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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-30

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

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

Thursday, 30 June 2011 Issue No: 3825

CONTENTS

  • [01] Parliament passes Mid-term plan by majority vote
  • [02] PM, ND leader address Parliament before mid-term programme vote
  • [03] EU leaders praise Parliament's 'vote of responsibility'
  • [04] IMF's Lipsky on approval of medium-term fiscal strategy
  • [05] Hoodlums again mar protests in Syntagma Square
  • [06] ND party attacks gov't over violence in central Athens
  • [07] Informal cabinet meeting on Thursday
  • [08] Papoulias continues visit to Romania
  • [09] President Papoulias addresses state dinner in his honor hosted by Romanian counterpart
  • [10] Cyprus House President to visit Athens
  • [11] FinMin announces changes in tax legislation
  • [12] Mytilineos interest in privatisation programme
  • [13] PPC union suspends strike
  • [14] Seamen's strike on Thursday
  • [15] Business Briefs
  • [16] Stocks end moderately higher
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [20] Designs unveiled for Niarchos complex
  • [21] Supreme Court upholds sentencing in cocaine case
  • [22] Defendants in match-fixing case to testify next week
  • [23] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Parliament passes Mid-term plan by majority vote

    Greece's Parliament on Wednesday ratified the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategic Programme, 155 in favour to 138 against -- with five MPs declaring "present" -- the most anticipated vote in the 300-deputy legislature since democracy was restored in the country in 1974.

    One deputy was absent during the roll call vote and one MP voted via correspon-dence.

    Approval of the latest batch of austerity measures, tax hikes, wide-ranging reforms and accelerated privatisations means that the Greek government can expect the unimpeded allocation of the fifth tranche (12 billion euros) of an EC-ECB-IMF bailout in early July and continued deliberations, within the Eurozone, towards a second bailout if necessary.

    Failure to ratify the mid-term plan would have essentially meant a no-confidence vote for George Papandreou's government. A couple of MPs from the two major parties did not "toe the party line" in the vote, either voting against or in favour. The PASOK deputy (Panayiotis Kourouplis) that voted against was subsequetly expelled from the ruling party's Parliament group, while the ND deputy (Elsa Papadimitriou) voted in favour and said she would become an independent.

    At least one deputy, PASOK MP from Kozani Alekos Athanasiadis, was roughed up by bystanders on a street near Parliament after the vote.

    A vote on Thursday will be held in Parliament on the enabling or implementation law that will accompany the Medium-Term Programme.

    [02] PM, ND leader address Parliament before mid-term programme vote

    "Parliament's decision to approve the medium-term fiscal strategy launches a round of tough negotiations, ones aimed at boosting Greece's developmental course. In a different case, the country will be met with catastrophe," Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed on Wednesday, speaking in Parliament before the vote on the latest package of austerity measures.

    Papandreou expressed certainty that the ruling PASOK Parliamentary group will rise to the occasion and vote in favour of the medium-term programme -- hours before the 155. He stressed that main opposition New Democracy (ND) also relies on the same certainty, clarifying that "the ND MPs have adopted an irresponsible stance because they know that we will act responsibly".

    He said that the "ND MPs follow their leader, who is surrounded by people telling him that saying 'no' is doing good to his image."

    Papandreou stressed that "now is the time to display a measure of responsibility and make sure that salaries and pensions will be paid". He also said that "many are protesting outside; those who suffer injustices and others who do not want let go of the privileges to which they have become accustomed. We should make sure that none of us will have to experience the consequences of a collapse?There is no 'plan B' for Greece. Our partners will only think how they can save themselves. There are no magic solutions. Things are simple: we can either follow the rough path of change or be met with disaster."

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras responded that "now is not being decided whether we will collapse or not, but whether we will make yet another fateful step toward the absolute economic collapse - the social and political collapse." He said that ND has a responsibility "to tell the truth to our partners," adding that he proved that the medium-term programme is not viable. He also said that he will be judged only by the Greek people.

    In response, Papandreou said that Samaras' proposals were rejected by the troika (EC-ECB-IMF) and the European Right, adding that the people do not want the medium-term programme to fail.

    [03] EU leaders praise Parliament's 'vote of responsibility'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris-M. Spinthourakis)

    European Council President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday praised the approval, by the Greek Parliament, of the medium-term fiscal strategy, referring to "a vote of responsibility".

    A joint statement from Van Rompuy and Barroso stated Greece "has taken an important step forward along the necessary path of fiscal consolidation and growth-enhancing structural reform".

    "But it has also taken a vital step back - from the very grave scenario of default," they added.

    European parliament president and former Polish premier Jerzy Buzek said the landmark vote, in the years to come, "may be seen as a turning point for Greece and the eurozone".

    "This was not an easy choice to make and I salute those who voted in favour of this tough reform package," Buzek said.

    In a related development, the two biggest groups in the European Parliament, the European People's Party (PP) and the Party of European Socialists (EPS) also praised the Greek Parliament's vote.

    [04] IMF's Lipsky on approval of medium-term fiscal strategy

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panayiotou)

    The approval by the Greek Parliament on Wednesday of the medium-term fiscal strategy programme was an important first step toward resolving its long-term economic woes, the acting head of the International Monetary Fund told a press conference in Washington.

    John Lipsky, the IMF's acting managing director, said that the package of reforms voted upon "was not austerity so much as it was an important, ambitious structural reform. The debt and deficit are really symptoms of the competitiveness problem."

    Lipsky said that Greece needs to "eliminate the crippling inefficiencies" in its economy, even as it moves to put its finances back in order and reduce its debt.

    [05] Hoodlums again mar protests in Syntagma Square

    Roughly 1,000 mostly youthful rioters on Wednesday again clashed with riot police outside Parliament, on the second day of a nationwide 48-hour strike called by Greece's two main trade unions against the government's austerity measures -- which were nevertheless passed by majority vote in Parliament hours later.

    The violent protesters, usually identified as self-styled anarchists and anti-state activists, threw stones and homemade firebombs against police, who responded with the use of teargas. Scenes of widespread vandalism in and around Syntagma Square were again shown live on local and international television.

    Just before 2 p.m. local time, police barricades in front of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament were overturned by protesters, prompting extensive use of teargas by anti-riot police.

    In spite of the clashes, hundreds of people from the "indignados movement" remained at Syntagma Square, continuing peaceful demonstrations against the austerity measures, even in the face of provocations by the violent self-styled anarchists.

    Since early this morning, downtown Athens is off limits for vehicles.

    Sixteen people were injured in the clashes and taken to a nearby hospital. Only one person remained hospitalised. Police said 30 of its officers were injured.

    Later in the afternoon, authorities said 18 individuals were arrested and led before a prosecutor, six of which were later charged with felony counts. The rest were slapped with misdemeanour charges.

    Earlier, individuals participating in the "indignados movement" engaged in a brief verbal altercation with members of the communist party-affiliated PAME trade union, which had organised a separate protest rally.

    [06] ND party attacks gov't over violence in central Athens

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Wednesday vigorously condemned the violent incidents outside the Greek Parliament, which occurred during demonstrations, accusing the government and particularly the citizen's protection ministry of "resorting to an inconsiderate use of tear gas."

    "A small group of hooded people have succeeded in disrupting Athens's historical centre. Hotels are evacuated, the metro station has been turned into a gas chamber, innocent peaceful demonstrators have been trapped, while ambulances are not able to take injured citizens," party spokesman Yiannis Michelakis said.

    The political leadership of the Citizen's Protection Ministry showed that it had no plan at all against the self-styled anarchists, he said, charging that "it resorts to the inconsiderate use of tear gas, which has transformed the capital's centre into hell."

    The responsibilities Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis "are self-evident and great," Michelakis concluded.

    [07] Informal cabinet meeting on Thursday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will chair an informal cabinet meeting on Thursday afternoon, it was announced on Wednesday night.

    Later on Thursday, Papandreou will host, as Socialist International (SI) President, a dinner for the members of the SI's presidium, ahead of a two day SI council meeting on Friday and Saturday.

    On Wednesday night, Papandreou met with Italian architect Renzo Piano, who is collaborating with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) for the Foundation's cultural center (SNFCC) at the Faliron Delta in southern coastal Athens.

    [08] Papoulias continues visit to Romania

    BUCHAREST (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias, currently on a formal visit here, attributed the Greek crisis - and to a lesser degree the Romanian crisis - to a crisis of European institutions.

    Papoulias said the present situation is "a test for the European Union, one which will show if the principle of solidarity will prevail by helping those who should be helped for the purpose of overcoming a European crisis."

    Referring to the Greek Parliament's approval of the medium-term fiscal strategy earlier on Wednesday, Papoulias said the outcome of the vote was "good", adding that "the government overcame a major obstacle, got the parliament's vote and now will have to prove with its work that is worthy of the people's confidence."

    Speaking earlier with Romanian Senate President Mircea Geoana, he said he sees a change in the stance of the major European powers because it has become apparent that the solidarity principle should prevail to avoid a general collapse.

    The Greek president also stressed that this is a major challenge for the EU, adding characteristically that "Europe will either surrender to speculators or resist as a political and economic entity, safeguarding its unity." He also added that the Greek side has its share of responsibility in today's crisis.

    [09] President Papoulias addresses state dinner in his honor hosted by Romanian counterpart

    BUCHAREST (ANA-MPA/F. Karavviti)

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias, on a state visit to Romania, expressed optimism that Greece will win the battle of the economic crisis, but "not with a leveling recipe", during a dinner in his honor hosted by Romanian President Traian Basescu on Tuesday night.

    Papoulias also stressed the need for the weaker strata of society, the low salary and pension earners and unemployed, to be protected.

    The President also outlined Greece's policy on the Balkans, and Athens' backing of the European prospect of the Western Balkans countries.

    On FYROM in particular, Papoulias underlined that "Greece aspires to a solution that will reflect the reality of the region. A definitive name for all uses (erga omnes)".

    "Unfortunately, however, the Skopje government continues to feed the frenzy of nationalism," Papoulias said, warning that "one does not acquire a historic past by putting up statues", referring to a giant statue of Alexander the Great put up last week in the FYROM capital.

    On the Cyprus issue, the Greek president reiterated the pressing need for an end to be put to the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island republic and for a viable, functional and European solution to be reached.

    Basescu, in turn, voiced understanding and full support for the "tough measures that Greece is obliged to take", adding that Romania is ready to enhance bilateral cooperation to the benefit of both peoples.

    He also thanked Papoulias once again for Greece's support to Romania's Euro-Atlantic orientation, and for its stance on the issue of Romania joining the Schengen zone.

    [10] Cyprus House President to visit Athens

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA/MPA)

    The new President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou departs on Thursday for a working visit to Athens.

    According to an official announcement, issued here on Wednesday, the House President will be received by the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    He is due to hold separate meetings with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and President of the Greek Parliament Philippos Petsalnikos.

    Omirou will also attend a reception given by the Socialist International (SI).

    Financial News

    [11] FinMin announces changes in tax legislation

    Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday announced a series of improvements in a draft legislation which will implement a Mid-term Fiscal Strategy Program for the period 2012-2015.

    The changes, which the Greek FinMin characterized as "generous measures of social sensitivity", envisage raising a tax-exempt income ceiling for families with more than one child. Under the changes, the tax-exempt income ceiling for families with one child will be raised by 2,000, with two children by 4,000, for three children by 12,500 euros and by 2,500 euros for each child more than three. "The result is a very significant tax relief for families with several children," Venizelos said.

    Another change envisages that handicapped people would be burdened with an extra tax charge, while a 5.0 pct windfall tax on the incomes of deputies and elected municipal authorities would be expanded to include ministry high-ranking officials and the heads of all organizations and enterprises appointed directly, or indirectly, by the state.

    [12] Mytilineos interest in privatisation programme

    Evangelos Mytilineos, the chairman of Mytilineos Group, on Wednesday said it was necessary "that we all support the Greek economy and stop discussing silly scenarios over a return to the drachma which will lead the country to poverty and social unrest in the future".

    Speaking during a presentation of Mytilineos group at the Association of Institutional Investors, he added that the country needs radical decisions and to leave aside selfishness, politicians, businessmen and citizens".

    He noted, however, that "90 pct of our working time we spend it to deal with the problems of a Greek crisis and the remaining 10 pct to deal with the operations of the group".

    Mytilineos expressed interest for an ambitious government privatisation programme and in particular Larco. "We are interested for developments in DEPA and a plan to split DESFA in order to ensure access of private players in the natural gas network on equal terms. And, of course, we are closely monitoring a privatisation of Public Power Corp."

    Mytilineos said consolidated turnover would reach 1.3 billion euros this year.

    [13] PPC union suspends strike

    The union representing Public Power Corp. (PPC) employees on Wednesday evening announced that it was suspending rolling strikes, an industrial action that caused temporary outages in certain parts of the country over recent days.

    The powerful union, which often acts independently of other umbrella labour groupings, said it was going to file a lawsuit against the Greek state in order to ensure that its pension fund continues to be guaranteed by the state.

    [14] Seamen's strike on Thursday

    Ships will remained docked in port throughout Greece on Thursday, due to a 24-hour strike called by the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO).

    No ships were sailing from Piraeus on Wednesday as well, due to a 48-hour nationwide labor strike launched on Tuesday.

    [15] Business Briefs

    -- Forthnet SA on Wednesday said a general shareholders' meeting decided to skip dividend payment for 2010. The meeting also approved a plan offering wider powers to its board, allowing its board to decide on raising the company's equity capital and to issue convertible bond loans for a period of five years.

    -- Greece's Producer's Price Index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) rose 7.3 pct in May this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 7.9 pct recorded in May 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    -- ATEbank on Wednesday announced the successful completion of a share capital increase plan worth 1,259,473,216 euros through cash and a rights offer to existing shareholders at a ratio of 13 new common voting shares for each old one at an offering price of 1.07 euros per share.

    -- J&P-Avax SA, a Greek-listed construction group, on Wednesday said a general shareholders' meeting approved a board plan to pay a 0.040 euros per share dividend to shareholders. Net dividend, after taxes, will total 0.0316 euros per share.

    [16] Stocks end moderately higher

    Stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as investors took early profits after the Greek Parliament approved a mid-term fiscal strategy program. The composite index of the market rose 0.48 pct to end at 1,264.85 points, after rising as much as 3.27 pct during the day. Turnover improved to 126.736 million euros. The Big Cap index eased 0.01 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 1.9 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.21 pct higher. PPC (3.33 pct), OTE (1.64 pct), Mytilineos (1.5 pct) and Alpha Bank (1.17 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (1.84 pct), ATEbank (1.59 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (1.59 pct) were top losers.

    The Commerce (4.12 pct), Technology (3.06 pct) and Utilities (2.93 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (8.89 pct) and Chemicals (2.52 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 94 to 43 with another 44 issues unchanged. ELGEKA (17.78 pct), G.E. Dimitriou (12.5 pct) and AEGEK (10.53 pct) were top gainers, while Dromeas (10.71 pct), Livanis (8.89 pct) and Evrofarma (7.84 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +1.88%

    Commercial: +4.12%

    Construction: -0.62%

    Media: -8.89%

    Oil & Gas: -0.27%

    Personal & Household: +0.58%

    Raw Materials: +1.08%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.23%

    Technology: +3.06%

    Telecoms: +1.64

    Banks: -0.97%

    Food & Beverages: +1.09%

    Health: +2.58%

    Utilities: +2.93%

    Chemicals: -2.52%

    Financial Services: +0.04%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.46

    ATEbank: 1.24

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.61

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.70

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.44

    National Bank of Greece: 4.81

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.21

    OPAP: 10.34

    OTE: 6.18

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.07

    Titan: 16.70

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 13.28 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 13.44 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.25 pct and the German Bund 2.97 pct. Turnover remained a low 10 million euros of which 6.0 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 4.0 million euros were 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 moved higher. The 12-month rate rose to 2.15 pct, the six-month rate rose to 1.77 pct, the three-month rate rose to 1.53 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 1.31 pct.

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.18 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 49.788 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,927 contracts worth 34.541 million euros, with 28,607 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 41,479 contracts worth 15.247 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (14,985), followed by Eurobank (4,903), MIG (1,288), OTE (879), PPC (749), OPAP (838), Piraeus Bank (7,088), Alpha Bank (3,669), Marfin Popular Bank (3,279), Cyprus Bank (1,212), Hellenic Postbank (436) and Mytilineos (469).

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.464

    Pound sterling 0.913

    Danish kroner 7.571

    Swedish kroner 9.342

    Japanese yen 118.68

    Swiss franc 1.221

    Norwegian kroner 7.922

    Canadian dollar 1.424

    Australian dollar 1.378

    General News

    [20] Designs unveiled for Niarchos complex

    The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) and the Renzo Piano Building Workshop unveiled the final architectural designs for the Foundation's cultural center (SNFCC) at the Faliron Delta in southern coastal Athens, during a press conference in the Greek capital on Wednesday.

    The construction of the cultural, educational, and recreational complex, designed by noted Italian architect Renzo Piano, who is regarded as master of sustainable architecture, will be launched this year and will include the 170,000m2 (42-acre) Stavros Niarchos Park, a state-of-the-art headquarters for the National Library of Greece, as well as a new cutting-edge for the Greek National Opera.

    The construction of the 550-million-euro project will be funded entirely by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and after it is completed it will be donated to the Greek state.

    [21] Supreme Court upholds sentencing in cocaine case

    The Supreme Court upheld Athens criminal court prison sentences handed down on three individuals accused of trafficking nearly four kilos of cocaine in the summer of 2000, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The defendants, Elias Laimos, a resident of Milan, Italy and owner of the ship "Suetre I", was sentenced to 18 years in prison and fined with 250,000 euros; ship owner Filippos Makris received seven years and a 50,000-euro fine, while businessman Angelos Kanakis was sentenced to seven years and fined with 50,000 euros.

    The cocaine was supposed to be transported from Venezuela to Spain but this did not happen after the intervention of the Venezuelan coast guard on the Orinoco River, which prevented the boats carrying the drugs to approach "Suetre I".

    According to Greek authorities, the ship owned by Elias Laimos was purchased with money from Colombian drug lords Luis Navia and Ivan de la Vega.

    [22] Defendants in match-fixing case to testify next week

    Defendants in the match-fixing case that has rocked Greek professional football will be called to testify within the next few days, judicial sources said on Wednesday.

    The first of the 68 defendants, facing felony and misdemeanour charges, will receive summonses most likely on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, alleged bookmaker Vassilis Geortsiakos was released with restrictions following his testimony. Geortsiakos was released on a 30,000-euro bail, and is banned from leaving the country.

    [23] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The vote on the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy Framework in parliament under Europe's pressure, and the ongoing strikes and rallies, dominated the headlines on Wednesday

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Athens again a hell!"

    AVGHI: "In Syntagma Square, the people vote".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ruling PASOK deputies condemn the Mid-term programme, but they will vote for it".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Vote with the people's tears".

    ESTIA: "Greece once again the top headline".

    ETHNOS: "Brussels places terror dilemmas".

    IMERISSIA: "Fever in banks - July's crucial decisions will act as a catalyst in the sector".

    KATHIMERINI: "EU's ultimata and promises".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "European 'ultimatum' for the crucial vote".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "PAME's (Communist Party of Greece affiliated Labour organisation) rallies and the strikes were a major success".

    TA NEA: "Emergency vote".

    VRADYNI: "The para-state struck again".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2

    INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS


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