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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-04-16

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

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

Saturday, 16 April 2011 Issue No: 3766

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM refers to road map to 2013
  • [02] PM: 'We will deliver a different Greece in 2013'
  • [03] PM Papandreou chairs ruling party's meeting
  • [04] ND refers to anniversary of Titanic sinking in criticism of PM's statements
  • [05] FM on NATO summit
  • [06] FM meets with Russian counterpart
  • [07] Greek FM criticises Hungarian presidency quip over fYRoM 'name issue'
  • [08] Droutsas reply to Davutoglu at NATO foreign ministers' meeting
  • [09] Samaras on tour of Thrace, criticises PM on Kallikratis program
  • [10] ND leader addresses rally in Komotini
  • [11] Tsipras to government: Resign
  • [12] PASOK MPs table proposal for Tsohatzopoulos investigation
  • [13] Former ND minister files libel lawsuits against media outlets
  • [14] MPs to pay 5 pct of salary into National Social Cohesion Fund
  • [15] Gov't unveils ambitious economic reforms program for 2012-2015
  • [16] GSEE calls for policies to make debt manageable
  • [17] Era when Greece was for sale 'has died', deputy tourism minister says
  • [18] Eurostat on foreign trade balance deficit
  • [19] Greek inflation rose to 4.3 pct in March
  • [20] Regional Eurozone bond yields continue moving higher
  • [21] Greek merchant marine fleet down 1.8 pct in Feb
  • [22] NBGs Tamvakakis named Manager of the Year
  • [23] Greek stocks end week 4.06 pct down
  • [24] Greek bond market closing report
  • [25] ADEX closing report
  • [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [27] Lecture by molecular biologist James Watson on DNA, cancer
  • [28] Education minister condemns incident
  • [29] A.R Penck exhibition opens in Thessaloniki
  • [30] Couple in police force attacked with petrol bombs in Keratea
  • [31] Temporary contract workers end Athens City Hall sit-in
  • [32] Tremor in Laconia
  • [33] Rainy on Saturday
  • [34] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] President: 'We will never reconcile ourselves with partition'
  • [36] Leaders did not agreed on international treaties, spokesman says Politics

  • [01] PM refers to road map to 2013

    Prime minister George Papandreou on Friday unveiled the philosophy of the "roadmap" for Greece for up to the year 2013, when his PASOK government's term in office expires, and indirectly rejected recent intense speculation of early general elections and restructuring of the Greek debt, during a presentation of the three-year Medium-Term Program for 2012-2015. The details will be announced after the Easter holiday.

    On the state debt, Papandreou said that the immense debt was being faced, but the problem was solving it in depth, not through restructuring of the debt itself but through restructuring of the country, "and that is what we are doing with the road map".

    The premier stressed that he is "absolutely determined" that the government will move ahead on the basis of the road map, and expressed certainty that "we will succeed", a certainty that stems from the Greek citizens' support for the government.

    Papandreou made an extensive review of the government's work so far and its achievements in its 18 months in office, including the streamlining of the public finances which is continuing and is a top goal together with growth, investments and an efficient social state.

    The road map, he continued, does not begin from a zero basis given that some things have already been achieved, but will be a step for further tackling the chronic distortions.

    His government, the premier continued, responds to the mentality of "leave it for later" with "decisions and changes, now".

    "We want a country that is autonomous, that looks to the future with confidence, and that is the battle we are waging despite unforeseeable circumstances and reactions by those who do not want anything to change," the premier stressed.

    Papandreou further made a reference to incidents of violence and lawlessness, "which have no place in a democracy, and especially in a time of restructuring of the country", and called on the political forces to take a clear-cut position on those issues, without evasions.

    His government's policy has succeeded much on two fronts, that of restoring confidence in the country and the implementation of extensive reform programs. "We achieved the largest deficit reduction in the history of Greece but also the European Union. At the same time, an unprecedented program of major changes is underway," the premier elaborated.

    Papandreou explained that the detailed elements and timetables of the road map will be unveiled after the Easter holiday, to be followed by itemization of the program, which will then be put to dialogue and tabled in parliament for vote.

    "We do not promise that a magical solution will be found in one day, but we have proven that we can succeed," he added.

    On the debt, Papandreou stressed that its reduction "is not only numerical, since behind it are the deficits, and behind those are practices, mentalities and corrupt policies, which we are changing", adding that "the debt and the deficit will be tackled when we have changed the rationales and mentalities".

    The premier noted that if by some magical way the debt was wiped out but other changes were not made, "in a short time we would again have big deficits and a bid debt", adding that the targets will be achieved through major changes, such as a radical change of the country's developmental planning.

    This planning includes the exploitation of the state property and sale of equity stakes. The government is aspiring to the attraction of investments, which create strong economic alliances at international level. All these will be done on the basis of a real appraisal of the value of the state property, Papandreou continued, stressing that the strategic sectors will be controlled by the state in such a way to enable a comprehensive developmental planning.

    "And all this, with full transparency," he added.

    Papandreou said that the welfare state will be at the citizens' side, and pledged better health services and curbing of waste, adding that an immediate priority of the government is to boost the low pensions, despite the existing difficulties.

    He further said that changes were also being advanced in the justice system as well as a change of the electoral law.

    "We are putting order in the fiscal finances and creating a state that will be financed on its own steam," he added.

    In a reference to state expenditures and revenues, Papandreou noted that state spending in 2009 was 53 percent of GDP, and the effort being made via the road map is to reduce the figure to 44 percent of GDP by 2015, back to the 2003 level, which is also the EU average. As for revenues, the target is to bring them up to 43 percent of GDP in 2015, back to the 2000 level, from the 38 percent they had dropped to.

    The 'road map' is the road that Greece must follow to emerge from its present problems, Papandreou said, warning that the road proposed by other quarters would lead to isolation and bankruptcy "and that is why we reject it".

    "We are trying to change the country, without consideration of the political cost," the premier said, adding that the beginning has been made, and it is now time to proceed to the creation of an even better Greece.

    [02] PM: 'We will deliver a different Greece in 2013'

    "My sole interest is to deliver a different Greece in 2013, one that is not at risk from crises and can look to the future with confidence," Prime Minister George Papandreou said while addressing ruling PASOK's Parliamentary group on Friday.

    Stressing that the aim was to make the country better and not return to the past, he underlined that the road map he had earlier unveiled to the cabinet was the only sure path for exiting the crisis, rejecting the proposals of the opposition that he said would further undermine the country and lead to default.

    "We will follow the sure path for saving and fixing Greece," he told PASOK MPs, adding that he did not care if he only got one term as Greek prime minister as a result.

    Papandreou described the road map was "ambitious, hopeful and realistic", with citizens as its protagonists, and said that he was determined to "proceed with those that want our country to change, who make up the overwhelming majority of society".

    Referring to economic policy, the prime minister ruled out further 'horizontal' cuts to wages and pensions but also horizontal tax increases on individuals and businesses, promising that the measures would be targeted and almost entirely focused on fight tax evasion.

    Among the government's priorities, the prime minister listed a future revision of the Constitution that he said would not be merely "technical" but create a new charter for the country and he referred to plans for a Charter of Social Rights that would ensure a decent minimum standard of living for all.

    He also pointed out that the battlefield for the fight to change the country would be the state.

    Referring to the state of the country, the prime minister said that the government had made great strides in saving Greece from bankruptcy but that the situation was still crucial.

    "We are still in intensive care, it is just that last year we were saved at the last minute," he said, adding that the problem was now not to make a diagnosis but to cure the disease.

    He made no firm predictions about when Greece would exit the crisis, saying only that a concerted effort might bring about a recovery as soon as 2012 and that Greece now had a unique opportunity not to put itself in the same position again.

    The prime minister also defended the government's decision to sign to the memorandum, saying that the resort to the mechanism of Ireland and Portugal had proved that this had been inevitable, while he strongly criticised all speculation concerning a possible debt restructuring as dangerous.

    More controversially, he claimed that the recession was not a result of the Memorandum but had existed beforehand, noting that the rate at which the economy was shrinking had already slowing and the country could well have returned to positive growth by 2012.

    Stressing that Greece's EU partners also wanted to see the country succeed, since this success would also be theirs, Papandreou urged his MPs not to succumb to the voices of pessimism that wanted nothing in Greece to change. He praised the part played by PASOK's MPs, noting that they had offered not only criticism but also support for the government's work.

    He ended by asking Greek people to support "the common effort" and said that consensus was not only achieved in Parliament and on talk shows but also in society, stressing that the road map was "a very specific plan that will lead us from recession to growth".

    [03] PM Papandreou chairs ruling party's meeting

    Prime Minister and ruling PASOK President George Papandreou chaired a meeting of the party's political council on Friday evening.

    According to reports, Papandreou said that the "roadmap" for Greece up to the year 2013, which he unveiled earlier in the day during a cabinet meeting, was a proposal for dialogue and that all issues would be debated in the course leading to the party's national conference.

    PASOK government's term in office expires in October 2013.

    [04] ND refers to anniversary of Titanic sinking in criticism of PM's statements

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Friday bashed Prime Minister George Papandreou for his speech, carried live by the state broadcaster, delivered before his Cabinet, characterising the latter's remarks as "an essay out of touch with reality".

    ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis charged that the premier did not have the courage to unveil "new painful measures he plans and postponed their announcement until after Easter".

    "Apparently, the fact that the Cabinet met on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic means something. Obviously, he feels that his government is sinking. The country will not go down with them," he said.

    Mihelakis said the prime minister spoke about "a 'digital school' when schools are being shutdown; better operation of hospitals when for the first time hospitals are forced to suspend their operation; new jobs when unemployment is 15 pct and rising; a social rights charter when the social state was abolished in the past 18 months; a road map when he does not say where he is going; a revolution in taxation justice when indirect taxes affect mostly the weaker incomes; a new election law when local government became a 'guinea pig' after the imposition of Kallikratis reform plan, which is already collapsing. Apparently he was talking about another country."

    In an unrelated matter, the main opposition party strongly condemned the violence against Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Thursday night, during an event hosted by the ruling PASOK party in northwest Athens' Agii Anargiri district. ND also condemned the violent incidents targeting distinguished foreign visitors, like Nobel laureate James Watson in the western city of Patras.

    On the anti-landfill protests in Keratea, eastern Attica, Mihelakis accused the government of opting against a dialogue with the local residents.

    The ND spokesman also referred to the initiatives undertaken by the party on European level as regards Turkey's intention to build a nuclear plant in the earthquake-prone Akkuyu district.

    [05] FM on NATO summit

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/G. Pappas)

    Speaking to reporters after the NATO summit in Berlin on Friday, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said no discussion was held on the extension of operations in Libya and that Crete, due to its geographical proximity can be used for coordination in providing humanitarian aid to the North African country. He also said that the allies would see Crete's role in the systematic provision of humanitarian aid as being "very important."

    In this framework, the Foreign minister said that the first Greek ship is being prepared to carry humanitarian aid to Libya, that on its return could also bring injured people as well for them to be treated in Crete.

    [06] FM meets with Russian counterpart

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA / G. Pappas)

    The excellent level of bilateral relations between Greece and Russia was confirmed by foreign ministers Dimitris Droutsas and Sergey Lavrov who met here on Friday.

    The brief meeting was held on the sidelines of the NATO-Russia Council in Berlin during which the two ministers expressed their common will to boost bilateral cooperation. They also agreed to continue consultations in the imminent visit of the Greek FM to Moscow.

    [07] Greek FM criticises Hungarian presidency quip over fYRoM 'name issue'

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Friday broached the issue of recent statements -- made by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban regarding the fYRoM "name issue" -- with his Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi.

    The two foreign ministers met on the sidelines of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers, taking place in the German capital.

    According to ANA-MPA reports and diplomatic sources, the Greek minister emphasised that the EU member-state holding the six-month rotating EU Council must exercise its role within the institutional framework foreseen by the Union's treaties.

    Moreover, Droutsas underlined that every rotating presidency must also respect the unanimous decisions taken by the same Council and represented by the presidency, which at present is held by Hungary.

    Orban had reportedly referred to an "absurd" situation, namely, that the "name issue" conflict is preventing the land-locked one-time Yugoslav republic from beginning accession talks with the EU.

    The same sources said Greece's permanent representative to the EU lodged a demarche with his Hungarian counterpart over the uncharacteristically unilateral statements by the Hungarian EU presidency.

    [08] Droutsas reply to Davutoglu at NATO foreign ministers' meeting

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - G. Pappas)

    Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas emphasised the need to respect the resolutions of the UN Security Council on Friday, while replying to controversial statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu concerning Cyprus.

    Addressing a NATO foreign ministers' meeting held to discuss EU-NATO relations, Droutsas rejected the position earlier expressed by Davutoglu that the Cyprus government "does not represent the whole of Cyprus", that Cyprus' admission into the EU was a "mistake" and that Turkey did not recognise the Cyprus government as "officially sitting at the same table".

    Referring to the situation in Libya and the need to respect UN Security Council resolutions, he stressed that it was "self-evident that the demand for respect for UNSC resolutions applies to all issues" and that these same resolutions were an apt reply concerning Davutoglu's claims about who the Cyprus Republic government represented.

    Droutsas also pointed out that the Cyprus problem was not a NATO issue and that the Cyprus Republic was a member-state of the EU, a fact that had to be respected by all.

    Stressing that Davutoglu's arguments were not accepted, the Greek said he would not be drawn into escalating a rhetorical dispute and urged EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to continue efforts for constructive and closer EU-NATO cooperation.

    [09] Samaras on tour of Thrace, criticises PM on Kallikratis program

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras severely criticised prime minister George Papandreou over the implementation of the 'Kallikratis' public administration reform program, speaking in Xanthi on Friday during a tour of Thrace.

    "Instead of preparing new draft laws, such as the new electoral law, Mr. Papandreou should box the interior minister's ears over the 'Kallikratis' that leaves the regional governor without specific authorities and with less money than the prefects of the past had," Samaras said after a meeting with Xanthi mayor Michalis Stylianidis.

    PASOK must finally perceive what is happening around him and realise that he would do well to pay a visit to any mayor and regional governor, whether belonging to PASOK or not, "because today they are all speaking the truth and are doing so because they are in despair," Samaras said.

    [10] ND leader addresses rally in Komotini

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing a rally in the northern city of Komotini on Friday evening, promised the conclusion of an agreement of trust and a contract of dignity with the Greek citizens that will promote a new policy.

    Samaras also accused the PASOK party and the prime minister of "sacrifices with no value" that "instead of decreasing the deficit in reality they are multiplying padlocks, boosting unemployment and increasing the debt."

    The ND leader also accused the prime minister of making "a report of ideas" on Friday and predicted that the government is preparing a new package of painful measures for after Easter.

    [11] Tsipras to government: Resign

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Trspras on Friday demanded the resignation of the PASOK government and immediate general elections.

    Speaking in Budapest on the sidelines of a European Left Party meeting and reacting to statements earlier in the day by prime minister George Papandreou on a 'road map' for Greece to 2013, Tsipras called on the "Papandreou government to follow the most honorable path it has left: To resign and put its choices and work to the judgment of the Greek people".

    [12] PASOK MPs table proposal for Tsohatzopoulos investigation

    Ruling PASOK MPs on Friday tabled a proposal to set up a parliamentary preliminary examination committee to investigate whether former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, a long-time PASOK cadre, received bribes before the controversial "Archimedes" contract for three submarines was signed with the Skaramangas Shipyards.

    The proposal is signed by 112 PASOK MPs, and the examination committee will undertake to investigate allegations that the former minister laundered kickbacks by purchasing real estate.

    Parliament will discuss the proposal in a plenary session on April 29.

    [13] Former ND minister files libel lawsuits against media outlets

    Former New Democracy (ND) minister Mihalis Liapis on Friday filed several libel lawsuits against local television stations "Kontra" and "Extra 3" as well as the Athens daily "Avriani", demanding compensation for damage caused to his reputation, as he claimed.

    He also filed a lawsuit against opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis

    The lawsuits were filed in response to media reports alleging that Liapis, a former minister, had 178 million euros in bank accounts not declared in his tax and "source of wealth" statements.

    The decision to take legal action seeking restitution for moral damage was announced in a statement issued by Liapis' office.

    [14] MPs to pay 5 pct of salary into National Social Cohesion Fund

    Parliament on Friday decided to extend a measure under which 5 percent of MP salaries are paid into the National Social Cohesion Fund. The decision was originally taken in April 2009 at the recommendation of Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikou, maintained last year and preserved in the current year according to a decision of the conference of presidents.

    Financial News

    [15] Gov't unveils ambitious economic reforms program for 2012-2015

    A Medium-term Fiscal Strategy Framework, presented by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, envisages measures worth 3.0 billion euros this year and a total 26 billion euros by 2015.

    Presenting the plan, Papaconstantinou said the 3.0 billion euros in interventions envisaged for this year would cover all risks and divergence existing in a fiscal consolidation program, while the remaining 23 billion euros (9.0 billion from higher revenues and 14 billion euros from spending cuts) will help in cutting the country's fiscal deficit by 14.5 billion euros since 8.5 billion euros is needed on interest spending.

    The finance minister said the state expects revenues worth 15 billion euros from privatizations and exploiting the state's real estate property in the period 2011-2013, and a total of 50 billion euros by 2015. This revenue will be used to cut the public debt by an additional 20 percent of GDP by 2015.

    The Medium-term framework is expected to be approved in Parliament in May and the new legislation will envisage budget projections, fiscal interventions to achieving goals, annual spending ceilings for each government ministry and targets, long-term projection of public debt, intervention plans in public sector enterprises, abolition-merger of state agencies, combatting tax evasion, civil administration and a new payroll, social spending, public spending and defense spending.

    More analytically, interventions accounting for 11.4 pct of GDP by 2015 will be made in 12 sectors:

    1. Cutting payroll spending by 2.0 billion euros, introducing an one-to-five ratio in new hirings in the public sector, cutting contract workers by at least 10 pct annually, raising working hours to 40 hours per week, reducing compensation paid to commissions, reducing over-time pay, introducing part-time work in the public sector, limiting the number of entries in productive educational schools.

    2. Cutting operating spending by 2.5 billion euros. Introducting e-procurement services, cutting telecoms spending, renationalizing energy spending, reducing leasing spending, drastically cutting operating spending in ministries and public agencies (public relations, management costs with the aim to save 2.0 billion euros.

    3. Abolishing and merging agencies, worth 1.1 billion euros. Re-evaluating the purpose and spending of all agencies subsidised by the state budget, introducing a new educational map, abolishing and merging tax agencies and customs, abolishing and merging agencies abroad, cutting the number of police stations.

    4. Reorganising public sector enterprises worth 2.3 billion euros.

    5. Cutting defense spending by 1.2 billion euros.

    6. Rationalising health spending by 1.2 billion euros.

    7. Rationalising spending on pharmaceutical products, 1.5 billion euros.

    8. Reducing pension funds' spending and rationalising social spending, 2.5 billion euros.

    9. Strengthening tax revenue collection, 3.5 billion euros.

    10. Cutting tax breaks, 2.0 billion euros.

    11. Improving social insurance revenues and combating social insurance evasion, 3.5 billion euros.

    12. Raising local government revenues, 600 million euros.

    The Medium-term Fiscal Strategy Framework also envisages a wide-spread privatization program, through the sale, concession contracts, finding strategic investors, selling equity stakes through the stock market and creating a holding company for the state's real estate property.

    The plan envisages:

    1. extending a concession contract of the Athens International Airport and gradually cutting the state's equity participation, introducing a new law on the management of regional airports and creating multi-shareholding groups.

    2. Port infrastructure. Promoting partnership groups between the public and the private sector for the Port System of Attica and the main regional ports of the country, attracting private funds to upgrading marinas.

    3. National road and railway networks. Creating modern financial groups for the operation of highways, such as Egnatia Road and National Roads, through concession contracts, securitizing toll revenues and promoting a restructuring plan for Hellenic Railways, privatising TrainOSE.

    4. Energy sector. Cutting equity participation in Public Sector Enterprises from 51 pct to 34 pct in 2012, maintaining public control and management, cutting participation in DE.PA to 34 pct this year, selling metals producer Larco in 2011.

    5. Waterworks infrastructure. Attracting private investors to Athens Water and Thessaloniki Water.

    6. Communications network. Cutting the state's equity participation in OTE this year, promoting broadband and creating fiber optical networks in cooperation with the private sector. Expanding mobile telephony licenses this year, finding a strategic investor for Hellenic Post in 2012.

    7. Gaming. Selling the state's equity participation in casinos this year. Regulating and licensing of gaming services and e-betting services in 2011. Strengthening OPAP's operation and selling-off the listed Organisation next year.

    8. Banks. Strategic moves and alliances are encouraged, while the government will restructure the financial institutions under its control. ATEbank has announced a significant share capital increase plan with the state cutting its participation while maintaining majority in the bank. The Savings and Loans Fund will split up, with the state selling the commercial leg of the fund in 2012 depending on market conditions. Hellenic Postbank remains a significant part of the state bank pylon. By 2013 the state will cut its equity participation.

    9. Real estate property. A register is currently being made on the state real estate property assets. Promoting special financial tools through the organizing of portfolios and their promotion to international markets by Greek and international banks. The government will also institute long-term leasing of property assets, promoting vacational homes, offering fast track procedures and exploiting -immediately- real estate properties owned by the Tourism Real Estate Company and Olympic Games properties. The timetable for exploiting the state's real estate property will be completed by the end of 2012.

    [16] GSEE calls for policies to make debt manageable

    "Counterbalancing public expenditures is necessary but will have to be combined with policies that will make public debt manageable," General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos on Friday underlined, stressing that Europe's responsibility is undisputable.

    Commenting on the government announcements, Panagopoulos stated that unless public expenditures are counterbalanced "fiscal austerity, will lead the country's entire economy to austerity by making recession deeper, which in turn will result in rampant unemployment and in the destruction of the social web."

    "No national plan can have a chance of succeeding and furthermore, enjoy national and social support, if the uneven distribution of burden continues with wage-earners and pensioners shouldering most of it," he stressed.

    Meanwhile, DAKE trade unionists -- affiliated with the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party -- rejected the Medium-term programme announced by the government, while the Communist Party-affiliated PAME trade union grouping called on the workers to participate in mobilizations.

    [17] Era when Greece was for sale 'has died', deputy tourism minister says

    The era when Greece was for sale "has died", deputy culture and tourism minister George Nikitiadis told ANA-MPA on Friday, commenting on foreign website on which Greek islands are "up for sale".

    Nikitiadis said that there are unfortunately some mindless people who fail to realise that the era when Greece was for sale has died.

    The exploitation of the state's real property mans development of the country's and people's wealth, and not profit for the few, he added.

    Recently, 12 Greek islets in the Aegean and the Ionia were up for "auction" on a Canadian website, while an American website recommended the purchase of land plots on a number of Greek islets on which buiding is prohibited, among others.

    [18] Eurostat on foreign trade balance deficit

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)

    Greece's foreign trade balance deficit was limited in January 2011 to 2.2 billion euros, from 2.9 billion euros in January 2010, according to data publicised by Eurostat on Friday.

    Exports increased from 1 billion euros in January 2010 to 1.4 billion euros in January 2011, while imports decreased from 3.9 billion euros to 3.6 billion euros respectively. The countries of southern Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece) and Britain are exclusively countries of a deficit in the EU while Germany is the exclusively surplus country, exceeding 10 billion euros a month.

    Generally speaking, Greek exports, in absolute figures, are moving at the levels of Bulgaria and Slovenia, whose imports are far smaller.

    [19] Greek inflation rose to 4.3 pct in March

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    Greece's annual inflation rate rose to 4.3 pct in March from 4.2 pct in February, Eurostat said on Friday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 2.7 pct in March from 2.4 pct in February, sharply up from 1.6 pct in March 2010. In the EU-27, the inflation rate rose to 3.1 pct from 2.9 pct and 2.0 pct over the same periods, respectively.

    Ireland (1.2 pct), Sweden (1.4 pct) and Czech Republic (1.9 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in March, while Romania (8.0 pct), Estonia (5.1 pct), Bulgaria and Hungary (4.6 pct each) recorded the highest inflation rates. The inflation rate rose in 18 member-states, it was unchanged in five and fell in fourh member-states in March.

    [20] Regional Eurozone bond yields continue moving higher

    Greek bond yields continued moving higher after Moody's downgraded Ireland's credit rating by two notches to Baa3 while it maintained a negative outlook for the country. Ireland's 10-year bonds yielded 9.5 pct, up three basis points from Thursday, while the 10-year Spanish bonds yielded 5.4 pct.

    The 10-year Greek benchmark bond yielded 13.5 pct as speculation over a debt restructuring by Greece continued despite the fact that European Central Bank officials and IMF's head Dominique Strauss-Kahn officially dismissed such scenarios.

    [21] Greek merchant marine fleet down 1.8 pct in Feb

    The Greek merchant marine fleet fell by 1.8 pct in February this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after an inrease of 1.9 pct recorded in February 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the country's merchant marine fleet totaled 2,087 ships with a capacity of 43,407,416 dwt, up 3.2 pct compared with the same month in 2010.

    [22] NBGs Tamvakakis named Manager of the Year

    Apostolos Tamvakakis, managing director of the National Bank of Greece (NBG), was awarded the "Manager of the Year" award by the Hellenic Management Association for the year 2010, during a ceremony held Thursday evening at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall.

    Addressing the event, government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos said that Greece and Greek companies have immense abilities, adding that in this time of economic crisis enterprises were being created, invention patent applications were being submitted, and investments were on the way.

    [23] Greek stocks end week 4.06 pct down

    Greek stocks ended the last trading session of a volatile week with significant losses, reflecting the market's disappointment over the government's reform and privatization measures. The Athens Stock Exchange was also hit by a new rise in Greek bond spreads and CDS to record highs. The composite index fell 1.26 pct to end at 1,469.03 points, for a net loss of 4.06 pct in the week.

    Turnover was a low 106.214 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.19 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.43 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 1.76 pct. OTE (1.55 pct), Titan (1.32 pct) and Jumbo (1.0 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Postbank (5.86 pct), Eurobank (3.79 pct) and Alpha Bank (3.04 pct) were top losers. The Media (1.63 pct) and Chemicals (0.99 pct) scored gains, while Travel (2.11 pct), Utilities (2.09 pct) and Financial Services (1.96 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 92 to 54 with another 44 issues unchanged. Hatzioannou (14.29 pct), Pegasus (11.76 pct) and Sato (10 pct) were top gainers, while Domiki Crete (19.39 pct), Attikat (16.67 pct) and Vovos (14.49 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.69%

    Industrials: -1.36%

    Commercial: -0.94%

    Construction: +0.02%

    Media: +1.63%

    Oil & Gas: +0.77%

    Personal & Household: +0.37%

    Raw Materials: -0.93%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.11%

    Technology: -0.85%

    Telecoms: +1.55%

    Banks: -1.67%

    Food & Beverages: -1.81%

    Health: -1.13%

    Utilities: -2.09%

    Chemicals: +0.99%

    Financial Services: -1.96%

    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: 4.14

    ATEbank: 0.52

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.30

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.14

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.32

    National Bank of Greece: 5.77

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.81

    OPAP: 14.90

    OTE: 7.87

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.25

    Titan: 17.68

    [24] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 1047 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 996 bps on Thursday, as speculation of a debt restructuring maintained pressures on Greek bonds. The Greek bond yielded 13.84 pct and the German Bund 3.37 pct. Turnover in the market was an increased 176 million euros of which 159 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 17 million were buy orders. The five-year bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 59 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.10 pct, the six-month rate 1.63 pct, the three-month 1.33 pct and the one-month rate 1.16 pct.

    [25] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.02 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover remaining a low 43.131 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,651 contracts worth 32.318 million euros, with 28,173 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,233 contracts, worth 10.813 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,681), followed by Eurobank (1,230), OTE (2,229), PPC (1,057), Piraeus Bank (1,345), Alpha Bank (4,853), Cyprus Bank(1,143), Hellenic Postbank(1,046) and ATEbank(328).

    [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.456

    Pound sterling 0.890

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.037

    Japanese yen 121.33

    Swiss franc 1.3

    Norwegian kroner 7.870

    Canadian dollar 1.404

    Australian dollar 1.384

    General News

    [27] Lecture by molecular biologist James Watson on DNA, cancer

    Nobel prize-winning American molecular biologist James Watson, the 83-year-old "father of DNA", who made an address on Friday before a large audience, mainly composed of students, at the central auditorium of the "Dimokritos" research centre, said "I want to see the cure for cancer as long as I am alive."

    The biologist, who has now turned his attention to cancer an issue which, as he said, is preoccupying him for over 60 years, expressed optimism that in five to 10 years there shall be considerable progress in the therapy of at least certain forms of cancer, with the help of research in genes and stem cells.

    Watson made extensive historic references to the course of the discovery of the "double propeller" (the DNA molecule) by him and his associate Briton Francis Crick, at the laboratories of the Cambridge university, in 1953. He also gave advice to young people and candidate researchers, based on his prolonged experience, stressing in particular the value of collective work and cooperation with scientists of various specialities.

    [28] Education minister condemns incident

    In a related development, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday strongly condemned an incident caused by hooded self-styled anarchist youth a day earlier. One of the hooded youths attempted to charge against the octogenarian Watson during a lecture at a University of Patras auditorium on Thursday evening.

    "We should go beyond the self-evident condemnation of the insult directed to Medicine and Physiology Nobel laureate James Watson," she said, adding that the deplorable incident should be "the spark to awaken consciousnesses".

    Diamantopoulou issued the statement in response to an attack by a hooded individual on Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA, who had been invited to give a lecture at the university of Patras.

    "The response to the hood-wearing fascism that threatens scientific expression and fundamental academic freedoms with raw violence should be the people's activation and conscious action in dealing with the problems faced by the Greek universities. The circumstances call for tangible and broad-based consensus for radical and in-depth changes," she stressed.

    [29] A.R Penck exhibition opens in Thessaloniki

    Works by German painter, printmaker and sculptor A.R. Penck are on display for the first time in Greece, at the Artis Causa gallery in Thessaloniki.

    A total of 16 works -- acrylics on canvas, lithographs and gouache paintings -- from 1980 to the present, will be on display in this solo exhibition through June 14.

    Ralf Winkler (A.R. Penck) was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1939 and studied together with a group of other neo-expressionist painters in Dresden.

    He became one of the foremost exponents of the new figuration alongside Jorg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and Markus Lupertz. Under the East German communist regime, they were watched by the secret police and were considered dissidents. In the late 1970s they were included in shows in West Berlin and were seen as exponents of free speech in the East. Their work was shown by major museums and galleries in the West throughout the 1980s. They were included in a number of important shows including the famous Zeitgeist exhibition in the well-known Martin Gropius Bau museum and the important New Art show at the Tate in 1983.

    In the 1980s Penck became known worldwide for paintings with pictographic, neo-primitivist imagery of human figures and other totemic forms. He was included in many important shows both in London and New York.

    Penck's sculptures, though less familiar, evoke the same primitive themes as his paintings and drawings and use common everyday materials such as wood, bottles, cardboard boxes, tin cans, masking tape, tinfoil, wire and are crudely painted and assembled. Despite the anti-art aesthetic and the rough and ready quality of their construction, they have the same symbolic, archetypal anthropomorphic forms as his flat symbolic paintings. The paintings are influenced by Paul Klee's work and mix the flatness of Egyptian or Mayan writing with the crudity of the late black paintings by Jackson Pollock. The sculptures are often reminiscent of the stone heads of Easter Island and other Oceanic art.

    A keen drummer, he was a member of the free jazz group T.T.T. ("Triple Trip Touch") and took every opportunity to play with some of the best Jazz musicians of the late 1980s including Butch Morris, Frank Wright, Billy Bang, Louis Moholo and Frank Lowe, organising events at his country mansion in Heimbach in 1990 involving installations by Lennie Lee, performances by Anna Homler and paintings by Christine Kuhn.

    A.R. Penck lives and works in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Dublin and New York.

    The exhibition, part of events marking the 125th anniversary of the German Consulate General in Thessaloniki, took place on Thursday evening in the absence of the artist himself, who was unable to make the journey due to health reasons.

    [30] Couple in police force attacked with petrol bombs in Keratea

    A married couple living in Keratea and both serving in the police force were attacked by unidentified individuals armed with petrol bombs after midnight on Friday, while they were in their family home with their four children.

    The incident occurred at 45 minutes after midnight at the couple's home on the junction of NATO Avenue and Mihail Dilesi road. The attack started a fire that destroyed three vehicles parked outside the family's home before it was put out by the fire department. Two of the cars incinerated in the attack belonged to the two police officers and a third to a friend.

    The couple both work in the police force, the man as the chief of the Glyka Nera police station and the woman at the Keratea passport office. They have been living in the same house since 1994.

    The attack came after the settlement of Keratea on Thursday became the scene of violent clashes between police and local residents protesting against plans to site a landfill in the area. Tear gas was used on the protestors, causing several people to faint due to the heavy use of chemicals, while several protestors were injured in six hours of clashes with police when they attacked road crews sent to repair the main road into Keratea, using stones, sticks and petrol bombs.

    The road crews, accompanied by police and a public prosecutor, had been sent to restore damage to the main road leading off Lavrio Avenue into Keratea, where unidentified individuals had dug a 2-metre deep trench the previous night under cover of darkness and blocked access to the settlement.

    Local residents opposing the siting of a landfill in their area are trying to block off the entrances to Keratea and a section of Lavrio Avenue.

    Calm was restored to the area on Friday, with MAT riot police and local residents holding their positions on either side of Lavrio and the trenches dug in the road on Thursday have been filled in.

    According to Keratea's deputy mayor Vassilis Thiveos, neither the municipality nor local residents had any involvement in the attack on the police couple in the early hours of Friday and he stressed that the family had been a part of the local community for many years.

    [31] Temporary contract workers end Athens City Hall sit-in

    Contract workers for the Athens municipality on Friday decided to end a sit-in at Athens City Hall that lasted almost a month. They made the decision after a Supreme Court ruling on Thursday led them to the conclusion that developments favour their demands for permanent worker status.

    The protesters withdrew from the City Hall building after inspecting the premises to make sure that no damages were caused.

    According to their representatives, their future stance will depend on the decisions that will be made by the Athens mayor.

    The Supreme Court decision concerned workers hired with temporary contracts before 2001, finding that they can be given permanent positions under labour law, and will serve as a pilot decision for cases involving the civil service and broader public sector.

    [32] Tremor in Laconia

    A light earthquake measuriing 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at dawn Friday at a distance of 164 kilometers south-southwest of Athens.

    The tremor was recorded at 6:18 a.m., with its epicenter near the town of Molous in Laconia prefecture.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Rainy on Saturday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 20C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 17C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 12C.

    [34] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Greek Supreme Court: Partial vindication of contract workers".

    AVGHI: "Government 'strangling' education".

    AVRIANI: "Total bankruptcy of the economy and the political system".

    DIMOKRATIA: "25 billion euros nightmare in...holiday 'package'."

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou 'makes a run for it' via elections, in the event of a debt restructure".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Major gaffe by finance minister Papaconstantinou in interview (with Financial Times newspaper)".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Light for a few contract workers".

    ESTIA: "Resounding incompetence".

    ETHNOS: "Free land to thousands of farmers".

    IMERISSIA: "Crash test on the markets - Greece to be 'graded' on the new measures".

    KATHIMERINI: "Economy and politics hit red".

    LOGOS: "People, the 'package' is coming at you".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Large DEKO (public utilities and organisations) to be sold off for collection of 5 billion euros".

    NIKI: "One step forward, two steps backward".

    PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "Sad state: Schools, hospitals, social security funds closing".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The state property going to the capital to boost profitability".

    TA NEA: "Greece on the brink of lawlessness".

    VRADYNI: "Crucifixion via new measures".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] President: 'We will never reconcile ourselves with partition'

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias stressed here Friday that he will never reconcile himself with partition, pointing out that this would be detrimental for the county and reiterating his firm support for a bizonal bicommunal federal solution, which he described as "an historic compromise" the Greek Cypriot community has made.

    Speaking at a televised press conference on the question of Cyprus, to mark three years in office, President Christofias noted that there has been "little progress" in the ongoing UN-led negotiations primarily because of the stance of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, calling at the same time on the international community and in particular the EU and the UN to evaluate "objectively and realistically" Ankara's words.

    The president assured that irrespective of difficulties at the negotiating table, he will not will stop working for reunification, vowing to exhaust all possibilities provided by the current process to achieve a settlement, to end Turkey's occupation and reunify the island.

    He also said that the Republic of Cyprus is no longer "in the corner", it is "strong on the international scene" and thanked all countries which support the positions Nicosia advocates.

    In his introductory remarks, the president described the delimitation of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone as "probably the most important development in the past years, after developments which relate to our accession to the EU."

    On EU matters, he said Cyprus does not aim to derail Turkey's accession course but stressed that Ankara has to meet its EU obligations to Brussels and the Republic of Cyprus as well.

    Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, he stressed the need for rapprochement and a common struggle between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, saying that the official Greek Cypriot leadership has the political will for a solution.

    In his opening statement to the press, the president extended most warm thanks to Greece for its unwavering support to Cyprus' struggle for a political settlement.

    Concluding, President Christofias said that unity among the political forces is a "necessary prerequisite" to achieve the vision of reunification and end Turkey's occupation of the island's northern part, stressing at the same time that he is not seeking to silence criticism.

    [36] Leaders did not agreed on international treaties, spokesman says

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Friday that there is no agreement between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu on the issue of international treaties, dismissing such claims made in the occupied areas.

    He added that what has been agreed is the procedure for the discussion of the issue and particularly the terms of reference of the relevant sub-committee.

    UN-backed direct negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem began in September 2008. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when

    Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu held a working dinner Thursday evening at the residence of the UNSG's Special Representative in Cyprus, Liza Buttenheim, in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia.

    Following the dinner statements were made that the two leaders had reached an agreement on the issue of international treaties.

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