement by government spokesman on statements by Turkish deputy PM

    Government spokesman George Petalotis, commenting on statements by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Bulent Arinc, said that "the view of Mr. Arinc, we guess that it does not constitute a position of the Turkish government because it lacks truth and seriousness."

    Petalotis "reminded" "for all who forget" that "Greece, a country of the EU and the ONE, with great achievements until now, despite the temporary crisis, reserves for all its citizens and maintains a standard of living that for many other countries would evidently be enviable" and stressed that for this reason "the Greek people are proud for the course that they have defined for years and for all that they are planning for their future."

    [08] ND on 'source of wealth' statements; Keratea protests; ANA-MPA coverage

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Monday said it was ready to submit a draft law envisioning that "source of wealth" statements filed by government ministers, alternate ministers and deputy ministers who served after 1974 be cross-checked.

    ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis said his party will undertake the initiative in case no such move is made by the government, stressing that all political parties in Parliament should agree on the immediate implementation of the proposal which was first made by ND leader Antonis Samaras long ago.

    ND suggested setting up an inspection committee to cross-check the aforementioned "source of wealth" statements, as well as, the financial situation statements submitted by the spouses and children of ministers.

    The main opposition also suggested that competent state authorities be given the legal right to seize any unjustifiable or illegally acquired property.

    In an unrelated statement, he sharply criticised an alleged quip by a Turkish government vice-president, namely, that Greece is deeply indebted and will soon be "begging". Mihelakis underlined that "no difficulty will make us sell out our national rights", while calling on the government to take a stance in response to this "shameless provocation".

    As regards the continuing protests in the Keratea district, extreme southeast Attica prefecture, where local residents are opposed to the construction of a garbage processing centre in their area, Mihelakis stated that the situation is "out of control" and called on the government to adopt specific initiatives to ease the tension.

    Finally, in reference to ANA-MPA coverage of a recent Parliamentary debate prompted by a tabled question submitted by the main opposition party, the ND spokesman sharply criticised the way in which the debate was presented, alleging that "the news report in question ignored basic points of the ND query", while he accused the national news agency of "supporting the government propaganda".

    ANA-MPA statement

    In a later development, the ANA-MPA management on Monday responded to the sharp criticism by Mihelakis.

    "It is sad, to say the least, the fact that ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis - a journalist himself until recently - chose to launch an attack against the national news agency by criticising the way a fellow journalist covered the parliamentary debate in question," the statement reads.

    According to the news agency, the issues that were allegedly ignored in the news report - namely, the ND positions of the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) - were adequately covered, and in detail, in another ANA-MPA news report from the Parliament that concerned the statements made by ND leader Antonis Samaras.

    Furthermore, ANA-MPA features a special page where announcements by political party officials are continually posted.

    "The national news agency journalists do their job in a conscientious manner and the only directions they receive from the ANA-MPA management is to continue in this way and not give in to any kind of pressure or critical comments that may have as a possible goal to turn them into 'propagandists'," the statement stressed.

    [09] Tsipras attacks gov't from Thessaloniki

    Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras said on Monday evening that the government was determined to "impoverish the people and give it all to the economic oligarchy, to the bankers and the country's vested interests, while securing at the same time that the foreign creditors will get their money back."

    "But the Greek people begin to realise and soon it (the government) will not be able to continue undisturbed its destructive work," Tsipras added, while speaking ahead of a party supporters' rally in Thessaloniki.

    In his speech, the Syriza leader sharply criticised the government and its policies.

    [10] LA.O.S on education reform; troika visit

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) President George Karatzaferis on Monday stressed that consultations over planned reforms in higher education are "on the right direction".

    After meeting with the chairman of the national council on education, Karatzaferis expressed certainty that dialogue will produce a good result and that he supports the efforts being made.

    As regards an ongoing inspection by a team of EC-ECB-IMF experts to Greece, Karatzaferis said the Greek people are "living their worst days".

    [11] President Papoulias arrives in Baku

    BAKU (ANA-MPA/M. Mihail)

    President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan on Monday and as of Tuesday he will be paying a two-day official visit to Azerbaijan at the invitation of his counterpart the President of the Caspian country Ilham Aliyev.

    President Papoulias is being accompanied by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Marine Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis and other officials.

    Talks between Papoulias, Aliyev and the government delegations, that will begin in Baku on Tuesday, are expected to focus on economic relations between the two countries with emphasis being placed on energy issues, particularly the promotion of the plan on developing the ITGI natural gas pipeline.

    Upon arrival, President Papoulias expressed his joy for visiting the country.

    "I can not conceal my joy being in your country," Papoulias said during a welcoming evnt. "Your country is developping so fast...I confess that we are still behind in developping relations between Greece and Azerbaijan."

    Financial News

    [12] BoG: Greek banks raise cost of lending in Feb.

    Borrowing costs rose in February, the Bank of Greece announced on Monday, with commercial banks raising interest rates in all categories of lending, with the exception of mortgage loans, which remained unchanged.

    The central bank, in a report, said that in February the average interest rates on outstanding amounts of deposits and loans increased with the exception of rates on housing loans that remained unchanged. In particular, both the average interest rates on outstanding amounts of deposits from households and non-financial corporations with an agreed maturity of up to 2 years increased in February 2011 by 5 and 8 basis points to 3.55 percent and 3.69 percent respectively. The average interest rate on outstanding amounts of housing loans with over five years' maturity remained unchanged at 3.68 percent, while the corresponding rates on corporate loans and loans to sole proprietors increased by 4 basis points to 4.66 percent and 5.71 percent respectively.

    In February, the average interest rates on overnight deposits from households and non-financial institutions remained unchanged at 0.44 percent and 0.34 percent respectively. Similarly, the average interest rate on deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to 1 year remained at 3.75 percent.

    In the case of loans, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity (a category which includes credit card debt, open account loans, and debit balances on current accounts) increased in February 2011 by 5 basis points to 14.64 percent. Similarly, both the average interest rate on corporate loans without a defined maturity and the corresponding rate on loans to sole proprietors increased by 9 and 14 basis points to 6.90 percent and 9.72 percent respectively. The average interest rate on corporate loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year increased by 9 basis points to 6.23 percent for loans up to EUR 1 million, and by 48 basis points to 5.37 percent for loans above EUR 1 million.

    On the other hand, the average interest rates on housing loans decreased by 2 basis points to 3.91 percent for loans at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year and by 7 basis points to 3.57 percent for loans with an initial fixation period of over 1 and up to 5 years.

    [13] Transport ministry reports good progress in OSE reforms

    Efforts to reform and restructure Greece's railways had already led to a 25 percent reduction in OSE operating costs in 2010 compared with 2009, while the train operating subsidiary TRAINOSE reduced running costs by 32.84 percent, the infrastructure, transport and networks ministry said on Monday.

    The ministry said the reforms were taking place within the timeframe provided and that performance for OSE in January 2011 was improved by 61.12 percent relative to January 2010.

    While not releasing full financial date for OSE and TRAINOSE, the ministry said that manager bonefits that increased pay by 40 percent of their base salary had been scrapped, with managers now only eligible for one benefit due to their position ranging from 3 percent of base salary for a team manager up to 25 percent of base salary for a division director.

    Of the programmed 1,654 staff transfers from OSE, 800 have already taken place and the remainder are pending since they also involve another four ministries.

    [14] Athenian Brewery top working environment in Greece

    Athenian Brewery has been awarded the "Best Workplaces 2011" prize by the Great Place to Work Institute Hellas, which announced on Monday the top 20 companies with the best working environment in Greece.

    In the category of companies with more than 250 employees, first place went to Athenian Brewery, followed by Elais-Unilever

    Hellas, Tasty Foods, Hygeia hospital, Media Strom, Pharmathen, Leroy Merlin, Wurth Hellas, Vivechrom and Accenture in the top 10 spots.

    In the category of companies with 50-250 employees, first place went to Xeros Hellas, followed by Kri-Kri dairy industry, Imperial Tobacco Hellas, Medtronic Hellas, Genesis Pharma,

    Data Communication, 3M, Melissa Kikizas, Amgen Hellas and British American Tobacco Hellas.

    The 9th annual Best Workplaces survey was conducted by the Institute in collaboration with the ALBA Graduate Business School. The purpose of the survey is to highlight and reward companies with the best working environment in Greece which, despite the economic crisis today, have invested substantially in the human factor.

    The awards ceremony will take place on April 11.

    [15] OPAP selects two companies for next phase of a tender to find an IT provider

    OPAP, Greece's state lottery monopoly, on Monday announced that Intalot and GTECH Corporation-GTECH Global Services Corp Ltd were selected for the next phase of an international tender to find a new IT provider. A board meeting approved the selection of two of a total three companies who have expressed interest in the tender. The first phase of the tender envisaged examining the financial credibility and the expertise of the candidates.

    [16] Court: Pending EL.PE strike legal

    An Athens first instance court on Monday declined to rule against a pending strike called by the union representing Hellenic Petroleum (EL.PE) employees.

    The union has called for a 10-day strike at Greece's partially state-owned and largest petro-chemical group.

    In a statement after the ruling, EL.PE's management charged that the industrial action aims at the hiring of personnel for the refinery in Thessaloniki and not over the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement.

    [17] Work stoppages at ANA-MPA ruled illegal

    An Athens first-instance court on Monday afternoon ruled work stoppages by staff at the ANA-MPA beginning the same day illegal and abusive.

    The work stoppages were scheduled to take place from Monday until Wednesday, at the hours of 9:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00 and 21:00-24:00.

    The labour action was decided by the board of the Athens union of journalists ESHEA and the national journalists' federation EPHEA to demand that the ANA-MPA should not be given the status of a state-owned public utility company, adherence to the ESHEA and EPHEA collective agreements and against a second 10 percent cut in staff salaries at the ANA-MPA.

    [18] Civil servants' union calls for strikes

    The civil servants' trade union ADEDY on Monday called on all public sector employees to participate in the demonstration to be held by the municipal workers union POE-OTA in a central Athens square on April 9.

    ADEDY also said it would continue and escalate strikes until Easter.

    Meanwhile, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called a Euro-demonstration in Budapest to take place on April 9. The European trade unions will march against austerity and call for more social Europe, fair wages and quality jobs.

    [19] Business briefs...

  • Investment activity in the commercial real estate market fell last year in Athens and Thessaloniki, hit by a climate of uncertainty created by the adverse economic environment and limited liquidity of buyers, a survey by Eurobank EFG Property Services revealed on Monday.

  • Greek entrepreneurs will enjoy a reduction of around 30 pct in terms of cost to set up a new business, through the introduction of a general commercial register (GEMH), which officially began operation on Monday. Representing the new agency, Stefanos Komninos, secretary-general of commerce, and G. Sfakianakis, president of the GEMH supervisory board, told reporters that five ministries, the country's courts of first instance, 59 chambers of commerce and prefectural authorities worked together - and will continue to do so.

  • Greek tourism authorities are optimistic over the tourism trend this year, with relevant Culture & Tourism Deputy Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis expressing confidence that Greek tourism will move up this year, both in terms of arrivals and revenues.

  • Increased export activity and supplementary commercial activities by Greek-listed industrial companies largely counterbalanced losses suffered in the domestic market, an analysis of 2010 results showed on Monday. Despite the fact that 62.6 pct of parent companies reported losses last year, totaling 135.7 million euros, consolidated results showed a net profit of 465.6 million euros in the same period.

    [20] Stocks drop 2.24 pct

    Stocks came under strong pressure at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,500 level for the first time since Jan. 18. The index ended at 1,492.44 points, off 2.24 pct, with turnover remaining a low 107.106 million euros.

    Speculation that Fitch will downgrade the country's credit rating again, combined with talk -officially dismissed- over a debt restructuring, are creating a very negative climate in the market, which moved downwards for the sixth consecutive session.

    The Big Cap index dropped 2.59 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.66 pct down and the Small Cap index plunged 4.25 pct. Coca-Cola 3E (1.32 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while Ellaktor (7.81 pct), Hellenic Postbank (6.57 pct), Eurobank (5.75 pct), Piraeus Bank (5.76 pct) and ATEbank (4.29 pct) were top losers. The Food sector was the only one to end higher (1.11 pct), while Health (4.36 pct), Chemicals (3.97 pct), technology (3.87 pct) and Banks (3.21 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 144 to 31 with another 27 issues unchanged. Vivere (17.74 pct), Unibios (14.29 pct) and Karamolegos (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Vovos (18.9 pct), Alfa Grissin (18.81 pct) and Euromedica (16.41 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.27%

    Industrials: -2.59%

    Commercial: -3.65%

    Construction: -3.04%

    Media: -2.32%

    Oil & Gas: -0.89%

    Personal & Household: -2.57%

    Raw Materials: -2.99%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.62%

    Technology: -3.87%

    Telecoms: -1.43%

    Banks: -3.21%

    Food & Beverages: +1.11%

    Health: -4.36%

    Utilities: -3.75%

    Chemicals: -3.97%

    Financial Services: -2.20%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.35

    ATEbank: 0.67

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.50

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.25

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.30

    National Bank of Greece: 6.00

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.10

    OPAP: 15.00

    OTE: 7.60

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.31

    Titan: 17.30

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.84 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 31.178 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,000 contracts worth 23.705 million euros, with 25,205 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,297 contracts worth 7.473 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (5,831), followed by Eurobank (758),

    MIG (742), OTE (1,817), PPC (868), National Bak (3,086), Alpha Bank (1,392), Marfin Popular Bank (1,630), Mytilineos (469), Hellenic Postbank (543) and ATEbank (606).

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 922 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, from 936 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.59 pct and the German Bund 3.37 pct.

    Turnover in the market was a low 23 million euros, of which 19 million were buy orders and the remaining 4.0 million were sell orders. The 30-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 8.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved further up. The 12-month rate was 2.01 pct, the six-month rate 1.55 pct, the three-month 1.25 pct and the one-month rate 0.99 pct.

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.435

    Pound sterling 0.888

    Danish kroner 7.516

    Swedish kroner 9.059

    Japanese yen 120.52

    Swiss franc 1.323

    Norwegian kroner 7.883

    Canadian dollar 1.382

    Australian dollar 1.383

    General News

    [24] Ozone-layer 'hole' expected above Greece in April

    An ozone 'hole' that appeared in the stratosphere above the Arctic this winter is expected to have moved above Greece and to increase levels of UV radiation reaching the ground by mid-April, the president of the International Ozone Commission (IOC) Christos Zerefos said on Monday.

    A Greek weather scientist, Zerefos said that the protective ozone layer above the Arctic had been depleted by record 40 percent due to low temperatures at the start of the winter until the end of March. The highest level previously recorded was a 30 percent thinning of the ozone layer.

    The atmospheric masses that currently positioned this record-thin layer of ozone above northern Europe, Russia and Alaska were expected to affect Greece in the coming weeks, he added.

    "The increased levels of ultra-violet solar radiation measured in the high geographic latitudes are expected to be observed in the next days above Russia and above Alaska. The thinning of the ozone layer is exceptionally great and it is expected that in one or two weeks the aerial masses that will move from the high latitudes to the low latitudes - including that of Greece - will transport air with much less protective ozone," he stressed.

    Zerefos said the phenomenon might be the result of human-generated climate change.

    "The extreme situation of the cooling of the lower atmosphere and the thinning of the ozone layer is due chiefly to climatic anomaly that occurred in the higher layers of the atmosphere in the past few months. One part of the climate anomaly may possibly be linked with the emerging human-generated 'greenhouse gas' phenomenon," he added.

    He advised the public to take standard precautions against excessive exposure to the sun, even though it was still April, saying that people and especially young children should stay out of the sun between 11:00 and 15:00.

    [25] Elderly man shot and killed by burglars

    Four burglars shot and killed an elderly man in front of his wife and son in the early hours of Monday in Orchomenos, Viotia prefecture, after the 75-year-old man woke up during the robbery.

    The burglars broke into the elderly man's home at about 3:50 a.m., while the man, his wife and 47-year-old son were sleeping, but were heard by the 75-year-old.

    The perpetrators shot the 75-year-old, killing him on the spot, and immoblised the son and lightly injured the elderly woman before fleeing.

    The getaway car was found abandoned shortly afterwards near Atalanti, which the burglars had attempted to burn.

    An investigation turned up that the car had been stolen from the greater Athens area.

    A manhunt has been launched for the perpetrators.

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Rainy on Tuesday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 23C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 7C to 20C. Rainy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 19C.

    [27] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    Economic issues and speculation over possible new austerity measures to blunt the ongoing fiscal and debt crisis faced by the country mostly dominated the Monday edition of Athens' dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "(ND leader) Antonis Samaras issues call to distinguished younger generation (to join main opposition party)".

    City Press: "Government at a crossroads".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Dangerous ministers for Greece!"

    ETHNOS: "Granting of five state stipends based on incomes criteria".

    ELEFTHEROS: "PM's brother disagrees with tax policy".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Free work stamps for unemployed between the ages of 55 and 64".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "End to (holiday, vacation) bonuses in public sector".

    ESTIA: "(Former minister, MP and noted neo-liberal proponent) Stefanos Manos responds to Economist (magazine)".

    IMERISSIA: "Half of listed companies on Athens Stock Exchange under supervision; another 26 under special regime".

    TA NEA: "(Military) officers' transfers with criteria".

    VRADYNI: "Salary reduction via individual business contracts".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "In search of 16 billion euros to service the (state) debt".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] President Christofias and UN chief discuss meeting in June

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon would like the meeting between himself, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu to be held in June, due to the absence of significant progress in negotiations between President Christofias and Eroglu for a solution of the Cyprus problem, in the hope that there would be better conditions by then.

    According to an official press release, President Christofias spoke over the telephone with the UN chief on Sunday evening.

    President Christofias told Ban that his predictions concerning the negotiations had been right and that ''the stance of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey has not been at all helpful, on the contrary it has been problematic.''

    Furthermore, President Christofias assured the UN Secretary General that he would continue to work ''with good will in the negotiations for progress but for this to happen there must be good will from both sides.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory. UN-backed negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus began on September 2008.

    UNSG encourages Cyprus leaders to redouble efforts

    NEW YORK (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has encouraged Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu to redouble their efforts to build confidence on all fronts, so that a mutually acceptable comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem can remain in sight.

    The UNSG has proposed another meeting with both leaders in mid-June to review developments.

    A UN press release said that the UN Secretary General spoke by telephone on Sunday with Christofias and separately with Eroglu, adding that ''in both conversations, the Secretary-General noted that there had been some convergences, particularly in the economy chapter and in the chapter on EU matters.''

    ''However", he said, "there has been no significant progress in the other chapters'' and ''noted the election period was approaching.''

    ''He encouraged both leaders to redouble their efforts to build confidence on all fronts so that a mutually acceptable comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem can remain in sight. In this regard, the Secretary-General proposed convening another meeting with both leaders in mid-June to review developments,'' the press release concluded.

    FM expresses readiness to support efforts for changes in Egypt

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has expressed Cyprus' readiness to support the efforts of the Egyptian government for changes in the country.

    Kyprianou, who was received Sunday in Cairo by Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, continued his meetings in the neighboring country on Monday.

    The Cypriot foreign minister discussed Sunday with the Prime Minister of Egypt the latest political developments in Egypt and the Arab world in general.

    According to an official press release, Kyprianou stressed the readiness of Cyprus to support and actively contribute to the efforts of the Egyptian government to bring changes in the country. During the meeting, they discussed how Cyprus could best contribute towards this goal, bilaterally as well as in the EU framework.

    The Cypriot FM also informed the Egyptian prime minister about the latest developments regarding the UN-led direct Cyprus talks, aiming at reaching a solution of the Cyprus issue.

    In the framework of his visit, Kyprianou met General Secretary of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, with whom he exchanged views on the developments in the Arab world, especially Libya and Egypt. During the meeting, Kyprianou noted the need for coordination of actions between the EU and the Arab League.

    Kyprianou also held a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Abdalla El-Araby. The two ministers reviewed bilateral relations and confirmed the excellent level of their cooperation, agreeing to continue developing those relations. They also discussed issues concerning EU-Egypt relations. The foreign minister expressed Cyprus' full support to the development and enhancement of those relations.

    Both ministers also exchanged views on issues regarding the Union for the Mediterranean and the latest developments in Egypt and other Arab countries.

    Kyprianou informed his Egyptian counterpart about the latest developments of the Cyprus problem and expressed his gratitude towards Egypt's steadfast support to Cyprus throughout the years.

    The Egyptian Minister expressed the support of his country to the ongoing process for a solution of the Cyprus problem based on the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

    The Republic of Cyprus, a full EU member state since 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. UN-backed negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus began in September 2008.

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


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