|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-07-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 14 July 2011 Issue No: 3837
 IMF official expresses satisfaction over progress of economic programNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
Poul Thomsen, an International Monetary Fund high-ranking official, on Wednesday urged Greece to continue implementing economic reforms and expressed his satisfaction over the performance so far of a Greek economic program.
Speaking to reporters in a teleconference, Thomsen referred to the need to speed-up "structural reforms", while he stressed that the Greek program was progressing satisfactory and that Greek economic competitiveness was "gradually improving".
The IMF's official noted that economic recession in Greece was deeper than originally estimated because of a large decline in domestic demand, although he added that the size of the deviation was small compared with the wider size of economic adjustment. Thomsen reiterated some points included in an IMF report on Greece, underlining the encouraging signs of an increase in Greek exports and the fact that inflation was below the Eurozone average rate, excluding the added burden of new taxes. He noted that challenges still remained and stressed that Greece must proceed with necessary reforms for the economy to return to a sustainable road.
 Gov't spokesman on European solution for Greek, eurozone debtGreek government spokesman Elias Mossialos on Wednesday set out the government's position on what a European solution for the Greek and eurozone debt can and should contain.
Mossialos referred to a "first stage of solutions", which should safely and firmly lead to the smooth management of the eurozone countries' debts and reduction of the cost of servicing the debts.
In a written statement, the spokesman stressed that the solution that will be given "must safeguard the Greek economy and every Greek family, and reduce the burden of the debt".
The Greek government has and will continue to move in that direction, with ensuring stability and the interests of the Greek people as its gnomon, and with the target of sustainable growth and restructuring of the country.
Mossialos further noted the commitments the country has undertaken, stressing that Greece "is determined to meet those obligations in a systematic way".
He also noted the efforts that have been made over the last 18 months by prime minister George Papandreou, putting forward a series of proposals for dealing with the problem, but added that "unfortunately, Europe delayed in responding" and opted to follow the events instead of preempting the developments.
Now, the spokesman said, Europe's hour has arrived. He said that the EU cannot exercise only a monetary policy, but is obliged to take decisions and create a long-term economic framework for building a competitive Europe that also manifests solidarity to all its member states.
 European Parliament report on Greek debt crisisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Irini Karanasopoulou)
A restructuring of the Greek public debt will probably come before a permanent stability mechanism is set up in 2013, but its consequences will depend on the way it will be made, a report by Anne Sibert of the London University and CEPR said on Wednesday.
The report, commissioned by the Internal Affairs directorate of the European Parliament, said that the Greek debt was not sustainable despite the opposite opinion of the European Central Bank and European politicians, and Greece will probably default before a permanent stability mechanism begins operations in 2013.
The report examines the possible cost of an early default both for Greece and the Eurozone. The writer of the report uses the word default for restructuring of the debt and not for a complete default.
The report said that the cost of an early restructuring for Greece depends on the way it will be made. If the restructuring was considered as a result of consensus and fair and if Greek banks did not have to record their losses immediately, then Greece could recover soon. But if the restructuring is considered unfair and provocative towards European politicians and institutions, then Greece could be led out of the euro and the EU with possible catastrophic consequences for its economy and its political situation.
 PM chairs meeting on updating legislation on referendumsPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a meeting on updating Greek legislation for holding national referendums. The meeting was attended by Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou, Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis, Administrative Reform and e-government Minister Dimitris Reppas and Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos.
Sources said that the government is considering holding referendums in autumn on a variety of issues, from matters relating to the political system to issues concerning education, such as the introduction of private universities.
The prime minister will shortly have a meeting with government vice-president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, while earlier he met the leadership of the National Bank of Greece.
 PM chairs meeting preparing for emergency EU summitPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a meeting of government ministers, including finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, to prepare for the possibility of an emergency EU summit on handling the debt crisis.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, Administrative Reform and e-Governance Minister Dimitris Reppas, Alternate Development, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Haris Pamboukis and Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis.
 PM meets with outgoing Chinese, French ambassadorsPrime minister George Papandreou had consecutive meetings on Wednesday with outgoing ambassadors Luo Linquan of China and Christophe Farnaud of France.
 ND leader Samaras addresses party's Political CommitteeMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing a Political Committee's session on Wednesday, said that "the word default is forbidden in our vocabulary," adding that "its mere utterance may have disastrous results and function like a self-fulfilled prophecy. And this is valid in all its versions, and in English."
Samaras said that Prime Minister George Papandreou said that it (the word default) is mentioned by those wanting to gain from the destruction of the country. "Now that his vice president is using it, what does Mr. Papandreou have to say?" the ND leader wondered and explained that "it will stop fluidity to the country's banks."
He went on to say that "selective default has never taken place in an EU country" and that "prudence necessitates that we see the next step and not to adopt the lesser evil, that may lead to the bigger evil. In addition, we must reject whatever jeopardises the supply with fluidity of the Greek economy."
Samaras proposed the eurobond as the alternative solution, or the repurchasing of bonds, while he said that the participation of private individuals in lending Greece will be disastrous.
"The issuing of eurobonds is the only healthy solution on the part of the EU, but Europe must overcome certain obsessions," Samaras said and predicted that Europe will be led there, but "the question is for Greece to emerge benefitted."
 FinMin on ND leader's addressFinance Minister Evangelos Venizelos criticised main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on the occasion of the latter's address on Wednesday, stressing that "puns and self-evident references (on selective default) harm, since they create confusion and uncertainty for no reason."
Venizelos attributes in his statement to Samaras that he does exactly the opposite of supporting the government in its effort for a responsible and calm way of managing these issues for the country's benefit to prevail.
The Finance minister mentioned that he has already notified the ND president on how the framework is being shaped, in which the goverment is moving.
 FinMin briefs PASOK parliamentary group economy committee on Eurogroup meetingFinance minister Evangelos Venizelos briefed the ruling PASOK parliamentary group committee on the economy (KTE) on the discussions in Monday's Eurogroup meeting and the problems in dealing with the Greek debt.
Venizelos expressed deep concern over the developments, according to KTE members, who also said that arguments broke out among MPs, while criticism was also voiced by MPs.
Issues such as that of "selective bankruptcy" were also put forward, while one MP maintained that the debt would be manageable with an interest rate of 4 percent.
According to sources, Venizelos did not deny that a discussion existed on selective bankruptcy, nor denied such a scenario, but noted that Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker had told him that there are currently 36 scenarios on the table.
Venizelos further said that the problem was proving today to be much more complex than initially estimated, noting that the debts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal accounted for just 4 percent of the overall eurozone debt, and rose to 40 percent of the eurozone debt if the debts of Spain and Italy were added.
That, the minister stressed, was why Europe needs to deal with the problem in a uniform, comprehensive and firm way.
 FinMin briefs Tsipras on developments at European, international levelFinance minister Evangelos Venizelos discussed political and fiscal developments and European and international level during a meeting on Wednesday with Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Tsipras called the current days as "extremely critical", adding that it is his institutional right and obligation to be fully informed by the relevant minister on the rapid developments and negotiations at European and international level.
Tsipras said that SYRIZA has for some time now been underscoring that the problem is not a Greek one but a European one and requires a solution at European level.
At this time, he said, full and complete information is a condition in order for an appropriate solution to be found, "and we can contribute to that, even through our harsh criticism and our proposals, so as to avert the worst for the Greek people".
Venizelos said they had a substantial and in-depth discussion on developments in Europe and internationally, adding that calm, discipline and implementation of the existing plan are necessary in order to deal with the problems.
The finance minister also said that the current climate is extremely vulnerable, and what was taking place in the big "arena" of Europe influences everyone's lives -- the people's, the politicians' and "our children's" lives.
"We have a plan, we have priorities, and we can go to a beneficial result from within the crisis," he added.
 Bakoyannis criticises finmin's reference to 'selective default'Democratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday expressed concern over references to "selective default" made by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Bakoyannis stressed that referring to this option before the framework of an overall solution had been decided undermined Greece's negotiating strength when difficult negotiations lay ahead for a new loan agreement that the country needs.
"Mr. Venizelos takes on a huge responsibility by rushing to accept the prospect of 'selective default'. This may not be tantamount to a state of default but constitutes, for Greece, one more and especially crucial step in this direction," Bakoyannis said.
 KKE proposes abolition of MP privileges in ParliamentCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) MPs on Wednesday accused ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy MPs of hypocrisy, in response to their positions in favour of reducing MP salaries.
The party's Parliamentary group once again presented its own proposals for the abolition of a series of MP privileges, which it said had "stumbled on the obstinate refusal of those that today raise the banner of cleansing".
The proposals included the abolition of MP pensions, the drastic reduction of the salary paid to MPs and the abolition of payments for participating in committees, the obligatory conversion of anonymous company shares to shares of known ownership and the abolition of privacy protecting taxation information, bank accounts, commercial and business transactions.
 Foreign minister meets Alexandria Patriarch TheodorosForeign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis on Wednesday paid a courtesy visit to Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, discussing the work of the Alexandria Patriarchate and its missionary activities in Africa.
Lambrinidis expressed his support for the Patriarchate's efforts and congratulated the Patriarch for his significant contribution.
 Greece's PPC to send power generators to CyprusGreece's state-run power utility, the Public Power Corp. (PPC), on Tuesday said it will send mobile generators to Cyprus, described as heavy equipment able to produce 90 to 120 MW of electricity.
The decision was taken to boost Cyprus' power production capacity after the destruction of the island republic's biggest power plant at Vassiliko, following a massive blast that occurred at a nearby naval base.
The power station of Vassiliko was rendered inoperable on Monday from the massive explosion at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base, near Limassol, after ship containers reportedly loaded with munitions ignited.
Twelve people were killed, including six firemen, four national guard officers and two navy seamen.
Cypriot power company authorities have described the damage to the nearby power station at Vassiliko as huge, noting that it may take billions of euros to restore.
 Geroulanos initiatives to promote Greece-Israel tourism cooperationGreek culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos undertook initiatives to promote cooperation in the tourism sector between Greece and Israel, during his visit to the latter, accompanying President Karolos Papoulias.
Geroulanos held a series of important contacts for promoting bilateral relations in the crucial sector of tourism during a business forum held in Tel Aviv.
Speaking to Greek and Israeli businessmen active in the tourism sector, Geroulanos noted that since Greek prime minister George Papandreou's meeting with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow last July, the two countries and peoples have come closer, adding that both prime ministers have put tourism at the top of their agenda.
Geroulanos also noted his close relationship with his Israeli counterpart Stas Misezhnikov and their vision for Greece and Israel working closely together to open up new markets, such as China, India, Latin America and the US, which he described as "markets of the future".
The Greek minister further underlined the huge 120 percent increase in visitors from Israel to Greece last year, and equally impressive increases of 180 percent in visitors from Turkey and 90 percent in visitors from Russia, adding that Greece's target is to rank among the 10 top destinations in the world in the coming years.
He also outlined all the measures that have been taken to make the investment environment in Greece more attractive, noting that "it is truly a big opportunity for the domestic and strategic investors of the Greece-Israel tourism industry to set out new, solid terms for investment opportunities of the future".
"We must convince all those who are hesitant to invest in Greece, we must create a new sense of confidence. The investment environment in Greece is changing, and the issue is who will make the first step. From our experience so far we know that there is great interest for investments in Greece. If the European Union ceases to be behind the developments and delaying, and quickly took decisions for the eurozone, it would be much better," Geroulanos added.
After the forum, Geroulanos had a one-hour meeting with Misezhnikov during which they discussed ways for even closer cooperation between the two countries in the tourism sector, while he also attended a dinner at the Greek embassy that was also attended by Israeli investors who took part in the forum.
 Greece-Ukraine joint inter-ministerial committeeThe 5th meeting of the Greece-Ukraine joint inter-ministerial committee was held in Athens on Wednesday, co-chaired by Greek deputy foreign minister Dimitris Dollis and Ukrainian deputy infrastructures minister Korniienko Volodymyr, during which the 5th Protocol for economic, industrial, scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries was signed.
Dollis said that the meeting reflected the high level of cooperation between the two countries, adding that the sectors of energy, transports, shipping, agriculture, environmental protection, protection of consumers, regional cooperation and investments were discussed, as well as "diplomacy of the citizens" via tourism and growth.
The Greek deputy minister spoke of a "spectacular increase" in the number of Ukrainian visitors to Greece, which he called "encouraging", and noted that the Greek side anticipates the arrival in Athens of the Ukrainian president for the signing of further cooperation protocols.
Volodymyr noted the great friendship between the two countries which, he said, was reaffirmed at the meeting and the signature of the cooperation protocol.
He added that the framework was set out on the issues on which the upcoming visit by the Ukrainian president to Greece would be prepared.
 Communications privacy authority presents annual report to ParliamentThe Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE) on Wednesday delivered its annual report for 2010 to Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos.
Presenting the report, ADAE President Andreas Lambrinopoulos noted that since the authority was established in 2004, communication service providers had developed a culture of security that had not existed before, spending significant sums on ensuring the security of their networks.
He also noted that information campaigns launched by the authority on self-protection seemed to be having an effect since the number of complaints received by the authority from the public were significantly fewer.
 Fitch downwgrads Greece to CCCFitch Ratings on Wednesday said it has downgraded Greece's long-term foreign and local currency ratings to CCC from B+ and the country's short-term foreign currency IDR to C from B, following the assigning of a rating watch negative on Greece on May 20.
The credit rating agency, in an announcement said the downgrade reflected the absence of a new, fully-funded and credible EU-IMF programme for Greece, coupled with heightened uncertainty surrounding the role of private creditors in any future funding, as well as Greece's weakening macro-economic outlook.
Fitch said Greece required additional money and said that any financial support would only be credible in providing a path to fiscal solvency if it is fully funded beyond the end of the current programme in mid-2013. It also believes any new programme must be backed by credible policy targets. The successful passage through parliament of the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy sent a strong message that Greek authorities remained fully committed to the EU-IMF programme, Fitch said. The credit rating firm said its CCC rating encapsulated substantial credit risk and acknowledged that default was a real possibility. As previously stated by Fitch, private sector involvement would likely be viewed as a sign of sovereign credit impairment and could trigger a rating default event.
 Finance ministry surprised with Fitch's decisionGreece's Finance ministry on Wednesday said it was surprised by a Fitch Ratings decision to downgrade the country's rating into junk territory but stressed that the move would not affect the country's banks.
"It is surprising that Fitch made this announcement, since the eurozone and the IMF plan is already determined and known," the ministry said in a statement.
"Fitch's decision is not affecting the Greek banking system," it said.
 Greek fiscal program?? needs to be strengthened, CommissionBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Greece' s fiscal adjustment programme needs to be strengthened to ensure the return of the country' s public finances to a sustainable course, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
In a quarterly report on economic situation in the Eurozone, the Commission stressed that despite a remarkable fiscal adjustment achieved so far in Greece, total progress is more complex, taking in mind the country's high debt level and the prevailing political context. It underlined that fiscal and other reform efforts should continue in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, allowing further reductions to fiscal deficits and activating a "critical mass" of reforms necessary to improving business environment and growth prospects, paving the way to sustainable economic recovery.
The Commission said that a fiscal adjustment programme for Portugal was still recent and it was premature to have any significant results, although it stressed that strong political consensus over the programme was the right basis for its implementation.
For Ireland, the report stressed that significant progress has been made, mainly on recapitalizing and restructuring the banking sector and towards fiscal consolidation.
 Environment minister on PPC issueEnvironment and Climatic Change Minister George Papaconstantinou reiterated the government's decision to proceed with the further privatisation of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) by 17 percent, ruling out at the same time it taking place through the stock exchange since, as he said, it does not respond neither to the real nor the potential value of the corporation.
"The swaps by themselves cannot solve the problem, for this reason the ministry is orientated towards a combined solution with the seeking of a strategic investor and the sale of subsidiaries," the minister said during the discussion of the bill on the deregulation of the energy market at the relevant Parliamentary Committee.
In parallel, the Environment minister clarified that this discussion is not immediate, since a series of things have to be secured first, regarding both the implementation of the country's commitments based on the medium-term programme and continuing to have a strong business in a new environment with clear terms.
He added that the discussion on the lignites with the European Commission is under way and the negotiation is expected to be completed next week.
In favour of the principle of the bill were the ruling PASOK party and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) declared themselves totally opposed to the new arrangements, while the Popular Orthodox Rally party (LAOS) reserved its position for the Plenum.
 EU orders Greece to recover 17.4 million euro for discount power rates to companyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Wednesday ordered Greece to recover 17.4 million euro plus interest from the company Aluminium of Greece, on the grounds that it was the recipient of improperly given state aid.
The Commission said that the discount electricity rates charged by Greece's state-run power company Public Power Corporation (PPC) during 2007-2008 gave the company an unfair advantage that violated EU rules on state aid and distorted competition. The decision followed an in-depth investigation launched in January 2010.
The amount to be recovered was calculated by the Commission as the difference between the preferential rates offered to Aluminium of Greece and the normal prices for large-scale industrial customers.
The preferential rates offered to the company date as far back as the 1960s and were due to end in March 2006. Instead, they were extended from January 2007 until March 2008, at which time PPC finally won an appeal to end these low rates.
 EU Commission to investigate TRAINOSE restructuringBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Wednesday announced an in-depth investigation into the restructuring of Greece's railway operator TRAINOSE, in order to determine whether the six measures taken in its favour were in line with EU rules on state aid.
The Commission considers that Greece has not demonstrated that the six measures are free of state aid or that they can be consider compatible with EU state aid rules. The launch of an in-depth investigation will allow interested third parties to present their observations on the proposed measures but does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
In February 2011, Greece notified six measures in favour of state-owned TRAINOSE, which for some years has been facing financial difficulties that have forced the public sector to cover its losses. Restoring the company's viability through a restructuring plan and privatisation by the end of 2011 is considered among the measures agreed between Greece, the EU and the IMF in the framework of the bailout mechanism for Greece.
The measures amount to approximately ? 1.2 billion and include debt write-offs, asset and employee transfers, a capital increase, compensation for the discharge of the company?s public service obligations and the establishment of service level agreements with OSE, the railway infrastructure manager.
The measures support a restructuring plan aimed at returning the company to viability through a payroll decrease and provide for public service compensations for a number of lines, the suspension of certain lines and an increase in ticket prices.
On the basis of the information provided by Greece so far, it is doubtful that the proposed measures procure no undue selective advantage of TRAINOSE.
The Commission will now investigate whether one or more of the proposed measures involve state aid in favour of TRAINOSE and if this is the case, whether they can be found compatible with the Internal Market, in accordance with the common EU criteria. The investigation is without prejudice to a government?s right to compensate a company for the net costs of public-service obligations conferred on it.
 Commissioner Damanaki presents new Common Fisheries PolicyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)
European Commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries Maria Damanaki on Wednesday presented her proposals for reforming the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, raising the alarm concerning the dangers of overfishing and the now serious depletion of fish stocks in European seas.
The European Commission reforms are designed to secure fish stocks, decentralise decision-making and end wasteful practices such as the systematic discarding of catches.
Presenting the long-awaited proposals, Damanaki said: "Action is needed now to get all our fish stocks back into a healthy state, to preserve them for present and future generations. Only under this precondition can fishermen continue to fish and earn a decent living out of their activities." The plans include ensuring that fish stocks are on a sustainable footing by 2015, ending micro-management from Brussels by handing detailed decision-making back to member states, and introducing a market system whereby quotas can be traded by operators within but not between member states. Should the commission get its way there would also be a reduction in the size of the fishing fleet.
The policy of throwing back dead fish which exceed quotas - currently accounting for 23 per cent of all catches - will be ended for some fish species, and in those cases fishermen will be obliged to land their entire catch.
Today Damanaki said that 75 per cent of the EU's fishing stocks are over-exploited - while Europe still imports two thirds of its fish from elsewhere. She added: "This means that we have to manage each stock wisely, harvesting what we can but keeping the stock healthy and productive for the future. This will bring us higher catches, a sound environment and a secure seafood supply. If we get this reform right, fishermen and coastal communities will be better off in the long run. And all Europeans will have a wider choice of fresh fish, both wild and farm produced."
The Commission wants to base long-term plans on scientific evidence, provide better information to consumers about the source of fish and, for example, whether products are fresh or defrosted, and hand a stronger role to fisherman's organisations. Fisheries would be managed under multi-annual plans, and in relations with non-EU countries sustainability and good governance would be promoted. According to the Commission, its reforms could see crew wages rise by between 50 and 100 per cent by 2022, and income in the industry rise by 20 per cent.
Damanaki's proposals also call for strick mechanisms for confining economic assistance to activities that are environmentally-friendly and contribute to smart and sustainable development, ruling out all distorting funding of illegal activities or excessive fishing capability.
One of the issues emphasised by the Commission is the need to reduce the size of Europe's fishing fleet, which it says is now too large and efficient for the present level of fish stocks. As a result, fisheries are diminishing year by year and coastal communities that often depend upon them are seeing their incomes shrink.
It also notes that the decisions made by political leaders tend to favour short-term gains over long-term preservation of resources while Brussels has also given very few incentives for adopting a more responsible approach and a sustainable use of resources.
 Hellenic Petroleum witdraws from Georgia marketThe Hellenic Petroleum company (ELPE) on Wednesday night announced its withdrawal from the market of Georgia implementing, as it said, "the strategy on focusing on geographical regions with strategic competitive advantages and markets in which the maximisation of benefit from the existing refining infrastructure of ELPE is feasible."
ELPE sold its subsidiary, the Hellenic Petroleum Georgia (Holdings) Limited, holder of 100 percent of the partner shares of the Georgian company EKO Georgia Ltd, to the company Energy Solutions Investments Inc (participation company, with activity in the energy market of Eastern Europe) for 6.6 million euros.
EKO Georgia began its commercial operation in 1995 and currently possesses a network of 20 outlets through which retail and wholesale sales take place for big partner customers.
 Greece joins iRASFF pilot programmeGreece is one of the six countries taking part in a pilot programme of the "interactive Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed" (iRASFF), following a relevant proposal by the European Commission in recognition of the contribution of the Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) and Greece in general to the RASFF.
According to an EFET announcement, the interactive platform is an electronic on-line link for the speedy exchange of information on non-safe food and animal feed. The other participating countries are the UK, France, Denmark, Poland and Estonia.
EFET considers the proposal as acknowledgement by the Commission of its work and more generally Greece's role in the context of the official inspections and controls on food hygiene and safety.
 EBEA chamber president urges European chambers to uniteThe president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on Wednesday urged European chambers to begin joint action with the aim to convince European leaders over the need to promote measures at restructuring the operation of international financial markets.
In a letter sent to the presidents of all major chambers in the European Union, Konstantinos Mihalos, president of EBEA, said the chambers must agree on a package of measures including:
-prohibiting hedge funds' speculative operation,
-prohibiting short selling on financial indexes and commodities,
-limiting the operation of derivatives markets,
-limiting the percentage of leverage in the market and
-ensuring the investments made by pension funds.
Mihalos said it was necessary that European leaders understood that the EU vision had no room for nationalism and noted that a Eurobond issue by the European Central Bank could be the necessary tool towards finding a sustainable solution to the debt problem in the Eurozone.
"I hope that European chambers will unite their voices to convince political leaderships that this financial war must end soon through radical decisions by national governments," Mihalos said in the letter.
 Stocks below 1,200-markStocks remained under pressure for the eighth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,200 level. Rumors of an imminent downgrading of the Greek economy by Fitch credit rating further undermined sentiment in the market. The index fell 2.15 pct to end at 1,190.30 points, for a loss of 9.03 pct in the last eight sessions. Bank shares were mostly hit, while turnover remained a low 83.125 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.90 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 2.02 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.84 pct lower. Motor Oil (0.88 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (0.32 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while ATEbank (14.67 pct), Mytilineos (8.35 pct), Alpha Bank (5.68 pct) and Eurobank (5.37 pct) were major losers.
The Media (7.89 pct), Oil (0.53 pct) and Chemicals (0.37 pct) sectors scored gains, while Health (5.32 pct), Banks (4.66 pct) and Utilities (3.77 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 103 to 41 with another 39 issues unchanged. G.E. Demetriou (20 pct), Iktinos (9.89 pct) and Petropoulos (8.5 pct) were top gainers, while ATEbank (14.67 pct), Tegopoulos (12.5 pct) and Boutaris (11.11 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.53%
Personal & Household: -0.71%
Raw Materials: -2.84%
Travel & Leisure: -1.38%
Food & Beverages: -0.56%
Financial Services: -1.11%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola 3E, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.99
Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.75
HBC Coca Cola: 18.65
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.22
National Bank of Greece: 4.31
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.82
Bank of Piraeus: 0.87
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 14.10 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 13.74 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.79 pct and the German Bund 2.69 pct. Turnover in the market was an extremely low 2.0 billion euros, all sell orders. The 33-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security of the day.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate was 2.17 pct, the six-month rate 1.81 pct, the three-month 1.60 pct and the one-month rate 1.43 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.98 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 36.732 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,629 contracts worth 30.267 million euros, with 30,638 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,279 contracts worth 6.465 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,523), followed by Eurobank (2,089), MIG (774), PPC (737), Piraeus Bank (4,428), Alpha Bank (1,405), Marfin Popular Bank (549), Cyprus Bank (1,263), Hellenic Postbank (412) and ATEbank (3,271).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.428
Pound sterling 0.895
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 9.364
Japanese yen 113.32
Swiss franc 1.187
Norwegian kroner 7.953
Canadian dollar 1.373
Australian dollar 1.338
 Man found stabbed to death in KypseliA 26-year-old Greek man was found dead in the early hours of Wednesday in the Kypseli district in central Athens, with multiple stab wounds.
The victim was found by passers-by, who immediately alerted police.
The man was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Attica security police were investigating the case.
 British tourist dies in brawl on ZakynthosA 19-year-old British tourist was killed and four others were injured in a brawl with a taxi driver and another man in the early hours of Wednesday outside a club in the tourist region of Laganas on Zakynthos island.
The deceased man was fatally stabbed when he and four friends of his squabbled with a taxi driver and a friend, also a taxi driver, outside the club at about 4:30 a.m.
The perpetrator was arrested by police three hours later at his home, and has confessed to the stabbing. The second taxi driver was also arrested for complicity.
The perpetrator said he threw the knife into the sea after the incident, indicating the spot to police, who have recovered the weapon.
According to first reports, the cab driver told police the tourists had been eating at a fast food restaurant across the street from the club and were harassing them with lasers, and he and his friend got initially involved in a heated verbal argument with them before he took the knife from his taxi.
The dead man was tentatively identified as Robert James Sevvage, from Basingstoke, south central England.
Initial reports said that he suffered a stab wound to the heart. The other four Britons, who are not in serious condition, also suffered stab wounds in the back and other parts of the body.
 2011 Naxos Festival at Bazeos TowerThe 2011 Naxos Festival, which will take place at the impressive Bazeos Tower in the Cycladic island's hinterland, opens on July 23 with a photo exhibition of destroyed negatives from the archives of the Benaki Museum.
The negatives, photographs by noted photographers in a state of decomposition due to extensive deterioration before being included in the Benaki Museum's collections, are still of great aesthetic interest despite having lost their narrative context, according to the organisers.
The negatives are in tune with the minimalistic profile of the Festival, being held for the 10th consecutive year, which this year is themed "Less is More".
This year, the organizers revisit the photographic archives of the Benaki Museum, and, together with the curators of the archives, retrieve some very original and interesting material.
The exhibition is about photographs that would have never been put on display under normal circumstances: images that, despite their accuracy from a photographic point of view, have lost their narrative context.
In an archival photographic collection the loss of narrative context is the result of the partial or total destruction of the original material. This damage is mainly the result of unavoidable chemical reactions within its substrate, worsened by unsuitable environmental conditions in their storage prior to their induction into the Benaki Museum collections. What sparked the creation of this exhibition were the contents of drawer XXII, part of a metal filing cabinet located in an area housing the Archive's original photographic material. The contents of this "Drawer XXI" were an integral part of the archives of many well-known photographers such as Nicholas Tombazis, Dimitris Harissiades, Pericles Papahatzidakis, and Nelly's and, despite extensive chemical decay to the substrate, they had been preserved. Obviously these images are not representative of the body of work of these photographers nor had they been stored with the intention of ever being put on display.
The "beauty" of decay was the source of inspiration for Benaki Museum photographer Leonidas Kourgiantakis. The "destroyed" negatives have been approached from a fresh perspective and were developed into images of intense aesthetic interest.
The presentation of these photographs in Naxos can be seen as a counterpoint to the ravages of time that are prevalent on the 17th century tower that hosts the exhibition. In an environment of this kind, the viewer is called upon to look beyond the apparent decay, from a personal perspective, to discover the "beauty"?.to discover the essence within the remains. 'Less is more', after all, is the theme of the 11th Naxos Festival, which is characterized by presentations that are rich in content but minimal in form, the organisers said.
 'Byzantium & the Arabs' exhibition in Thessaloniki this fallA noteworthy exhibition entitled "Byzantium and the Arabs" will commence in late September at Thessaloniki's Museum of Byzantine Civilisation, following approval on Wednesday by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS).
The approval paves the way for the temporary loaning out of artifacts and objects by ephorates and museums around the country.
The goal of the exhibition -- Sept. 30, 2011 to Jan. 31, 2012 -- is to highlight the mostly peaceful aspects of the two civilisations and the interaction between Byzantium and the Arabs, from the 7th A.D. until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The exhibition inaugurates the "Thessaloniki - Crossroads of Civilisations" programme, and ranks as a unique, by Greek standards, museum event.
 Man found fatally injured in parkA 49-year-old man was found dead by passers-by late Tuesday in a park in Magoula, near Sparta, southeastern Greece.
The victim had been hit on the face with an undetermined object.
Police are conducting an investigation.
 Wildfire on Paros, wildfires in Nea Peramos and Zakynthos under controlA wildfire broke out in low vegetation in the location of Alykes on Paros on Wednesday. The blaze is being tackled by firemen backed by vehicles and two firefighting aircraft.
Another wildfire is continuing on a mountainside at Sparto in Amfilohia.
A wildfire broke out also on Wednesday in forestland in the region of Ano Perithea on the island of Corfu. Firemen are on the spot with vehicles, while two firefighting aircraft are also operating in the area.
All other wildfires, including Nea Permos and Korakonissi in Zakynthos have been placed under control.
 Indignants determined to continue protest in Syntagma SquareGreek Indignants gathered in Syntagma Square, outside parliament in central Athens, for the 49th consecutive day on Tuesday afternoon.
An informal meeting was held between the movement's coordinating committee and representatives of Indignants groups from other parts of the country, where proposals were put forward, ahead of an extensive discussion and the taking of decisions on Wednesday.
Regarding statements by the City of Athens municipal authorities for the removal of camping tents that have been set up by the Indignants in the square, an announcement by the movement reaffirmed their determination to remain in place until they decide otherwise.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 18C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 26C to 36C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 23C to 35C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceFears of the crisis debt spreading in the eurozone, the extraordinary EU Summit on Friday and the drop in university base entry grades, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Interior Ministry speeds up deportations".
AVRIANI: "They cannot save Greece because all of Europe is sinking".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Dive in university base entry grades".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Selective bankruptcy on the table".
ESTIA: "State revenues collapsing".
IMERISSIA: "Extraordinary Summit on Friday - Now they're 'running' for the debt".
KATHIMERINI: "Selective bankruptcy on the table".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Extraordinary Summit with all scenarios open".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Knives unsheathed in EU over the debt".
TA NEA: "Base entry grades in most-wanted university Schools collapse".
VRADYNI: "Panic over Europe's irresolution".
 Attorney General: No doubt there are people responsible for this tragedyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
There is no doubt there are people responsible for the blast at the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis' on Monday, said here Wednesday the Republic's Attorney General Petros Clerides.
In statements he made to journalists at his office, Clerides said the responsibility he feels towards the citizens of Cyprus for the tragedy which befell the country weighs heavy on his shoulders.
The blast, he said, has not only resulted in casualties and financial destruction but has delivered a blow to the state itself.
Addressing the media Clerides said "you have an obligation to inform people", adding however that "you should inform them correctly".
"There shouldn't be trials conducted by television stations or newspapers", he stressed.
Clerides also called on anyone who has information pertaining to the destruction of documents or evidence to come forward and submit a formal complaint. He assured that such a complaint will be investigated quickly adding that no leniency will be shown if there is any intervention in the process of justice.
He further expressed his certainty that inquiries will be conducted in a very careful manner and without much delay.
"The people want to see results", he said, adding that "it is certain there are responsibilities and the people want to see who is responsible and to what extent".
Asked to say whether it is possible for a criminal investigation to be launched against Ministers or the President of the Republic, Clerides said that Ministers do not have immunity whereas the President does.
Unless, he noted, "the court decides to lift the immunity of either the President, Members of Parliament or whoever has immunity".
Twelve people were killed, namely six firemen, four National Guard members and two sailors, by the huge blast which rocked nearby communities and caused extended damage. Nearby Mari village suffered most of the damage.
The massive explosions occurred at the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis", in Zygi, near Limassol, a few minutes before 0600 local time.
The blast occurred in the containers, full of munitions, which Cyprus had confiscated from "Monchegorsk", a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009.
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