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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-04

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

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

Saturday, 4 June 2011 Issue No: 3804

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek PM, Juncker discuss additional support to Greece
  • [02] Troika gives "green light" to next tranche of loan to Greece
  • [03] Gov't: Talks with 'troika' successfully ended
  • [04] Rehn welcomes commitments by Greek government
  • [05] Report: Cabinet, PASOK parliamentary bodies to meet next week
  • [06] ND on protests targeting MPs, gov't officials
  • [07] PASOK-SYRIZA clash after Petalotis jeered by protestors
  • [08] KKE head on 'indignados' phenomenon
  • [09] KKE leader attends PAME labour group rally
  • [10] PAME stages 'symbolic takevoer' of finance ministry
  • [11] Coalition on new agreement between government and troika
  • [12] Samaras briefed by DM ahead of NATO ministerial meeting
  • [13] Defence Minister wraps up meetings with party leaders
  • [14] Geroulanos interview with ANA-MPA on new museum policy
  • [15] Evidence points to Tsohatzopoulos' guilt, Parliament sources say
  • [16] Psomiadis temporarily suspended as Central Macedonia Regional Authority head
  • [17] Greek ambassador in Austria on Austrian media
  • [18] Army denies presence of depleted uranium armour in tanks
  • [19] Albanian ambassador visits Crete
  • [20] Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum on Mon. in Athens
  • [21] Deputy tourism minister in NY
  • [22] Mooody's downgrades ratings of 8 Greek banks
  • [23] Moody's downgrades City of Athens debt rating
  • [24] SEKAP, Chinese tobacco giant discuss commercial, equity cooperation
  • [25] Coca-Cola denies planning to leave Greece
  • [26] OTOE calls nationwide bank strike on June 9
  • [27] Just 20 doctors wrote out 6 percent of OAEE fund prescriptions, conference told
  • [28] Budget gross revenues increase 4.6 pc in May
  • [29] Increase of over 16 pc in May in tourist arrivals at Rhodes airport
  • [30] Car registrations down 15.7% in May
  • [31] New direct Cyprus-Samos flight
  • [32] ASE roadshow in NY
  • [33] Business Briefs
  • [34] Stocks surge 4.42% on Friday
  • [35] Greek bond market closing report
  • [36] ADEX closing report
  • [37] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [38] Horse riding therapy, an alternative form of rehabilitation
  • [39] Message by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos
  • [40] Archbishop Ieronymos' message for World Environment Day
  • [41] Latest shooting incident along Evros River involving migrant smugglers
  • [42] Police operation against illegal migrant settlement
  • [43] Injured welder still in hospital, gas leak blamed for accident
  • [44] Athens Metro work-stoppage Monday
  • [45] 4th International Nude Bicycle Race in Thessaloniki
  • [46] Man arrested for shooting at police in Oropos
  • [47] Child porn arrest
  • [48] Heroin arrest near Patras
  • [49] Football federation votes to ... disband until further notice
  • [50] Rainy on Saturday
  • [51] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek PM, Juncker discuss additional support to Greece

    LUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris) "I expect the Eurogroup to agree to additional finance being provided to Greece under strict condition-ality," Eurogroup President Jean Claude Juncker told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou here on Friday.

    He added that he also expected a "voluntary participation of the private sector."

    Juncker categorically stated that "there was no issue of Greece exiting the euro or even an issue of default" and stressed he expected from Greece to adhere to its commitments, over which he had no doubts.

    Commenting on the completion of a troika visit in Athens, the Eurogroup president said: "It was good news for Greece, the Eurozone and the European Union," adding "we must be satisfied with the final outcome".

    He said the meeting focused on fiscal targets, structural reforms and a privatization programe. Commenting on the latter, Juncker said there was "full agreement" on the fund that will manage the course of its implementation. The Eurogroup president insisted on the need for privatizations to proceed rapidly with transparency and in a credible way.

    Speaking to reporters, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed he had a fruitful discussion with Jean Claude Juncker "a friend of Greece" adding that an agreement reached with the troika was a positive sign.

    The Greek premier referred to Greece's impressive results last year, with a reduction of the fiscal deficit by five percentage points through sacrifices made by the Greek people. He noted, however, that many still have to be done and referred to markets' reservations which made additional financial support to Greece necessary.

    Papandreou reassured that Greece will continue the hard work and fully meet its obligations with the aim to boost growth and raise employment in the country.

    He said the meeting also focused on reforms in the public sector and particularly the possibility of Europe offering technical assistance and know-how on issues such as combating bureaucracy.

    "Our aim is Greece to become a very different country," the Greek prime minister said.

    [02] Troika gives "green light" to next tranche of loan to Greece

    Troika officials on Friday gave the "green light" to releasing the first tranche of an 110-billion-euro loan facility to Greece, probably in early July. In a statement, issued by troika officials after completion of the regular review of the Greek economic program, the EU, ECB and IMF officials said they have reached an agreement with the Greek government over a package of economic and financing policies, necessary to achieve the goals set by an economic programe.

    A strict implementation of these policies will help in restoring fiscal sustainability, preserving the stability of the financial sector and give a boost to competitiveness, creating preconditions for a sustainable growth and employment, the statement said.

    The commitments undertaken by the Greek government in the framework of an economic programe, envisage:

    -a significant reduction of employment in the public sector, the restructuring or closure of public agencies and a rationalization of all social benefits, along with protecting the most vulnerable groups of the population. The government will also cut tax breaks, raise taxes on real estate property and intensify efforts to combating tax evasion.

    -accelerating a privatization program and exploiting state property. The government will set up an independent privatization fund, with the aim to raise 50 billion euros from privatizations by end-2015.

    -Significant progress has been made in structural reforms. The government will continue efforts towards this goal emphasizing more on growth factors, such as revitalizing the tourism industry and abolishing all administrative hurdles in exports. These efforts will be strengthened with technical assistance offered by the IMF, the EU and the European Commission.

    Greek banks continue suffering from lack of liquidity, although measures have been taken to ensuring the necessary liquidity in the financial system. The banking sector remains basically healthy, with Greek authorities introducing stricter capital adequacy criteria, with priority given to solutions based on private initiative.

    However, a Fiscal Stability Fund is available for viable banks that cannot raise capital from the private market.

    On macro-economics, the troika said that an economic recession in 2010 was slightly worse than initial estimates, although encouraging signs came up recently, such as a remarkable progress in exports.

    Labor cost/per product unit is expected to fall further, supporting a strong export dynamism, while the inflation rate is steadily falling. The troika expects the economy to stabilize by the end of the year.

    The statement underlined that significant progress has been made during the first year of an adjustment program, particularly on fiscal consolidation. However, it was necessary to revitalize fiscal and wider structural reforms to further cut a fiscal deficit and creating a critical mass of reforms needed to improve the business environment in the country and preparing the ground for a sustainable economic recovery.

    [03] Gov't: Talks with 'troika' successfully ended

    The Greek government has successfully concluded a round of negotiations with EC-ECB-IMF "troika" officials, the finance ministry announced on Friday.

    In a statement released in the afternoon, the ministry said details of the mid-term plan would be discussed during the coming days, and were subject to Cabinet approval.

    "Talks between the Greek government and the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund were concluded today in a positive manner," the statement said, adding that talks covered a review of progress of the Economic Policy Programme so far, a mid-term Fiscal Policy Framework, additional interventions necessary to achieve a fiscal deficit target for 2011, privatisations and state property management and structural reforms.

    The ministry noted that the Greek government has already announced specific decisions over the last few weeks, which confirmed its "volition to adhere to this course".

    [04] Rehn welcomes commitments by Greek government

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)

    EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn on Friday welcomed the significant commitments undertaken by the Greek government towards speeding up a privatizations plan and implementing structural reforms in the country, while he called on the country's political forces to back the main objectives and policies of the programme.

    In a statement, the Commissioner said:

    "The latest commitments by the Greek authorities are essential to restore fiscal sustainability and create the conditions for sustained growth and improving employment in Greece. They are crucial decisions at a critical moment to safeguard financial stability and economic recovery in Europe.

    "The government's commitment to significantly accelerate the privatization plan, a cornerstone of the recovery programme, is particularly important, as it will alleviate the debt burden and also contribute to boost competitiveness of the economy.

    "Effective and smooth implementation of the structural reforms remain key, especially in the healthcare sector, in the labour market as well as in transport and energy sectors. All these sectors have the potential to become growth drivers for the country. A successful implementation of these reforms will further contribute to restore confidence in the Greek economy among its international partners and market participants.

    "In this sense, the European Commission and the Member States are ready to reinforce their technical assistance in those economic areas where the authorities may feel the need. Since the beginning of the adjustment programme, Greece has received such technical assistance from the Commission and the IMF in various policy areas relevant to implementation of the programme. We remain open to explore possibilities for further and reinforced assistance should there be a need, for instance in taxation and privatization matters.

    "These decisive steps by the Greek authorities, if followed by full implementation, will pave the way for the Eurogroup to look into further steps to ensure that Greece can pursue such economic policies.

    "Once again, I call on all political forces in Greece to put aside their domestic disputes and endorse the main objectives and policies of the programme, for the sake of the recovery of the country, for the sake of growth and employment."

    [05] Report: Cabinet, PASOK parliamentary bodies to meet next week

    An informal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou will take place on Monday morning if negotiations on the government's medium-term programme are completed, sources said on Friday.

    The ruling PASOK parliamentary working group on the economy will meet on Tuesday morning, while PASOK's Political Council will meet in the afternoon of the same day.

    The cabinet will meet on Wednesday morning.

    [06] ND on protests targeting MPs, gov't officials

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Friday condemned the attacks targeting Greek MPs and MEPs on the island of Corfu, as well as against government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis in Athens on Thursday.

    Commenting on citizens' mobilizations, he repeated a statement by ND leader Antonis Samaras in Iraklio, Crete, namely, that "we are happy with the peaceful demonstrations in city squares for as long as they are not political party-affiliated."

    Mihelakis underlined that Samaras has also "warned of the wrath that can turn into despair, which can lead some people to extremes".

    Responding to a question on people's reactions and the messages received by ND, the ND spokesman said that most people are opposed to the economic measures. He added that his party has made its self-criticism, adding that what Samaras was saying over the past months is now being repeated by government officials, referring to the relevant announcement by PASOK-affiliated PASKE grouping and the letter signed by 16 PASOK MPs.

    Referring to the meetings Samaras will have in Paris and Brussels, he said that they were requested by the ND leader to outline his party's positions, stressing that "there is no question of pressures being exerted". He repeated that the government does not ask for consensus, "asks for Samaras' signature under a mistake. This cannot happen. We recommend renegotiation to exit the memorandum as soon as possible".

    Mihelakis did not clarify if ND MPs will be advised to toe the party line when asked whether the party's MPs will be expelled from the party in case they vote in favor of the government-sponsored medium-term programme.

    On the finance ministry circular regarding the taxation of previously undeclared illegal conversions in buildings, known as "semi-outdoor spaces", he repeated statements made by ND deputies accusing the government of political dishonesty and deception, demanding that the relevant circular be withdrawn.

    [07] PASOK-SYRIZA clash after Petalotis jeered by protestors

    Government spokesman George Petalotis was trapped in a senior citizens' center (KAPI) in the Athens suburb of Argyroupolis on Thursday evening by jeering protestors as he was attending an open political event by the ruling PASOK party.

    The government spokesman arrived at the venue in his own car, and after word got around that he was in the KAPI building protestors arrived and closed off the building, shouting slogans against the government and Memorandum, while a few demonstrators threw objects.

    No one was hurt in the incident.

    Petalotis delivered his address to the event as scheduled, while a team of MAT riot police kept the crowd gathered outside at a distance.

    PASOK on Friday morning strongly condemned the incident, and accused cadres of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) as being the 'protagonists'.

    "The threat of violence and jeering is condemnable, especially when the aim is to cancel a scheduled event by a political party. Also unacceptable is the effort of certain quarters to manipulate and exploit the peaceful protest demonstrations by the citizens for their own petty party benefits," an announcement by the PASOK press office said, and called on the political parties to "take a clear stance" on the incident which, it said, was against democratic dialogue and democracy itself.

    "It is the duty of all the democratic citizens to safeguard democracy, the institutions and the free expression of every citizen, which generations of Greeks fought for," PASOK said.

    Earlier, reacting to statements by Petalotis at the Argyroupolis event, SYRIZA said that the government spokesman attacking SYRIZA "is not news".

    "We wish to point out, however, the orchestrated effort of the PASOK system to create a climate of defamation against the spontaneous mobilizations of the indignant citizens by attributing the mobilizations to inciters. It seems (PASOK) that they have not understood anything. The tide does not turn back. The overwhelming majority of our society seeks that the new measures do not come to pass, it demands that the government steps down," a SYRIZA announcement said.

    [08] KKE head on 'indignados' phenomenon

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday stressed that her party has no reason whatsoever to go to PASOK party gatherings "and disrupt them."

    In an interview with a local radio station, Papariga stressed "we do not do that. We do not jeer people speaking in such gatherings," clarifying that it is a totally different case when a government minister visits a work place where the workers have the right to protest, "of course, not by throwing stones".

    Commenting on the movement of the "indignados" at Syntagma Square, Papariga stressed that it is logical that a large part of the people feel the need to express their wrath, indignation and anger pointing out, however, that "indignation and wrath should take the shape of specific political positions..."

    [09] KKE leader attends PAME labour group rally

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga attended on Friday evening a rally of the PAME labour group in Omonia Square central Athens.

    "In the new barrage of loans and measures on the back of the people, we call working people to a big general strike for their voice to be heard all over Europe and for it to appear that the Greek people will not bow their heads."

    [10] PAME stages 'symbolic takevoer' of finance ministry

    Members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated trade union faction PAME staged a 'symbolic takeover' of the Finance Ministry in Athens' central Syntagma Square on Friday morning against heavy austerity measures.

    The protestors blocked off the entrance to the building and put up banners, while a PAME announced called on the workers to "rise up and organise their struggle so that the government's new, barbarous anti-popular measures will not come to pass".

    PAME is also staging a protest rally in downtown Omonia Square on Friday afternoon.

    [11] Coalition on new agreement between government and troika

    The Left Coalition party, in an announcement on Friday, strongly criticised the government's new agreement with the EC/ECB/IMF troika.

    "The new agreement between the Greek governmment and the troika binds the country to a new even more barbaric memorandum for the people, that is tantamount to new dismissals and salary decreases, the shrinking of the public sector, cutbacks in social expenditures and privatisations," the announcement said.

    The Coalition stresses that there can be "no continuation of the policy of the PASOK government which is mortgaging the future of the next generations and ruining working people," adding that a total break "is necessary with the policy that is being applied in Greece and the EU, and common struggles by working people and youth who refuse the turning of society into a jungle."

    On its part, the Democratic Left party assessed in an announcement that with the agreement between the government and the troika, Greek society "will come to its knees and the poorer classes in particular.

    The announcement stresses that the "failure to implement and the lag in the pursued targets of the previous updates of the memorandum, as well as the relevant references to measures that the government has announced it will be taking, announce in advance a continuation of the loan contract that will bring Greek society to its knees and the poorer classes in particular."

    [12] Samaras briefed by DM ahead of NATO ministerial meeting

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was briefed on Friday by national defence minister Evangelos Venizelos on imminent decisions on NATO's new structure.

    No statements were made after the one-hour meeting.

    The meeting, held at the ND offices in parliament at the minister's initiative in the context of informational contacts Venizelos is holding with the political party leaders to brief them ahead of next week's NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels on the new structure.

    Venizelos has held over the past two days similar meetings with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras at their party offices in parliament.

    [13] Defence Minister wraps up meetings with party leaders

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday concluded a round of meetings with political party leaders, during which he briefed them on negotiations underway for NATO's new command structure ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels on June 7-8.

    His last meeting was with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga at his office in the defence ministry shortly after noon on Friday, while on Friday morning he had visited main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras at his party's offices in Parliament.

    [14] Geroulanos interview with ANA-MPA on new museum policy

    It was time for Greeks to work together and show their critics what they were really capable of, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos stressed in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Friday. During this, he outlined the new policy that the ministry is seeking to implement in relation to staffing Greece's state museums and major archaeological sites.

    Geroulanos said that staff transfers from state organisations like the Greek Railways (OSE) and the hiring of seasonal staff had already been set in motion with the aim of keeping important museums and sites open throughout the day during summer months.

    Other projects underway were the design of new educational programmes and touch-feel areas in museums.

    "With the transfers we succeeded in obtaining the staff needed to keep open some signature monuments, such as the Acropolis, open during the winter as well. We hope this programme will be extended to other monuments, such as the White Tower and Olympia. The staff that have come to us from OSE have already begun to be integrated into our ranks successfully and the most encouraging thing is that they see their new duties very positively," Geroulanos said.

    The minister said that 53 archaeological sites and museums will operate on an extended time-table from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. every day throughout the summer months, with new sites and museums added every day as extra seasonal staff were hired.

    He clarified that the new staff were hired based on proclamations issued by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage and then approved by the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP).

    "We want a process that is based on merit and to put the right people in the proper positions. At the same time, via the transfers that are underway, we are providing permanent staff for important archaeological sites and museums, so that when this is justified, as in the case of the Acropolis, these can operate with an extended time-table in the winter," he said.

    As part of the broader programme for upgrading museums, the ministry will issue new bilingual pamphlets providing basic information about each site and museum.

    "These will be given to visitors free with the purchase of a ticket and will also be available in electronic form on the Internet (visitgreece.gr)," Geroulanos said, adding that there was also a plan to print the pamphlets in Braille for the sight-impaired.

    In addition, work was underway to print or translate more detailed guides containing specialised information for some sites, at greatly reduced cost.

    "This year we significantly reduced printing costs to about a fifth of last year by organising our work better. Indicatively, I can tell you that 5.5 million pamphlets cost us 115,000 euro when 1.2 million printed last year cost 154,000. It is worth noting, however, that the upgrade programme is not just about the production of these publications but includes a series of important interventions in the sites," Geroulanos said.

    Among these he listed studies on the guard houses, toilets and bilingual signs in the archaeological sites that had the highest number of visitors, saying work will begin next month.

    Asked about comments in the German newspaper "Bild" about Greece "selling the Acropolis", Geroulanos stressed that it would be best if people kept calm and did not allow such nonsense to affect them.

    "This is reminiscent of the time before the Olympic Games. No one could have imagined by reading the journalists of the time that the smallest country to take them on would hold the best Olympic Games in history. But this is what happened. Because we all worked together, set common goals and believed in our strengths," Geroulanos noted.

    [15] Evidence points to Tsohatzopoulos' guilt, Parliament sources say

    Sufficient evidence has arisen during a month-long Parliamentary inquiry to show that former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos should be tried for criminal offences, sources in Parliament said on Friday.

    A Parliamentary preliminary investigation committee, which has the role of an examining magistrate and the power to indict MPs and ministers to stand trial, was set up to investigate claims that Tsohatzopoulos received kickbacks in order to back a controversial contract for the purchase of four German submarines for the Greek Navy while he was defence minister.

    The committee is due to present its report to Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos next Tuesday.

    Sources from the committee's majority say that ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy are now striving to submit a joint set of conclusions that will accuse the former minister of accepting bribes in order to act at the expense of the public interest and of legalising income from illegal activities.

    Among suspect transactions linked to the former minister they pointed to purchases of real estate by the company TORCASO, which they said "bears the hallmarks of money-laundering". They pointed out, among others, that the representative of the offshore companies Torcaso and Nobilis in Greece was Tsohatzopoulos' accountant, Efrosyni Lambropoulou.

    Based on an investigation conducted by MOKAS, the authority for the suppression of money-laundering on Cyprus, a cousin of Tsohatzopoulos named Nikolas Zigdas continues to be the owner of Medow, the company that succeeded Torcaso, to this day.

    [16] Psomiadis temporarily suspended as Central Macedonia Regional Authority head

    The head of the Central Macedonia Regional Authority Panagiotis Psomiadis has been placed on temporary suspension starting from Monday, by order of Decentralised Administration of Macedonia-Thrace General Secretary Thymios Sokos.

    Sokos made the decision after receiving an appeals court ruling that found Psomiadis guilty of breach of faith and handed down a one-year jail sentence, suspended for three years.

    In the case of temporary suspension, the duties of regional authority head are taken over by his deputy, which in this case is Psomiadis' brother Dionysis.

    [17] Greek ambassador in Austria on Austrian media

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece's ambassador to Austria Panayiotis Zografos, in statements to the mass circulation Austrian newspaper "Kurier", expressed concern over the negative climate that is being cultivated against Greece by specific media in Austria, appealing at the same time for an appeasement of the "anti-Greek incitement."

    Zografos said that this incitement against Greece "in general poisons the atmosphere against the European fabric and the euro" and, in his opinion, this stance only serves those circles that want one way or another to obtain benefits promoting anti-European slogans and to speculate with the euro.

    [18] Army denies presence of depleted uranium armour in tanks

    The 400 M1-A1 Abrams battle tanks that the United States intends to donate to Greece do not feature steel-encased depleted uranium armour, the US side confirmed, while the supply and use of projectiles incorporating depleted uranium is banned by the European legislation, which is strictly observed in Greece, a Hellenic Army General Staff announcement underlined on Friday.

    The statement was issued in response to a Greek Medical Society letter expressing concern for the presence of depleted uranium in the specific battle tanks.

    "The Greek legislation provides that no supplies will be received in case radiation is detected upon their delivery," the statement clarified.

    Official approval of the donation is still pending in the United States, while no decision has been made yet by the Greek side on whether it will accept the tanks.

    [19] Albanian ambassador visits Crete

    Albanian ambassador to Greece Dashnor Dervishi on Friday paid a courtesy call to the regional governor of Crete, within the framework of his visit to the major island.

    The Albanian diplomat expressed appreciation for the fact that Albanian nationals living and working on the well-known tourism and trade destination can still find jobs despite the economic crisis.

    Financial News

    [20] Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum on Mon. in Athens

    The Hellenic-Chinese Chamber (HCC) and the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery & Electronics Products (CCCME) will jointly organise the Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum 2011, with this year's theme entitled "Hellenic - Chinese Business Cooperation: New Perspectives".

    This business forum will be held on Monday at the downtown Athens Hilton, with the support of the commercial and economic counselor at the office of the P.R. China embassy in Greece, Mr. Sun Liwei.

    Participants will include more than 80 executives of major Chinese groups of companies and enterprises, seeking cooperation with respective Greece-based groups and firms.

    The Hellenic-Chinese Business Forum 2011 is being organised under the auspices of the ministries for foreign affairs, regional development and competitiveness, environment, energy & climate change, culture & tourism, maritime affairs, islands & fisheries, as well as of the Invest In Greece initiative, HEPO, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping and Hellenic Institute of Marine Technology (H.I.M.T.).

    The objective of the forum is to promote exchange of information and create awareness of new business opportunities.

    [21] Deputy tourism minister in NY

    Greek deputy culture and tourism minister George Nikitiadis arrives in New York on Friday for a series of meetings with representatives of major travel organisations and Greek-American organisations.

    Nikitiadis will hold talks with senior executives of travel-related companies and address events of the local Greek community in a bid to attract visitors from the US.

    [22] Mooody's downgrades ratings of 8 Greek banks

    Moody's rating agency on Friday downgraded the deposit and senior debt ratings of eight Greek banks, following the recent downgrade of the Greek government debt rating by three notches to Caa1 from B1, with a negative outlook for all eight banks.

    More specifically, it downgraded National Bank of Greece (NBG), Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank to B3 from Ba3, Agricultural Bank (ATE) and Attica Bank to B3 from B1, and Emporiki Bank and General Bank of Greece (Geniki) to B1 from Baa3.

    [23] Moody's downgrades City of Athens debt rating

    Moody's rating agency announced a downgrade of the credit rating of the City of Athens to Caa1 from B1 and changed the outlook to negative, following its downgrade of Greece's sovereign rating to Caa1.

    Completing the review it commenced on May 10, Moody's said on Thursday that "Greek municipalities, including the city of Athens, are unlikely to have enough financial flexibility to enable their credit quality to be stronger than that of the sovereign itself".

    "The strong operational and financial linkages between the city and the sovereign imply significant limitations for the city's administration to act independently from the sovereign and outside of the scope of broader government reforms," Moody's said, adding that "these linkages are illustrated in the recent deterioration in the city's financial performance, which has mirrored the overall deterioration of the sovereign's fiscal position," according to Moody's.

    It added that "pre-closing figures for 2010 reveal Athens' difficulty in adjusting expenditure levels to match lower revenue, resulting in a widening cash financing deficit", and noted that, "as the capital city of Greece, Athens plays a key role as the financial, economic and political hub of the country", accounting for almost 50% of national GDP and a total population of 745,000.

    [24] SEKAP, Chinese tobacco giant discuss commercial, equity cooperation

    Interest by the Chinese tobacco monopoly for both the commercial cooperation and equity participation in SEKAP - northern Greece's tobacco industry cooperative - remains strong, SEKAP chairman Dimitris Pratsos said on Friday.

    Speaking to ANA-MPA, Pratsos said Chinese officials showed interest in promoting SEKAP's biofilter technology - established in 1997 -- in the Chinese market. The biofilter was the biggest commercial success of the company.

    China National Tobacco Corp. is currently the largest tobacco product producer in the world, with more than 900 brands addressed to more than 350 million smokers.

    SEKAP's chairman said discussions between the two companies remained active and noted he expected more news on the commercial leg of discussions soon.

    On June 8, SEKAP will activate an agreement to export 165 containers to five Middle East countries (Iraq, Jordan and Iran), while negotiations are under way to expand this agreement to include India.

    SEKAP has a workforce of 280 employees and its monthly production totals 140 tons.

    [25] Coca-Cola denies planning to leave Greece

    Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. on Friday denied reports that it plans to leave Greece and relocate to other countries, in an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), following a relevant question from the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.

    "Recent media speculation regarding its potential relocation is unfounded," the company's CEO Doros Constantinou said, noting that Greece is an "important market for the Group".

    [26] OTOE calls nationwide bank strike on June 9

    The Organisation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) decided to call during its Executive Secretariat meeting on Friday a nationwide strike at all banks on Thursday June 9 against, as it said, "the interventions of the government and bankers who are planning new attacks on the working people's labour rights and the sellout of the Hellenic Postbank and the important public organisations."

    On Wednesday June 15, OTOE will be participating in the 24-hour general strike called by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), reacting to the "neoliberal government storm of antilabour measures of the Medium-Term Plan of the Memorandum No 2".

    [27] Just 20 doctors wrote out 6 percent of OAEE fund prescriptions, conference told

    Just 20 doctors collaborating with the Freelance Professions Insurance Organisation (OAEE) had written out 6 percent of the prescriptions covered by the insurance fund, delegates at the Pharma 2011 Conference were told.

    This fact was revealed by OAEE governor Gerasimos Voudouris during his address at the conference last Wednesday and repeated at a seminar on the health sector's finances and pharmaceuticals policy organised by the Hellenic Society for Pharmaceutical Medicine on Thursday.

    The anomaly was uncovered following the introduction of the electronic prescription system, which also helped trace individuals that filled more than 10 prescriptions a month and, in some cases, had the same prescriptions filled more than once in different prefectures.

    [28] Budget gross revenues increase 4.6 pc in May

    The budget's gross revenues increased 4.6 percent in May, according to Finance ministry sources.

    According to the same reports, all categories of revenues are showing an increase while the biggest, amounting to 10 percent, comes from the Special Consumption Taxes.

    However, over the five-month period, without the big tax returns being deducted due to the new measure of the expenditures receipts, the favourable tax scale and the offsetting of debts, the deviation of revenues from the target amounts to 1.3 billion euros. According to the Finance ministry, this deviation is steady over the past three months.

    [29] Increase of over 16 pc in May in tourist arrivals at Rhodes airport

    An increase of over 16 percent has been recorded in tourist arrivals at Rhodes airport in May, compared to the corresponding period last year, according to official data publicised on Friday.

    According to the data, a total of 210,273 tourists arrived on the island last month with charter flights and with scheduled flights by foreign airline companies, while during the same month last year 180,263 tourists had visited the island, meaning an increase in tourist movement of 16.55 percent compared to last year.

    An analysis of the data reveals that the German market continues to be in first place, followed by the English, Swedish, Russian, French, Italian, Finnish, Dutch and Belgian.

    [30] Car registrations down 15.7% in May

    Car registrations fell by 15.7 pct in May, as a government-sponsored programme offering incentives to consumers to buy new cars failed to materialise, with car sales down 43.7 pct in the January-May period this year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said car registrations totaled 4,080 in May (new or used ones), down 15.7 pct compared with the same month last year, with registrations of passenger cars down 14 pct over the same period.

    In the January-May period, car registrations totaled 59,604, down 43.7 pct compared with the same period in 2010 (passenger car registrations fell 44.1 pct). Car registrations were down 7.9 pct in the January-May in 2010.

    Registrations of new motorcycles totaled 19,420 in the five-month period, from 24,824 in 2010, down 21.8 pct, after a 6.9 pct decline recorded in the first month period in 2010.

    [31] New direct Cyprus-Samos flight

    Anew direct flight from Larnaca, Cyprus to the eastern Aegean island of Samos will commence on July 8 by Astra Airlines, it was announced on Friday.

    The flights servicing the Larnaca-Samos-Larnaca route are scheduled to take place until Aug. 26.

    [32] ASE roadshow in NY

    The Athens Stock Exchange's (ASE) 3rd annual Roadshow in New York opened on Thursday, providing insight to investors that follow and invest in the Greek capital market.

    The two-day event series provides an ideal forum for investors and companies listed on the Athens Exchange to meet in one-one-one meetings, while also providing increased visibility of participating countries in the international institutional investor community.

    A videotaped greeting by finance minister George Papaconstantinou was projected on Thursday, in which the Greek minister stressed that the reforms in the country have already started to yield and that the Greek economy was showing signs of reaction, but adding that there was still a long road ahead.

    [33] Business Briefs

    -- A new chapter in tourism links between the United States and Greece will be inaugurated on June 24 when Hellenic Imperial - a Greek airline - begins direct flights from Athens to New York.

    [34] Stocks surge 4.42% on Friday

    Stocks recovered spectacularly in the last trading session of a very volatile week in the Athens Stock Exchange, as investors reacted positively to news of a positive conclusion of talks between the Greek government and troika officials and hopes of a new support bailout agreement for the country. Bank stocks were at the focus of attention, with the bank index soaring 8.87 pct amid speculation of new deals in the banking sector.

    The composite index of the market jumped 4.42 pct to end at 1,333.66 points, for a net gain of 5.43 pct in the week. Turnover was an improved 107.215 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 5.67 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.39 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.63 pct. ATEbank (24.87 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end lower, while Alpha Bank (12.86 pct), Eurobank (11.11 pct), Cyprus Bank (9.57 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (7.94 pct), Piraeus Bank (7.84 pct) and National Bank (7.80 pct) were top gainers.

    All sectors moved higher with Banks (8.87 pct), Financial Services (7.91 pct) and Health (4.63 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 100 to 42 with another 47 issues unchanged. Altec (20 pct), Alpha Bank (12.86 pct) and Koumpas (12.5 pct) were top gainers, while ATEbank (24.87 pct), Kyriakoulis (12.77 pct) and PC Systems (9.09 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +3.25%

    Commercial: +0.28%

    Construction: +1.95%

    Media: Unchanged

    Oil & Gas: +3.15%

    Personal & Household: +1.98%

    Raw Materials: +3.09%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.18%

    Technology: +5.48%

    Telecoms: +3.19%

    Banks: +8.87%

    Food & Beverages: +2.06%

    Health: +4.63%

    Utilities: +0.83%

    Chemicals: +1.19%

    Financial Services: +7.91%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.51

    ATEbank: 2.93

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.75

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.50

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.96

    National Bank of Greece: 5.25

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.42

    OPAP: 12.19

    OTE: 7.12

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.10

    Titan: 16.92

    [35] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 12.99 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Friday, from 13.37 pct on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 16 pct and the German Bund 3.01 pct. Turnover in the market was a disappointing low 4.0 million euros, of which 3.0 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.0 million was sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.13 pct, the six-month rate was 1.71 pct, the three-month was 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.22 pct.

    [36] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.01 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover remaining a low 63.511 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 16,143 contracts worth 47.845 million euros, with 35,098 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 46,517 contracts worth 15.665 million euros, with investment interest focusing on ATEbank's contracts (13,582), followed by Eurobank (3,122), MIG (2,150), OTE (896), Piraeus Bank (4,282), GEK (2,257), Alpha Bank (2,058), Marfin Popular Bank (2,749), National Bank (11,964), Hellenic Postbank (690) and Intralot (441).

    [37] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.470

    Pound sterling 0.900

    Danish kroner 7.566

    Swedish kroner 9.132

    Japanese yen 118.64

    Swiss franc 1.238

    Norwegian kroner 7.913

    Canadian dollar 1.439

    Australian dollar 1.379

    General News

    [38] Horse riding therapy, an alternative form of rehabilitation

    Therapeutic horse-riding is an alternative form of rehabilitation for people with a disability, with one of children's most loved animals, the horse, as the vehicle for therapy.

    The newest of Greece's two Riding Therapy Centers opened four years ago in the town of Skopos, in Serres prefecture, and has gone from serving just four physically and mentally challenged persons to 40 people weekly today, from all over Northern Greece.

    The facility currently comprises eight horses and more than 150 volunteer members, and its function is to help improve the health and standard of living of people with physical, mental and emotional disorders.

    Riding therapy specialist, coach and physical therapist at the Serres Horse Riding Therapy Center (KETHIS) Maria Ligga told ANA-MPA that the "protagonist" in the entire effort is the horse.

    Through its movement, the horse conveys to the rider with a disability a smooth rhythm, improves the rider's coordination of movement, balance, muscular tone and even psychology, while horse riding itself, as an activity, brings harmony among the body, psyche and mind, according to Ligga.

    The KETHIS Association was founded in December 2005, while the center itself opened in September 2007.

    Therapeutic horse riding is the first form of therapy with animals to be applied informally in Greece, since 1983 when the Association of Horse Riding Therapy was first set up and opened the first such Center in Goudi in 2004.

    KETHIS took part in the 2007 Special Olympics in China, winning four bronze medals, and will also actively participate in this year's Special Olympics in Athens.

    [39] Message by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in a message Friday to the International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue, stresses "religion's unique prospect to provide a balance to the world of globalisation, to combat fundamentalism and racism and to develop religious tolerance in a world of conflicts, as well as the preservation of natural balance."

    The conference completed its three-day sessions in Budapest on Friday evening, in the framework of the Hungarian presidency in the European Union in the first half of 2011.

    Bartholomew underlines in his message that the Ecumenical Patriarchate since 1994, with a series of international events, has promoted and deepened interreligious dialogue, believing that the religious communities can contribute to the handling of global challenges, such as racism, intolerance, extremism and terrorism, realising at the same time that they belong to humanity, live in the same world and are the creations of the same God.

    [40] Archbishop Ieronymos' message for World Environment Day

    In a message marking World Environment Day on June 5, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Friday stressed that the Church feels a need to judge the thoughtless use and waste of material and natural goods by contemporary humanity.

    The economic crisis now testing all humanity was a price paid as a consequence of the senseless and unwise management of natural wealth and energy sources of our planet, he added.

    [41] Latest shooting incident along Evros River involving migrant smugglers

    Another shooting incident involving migrant traffickers opening fire from the Turkish side of the Evros River was reported just after midnight on Friday morning as Greek border guards attempted to intercept a group of illegal migrants and their guide.

    The incident occurred at the Himonio site -- Orestiada district -- along the river, which separates the land borders of Greece and Turkey in the Thrace province.

    Border guards came under fire as they detained 11 illegal migrants and a Turkish man identified as a migrant smuggler. Authorities believe an accomplice of the alleged smuggler fired with an assault rifle from the opposite river bank, taking advantage of the darkness and the thick riverside brush.

    A boat used to ferry the illegal from the Turkish side onto Greek territory was also confiscated.

    The incident marks the second time in roughly a week that migrant smugglers operating from Turkish territory have fired on patrols along the Greek side, with a Frontex unit comprised of German personnel fired on last time.

    [42] Police operation against illegal migrant settlement

    Special crews and bulldozers accompanied by a strong police force on Friday torn down a settlement of illegal migrants on the Ladohori plain, near the port city of Igoumenitsa, in extreme NW Greece, where mostly Third World country nationals had camped out in their bid to board Italy-bound ferryboats.

    The move came two days after consecutive meetings held between the local authorities and Citizens Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, focusing on the serious congregation of illegal migrants in the region.

    Within the next few days, a similar police operation is expected to be launched in a forest overlooking Igoumenitsa, where another settlement of illegal migrants has sprung up.

    [43] Injured welder still in hospital, gas leak blamed for accident

    The 58-year-old welder injured during an explosion on board a tanker docked for repairs at Keratsini was still being treated in KAT hospital on Friday morning, one day after the accident.

    Early reports said the accident was caused by a gas leak from the rubber piping of the oxyacetylene torch he was handling.

    Authorities have so far arrested the foreman and safety technician placed in charge of work on the ship by the company carrying out the repairs, aged 59 and 56 respectively. Both were temporarily released by order of a public prosecutor, who ordered a preliminary investigation to be handled by the Keratsini coast guard.

    The unlucky welder suffered second-degree burns on 60 percent of his body when an explosion occurred as he was cutting metal pipes with an oxyacetylene blow torch.

    [44] Athens Metro work-stoppage Monday

    Athens Metro employees announced on Friday that they are converting a 24-hour strike scheduled for Monday into a work stoppage from the beginning of the morning shift until 4:00 in the afternoon, in order to facilitate the Indignants' peaceful demonstration.

    In an announcement, the Metro employees said that the new measures "coming at the order of the Troika"..."cannot leave us indifferent, and for this reason we join our voices with all our indignant fellow citizens".

    [45] 4th International Nude Bicycle Race in Thessaloniki

    Hundreds of bicyclists, more or less revealing and honking their horns, took to the streets in the northern city of Thessaloniki to participate in the 4th International Nude Bicycle Race.

    The bicyclists, most of them young people, with painted bodies, high spirits and adorned bicycles demanded en masse the establishment of the bicycle as a means of daily transport and stressed the need for a "STOP to the 'indecent' exposure of people and of the planet to pollution."

    The cyclists passed from the White Tower, where the "Indignados" are holding their protest and reached the "Xarhakos" park where a party with live music will follow.

    [46] Man arrested for shooting at police in Oropos

    Authorities on Friday reported the arrest of a 30-year-old Albanian suspected of opening fire on police that had responded to a call that a burglary was in progress. The incident took place in the early hours of May 16 in Markopoulos, Oropos.

    The suspect was arrested on Wednesday afternoon by northeastern Attica security police, while a search is on to find and arrest a 31-year-old Albanian believed to be his accomplice.

    On May 16, the two men had broken into a corner shop in Markopoulos but were seen by local residents, who called the police.

    An Oropos police station patrol car arrived on the scene and attempted to arrest the two burglars, at which time the 30-year-old opened fire on the officers and fired several shots against them using a Tokarev pistol. No one was injured as a result but the two thieves managed to escape.

    Police are also investigating whether the pair may have participated in other criminal offences and the suspect under arrest was led before a public prosecutor.

    [47] Child porn arrest

    A 37-year-old man from Larissa has been arrested on child pornography charges, accused of trafficking child porn on the internet.

    Police said they traced the man's IP address in the context of an investigation, and an ensuing search of his residence turned up 40 video archives and three PC hard drives, the contents of which are being examined.

    [48] Heroin arrest near Patras

    A 31-year-old Albanian national was arrested on drug trafficking charges near Patras, western Greece, it was announced on Friday. Police, acting on a tip-off, found roughly 500 grams of heroin after searching his truck.

    Soccer

    [49] Football federation votes to ... disband until further notice

    The Hellenic Football Association (EPO) on Friday essentially ceased operation until further notice, after a same-day general assembly vote of 49 to seven opted for such an unprecedented suspension.

    The shocking decision followed a proposal by the federation's president, Sofocles Pilavios, which was also supported by the Super League federation -- which runs the first division pro football championship -- as well as the groups representing the second and third division pro leagues.

    EPO's "lockout" comes after Pilavios vilified what he called a local pro football sector tainted by allegations and charges of fixed games, forged licensing documents submitted by clubs, "gangsters and hooligans".

    Weather Forecast

    [50] Rainy on Saturday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 30C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 30C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 27C.

    [51] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The negotiations with the EU-IMF troika, a letter to the premier by 16 MPs of his ruling PASOK party and the Indignants movement were the main front-page items in Friday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "16 PASOK MPs 'rebel' against government".

    AVGHI: "PASOK cracking at the seams".

    AVRIANI: "They threw stones at MPs".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Panic - The MAT (riot) police saved Petalotis (government spokesman)" who was trapped by protestors as he was speaking at a senior citizens' center (KAPI) in Argyroupolis.

    ELEFTHEROS: "Uprising of 16 PASOK MPs against Papandreou".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "MPs' ultimatum to Papandreou with 3 conditions".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tax-fraud with the (illegally enclosed) semi-enclosed spaces".

    ESTIA: "Taxes and more taxes without a prospect".

    ETHNOS: "Turbulence at the 'last minute' before the agreement with troika".

    IMERISSIA: "Green light for the new loan - EU and IMF give 65 billion euros up to 2014".

    KATHIMERINI: "New Memorandum brings rifts in PASOK".

    LOGOS: "The measures 'lock in' today".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Three-year bailout agreement and parliamentary 'crack'."

    NIKI: "Tempest".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Regime of modern-day slavery for the new workers".

    TA NEA: "Letters of agony and outbursts of violence".

    VRADYNI: "30,000 households with electricity turned off (because they couldn't pay the bill)".

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