|Monday, 18 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-01-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 3 January 2012 Issue No: 3964
 Foreign minister briefs President Papoulias on foreign policy issuesForeign Minister Stavros Dimas was received by President Karolos Papoulias on Monday in order to brief him on the latest developments in issues of foreign policy.
Their talks focused particularly on the statements made by Turkish politician Mesut Yilmaz concerning the role of Turkish agents in causing major Greek forest fires.
Dimas said the Greek side was still waiting for Turkey's reply to demarches presented by Athens over the issue.
"We want good, excellent relations with neighbouring Turkey but these kinds of actions, whenever they may have occurred, undoubtedly poison the climate unless they are clarified," he stressed.
Dimas also briefed the president on Athens' initiative for promoting cooperation and the EU accession efforts of Western Balkan countries via a meeting taking place in Thessaloniki in February.
"We do not have the right to do anything that we are able for the success of this government, which the Greek people have supported with their hopes," Dimas said in response to questions about statements made by Papoulias on Sunday in support of the government of Lucas Papademos.
Noting that the government had the support of more than 250 MPs and was accepted by broad sections of society, he expressed hope that 2012 would prove better than 2011 and that Greece would be able to lay the foundations for a return to growth, recovery and more jobs.
Concerning Moscow's intervention in the response to the jailing of Vatopedi Monastery abbot Ephraim over a land-swaps scandal with the state, Dimas stressed that the Greek people were extremely sensitive to issues relating to the Orthodox faith but added that the affair was not in the foreign ministry's area of responsibility.
 PM Papademos meets with former minister Louka KatseliPrime minister Lucas Papademos on Monday met with PASOK MP and former government minister Louka Katseli.
Katseli suggested specific government initiatives aimed at boosting economic activity and designed to bring measurable results, while supporting employment and ensuring revenues in view of the new medium-term programme.
Reduction of VAT for transactions through credit cards, promotion of real estate investments through abolition of disincentives, measures to assist debt-ridden public employees affected by the labour reserve measure and wage cuts, and immediate activation of National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) funds, were among the measures suggested by Katseli.
 PM to hold separate meetings with social partners on WednesdayThe leaderships of employers' unions and of nationwide trade unions will be separately received by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday.
The meetings, which will be successive, will focus on labour relations and negotiations over a decrease in the cost of labour, something that reportedly constitutes a standing request of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika".
 Journalist Dimitris Tsiodras named director of PM's press officePrime Minister Lucas Papademos on Monday announced the appointment of journalist Dimitris Tsiodras as the director of the premiership's press office.
 Country still in danger, gov't spokesman stressesGovernment spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Monday stressed that Greece was not yet out of danger, so that the government of Lucas Papademos did not have the margins to postpone issues it had promised to deal with until later.
Talking to SKAI radio station, Kapsis also noted that the negotiations underway for the new loan package for Greece were especially difficult and that the issues had to be discussed with society as a whole in order to build trust.
Finally, he said that the cabinet acted autonomously, without pre-decided lines from the political parties and that the ministers from the PASOK party made the government's work their priority.
 LAOS leader visits Thessaloniki, calls for smaller gov'tIn statements to reporters during a visit to the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Monday, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis insisted that the size of the present government had to be reduced.
"It is necessary and I think the prime minister agrees," he told reporters.
Asked to clarify his previous comments concerning Greek politicians, Karatzaferis only expressed a wish "that the political leaders carried out their duties and obligations to the country with the same clarity as the President of the Republic and the prime minister".
 Political leaderships of Greece, Cyprus reaffirm tight relationsNICOSIA (AMNA/A. Viketos)
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias on Monday exchanged wishes for the New Year over the phone with President Karolos Papoulias and PM Lucas Papademos.
In the telephone contact both sides reaffirmed the tight relations and close cooperation they share.
The Greek president and the prime minister repeated their support to Cyprus and to the efforts made by the Cypriot president and government for the solution of the Cyprus problem, one that will lead to the island's reunification, according to a formal statement issued here.
 Finance ministry general secretary resigns following prosecution for breach of faithThe finance ministry's general secretary for tax and customs issues Yiannis Kapeleris resigned on Monday after financial crimes public prosecutor Grigoris Peponis ordered his prosecution on criminal breach of faith charges.
His resignation was requested by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Alternate Finance Minister for taxation issues Pantelis Economou in order to facilitate the investigation.
The charges brought against Kapeleris and the head of the Customs Control Directorate Evangelia Pantazi concern allegations that they issued circulars that prevented the collection of fines for contraband fuel trading issued under the Ifaistos system.
The affair came to light after another finance ministry general secretary, Diomedes Spinelis, resigned over decisions preventing him from collecting such fines. Press reports concerning Spinelis' resignation referred to a secret system within the finance ministry that froze or blocked the collection of fines.
A subsequent investigation conducted by alternate financial crimes prosecutor Spiros Mouzakitis found grounds to prosecute for breach of faith and said that the estimated damage to the state's interests came to at least 15 million euro.
In testimony to Mouzakitis during the investigation, Kapeleris denied any wrongdoing and claimed that there were bugs within the Ifaistos system, so that fines were being imposed for delayed records rather than genuine cases of fuel smuggling. He asserted that thousands of businesses would have closed if the process of collecting fines went ahead and that the finance ministry's leadership was aware of the problem and had been asked to pass legislation to fix it.
A finance ministry announcement on Monday confirmed that the general secretary for tax and customs issues had proposed legislation to resolve the problem during the last meeting of the National Commission Against Tax Evasion, considering that the problem was with the system and not the sale of contraband fuels.
At the time, the finance ministry had asked the secretariat, in the presence of Peponis, to cross-check the information at their disposal with that of the Greek Police, especially the Finance Crimes department and the General Secretariat for Trade that also dealt with contraband fuel cases.
 Mouzakitis angry at closure of investigation into alleged political interferenceAlternate financial crimes public prosecutor Spiros Mouzakitis on Monday expressed strong displeasure at the Supreme Court's decision to shut down an investigation into allegations of political interference made by both himself and his fellow financial crimes prosecutor Grigoris Peponis.
The two financial crimes prosecutors had referred to incidents of political interference in a letter of resignation that they later agreed to withdraw.
Mouzakitis stressed that they had been given five days in which to supply evidence concerning their allegations, noting that what they had already supplied to the Supreme Court was simply a rough note.
"We had informed our superiors about the evidence that we have. We have informed them verbally, giving names and evidence. By what right, by what thinking do they say that we acted impulsively," he demanded in statements to reporters.
 Saint Petersburg governor signs appeal for abbot Ephraim's releaseMOSCOW (AMNA / Th. Avgerinos)
Saint Petersburg governor Georgy Poltavchenko has signed the appeal for the release of Mt Athos Vatopedi Monastery abbot Ephraim, who is in custody as one of the main suspects in the controversial land swap case allegedly involving the Greek state and the monastery. According to Russian media, the Saint Petersburg governor announced his move via Twitter.
A signature collection is underway since December 24 and the appeal for Ephraim's release is addressed to Greek President Karolos Papoulias, prime minister Lucas Papademos and Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes, according to the initiative's coordinating team comprising the Vatopedi Friends Society and the Foundation of St Andrew, the First Called in Russia.
Saint Petersburg governor Poltavchenko is also the chairman of the supervisory board of the Russian Athonite Society that promotes many cooperation programmes between the Russian government and organizations and the monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece.
 NBG president: First quarter 2012 critical for Greece's stay in euroGreece will either lower its standard of living, or it will exit the euro and turn decades back, chairman of the Association of Greek Banks and president of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) president Vassilis Rapanos said on Monday, addressing an event at the Athens Stock Exchange for the cutting of the traditional New Year cake.
Rapanos said that the first quarter of 2012 will be decisive for the country, as Greece's continued stay in the euro or its departure from the European common currency -- which would turn the country 20-25 years back -- will be determined.
The NBG president called on the political world to join forces, given the crucial nature of the new year and the first quarter of 2012, stressing that everyone must do their duty.
 National Bank completes 1.0-bln-euro share capital increaseNational Bank on Monday announced the successful completion of a share capital increase plan worth 1.0 billion euros through the issuing of 200,000,000 new preferred shares.
The capital increase was fully covered by the Greek state, in accordance to a legislation aimed to boost liquidity in the economy and to deal with the effects of the ongoing international financial crisis.
Following completion of the share capital increase plan, National Bank's capital adequacy rates rose by 1.5 pct, with the Core Tier 1 ratio surpassing the 11.0 pct level.
The bank's equity capital totals 6,137,952,410 euros divided into 956,090,482 common nominal shares with a nominal value of 5.0 euros each, 25,000,000 preferred shares non-voting and accumulated dividend with a nominal value of 0.30 euros each and 270,000,000 preferred shares with a nominal value of 5.0 euros each.
 Thessaloniki's metro project will cost 3.5 billion eurosDeputy infrastructure, transport and networks minister Yiannis Magriotis on Monday visited the under construction Agia Sofia metro station in Thessaloniki.
Magriotis commented that the city's metro project, namely, the entire 33 km - long underground network, is estimated to cost 3.5 billion euros. He clarified that the specific budget includes the construction of the Railway Station-Pylea main line estimated to cost 1.1 billion euros and the 620-million-euro eastward expansion of the project to the municipality of Kalamaria.
He expressed optimism that the 9.6 km - long main line linking the city's Railway Station with the eastern municipality of Pylea will be completed in 2015, while the construction of the expansion of the metro line to the municipality of Kalamaria to the east, and probably the western expansion of the project, will be launched in 2016.
 Chinese ambassador discusses cooperation prospects with local authorities on CreteChina's ambassador to Athens Du Qiwen, who arrived at the island of Crete on New Year's Eve accompanied by his wife, met on Monday with the mayor of the port city of Iraklion.
Their talks focused on cooperation issues, the promotion of locally produced farm products, as well as issues concerning tourism and culture.
The Chinese ambassador underlined his great love for Greece and pointed out that due to this fact he is referred to by members of his country's diplomatic corps as "the Greek".
During his visit, Du Qiwen also met the Crete Region Authority head Stavros Arnaoutakis and visited the grave of Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis, where he laid a wreath.
In statements after his meeting with Arnaoutakis, he once again referred to the major operation set up on the island in February 2011 to evacuate Chinese nationals trapped in war-torn Libya and arrange for their return to China.
He also announced that a delegation of Chinese business people will be visiting Crete in the first two months of 2012 to investigate the potential for the export of island products to China.
 Cruise tourism season inaugurated in Piraeus with vessel's arrival on TuesdayThe cruise ship MSC Magnifica is scheduled to arrive at the port of Piraeus on Tuesday, opening this year's cruise season.
The 293-meter-long vessel was built in France in 2010 and features 17 decks. It host up to 3,200 passengers and 1,100 crew members. The vessel also has a theatre, sports facilities and a specially designed retractable roof, ideal for winter cruises.
A total of 800 cruise ships have already included Piraeus in their itineraries for 2012.
In 2011, the port of Piraeus hosted 936 cruise ships and recorded roughly 2,515,191 passenger arrivals/departures, a 35-pct increase.
The Magnifica and its captain, Giuseppe Maresca, will be welcomed by Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis and Piraeus Port Authority (OLP S.A.) board members.
 Labour minister accuses pharmacists of seeking to sabotage unified healthcare authorityLabour Minister George Koutroumanis on Monday denounced a strike by pharmacists in statements on NET radio station, saying that their aim was to prevent the National Organisation for Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) from working and thus prevent the monitoring of spending.
He also expressed anger at pharmacists decision to stop supplying medicinal drugs on credit to insured and pensioners, stressing that they were due to be paid promptly - 10 days earlier than the 45-day period allowed by law - on January 5.
 Business Briefs-- The government on Monday launched an international tender for hydrocarbon exploration and management in western Greece, unveiling an open door procedure. The three regions -- Ioannina in northwest Greece, the western port region of Patras Gulf and Katakolo, in the western Peloponnese -- ostensibly have estimated reserves of 250 million barrels.
-- The government has decided to postpone, until March 31, 2012, implementation of capital tax on securities transactions at the Athens Stock Exchange.
-- Greece's Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) showed signs of improvement in December, rising to 42 points, from 40.9 in November to the highest level in three months, reflecting slower cuts in production, new orders and employment.
-- Eurobank Securities topped the list of the most active securities firms in the Athens Stock Exchange last year, with a market share of 13.99 pct, followed by Investment Bank (13.74 pct), National Bank (12.51 pct), Euroxx (6.28 pct), Piraeus Securities (5.95 pct), Alpha Finance (4.94 pct), Citigroup (4.21 pct), Chevreux (3.38 pct), HSBC (3.06 pct) and UBS (2.59 pct).
 Stocks end lowerStocks ended lower during the first session of 2012, ignoring a positive trend prevailing in other European markets. The composite index fell 0.99 pct to end at 673.71 points, with turnover shrinking to a low 11.324 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.44 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.22 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.85 pct. MIG (1.90 pct) and Coca-Cola 3E (0.60 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Eurobank (7.12 pct), Alpha Bank (5.20 pct), Mytilineos (3.83 pct) and OTE (2.78 pct) suffered losses.
The Chemicals (4.83 pct), Health (1.36 pct) and Food (0.58 pct) sectors scored gains, while Raw Materials (3.61 pct), Telecoms (2.78 pct) and Banks (2.20 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 74 to 47 with another 27 issues unchanged. Akritas (29.45 pct), Sanyo Hellas (20 pct) and Tegopoulos (19.44 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (30 pct), Evrofarma (29.90 pct) and Kloukinas-Lappas (23.28 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.35%
Personal & Household: -1.42%
Raw Materials: -3.61%
Travel & Leisure: -1.32%
Food & Beverages: +0.58%
Financial Services: -0.12%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.51
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.74
HBC Coca Cola: 13.33
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.32
National Bank of Greece: 1.58
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.35
Bank of Piraeus: 0.25
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.42 pct at the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to record-low 1.866 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 850 contracts worth 1.107 million euros, with 15,228 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 3,792 contracts worth 758,826 euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,791), followed by PPC (139), MIG (150), OTE (220), OPAP (188), Alpha Bank (900), Cyprus Bank (134) and Ellaktor (34).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.312
Pound sterling 0.847
Danish kroner 7.545
Swedish kroner 9.061
Japanese yen 101.01
Swiss franc 1.233
Norwegian kroner 7.870
Canadian dollar 1.339
Australian dollar 1.285
 Man arrested for bank robberies in PatrasA 26-year-old man has been arrested for two bank robberies in the port city of Patras, police announced on Monday.
Police say the suspect held up a branch of Eurobank in Patras at gunpoint the previous Friday and got away with 12,000 euro. He is also charged with an armed robbery at a branch of National Bank of Greece on Novembre 25, when he had taken 2,700 euro from the bank and 650 euro from a customer.
While searching two residences occupied by the 26-year-old in Patras, police found an air-gun and ammunition, the sum of 5,950 euro and the clothes he wore during the robbery.
Authorities are continuing to investigate whether the suspect might be involved in other bank robberies.
 Businessman arrested on Rhodes for nearly 100,000 euros in debts to stateA 42-year-old businessman on the island of Rhodes was arrested by police on Monday morning for 958,258 euros in overdue debts to the state.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-4 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -4C and 16C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 10C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias' support for prime minister Lucas Papademos and his strict message to the parties backing the transitional government, the course of the economy and the new measures affecting civil servants' salaries and pensions that enter into effect in 2012, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Cheaper layoffs, but also hirings".
AVRIANI: "IMF recommends us to go to structured default because the PSI is not working and the programme has failed".
ESTIA: "Looking positively at 2012".
ETHNOS: "Stop the war against Papademos!".
TA NEA: "Papademos moves to front stage".
VRADYNI: "Heavy raid on workers' incomes".
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