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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 20 May 2011 Issue No: 3791


  • [01] PM Papandreou meets ETUC leadership
  • [02] PM in Argolida on Friday
  • [03] FM at the Economist Con't; Jeremic address
  • [04] FM: The Greek people do not deserve comments, recommendations that are not constructive
  • [05] FM dismisses attempts to dispute isles' sovereignty
  • [06] Foreign ministry spokesman on Albanian municipal elections
  • [07] Medium-Term Stability Programme to cabinet next week, gov't says
  • [08] Ragoussis denies differences with finmin on ASEP evaluation for transferred staff
  • [09] ND on consensus; student elections
  • [10] Opinion poll: 62pct opposed to Memorandum
  • [11] Theodorakis received by President, protests Memorandum
  • [12] First 14 detention and initial reception centres for immigrants to be created
  • [13] SYRIZA presents proposals on crime to Citizen's Protection Minister
  • [14] Environment ministry to spend 171.59 million euro on forest fire protection
  • [15] Alternate Environment minister at informal ministerial meeting in Budapest
  • [16] Chinese journalists meet gov't spokesman, media gen. sec
  • [17] Delegation of French MPs visit Greek Parliament
  • [18] Planning for dispatch of mobile medical unit to Libya progressing smoothly
  • [19] Environment minister: Greece within targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • [20] Deputy FM declares start of Greek-Egyptian business forum
  • [21] Employers' federation chief to political parties: 'Tell people the truth'
  • [22] Hospital doctor unions seek to block hospital mergers
  • [23] PPC employees block entrance to finance ministry in 'symbolic takeover'
  • [24] Business Briefs
  • [25] Stocks continue moving lower
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [28] ANA-MPA Chinese-language webpage
  • [29] Parliament observes minute of silence for Pontian Greek genocide
  • [30] Greek painters exhibition in Thessaloniki
  • [31] Israeli journalists visit Veria synagogue
  • [32] 2 foreign nationals arrested in fatal mugging that sparked protests.
  • [33] Shootout suspect's photo released to media
  • [34] Jewellery store owner wounded in attempted robbery
  • [35] Flower show at Kotzia Square from May 20
  • [36] Fish with...human-like lips
  • [37] Fair on Friday
  • [38] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou meets ETUC leadership

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday had a meeting in Parliament with the leadership of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

    Addressing the ETUC leaders, Papandreou stressed that "we are experiencing a very difficult period and the only thing I can say is that I agree with some of the proposals you have tabled such as, for example, the tax on monetary transactions and the idea of the eurobonds. I believe that if we had these tools in the EU, today we would be in a position to face the crisis in the eurozone in a much more effective way and, I would say, a much fairer way."

    The prime minister added that the tax on monetary transactions would not only cover the need for the payment of a price on the part of banks for their mistakes either in the US or in Europe, but it would also provide the possibility for growth in Europe, with investments in human potential and infrastructures, which growth would contribute in turn to the facing of the debt.

    Papandreou stressed that changes must take place in Greece, adding that the government is implementing many structural changes so that the economny will become viable, adding however that "if there was in Europe a stronger framework of economic, not only cooperation, but mainly governance which we want, this would make this transitional period much easier and, mainly, for working people."

    The prime minister said that the voice of working people in Europe and all over the world must be strengthened and added that "despite whatever differences we might have with trade union organisations in Greece, we are on the same side."

    On her part, ETUC Secretary General Bernadette Segol said "Greece needs a better agreement, for citizens and working people."

    "We believe that the economic governance, which is already beginning to be implemented, is not the best solution and will not lead to recovery and growth which you need and Europe needs. And this is a very strong message," Segol added, expressing also ETUC's support to proposals such as the tax on monetary transactions, the idea of the eurobonds and investments in Europe.

    Segol also expressed ETUC's concern regarding the attacks against collective labour agreements, flexible labour relations and decreases in minimum salaries.

    Earlier, the prime minister had a meeting with his financial advisor and former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

    [02] PM in Argolida on Friday

    Prime minister George Papandreou will visit the prefecture of Argolida on Friday.

    During the visit, Papandreou will meet with local authorities and agencies in Nafplion on development issues concerning the wider area.

    [03] FM at the Economist Con't; Jeremic address

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday addressed the Economist Conference taking place in southern coastal Athens, stressing that "the international landscape is constantly changing, crises can be turned into opportunities and the EU should not watch developments like an observer. Instead, it should be one of the players shaping developments and promoting its goals and values."

    Referring to Greece's goals in the Balkans and regional stability, he said "Greece supports the EU integration of the western Balkans ... Greece's EU presidency in 2014 will be dedicated to the speeding up of the process of integrating the western Balkan countries into the European family."

    He observed that this is an attainable goal and that the Greek EU presidency plans to hold an EU-western Balkan summit, adding that the clear European prospect of these countries will constitute a real incentive for the settlement of differences still existing in the area.

    Droutsas said solutions to the Kosovo problem can be reached within the EU framework.

    Referring to discussions within the EU on so-called enlargement "fatigue", Droutsas observed that "the costs in case no enlargement took place would have been greater," adding that European unification will contribute to the promotion of security and stability in the Balkan region.

    Commenting on developments in North Africa and the conflict in Libya, he underlined the need for a European plan for the region that will not be limited to offering financial assistance but will serve as an "investment" for peace and security in Europe.

    He also referred to the illegal migration flows from these regions that have already reached the southern borders of Europe and underlined that "this is not a problem that concerns only the European south, like Greece, it is a problem that escalates on European level."

    As regards the role of the European Union and the international community in handling the crisis in Libya and developments in the Arab World, Droutsas stated that the West should not appear as trying to impose its positions on the Arabs, stressing that efforts should respect the different peoples' cultures.

    On Libya, he repeated Greece's position that the situation cannot be dealt with by using only military means, calling for a peaceful solution that will be reached through negotiations.

    On his part, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic underlined that Serbia and Greece share the same views as regards the EU integration of the western Balkans.

    Addressing the same Economist Conference in the seaside resort of Lagonissi, he said that "a bright future lies ahead for the Balkans in spite of the difficulties", adding that "all roads should lead to a common future that will guarantee security and stability in the greater region."

    On Kosovo, he said a sincere dialogue is the only way to reach a consensus solution and voiced the wish that the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue will continue.

    [04] FM: The Greek people do not deserve comments, recommendations that are not constructive

    The Greek people do not deserve comments and recom-mendations that are not constructive, foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas stressed on Thursday, addressing the 15th Economist Round Table with the Greek Government on the theme "In the aftermath of the global economic crisis: What next?"

    In a double message on the criticism coming from both inside and outside Greece on the efforts of the government and the Greek society to deal with the country's fiscal crisis, Droutsas added that every political force and every political leader in Greece must shoulder their responsibilities and be accountable for their choices.

    He also said that Greece is committed to a strict reform effort and is making great efforts to deal with the fiscal crisis, and urged each and every citizen to assume their responsibilities for the country's exit from this situation.

    Replying to questions, Droutsas said that beyond the economic crisis, Greece is also facing a crisis of morals which, to a great degree, emanates from the political system of the past decades.

    When speaking about the political system one should not forget that every citizen of this country is part of that system, the foreign minister said, and urged everyone's contribution to overcoming the crisis. "We all have the obligation, but also the opportunity today, to contribute in a substantial and responsible way to overcoming the crisis," he said.

    Asked whether a reduction in the number of Greek MPs (currently 300) would be a message to the Greek people in the present difficult fiscal conjuncture, Droutsas responded that every symbolic move, in such difficult times, could help, but would not solve the problem.

    "We need to look in-depth at the political and social system that has developed in Greece in the past decades, the recent decades," he said, adding that "we need to look at the politics-economy and politics-mass media relations. These are visible problems for which the time has come for all the political forces and each and every citizen individually to deal with responsibly and honestly".

    [05] FM dismisses attempts to dispute isles' sovereignty

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday was categorical in rejecting attempts aimed at disputing the sovereignty of any part of the Greek territory.

    Responding to a question by a reporter as regards the issue raised by a Turkish politician concerning the Aegean islets of Agathonissi and Farmakonissi and the alleged reactions on behalf the Turkish foreign ministry, Delavekouras said "there is no vagueness in the sovereignty of even an inch of Greek territory as it was recently emphasised by the foreign minister."

    "The reality is clear and nobody can dispute it. Greece will not tolerate and will not accept any contestation. There is no room for doubting the sovereignty of any part of the Greek territory," he said.

    Regarding the visit by a group of Turkish citizens to Agathonissi on Wednesday, Delavekouras said Greek authorities' response was "immediate", stressing that the Turkish citizens left the area after it was pointed out that having the necessary legal documents with them was imperative.

    "It is self-evident that Turkey, being in an election campaign period, should display a measure of seriousness and responsibility," he said.

    [06] Foreign ministry spokesman on Albanian municipal elections

    Greek Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday appealed to Albania's political leadership for "self-restraint and maturity", in the wake of the municipal elections and the problems appearing regarding the results in Tirana.

    The Greek official noted that "generally speaking and despite specific problems" the process developed "smoothly", a fact that is attributed "to a great degree" to the noteworthy maturity shown by the electorate."

    However, he underlined that "the problems being observed in counting in the municipality of Tirana, deal a blow at the relatively positive image of the process" and appealed to all forces "for legality and normalcy to prevail, for the country's access prospect to the EU to be strengthened."

    The spokesman added that "in this effort they will find a strong ally in Greece, which has proved in practice that it supports Albania's approach to the euro-atlantic structures."

    [07] Medium-Term Stability Programme to cabinet next week, gov't says

    Government spokesman George Petalotis once again ruled out all possibility that Greece will restructure its debt on Thursday, saying that the government "is chiefly concerned with implementing the Medium-Term Stability Programme in order to bring the country out of the crisis". He said this will be discussed by the cabinet at the beginning of next week.

    Asked whether the prime minister would deliver a national address after the approval of the Medium-Term Programme, Petalotis gave a negative reply and said that this was not the time for "drama", adding that the way that the programme would be announced had not yet been decided.

    He did reveal that the government had decided to call each of the opposition party leaders for one-on-one meetings with the prime minister after the programme was approved, in order to brief them on what had been decided and exchange views.

    A proposal by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis for an "government of experts" not aligned with any political party was not among the options currently being considered by the government, Petalotis added.

    [08] Ragoussis denies differences with finmin on ASEP evaluation for transferred staff

    Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Thursday denied that there was any difference of opinion between Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and himself on whether employees should first be assessed by the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP) before being transferred from a public-sector service or agency due to be downsized or abolished to another public-sector job.

    Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Ragoussis noted that transfers were being treated as new hiring and an evaluation process was essential. He challenged main opposition New Democracy to adopt a position on whether employees that failed such assessment should continue to burden the Greek tax-payer's pocket.

    He also clarified that employees with prior disciplinary offences would no be eligible for transfer and left open the possibility of an assessment of public services and civil servants.

    The minister said that once the draft bill of e-government was passed the 'income and assets' statements of MPs will be posted on the Internet, in collaboration with Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos and Parliament vice-president Evangelos Argyris.

    Ragoussis also referred to the prompt action taken by the government in October 2009 to reduce the number of public-sector staff, whose numbers had been slashed by roughly 100,000 people by the failure to renew temporary 'stage' contracts and a freeze on new hiring, saying that this was one of the reasons why there was now less pressure on the government from the EU-ECB-IMF troika to immediately fire 200,000 people from the public sector.

    [09] ND on consensus; student elections

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Thursday stated that the government's actions show that it is not interested in reaching a consensus and used as an example ND legislative proposals rejected in parliament by the ruling PASOK.

    Mihelakis stressed that "the major challenge faced by the government is coordination", referring to contradictory statements made by government ministers.

    ND development sector head Costis Hatzidakis, who was present in the press briefing, underlined the gradually deteriorating economic figures focusing on economic growth. He stressed that the country needs actions and reminded the recently unveiled ND proposals aimed at leading the country out of the crisis.

    ND leader Antonis Samaras will visit the ONNED headquarters on Thursday afternoon to congratulate the ND youth organization for its good showing in the university student elections held on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, ONNED president Andreas Papamimikos underlined the notable increase of student participation in the voting process.

    [10] Opinion poll: 62pct opposed to Memorandum

    Some 62 percent of respondents to an opinion poll conducted on behalf of private SKAI television by Public Issue were opposed to the Memorandum.

    The poll, the results of which were presented Wednesday night on a SKAI television program, was conducted on the completion of one year since the signing of the Memorandum.

    According to the results, 62 percent of the respondents were against the Memorandum, just 15 percent were in favor, and 19 percent said it had neither benefited nor harmed the economy, while 3 percent expressed no opinion.

    Asked to evaluate the Memorandum, 62 percent of the respondents said it had harmed the economy, 13 percent said it had benefited the economy, 18 percent said it had neither harmed nor benefited the economy, and 1 percent said it had somewhat benefited or somewhat hurt the economy, while 5 percent took no position.

    To a question on the necessity of the Memorandum, 69 percent of the respondents said the Memorandum was not the only solution, while 24 percent considered it the only option. The corresponding percentages from a similar opinion poll in April were 62 percent and 30 percent respectively.

    Further, 33 percent of the respondents held the politicians responsible for the situation, 21 percent considered the Greek governments responsible, 13 percent held mismanagement to blame, another 13 percent put the blame on corruption, and 11 percent said that all the Greeks were to blame.

    Finally, 64 percent of the respondents considered Greece's bankruptcy a possibility, while 32 percent said bankruptcy was not a possibility. The correspondent percentages from a similar poll in February 2010 were 38 percent and 59 percent respectively.

    [11] Theodorakis received by President, protests Memorandum

    Prestigious Greek composer and veteran politician Mikis Theodorakis, best known abroad for the film scores of 'Zorba the Greek,' 'Serpico' and ambitious 'symphonic' Greek music like Canto General, was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday.

    During the meeting, the composer lodged an official objection to the Memorandum signed by Greece for the EU financial aid package, questioning whether this was compatible with the country's Constitution.

    Theodorakis, who launched an independent citizens' movement called 'Spitha' in 2010 after the Greek debt crisis emerged, was accompanied by constitutional law expert George Kasimatis.

    "The Memorandum and loan agreements are constitutionally invalid, since they were not signed by three fifths of Parliament, nor by the President of the Republic but only by the Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou," Theodorakis said in a statement as he emerged from the meeting.

    "With [Prime Minister George Papandreou's] unacceptable surrender we conceded a part of our national sovereignty. We had said that if the Memorandum was implemented our country would be led into chaos. We have reached the point of no return. There is no other solution. This is why the government is seeking support in consensus and Europe is almost extortionately saying that there must be national unity. But how can this happen when the two largest parties cannot even claim 40 percent [of the vote]," he added.

    According to Kasimatis, Greece was a "country under occupation" and the only solution was for people to take matters into their own hands. He asserted that the terms contained in the Memorandum violated all the fundamental principles of the Constitution, European legality and international law.

    [12] First 14 detention and initial reception centres for immigrants to be created

    The first 14 detention centres and initial reception centres for immigrants will be created by decision of Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis. The centres, in many parts of the country, will function with modern specifications and with supportive measures for local societies.

    Moreover, in cooperation with the Environment, Energy and Climatic Change ministry and as minister Tina Birbili announced, incentives will be provided for infrastructure projects in the regions with funding either by the Environment operational programme or the Green Fund.

    [13] SYRIZA presents proposals on crime to Citizen's Protection Minister

    Receiving Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday, Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis noted his concern over a rise in violent crime but also his conviction that the measures announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou for the centre of Athens will yield results.

    Tsipras paid a visit to Papoutsis, accompanied by two SYRIZA MPs, in order to present SYRIZA'S proposals for dealing with violence and illegal migration, reviving the historic centre of Athens and democratisation of law enforcement agencies.

    "I am concerned by the fact that there are many people that carry a gun on them and use it, apparently with great ease," Papoutsis remarked during the meeting, referring to Wednesday's shootout that left two police officers and one suspect injured in Pefki, now in the hands of the counter-terrorism squad.

    "Dealing with violence demands awakening the democratic awareness of the citizens and mobilising everyone so as to make it clear to the whole of society that violence and fear have no place in a modern democracy," Papoutsis said after the meeting.

    The minister also assured Tsipras that the Greek police would do their job with "self-denial and discipline" and with absolute respect for the laws, using only the legally sanctioned level of force.

    [14] Environment ministry to spend 171.59 million euro on forest fire protection

    The Environment and Climate Change ministry on Thursday announced that 171.59 million euro will be spent on actions to protect vulnerable woodlands from fire. The money will be used fund fire-protection works carried out by forest authorities and local authorities, who are called upon to submit their proposals for funding by September 30, 2011.

    Up to 14,986,962 million euro will be used to open and improve road networks within forests that are economically exploited, with the aim of improving conditions of mountain populations and developing eco-tourism.

    A further 40.5 million euro is earmarked for works for fire-protection zones and fire-prevention, 22.5 million euro for water-course management works and 93.6 million euro for reforestation, anti-flooding and anti-erosion works in burnt forests.

    [15] Alternate Environment minister at informal ministerial meeting in Budapest

    BUDAPEST (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greek Alternate Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Nikos Sifounakis, highlighted Greece's position that the introduction of the term of "islandness" in article 174 of the Lisbon Treaty is necessary, in the framework of the European Union's Political Cohesion. He was speaking on Thursday at the Informal Council of Ministers of Land Planning and Territorial Development in Budapest, in the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2011.

    He also underlined Greece's interest in strengthening accessibility, which constitutes the main precondition for the development of islands, aiming at the development of those productive activities functioning attractively for housing and employment, while in parallel reflecting the land identity of islands, such as mild tourist activity that is linked with the special architectural and town planning form of these islands' settlements.

    The main issue discussed at the Informal Council was the way with which the priorities set by the "Land Agenda 2020" will be taken into consideration in sectoral policies, during the implementation of the "Strategy-Europe 2020" and political cohesion after 2013.

    [16] Chinese journalists meet gov't spokesman, media gen. sec

    A delegation of Chinese journalists that are currently on a visit to Greece was received by Deputy Interior Minister and government spokesman George Petalotis on Thursday. Also present during the meeting was Information and Communication General Secretary Giorgos Petroulakis.

    Petalotis briefed the visiting Chinese journalists on the status and operation of the media in Greece and the actions and policy adopted by the Greek government in order to deal with Greece's debt crisis.

    He said that the Greek government hoped to overcome the problems through the reforms now being adopted and stressed the need for closer cooperation between Greece and China in all areas.

    The delegation were among the first passengers to arrive in Athens on a resumed 'Air China' flight service from Beijing to Athens via Munich, which Greek authorities hope will boost the numbers of Chinese tourists arriving in the country.

    [17] Delegation of French MPs visit Greek Parliament

    Greek Parliament vice-president Rodoula Zisi on Thursday had a meeting with a visiting delegation of French MPs.

    During the meeting, she referred to the economic crisis in the Eurozone and stressed the need for a common European policy initiative for economic governance in the Eurozone. She also called for measures to deal with speculators and better oversight of global financial markets.

    The French MPs referred to Greece's contribution to the development of European and French civilisation, as well as the sacrifices and determination of the Greek people during the current crisis for the economy.

    [18] Planning for dispatch of mobile medical unit to Libya progressing smoothly

    The planning for the dispatch of a Greek mobile medical unit to Libya is progressing smoothly, and a team that will prepare the installation of the unit will depart this weekend on a C130 military aircraft, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Thursday.

    He added that, in the next step, the relevant supplies will be transported by ship.

    Delavekouras added that 10 doctors and three representatives of the foreign ministry will be taking part in the mobile unit.

    Financial News

    [19] Environment minister: Greece within targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

    Greece is within the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the roadmap for the transition to a low carbon economy that looks, inter alia, to covering 100 percent of the country's electricity needs with Renewable Energy Sources (RES) will be completed by the end of summer, Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili said Thursday, addressing the 15th Economist Round Table with the Greek Government on the theme "In the aftermath of the global economic crisis: What next?"

    According to figures cited by the minister, carbon dioxide emissions have already been reduced to 23 percent above the base year, against a target of 25 percent by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, and emissions are continuing to decline.

    On the roadmap to the year 2050, which will soon be put to public debate, Birbili said it will contain the following targets:


    Meeting 100 percent of electrical energy production through RES

    Increasing installed RES power to 40 GW (giga-watt) from 15 GW in 2020

    Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent

    Containment of energy consumption at the present levels

    Increase in transport activity conducted by rail

    Energy upgrading of buildings

    Increased use of biomass and biofuel

    Improvement and extension of energy transport networks

    Increase of energy storage capacity, chiefly with dams and electricity-powered vehicles

    Improvement of productivity in the energy sector.

    Birbili explained that the roadmap is founded on existing technologies, and pending is the calculation of the cost-benefit of the relevant actions.

    At European level, she continued, the transition to a low carbon economy translates into the creation of 6 million new jobs and an increase in the European GDP by 6 percent.

    Birbili further said that the tragic events in Fukushima and unrest in the Middle East have shown that a change of the growth model is mandatory in order to meet the challenges, and reiterated the Greek government's opposition to the use of nuclear energy.

    [20] Deputy FM declares start of Greek-Egyptian business forum

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA - L. Papathanassiou)

    Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Thursday officially declared the start of a Greek-Egyptian business forum in Cairo, in which more than 100 business people from Greece and Egypt participated.

    Kouvelis said his visit to Cairo was important because it was taking place at a time full of hope, when Egypt was in the process of changing and recreating itself. He expressed the opinion that the changes would soon be followed by growth, especially in industry and tourism.

    "We have come to build new bridges of cooperation between our two peoples and to boost enterprise between the two states," he said.

    Kouvelis referred to tourism as an area with high potential for cooperation between Greece and Egypt. He also noted Greece's satisfaction that, throughout the period of the Egyptian revolution of January 25, Greek businesses based in Egypt had been very well treated and had remained in the country, supporting the Egyptian people.

    Referring to Greece's economic problems, Kouvelis said an immense effort was underway to rebuild the Greek economy and that as many reforms had been carried out during the past year as in all the previous 30 years put together.

    There is an estimated 1.0-1.4 billion euro of Greek capital invested in Egypt, with 120 Greek companies operating in the country. According to the Greek statistical authority ELSTAT, Greek exports to Egypt in 2010 increased by 31.3 percent relative to 2009 and came to 208.66 million euro. Greek imports from Egypt increased 16.2 percent and the trade deficit was reduced by 10 pct. Egypt's ranking as a customer for Greek products rose two places to 19th and its ranking as a supplier of Greece also rose to 31st from 34th in 2009

    [21] Employers' federation chief to political parties: 'Tell people the truth'

    The head of Greece's largest employers' association on Thursday strongly criticised the domestic political world's inability to rapidly promote necessary reforms, as he said, noting that the private sector in the country was already suffering massively from the crisis.

    "We are not promoting necessary reforms for more than a year. Instead, we politically and ethically undermine the efforts of the citizens. This cannot continue. Political parties have not told the truth to the people. If we do not make it, we will starve. We have a final chance to get out of the dead-end if we want to avoid the responsibility of bankruptcy," Dimitris Daskalo-poulos, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, Daskalopoulos said the private sector was already suffering from the crisis with thousands of business closures and 200,000 unemployed, while he stressed that the private sector cannot bear the burden of useless state agencies, organizations and political party relations.

    Daskalopoulos stressed it was important to lift the uncertainty over a possible bankruptcy since the country has great prospects for growth and noted that the private sector must cut its relations of subsidies with the state. "It must cut this relation with the state and move out to international markets where it has the possibility of competing," he noted.

    He said the Federation will present a detailed survey on the Greek economy, offering a new growth and business model.

    [22] Hospital doctor unions seek to block hospital mergers

    Unions of hospital doctors in Greece on Thursday stressed their intention to block hospital mergers planned by the government, saying they would enlist the aid of local mayors and municipal councils.

    The head of their union federation stressed that the planned mergers were dangerous and would lead to us "mourning victims" since people who fell ill would be unable to reach hospitals to receive first aid on time.

    Doctors assert that the state health system requires an additional 6,500 doctors to work efficiently, noting that the greatest shortages in medical staff were in the hospitals and health centres on the islands and remote areas.

    They accused Health Minister Andreas Loverdos of being insufficiently acquainted with the issues and using advisors of "doubtful ability" as well as failing to talk with those actually working within the national health system.

    [23] PPC employees block entrance to finance ministry in 'symbolic takeover'

    Members of the Public Power Corporation's (PPC) employees' federation GENOP early Thursday staged a symbolic takeover at the entrance of the finance ministry in downtown Athens, blocking finance minister George Papaconstantinou and ministry employees from entering the building.

    The PPC employees are protesting government plans for privatisation of the Corporation and demand a meeting with Papaconstantinou.

    GENOP president Nikos Fotopoulos told ANA-MPA that the takeover is symbolic and will last for a few hours, adding that more mobilisations are being planned.

    [24] Business Briefs

    -- The Greek government will sign the first concession contracts for regional airports to private investors in 2012, the government announced on Thursday.

    -- Folli Follie and Fosun International on Thursday signed a memorandum of cooperation, laying the ground for a strategic alliance between the two groups. The agreement was hailed by government officials and representative of the business world during a news conference.

    -- Jumbo Group -a Greek-listed toy store chain - on Thursday reported a small decline in its turnover and net profits in the nine-month period from July 2010 to March 2011, saying that a combination of an economic recession, strike mobilizations, high lending interest rates and a changing international economic and geopolitical environment did not affect consumers' appetite for the group's products.

    -- Domestic mutual funds reported an increase in their assets to 8.04 billion euros and positive returns in the first quarter of 2011, official figures showed on Thursday.

    -- An Hellenic Exchanges general shareholders' meeting on Thursday approved a board plan to pay a 0.15 euros per share dividend to shareholders. The dividend is subject to a 21-pct withholding tax leaving a net dividend of 0.1185 euros per share.

    [25] Stocks continue moving lower

    Stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, reversing an early advance, as sellers took the upper hand in the market late at the session, copying Wednesday's behavior. The composite index of the market fell 0.44 pct to end at 1,322.27 points, after rising as much as 1.03 pct during the day. Turnover was a low 90.595 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.60 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.21 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 0.56 pct. Motor Oil (3.5 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (1.67 pct) and Cyprus Bank (0.90 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while ATEbank (3.77 pct), Viohalco (3.35 pct), MIG (3.39 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (3.37 pct) were top losers.

    The Media (4.48 pct), Food (1.66 pct) and Chemicals (1.51 pct) scored gains, while the Health (6.67 pct) and Telecoms (2.70 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 74 to 65 with another 41 issues unchanged. Athens Electronic (19.35 pct), Pegasus (9.09 pct) and Kyriakoulis (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Unibios (16.67 pct), Alapis (15.56 pct) and Paperpack (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -1.43%

    Commercial: -0.18%

    Construction: -0.35%

    Media: +4.48%

    Oil & Gas: -0.95%

    Personal & Household: -1.77%

    Raw Materials: -0.02%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.14%

    Technology: -0.03%

    Telecoms: -2.70%

    Banks: -0.50%

    Food & Beverages: +1.66%

    Health: -6.67%

    Utilities: -1.11%

    Chemicals: +1.51%

    Financial Services: -1.05%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.44

    ATEbank: 0.51

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.15

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.68

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.89

    National Bank of Greece: 4.78

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.26

    OPAP: 13.40

    OTE: 6.84

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.04

    Titan: 16.95

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 12.80 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 12.65 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 15.93 pct and the German Bund 3.13 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 30 million euros, of which 23 million were sell orders and the remaining 7.0 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 15 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.15 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.24 pct.

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.447

    Pound sterling 0.894

    Danish kroner 7.569

    Swedish kroner 9.098

    Japanese yen 118.58

    Swiss franc 1.280

    Norwegian kroner 7.990

    Canadian dollar 1.401

    Australian dollar 1.358

    General News

    [28] ANA-MPA Chinese-language webpage

    The ANA-MPA on Thursday inaugurated its Chinese-language webpage on a pilot basis, an unprecedented initiative by a European news agency aimed at the world's largest community of Internet users and the second biggest economy worldwide.

    Greece's national news agency aspires to serve as the pre-eminent and most reliable source of information and news for Chinese speakers on the Internet regarding issues emanating from and concerning the east Mediterranean country.

    [29] Parliament observes minute of silence for Pontian Greek genocide

    The Greek parliament observed a minute of silence on Thursday in honor of the Pontian Greek genocide victims.

    May 19 is the date chosen by Parliament as a national memorial day for commemorating the massacre of some 353,000 Greeks of Pontus (Black Sea coast) in 1919 by Ottoman forces.

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos underlined that "this day reminds us of the tragic consequences of hatred and violence that come from nationalist and religious fanaticism?Historical knowledge of the past is a basic precondition in preventing such phenomena".

    A message by World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis underlined that the Greeks living abroad honor the memory of the thousands of victims of the Pontian Genocide that also had "devastating consequences for those who survived".

    [30] Greek painters exhibition in Thessaloniki

    Works by noted Greek painters inspired by the sea are currently on display in Thessaloniki in an exhibition entitled "Thalassodromio" (The Way of the Sea).

    Paintings and seascapes by Yannis Tsarouchis, Costas Tsoklis, Alekos Fassianos, Spyros Vassileiou and other noted Greek painters depicting the sea and other related themes such as ships, beaches, the islands, coasts and rocky cliffs will be on display at the art halls "Eirmos" and "Metamorphosis" in Thessaloniki through 25 June.

    [31] Israeli journalists visit Veria synagogue

    A group of journalists from Israel on Thursday visited a noted medieval Jewish synagogue in the north-central city of Veria, the only centuries-old synagogue in northern Greece that is preserved intact.

    Eleven Israeli journalists had the opportunity to learn about the history of the Jews in Veria, visit the synagogue, tour the old Jewish quarter and observe the traditional Sephardic architecture in the quarter.

    Veria Mayor Haroula Ousoultzoglou told ANA-MPA that the visit was the result of recent contacts with tour operators from Israel, underlining that the region has attracted strong tourism interest.

    The Jewish presence in Veria dates to 200 BC while the Sephardic quarter was built in the 19th century.

    [32] 2 foreign nationals arrested in fatal mugging that sparked protests.

    Authorities on Thursday announced the arrests of two suspects in the fatal mugging of 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris in an Athens inner city district last week, when the victim attempted to retrieve his car to carry his wife to a maternity ward to give birth to their second child.

    The shocking incident generated heated protests in the area -- near Victoria square -- with far-rightists groups rallying at the site of the killing against the presence of illegal migrants in the city's centre, followed by counter-rallies by ultra-leftists.

    Both of the suspects were identified as Afghan nationals, presumably illegal migrants. A third man, also described as an Afghan, is wanted.

    [33] Shootout suspect's photo released to media

    The Special Violent Crimes Squad has undertaken the investigation on Wednesday's shootout in the northern Athens suburb of Pefki in which two police officers and one of the two armed men involved in the incident were injured. A second suspect managed to flee using the police patrol car.

    The hand pistol found at the scene of the shootout has not been used in terrorist attacks according to the results of the ballistics tests conducted by the police.

    Police have released the photograph of the injured suspect currently hospitalized under guard to the media and appealed to the public for information about his identity.

    The police patrol car with the two officers was dispatched to respond to a call of disorderly conduct and, while on the way to the scene, had stopped to check the identities of two individuals that aroused the patrol officers' suspicions. The suspects fled on foot and shot at the two police officers who returned fire.

    The patrol car used by one of the assailants was later found abandoned in the district of Kifissia.

    [34] Jewellery store owner wounded in attempted robbery

    A 43-year-old jeweller, shot in his store in the Athens district of Kato Patissia at noon on Thursday, was in critical condition at an Athens hospital.

    According to police, two people appeared at the jewellery store as customers, but the owner did not open the door and they smashed the glass pane at the entrance and rushed in.

    The owner then sounded the alarm, the perpetrators shot him three times with a pistol and fled the scene without taking anything with them.

    It was ascertained that he has three bullet wounds, one of which close to his heart.

    [35] Flower show at Kotzia Square from May 20

    The Athens Flower Show, featuring more than 600 varieties of ornamental plants and flowers that Athenians can admire or even buy, is to be held in Kotzia Square opposite the Athens Town Hall from May 20 until June 5.

    The flower show is being organised jointly by the Athens municipality and the Attica Plant Nursery Association.

    Athens Mayor George Kaminis said the municipality was seeking to raise environmental awareness via the flower show, using it to promote issues such as recycling and active participation in keeping the city clean.

    To this end, the Flower Show will for the first time also include an Environment Week lasting from May 28 until June 5, with a series of events and recycling as its central theme. The municipality will also have a pavilion for the Urban Fauna Service to promote protection of stray animals, where members of the public will be able to adopt stray puppies. Another aim of the flower show is to promote use of local plant species and raising awareness and public participation in the planting of more greenery in Athens.

    [36] Fish with...human-like lips

    A strange-looking fish with human-like lips and teeth was caught last Sunday by a local fisherman off the coasts of Sykia in Halkidiki, northern Greece.

    The 45-year-old fisherman told ANA-MPA that the 40-cm-long fish had a round shape, rough skin and weighted roughly 700 grams.

    "I haven't seen anything like it before," he said, "it managed to survive outside the water for more than five hours. It had an unusual skin and gills were absent replaced by a tiny opening it used in breathing."

    The fish, believed to have migrated to the area from warmer waters, will be examined in Aristotle University laboratories in Thessaloniki to determine its origin.

    Weather Forecast

    [37] Fair on Friday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 26C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 12C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 25C.

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

    Speculated layoffs in wider public sector and the ceiling on pensions in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO), and banks' and government's movements towards a rapid privatisation, dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government a tower of Babel over the measures".

    AVGHI: "Eurogroup president Jean Claude Juncker's statement: 'What will happen in Greece is beyond imagination".

    AVRIANI: "The sold out to the Troika - Government on the verge of collapse".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Mass layoffs and ceiling on pensions".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: 'End to hirings - Start of layoffs".

    ESTIA: "Consensus imperative".

    ETHNOS: "Government opened the door for layoffs in public sector".

    IMERISSIA: "Government starts privatisations - The listed DEKO first on the list".

    KATHIMERINI: "Layoffs in public sector and 6 billion euros in measures".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Privatisations package for immediate collection of 4.5 billion euros".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party of Greece leader Aleka Papariga's press conference: Popular manipulation by the policy of the capital".

    TA NEA: "Pensions: Ceiling at 2,775 euros in DEKO and banks".

    VRADYNI: "Retirement at the age of 67 and suspension of early pensions".

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

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