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

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

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

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 Issue No: 3784

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM received by President Papoulias, Calls for unity and support
  • [02] Papandreou addresses informal cabinet meeting
  • [03] PM Papandreou to chair cabinet meeting on Wednesday
  • [04] PM Papandreou holds telephone conversation with German Chancellor Merkel
  • [05] Merkel: decisions after EU-IMF inspectors' report on Greece
  • [06] Petalotis: 'government expressed through the prime minister'
  • [07] LAOS leader calls for 'national alliance' by parties
  • [08] SYRIZA's Tsipras says gov't is unreliable
  • [09] Greece categorically rejects reports it was discussing new 60-bln-euro support loan
  • [10] Citizens' Protection Minister on policing central Athens
  • [11] Gov't, mayor and LA.O.S on downtown Athens stabbing
  • [12] ND on opinion polls, political developments and crime in downtown Athens
  • [13] Education ministry announces number of students to be admitted to higher education institutions
  • [14] Greece and Cyprus discuss EU presidency issues
  • [15] Hellenic Armed Forces chief meets with Qatari Air Force commander
  • [16] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to visit Kavala
  • [17] 'Charles de Gaulle' aircraft carrier arrives in Crete
  • [18] Greek budget deficit within targets, FinMin says
  • [19] Labor ministry aims to save 7.2 billion euros in 2012-2015
  • [20] Cost of money up in March, BoG reports
  • [21] 'Cooperation' Action budget increasing by 28 million euros
  • [22] Nationwide general strike on Wednesday
  • [23] Health sector to participate in Wednesday's nationwide 24-hour strike
  • [24] President Papoulias to receive GENOP/DEH directorate on Thursday
  • [25] Mytilineos express interest in privatization of DEPA, Larco
  • [26] Greece successfully auctions six-month Treasury bills issue
  • [27] Emporiki Bank to open three new branches
  • [28] Greek exports up 23.6pct in March
  • [29] Industrial production down 8.0 pct in March
  • [30] Business Briefs
  • [31] Greek stocks recover
  • [32] Greek bond market closing report
  • [33] ADEX closing report
  • [34] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [35] Man stabbed to death by robbers for camera
  • [36] Protest rally at location where 44-year-old was killed in downtown Athens
  • [37] Olympic medallists sentenced to jail for faking accident
  • [38] Archbishop Ieronymos undergoes successful bone fracture repair surgery
  • [39] Drug trafficker arrested in Kalamata
  • [40] Illegal migrants and trafficker arrested in Igoumenitsa
  • [41] Seaman fatally injured on Mykonos
  • [42] Museum visitors down 29.3 pct in Jan
  • [43] Rainy on Wednesday Politics

  • [01] PM received by President Papoulias, Calls for unity and support

    Prime minister George Papandreou stressed the need for a "broader sense of unity and support" in order for the country to stand on its own feet, during a meeting on Tuesday with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    Papandreou said that the "national struggle must continue for changing the country, with decisions for the continuity of the changes".

    Papoulias, in turn, reiterated his call for a nation-wide effort, speaking of a national cause.

    On speculation concerning Greece, the premier said that "our reply must be persistence, determination and cool-headedness".

    Papandreou noted that his government has chosen to make the major changes without taking into account the political cost, and expressed his conviction that the overwhelming majority of the Greek people understand that the changes need to be made and to create a viable and socially just economy.

    President Papoulias also noted an "interesting" article in the German newspaper "Suddeutsche Zeitung" that spoke of a "speculative game against the euro and Greece".

    Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the President, Papandreou said that Greece is at a turning point, with the overwhelming majority of the Greek people desiring a continuation of the major changes necessary.

    "We are taking our decisions, on which I briefed the President of the Republic, to guarantee not only the country's exit from this crisis, but also for a viable economy and a just Greece that relies on its own forces and believes in itself".

    [02] Papandreou addresses informal cabinet meeting

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing an informal cabinet meeting on Tuesday, stressed "today we are deciding to forge ahead", while recommending solidarity among ministers and determination in the implementation of the government's work.

    "Our message is self confidence and trust in the strength of our people. And our will is to change Greece. We are serving this message with actions, which is also essential to pass to the European Union and internationally," Papandreou said .

    The prime minister mentioned that extensive and systematic consultation has taken place on the road map programme, meaning on the government's basic decisions for an exit from the crisis and economic growth.

    Speaking at the end of the informal cabinet meeting, held at the Maximos Mansion on Tuesday afternoon, Papandreou said, "we took decisions unanimously for our focal options. We are achieving our goals with a clear course. We took our decisions with seriousness with a feeling of justice and defence of the public interest."

    Papandreou also said, according to reports from a government official, there was no qulestion of the country exiting from the euro, nor a case of debt restructuring, elections or a reshuffle.

    According to the same official, the prime minister stressed "we decide, proceed and implement our decisions adopting our policy absolutely, whose basic axes are the structural changes in 2011, the privatisations and the medium-term plan."

    [03] PM Papandreou to chair cabinet meeting on Wednesday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will chair a regular cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, it was announced on Tuesday.

    [04] PM Papandreou holds telephone conversation with German Chancellor Merkel

    Prime Minister George Papandreou held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at noon on Tuesday.

    The discussion took place shortly after the prime minister's meeting with the President of the Republic and shortly before his contacts with cabinet members.

    According to reports, Papandreou and Merkel discussed the situation in Europe, with emphasis on the problems and developments in the eurozone, particularly recent developments.

    They also discussed the situation in Greece and the course of the economy, in the framework of discussions taking place in the European Union lately.

    [05] Merkel: decisions after EU-IMF inspectors' report on Greece

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - G. Pappas)

    In a message addressed to Greeks on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the benefits of strict adherence to the EU-IMF economic stabilisation programme for Greece.

    In a press conference for foreign correspondents, Merkel acknowledged the "brave efforts" made by the Greek government so far but emphasised the need to carry out the programme and the privatisations agreed.

    "We are aware that this is not an easy road," she said in a message to Greeks, while stressing her belief that the country would emerge stronger at the end.

    Replying to an ANA-MPA question, Merkel said that Greece was not "at the same place as a year ago" and noted that there had been a great many reforms and brave steps by the Greek government.

    "The municipal elections showed that the majority of Greeks support the government. We knew clearly that this will be a difficult road and that it will not last just a few months," she said.

    She pointed to the decisions of the European Council last March to reduce the interest rate "in exchange" for the Greek government's promise to carry out a privatisation programme amounting to 50 billion euro.

    Distancing herself from the rampant speculation in recent days that a Greek default was imminent, the German chancellor stressed that she would wait until the report of EU-IMF inspectors provided specific figures before stating a position or deciding "whether anything needs to be done".

    "We are not doing Greece any good by speculating wildly and I do not mean journalists, I speak as a politician," Merkel emphasised. "It is neither for the good of Greece nor for the good of Europe," she stressed.

    While giving assurances of Germany's solidarity on a Eurozone level, she noted that Greece's "willingness to return to the right path" was a condition for this solidarity. Merkel stressed the need to "rebuild the foundations correctly" in order to get out of difficulties and not simply show solidarity without any changes taking place in Greece.

    "We have a vital interest in having all European countries on the right economic path," she added.

    The Chancellor is due to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Berlin on Wednesday and the head of the European Council Herman van Rompuy on Thursday.

    [06] Petalotis: 'government expressed through the prime minister'

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday stressed that "government ministers are responsible for what they say but the government operates collectively and is expressed through the prime minister".

    Petalotis made the comment in response to a question by the media on the statements made a day earlier by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos as regards the government's course.

    He added that "the health minister has his own viewpoints and it is only reasonable for the government ministers to express concern and anguish. However, the operation of the government is guaranteed by the prime minister and the government as a whole."

    As regards the consecutive meetings the premier had with leading government ministers ahead of the cabinet meeting, the government spokesman stated that they are "routine working meetings".

    He also rejected the likelihood of snap elections, stressing that "we still have a lot of work to do," adding that "a government reshuffle is not being considered".

    Referring to the auctioning of a six-month T-bills issue, he stated that Greece "did pretty well", adding that the 4.88 pct interest rate is "lower than the support mechanism interest rate" and pointed out that "the issue was 3.8 times oversubscribed", while 34.5 pct of the issue was covered by foreign investors.

    [07] LAOS leader calls for 'national alliance' by parties

    The head of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis on Tuesday urged Prime Minister George Papandreou to listen to the advice of President Karolos Papoulias and proceed immediately to a "national alliance" among political parties. Karatzaferis also called on main opposition New Democracy to not oppose such an alliance of forces.

    Commenting on Tuesday's meeting between Papoulias and Papandreou, meanwhile, Karatzaferis claimed that the prime minister "appeared to have taken only his mouth to the meeting. Because if he had taken his ear, he would have heard the advice given to him".

    [08] SYRIZA's Tsipras says gov't is unreliable

    Opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday lashed out at the premier, saying that the government is "unreliable and has no legitimate right to handle the fate and future of the Greek people, even more so when this takes place in secrecy."

    Tsipras stated that "after a year of utter failure of the memorandum policy, the government is back preparing a new, even tougher memorandum, which, in effect, is an admission of complete derailment," adding that "this time, the secret and under-the-table negotiations focus on public assets."

    He underlined that the effort to create a picture of consensus, while tearing society down, will be fruitless.

    [09] Greece categorically rejects reports it was discussing new 60-bln-euro support loan

    Greece on Tuesday categorically rejected press reports alleging that the country was asking for a new support loan worth 60 billion euros.

    A Finance ministry official, speaking to ANA-MPA, said "the country is not discussing an agreement to approve a new support loan worth 60 billion euros," adding that "discussions currently between European Union Finance ministers are focusing on finding a convincing solution ensuring that Greece will be able to meet its borrowing needs in 2012. There are no details on discussions held so far".

    Earlier, a Wall Street Journal report said that Greece was currently discussing a new support loan worth 60 billion euros to cover its borrowing needs up to 2013.

    [10] Citizens' Protection Minister on policing central Athens

    Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Tuesday called for the "activation and coordination" of all competent agencies in order to "do what was humanly possible to fight crime in central Athens" while speaking in Parliament.

    Stressing his horror at the dawn stabbing of a father-to-be by robbers in downtown Athens earlier the same morning, Papoutsis said that the police were making every possible effort to protect the public "in the framework of the fiscal difficulties".

    Papoutsis said that the state and local government have to cooperate on the initiatives for protection and security in the centre of the capital.

    The minister said that the evidence showed that crime in the centre was falling but increasing in regions.

    "We are determined to encourage the Athens Mayor and other competent bodies in order to secure the greatest possible security of Athenians," he said.

    [11] Gov't, mayor and LA.O.S on downtown Athens stabbing

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday said described the stabbing of a 44-year-old father-to-be in central Athens as a "hair-raising incident". The victim was attacked by thieves who were after his video camera at dawn, as he was preparing to take his pregnant wife to hospital to deliver their baby.

    He pointed out that coordinated efforts are being made by the prime minister to upgrade the city center and stressed that it is "unfair and one-sided" to blame inadequate policing for the situation. "The issue is cultural, residential and social," he concluded.

    Athens Mayor George Kaminis said "this murder is not just another delinquent act. It is a kind of crime that cannot be tolerated," adding that "the Greek Police will have to make a lot of effort to put the situation under control."

    Kaminis repeated that the City of Athens is ready to cooperate with police on a daily basis to jointly patrol the streets and squares even during the night.

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis commenting on the tragic death, indirectly urged the government to proceed with the deportation of all illegal migrants and stressed that living in certain parts of Athens is an "act of heroism".

    [12] ND on opinion polls, political developments and crime in downtown Athens

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with an opinion poll conducted by the polling company GPO and unveiled in a private television talk show the previous evening.

    ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stated that the distance between the two major political parties has been reduced to 1.7 pct from 5.1 pct in February, adding that ND leader Antonis Samaras is recording an increase in his popularity as opposed to the prime minister's, which is on the decline.

    Commenting on statements made recently by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Education Minister Anna Diamanto-poulou, the ND spokesman stated that the government's picture is that of disarray, adding that Loverdos had made the same comments again in the past but no one seemed to care.

    On the finance minister's Luxembourg meeting, Mihelakis called on the government to give a responsible, official and clear-cut response on what really was discussed, adding that times are crucial.

    Referring to the stabbing death of a 44-year-old attacked by robbers at dawn on Tuesday in central Athens to steal his camera, Mihelakis stated that unfortunately such incidents are on the rise, stressing that crime lurks everywhere.

    The victim was attacked while taking out his car to rush his pregnant wife to a hospital to give birth.

    [13] Education ministry announces number of students to be admitted to higher education institutions

    The number of students to be admitted to universities and Technical Educational Institutes (TEI) will be reduced by 10,250 compared with last year, while 25 departments, most of them in TEI, will not be open to new admissions after taking under consideration the constantly declining student attendance, it was announced on Tuesday by the ministry of education .

    A total of 74,440 students will be admitted to higher education institutions this year, when in 2010 their number had reached 84,690 (not including the military and police academies).

    "The goal set is the number of students admitted to universities and TEI to reflect the actual demand and not a virtual reality," the ministry of education underlined.

    [14] Greece and Cyprus discuss EU presidency issues

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)

    Issues that the Cypriot presidency of the EU will handle in the second half of 2012, such as the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), were discussed during a meeting in Nicosia on Tuesday between Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Demetris Eliades and visiting Greek Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Kostas Skandalidis, along with their delegations.

    Skandalidis said the process to reform CAP would take ''a few months, with tough negotiations, and we hope that the Cypriot presidency will be so successful that the summit which will decide the final points for CAP for the period 2014-2020 will be especially favorable for the interests of Cyprus and Greece.''

    The Greek minister assured Eliades that Cyprus would have the full support of Greece, which has organised ''very successful presidencies since 1989.''

    Asked if they discussed problems arising from the transpor-tation of mainly agricultural products from the northern Turkish occupied areas to the southern government controlled areas of Cyprus and from there to the rest of the EU, and the issue of direct trade between the EU and the occupied areas, Eliades said they had not, noting that they did discuss the harsh competition European producers face due to the import of goods from third countries, which are cheaper.

    ''This is an issue we raised during our talks and we share a common line in efforts to support European producers,'' he said.

    Skandalidis noted that they also share identical views in other chapters and ''together and separately we can create the preconditions and alliances to promote the broader interests of the EU, as well as the interests of the peoples of the European south.''

    During their talks, Eliades and Skandalides signed a Cooperation Programme, and assured that their relations would be strengthened and further developed to mutual benefit.

    Eliades said that in the issue of the Cypriot presidency of the EU, ''Greece's support is the most decisive factor, which will help Cyprus carry out a responsible, creative and reliable presidency.''

    ''We are a small country. We do not have large numbers of experts and technocrats but with seriousness, responsibility and prudence I believe we can exercise a presidency that will be positive and creative for the EU and our countries,'' he said.

    Referring to the Cooperation Programme, Skandalidis said that it was the twelfth to be signed since 1992 and noted its importance since it will coincide with Cyprus' EU presidency and the reform of CAP.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, will assume the six-monthly rotating EU presidency for the first time in the second half of 2012.

    [15] Hellenic Armed Forces chief meets with Qatari Air Force commander

    Hellenic Armed Forces General Staff chief Brig. Gen. Vassilis Klokozas met on Tuesday in Athens with the commander of Qatar's Air Force, Brigadier General Mubarak Bin Mohammed Al Kamit Al Khayarin, and discussed matters of mutual interest.

    The Qatari Air Force commander thanked Greece for its support to Qatari aircraft in Souda bay, in Crete, for operations in Libya, in the context of a relevant UN resolution.

    The Qatari official visited the Souda military airbase on Monday and met with Qatari pilots.

    [16] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to visit Kavala

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will be in the port city of Kavala, NE Greece, on a three-day visit to be launched on May 18. Bartholomew will attend the St Lydia of Philippi feast day celebrations on May 20.

    On May 19, he will visit the Saint Paul monument and will be declared honorary citizen of Kavala. He will also become honorary professor in the Kavala Technical Educational Institute (TEI).

    On May 20, he will officiate the Saint Lydia feast day mass and in the afternoon he will inaugurate a photography exhibition on the Greek Orthodox churches in Istanbul.

    A world conference on "Saint Paul-Philippi: Two millenniums. The European vision of the Apostle of the Nations" will also take place in Kavala to be completed on Sunday, May 22.

    The conference will attend roughly 200 delegates and will be addressed by thirty speakers from Greece, the EU and the United States, representatives of patriarchates and autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

    [17] 'Charles de Gaulle' aircraft carrier arrives in Crete

    The aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle", flagship of the French Navy, sailed into the NATO pier of Marathi, in the port of Souda Bay on Crete on Monday morning.

    The nuclear-powered vessel, which set off from its home port of Toulon on March 20, is taking part in the operations in Libya and will remain in Souda until Saturday.

    The 38,000-ton Charles de Gaulle" has has two nuclear pressure water reactors that enable it to sail with a speed of 27 knots (50 km/h) with full autonomy, a length of 261.5 meters and a 261mX64m flight deck.

    It also has a crew of 1,150 people but due to its operational capacity also has 550 aircrew and 50 air support staff. It has an accommodation capacity of 1,950 plus short-term accommodation for 800 marines.

    It carries a fleet of 40 Rafale and Super Etendard aircraft and three E-2C Hawkeye early warning craft. It is the second largest European carrier, after the "Admiral Kuznetsov", and the flight deck has a catapult that can launch one aircraft per minute.

    The ship is capable of monitoring up to 2,000 targets, and is equipped with Aster 15 ground-to-air missiles and Sylver missile launchers, as well as two Mistral missile systems.

    The vessel was commissioned in September 2000 and formally launched in May 2004 and is considered the most advanced warship to be built in Europe, with the highest performance.

    Considered one of the most developed battle systems, it is able to carry out 100 air missions per day.

    NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS: ANA-MPA STRIKE ON WEDNESDAY

    There will no ANA-MPA news services, including all English-language services, from 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday due to a 24-hour strike decided by the national union federations representing all journalists, technicians and administrative staff in the Greek media. The strike will coincide with a nationwide 24-hour general strike declared on Wednesday, May 11 by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants union federation ADEDY.

    Financial News

    [18] Greek budget deficit within targets, FinMin says

    Greece's state budget deficit rose to 7.235 billion euros in the first four months of 2011, up from a target of 6.924 billion euros envisaged in the budget and up from 6.371 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, according to preliminary figures released on Tuesday.

    Regular budget spending, including a Public Investments Program, were down 973 million euros compared with a targets for spending of 23.292 billion euros in the four-month period, while total revenues lacked 1.284 billion euros from an official target of 16.368 billion euros.

    The Finance ministry, in an announcement, said the budget deficit was moving within targets set in the budget. Net revenues totaled 14.460 billion euros, down 9.2 pct compared with the same period last year, reflecting a higher-than-expected recession in the fourth quarter of 2010 and reduced revenues from income withholding taxes. On the other hand, the Public Investments Program's revenues were up by 108.6 pct, or 325 million euros.

    Budget spending rose 3.4 pct, while primary spending fell 0.9 pct in the four-month period. Spending by a Public Investment Program fell 42.5 pct.

    [19] Labor ministry aims to save 7.2 billion euros in 2012-2015

    Greece's Labour ministry aims to save up to 7.2 billion euros in the framework of a medium-term fiscal program, from cutting spending and raising revenues, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli said on Tuesday. Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister acknowledged that cuts in supplementary pensions will affect also current pensioners, mainly those who receive high pensions.

    The Labour minister said the aim was to save 3.4 billion euros from raising revenues and another 3.5 billion euros from cutting spending and added that this effort would be based on five axis:

    -Ensuring funds through combating of informal labor to 16 pct from 26 pct currently and the inclusion of 480,000 workers in the system.

    Better management of pension funds' real estate property

    Drastically cutting pharmaceutical spending

    Ensuring the viability of pension funds

    Sustainability of social insurance benefits through a restructuring and evaluation of incentives offered to unemployed people

    Katseli said the ministry was in constant dialogue with its troika partners and was fully aware of its responsibility to lead the country out of the dead-end. Commitments are a given fact that readjustments have to be made, she noted. She confirmed a reduction of workers' pay by 5 pct in 2011 (both for the private and public sectors) after a 2.7 pct drop in 2010.

    George Koutroumanis, Deputy Minister, said the ministry's programs helped in containing unemployment to 15 pct of the workforce and noted that a program to subsidize social insurance contributions for 100,000 unemployed people came at a cost of 840 million euros per month, while rising unemployment brought revenue losses of 960 million euros. Cutting pay reduced revenue by 800 million euros, while development in the labor market hit pension funds with losses totaling 2.6 billion euros.

    Koutroumanis dismissed press reports that the government was planning to impose a ceiling on pension payments.

    [20] Cost of money up in March, BoG reports

    The cost of money rose in Greece in March with banks raising their lending interest rates, while deposit interest rates remained largely unchanged, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. More specifically, in March 2011, the average interest rate on overnight deposits from households remained basically unchanged at 0.45%, while the corresponding rate on deposits from non-financial corporations increased by 7 basis points to 0.41%. The average interest rate on deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to 1 year remained basically unchanged at 3.76%.

    In the case of loans, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity (a category which includes credit card debt, open account loans and debit balances on current accounts) increased in March 2011 by 6 basis points to 14.70%. Similarly, the average interest rate on corporate loans without a defined maturity and the corresponding rate on loans to sole proprietors increased by 15 and 6 basis points to 7.05% and 9.78% respectively. The average interest rate on corporate loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year increased by 23 basis points to 6.46% for loans up to EUR 1 million, and by 2 basis points to 5.39% for loans above EUR 1 million. Finally, the average interest rates on housing loans increased by 13 basis points to 4.04% for loans at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year and by 29 basis points to 3.86% for loans with an initial fixation period of over 1 and up to 5 years.

    In March 2011 the average interest rates on outstanding amounts of deposits and loans showed mixed developments. In particular, the average interest rate on outstanding amounts of deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to 2 years increased in March 2011 by 3 basis points to 3.58%, while the corresponding interest rate on deposits from non-financial corporations decreased by 9 basis points to 3.60%. The average interest rate on outstanding amounts of housing loans with over five years' maturity remained basically unchanged at 3.69%. The corresponding rate on corporate loans increased by 6 basis points to 4.72%, while the one to sole proprietors decreased by 10 basis points to 5.61%.

    [21] 'Cooperation' Action budget increasing by 28 million euros

    The budget of the "Cooperation" Action for 2009 will be increasing by 28,000,000 euros, where 121 proposals have already been approved with a public expenditure amounting to 68 million euros, in the framework of the new policy on Research.

    With the additional amount 36 new projects will be funded that garnered high points during their evaluation, according to an announcement by the Education ministry. They are 28 small and medium-scale projects and eight large scale projects, whose implementation will be taking place by the end of 2015 at the latest. This exstension covers proposals in crucial sectors for the national economy (health, biotechnology, energy, informatics and communications technologies).

    [22] Nationwide general strike on Wednesday

    A 24-hour nationwide general strike has been declared on Wednesday, May 11 by Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisations in the private and public sectors, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY.

    Also participating in the strike will be staff in state utilities and the broader public sector, bank workers, school teachers, staff in state hospitals and the ambulance service, local authorities and the media.

    GSEE and ADEDY will hold a strike rally at Pedio tou Areos at 11:00 a.m. followed by a march to Parliament, while earlier there will be a separate rally by the Communist Party-affiliated trade union group PAME at Omonia Square at 10:00 a.m.

    The strike is expected to affect public transport, except during the hours when the rallies are being held, with work stoppages scheduled for the rest of Wednesday.

    There will be no OSE or Proastiakos railway trains on the day of the strike and no flights to or from Greek airports throughout the day, due to an air-traffic controllers' strike. Workers on the Athens metro will hold a work stoppage from the start of their shift until 8:00 a.m., while the ISAP electric railways will be running between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and Athens buses will be running between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

    All state hospitals and health services will be operating with a skeleton staff due to the strike.

    [23] Health sector to participate in Wednesday's nationwide 24-hour strike

    All public hospitals, health centers, Social Insurance Fund (IKA) services, welfare services and ambulance service (EKAB) will operate with skeleton staff on Wednesday, May 11, the day of a nationwide 24-hour strike called by the two umbrella trade unions in the public and private sectors, ADEDY and GSEE.

    Hospital doctors and personnel demand the solution of their economic and institutional problems.

    [24] President Papoulias to receive GENOP/DEH directorate on Thursday

    The directorate of the GENOP/DEH union will be received President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday afternoon, to brief him on the Federation's positions regarding the government's intentions for the privatisation of the Public Power Corporation (DEH).

    [25] Mytilineos express interest in privatization of DEPA, Larco

    A return to the drachma would a disaster, Evaggelos Mytilineos, chairman of Mytilineos Group, said on Tuesday while he stressed that the group's deposits remained in Greek banks and expressed the group's interest to participate in a government privatization program.

    Addressing a general shareholders' meeting, Mytilineos underlined the need for the country to take advantage of the last opportunity it was offered and stressed that problems would remain as long as wages and pensions continued paid through borrowed money. He expressed interest, on preconditions, to acquire DEPA and Larco, both included in a government's privatization program, while he predicted that the government would sell 51 pct of Public Power Corporation.

    Mytilineos said turnover was up 30 pct in the first quarter and said that that MEKTA would maintain its base in Greece despite recommendations made by foreign investors to move abroad.

    [26] Greece successfully auctions six-month Treasury bills issue

    Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bills issue worth 1.25 billion euros from the market.

    The issue was 3.58 times oversubscribed with bids submitted totalling 4.474 billion euros, while the yield rose slightly to 4.88 pct from 4.8 pct in the previous auction of six-month T-bills.

    The Finance ministry accepted bids covering the asked sum along with non-competitive bids worth 375 million euros.

    The Finance ministry will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the auctioned sum until Thursday 12, May.

    Petros Christodoulou, head of the Public Debt Management Organization, said foreign investors covered 34.2 pct of the issue.

    [27] Emporiki Bank to open three new branches

    Emporiki Bank on Tuesday announced the opening of three new branches in Attica, Thessaloniki and Andros as part of a plan to modernize and restructure its branch network in the country. The bank said it will open the new units in Lykovrysi, Attica, Kordelio Thessaloniki and in Chora, Andros, based on the international retail banking model used by its parent Credit Agricole. Emporiki Bank said it expected to have completed the modernization of 1/3 of its branches by the end of the year. A total of 50 units were currently operating under the new model.

    [28] Greek exports up 23.6pct in March

    Greek exports continued rising in March this year, while imports fell further on lower domestic demand in the country, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The value of export-deliveries totaled 1.756 billion euros in March, up 23.6 pct from the same period last year, while the value of import-arrivals fell to 3.342 billion euros from 5.354 billion euros over the same periods, respectively.

    [29] Industrial production down 8.0 pct in March

    Industrial production dropped 8.0 pct in March this year, with manufacturing production falling 10.3 pct in the month, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the industrial production composite index fell 8.0 pct in March after falling by 3.5 pct in March 2010.

    The statistics service attributed this decline to: an increase of mining production by 5.5 pct, a decline of manufacturing production by 10.3 pct (reflecting a 33.5 pct drop in clothing, a 21 pct fall in oil production, a 37.1 pct drop in non-metal minerals and a 22.2 pct fall in furniture production), a 4.4 pct decline in electricity production and a 4.6 pct fall in water production.

    [30] Business Briefs

    -- Plaisio Computers on Tuesday announced it has fully covered and completed a share capital increase plan, with cash, of its subsidiary Plaisio Computers JSC in Bulgaria. The Greek-listed company fully covered the share capital increase plan, worth 850,000 euros, buying the new 195,583 shares of the subsidiary company.

    -- Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Group on Tuesday reported a loss of 1.0 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, after comparable earnings of 29 million euros in the same period last year, reflecting mainly lower operating earnings. Comparable figures do not include restructuring expenses in this year's quarter.

    [31] Greek stocks recover

    Greek stocks recovered on Tuesday after a six-day decline in the market which pushed the composite index 5.91 pct lower. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange rose 1.44 pct to end at 1,369.30 points, with turnover at 97.645 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 2.29 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.51 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.15 pct. Alpha Bank (9.30 pct), National Bank (6.99 pct), Eurobank (5.90 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (3.42 pct) were major gainers among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (1.64 pct), MIG (1.47 pct) and Coca-Cola 3E (1.38 pct) were major losers.

    The Banks (5.36 pct), Media (3.83 pct) and Raw Materials (2.52 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food (1.28 pct) and Commerce (1.13 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 95 to 50 with another 50 issues unchanged. Vovos (18.52 pct), Alpha Grissin (10 pct), Techical Publications (9.68 pct) and Sfakianakis (9.52 pct) were top gainers, while Koumpas (11.11 pct), General Commerce (8.70 pct) and Pegasus (8.57 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -0.31%

    Commercial: -1.13%

    Construction: +0.89%

    Media: +3.83%

    Oil & Gas: +1.39%

    Personal & Household: -0.87%

    Raw Materials: +2.52%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.46%

    Technology: +2.41%

    Telecoms: -0.28%

    Banks: +5.36%

    Food & Beverages: -1.28%

    Health: +0.16%

    Utilities: -0.10%

    Chemicals: +0.91%

    Financial Services: +0.48%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.76

    ATEbank: 0.45

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.62

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.85

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.06

    National Bank of Greece: 5.05

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.41

    OPAP: 13.90

    OTE: 7.00

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.03

    Titan: 17.20

    [32] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 12.49 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market, from 12.66 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 15.50 pct and the German Bund 3.11 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 35 million euros, of which 17 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 18 million were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 16 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.15 pct, the six-month rate 1.70 pct, the three-month 1.42 pct and the one-month rate 1.25 pct.

    [33] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.85 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining a low 44.738 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,635 contracts, worth 35.343 million euros, with 35,214 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,526 contracts, worth 9.395 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (10,747), followed by Eurobank (2,188), OTE (1,348), Piraeus Bank (1,351), Alpha Bank (2,322), Hellenic Postbank (687) and ATEbank (861).

    [34] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.457

    Pound sterling 0.891

    Danish kroner 7.568

    Swedish kroner 9.090

    Japanese yen 117.46

    Swiss franc 1.279

    Norwegian kroner 7.920

    Canadian dollar 1.398

    Australian dollar 1.349

    General News

    [35] Man stabbed to death by robbers for camera

    A man was stabbed to death by robbers at dawn Tuesday in central Athens, apparently to steal his camera, police said.

    The 44-year-old man was attacked as he was taking out his car to take his pregnant wife to hospital to give birth to their second child.

    Police said the man was heading for a parking lot near his home in the Patissia district when he was attacked by three assailants and suffered at least three stab wounds in the back, hands and neck as he tried to escape.

    The attackers grabbed his camera and fled.

    The victim's wife and mother-in-law, who were waiting in the couple's apartment for the man's return, seeing he was delaying, decided to go down to the sidewalk to wait for him, where they found his body.

    The two women suffered a strong shock, and neighbors called for an ambulance to take him to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

    According to information gathered by police, the perpetrators were three dark-skinned men, possibly foreign nationals.

    Security police were searching for the perpetrators.

    [36] Protest rally at location where 44-year-old was killed in downtown Athens

    About 200 people held a protest rally, at 5 in the afternoon, at the location where a 44-year-old was killed on Tuesday morning while preparing to take his car to transfer his wife to a maternity clinic to give birth.

    Due to the rally, 3rd September street was closed from Marni street onwards and Ipirou street from Aristotelous street.

    According to information reaching the police, there was tension in the region and attacks against foreigners have taken place. Police forces are on standby in the event incidents take place.

    [37] Olympic medallists sentenced to jail for faking accident

    Olympic medallists sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, who won gold and silver medal in their respective events at the Sydney Olympics of 2000, were on Tuesday given suspended jail sentences of 31 months each for staging a motorbike accident in order to avoid a doping test. Their former coach Christos Tzekos was sentenced to 33 months for his involvement in the affair.

    Sentences between six and eight months in jail were also handed down to doctors at KAT hospital in Athens, who had the two athletes admitted for treatment after the alleged accident, and two alleged 'eye-witnesses', who were given sentences of seven and 15 months.

    All the jail sentences were suspended pending appeal.

    In its decision the court accepted previous good character as a mitigating circumstance only for the two alleged eye-witnesses to the accident, while for the doctors it acknowledged that they had not acted from base motives.

    The two athletes staged the accident on the eve of the Athens Games of 2004, in which they were scheduled to compete.

    [38] Archbishop Ieronymos undergoes successful bone fracture repair surgery

    Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece on Tuesday underwent a successful surgery in Athens' KAT Hospital to treat a double fracture in his left leg.

    According to the medical bulletin issued, his postoperative condition is excellent and he will remain hospitalized for roughly a week.

    [39] Drug trafficker arrested in Kalamata

    A 47-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in Kalamata, southern Greece, charged with drug dealing.

    A police raid in his residence revealed 90 grams of heroin in five nylon packages, a small quantity of hashish, a precision scale and 300 euros.

    The suspect will be sent before Kalamata prosecutor.

    [40] Illegal migrants and trafficker arrested in Igoumenitsa

    Port authorities in Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, located on Tuesday 51 illegal migrants from Asia hidden in a truck transporting plastics abroad.

    The 33 year-old Iraqi truck driver was paid to take the migrants to Italy.

    The illegal migrants were located during a check control.

    The driver was arrested and sent before the Igoumenitsa prosecutor.

    Police said the migrants were in a state of exhaustion, after spending two days hidden in the truck.

    [41] Seaman fatally injured on Mykonos

    A 38-year-old seaman from Indonesia was fatally injured on Tuesday when a cable broke and struck him on the head. The incident occurred in the port of Mykonos island.

    The victim was a crewmember of the Malta-flagged cruise ship "Zenith".

    Mykonos port authorities are conducting an investigation

    [42] Museum visitors down 29.3 pct in Jan

    The number of visitors to Greek museums fell by 29.3 pct in January 2011, while revenues fell 31.3 pct in the same month compared with the corresponding period last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service said visitors to archaeological sites fell by 1.2 pct with revenues down 1.2 pct during the first month of 2011.

    Weather Forecast

    [43] Rainy on Wednesday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 23C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 19C.

    The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Prime Minister George Papandreou's meeting on Tuesday with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos' statements on Monday and deliberations in the EU on Greece's economic support, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Aroma of early elections".

    AVGHI: "Government prepares the ground for a new loan and a new Memorandum".

    AVRIANI: "George (Papandreou) to escape through elections".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New Memorandum with 50-60 billion euros additional loan brings scent of elections".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Loverdos 'leader-like' appearance" sent ultimatum to Papandreou".

    ESTIA: "PASOK (ruling party) is destroying the economy".

    ETHNOS: "End to lies - Health Minister Andreas Loverdos' intervention a herald of developments".

    IMERISSIA: "Solution at cliff's edge - Deliberations over Memorandum no. 2".

    KATHIMERINI: "Ministers send dramatic SOS".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "New 'memorandum loan" and more difficult years".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Hurricane of new antisocial measures in view of controlled destruction of capital".

    TA NEA: "George seeks clear solutions".

    VRADYNI: "Ceiling on pensions".

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