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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-06

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

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

Friday, 6 May 2011 Issue No: 3780

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs meeting on ending sports violence
  • [02] PM sends condolences to Erdogan over fatal attack on police escort
  • [03] Samaras: 'IMF recourse was planned'
  • [04] Extent of EEZ and continental shelf the same in Med, Droutsas says
  • [05] ND official calls on FM Droutsas to reply on EEZ, continental shelf issue
  • [06] FM Droutsas at Libya Contact Group meeting
  • [07] Gov't on issue of Schengen revision
  • [08] Interior ministry unveils programme for debt-ridden municipalities
  • [09] Citizen's Protection minister, Igoumenitsa mayor discuss situation with immigrants in port
  • [10] Navy carries out exercise in Salamina Naval Station region
  • [11] Group representing univ. lecturers against freezing of promotions procedure
  • [12] Court case into plot to kill Ecumenical Patriarch merged with Ergenekon
  • [13] Extra funding of IKA, OAED at centre of troika-gov't talks
  • [14] One-day con'f to focus on boosting regional business, cross-border cooperation
  • [15] Debt restructuring not an option, National Bank's CEO says
  • [16] Budget revenues improve in April, shortfall for Q1
  • [17] Price ceiling triggers protest closure of affected petrol stations
  • [18] Hellenic Petroleum strike declared illegal
  • [19] Car sales plunge in Q1
  • [20] Business Briefs
  • [21] Stocks continue moving lower
  • [22] ADEX closing report
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [25] Delphi municipality honor in European Commission competition
  • [26] Austrian Parliament drops Theodorakis' 'Mauthausen', citing composer's 'anti-Semitism'
  • [27] Resistance fighter Apostolos Santas laid to rest
  • [28] Photo exhibition of exotic birds of Taiwan opens in Edessa (corrected)
  • [29] Arrested Iraklis FC fans charged
  • [30] Rainy on Friday
  • [31] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [32] President: We expect important developments before EU presidency Politics

  • [01] PM chairs meeting on ending sports violence

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday chaired a government meeting focusing on the latest incidents of sports-related violence in Greece, at which he was briefed on the issues and apparently demanded swift action that will end hooliganism in Greek sport, especially football.

    Reporting on the meeting, sources stressed the government's determination to put an end to the phenomena of violence and stressed that the football federation EPO was responsible for ensuring that championships were conducted without problems.

    The government intends to demand that EPO operate within a framework where Greek sports law is fully in line with UEFA rules. Otherwise, officials warned, it will forego public funding for the next season's championship and will be denied use of public stadiums, while the championship will not be covered by state television.

    The same officials revealed that investigations into corruption in sport were being stepped up, with the government convinced that this was a major issue that was linked to sports violence, involving incidents of money-laundering, tax evasion and fixed games.

    Another possibility laid on the table if EPO fails to deliver is direct government intervention in the running of Greek football.

    Concerning the games next Sunday, the government intends to let these take place but only if all the bodies involved will guarantee that they can take place and the police are prepared to guarantee that they can be carried out safely.

    For the championship play-offs, the state's only option is to postpone these for up to 20 days.

    Thorny issues are the games scheduled for May 11 and May 15 since the first of those dates coincides with a planned general strike while on May 15 the AEK-PAOK play off match coincides with the basketball cup final match between arch-rivals Olympiakos and Panathinaikos.

    [02] PM sends condolences to Erdogan over fatal attack on police escort

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou has sent a telegram of condolence to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the death of a Turkish police officer killed in an armed attack on a vehicle escorting journalists that were covering the Turkish premier's pre-election campaign.

    According to a report by the Turkish news agency Anadolu on Thursday, Papandreou expresses his deep sorrow at the incident and stresses that "such acts of violence cannot prevent Turkey's course toward growth and prosperity".

    [03] Samaras: 'IMF recourse was planned'

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday again lashed out at Prime Minister George Papandreou, accusing him of "misleading the people" as regards the latter's contacts with the IMF ahead of an eventual EC-ECB-IMF bailout.

    "Greece needs a restart on all levels," was the ND president's comment.

    Addressing a gathering of military veterans at the ND headquarters in Athens, Samaras said the country's recourse to the IMF's assistance was planned.

    "When Papandreou was insisting that '(surplus) money exists' and was declaring that seeking IMF assistance was out of the question, at the same time, he was planning exactly the opposite by secretly negotiating the country's submission. Everyone who listened to Strauss-Kahn's statement has no doubts about it. He is saying clearly that the country was under the IMF in just 15 days because of months-long, under-the-table negotiations that had taken place in advance," Samaras stressed.

    He also referred to the updated economic programme to be unveiled by ND on May 12, pointing out that it "takes under consideration the current adverse circumstances, includes well-targeted actions that can be implemented soon with visible results and recommends actions and measures that can pull the country out of the crisis. This is a New Contract that we will propose to the Greek people".

    Commenting on the statements made by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas that Greece will not claim the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) immediately to avoid putting a stress on the talks, Samaras said "this is a cause of concern. The government refuses to activate an internationally guaranteed right of our country sending the wrong signals to the other party thus leading to negative consequences."

    He underlined that "Turkey's demand for a 50-50 division is categorically rejected. "We insist that claiming the EEZ will fully guarantee our national interests within the framework of the international law," he said.

    Referring to Turkey's attitude toward Greece, he underlined that "Turkey continues to provoke and question our national sovereign rights. Its stance is problematic and provocative."

    He characterised the continuation of what he claimed was "secret diplomacy" by the government as "incomprehensible" and added that the "Turkish provocation can only be met with a firm deterrence policy backed by strong, well-trained armed forces and clearly defined 'red lines' that will not be crossed under no circumstances, as well as by national policies in Cyprus, the Aegean, the fYRoM 'name issue' and the rights of the ethnic Greeks in southern Albania."

    Samaras underlined that ND is fighting to "restore the part of national sovereignty that was forfeited by the PASOK government when it signed the memorandum".

    [04] Extent of EEZ and continental shelf the same in Med, Droutsas says

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday argued against efforts to establish an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for Greece on the grounds that this would unnecessarily complicate talks underway with Turkey on establishing the limits of the Aegean continental shelf. He made the statement while talking to the local radio station 'Real FM'.

    "There is no need to outline the borders of the EEZ in order to be able to use mineral wealth in a sea such as the Mediterranean. The extent of the EEZ and the continental shelf are the same," Droutsas said.

    The foreign minister pointed out that Greece was currently in the process of exploratory talks with Turkey to agree on the limits of the continental shelf and that it would be unwise to complicate the talks with the introduction of new terms that essentially added nothing.

    He also suggested that main opposition New Democracy, which had failed to address this issue when in power, was now attempting to exploit it politically in order to generate a negative climate.

    Droutsas made the statements while in Rome for the meeting of the Contant Group for Libya. In comments on the Libya crisis, he said that Greece had from the first made clear its respect for UN decisions and its readiness to do what was required to implement these but also stressed the absolute necessity of a political solution.

    [05] ND official calls on FM Droutsas to reply on EEZ, continental shelf issue

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party foreign affairs political responsibility sector chief Panos Panayiotopoulos on Thursday called on Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas to "appear immediately before the Permanent Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee and provide answers on these unacceptable and new positions of his, that cause justified concern among public opinion."

    Panagiotopoulos's statement was prompted by the foreign minister's statements on the country's exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, earlier Thursday.

    "The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of each country, as well as the continental shelf, constitute elements of its national sovereignty. It is, therefore, to say the least, unacceptable for the foreign minister of Greece to say that our country does not intend to define immediately its own EEZ in the Aegean so as 'not to burden' the talks with Turkey, for the delineation of the contionental shelf," the opposition party official added in his statement, while saying further that "Mr. Droutsas, according to the interpretation of his statements by reporters, who talked with him, appears to admit, indirectly but clearly, that in the negotiations with Turkey the width of the Greek territorial waters in the Aegean is also being discussed. A fact that the government continuously denied until now," he concluded.

    [06] FM Droutsas at Libya Contact Group meeting

    ROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)

    The meeting of the Contact Group on Libya was concluded here on Thursday with the participation of 22 foreign ministers and seven international organisations.

    Greece was represented by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas who, speaking after the meeting, said "it is very important for us to intensify and coordinate our efforts aiming at the finding of a political solution."

    The Greek foreign minister added that "Greece has contributed with its thoughts, proposals and initiatives and in the specific direction of a road map. The time has come for the international community, in a coordinated and responsible way, to work in this direction."

    As regards the overall course that must be followed, Droutsas stressed that serious efforts are necessary for the finding of a political solution, always under the auspices of the UN.

    On the question of the humanitarian tragedy that is under way, the foreign minister, addressing the meeting, announced that "Greece is preparing and will send immediately, in the coming days, a ship with humanitarian aid, pharmaceutical material and a mobile medical unit, that will be established in Benghazi." This unit will also be accompanied by a group of Greek diplomats who will also assume a coordinating and liaison role with the rebel forces in Benghazi.

    Droutsas said that "it was confirmed today that the international community is speaking with only one voice on the issue of Libya, but we are not seeing an end to violence and we are confirmed in the view that our country expressed from the very beginning that the crisis will not end, only with military measures."

    The participants in the meeting of Rome also acknowledged the basic importance of Greek logistical support for the operations in Libya.

    [07] Gov't on issue of Schengen revision

    Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Thursday stressed that Greece cannot accept a return to pre-EU accession period practices as regards the Schengen pact and any restriction of free movement of European citizens in the EU and signatory countries.

    Speaking in Parliament in response to current questions by two main opposition New Democracy (ND) MPs, Papoutsis said the extraordinary council of ministers next week will discuss a package of ideas to reinforce the border control assessment mechanism, as well as, the potential for stricter border controls in case of emergency situations.

    Papoutsis underlined that despite the criticism targeting the country, passport and other border controls will continue at the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa with the prospect of expanding to broader zones.

    He added that "the worst has been avoided for the time being" as a result of the cooperation between the Hellenic Navy and Frontex in the regions south of Crete, the island of Rhodes and southern Peloponnese -- a reference to the crises in North Africa and European fears over a new wave of illegal immigration.

    Papoutsis pointed out that in view of the new Frontex regulation he has recommended that, aside from its role as a deterrent, the European force also undertake the repatriation of illegal migrants.

    ND MP Evangelos Antonaros agreed that free movement should not be restricted and called for measures in view of the summer season, measures that will discourage illegal migrants from attempting to breach European borders.

    Finally, ND MP Thanassis Nakos referred to the problems in Igoumenitsa, in extreme northwest Greece, where scores illegal migrants have congregated in nearby hillsides in their bids to illicitly board Italy-bound ferry boats.

    [08] Interior ministry unveils programme for debt-ridden municipalities

    Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Thursday unveiled a programme to tackle debts and deficit problems plaguing 58 of Greece's 325 municipal authorities that are considered to be 'in the red'. Of these, 34 have a total debt that equals up to 100 percent of their regular revenues.

    The municipalities facing financial problems will be included in a debt programme after their financial state is first assessed by chartered accountants and their inclusion in the programme is approved by an independent committee set up at the interior ministry.

    The programme for refinancing over-indebted municipalities will call for a freeze on hiring and the cessation of funding for certain categories of events or public relations spending, while requiring them to implement the programme within a specific schedule.

    It will also include an extension of loan repayments, lower interest rates and a 'grace period' for certain cases.

    [09] Citizen's Protection minister, Igoumenitsa mayor discuss situation with immigrants in port

    Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis and the Mayor of the north western city of Igoumenitsa George Katsinos on Thursday discussed the situation created in the city's port with the presence of a large number of illegal immigrants who are aiming at travelling to other European Union countries.

    Papoutsis offered reassurances on the strengthening of cooperation between the police, the harbour corps and the coast guard, as well as on the intensification of checks in the wider region and on coordinated efforts to remove the illegal immigrants from Igoumenitsa.

    [10] Navy carries out exercise in Salamina Naval Station region

    The Greek Navy carried out a widescale exercise in the region of the Salamina Naval Station on Wednesday on dealing with emergencies concerning material and staff, such as fires, explosions and accidents, with the participation of civil protection units and the National Defence General Staff.

    According to an announcement by the Navy General staff, the exercise highlighted the high level of the staff's training and the excellent cooperation with Civil Protection units and the National Defence General Staff.

    [11] Group representing univ. lecturers against freezing of promotions procedure

    A national federation of association of university lecturers (POSDEP) on Thursday treatened to file a lawsuit against the education ministry over what it calls the unjustified "freezing" of faculty member promotions in the country's numerous universities and technical institutes.

    In a press conference, POSDEP representatives referred to a recent decision by Deputy Education Minister Yiannis Panaretos forwarded on Wednesday to all tertiary institutions.

    The circular suggests the postponement of promotion assessments for faculty members until after the election of new department heads.

    POSDEP underlined that "procedures will take place as scheduled", calling on all federation members to ignore the circular.

    [12] Court case into plot to kill Ecumenical Patriarch merged with Ergenekon

    ANKARA (ANA-MPA / A. Abatzis)

    A merging of the case involving an alleged plot to assassinate Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew -- by the Ergenekon ultranationalist network -- was announced by a court trying the first case, according to a report appearing in Thursday's edition of the Turkish daily Zaman.

    The relevant decision was taken by the 9th Istanbul high criminal court where Ismet Recber is being tried in the case regarding the assassination plot against the Patriarch.

    The court ruled that the case will be merged with the Ergenekon case, which is being tried at the 13th Istanbul high criminal court, with the explanation that "there is a legal relation" between the two cases.

    Financial News

    [13] Extra funding of IKA, OAED at centre of troika-gov't talks

    There is no issue of imposing income criteria on unemployment benefits in talks with the visiting delegation representing the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", according to Athina Dretta, secretary-general of social insurance at the employment ministry.

    In a radio interview on Thursday, Dretta said the government was continuing talks with troika experts over the need for extra subsidies towards the Social Insurance Fund (IKA) and the Manpower Employment Management Organization (OAED).

    "We are trying to convince the troika that we have the means to share this cost," Dretta said, adding that additional subsidies could total around 1.0 billion euros.

    She nevertheless admitted it was a difficult negotiation and noted that if the troika did not approve the plan, then the government would try to find this money from other sources. The ministry official noted that rising unemployment was hitting IKA's revenues.

    Troika experts are currently in Athens for talks with top officials of government ministries, within the framework of regular inspections of the Greek economy ahead of approval of the next tranche of an EU/IMF loan to Greece.

    During talks held so far, troika experts expressed reservations over the ability of the labour ministry to achieve economic goals set by a Medium-term Fiscal Stabilisation Framework for the period 2012-2015.

    Representatives of the troika have reportedly aired sharp objections to the extra funding, via the state coffers, towards IKA and OAED, pointing to the need for money to be derived from spending cuts elsewhere.

    [14] One-day con'f to focus on boosting regional business, cross-border cooperation

    A one-day conference will be held in Athens on May 18 to focus on efforts to boost the wider region's business environment and cross-border trade cooperation.

    The same conference -- entitled "Building Powerful Influence: The New Face of Regional Business -- will take place in Belgrade two days later on May 20.

    Presentations and discussions will touch on the issues of global leadership, international negotiations and conflict resolution, regional business development, strategic cross-border communications, international-regional relations, so-called "glocalisation" and entrepreneurship.

    Speakers include Alex Rondos, a noted former Greek ambassador at large, and current international foreign relations adviser; Michael Landers, a global business consultant; Oleh R Kaarmik, a global negotiator and mediator; Dimitris Keridis, a professor of regional studies and Balkan expert; Elena Panaritis, an economist and author of the book "Prosperity Unbound; Annette Rondos, a cross-cultural and corporate communications trainer; and Elisabeth Morris-Maragoula, an international strategic communications consultant.

    [15] Debt restructuring not an option, National Bank's CEO says

    "A haircut restructuring of the Greek debt is not an option, as it would result to the destruction of the country and its return several decades back. These discussions are not making any good. What we have to do is focusing all our efforts to achieve national goals for fiscal consolidation and economic reforms. We can and we must succeed. I am certain we will make it," Apostolos Tamvakakis, chief executive in National Bank of Greece said on Thursday.

    Speaking in Ioannina, National Bank's CEO presented the fields where the Greek economy could have comparative advantages and succeed certain significant and "fast victories", while he stressed that: "The National Bank will be present in this effort because it wants to and because it can, thanks to its size, its prestige and its institutional role. This role led the bank in taking significant initiatives. National Bank has not been idle, and it won't be, it will continue taking large initiatives," Tamvakakis said, adding that "mergers are an one-way road towards a restructuring of the credit system. The country needs strong banks which will remain Greek," he noted.

    [16] Budget revenues improve in April, shortfall for Q1

    Budget revenues improved in April, according to figures released by the Finance Ministry, although first-quarter revenues presented a more than 1 billion euros shortfall.

    Revenues posted a 3 percent increase after negative percentages recorded in the preceding months.

    However, the revenues in the first quarter of 2011 still presented a shortfall of more than 1 billion euros against the budget target.

    The improvement in revenue collection, according to sources, is attributed to a stepping up of pressure and daily checks on the performance of Tax Bureau offices by the ministry.

    [17] Price ceiling triggers protest closure of affected petrol stations

    Petrol station owners on several islands and affected localities in Greece on Thursday shut up shop in protest against price ceilings imposed by the government on unleaded petrol, which they say are forcing them to sell at a net loss.

    The Petrol Sellers Federation of Greece (OBE) on Thursday expressed support for its members affected by the price ceilings, saying that no one had a right to force petrol station owners to sell at a loss and that no threatened sanctions "will make us accept measures that wipe out petrol stations".

    Petrol station owners have gone on strike on the islands of Samos and Cephallonia, as well as several on the island of Corfu, complaining that wholesale prices are actually higher than the permitted maximum retail price. There are also numerous petrol stations closed in other areas.

    OBE has sent invoices to the Regional Development Ministry showing that wholesale prices are higher than the imposed retail price ceiling from areas where the ceiling was imposed only on retail prices and not wholesale. It demanded that the government either scrap the price ceiling or impose it at all levels of the supply chain in order to protect consumers and retailers.

    As of Wednesday, the government imposed price ceilings on unleaded petrol in 13 prefectures in Greece, without an expiration date. A ceiling is also imposed, for the first time, on wholesale unleaded prices in five of the 13 prefectures affected by the retail price ceiling.

    The prefectures (and highest prices for unleaded recorded) affected by the ceiling are: Cyclades islands (1.724 euro per litre), Cephallonia (1.769 euro per litre), Corfu (1.765), Lesvos (1.722), Grevena (1.736), Evros (1.744), Evrytania (1.745), Fokida (1.735), the Dodecanese islands (1.724), Lassithi (Crete, 1.788), Rethymno (Crete, 1.774), Samos (1,734) and Chios 1.739).

    The ceiling on wholesale prices was imposed on five of those prefectures: Dodecanese (1.654), Lassithi (1.718), Rethymno (1.704), Samos (1.664) and Chios (1.669).

    [18] Hellenic Petroleum strike declared illegal

    An Athens first-instance court has ruled a planned strike by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) workers to be illegal and abusive and has forbidden it from taking place, ELPE's management announced on Thursday.

    The 10-day strike was scheduled to begin on Friday and end on May 16.

    [19] Car sales plunge in Q1

    Automobile sales continued to decline in April, with sales in the first quarter of 2011 plunging by 48.4 percent overall, while the decline in the sub-category of passenger cars reaching 49.1 percent, according to figures released on Thursday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

    According to the statistics service, 46,740 car registrations (new or used cars from abroad) were recorded in the period January-April this year, posting a 48.4 percent decline from the corresponding period in 2010.

    [20] Business Briefs

    -- Foreign investors slightly raised their participation in the capitalization of the Athens Stock Exchange to 50.81 pct in April, from 50.24 pct in March and 50.35 pct in April 2010, official figures showed on Thursday. Greek investors held 47.93 pct of the market's capitalization in April, down from 48.5 pct in March. Foreign investors, however, were net sellers in the market with capital outflows totaling 96.3 million euros, while Greek investors were net buyers with capital inflows of 73.48 million euros.

    -- AB Vassilopoulos on Thursday announced the addition of five new stores to its branch network, raising its network to 229 around the country. The five stores, previously owned by Atlantic supermarket are located in the greater Athens area.

    -- Greek stocks suffered significant losses in the 12-months since the country resorted to the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the Eurozone for bailout help. During this period, the Athens Stock Exchange enjoyed only short-term upward corrections supported by expectations of major bank deals or a new bailout plan - which included a repurchase of state bonds - both of them failing to materialise.

    -- Building activity plunged 72.9 pct in January 2011, with new building permits falling by 62.7 pct in the first month of the year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday. The statistics service, in a report, attributed this sharp decline of activity to the implementation of the "Kallikratis" plan - a reorganization and merger programme involving municipal entities - which resulted in problems in the operation of building permit offices.

    -- Titan Group on Thursday reported lower sales and losses in the first quarter of 2011, hit by a rapid shrinking of construction activity in Greece. Consolidated turnover fell 12 pct to 253 million euros, from 286.1 million euros in the same period last year, EBITDA fell 22 pct to 48 million euros and results showed a loss of 4.3 million euros in the January-March period from net profits of 24.8 million euros in 2010.

    [21] Stocks continue moving lower

    Stocks continued moving lower for a fourth consecutive session this week at the Athens Stock Exchange, as an early recovery effort failed to materialise in the market. The composite index fell 0.69 pct to end at 1,378.05 points, after gaining as much as 0.87 pct during the session.

    Turnover was a low 69.97 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.83 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.12 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.32 pct. Viohalco (4.59 pct), MIG (1.49 pct), OPAP (0.99 pct) and Cyprus Bank (0.86 pct) scored gains among blue chip stocks, while OTE (3.95 pct), Eurobank (3.41 pct), Motor Oil (2.27 pct), PPC (2.23 pct) and National Bank (0.40 pct) suffered losses.

    The Industrial Products (1.64 pct) and Commerce (1.50 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (6.25 pct), Telecoms (3.95 pct) and Utilities (2.15 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 76 to 63 with another 45 issues unchanged. Hellenic Fish Farms (16.67 pct), Papoutsanis (15 pct) and Korinth Pipes (11.58 pct) were top gainers, while Unibios (14.29 pct), Shelman (11.54 pct) and Nafpaktos Spin Mills (9.52 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +1.64%

    Commercial: +1.50%

    Construction: -0.32%

    Media: -6.25%

    Oil & Gas: -0.84%

    Personal & Household: +0.55%

    Raw Materials: +0.47%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.95%

    Technology: -1.35%

    Telecoms: -3.95%

    Banks: -0.94%

    Food & Beverages: -0.24%

    Health: +0.38%

    Utilities: -2.15%

    Chemicals: +0.51%

    Financial Services: +1.11%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Coca Cola 3E and OTE.

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.59

    ATEbank: 0.46

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.95

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.84

    National Bank of Greece: 4.98

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.40

    OPAP: 14.25

    OTE: 7.30

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.03

    Titan: 17.88

    [22] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.74 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to a low 19.078 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,747 contracts worth 14.557 million euros, with 33,864 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,447 contracts worth 4.521 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,306), followed by Eurobank (948), OTE (996), Alpha Bank (879), Marfin Popular Bank (336), Cyprus Bank (400), Hellenic Postbank (113) and MIG (231).

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 12.32 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 15.55 pct and the German Bund 3.25 pct. Turnover in the market remained a low 24 million euros, of which 19 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 2.17 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month 1.42 pct and the one-month rate 1.25 pct.

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.503

    Pound sterling 0.912

    Danish kroner 7.569

    Swedish kroner 9.204

    Japanese yen 119.97

    Swiss franc 1.292

    Norwegian kroner 8.049

    Canadian dollar 1.451

    Australian dollar 1.409

    General News

    [25] Delphi municipality honor in European Commission competition

    The municipality of Delphi was declared as top Greek tourism destination within the framework of the European Commission's European Destinations of Excellence compe-tition for the regeneration project in the old quarter in the coastal town of Amfissa, south-central Greece, it was announced on Thursday.

    Over the past three centuries, the Amfissa old quarter district of Harmena was the centre of leather and tannery workshops (tampakika).

    A total of eight municipalities and administrative regions took part in this year's competition under the theme "Tourism and Regeneration of Physical Sites", rewarding those destinations that have regenerated a physical site of their local heritage and converted it into a tourism attraction to be used as a catalyst for wider local regeneration.

    Other four destinations were selected as runner-ups, namely, the Attica (greater Athens) Region, the municipalities of Minoa and Aghios Nikolaos on Crete and the regional entity of Thesprotia, extreme northwest Greece, the culture and tourism ministry general secretariat for tourism announced.

    The Greek tourism destination of excellence and the winner destinations in other participating countries will be promoted on European level and will be honored in a special ceremony hosted by the European Commission in the fall of 2011.

    The "European Destinations of Excellence" - EDEN project, launched in 2007, promotes sustainable tourism development models across the European Union. The project is based on national competitions that take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist "destination of excellence" for each participating country.

    [26] Austrian Parliament drops Theodorakis' 'Mauthausen', citing composer's 'anti-Semitism'

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The Austrian Parliament on Thursday dropped a scheduled performance of the song trilogy 'Mauthausen' by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis from a memorial event commemorating the 66th anniversary since the liberation of the Mauthausen extermination camp held at the Austrian Parliament.

    Austrian National Council President Barbara Prammer cancelled the performance on the grounds that the now octagenarian composer had made "repeated anti-Semitic statements in past years".

    The song cycle was one of the composer's influential 'meta-symphonic' compositions of the mid-60s and set to music the works of Greek writer Iakovos Kampanellis, a personal friend of Theodorakis, in which the poet recounted his own experiences as a survivor of Mauthausen.

    The memorial service, which has been held at the Austrian Parliament each year on May 5 since 1997, took place on Thursday in the presence of Austrian President Heinz Fisher.

    Memorial services are also scheduled to take place next Sunday at the site of the former concentration camp, where 122,000 people were killed by Nazi authorities, including 3,700 Greeks. Prammer will head a Austrian delegation at these events, which will include dozens of delegations from other European countries whose citizens were victims of the camp.

    These will include a delegation from Greece, which plans to lay wreaths and present Theodorakis' 'Mauthausen' performed by the Vienna musical group called 'The Greeks'.

    The composer, accompanied at the time by Kampanellis, had first performed 'Mauthausen' at the site of the former concentration camp in 1988 in a historic concert featuring Maria Farantouri and attended by the then Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky.

    [27] Resistance fighter Apostolos Santas laid to rest

    Resistance fighter Apostolos Santas was laid to rest at the First Athens Cemetery on Thursday in the presence of Prime Minister George Papandreou, former president of the republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Coalition president Alexis Tsypras and many citizens.

    Manolis Glezos, who on May 30, 1941, removed the Nazi flag from the Acropolis together with Santas, delivered a funeral speech. It was the first act of resistance by the Greek people, only a month after the entry of German occupation forces into Athens.

    Glezos invoked his discussions with Santas, in which the latter always voiced the view that since 1821 onwards "the ruiners of the nation have subjugated the country militarily, politically and economically."

    [28] Photo exhibition of exotic birds of Taiwan opens in Edessa (corrected)

    Exotic birds of Taiwan have 'flown' to Greece for a photography exhibition that opened in Edessa on Wednesday.

    The exhibition of photographs of wild, colorful birds from the far east island was inaugurated by Edessa mayor Dimitris Yiannou and Taiwan's diplomatic representative to Greece Elizabeth Chu.(ANA-MPA)

    The exhibition comprises 30 photographs of wild exotic birds of Taiwan, and will run through May 15.

    [29] Arrested Iraklis FC fans charged

    Twenty Iraklis FC fans, arrested on Wednesday evening in downtown Thessaloniki during protests against a Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) decision relegating the team from the Super League, will be tried in court for disturbing the peace, it was announced on Thursday.

    Seven minors were also arrested and will be tried in a juvenile court.

    Weather Forecast

    [30] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 23C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 19C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 20C.

    [31] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    A statement by IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- in cut footage from an interview with a French newspaper that was aired on a Greek political satire program -- that PM Papandreou was in 'underground' talks with the IMF since November 2009 and the arrival of an EU-IMF 'troika' team of inspectors dominated the front pages in Athens' dailies on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Papandreou was bargaining with the IMF as early as November 2009 (just one month after the last general elections that brought Papandreou's PASOK party to office)".

    AVGHI: "Black anniversary (one year) of 'rigged' Memorandum".

    AVRIANI: "IMF chief Strauss-Kahn 'finishes' Papandreou, as a storm of revelations on the infamous George Soros' role is coming".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Comrade Strauss-Kahn denuded Papandreou and his government".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Recourse to IMF a 'rigged game' by Papandreou

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Government backs out of Memorandum of Understanding signed with Qatar for exploitation of Ellinikon former airport expanse".

    ESTIA: "Confidence in government collapses".

    ETHNOS: "Outcry over former MPs' recourse for retroactive increases in their salaries and pensions".

    IMERISSIA: "The road opens for tourism investments in summer accommodations".

    KATHIMERINI: "Troika arrives with tough stance".

    LOGOS: "IMF 'haunting' the government".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Black hole (shortfall) in budget revenues in first quarter of the year, exceeding 1.2 billion euros".

    NIKI: "The 50 billion euros privatisations plan up in the air".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Labor-wide uprising against the deep cuts in 'heavy and hazardous' work benefits".

    TA NEA: "Heavy and hazardous work - Which categories of workers are being de-classified, which are being classified".

    VRADYNI: "OAED (state Manpower Employment Organisation) pensions and programs (for the unemployed) being cut".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [32] President: We expect important developments before EU presidency

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Greek Cypriot side expects and is seeking important developments in the Cyprus problem before Cyprus' EU Presidency in the second half of 2012, President Republic Demetris Christofias stressed on Thursday.

    Christofias met Thursday with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, in the context of the UN-backed talks for a Cyprus settlement.

    In statements after the meeting, Christofias said they continued the discussion on aspects of internal security and they confirmed the convergence on the process and the guidelines of discussions by a special committee on the binding international treaties to apply in a United Cyprus Republic.

    The committee will convene soon, he added.

    The president said that he and Eroglu will continue the discussion on these issues at their next meeting on Thursday, adding that they will also talk about the way forward with regard to the next meeting with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expected to take place after the Turkish general elections in the second half of June.

    Replying to a question on the UN expectations of the talks until the next meeting with the UN Chief, Christofias said ''there is no concrete agenda at present.''

    ''I believe the UNSG will soon send his messages and we will send our own to the UNSG,'' he added.

    Responding to a question whether the timing of the next meeting with the UN Chief is appropriate, given that the UNSG had indicated that he awaits something concrete in the talks before convening the meeting, Christofias said the UNSG believes that it would be best for the meeting to take place ater the elections in Turkey.

    ''I do not think there will be a clear picture of the Turkish stance following the elections and we and the Secretary-General would like to discuss the way forward,'' he went on to say.

    Responding to other questions, the president said ''we know what to say to the UNSG and what to say to our interlocutors in the presence of the UNSG.''

    Asked about a possible shift in Ankara's stance on the question of Cyprus, Christofias replied: ''I think we have some positive moves on issues relating to the EU and the economy, as well as on the issues of internal security,'' adding that this does not mean that he considers that the issue of internal security has been completed.

    He clarified that there are serious matters, for which the discussion must continue.

    ''The talks are difficult and their pace or the pace with which convergences are achieved is not what it should be,'' he pointed out, adding that this is due to the Turkish elections.

    "We expect Turkey to take decisions after the elections if it wants the Cyprus problem solved," he added.

    Stressing that the Greek Cypriot side is ready for a solution and that it has all the good will to reach that goal, Christofias said that the Greek Cypriot side's stance on the talks has not changed in spite of May's parliamentary elections.

    ''As I have said, we expect Turkey to send us a positive message because the EU Cyprus Presidency is approaching and if we are to achieve something important, I believe it should be before the start of the Presidency. This is expected by the UN and the EU but above all I want to convey the message that we and not the foreigners expect and pursue this goal,'' he concluded.

    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.

    Community leaders reach convergence on international treaties

    The leaders of the two communities, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have reached an agreement on guidelines on international treaties binding on a united Cyprus.

    Speaking after a direct meeting between the two leaders, on Thursday, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Lisa Buttenheim said that "the leaders have reached a convergence, they have agreed on this", adding that "they have a convergence paper and they now have guidelines that will help the Sub-Committee that will be starting to meet very soon".

    Buttenheim explained to the press that "in accordance with the guidelines that the leaders agreed there, will be a sub-committee that reviews the list of treaties that will be binding on a united Cyprus". She added that the sub-committee had existed before, however it had not met since December 2009, noting that "this is important that they were able to reach agreement today".

    She noted that "the work is ongoing, because the Sub-Committee will be meeting to discuss".

    Asked what the leaders will discuss at their next meeting, the UN official said that it was not decided what the subject will be.

    She said however that the issue of the internal aspects of the security "is still under discussion, that could possibly be on the agenda next week".

    Replying to questions, she said there was no further discussion on the population census issue at Thursday's meeting.

    The leaders will meet next Thursday while their representatives will meet on Tuesday.

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