|Tuesday, 17 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 28 May 2011 Issue No: 3798
 PM: No snap election; all measures will be takenPrime Minister George Papandreou, speaking hours after a meeting between party leaders chaired by President Karolos Papoulias, on Friday evening stressed that elections will take place on time in 2013, dashing speculation over snap elections in case consensus is not achieved amid the ongoing economic and fiscal crisis.
Papandreou pointed out that he and his government intend to take all necessary decisions to achieve the target of rescuing the country, and without calculating the political costs. At the same time, as he noted, "we shall continue the effort for a common understanding, for the good of the country."
However, he stressed that he is open to further discussions and specific steps for a national consensus, as he again called on opposition parties to abandon conventional opposition tactics in light of the national target of exiting the crisis unscathed.
The prime minister further said he called on the party leaders to help as well, as the Greek people are doing, for the country's borrowing to be secure now and in the future.
Papandreou proposed to the party leaders, among others, "to work together for the major changes for which our society is thirsty for. We must respond to the demand of the citizens, who do not want a political-economic system in which the logic of looting, selfishness and appropriation was dominant."
"... we must give a reply to the immediate and vital problem of debt and deficits, in cooperation with our partners," he said, while deriding what he called the purveyors of "disastrous scenarios of our country's exit from the euro..."
"We put an end to the deficits and go towards a balanced budget, with the exception of interest, meaning a primary surplus as of next year, in 2012 ... we must all take the bold decision to decrease an ineffective, unproductive and clientele swollen state, which our country can no longer lift."
 Bid for consensus fails; PM rules out electionsConsensus proved elusive for Greece's political leaders on Friday despite urgent pressure from the country's European partners. Despite talks lasting well over three hours, they failed to agree on the measures for exiting the dire crisis, following a closely watched council chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
A 20-minute private meeting between Papoulias and Prime Minister George Papandreou followed, after which the prime minister indicated that he would not call snap elections but "proceed alone" according to ANA-MPA sources.
The 3.5-hour meeting between the PM and the opposition leaders ended just after 4 p.m. and the atmosphere was visibly subdued and grim as they emerged.
According to sources within New Democracy party, Samaras declined to offer his party's support of the Memorandum reiterating that it is "incorrect", while again calling for a renegotiation of the bailout package. Moreover, he reportedly also rejected a proposal by Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis for the creation of an "ecumenical government". Samaras said the latter would be unconstitutional.
All refused to make public statements after the meeting, except Karatzaferis, who commented bitterly that ?unfortunately, some people's 'seat' is above Greece".
"The people did not understand that if Evrybiades hadn't come to an agreement with Themistocles in 480 B.C. that history would have written neither about them nor the date," he added.
 Papoulias' remarks in political leaders' council meetingPresident Karolos Papoulias opened the political leaders' meeting on Friday with an appeal for political leaders to realise the gravity of the situation and allow a national understanding to prevail.
Addressing the five political party leaders attending the meeting, Papoulias said "this is a moment of big decisions and it is important to reach an understanding", according to ANA-MPA sources.
He underlined that political powers have a historic duty to reach an understanding and stressed that "there is room for convergence on important issues".
According to the same sources, Papoulias repeated that social cohesion must be preserved and the financially weak should be protected.
Afterwards, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas took the stand and outlined the economic situation and the international environment the country is up against.
 ND: 'Gov't has no willingness for Memorandum renegotiation'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Friday announced his rejection of previous policies proposed by the government for exiting the ongoing dire economic crisis, insisting on the need to renegotiate the terms of the Memorandum for the EC-ECB-IMF bailout to Greece.
Speaking to the press after the political leaders' meeting chaired by President Karolos Papoulias, he spoke of a "complete dead end" while he accused the government of "showing no willingness to consent to the renegotiation of the memorandum".
"We have suggested the strongest basis for consensus, namely, a consensus on the renegotiation of the memorandum terms with an emphasis on lower tax indices, as well as, on the measures aimed at boosting economy and cutting extraordinary expenditures," he said. "The government has no desire to consent to a renegotiation; just like when there was no negotiation on its behalf when it accepted the memorandum," he stressed.
Samaras said that the prime minister will discuss the tax policy only if the troika is convinced.
He also accused the premier that "after a week of a strategy of fear, he requested a meeting of the political leaders that lacked content, having nothing new to put on the table."
"We will not give our seal of approval to a policy that levels off the economy and tears down society. We will not put our signature under a policy that drifts away from its goals. We will not accept blackmails that cancel out the meaning and essence of our Democracy," he said.
He underlined that the only way out for the country is to renegotiate the memorandum in order to give the economy a breathing space and be able to exit the crisis.
Samaras said that he has proposed a different plan that is based on fewer taxes to allow the economy to work. "Only then, there will be revenues for the citizens and the state. Only then, we will have recovery and growth."
He concluded that the prime minister said that he is "ready to incorporate some of our proposals into the government plan leaving out, however, the most important element namely, the reduction of tax indices without which there will be no results and the restart of the economy will be impossible to achieve."
 KKE's Papariga rejects PM's proposal for consensusOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga stated that she absolutely disagreed 100 with the prime minister during the political party leaders' council meeting held earlier on Friday, stressing that "there is no common ground".
In a press conference immediately after the meeting that was chaired by the President of the Republic, Papariga accused the prime minister of seeking to share the responsibility in the negotiation with the troika; admitted that the country has a complex and tough road ahead and spoke about terrorizing ideological violence. She also did not rule out the likelihood of snap elections or a "blackmailing" referendum.
Papariga spoke about a real crisis not created by the memorandum, targeting labour rights and conquests. She underlined that the reorganization of the political system is an urgent need and called on the people to avoid the trap of compromise under the threat of bankruptcy.
 Tsipras: 'Papandreou lacks courage to admit failure'Accusing Prime Minister George Papandreou of "not having the courage to admit his failure", Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday said that the government's call for political consensus on a new round of even harsher Memorandum policies was an attempt to "duck out" of the responsibility after leading the country down a dead end.
In statements after a council of political leaders chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Tsipras said the meeting had been "an open admission of failure of the policy of the Memorandum and the choices of the government and prime minister". He accused Papandreou of now using extortionist dilemmas to extract an anti-popular consent from the political right in order to continue the same dead-end policy.
SYRIZA's leader appeared fairly positively disposed to early elections, saying that this was the way that deadlocks were resolved in a democracy, while he also appeared open to the prospect of a referendum on the Memorandum provided this was not "couched in extortionist terms".
On the prospect of a Greek default, Tsipras played down this possibility as a form of blackmail that had been heard for the past week and "a strategy employed by the government that had no basis".
"At the same time that our creditors say that they cannot cope with a restructuring, they are saying that they are ready for us to be led to default and to lose everything," he pointed out.
 Bid for consensus not over, government sources sayThe effort for consensus has not been given up in spite of the apparent failure of an earlier political leaders' council convened by the president, government sources said late on Friday.
"There is not a Cold War climate. On our side the issue of reaching understanding is not over," the sources said after the meeting. According to their estimates, the climate and the way the political party leaders had dealt with the situation left some "chinks" for holding a discussion, even though there had not been any overall shift in the party leaders' positions.
They said the government had sought the meeting and was striving for political consensus on the measures because the country was at a critical juncture and there was no room for backtracking. They made it clear, however, that this not because Greece was at risk of being expelled from the eurozone, dismissing such talk as a 'joke'.
Relaying what happened during the leaders' council, they said that Prime Minister George Papandreou had made specific proposals to the party leaders, as well as asking them to agree to certain fundamental goals.
The prime minister had also indicated the government's willingness to negotiate on certain issues, such as placing individuals agreed on by all the parties in key positions, such as the Public Property Fund, or hold joint meetings with troika officials.
On the contentious issue of raising taxes, which was the focus of objections from main opposition New Democracy in particular, Papandreou said he was open to suggestions on avoiding this but stressed the need to replace the higher taxes with measures leading to an equivalent reduction in the public deficit.
Another of his proposals was a meeting between the economic teams of each party but this, according to government sources, received no reply from the party leaders.
The same sources repeated that there was no question of holding early elections while they ruled out the prospect of an all-party government, saying the government was prepared to consider the participation of individuals accepted by all parties for key positions but not as ministers.
 Efforts to achieve intraparty agreement must be continued, Commissioner Rehn saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Economy Comissioner Olli Rehn, in a written statement on Friday, expressed the European Commission's regret over the failure of consensus between the political party leaders in Greece regarding economic adjustment, to enable the current debt crisis to be overcome.
The EU commissioner stresses that efforts for achieving an interparty agreement for support for the joint EU/ECB/IMF programme must be continued. "An agreement must be found soon. Time is running out," Rehn said.
According to the Finnish commissioner, "it is of decisive importance for the recovery of the Greek economy for all the Greek political parties, including the opposition parties, to adopt a constructive stance and support the programme's implementation."
Rehn concluded that "the extent of the challenge constitutes a test for Greek society in its entirety and for this reason it demands the contribution of all parties and citizens."
 Democratic Alliance leader Bakoyiannis addresses inaugural congressDemocratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyiannis, addressing her party's inaugural congress on Friday evening, claimed that "it is being confirmed that the petty partisan mentalities with which the generations of postjunta politicians were brought up are leading Greece to bankruptcy."
Bakoyiannis said that "the political leaderships of the two formerly big parties have failed to rise to the occasion, have proved to be unwilling and incompetent at the same time to respond to the call of history" and requested that the minutes of the council of party leaders under the President of the Republic on Friday be publicised. "The Greek people are entitled to read them, to know who are they who at the time of the big crisis thought selfishly and functioned with yesterday's mentalities," she said.
The Democratic Alliance leader reminded that her party "was the first to speak in all tones of the need for national consensus."
"We did not speak of understanding and consensus with (Prime Minister George) Mr. Papandreou. The Papandreou government is finished. We requested understanding for Greece. Understanding on the basis of major reforms that are necessary. Understanding on the basis of what the parties cannot do by themselves," she clarified and then spoke of political and business interests in Greece that are investing in bankruptcy and the return to the drachma.
 GNTO office in Berlin vandalisedBERLIN (ANA-MPA/Y. Pappas)
The Greek National Tourism Office (GNTO) and Greek Consulate office in Berlin was attacked in the early morning hours of Friday by a group of 10-15 vandals wearing masks, resulting in extensive material damage to the GNTO facility.
The vandals broke the glass entrance door to the GNTO office on the ground floor of the building and caused substantial damage to the facility.
They also threw black paint at the building and bottles, which reached the balcony of the third floor, where the Greek Consulate is housed.
According to the account of an eye-witness, who alerted the police, the vandals spoke fluent German.
The assailants left an unsigned proclamation at the scene with an anti-capitalist content, calling their attack an act of solidarity with those who have recently faced "state terrorism".
The German police are investigation the circumstances of the attack and are searching for the perpetrators.
 German FM deplores Greek Consulate vandalismGerman Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in a communication he had with his Greek counterpart Dimitris Droutsas, expressed regret for acts of vandalism targeting the Greek Consulate in Berlin, it was announced on Friday.
The German foreign minister said that such actions were condemnable and do not reflect Germany's feelings toward Greece, adding that all efforts will be made to arrest the culprits and bring them to justice.
German Deputy Foreign Minister Wolf-Ruthart Born has contacted the Greek ambassador to Berlin on the issue as well.
 Latest 'sit down' protest at Syntagma SquareAnother "Los Indignados" style rally was held on Friday afternoon in downtown Syntagma Square in Athens, while on Sunday rallies are to be held in all European capitals.
For two days the mostly social media-fueled call to Syntagma Square met with increased response. Groups of young people, families, senior citizens, and even pupils with their teachers were present at the mass protest -- unprecedented by Greek standards, as there was little or no visible influence by trade unions, political parties or any of a variety of ideological fronts.
Hundreds of people also continued their mobilisation before the White Tower in Thessaloniki for the second day on Thursday.
 Humanitarian aid to BenghaziThe Greek-flagged cargo ship "Aghios Rafael" will set sail on Friday afternoon from the port of Salamina for Benghazi, Libya, loaded with 30 tons of Greek humanitarian aid.
The humanitarian aid was collected by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff and includes food, medicine and blankets.
Two Foreign Ministry executives will escort the dispatch with is scheduled to arrive in Benghazi in 36-40 hours.
Two Greek Foreign Ministry Hellenic Aid department staff members will accompany the mission, which is expected to reach Benghazi in 36-40 hours from sail.
The aid will be received by the foreign ministry team that is already in Benghazi in cooperation with corresponding EU and UN teams.
Alternate Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis will be in Salamina to oversee the departure of the aid.
 Commission awaiting results of a troika visit to AthensBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
The European Commission on Friday said it was awaiting for the results of a troika visit to Athens in order to reach a decision on whether Greece fulfilled preconditions for the release of a fifth tranche of a loan agreement signed between Greece, the EU and the IMF. The statement was made by Amelia Torres, the European Commission's spokeswoman.
The EU executive's spokeswoman said it was of great significance to have detailed information over additional measures needed and Greece's funding needs for 2012. Torres said Greek authorities must offer guarantees for achieving fiscal goals in 2011 and promoting structural reforms and privatizations. Commenting on reservations expressed by IMF officials over the continuation of financial support to Greece, Torres said it was a known rule, included in the Fund's statute, which was implemented in all IMF support programmes.
 Greece can repay its debt without restructuring, BoGGreece must surpass its fiscal targets and reduce the size of its public sector, George Provopoulos, Bank of Greece's governor said on Friday. In an interview with Market News, the central banker said that if Greece managed to achieve commitments included in the memorandum, then the EU and the IMF will approve the release of the next tranche of a loan from a support mechanism.
Commenting on the government's privatization programme, Provopoulos said it was ambitious and a large-scale privatization programme was very significant for the country, in its effort to exit the current crisis. He said that if such a programme was effectively implemented it could drastically cut public debt and release the country's growth potential, convincing markets that Greece can make it. The implementation of a 50-bln-euro programme could reduce the debt by 22 pct of GDP and even more, as it could support growth and attract significant foreign investments. With this program we will sent a strong message to markets that Greece is changing, Provopoulos noted.
He underlined that Greece must surpass its fiscal targets, reduce the size of the public sector, boost competitiveness and combat tax evasion. He reiterated that talk over a debt restructuring was harming the country and stressed that Greece can repay its debt without any restructuring if it adheres to its consolidation programme.
Provopoulos said Greek banks enjoyed strong capital adequacy rates, stronger than the Eurozone's average, but they were hit by a fiscal crisis. The central banker urged commercial banks to strengthen their balance sheets and noted that mergers and strategic alliances will come soon. Commenting on speculation that Greece could exit the euro, Provopoulos said: "I find it completely ridiculous".
 Five companies in Greece among 100 Best Workplaces in EuropeFive companies in Greece are among this year's list of the 100 "Best Workplaces in Europe", which is drafted annually by the 'Great Place to Work'? Institute, it was announced on Thursday evening.
The five awarded companies in Greece are Amgen Pharmaceuticals, 3M, Tasty Foods, Accenture and Medtronic.
The awards were presented during an official ceremony in Paris on Thursday night, ahead of Friday's international conference themed "Future Workplaces".
The 'top 100' list includes 25 multinational companies, 25 large enterprises (more than 500 employees) and 50 small and medium-size companies (50-500 employees).
This year's Best Workplaces survey was conducted among 1,380 companies throughout Europe for evaluation of the working environment.
With the participation of 1.5 million working people in Europe, the survey is the largest of its kind regarding the work environment.
Despite the global economic crisis and its repercussions on the job market, the companies designated as Best Workplaces are increasing their personnel and, in the last 12 months, have opened up new job positions and hired 14,000 employees.
 Deutsche Telekom held secret board meeting in AthensA Deutsche Telekom delegation of high-ranking officials visited Athens ahead of developments in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization as the Greek government officially launched procedures to sell an additional 10 pct equity stake of Hellenic Telecom's to the German group.
The delegation was headed by Deutsche Telekom's chief executive Rene Obermann. The German telecoms group, holds the annual meeting of its board and the supervisory board abroad, in a country where Deutsche Telekom has established activities. This year it was Greece's turn, obviously in an effort by the company to give a message of the significance of its investment in Greece. The German delegation arrived in Athens last Tuesday and left a day after, but the visit was not officially announced. Their presence in Athens was kept secret from the press and no one knows if the delegation had any high-level contact with government ministers. However, one day after their departure, the Finance ministry sent a letter to Deutsche Telekom announcing its intention to sell its equity stake in OTE.
 Greece attends EU Telecoms Council in BrusselsThe extension of operation and the upgrading of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) based in Iraklio on the island of Crete were among the issues of Greek interest discussed in the EU Telecoms Council held in Brussels, it was announced on Friday.
Deputy Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Spyros Vougias outlined Greece's position in favour of ENISA's permanent operation expressing objections to the five-year extension suggested.
The council also discussed the "Digital Agenda for Europe", one of the main initiatives within the framework of "Europe 2020" developmental strategy.
 Hellenic Chinese Chamber event in early JuneThe Hellenic Chinese Chamber (HCC) and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery & Electronics Products (CCCME) will co-organise -- with the support of the economic and commercial office of the Chinese embassy -- the event "Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum 2011", on Monday, June 6, at a downtown Athens hotel.
A top level delegation comprising high officials and more than 80 entrepreneurs of leading Chinese companies and enterprises will seek and explore partnership opportunities with representatives of Greek companies, covering a range of industries and services such as energy, IT, automotive, energy saving electrical equipment, communications, real estate etc.
For further details regarding the Forum planning, interested companies can communicate with the Hellenic Chamber (tel: 210 3629445, e - mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Piraeus Bank says pre-tax and provision profits up 28 pct in Q1Piraeus Bank Group on Friday said its pre-tax profits totaled 10 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, while net results distributed to shareholders totaled 2.0 million euros down from 7.0 million euros in the same period last year. The Group said its January-March period results were burdened by a recalculation of taxes.
Mihalis Sallas, the group's chairman, commenting on the results said a recent share capital increase plan strengthened the group's balance sheet and improved its capital adequacy rates. "In difficult conditions of the Greek market the road we follow is containing spending and improving revenues, along with a prudent management of risk and liquidity. The fact that pre-tax and provision profits grew 28 pct in the first quarter confirmed the rightness of our priorities," Sallas said, adding that "efforts towards this direction will continue in the future, focusing also to supporting the Greek economy and its productive sectors".
Stavros Lekkakos, the bank's chief executive, said net operating revenues grew 11 pct in the first three months of the year to 383 million euros, from 345 million euros in 2010, while repeated revenues (interest and commissions) grew 5.0 and 2.0 pct, respectively, accounting for 93 pct of net operating revenues.
The cost/revenue index fell to 52 pct in March from 59 pct in the first quarter of 2010, while bad debt provisions grew 28 pct to 171 million euros.
Net interest revenues grew 5.0 pct 309 million euros, net commission revenues grew 2.0 pc to 49 million euros and retail banking commissions jumped 12 pct to 43 million euros in the January-March period.
Piraeus Bank said payroll cost fell 3.0 pct to 101 million euros, while pre-tax and provision profits jumped 28 pct to 181 million euros from 142 million euros last year.
Assets totaled 56.6 billion euros at the end of March, down 2 pct from the start of the year. Deposits fell 5 pct to 28.7 billion euros, while the loans/deposit rate rose to 129 pct from 125 pct in March 2010.
 New direct flight from Athens to NY from June 24A new direct flight linking Athens and New York will be launched by airline company Hellenic Imperial Airways as of June 24. Initially, there will be four flights a week, flying out on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays.
The inaugural flight will depart from Athens on Friday, June 24 and land at the JFK international airport in New York while the return flight will depart from New York the same day and arrive back in Athens on the following day.
The route will be served by four Airbus 340 planes built between 2001 and 2003 and each flight will offer eight first-class seats that can also be converted to beds and 24 business-class seats.
Another perk for economy-class passengers is the greater leg-room compared with competing airlines, with HIA representatives noting that their planes have 217 seats in the same space that Olympic Airways formerly fit 263. Each passenger will also have their own video screen, while the crew are mostly experienced pilots formerly employed by OA.
Passengers will also benefit from HIA's much cheaper tickets, which the airline said will be between 150 dollars and 300 dollars cheaper than the ticket prices currently on offer, starting at 890 dollars return.
 Turkish Airlines commences direct flight linking Istanbul with ThessalonikiThe new direct flight between the northern port city of Thessaloniki and Istanbul commenced on Friday by Turkish Airlines.
On board the airplane, that landed earlier in the day at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport inaugurating the new route, were 101 passengers, among them, Turkish Airlines President Hamdi Topcu, tour operators, businessmen and journalists from the neighboring country.
The flights servicing the Istanbul-Thessaloniki-Istanbul route are scheduled to take place four times a week.
 PPI up 8.2 pct in AprilGreece's Producer's Price Index in the industrial sector rose 8.2 pct in April this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 9.8 pct recorded in April 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday. The statistics service, in a report, said this development could be translated into higher inflationary pressures if rising production cost was rolled over to consumption. The statistics service attributed the 8.2 pct increase in the producer's price index to a 7.9 pct increase in the domestic market index and a 9.0 pct rise in the external market index. The PPI was up 1.0 pct in April from March, after an increase of 1.5 pct recorded in the same period last year.
 Stocks end sharply lowerStocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, hit by market disappointment after a fruitless political leaders' meeting. The index dropped 1.71 pct to end at 1,264.92 points, after rising as much as 2.84 pct during the day. The index recorded a net loss of 2.5 pct in the week. Turnover was an improved 117.970 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 2.05 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.0 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 1.67 pct. Hellenic Petroleum (0.15 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while ATEbank (9.30 pct), MIG (7.14 pct), Cyprus Bank (5.19 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (4.51 pc) were major losers.
The Commerce (1.69 pct) and Oil (0.05 pct) sectors scored gains, while Insurance (3.44 pct), Technology (3.35 pct) and Health (3.73 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 92 to 43 with another 54 issues unchanged. Lambrakis Press (9.09 pct), Akritas (8.89 pct) and Maillis (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (10 pct), Athens Electronic (10 pct) and ATEbank (9.3 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.05%
Personal & Household: -2.14%
Raw Materials: -2.08%
Travel & Leisure: -3.25%
Food & Beverages: -1.12%
Financial Services: -2.16%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, EXAE and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.20
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.60
HBC Coca Cola: 16.86
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.68
National Bank of Greece: 4.51
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.06
Bank of Piraeus: 1.00
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was stable at 13.52 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.49 pct and the German Bund 2.97 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 13 million euros, all sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.14 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month rate 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.24 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.13 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising to 55.298 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 16,081 contracts worth 46.112 million euros, with 37,199 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,280 contracts worth 9.185 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,123), followed by Eurobank (3,147), OTE (1,944), PPC (467), OPAP (299), Piraeus Bank (4,257), Apha Bank (3,549), Cyprus Bank (409), Hellenic Postbank (669) and ATEbank (899).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.447
Pound sterling 0.879
Danish kroner 7.568
Swedish kroner 9.044
Japanese yen 117.44
Swiss franc 1.240
Norwegian kroner 7.885
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.354
 Ataturk's house in Thessaloniki classified as historical monumentThe house at the corner of Apostolou Pavlou and Agiou Dimitriou Street in Thessaloniki, where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - the founder of modern Turkey - was born in 1881 has been declared a historical monument following a unanimous decision by the ministry of culture Central Council for Contemporary Monuments, was announced on Friday.
In 1935, the Thessaloniki City Council gave the house to the Turkish state, which decided to convert it into a museum dedicated to Ataturk.
The three-floor building, dating back to 1870, was repaired in 1981 and repainted in its original pink color. Most of the furniture is authentic and any missing items were replaced with furniture from Kemal's mausoleum and Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul.
Photographs on display reflect different periods of Ataturk's life.
 Elderly man arrested for shooting death of fellow villager in KarditsaAn 81-year-old man has been placed under arrest for the shooting death Thursday night of a 74-year-old man in a Karditsa, and is charged with intentional homicide.
According to police, the 81-year-old went to the cafe in Asimohori village, where the victim was sitting with two other villages, and fired four shots in the face against the 74-year-old with an unlicensed gun.
The victim died on the spot.
The assailant then went to his house nearby and shot himself in the left temple with the same gun, injuring himself seriously.
The 81-year-ld was initially rushed to Karditsa General Hospital and from there, due to the severity of his injury, to the University Hospital in Larissa, where he is hospitalised under police guard.
During a search of the 81-year-old's house, police found and confiscated the gun used in the incident as well as a hunting rifle and ammunition, gun bullets of varying diameters, an airgun, and three flare guns.
Karditsa security police are conducting a preliminary investigation into the causes of the shooting.
 Antiquity smugglers arrestedAttica prefecture security police announced late Thursday that they have solved in cooperation with Culture Ministry the April 15, 2011 case of a major theft of antiquities from the archaeological site of Elefsina.
Police located and arrested two Roma who possessed the stolen antiquities.
The perpetrators, on the night of 15 April, sneaked into the archaeological site and museum of Elefsina without being noticed by the guard and took over 50 antiquities of great value.
Following an investigation, police located the two suspects in a Roma camp in Zefyri, western Attica, and, posing as buyers, they came into contact with the two Roma suspects. A meeting was arranged, during which the two suspects were arrested and all the antiquities were retrieved.
The two detainees are currently being examined by the local prosecutor.
 Three wanted in killing, dismemberment of foreign nationalAttica security police on Friday announced they have solved the killing of a Pakistani, whose dismembered body was found in the Ano Liossia landfill and an apartment in the Athens district of Ambelokipi in January.
Police said the perpetrators of the killing are three other Pakistani nationals aged 22, 26 and 34, for whom arrest warrants have been issued.
One of the three suspects, the 26-year-old, is already in police custody for a different case, the abduction of another Pakistani for ransom.
The crime was uncovered on January 4 when the head of the deceased Pakistani was found in the landfill, while the remaining parts of the dismembered body were found in an apartment in Ambelokipi to which the perpetrators had set fire in order to destroy the evidence.
Police said the three suspects had abducted their fellow Pakistani and held him hostage, seeking a ransom from the man's father in Pakistan.
The abductors, according to police, killed the hostage, however, because he knew their identities, then cut up the corpse in order to get rid of it.
 British tourist rescued after fall in Aradaina GorgeA rescue operation launched by Greek authorities to help a 58-year-old British woman injured during a fall down Aradaina Gorge in the region of Anopoli, Sfakia on Crete was successfully concluded just after 2:00 p.m. on Friday.
Firemen and rescue workers from Anopolis and a doctor from the Vamos health centre rushed to the scene and managed to get the injured woman to an ambulance that drove her to Hania hospital.
The woman was still conscious as she was being taken to hospital but her condition will be assessed by doctors at the hospital.
The accident occurred as two tourists were walking down a path down into the gorge, when the 58-year-old stumbled and fell several metres, leading to her injury.
Her friend alerted authorities using a mobile phone and a rescue operation was launched immediately.
 Three seamen dead, apparantly of asphyxiation, on board Greek ship in Mexican portThree foreign seamen died aboard a Greek-owned and flagged freighter in the Mexican port of Veracruz on Friday, apparantly from asphyxiation.
The "Sea Wave", owned by Piraeus-based Harbor Shipping & Trading, was docked at the port of Veracruz to unload. grain in Veracruz .
The ship had a 29-member crew on board, of which six are Greeks.
Mexican authorities have ruled out criminal action, injury or poisoning in the deaths.
The three seamen -- two Salvadorean welders and a Nicaraguan sailor -- were found dead between the first and second hold, in a space that was exceptionally hot.
 Man wanted on Interpol warrant arrested at Kakavia border stationA 38-year-old Albanian wanted by several European countries was arrested Friday on an Interpol warrant at the Kakavia border station on the Grreek-Albanian frontier as he attempted to cross into Greece.
The Albanian faces charges in Italy and other European countries for conspiracy, complicity in drug trafficking, attempted homicide, forcing women to prostituion, and setting up a gang.
The arrestee will appear before a public prosecutor in Ioannina.
 Foreign nationals arrested on copper cable theft chargesTwo Moroccan nationals, 22 and 23, were arrested in Hania, on the island of Crete, on Friday accused of stealing tons of copper cables from a Public Power Corp. (PPC) construction site in Mournies earlier in the month.
According to police, the two had taken part in the armed robbery and had made off with a PPC truck loaded with 10 tons of copper cables worth roughly 60,000 euros.
 Bank robbery at gunpoint in Atalanti, central GreecePolice in Atalanti, central Greece, launched a manhunt on Friday for three foreign nationals who had robbed an ATEbank (Agricultural Bank of Greece) branch at gunpoint and had taken off on foot after emptying the tellers' cash drawers earlier in the day.
The exact amount stolen is still unknown.
 Rainy on SaturdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 27C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 26C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceFriday's extraordinary meeting of the Council of political party leaders called by President Papoulias in a bid to find a solution for exiting the crisis amidst speculation of early elections, and the peaceful protests against the political system and the Troika (EC, IMF, ECB), dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Elections on the horizon?"
AVGHI: "Answer in absentia of the people does not exist".
AVRIANI: "President of Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister George Papandreou should resign".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Papandreou's ultimate trick".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Towards rapid developments".
ESTIA: "Government of wide acceptance".
ETHNOS: "Face to face for a national consensus".
IMERISSIA: "Hour of national responsibility".
KATHIMERINI: "Political leaders' critical meeting".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Political leaders' crucial meeting in search of consensus".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government, Troika coercing for consensus".
TA NEA: "Meeting on dilemmas".
VRADYNI: "Complicity or elections".
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