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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-01-20

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

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

Friday, 20 January 2012 Issue No: 3976

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Pademos chairs joint meeting of three political party leaders
  • [02] ND sources on party leaders' meeting with PM Papademos
  • [03] Papademos confers with Samaras ahead of meeting with party leaders backing gov't
  • [04] PASOK sources on party leaders' meeting with PM Papademos
  • [05] PASOK spokesman underlines support for Papademos government
  • [06] PASOK leader contacts social partners, urges return to dialogue
  • [07] FinMin calls for ratification of all omnibus bill articles
  • [08] Deputy FinMin meets troika experts
  • [09] New Democracy leader to visit Russia, meet Putin
  • [10] People will lose, regardless of debt haircut, Papariga says
  • [11] Bakoyannis: If supporting parties pull out of gov't we will go bankrupt
  • [12] Prodi urges EU solidarity in tackling debt crisis, in statements to AMNA
  • [13] FM spokesman on upcoming Nimetz visit, demarche to FYROM
  • [14] Foreign ministry repeats support for UN talks on name issue, criticises Skopje intransigency
  • [15] US official: Solution to FYROM name issue a condition for country's accession to NATO
  • [16] FM Dimas holds telephone conversation with UN sg
  • [17] FM spokesman: Greek-Egyptian determination to continue talks for delimitation of maritime zones
  • [18] DM briefs relevant Parliamentary com't on sub constructions
  • [19] Patriarch welcomes decision for reopening of Greek minority school on Imvros
  • [20] Financial prosecutors' resignation prompted by plans to abolish their post, report claims
  • [21] Commission hopeful over conclusion to PSI talks
  • [22] York Capital dismisses reports of participation in Greek PSI talks
  • [23] Reichenbach says Greeks have sustained great sacrifices
  • [24] Task Force head meets SEV presidency
  • [25] Crisis could have been avoided, BoG gov. says
  • [26] Greece-Qatar business forum in Athens
  • [27] Tourism deputy ministers meet with Ryanair representatives
  • [28] Business Briefs
  • [29] Stocks end 2.94 pct higher
  • [30] Greek bond market closing report
  • [31] ADEX closing report
  • [32] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [33] Greece-China cooperation in research, technology
  • [34] Greek dance troupe in Beijing for Year of the Dragon event
  • [35] International conference on Greek-French artistic relations
  • [36] Major extortion, loan-shark rings exposed in N. Greece
  • [37] Nine arrested in Greece in Europe-wide Europol child pornography crackdown
  • [38] Former Proton Bank chief slapped with embezzlement charges
  • [39] Wife and son charged with 58 -year-old's murder
  • [40] Fire at listed Acropole Palace hotel destroyed wooden floors, original fittings
  • [41] Bloody clash in Thessaloniki among migrants, one dead, two injured
  • [42] 56 Illegal migrants repatriated
  • [43] Vessel carrying illegals intercepted north of Corfu
  • [44] Woman arrested for 48 million euro in unpaid taxes
  • [45] Cannabis arrest in Athens
  • [46] Cannabis arrests on Crete
  • [47] Cloudy on Friday Politics

  • [01] PM Pademos chairs joint meeting of three political party leaders

    Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Thursday evening chaired a joint meeting of the leaders of the three parties which are backing and participating in his government, PASOK leader George Papandreou, New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    At the end of the meeting, Papademos made the following statement:

    "The meeting with the political leaders was important and substantive. We discussed a wide spectrum of issues that concern current developments, particularly the consulta-tions with the troika and the procedure of the PSI (Greek bond swaps programme). The discussion took place in a very positive climate and the political leaders confirmed the full support tothe government in the completion of its task."

    [02] ND sources on party leaders' meeting with PM Papademos

    Support for the government by the three parties was confirmed during the meeting between the party leaders with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, on Thursday evening.

    New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras headed to the party's head office in Syngrou avenue after the meeting. According to ND sources, an overall assessment on the crucial issue of the PSI (Greek bond swaps programme) took place at the meeting between the party leaders. An overall discussion also took place on all the issues preoccupying the government and its support was confirmed.

    The meeting lasted a long time because all the issues were examined in depth, the same sources said. Apart from this, ND refers to the prime minister's analytical statement.

    According to reports, no issue was raised of leaders signing by Papademos. As regards the position that PASOK leader George Papandreou reportedly expressed that "ND must clarify its position, support the government clearer and assume the responsibility that corresponds to it" Samaras replied during the meeting that "there is no joint government of a long duration. The problems, as all know, are to be found within PASOK."

    As regards the time of the elections the ND sources said that nothing has changed from the leaders' agreement. Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis raised the issue of the elections towards the end of the meeting. As to the issue of the decrease of the salary cost in the private sector, ND claims that the negotiating of social partrners must develop before positioning takes place.

    On his part, Karatzaferis said, referring to the meeting, "we had a good discussion. We talked a great deal, we discussed a great deal. It was a good climate."

    [03] Papademos confers with Samaras ahead of meeting with party leaders backing gov't

    Prime minister Lucas Papademos called for absolute cohesion and for support of his interim government's task, during a meeting with New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday, concluding a series of one-on-one meetings with the leaders of the three political parties backing and participating in the government.

    According to sources, all the issues on which the government must present a clear-cut position ahead of its negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' were discussed during the one-hour meeting, while Papademos also briefed Samaras in detail on the ongoing negotiations for the Greek debt 'haircut'.

    Samaras, according to the same sources, reiterated that the Greek society cannot bear further recession.

    [04] PASOK sources on party leaders' meeting with PM Papademos

    PASOK leader George Papandreou, commenting on a joint meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Lucas Papdemos, of the three politacal party leaders earlier Thursday evening, reportedly said that the parties supporting the government should respect their commttments and speak sincerely.

    According to PASOK sources, Papandreou told the other two party leaders at the meeting that "we must be careful so that the course followed by the government not be upset," adding the "time for negotiations is now and not after the elections."

    [05] PASOK spokesman underlines support for Papademos government

    PASOK party spokesman Panos Beglitis, in statements to reporters, on Thursday repeated PASOK's support for the government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the successful conclusion of negotiations for the new loan agreement and the haircut to Greek debt.

    He stressed that Papandreou would go to the meeting between the prime minister and the political party leaders with a heightened sense of "responsibility for the difficulties facing the country".

    Beglitis stressed that PASOK wanted the Papademos government to succeed and that there was no room in this effort for petty political games and interests, adding that the three parties in the government must actively participate in its work, voting for and implementing the measures that they had promised.

    The spokesman criticised main opposition New Democracy for a "deliberately ambiguous" stance that did not contribute to a positive outcome of the Papademos government's efforts. He also underlined that the time for negotiations with Greece's partners was the present, during talks for the PSI and loan agreement, and anyone asserting that they would negotiate after the elections was not telling the Greek people the truth.

    [06] PASOK leader contacts social partners, urges return to dialogue

    PASOK leader George Papandreou had a series of meetings with Greece's main trade unions and employer associations to urge a resumption of dialogue for a new and more competitive labour agreement on Thursday, starting with the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the largest umbrella union representing the private sector.

    Afterward, GSEE president Yiannis Panagopoulos said that the federation was meeting the political party leaders ahead of the dialogue with employers on the competitiveness of the Greek economy.

    GSEE, he said, was not prepared to discuss any reduction in salaries and the national General Collective Labour Agreement, given that the salaries are not to blame for the state of the Greek economy. Nor will GSEE discuss a scaled reduction of salaries, but it will discuss anything that concerns the non-salary cost.

    Panagopoulos said that GSEE asked Papandreou to take a position on the threat of determination of salaries via a Legislative Act, adding that the PASOK leader told him that he supports the dialogue and believes that there should be no state intervention with a Legislative Act.

    There followed meetings with the general confederation of traders and workshop owners (GSEBEE) and the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), during which he called for a "dynamic return to dialogue" and proposals to "save the minimum wage".

    GSEBEE President Dimitris Asimakopoulos repeated the position that Greece's competitiveness problems were not linked to either the 13th and 14th salaries nor the minimum wage. He also opposed a settlement of the issues through a legislative act, saying this was undemocratic and would sideline the social partners.

    ESEE President Vasilis Korkidis similarly asserted that linking wages with competitiveness was "utopian" and called for a return to dialogue.

    Papandreou also sent a letter to Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos, expressing his confidence in social dialogue between employers and employees and the autonomy of the social partners.

    He said this was even more important at the present time, "in order to find necessary and mutually acceptable solutions to crucial problems".

    [07] FinMin calls for ratification of all omnibus bill articles

    Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos appealed for ratification of all articles of a closely watched draft omnibus bill, during a relevant debate in Parliament on Thursday.

    On Wednesday, the three parties supporting the Papademos government ratified bill, in principle, with the New Democracy party and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.s) party, however, strongly criticising specific clauses.

    New clauses and amendments by deputies were added to the bill on Thursday -- such as exclusions from the labour reserve measure, an increase in fines for violating legislation in intra-corporate transactions, pharmacies' opening hours, partial acceptance of an amendment for temporary tax status certificates etc.

    The minister further said that "sincerely I call on you mister deputies, that we rise to the occasion."

    Replying, ND party Parliamentary representative Manolis Kefaloyiannis said that "nobody is above Parliament", reconfirming that his party supports the Papademos government and assured that "ND wil support anything that is good for the fatherland."

    The debate on urgent measures for the implementation of the medium-term fiscal adjustment programme was completed at the Parliamentary plenum, with the ratification of 23 articles and three amendments, the postponement of the ratification of 11 articles for Tuesday, 10 of which will be presented for a rollcall vote at the request of the Communist Party (KKE).

    Venizelos appealed to the deputies' "patriotism", calling for at least the parties supporting the Papademos government to ratifiy the articles in an effort to project an image of national understanding and determination.

    [08] Deputy FinMin meets troika experts

    The protection and utilisation of public property, national landmarks and public utilities, as well as the opening of closed professions, was the focus of the meeting between Deputy Finance Minister Yiannis Mourmouras and the troika's delegation of experts.

    [09] New Democracy leader to visit Russia, meet Putin

    Greece's main opposition New Democracy party on Thursday announced that ND president Antonis Samaras is scheduled to meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin next Thursday evening, during a three-day visit to Russia in the coming week.

    [10] People will lose, regardless of debt haircut, Papariga says

    Any reduction or 'haircut' of Greek debt, regardless of its size, will happen at the expense of the people while giving a major part of big capital a chance to recover, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said on Thursday.

    Regardless of which capitalists were winners or losers, however, the people themselves would lose what little they had and would have no reason to applaud or not applaud the haircut, she added.

    She called on the working class to follow their own independent path, contrary to the management of the crisis by the government, the monopolies and the EU.

    Earlier, after meeting judges' union, Papariga indicated her complete opposition to planned legislation for sweeping reforms in justice that she compared with those in labour and wages, saying they would make justice "more expensive" for the people.

    [11] Bakoyannis: If supporting parties pull out of gov't we will go bankrupt

    Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis said on Thursday that she do not even want to imagine the possibility of New Democracy (ND) or Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) pulling out of the interim government.

    "If the country's image today is that it is standing on its feet this is because it gives the hope to the other side's negotiators that they are dealing with a political leadership that stands united on the fundamental issues. If the supporting parties pull out, then you should have no doubt that Greece will go bankrupt," Bakoyannis said on state radio station NET.

    "The political leaders have a huge responsibility to history and the future of the following generations. If they act with pre-electoral criteria or petty political criteria, then we are finished," she warned.

    Bakoyannis also said she had asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos in order to set out her own proposals.

    [12] Prodi urges EU solidarity in tackling debt crisis, in statements to AMNA

    In an appeal to Europe's leadership to display a sense of history and rise to the challenge of the times, former Italian prime minister, one-time European Commission President and foremost economist Romano Prodi on Thursday stressed the need for Europe to support Greek efforts to tackle the debt crisis.

    "Now is the time for solidarity. Take care, whoever toys with Greece toys with us all," Prodi said in statements to the AMNA in Rome.

    "I do not want to make predictions concerning the stance of the present European leadership but I am certain that it faces a great responsibility in relation to the decisions that must be taken. Greece has made sacrifices and adopted very painful measures. Those holding the sceptres at this time must definitely take all this into account," he said.

    The former Italian premier, the only Italian politician to beat Silvio Berlusconi in two elections, was also critical of the stance adopted chiefly by Germany and other members of the EU to the debt crisis in the eurozone's south.

    "A more general sense of what history means is lacking at the moment. In the past, the Greek crisis could have been solved very easily. Today, supporting interventions are absolutely necessary. Germany, especially, should not forget European support during its own reconstruction," he pointed out.

    Prodi noted his concern at Berlin's tough stance toward both Greece and Italy, with its insistence that countries meet the financial targets imposed without help. He pointed out that in the case that these countries failed and dragged the euro down with them - something that he nevertheless considered unlikely - Germany would be the first to lose.

    "Greece's exit from the euro or a default would be an particularly negative development for all the Eurozone member-states. I am deeply convinced that the entire Eurozone needs the issue of eurobonds and the immediate, substantial strengthening of the European Central Bank. As long as there is not a strong central bank as in the United States, speculators will continue to attack our countries," Prodi said.

    Unless Europe was able to stand united in the face of such attacks, it would lose the game, he pointed out, adding that this was the "central message that Germany must understand".

    [13] FM spokesman on upcoming Nimetz visit, demarche to FYROM

    Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras described UN special envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz's upcoming visits to Athens and Skopje as "useful", adding that the UN secretary general's envoy will be able to ascertain in action to what degree the FYROM leadership is willing to contribute to a resolution of the name issue.

    He also called on FYROM to stop its negative propaganda against Greece and the distortion of Greece's positions as attempted with the latest statements by Greece's chief negotiator to the FYROM name talks, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, after his meeting with Nimetz in New York.

    Delavekouras rejected as lies information channeled to the mass media in FYROM alleging intention on the Greek side to freeze the negotiations process, and stressed that Greece will not engage itself in a "rhetorical clash" with FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski.

    The foreign ministry spokesman once again reiterated Greece's constructive stance at the negotiations which, he noted, have been ongoing for 17 years, and called on FYROM to change its stance so that a solution may be achieved on the name issue.

    Delavekouras further said that Greece was awaiting an "explicit and unequivocal condemnation by the FYROM political leadership" of the unacceptable manifestations against Greece and its national symbols during the recent Vevcani Carnival in the neighbouring country, over which Greece on Wednesday lodged a demarche with the FYROM foreign ministry, as well as the taking of measures to avoid such phenomena in the future.

    The head of Greece's Liaison Office in Skopje, Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou, lodged the demarche on Wednesday, protesting over the fact that the theme this year of the Carnival, which receives state subsidies from FYROM and was inaugurated by the FYROM culture minister, was the "Funeral of Greece", in which participants wore costumes depicting a map with irredentist content and the Sun of Vergina and burned a Greek flag.

    The FYROM foreign ministry was told that not only was there no official condemnation of these manifestations by FYROM, but on the contrary the Carnival was described by the FYROM culture minister as a "diamond of 'Macedonian' tradition".

    Papadopoulou called on the FYROM foreign ministry to "formally and unequivocally condemn these outrages" and to take all the necessary steps for the attribution of responsibilities and for avoidance of similar actions in the future "which do not help the improvement of the relations between the two peoples and are not consistent with the values of the European Union and the principles of good neighborhood".

    [14] Foreign ministry repeats support for UN talks on name issue, criticises Skopje intransigency

    Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday repeated Athens' support for the process underway at the United Nations to resolve the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). He was commenting on recent meetings between UN envoy for the name dispute Matthew Nimetz and the representatives of Greece and FYROM in New York.

    "In what way can we reach a solution if one side refuses to budge?" the spokesman added, noting that Skopje was wrongly accusing Greece of not desiring progress at the same time as it used every opportunity to state that the FYROM side had not changed its positions one iota in the past 17 years.

    "Greece's position is that it supports the negotiation process, supports the mandate of Mr. Nimetz and desires to achieve progress and a final solution of the name issue. Anything else reported by the media in Skopje is false. This is not the first time that we have seen this happen. In the past there have again been anonymous leaks in Skopje that seek to distort Greece's position," Delavekouras said.

    Noting that this did not help efforts for the progress of the negotiations, Delavekouras demanded that "the government in Skopje finally adopt a position and tell us in what way they intend to continue."

    He also pointed out that FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, during a recent meeting with Nimetz a few days earlier, had referred to the ongoing talks with Greece as a "waste of time".

    Repeating Greece's support for FYROM's European and EuroAtlantic prospects, the spokesman stressed that this would not only benefit FYROM but also Greece and the entire surrounding region, creating stability and peace in the Balkans.

    He also noted the Greek side's grave concern over Gruevski's intentions, noting that he had failed to seriously studied the shortcomings raised by the European Commission in its recent report on FYROM's accession progress, issues that generated concern in both Greece and its EU partners, choosing instead to once more focus on the issue of the name.

    Greece lodges demarche with FYROM over 'provocative and offensive' manifestations at Vevcani Carnival, burning of Greek flag

    Greece lodged a demarche with the FYROM foreign ministry on Wednesday over "extremely provocative and offensive to Greece" manifestations that took place in the context of the Vevcani Carnival in the neighbouring country.

    The head of Greece's Liaison Office in Skopje, Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou, lodged the demarche on Wednesday, protesting over the fact that the theme this year of the Carnival, which receives state subsidies from FYROM and was inaugurated by the FYROM culture minister, was the "Funeral of Greece", in which participants wore costumes depicting a map with irredentist content and the Sun of Vergina and burned a Greek flag.

    The FYROM foreign ministry was told that not only was there no official condemnation of these manifestations by FYROM, but on the contrary the Carnival was described by the FYROM culture minister as a "diamond of 'Macedonian' tradition".

    Papadopoulou called on the FYROM foreign ministry to "formally and unequivocally condemn these outrages" and to take all the necessary steps for the attribution of responsibilities and for avoidance of similar actions in the future "which do not help the improvement of the relations between the two peoples and are not consistent with the values of the European Union and the principles of good neighborhood".

    [15] US official: Solution to FYROM name issue a condition for country's accession to NATO

    SKOPJE (AMNA/N. Frangopoulos)

    A solution to the FYROM name issue is a condition for FYROM's accession to NATO, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker said in Skopje on Thursday after talks with the FYROM political and state leadership.

    Reeker, who served as the US ambassador to FYROM from September 2008 to August 2011 when he took up his State Department post, said that FYROM is on the US agenda and is a subject of discussions in NATO for some time now.

    "However, we have reiterated many times after Bucharest (2008 NATO summit) that 'Macedonia' will receive an invitation for membership in the Alliance as soon as the two countries, Greece and 'Macedonia', find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue. That would lead to the taking of the relevant decision (for FYROM accession) to NATO with consensus, which is the foundation of the North Atlantic Alliance," Reeker added.

    Asked by the press whether the Hague International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling will be taken into consideration by NATO with respect to FYROM's aspiration for membership in the Alliance, Reeker noted: "The International court ruling is a ruling of the International Court. That is a fact. NATO, however, has its own rules and regulations, and such decisions require consensus".

    Reeker met in Skopje on Wednesday with FYROM president Georgi Ivanov and prime minister Nikola Gruevski, as well as other officials.

    [16] FM Dimas holds telephone conversation with UN sg

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas had the opportunity of presenting Greek positions on the issue of Cyprus and the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) during a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in light of the holding of the "new round" of negotiations on a solution to the problem of Cyprus at Greentree in New York.

    According to a diplomatioc source, the secretary general expressed his appreciation for Greece's contribution to the promotion of the targets of the UN, as well as its "constructive cooperation" for the issues of Cyprus and the name of fYRoM to be solved. They also agreed to meet in the "near future."

    Dimas expressed the Greek government's support to Ban's efforts, underlining that a Cyprus solution must be agreed by Cypriots, in order to be viable, away from foreign interventions.

    Dimas also underlined the "lack of goodwill" on the Turkish side, expressing in parallel "full support" for the efforts of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the Greek Cypriot side.

    [17] FM spokesman: Greek-Egyptian determination to continue talks for delimitation of maritime zones

    Greece and Egypt are firmly determined to continue their negotiations for the delimitation of the maritime zones between them, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delave-kouras said on Thursday, responding to a relevant question during a regular press briefing.

    Asked to comment on press reports alleging that Egypt's energy minister has issued an invitation to Cyprus and Turkey for the delimitation of their sea boundaries, without Greece's participation, Delavekouras said that Egypt and the Republic of Cyprus have ratified their bilateral agreement for the delimitation of the maritime zones.

    He added that during foreign minister Stavros Dimas' recent meeting with the Egyptian ambassador in Athens the mutual volition was reaffirmed for the delimitation of the sea zones between Greece and Egypt, in the frameworl of the Law of the Seas, which has been ratified by both countries, and noted the excellent climate in Greek-Egyptian relations which, he added, applies to the entire range of their cooperation.

    [18] DM briefs relevant Parliamentary com't on sub constructions

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos briefed members of the Parliamentary armaments and contracts committee on the ministry's positions regarding the issue of the Skaramangas Shipyards (ENAE) and the building of the German-designed submarines.

    According to press reports, the defence ministry called for the updating of a relevant agreement, and specifically wants the navy general staff and the shipyards to determine the precise building stages for each submarine.

    The ministry also wants timetables proposed by the shipyards to be finalised, as well as a linking of the instalment payments with the progression of works.

    The same reports stressed that until the above are specified the ministry will reserve its right on the payment of instalments.

    [19] Patriarch welcomes decision for reopening of Greek minority school on Imvros

    ISTANBUL (AMNA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Thursday praised a recent decision by Turkish authorities to allow the reopening of a Greek minority school on the northeast Aegean island of Imvros (Gokceada in Turkish), addressing a group of worshippers at the isle's main Orthodox cathedral.

    "Gradually, we are being vindicated and injustices are being undone," Bartholomew, who hails from the island, told the congregation.

    He made the comment in response to news that the ethnic Greek minority school on the isle finally received permission by the Turkish ministry of education to reopen, 47 years after it was closed by Turkish authorities.

    Bartholomew called on parents to enroll their children at the minority school. "It does not matter if it will be only one child or a few, the school's reopening is important," he stressed.

    Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch thanked the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the ministry of education for allowing the school to reopen, underlining the major role played by the Turkish ministry of European affairs and by the representative of minority foundations in Turkey's General Directorate of Foundations, Lakis Vigas.

    [20] Financial prosecutors' resignation prompted by plans to abolish their post, report claims

    The resignations of financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis last December were a "spontaneous expression" of their strong displeasure at the finance ministry's plans to pass legislation that would have abolished their posts, according to a report sent to Supreme Court Public Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes on Thursday by Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Fotis Makris.

    After conducting an investigation into what prompted the two prosecutors' decision to resign, Makris said that Peponis and Mouzakitis had referred to three key cases. These related to Credit Default Swaps (CDS) transactions, a list of tax evaders drawn up by former Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Kouselas and a case relating to a bank and also involving a journalist.

    Makris' report has been forwarded to Justice Minister Miltiades Papaioannou.

    Financial News

    [21] Commission hopeful over conclusion to PSI talks

    BRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Aroni)

    "We are hopeful for a conclusion shortly," economic and monetary affairs commissioner spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio commented here on Thursday, adding that there is no official deadline for the PSI talks.

    He said that while there is no deadline for the negotiations it would be useful if the heads of government scheduled to meet on January 30 will "have that element of information on the table".

    As regards the statements on the Greek bonds swap made by prime minister Lucas Papademos in the New York Times, he said negotiations continue and hopefully will be concluded soon. He added that new proposals are on the table and that the Commission does not participate in the negotiations.

    On the mission of the troika (EC-ECB-IMF) representatives currently in Athens, he said that economic developments in the country will be discussed while negotiations will take place on the second adjustment programme which essentially is a continuation of the first. He also pointed out that an agreement on the PSI is important for the second loan agreement that will follow.

    He also said the troika representatives will stay in Athens for as long as necessary.

    [22] York Capital dismisses reports of participation in Greek PSI talks

    New York City-based York Capital Management on Thursday dismissed reports over the company's alleged participation in Greek PSI talks, saying the claims were untrue.

    In an announcement, York Capital Management said that although the company does not usually comment on press reports in the Greek media, noting that "... while we do not ordinarily comment on market rumors, several news reports have incorrectly indicated that York Capital is involved in the Greek Government bond negotiations and plans to be uncooperative in some manner.

    "These reports are false. York's holdings in Greek Government bonds have never been of any material size, and York has never been involved in negotiations surrounding the exchange offer and has no intent to do so."

    [23] Reichenbach says Greeks have sustained great sacrifices

    The head of the Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach stressed at the board meeting of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Thursday, that "the Greeks have sustained great sacrifices and Greece cannot continue with this strategy. The burden on the available income of the Greeks is double in relation to that of the Portuguese and triple in relation to that of the Spaniards and this has as a result the collapse of demand."

    Reichenbach added that "I am certain that in the coming days uncertainty will be lifted on Greece's participation in the euro. Liquidity constitutes the biggest obstacle for the change of the situation in the Greek economy. As soon as the PSI and the new memorandum are completed, then we shall proceed with the recapitalisation of banks, so that they will support the Greek economy."

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Constantine Mihalos referred in his address to the need for the creation of Free Economic Zones for the establishment and functioning of businesses in a favourable environment, the speeding up of ESPA and called for the annulment of national participation in the funding as well as a new economic policy mixture.

    [24] Task Force head meets SEV presidency

    Controlling public spending, streamlining the operation of the central administration, creating a more business-friendly environment, public procurements, continuing major infrastructure projects and promoting exports were among the topics discussed on Thursday by the leadership of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) with the head of an EU Task Force for Greece, Horst Reichenbach, and a group of experts.

    SEV representatives stressed that only 7.0 pct of the 230 hurdles in business activity - recorded in a survey conducted by the Federation - have been lifted and noted the importance of introducing a "golden rule" for state budgets, imposing an annual ceiling in public spending on wages and pensions and renationalising the structure and operations of civil administration.

    Reichenbach presented the task force's programme of action towards promoting growth, employment and fiscal balance.

    [25] Crisis could have been avoided, BoG gov. says

    "A return to the past is not feasible", Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos said on Thursday, warning against all those who are opposing "any changes".

    Addressing an event organised by IOBE (Institute for Economic and Industrial Research), the central banker stressed that as happened in the past, this stance is "on a collision course with reality, ignoring any objective conditions which determine our current environment."

    "But if this time again we ignore reality, the result will be an economic and political isolation of the country, the beginning of a catastrophic course which will destroy all achievements made in our post-war history," Provopoulos said.

    The central banker said this course amid the current crisis could have been avoided if problems were dealt with timely, and stressed that many and repeated warnings had been made publicly. However, these perceptions were dealt with either reservation or negatively for many years, reactions that had no relation with objective facts, he said. Provopoulos stressed that the current crisis was a deep, systemic, structural crisis of the economic model which prevailed in the country since 1974, which led to a dead-end and collapsed. This model created large non-sustainable fiscal and external deficits, which were made more acute because of the international financial crisis.

    "It is necessary to learn from our mistakes, to accept collective and individual responsibilities, and above all to reject perceptions and behaviors that led us to the end of the cliff," he said.

    [26] Greece-Qatar business forum in Athens

    Closer economic ties between Greece and Qatar will be the focus of an investment and business forum starting on Friday at the Lagonissi resort, southeast of Athens.

    Energy, real estate, the food industry and tourism cooperation will also have a significant position on the agenda.

    Theodoros Pangalos, vice-president of the government, will inaugurate the forum, accompanied by Qatar's Economics Minister Yussef Kamal, who leads the Qatari delegation.

    Qatar is a leading supplier of LNG in the world.

    Doha plans to differentiate its economic policy by promoting significant infrastructure projects - airports, ports, metro, artificial islands - in order to strengthen its position as a hub in the wider region.

    Qatari investors are interested in the real estate and the tourism sector.

    Bilateral relations upgraded rapidly in the last five year with the opening of embassies in Athens and Doha in 2007 and a regular exchange of government officials' visits between the two countries.

    [27] Tourism deputy ministers meet with Ryanair representatives

    Deputy Culture and Tourism Ministers Giorgos Nikitiadis and Petros Alivizatos had a meeting with representatives of low-budget airline Ryanair at the airline's initiative.

    The two officials were briefed, during a meeting on Tuesday, on the airline's programme for Greece and Ryanair's future activities in the Greek market.

    After the end the meeting the two deputy ministers said that the presence of low-budget airlines is very important for Greek tourism and is welcome, as are all other tourism-related agencies that contribute to the further growth of the Greek tourism, product.

    The two deputy ministers noted that the State must be in constant contact with the representatives of the international tourism industry so that Greece in 2012 will have a positive outlook with respect to arrivals and the revenues, which will assist the ongoing national effort for the country's economic recovery.

    [28] Business Briefs

    -- More business labour contracts, more flexible labour relations and informal labour, combined with wage reductions, are the latest trends in the domestic labour market, a report by the Labour Inspectors' Agency revealed on Thursday.

    -- The new orders composite index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) dropped 10.5 pct in November, compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 6.2 pct recorded in the previous 12-month period, Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Thursday.

    -- Greece's Capital Markets Commission on Thursday announced it has fined the chief executive and an employee of Babis Vovos with 1.0 million euros after a commission investigation found insider trading practices.

    -- Greece has the highest average prices for unleaded petrol in the European Union, reflecting higher VAT and a bigger special consumption tax introduced in the country, a report by Alternate Development Minister Socrates Xynidis said on Thursday.

    -- Aegean Airlines on Thursday said its international passenger traffic numbers grew 15 pct to 3.52 million in 2011, surpassing the number of domestic traffic, which totaled 2.96 million passengers, recording a 6.0 pct decline last year.

    -- Capital under management in the Greek market totaled 8.55 billion euros at the end of 2011, a report by the Association of Institutional Investors showed on Thursday.

    [29] Stocks end 2.94 pct higher

    Stocks rose significantly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, extending their advance for the seventh consecutive session during which the market has risen 10.30 pct.

    The composite index of the market rose 2.94 pct to end at 689.75 points, after rising by 4.62 pct during the session reaching to 700 level. Turnover rose to 64.940 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 3.19 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 3.11 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.95 pct higher. The Chemicals (0.13 pct) was the only index to end lower, while Banks (4.99 pct), Telecoms (4.29 pct) and Constructions (3.61 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of th day. Alpha Bank (12.09 pct), Eurobank (9.64 pc), Hellenic Postbank (8.73 pct) and National Bank (5.26 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Petroleum (1.15pct) and MIG (1.08 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 113 to 44 with another 23 issues unchanged. Mathios (30 pct), Nafpaktos Spinn Mills (30 pct) and Akritas (29.88 pct) were top gainers, while AlKO Hellas (12.94 pct), Teletypos (9.09 pct) and Kordellou Bros (7.66 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +1.56%

    Commercial: +2.77%

    Construction: +3.61%

    Oil & Gas: +0.42%

    Personal & Household: +0.66%

    Raw Materials: +2.56%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.74%

    Technology: +2.59%

    Telecoms: +4.29%

    Banks: +4.99%

    Food & Beverages: +4.99%

    Health: +2.47%

    Utilities: +1.06%

    Chemicals: +0.15%

    Financial Services: +1.06%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.62

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.19

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.70

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.00

    National Bank of Greece: 1.80

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.42

    OPAP: 6.40

    OTE: 2.92

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.29

    Titan: 12.28

    [30] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 25.93 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 27.75 pct and the German Bund 1.82 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.81 pct, the six-month rate 1.48 pct, the three-month 1.19 pct and the one-month rate 0.78 pct.

    [31] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.16 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising slightly to 22.737 million euors. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,159 contracts worth 13.642 million euros, with 21,964 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 56,280 contracts worth 9.095 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (26,525), followed by GEK (238), MIG (355), OTE (1,100), PPC (2,777), OPAP (1,500), Piraeus Bank (3,422), Hellenic Exchanges (606), Alpha Bank (12,459), Mytilineos (617), Hellenic Petroleum (262), Cyprus Bank (4,055), Motor Oil (317) and Hellenic Postbank (1,236).

    [32] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.310

    Pound sterling 0.848

    Danish kroner 7.547

    Swedish kroner 8.891

    Japanese yen 100.68

    Swiss franc 1.225

    Norwegian kroner 7.776

    Canadian dollar 1.320

    Australian dollar 1.257

    General News

    [33] Greece-China cooperation in research, technology

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and the Chinese ambassador in Athens, Du Qiwen, on Thursday signed a proclamation between China and Greece on the research and technology sector.

    In statements after the signing of the document, Diamanto-poulou said China and Greece are inaugurating a new period to further strengthen bilateral relations, by boosting scientific and technological cooperation, cooperation between universities and promotion of the Greek language.

    Diamantopoulou will visit China on Feb. 16 to discuss the cooperation between universities and schools of the two countries, including local philosophy faculties with China's Confucius Institute. Funding of each programme will not exceed 400,000 euros and will be completed in three years.

    [34] Greek dance troupe in Beijing for Year of the Dragon event

    A traditional dance troupe from the central Greece city of Trikala, a group which promotes Hellenic cultural traditions throughout the world, will perform at a Chinese New Year's celebration in Beijing's Chaoyang park during the International Spring Carnival, from Jan. 23 to 28.

    2012 marks the year of the Golden Dragon on the Chinese calendar, an ancient symbol of power in Chinese culture.

    The Greek dance troupe will convey to Chinese audiences the mythical dimensions of dragons in Greek mythology and cultural legends, such as the safeguarding of immortality, the giving of the golden apples of Hesperides or the story of Golden fleece of the Argonauts.

    The event is organised with the contribution of the embassy of Greece in Beijing and with the promotion support of the embassy's press & communication office.

    Meanwhile, an exhibition of the works of Greek painter and sculptor Costis Georgiou, entitled "Opus Omega", will be inaugurated on Friday, Jan. 20, at the fine arts museum in the city of Suzhou, one of China's most prolific cultural centres.

    Greece's ambassador to China, Theodoros Georgakelos, will attend the opening.

    [35] International conference on Greek-French artistic relations

    Artistic and cultural relations between Greece and France during the period between the two world wars is the theme of the three-day international conference titled "Paris-Athens 1919-1939" that began at the Benaki Museum on Thursday.

    The conference, organised by the Benaki Myseum, the French Archaeological School and the Mediterranean Studies Institute, in cooperation with the French Institute of Athens, constitutes the conclusion of the four-year Research Programme under the same name, that started in 2008, on cultural exchanges between Greece and France during the period between the two world wars. It is a period during which the mobility of artists, writers and intellectuals developed with very productive results from the one capital to the other and mainly of the Greeks to Paris, that had emerged on the international scene as the most powerful cultural centre of the era.

    [36] Major extortion, loan-shark rings exposed in N. Greece

    A senior financial crimes squad (SDOE) investigator, senior bank executives, lawyers, police officers, a journalist at a state-run TV channel, a tax bureau employee, a doctor, local businessmen and even a former football player are amongst the 53 people arrested this week in northern Greece as part of a major police operation against organised crime.

    Police on Thursday said they uncovered four extortion, loan-shark, fraud and money-laundering rings that are allegedly intertwined.

    The probe is linked with the suicide of a 45-year-old local businessman last June, as well as the attempted suicide of a 58-year-old insurance agent last October. According to authorities, individuals who borrowed money from the loan-shark racket were charged up to 80 pct interest on the loans they received in case payment was overdue.

    Authorities said the rings made off with as much as 43.5 million euros, based on evidence available in a massive 15,000-page-long indictment, including 3,500-page-long transcripts of intercepted cell phone conversations.

    Police have arrested the five alleged ring leaders, among them a 58-year-old businessman, a nightclub owner who had run for deputy regional governor in the last local government elections.

    The 12-member gang ostensibly headed by the 58-year-old was active since late 2003, with profits between 2004-2011 being laundered via winning lottery tickets and football bets.

    A second gang, comprising 13 members, was active since late 2008 and headed by a 53-year-old local businessman, who declared no sources of income in the period 2006-2010. The profits amassed between 2008 and 2010 are estimated at 2.2 million euros.

    The third gang was formed in late 2009 and its alleged leader is a 38-year-old local man who had filed no tax statements since 2005. The ring had 14 members, among them, a bank employee, a medical doctor and a prison inmate.

    The fourth gang, comprising 19 members, was formed in late 2001 and was headed by three brothers, a 32-year-old and two 43-year-olds.

    The investigation in the houses of the suspects in Thessaloniki and in the regions of Halkidiki and Serres revealed four firearms, two pistols, knives, brass-knuckles, truncheons, cartridges, numerous cheques, private agreements, jewelry and a total of 172,000 euros in cash.

    The police investigation into the activities of the four gangs was launched seven months ago following the arrest of a 35-year-old Greek-Syrian last April, suspected of heading an extortion and money laundering racket.

    The tax bureau official was also identified as a cadre of the PASOK-affiliated PASKE union.

    [37] Nine arrested in Greece in Europe-wide Europol child pornography crackdown

    Nine people were arrested in Greece, including a French national, while hundreds of others have been arrested around Europe in a major Europol crackdown against online child sexual abuse file-sharing networks code-named "Operation Icarus".

    A former diplomatic employee, an army officer, businessmen, a schoolbus driver and other citizens 'above suspicion' are among the nine people arrested and another five against whom case files were opened in Greece in the context of the Icarus operation.

    The extensive crackdown on child sex abuse material via the internet, coordinated by EUROPOL, was launched three months ago and concluded on Wednesday.

    The Greek Police electronic crimes squad became active in the operation after electronic traces were found belonging to users in Greece trafficking in hard-core child pornography.

    Nine persons were arrested in Greece and case files were opened for five others. The suspects were arrested in Athens, Piraeus, Malia (in Hersonissos, on the island of Crete) and Carpathos, while case files were also opened against five suspects in Athens, the island of Corfu and Arta.

    Eight of the arrestees are locals and one is a French national, who is also charged with declaring a false identity during his arrest.

    Greek police conducted searches of a large number of residences and workplaces, and turned up 16 computer hard disc drives and 11 laptops containing a large number of archives of more than 14,000 GB with child pornography material.

    The detainees were taken before local prosecutors.

    According to police, ICARUS is one of the largest police operations to be conducted at Europe-wide level, and is the first operation concluded under the auspices of the new action plan of the COSPOL (Comprehensive, Operational, Strategic Planning for the Police-European Police Chiefs Taskforce) Internet Related Child Abuse Material Project (CIRCAMP), an initiative by EU police chiefs led by Belgium and funded by the European Commission.

    Greek Police (ELAS) later released the names of the arrestees, and has appealed to the public to come forth with any information they may have at the telephone numbers: 210-6476464 and 210-6476000 , FAX no. 210-6476462, and e-mail address: http://www.cybercrimeunit@hellenicpolice.gr

    The names of the detainees, according to ELAS, are: Michail Michailidis (parents: Haralambos and Irene), born in 1945 in Piraeus, pensioner; Christos Doulkeridis (Fotis and Maria), born in 1982 in Maroussi, university student; Vassilis Vassiliou (Dimosthenes and Sophia), born in Athens in 1961, schoolbus driver; Panayiotis Daniil (Efstratios and Athanassia), born in Athens in 1982, private employee; Apostolos Itsios (Sotiris and Athanassia), born in Thessaloniki in 1977, businessman; Theodoros Moustakis (Dimitris and Sevasmia), born in Athens in 1959, businessman; George Hondroyiannis (Constantine and Irene), born in 1965 in Iraklion, Crete, Airforce wing commander; Dimitris Patelis (Constantine and Zacharenia), born in 1973, unemployed; and Tardy Giller (Gaston and Genevieve), born in France in 1947, former diplomatic employee.

    ELAS said the names were released with the approval of the relevant prosecutors, for protection of the social whole, adding that the nine are charged with procurement and possession of child sexual abuse material via use of the internet, and production of such material linked with the exploitation of minors under 15 years of age.

    [38] Former Proton Bank chief slapped with embezzlement charges

    A first instance court prosecutor has slapped embezzlement charges against high-profile entrepreneur Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, in connection with a 54-million-euro loan personally approved for him by Proton Bank, at a time he was board president.

    The investigation underway focuses on large loans estimated at 700 million euros, which were damaging for the bank and were received by companies or individuals related with Lavrentiadis when he was serving as Proton Bank board member.

    Lavrentiadis, who faces other felony charges, has until Jan. 30 to prepare his testimony.

    [39] Wife and son charged with 58 -year-old's murder

    Police on Thursday announced they had solved the homicide of a 58-year-old man on October 2011 at Neokastro, Imathia prefecture in northwestern Greece.

    According to police, the perpetrators of the crime are the 51-year-old wife of the victim and his 25-year-old son, as well as a 31-year-old friend of the son.

    The three suspects confessed during interrogation that they had murdered the 58-year-old in cold blood over financial and family differences.

    The investigation revealed that the two younger men, following instructions from the victim's wife, set up an ambush for the victim in a farming area in Neokastro, where the son shot his father once in the chest with a single-barrel hunting rifle at close range, fatally injuring him. The two perpetrators then got rid of the weapon at an unknown spot.

    A case file for intentional homicide and complicity was filed against the suspects, who will appear before a Veria prosecutor.

    [40] Fire at listed Acropole Palace hotel destroyed wooden floors, original fittings

    A fire that broke out on January 9 in the Acropole Palace hotel, a listed building with Art Nouveau elements built by architect Sotiris Magiasis in 1925-1928, has not affected the building's structural integrity but caused extensive damage to several of the original fixtures and fittings.

    Based on an inspection by a culture and tourism ministry delegation for the restoration and maintenance of ancient and modern monuments, the fire lasted two and half hours and has completely destroyed a stained-glass panel on the central staircase, large sections of the wooden staircase and its banisters up to the third floor and sections of the wooden flooring on the ground floor, which has also sustained water damage during the fire-fighting effort.

    There is no significant damage to marble, metallic, plaster and wooden decorative fixtures in the interior, except for the carved decorations in one window in the Athenian Sitting Room and some losses in plaster decorations.

    The damage means that the funds approved for the maintenance of the building have to be re-examined in order to cover the additional damage caused by the fire and cleaning operations to remove soot from the interior.

    The historic hotel is situated near the heart of Athens, on the corner of Patission and Averoff streets. It has two ground-floor levels, a mezzanine, six storeys and an attic, covering a total area of 6599.26 square metres. The building combines Art Nouveau elements with Greek architectural tradition.

    [41] Bloody clash in Thessaloniki among migrants, one dead, two injured

    A 19-year-old Nigerian was killed late Wednesday and two other compatriots were injured in the Toumba district of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in a bloody incident among African economic migrants.

    The bloody incident, the reasons for which remain unknown, occurred at a mini-market selling traditional African products. According to police two Africans entered the shop, owned by a Nigerian, and after a verbal argument started fighting with four other Nigerians, resulting in the fatal injury of the 19-year-old, possibly with a sickle, in the chest, and the injury of two other men.

    The injured, who are reported as being out of danger, are hospitalised under guard at a Thessaloniki hospital.

    Police found a sickle at the scene of the crime, while the perpetrators are wanted by authorities.

    [42] 56 Illegal migrants repatriated

    Fifty-six foreign nationals who had illegally entered Greece and court orders had been issued for their repatriation, departed on Wednesday for their countries from Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos", with the destinations being Cairo, Dhaka, Shanghai, Beijing, Islamabad and New Delhi.

    Twenty three of them were from Bangladesh, 29 from China, one from Pakistan, two from Egypt and one from India.

    [43] Vessel carrying illegals intercepted north of Corfu

    The coastguard on Thursday intercepted a speedboat piloted by an Italian national reportedly and loaded with 30 illegal migrants north of the Ionian island of Corfu.

    According to authorities, the migrant smuggler attempted to transport the illegals to the Italian coast when his vessel was spotted by a patrol boat and was led back to Corfu.

    [44] Woman arrested for 48 million euro in unpaid taxes

    A 35-year-old former business woman, the owner of a firm dealing in apparel, was arrested by Greek authorities in Polygyro, Halkidiki on Thursday for unpaid taxes amounting to 48 million euro.

    The woman ran a limited liability company between 2006 and 2010, based in Nea Iraklia, Halkidiki. Specifically, the taxes that she failed to pay to the state during that time amount to 48,671,676.80 euro.

    [45] Cannabis arrest in Athens

    A 53-year-old Pakistani was arrested late Wednesday at Aghios Panteleimonas in downtown Athens charged with drug dealing.

    Police found in his possession six kilos and 235 grams of cannabis, 110 euros, a precision scale and a mobile phone.

    The suspect will be sent before an Athens prosecutor.

    [46] Cannabis arrests on Crete

    A 24-year-old local man was arrested on Wednesday in Platanias village on Crete island, charged with drug dealing. Police found hidden in an old warehouse one kilo of cannabis.

    In a separate incident early Thursday, a 26-year-old Iranian national was arrested in Hania, Crete, for possessing one kilo of cannabis.

    Police confiscated the drug, a precision scale and two mobile phones.

    Weather forecast

    [47] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -6C and 15C. Cloudy in Athens, with westerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 2C to 13C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 8C.

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