|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 5 May 2011 Issue No: 3779
 PM Papandreou on tourism development measuresPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday evening outlined government policy in the sector of tourism at the annual general assembly of the Federation of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE).
Papandreou focused on the simplification of licensing procedures for enterprises. As he said, the founding of a Special Service for Serving and Licensing Tourist Investments for investments that cannot be included in the Fast Track is being examined.
As regards investments for tourist accomodation, Papandreou stressed that its development will take place in hotel units of four or five stars, while indicating in advance the change in the system of hotels' quality criteria.
The prime minister also announced the abolition of dues for third parties in coastal shipping tickets and the decrease of the "spatosimo"at the country's airports in the winter months.
In his address, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroylanos underlined that in the past year Greece managed, despite the crisis, to attract more tourists.
 Gov't on Helliniko project, MP pension demandsGovernment spokesman George Petalotis again denied reports on Wednesday concerning Qatar's investment plans at the site of the former airport at Helliniko but stressed that there would be no direct assignments of contracts in the project.
"We will not sidestep legality and everything will be done with transparency," he said, referring to statements made on the issue by Minister of State Haris Pamboukis. He also noted that no company had been assigned any contract concerning the development and that the Spanish architect Josep Acebillo was only carrying out the preliminary stage of plans.
On another issue, the spokesman stressed the government disapproval of moves by some 850 former MPs to seek a backdated increase in their Parliament pensions and quoted a statement made by Prime Minister George Papandreou in 2006 that "the letter of the law is something quite different to the sense of justice".
 ND on Helliniko; former MP claims for backdated salariesA ND spokesman on Wednesday called on the government to give a direct response as regards the development of the Helliniko site in southern coastal Athens, citing contradictory statements by government officials.
As regards the backdated salaries claimed by former MPs, spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stated that the demand is "provocative and unacceptable" considering its timing, when millions of Greek citizens see their incomes drastically reduced. He also stated that ND is not ruling out the likelihood to bring the issue to the parliamentary ethics committee.
Mihelakis also expressed the party's full backing to former defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis referring to the heated confrontation he had with an opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) parliament deputy.
 Sharp ND criticism following airing of IMF chief's comments vis-a-vis Greece, PMThe prime minister's credibility has experienced a "political slap-in-the-face", main opposition New Democracy (ND) party underlined on Wednesday, in response to previously unused excerpts of statements by IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, which were broadcast the previous evening during a heavily watched satirical TV programme.
ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stressed that "it is revealed that Strauss-Kahn and the premier (George Papandreou) had cooperated for months and in secrecy, while they had a systematic communication because, according to Strauss-Kahn, the prime minister wanted to hide from the people the moves he made to lead the country to the IMF."
The specific statements by Strauss-Kahn had been included in a Canal+ TV network documentary, although they were ultimately edited out of the final cut.
Mihelakis called on the government to give a clear response to the questions that arise, "because the Greek people should learn what is hidden behind the decision to seek IMF assistance. "When Papandreou was saying that 'there is enough money and seeking IMF assistance was not an option', they secretly planned exactly the opposite befooling the Greek people," he stressed.
In response, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis criticised the way main opposition New Democracy and other opposition parties handled the reports that Prime Minister George Papandreou had discussed the possibility of resorting to an IMF loan as early as November 2009, with the former charging a "systematic disinformation and distortion of the truth".
Petalotis accused opposition parties of treating the news as a 'major scoop' and trying to suggest that Papandreou sought to get elected with the aim of bringing the IMF to Greece. In fact, the country had been one step away from default and would have been unable to run state services or pay wages and pensions, he added.
According to Petalotis, everything had been carried out in the open and Papandreou had referred to his contacts with the IMF chief in statements made in December 2009 and in February 2010, while the finance ministry had issued an announcement on January 13, 2010 that had referred to contacts between the government's economic team and an IMF delegation in Athens.
He accused ND, in particular, of hypocrisy and stressed that the Memorandum and the IMF had been brought to Greece by that party's failure to take decisions at the right time and the way it had hidden what was truly happening in the country.
 IMF on Kahn-Papandreou talksWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
In an announcement on the communication between Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the International Monetary Fund mentions that "we are always in contact with our member-states and it is not unusual for the general director to speak with the leadership of a country."
It stresses that "in the case of Greece these talks concerned the Greek government's appeal for the provision of know-how regarding the preparation of the budget and tax evasion" and that "there were no negotiations and no agreement on economic aid between the Greek government and the IMF before the official application Greece submitted for economic aid at the end of April 2010."
The Fund reminds that "a year ago the general director of the IMF has stated that until the application was submitted (of Greece) we did not have discussions of an economic nature", and the announcement is completed with the remark that what took place in contacts between the two sides was that "officials of the Fund offered technical assistance to Greece following a relevant request by the latter."
 FinMin: Backdated increases in MPs' pensions, salaries an insultClaims expressed for backdated increases in roughly 850 former Parliament deputies' pensions and salaries were met with the categorical rejection by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Wednesday, who underlined that "any such demand is an insult to the commonly shared sense of justice, particularly in the present fiscal conjuncture".
Papaconstantinou made the statement in response to news reports on "backdated remunerations" claimed by former MPs.
"The demand for backdated adjustment of Parliamentary pensions or pay offends all sense of common justice, especially at the present fiscal conjunction, and the finance ministry is not prepared to satisfy any such demand and will make every necessary action in this direction," Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed in written statement.
Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos echoed the minister's words, stressing that "we must all be aware of the critical moments the country is going through and the painful sacrifices that Greek citizens are having to shoulder".
The 850 former MPs that are seeking the increase through the courts, and are basing their claim on a 1975 law that links pay and pensions increases for MPs with those received by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who was recently awarded hefty backdated increases following a court case and 2008 ministerial decision.
Though in a strict sense entirely legal, the move was strongly criticised as inappropriate given the country's economic state by several current ministers and party representatives in Parliament on Wednesday. At a rough estimate, satisfying the demands of the former MPs could cost the state as much as 80 million euro.
Those criticising the claim as 'provocative' included Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MPs Dimitris Papadimoulis and Panagiotis Lafazanis, Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis, PASOK rapporteur Christos Protopapas, ND's Manolis Kefalogiannis, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Spyros Halvatzis and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.
 President briefed on foreign policy issues, north AfricaPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday had a meeting with Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and was briefed on the latest developments concerning foreign policy issues, especially the situation in Libya and Syria.
After the meeting, Droutsas said their talks had focused particularly on events in north Africa and the Middle East, since these were in Greece's immediate neighbourhood.
"It is very much in Greece's interest to see peace and stability in the region," he added.
The foreign minister pointed out that Greece, "with absolute respect for the decisions of the United Nations, has from the first stressed and continues to stress the need to find a political solution for the crisis in Libya."
He called on the international community to make "a serious and responsible effort" in this direction.
Regarding Greece's role in the region's affairs, Droutsas said the country had contributed with its own thoughts, proposals and initiatives.
He particularly emphasised, meanwhile, Papoulias' own valuable contribution toward developing Greece's ties with the Arab world, both in the days when he had been Greece's foreign minister and more recently as its president.
"His prestige and the personal contacts that he maintains with all leading figures in the region have made a decisive contribution to Greece's voice being heard and our country playing a leading role in the region," he added.
Before their private meeting, Droutsas and Papoulias also referred to the foreign minister's recent visit to Cyprus for a meeting of Mediterranean foreign ministers organised by the Cyprus government, with Droutsas noting that the meeting was important both for Libya and Syria.
The Greek foreign minister will be in Rome on Thursday for a meeting of the Contact Group for the crisis in Libya.
 President receives S. Korean counterpart's special envoyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received Korean politician Park Geun-hye, special envoy for South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak, who is conducting a tour of Europe.
The former ruling Grand National Party (GNP) leader is considered the most likely candidate for S. Korea's next presidential election and is visiting Greece to mark the 50th anniversary since Greece and S. Korea opened diplomatic relations.
She delivered a letter sent by the S. Korean president to Papoulias, while their talks focused particularly on the Greek ships currently being built in S.Korean shipyards and on S. Korea's progress in the technology sector.
 FM meets with personal emissary of Korean President on 60th anniversary of diplomatic tiesThe deepening of relations between Greece and Korea were at the focus of a meeting between foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and a personal emissary of Korean President visiting Athens on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The emissary, Park Geun-hye, stressed the Korean government's desire for expansion of bilateral relations with Greece.
Droutsas, on greeting Ms. Park, noted that last year, the two countries celebrated another joint anniversary, that of the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War "in which our peoples stood at each other's side".
The Greek foreign minister said that "this historic memory will always connect us", adding that Park's visit as a personal emissary of the Korean president was indicative of the great importance placed on the relations between the two countries and provided an opportunity to further deepen those relations.
 Foreign ministry on Syria, Middle East and Schengen revisionForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Wednesday condemned violence in Syria, hailed the Fatah-Hamas unity deal as an important development and noted that Greece had been among the first countries to raise the issue of dealing with illegal migration on an EU level after the crisis erupted in north African countries.
Concerning the protests in Syria, Delavekouras noted that the Greek foreign ministry was keeping in continuous contact with Greeks in the country in case they should need emergency assistance. He also highlighted an EU ban on the sale of arms to Syria, stressing that it was important for Europe to "speak with one voice" on this issue.
Regarding the Fatah-Hamas agreement, the spokesman acknowledged that this was important both in terms of achieving understanding within Palestine and for the prospects of achieving a viable solution of the Middle East problem that might lead to the foundation of a Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel. At the same time, he pointed out out that there was not yet a complete, clear picture whose details could be evaluated.
In this context, he stressed the important role played by Egypt and noted the congratulations sent by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on this issue to his Egyptian counterpart.
Asked to comment on calls within the European Union for a revision of the Schengen Treaty, Delavekouras said it was necessary to make changes that would preserve the freedom of movement within the EU but also relieve the disproportionately large burden placed on some countries that were the EU's external borders.
The Greek foreign ministry sees an urgent need for a comprehensive European solution to this problem and for this reason is promoting cooperation on both a regional level but also on bilateral and multilateral levels with its other EU partners, Delavekouras added.
 Delavekouras: New Turkish gov't must show sincere desire for good neighbour relationsCommenting on upcoming general elections in neighbouring Turkey, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Wednesday relayed Athens' hope that the new government that arose would give new impetus to Turkey's European prospects and end an apparent "contradiction" within Turkish policy and behaviour.
"While appearing to desire an improvement in relations, [Turkey] nevertheless continues its delinquent behaviour," Delavekouras pointed out.
He noted that Athens hopes that the new Turkish government will "show that it sincerely desires good neighbour relations" while stressing that the Greek side was always speaking "within the framework of international law and protecting our country's national rights".
Delavekouras again condemned Turkey's threat to declare war if Greece should exercise its right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, saying it was inconceivable for an EU member-state to be threatened with war. He also noted that the attempt to improve bilateral relations with Turkey was a choice made by Greece that had not been given up in any way. He stressed also that the Greek-Turkish cooperation promoted was a "reality" that had already yielded results that were to the benefit of both sides.
Concerning Cyprus, however, the spokesman expressed grave concern over the "backward-looking" positions promoted by Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and noted that the Turkish side, since it was in control of the occupied territories on Cyprus, was also responsible for the problems that arose in the talks for a solution.
 Foreign ministry spokesman on fYRoM 'name issue'A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday was queried over the pending case before the International Court of Justice at The Hague (ICJ) brought by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) -- a NATO and EU hopeful -- against Greece.
The one-time Yugoslav republic, a landlocked state established in 1991 in the heart of the southern Balkans, claims that EU and NATO member-state Greece violated the 1995 interim agreement, which amongst others, stipulates that Athens would not block the former's entry into international organisations under the provisional name "fYRoM" -- a claim that Greek leadership has flatly and repeatedly rejected.
Referring more to the substance of the so-called "name issue", spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras noted that the pre-election season in fYRoM at present does not facilitate a solution to the difference.
"Greece is ready to take steps (forward), and we are awaiting reciprocation from the new (fYRoM) government. We want a conclusive agreement, which will be final and not with notations of the 'ad referendum' type," he said, reiterating that any agreement must apply to all (erga omnes) and should include a geographic qualifier.
"After the elections we expect the new government (in Skopje) to arrive at the negotiations table with genuine volition for a solution to this difference and the country's accession to Euro-Atlantic structures."
In answer to an unrelated question, Delavekouras said Greece's general consul in the southeast Albanian town of Korce is not being replaced, rather, the latter's term at the diplomatic post wound up.
Nevertheless, the spokesman said Athens is "constantly monitoring" the situation in the neighbouring country, particularly instances of "nationalistic rhetoric", "which is not compatible with the European framework in which the neighbouring country wants to be included," as he said.
In conclusion, Delavekouras said Greece wants a constant upgrading of bilateral relations.
 Tsipras attends European Left Party eventPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
The leftist parties of the countries of Europe expressed during their event here on Tuesday night their will to raise a front of resistance against the "Accord on the euro" and the "European memorandum that it entails."
One of the main speakers at the meeting in Paris was Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology president and vice president of the Party of the European Left Alexis Tsipras who denounced the decisions of the March summits (11 and 25).
He said these decisions will go down in history "for the blatant failure of the leaders of the EU to protect their peoples from the oncoming economic and social disaster."
 Meeting on forest fire prevention planning for 2011Details of fire prevention planning for 2011, ways of improving the level of cooperation and coordination of agencies participating in forest fire prevention, with the aim of achieving the greatest possible effectiveness, as well as shortages of the state mechanism, were stressed during a meeting chaired by Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, with the participation of all the ministries and agencies involved as well as of local administration that took place on Wednesday morning at the installations of the Fire Brigade's Operations Centre in the Athens suburb of Halandri.
Speaking during the meeting, Papoutsis said that for the protection of the country's natural wealth and the property of citizens fire prevention comes first and the activation and sensitisation of all forces and of each personally follow, as well as the planning, the preparation and deployment of forces.
 HMS Albion in SoudaThe British Royal Navy flagship HMS Albion sailed into the Souda Bay anchorage (Crete) on Wednesday for a five-day courtesy call.
HMS Albion is an amphibious assault ship and platform dock for helicopters. The warship is capable of carrying more than 600 crewmembers and marines; it hosts four amphibious craft and ready-to-deploy armoured military vehicles.
The warship was designated as a fleet flagship in Dec. 2010. It set sail from Plymouth in early April to participate in a British ministry of defence exercise operation in the Mediterranean. (ANA-MPA)
 Greek minister sees no large room for further spending cutsGreek Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis on Wednesday said there was no large room for further cutting spending, as demanded by the troika, and stressed that more effort was needed towards boosting budget revenue and supporting growth, while he expressed his optimism that Greece will return to markets in 2012.
The Greek minister attributed a shortfall in budget revenues to inefficient state mechanisms -which needed reorganization- and the state's inspection inability. He noted that the Finance ministry was moving towards improving its efficiency with help from outside and sounded optimistic that this effort would bear fruit. He added, however: "Let's be honest, without growth, revenues will be rise only marginally".
Chrysohoidis said that as promised, prices on 700 products fell in the country since last Christmas, while another 2,000 products absorbed higher VAT rates, and underlined the need to promote Greek products. "A recovery will come from our own forces," he noted.
 Com't readies new list of hazardous professionsExperts and representatives of trade unions and professional associations comprising a committee to review the status of so-called "heavy and hazardous" occupations convened on Wednesday, with the goal being a new list of such professions by July 1.
A new heavy and hazardous code will be in effect as of Jan. 1, 2012.
Alternate Labour and Social Security Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis stressed that the committee is not bound by numbers and does not seek to cut the number of wage-earners who will be included in the list adding, however, that measures will be taken to avoid injustices.
He insisted that the limitation set by the memorandum, according to which, those included in the list of heavy and hazardous vocations should correspond to less than 10 pct of the workforce is not categorical, considering that currently a total of 538,000 workers are registered with Social Insurance Fund (IKA) under hazardous vocation status contrary to occasionally publicised calculations.
Koutroumanis said any changes will be made per vocational category in the public and private sectors, clarifying that in the public sector only the Public Power Corp. (PPC) employees and the municipal sanitation workers hired after Jan. 1, 2011 are recognised as having hazardous vocation status.
"It is important to adjust the list to the changes that have taken place in the labour market by excluding workers who do not have the prerequisites and including new categories of workers," Koutroumanis stressed.
 Economic sentiment index down in AprilGreece's economic sentiment index fell further in April to 74.2 points, from 78.4 in March, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday. In a monthly report, IOBE attributed this decline to a worsening climate in the manufacturing and retail commerce sectors and said consumer confidence continued falling in the month.
IOBE said the economic sentiment index fell to 2010 levels, evidence that businesses' and consumers' expectations failed to improve in the 12 months since the country resorted to a European support mechanism. Business expectations remain poor while most consumers continued having doubts over an economic recovery in the country.
Business expectations in the manufacturing sector over production activity was negative in April, along with expectations over demand and new orders, while inventories continued rising.
In the services sector, negative expectations over the current level of activity slowed in April, with estimates over short-term demand remaining unchanged.
In the retail commerce, expectations over current sales fell significantly in the month, while estimates over sales outlook in the next three months fell further.
In the construction sector, expectations over the level of works in progress improved for the second consecutive month, although expectations over employment in the sector fell to new record low levels in April.
Consumer confidence worsened further, with Greek households' expectations over their finances falling in April, along with their expectations over the country's economic situation and their intention to save money.
Expectations on unemployment in the next 12 months rose further.
 Zakynthos arrivals up 500pct in first month of tourism seasonTourist arrivals on the island of Zakynthos skyrocketed by more than 500 percent in April, the first month of the 2011 summer tourism season, according to figures released by the local airport.
More specifically, 18 charter planes landed at Zakynthos airport during the month of April, with 2,601 passengers, against 3 charter planes with 461 passengers in April 2010.
Local tourist agents told ANA the statistics for the first month of the season were a relief, and an optimistic omen for the summer of 2011.
 Cheaper coastal shipping tickets this summerCoastal shipping tickets will be at least 10 percent cheaper this summer, following the "gentlemen's agreement" reached on Tuesday between Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis and the representatives of coastal shipping companies.
Diamantidis held consecutive meetings with representatives of the Federation of Passenger Shipping Firms and the Union of Shipping Enterprises and agreed with them that whatever decrease takes place in withholdings for third parties, that burden the shipping ticket, will pass automatically onto the final price of the ticket and will be in the citizens' favour.
 ASE plans tighter rules for listed companiesThe Athens Stock Exchange plans to further tighten rules for listed companies by including in an hourly weekly trading category of companies with less than 50 shareholders and an equity distribution of less than 10 pct. The proposal was presented by ASE's chairman Socrates Lazaridis on Wednesday, during a general meeting of the Thessaloniki Stock Centre.
Addressing the meeting, Lazaridis noted that listed companies with a turnover of less than 2.0 million euros annually would be included in this category, with the aim of leaving the market in a 12-month period unless they presented an improvement in their figures.
Currently, there are 32 listed companies included in the under surveillance category, but signs of renewed listing interest is emerging with three enterprises expressing interest in entering the market (one in the main market and two in the alternative market), although company executives are reportedly waiting for the government's economic policy in June before officially applying for listing in ASE. The last listing in the market was recorded in 2009 (MIG Real Estate).
Lazaridis said a total of 162 listed enterprises (66.1 pct of total listed) adopted a new corporate governance code by the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV), "proof that a new corporate governance model was promoted in the country".
He said that 56 enterprises adopted another code and the remaining 27 listed enterprises adopted the government legislation.
Commenting on a declining turnover in the market, Lazaridis said:
"A small turnover is not necessarily bad, during a crisis. I could show a stabilizing situation, even in lower levels". He expressed his confidence that changes made in post trading transactions and an upgrading of the Athens Stock Exchange by Thomas Murray "will have a positive impact on the market evaluation" by FTSE in September.
Lazaridis said that money raised from the market totaled 35 billion euros in the last five years (7.7 billion in 2010, up from 1.8 billion euros the European average) although he noted that these new capital were raised mainly by banks and expressed his confidence that "it will be to the benefit of everyone to use the market for raising capital from privatizations".
A Thessaloniki Stock Centre regular general shareholders' meeting agreed not to pay a dividend. The market reported revenues of 783,000 euros last year, down 35.5 pct from 2009. Data feed revenues totaled 442,000 euros, while net earnings after an extra tax charge fell to 18,000 euros from 124,000 euros in 2009.
 Business briefs...-- Plaisio Computers on Wednesday said its first quarter after tax profits jumped 78.5 pct to 1.5 million euros, despite an 18.4 pct decline in sales to 82.850 million euros over the same period. The Group said its inventories fell by 3.7 million euros, while a 7.0 pct drop in expenses combined with an increase in its gross profit margin ensured an after tax profit of 1.5 million euros in the January-March period.
-- Folli Follie Group on Wednesday announced the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with Fosun International, China's largest investment group, under which the Chinese group will acquire a 9.5 pct equity stake in the Greek company. Folli Follie management said the agreement paved the way for significant investments in Greece by Chinese capitals, after a long time and underlined the significant synergies for the Greek economy. The agreement with Fosun will also accelerate and strengthen Folli Follie Group's expansion plans in China.
-- Geniki Bank on Wednesday said net losses rose to 98.6 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, from 45.7 million euros in the same period last year. Operating income fell 17.3 pct to 36.3 million euros, reflecting lower interest income -a result of an increase in non-performing loans. Operating expenses totaled 35.7 million euros in the January-March period, down 12.3 pct compared with 2010.
 Stocks remain under pressureStocks remained under strong pressure for one more session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,400 level again.
Rumors that Fitch Ratings will further downgrade the Greek economy combined with intensified speculation over a debt restructuring, created a negative climate in the market. The index fell 1.79 pct to end at 1,387.59 points, with turnover remaining a low 86.351 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.11 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.54 pct down and the Small Cap index eased 0.02 pct. ATEbank (4.55 pct), Jumbo (1.29 pct) and Titan (0.06 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Viohalco (3.9 pct), Cyprus Bank (3.73 pct), Alpha Bank (2.92 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.8 pct) and Eurobank (2.76 pct) were major losers. The Personal Products (0.34 pct) and Commerce (0.07 pct) sectors scored gains, while Insurance (3.38 pct), Banks (2.73 pct) and Travel (2.26 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 83 to 55 with another 50 issues unchanged.
Vovos (19.21 pct), Lazaridis (18.18 pct) and Papoutsanis (17.65 pct) were top gainers, while AXON (19.39 pct), Demetriou (10 pct) and Nikas (9.4 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.93%
Personal & Household: +0.34%
Raw Materials: -1.30%
Travel & Leisure: -2.26%
Food & Beverages: -1.30%
Financial Services: -1.74%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Coca Cola3E and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.66
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.20
HBC Coca Cola: 18.05
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.84
National Bank of Greece: 5.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.52
Bank of Piraeus: 1.04
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 12.23 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 15.48 pct and the German Bund 3.25 pct. Turnover in the market, totaled 59 million euros, of which 49 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 10 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 15 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate was 2.15 pct, the six-month rate 1.70 pct, the three-month rate 1.41 pct and the one-month rate 1.25 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.20 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 44.906 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,186 contracts worth 37.670 million euros, with 31,428 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,945 contracts worth 7.236 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,008), followed by Eurobank (1,308), MIG (1,253), OTE (2,763), Piraeus Bank (1,818), Hellenic Exchanges (1,308), Marfin Popular Bank (974), Cyprus Bank (702) and ATEbank (261).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.510
Pound sterling 0.913
Danish kroner 7.568
Swedish kroner 9.145
Japanese yen 122.43
Swiss franc 1.301
Norwegian kroner 7.989
Canadian dollar 1.438
Australian dollar 1.393
 University UNESCO chair honors founder of shelter for neglected childrenThe UNESCO chair at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University (AUTH) on Wednesday honored Father Antonios, the priest that set up the "Ark of the World" shelter in the downtown Athens district of Kolonos to care for the children of migrants and one-parent families.
The "Ark of the World" is a NGO founded by Father Antonios in 1998. Since then he has dedicated his life to children facing abandonment, indifference, racism and social exclusion on a daily basis.
Currently, the "Ark" shelters roughly 300 children, from infants and adolescents, who form a multi-religious and multi-cultural community in the centre of Athens.
Assisted by a group of volunteers that include teachers, pediatricians, psychiatrists, cooks and many other volunteers, the "Ark of the World" and Father Antonios try to offer the children necessities but, as he stresses, "without institutionalising them".
 Population census on May 10-24A population and residence census will be conducted in Greece on May 10-24, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) announced in a press conference on Wednesday.
A total of 55,000 census-takers will participate in the procedure aimed at putting together demographic, economic and social characteristics of the population which are necessary in decision-making and in planning the country's economic and social policy.
The duration of the procedure will be under 25 minutes and citizens will have to respond to simple questions concerning their residence, the people living in it, their age, profession, education and their employment status. The information that will be collected will be confidential.
 Mother-son team arrested for drug peddlingA 57-year-old woman and her son were led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday on charges of drug dealing.
The two were arrested with 3.05 kilos of heroin in their possession on Tuesday afternoon by Attica drugs squad officers in the Athens suburb of Pefki.
The woman described herself as a "home-maker" and her 21-year-old son is a student at a vocational training school. Also confiscated by police was the sum of 410 euro and two cell phones that the pair had on them at the time of their arrest.
Police were tipped-off about the 'family' drug business and found tracked down the two suspects after a search lasting several days.
 63 illegal immigrants arrested in port of IgoumenitsaSixty-three illegal immigrants were arrested at the port of Igoumenitsa, north western Greece, after being detected hiding in a refrigerator truck loaded with vegetables that was driven by a 45-year-old Greek national.
The truck was heading for a port in Italy. All were brought before a prosecutor while the truck was confiscated.
 Gang of illegal migrant thieves caughtAlexandroupolis police on Wednesday reported the capture of a group of three illegal migrants responsible for a number of thefts in the surrounding region. The three foreign nationals had entered the country illegally via the Evros river roughly 10 days ago and one of them had been deported once before in the past.
Following their arrest, police also found their hideout where they kept their loot in the mountains of Palagia. This included jewellery, electronic goods and parts, clothing, assorted items and the sum of 430 euro.
 ISAP stoppage on ThursdayThe Athens-Piraeus Electric Railway (ISAP) will hold a four-hour work-stoppage beginning at noon on Thursday.
The stoppage by ISAP employees is in protest against what they describe as "forced" transfers to other services in the framework of the law on restructuring public transport.
 Rainy on ThursdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 22C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 19C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 18C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe course of the economy and the arrival of the troika inspectors, and speculation of new harsh measures ahead were the main front-page items in Wednesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Withdrawal of Qatari investors from Ellinikon project denied".
AVGHI: "The state property is not your estate".
AVRIANI: "The huge scandal of the advertising companies that have looted newspapers, magazines, radio and television goes to parliament".
DIMOKRATIA: "Papandreou's fraud with the 'new Kalatrava'."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The 'heavy and hazardous' professions being put through the sieve".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Pamboukis' 4 fairy tales".
ESTIA: "Tax revolution - The only way out of the present recession".
ETHNOS: "At a time when society is hard hit by the economic crisis, large number of former MPs take recourse to Administrative Council demanding retroactive increases to their revenues of up to 250,000 euros each - Overall sum sought estimated at tens of millions of euro".
IMERISSIA: "Troika arrives with 'hard line' - In-depth inspection and orders for measures".
KATHIMERINI: "The electronically submitted income tax statements blocked the system".
LOGOS: "The fourth evaluation of the economic policy program has begun".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika determined to impose new measures".
NIKI: "Extension of EU-IMF loan repayment period a certainty at June 24 EU summit".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Intensification of activity in health, welfare and drug rehabilitation fields".
TA NEA: "Farewell to popular comedian Thanasis Veggos".
VRADYNI: "Heavy and hazardous professions - 170,000 workers to be removed from the category".
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