|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-02-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 1 February 2012 Issue No: 3986
 PM: PSI, new loan negotiations to be completed within the weekBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Spinthourakis/M. Aroni)
Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos expressed confidence that the negotiations with its private creditors for a write-down of the Greek debt and with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' on a second bailout loan will be completed within the current week, speaking in Brussels late Monday after an EU summit, but noted however that "the difficulties continue to exist".
Immediately after the summit, Papademos had a meeting with European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker, European economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn and ECB Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen, and in statements to the press later said that he briefed his counterparts on the substantial progress that Greece has made in the past two years both with respect to fiscal consolidation and with respect to boosting the competitiveness of the Greek economy, stressing that the country's primary fiscal deficit was contained to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2011 and expressing optimism that this course would continue.
Papademos also underlined that in the last two years the Greek economy has regained one-third of the competitiveness it had lost between 2000-2009 vis-a-vis its partners in the eurozone, and 50 percent of the competitiveness it had lost vis-a-vis all its trade partners.
"The Greek government will continue its efforts in the same direction," he added.
He further noted the appeal made by the summit leaders to the Greek authorities and all the sides involved to continue their efforts on the PSI and conclude the deliberations in the next few days.
Asked what the difficulties were for completion of the negotiations, Papademos declined to go into details, warning that this would not be beneficial while the negotiations are ongoing. He sufficed to say that these details concern the adjustments required for reduction of the fiscal deficit, in other words cutbacks in expenditures and adjustments for reducing the labour cost and cost of production.
On the PSI negotiations, Papademos said the negotiations will continue in tandem with the negotiations with the troika, and that the Greek side's target is to avoid further public sector involvement in the efforts for a write-down of the Greek debt.
Papademos also said that there were no negotiations during the summit among the EU partners on the matter of the measures that Greece must take, nor any discussion on the matter of a budget commissioner being appointed for Greece, a leaked German proposal that drew fire from Greek and European leaders as well as inside Germany itself.
He stressed, however, that the Greek government has its own positions and its own 'red lines'.
Papademos further opined that, at the present stage, the three political parties backing his interim government will "rise to the occasion", and expected the Greek MPs to do their duty with the interests of the country as their criteria.
The premier noted that the summit calls on the Greek political parties to commit to adherence to the new programme, clarifying that the manner in which this commitment will be expressed will be determined in time and stressing the great importance of cohesion among the Greek political forces.
Papademos said that the time margins have narrowed, adding that the message to the Greek citizens is that the country's European and institutional partners have to now clearly manifested their support to Greece, both financially and with technical assistance, so that it may continue the gigantic effort it has been making in the last years for recovery of the economy.
"This effort entails substantial sacrifices for the Greek people, which is reflected in the indicators, such as that of the high rate of unemployment and reduction in the real incomes," the premier continued, stressing that the effort being made by the country and its citizens must continue with consistency and determination so that the end targets will be achieved.
"In this critical moment, we must all, with prudence and unity, support the government and the country in order to overcome the crisis. This is necessary so that the sacrifices that have been made will not have been in vain and in order to attain a better future for our country and our children," Papademos said.
On the summit conclusions, Papademos made special reference to the measures agreed by the European leaders to boost employment, especially among young people, which he said strongly concerns Greece where unemployment among youths exceeds 40 percent. He also made special reference to the measures that provide for the disposition of capital in order to boost employment and orientation among the young people and to support small and medium size enterprises that are facing liquidity problems, via the Structural Funds, the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and the European Investments Bank (EIB).
On the new treaty for stability, coordination and governance in the eurozone, Papademos said it was approved by the European Council and comprises a significant step in the direction of the EU's economic deepening.
 Talks with Troika to be completed this week, Greek FinMin saysNegotiations between the Greek government and the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika' are expected to be completed by the end of the week, and before the next Eurogroup meeting on Monday, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, the finance minister added that"we are before a routine step before completing the PSI procedure," while he reiterated that the two procedures - signing a new borrowing agreement and the PSI - are inter-dependent.
"This is the time of difficult negotiation, not later," he noted.
Finance ministry officials told the AMNA that ongoing talks with the troika are focusing on the divergence of the period 2011-2012, which should be covered by measures of up to 2.0 pct of GDP (around 4.5 billion euros).
These measures will become a pre-Memorandum, to be presented at next Monday's Eugoroup as a precondition to activating a PSI programme and releasing 30 billion euros from the European Union. Commenting on the "haircut", Venizelos said it was up to the European Central Bank to decide whether its bonds could be included in the programme, adding that both the Eurogroup and a Euro Working Group have drafted all possible scenarios in order to achieve a target of reducing Greece's public debt to 120 pct of GDP by 2020.
The finance minister reiterated that the government has pledged to cover any asset losses by pension funds from their participation in a PSI programme, whereas he added that the Greek social insurance system was guaranteed by the Greek state. Venizelos said negotiations over the future of the so-called "13th" and "14th" wages were made between the Greek premier and political leaders with the troika.
 Karatzaferis sends letter to EU institution leaders, criticises measures proposed for GreecePopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, head of one of the three parties currently supporting the Greek government of Lucas Papademos, on Tuesday sent letters to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and the heads of each of the political groups in the European Parliament concerning the terms proposed for a new agreement for loans to Greece.
In the letters, Karatzaferis asked them to influence the EU executive organs to adopt a more "rational" approach to the Greek economic crisis and stressed that terms of the agreement proposed by Greece's creditors could not trample on fundamental rights that had never before been questioned in a democratic society and a sovereign state.
LAOS's leader also underlined that Greece could not carry out reforms "at gunpoint" when these required the participate of society as a whole. Warning that the handling of the Greek crisis was "a time bomb for the entire western world" and that the country was at a crucial turning point in its course toward fiscal reform and economic recovery, he pointed out that the Greek people were being burdened with austerity measures of unprecedented severity in the country's recent history.
"Certain of the proposed terms submitted in view of the new loan agreement will shake the Greek people's faith in the entire process, as well as the effort of the political system to convince the citizens of the necessity of reforms. In addition, the economy will be slowed to a point of no return and social upheaval will result, the like of which Europe has not seen in decades and which will make implementation of the reforms impossible," he added.
According to Karatzaferis, such upheaval in Greece could potentially spread to other countries and express the disappointment of all European people against the distortions of participatory democracy. He underlined that many of the proposals now discussed for the agreement ran counter to Community entitlements and the core of European legislation on fundamental rights and freedoms, while many of the proposed interventions in the labour market contravened fundamental articles of the International Labour Organisation charters.
Karatzaferis appealed that the next European Parliament plenum that will meet to discuss the results of the EU summit and asked for its strategic intervention to protect the reform process in the countries now in crisis, such as Greece, and of the fundamental democratic values on which Europe is based.
"We all understand that the sacrifices for adjustment and recovery are huge and the Greek people have already displayed great patience and maturity in dealing with the process. Nevertheless, the sacrifice of national dignity and the imposition of an economic dictatorship on Greece cannot be considered a part of any process to help Greece," he emphasised.
 Samaras briefs President on Moscow talksNew democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday called on President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, at the latter's request, and briefed him on the outcome of his recent visit to Moscow and talks with Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin.
Samaras also opined that despite the heavy climate "Greece counts" abroad and that it will succeed in exiting the crisis, in a brief conversation with the President before entering the Presidential Mansion for the briefing.
Addressing Papoulias, the ND leader said that "I wish to inform you, on the occasion of my visit to Russia and meeting with prime minister Putin, that all my visits abroad have one purpose: to help in every way for Greeceto overcome these dramatic difficulties it is facing today, and all these trips are being made in that direction".
"I have ascertained that despite the truly heavy climate, Greece still counts and we will exit the crisis, there is hope," Samaras added.
"There is hope," Papoulias echoed.
No statements are expected to be made after the meeting.
 Foreign minister in Belgrade; talks focus on Serbia's EU prospectsBELGRADE (AMNA - N. Pelpas)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas held talks with his Serb counterpart Vuk Jeremic while in Belgrade on Tuesday, with the focus mainly on Serbia's European accession prospects.
Dimas was in Belgrade to attend an informal ministerial meeting of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP).
Their talks were mainly about next month's planned European Union summit, which will examine Serbia's application to become an EU candidate country. Dimas reiterated Greece's support for Serbia's accession bid, stressing that Europe would be incomplete without Serbia.
Jeremic briefed the Greek minister on developments in dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, especially the effort underway for a solution concerning Kosovo's representation in regional organisations.
The Serb minister underlined that his country will not accept any solution that overlooks UNSCR 1244 and stressed that Belgrade will only agree to Kosovo's representation in regional organisations within this framework.
Dimas had earlier paid a visit to Serb Patriarch Irineos and briefed him on the effort to overcome the economic crisis in Greece, expressing hope that the country would soon return to growth.
Responding to the Patriarch's questions about the progress of talks on the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Dimas noted that the government in Skopje was displaying intransigency, chiefly in order to strengthen its position domestically and stay in power.
The minister stressed that Greece desires a solution to the name dispute arising through mutual consensus on the name issue, in the framework of UN processes, and to restore good neighbour relations.
Dimas also visited Belgrade's Nebojsa Tower, now a museum that was partly refurbished with the assistance of Greek funds and includes a gallery dedicated to Greek independence struggle hero Rigas Ferraios, who was killed in the tower by Ottoman Turks.
 Greek FM received by Serbian presidentBELGRADE (AMNA/N.Pelpas)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas was received here on Tuesday evening by Serbian President Boris Tadic at the end of an informal ministerial session of the Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP).
Talks focused on bilateral relations and Serbia's European prospects.
The Greek foreign minister also had a brief encounter with his Turksih counterpart Ahmed Davutoglu. The two ministers agreed on a meeting, in February, between the two ministries' general secrtaries to prepare the second session of a Cooperation Council.
 FM Dimas attends SEECP informal ministerial sessionBELGRADE (AMNA/N. Pelpas)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas stressed the need for relations of good neighbourliness to be consolidated in the Balkans, addressing, Tuesday, the informal ministerial session of the Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP).
"An end must be put to the antiquated and interethnic conflicts and reconciliation and trust must be strengthened," Dimas said.
Dimas reminded of the Greek "Agenda 2014" initiative, pointing out that it aims at the creation of a favourable political environment for the incorporation of the Western Balkans to be maintained at the top of the European Union's priorities.
Referring to Serbia in particular, Dimas reiterated that Greece is a strong supporter of the country's European prospect.
 FM Dimas meets Croatia, Montenegro and fYRoM counterpartsBELGRADE (AMNA - N. Pelpas)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas held bilateral meetings on Tuesday afternoon with his counterparts from Croatia Vesna Pusic, Montenegro Milan Rocen and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) Nikola Poposki, on the sidelines of the informal session of Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process Foreign ministers.
In his meeting with the fYRoM Foreign minister, Dimas stressed the need for the creation of a suitable climate that will allow progress in the negotiations on the issue of the name of the neighbouring country, reiterating that actions and statements that aggravate the atmosphere must be avoided.
The Greek Foreign minister reiterated Greece's steadfast adherrence to the achievement of a solution, through the process of negotiations under the auspices of the UN.
 PASOK leader meets Israeli president, PMPASOK party president George Papandreou, currently on a visit to Israel, on Tuesday had a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres and the country's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After the meeting, Papandreou said that they had discussed the crisis in the Eurozone and that he had presented the proposals put forward by Greece and the PASOK party for a "developmental prospect of the European Union".
"I outlined the great effort being made by the Greek people and the cooperation government so that we can deal with the crisis in Greece and make our economy fairer, more sustainable and more competitive," he added.
Papandreou also noted the improvement in relations between Greece and Israel in the last two years and their close cooperation in tourism and energy, stressing the need for greater cooperation in the region in order to generate a sense of security and certainty.
PASOK's president is in Israel to address the 12th political and economic "Herzilya Conference" forum.
 PASOK party leader Papandreou meets Palestinian Authority PMPASOK party and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou, speaking after his meeting in Ramallah, with Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad, with whom he discussed Europe's general economic problems, and in particular the issue of Palestine, said that "steadfastly Greece, steadfastly PASOK, as well as the Socialist International steadfastly, we all believe that resolving the Palestinan problem is absolutely necessary for peace, development, prosperity and stability in the wider region. In this direction, we believe that it is necessary that the recent decisions by the European Union on the creation of a Palestinian state, which will live side-by-side with the state of Israel, with peace and security, be materialised."
Papandreou congratulated the Palestinian Authority prime minister "for his considerable efforts, for the recovery of the Palestinian economy, as well as the creation of the necessary state institutions, as a precondition for the further securing of a viable Palestinian state."
"I wish to stress that PASOK, the Socialist International, Greece which is part of this region here, has the possibility of playing a very considerable role in this effort, for stability and peace in the wider region," Papandreou added.
 Loverdos, Venizelos announced cooperation for PASOK's unityHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos and Government Vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday announced that they plan to cooperate in order to 'reconstruct' the PASOK party and guarantee its unity.
The two ministers and high-ranking PASOK members made the statement during a joint press conference to announce policies to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals.
They appeared confident that through their "common path" they would be able to guarantee that PASOK stayed united. They also agreed on the need to support the government of Lucas Papademos so that it can complete its work.
"With Vangelis Venizelos we decided to fight the difficult battle to achieve the country's goals together. Both within the ranks of the government, as we already do on a daily basis, and within the ranks of our own political area, in PASOK," Loverdos said.
The health minister underlined that PASOK could not withstand further divisions and that the country needed stability, something that required that PASOK stand united.
"We are the ones that can guarantee this unity," Loverdos added.
He also emphasised the need to support the Papademos government in a "clear and active way," saying that this was imperative for the nation's interests and that Greece must win the most "crucial and decisive battle" that it would have to fight as a member of the EU and the Eurozone.
The health minister said that restructuring PASOK was now in the hands of all its members and that the current lack of leadership must be covered by unity and by ensuring continuity and a future prospect. He announced that he would present his proposals for a new philosophy for the party in the next few days.
Venizelos also stressed that by joining their forces, the two of them "can guarantee stability" and also agreed that any further division would cost the party valuable ground.
"The initiative must be a trigger to put an end to introversion. It is our obligation to proceed together for PASOK, the country and the citizens," the finance minister said.
According to Venizelos, PASOK President George Papandreou had not been informed about the two ministers' initiative.
 KKE opposition to drug reform draft lawCommunist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Tuesday rejected a bill envisioning changes in the law dealing with illegal drug users, claiming that it is "nothing but a crime, equally serious and horrific with the loan agreement, the PSI and all cruel measures adopted."
The KKE said the draft law decriminalises and "beautifies" the use of drugs by invoking individual rights to "abuse and insult their bodies". She also called on parents, teachers and the judiciary to intervene before the law is passed in Parliament.
 SYRIZA head criticises use bankruptcy article 99Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliament group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday underlined that Greek governments are more concerned about rescuing banks and not private companies that comprise part of the production sector.
Tsipras made the comment during his visit to a debt-ridden pharmaceutical company where more than 1,500 employees are at risk of losing their jobs.
The SYRIZA leader also referred to the right of businesspeople who fail to pay their dues, to file for bankruptcy under article 99, which he criticised as an attempt to thwart the rightful claims of employees.
 Labour minister's meeting with Troika postponedLabour and Social Security minister Giorgos Koutroumanis' scheduled meeting with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika on Tuesday has been postponed due to "technical difficulties", and will be re-scheduled, most likely for Thursday, ministry sources.
The decision for the postponement was taken late Monday night after a meeting between ministry secretary general Anna Stratinaki with a technical team of the troika, which wound up shortly before midnight without result.
According to sources, the meeting reviewed statistical and financial data for an assessment of the effects of the measures that have already been taken and new measures suggested by the Greek side or the troika regarding the ratio between labour cost and productivity up to 2015.
 EL.STAT case file on alleged inflation of budget deficit to be forwarded to ParliamentSupreme Court deputy prosecutor Nikolaos Pantelis on Wednesday will forward the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) case file to Parliament for further investigation.
Financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis, who was in charge of the investigation into allegations that Greece's state deficit for 2009 was intentionally inflated by the then Papandreou government, has requested Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes to forward the case file to Parliament, suggesting involvement of political figures.
On his part, Tentes had instructed deputy prosecutor Pantelis to study the case and decide whether it should be immediately forwarded to Parliament.
As regards the involvement of other individuals, the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor will order the financial prosecutor to continue his investigation into the case and request explanations by EL.STAT president Andreas Georgiou.
 Task forces against youth unemployment in eight EU membersBRUSSELS (AMNA / V. Demiris)
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday announced that he will proceed with the establishment of "task forces" in eight EU members, including Greece, where unemployment for young adults under the age of 25 is higher than 30 pct.
The initiative, to be implemented in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovakia, comes within the framework of an effort to combat youth unemployment, which has assumed alarming dimensions across much of Europe.
In October 2011, unemployment reached 47.2 pct among young people in Greece under the age of 25.
A European Commission spokesman clarified that the task forces will comprise representatives of state authorities, social partners and the European Commission. By mid April, they will have to pinpoint the sectors that can absorb the young unemployed through the utilization of EU structural funds estimated to roughly 82 million euros.
 Greek unemployment at 19.2% in Nov, EurostatBRUSSELS (AMNA-M. Aroni)
The unemployment rate in Greece rose to 19.2 pct in October 2011, Eurostat announced on Tuesday, ranking the country second after Spain with the highest unemployment rate. Greece also ranked second in unemployment among young people (aged below 25 years), at 47.2 pct, following Spain (48.3 pct). Unemployment among men totaled 17.2 pct and among women 22.1 pct.
In the EU-27, the unemployment rate was 9.8 pct and in the Eurozone 10.3 pct. Austria (4.1 pct), Holland (4.8 pct), Luxembourg (4.9 pct) and Germany (5.7 pct) recorded the lowest unemployment rates.
The unemployment rate was 9.9 pct in December 2011 in the EU-27, and 10.4 pct in the Eurozone. There were no figures for Greece.
 Greek business presence remains strong in SerbiaBELGRADE (AMNA / N. Pelpas)
Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas on Tuesday held a working lunch here with members of the board of the Association of Greek Enterprises, which represents Greece-based companies active in Serbia.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP) Foreign Ministers informal meeting.
Dimas was briefed by representatives of Greek enterprises, which are particularly active in the banking sector, communications, trade and constructions, on the course of their investments.
Greek investments in Serbia amount to more than 2.5 billion euros and account for more than 25,000 jobs in the country.
The meeting also focused on the reinforcement of bilateral trade and the increase of Greek exports to Serbia.
 Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce president on structural changesAddressing the New Year's reception of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, its president Yiannos Grammatidis expressed the wish for Greece to "regain its lost credibility and for citizens to regain their optimism."
"We must disengage ourselves from the discussion on separate special measures that are painful for the citizens and entrepreneurship and make a new start discussing sincerely and in an organised manner about the essence of the Greek problem which is the unobstructed and unhesitating implementation of the structural changes as a basic prerequisite for the implementation of every other measure of fiscal balance and growth," he added.
 Commercial 'Hermes Expo' for promotion of Greek products and servicesNEW YORK (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)
The International Commercial Exhibition "Hermes Expo" is considered "an opportunity for the promotion of Greek products and services in America" by its founder and president Pavlos Kotrotsios, stressing that "it contributes, as well, to the development of business cooperations and to the further strengthening of trade relations between Greece and the United States."
According to Kotrotsios, "in addition, the possibility is given to companies from Greece, Cyprus, the USA and other cocuntries, as well as to local admnistration agencies, to public organisations and private persons, through their acquaintance and possible cooperation, to develop new methods of know-how."
This year's 21st Hermes Expo will be held in Atlantic City on March 31-April 1.
 Housing costs a rising problem for Greek households, ISTAME report showsHome ownership and the ability to afford housing has become a rising problem for Greek households as a result of the economic crisis, according to a report that the Institute for Strategic and Developmental Studies (ISTAME) posted on its website on Tuesday.
According to the study, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people unable to keep up with mortgage payments and many families would have been literally thrown out on the street if repossessions and auctions of foreclosed properties had not been 'frozen' by legislation in the last two years.
Its author Katerina Yiannetou cites figures published in the Greek press, according to which there are now 50,000 properties threatened with foreclosure, including 20,000 that are a household's only residence.
For all the above properties, payment orders have been issued and documents drawn up for their repossession. The figures also show a marked increase in the number of foreclosures proceedings initiated in the courts during 2011, compared with 2010 and 2008.
The author reports serious problems with rented properties as well, especially for migrants who were often obliged to lease a property without a rental agreement and were then faced with illegal rent hikes, eviction or forced cohabitation with others.
The report further notes the lack of accurate and reliable data concerning homelessness in Greece, which hampered efforts for an integrated stategy to deal with the phenomenon. Figures put out by the health and social solidarity ministry estimated the number of homeless in 2009 at 7,720 individuals but this figure has been criticised as an underestimate since it fails to include major categories defined as lacking shelter or excluded from residence.
According to non-governmental organisations, the figure is closer to 20,000 and the problem is rising.
 Passenger traffic in Greek ports down 8.2pct in Q2Passenger traffic in Greek ports fell by 8.2 pct in the second quarter of 2011, compared with the same period in the previous year, after a decline of 6.6 pct recorded in the second quarter of 2009, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said cargo traffic in Greek ports fell by 0.3 pct in the second quarter of 2011 in comparison with the same period in 2010, after a decline of 3.4 pct recorded in the same period in 2009.
 Business Briefs-- "The toll fee increases at toll posts nationwide was not a political decision but is included in the concession contracts," infrastructures, transport & networks minister Makis Voridis said on Tuesday, adding that "the question is who will pay them: the user or the taxpayer".
-- The Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) on Tuesday said it will hold an open tender for the repair of a small floating tank in the Perama ship repair zone, a unit that was badly damaged after a vessel hit the tank a few weeks ago.
 Stocks jump 6.13 pctStocks soared to new highs at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday with investors eyeing a positive outcome in PSI negotiations this week.
Bank shares were at the focus of buying activity, with Alpha Bank's shares leading the rally. The composite index of the market reached the 800 level, ending at 796.02 points, with a gain of 6.13 pct. The index jumped 16.99 pct in January. Turnover improved significant to 116.870 million euros.
The Big Cap index jumped 8.81 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 4.43 pct up and the Small Cap index rose 3.06 pct. Constructions (1.01 pct) was the only sector to end lower, while Banks (17.25 pct), Utilities (8.02 pct) and Travel (7.14 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 124 to 37 with another 20 issues unchanged. Akritas (30 pct), VIS (28.33 pct) and Piraeus Bank (26.39 pct) were top gainers, while Ilyda (29.38 pct), Tegopoulos (19.64 pct) and Neorio (15.5 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.55%
Personal & Household: +2.31%
Raw Materials: +5.11%
Travel & Leisure: +7.14%
Food & Beverages: +1.53%
Financial Services: +10.40%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.52
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.98
HBC Coca Cola: 14.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.77
National Bank of Greece: 2.75
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.92
Bank of Piraeus: 0.68
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 26.95 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 26.72 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 28.74 pct and the German Bund 1.70 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.75 pct, the six-month rate was 1.41 pct, the three-month rate 1.12 pct and the one-month rate 0.71 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.44 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 34.460 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,673 contracts worth 15.727 million euros, with 22,972 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 83,206 contracts worth 18.735 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (33,202), followed by MIG (1,479), OTE (2,370), PPC (2,155), OPAP (2,475), Piraeus Bank (5,935), GEK (1,301), Alpha Bank (21,509), Marfin Popular Bank (1,145), Mytilineos (836), Cyprus Bank (8,222) and Hellenic Postbank (741).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.337
Pound sterling 0.847
Danish kroner 7.546
Swedish kroner 9.030
Japanese yen 102.14
Swiss franc 1.222
Norwegian kroner 7.770
Canadian dollar 1.333
Australian dollar 1.255
 Cold, snow and gusty winds throughout the countryExtreme weather conditions prevailed on Tuesday in Northern Greece with temperatures plunging below zero. Snowfall and frost was reported in most parts of the country as well as gusty northerly winds reaching a velocity of 8 on the Beaufort scale. Snow chains are necessary in all mountainous areas throughout the country. Due to gale-force winds all vessels remained docked in ports and all itineraries for the Cyclades, Dodecanese and the islands of the northeastern Aegean and Crete have been cancelled.
In Athens, the thermometer on Tuesday morning showed 0C while in the northern Athens suburbs, snowfall and temperatures reaching -4C were recorded.
 Lung cancer in Greece still rising, despite stricter anti-smoking lawsIn spite of stricter laws banning smoking in public places, including cafes, bars and nightclubs, that have been in force since 2010, deaths due to lung cancer in Greece show no sign of abating but actually rose in 2011, scientists reported.
The figures showed that there were still 7,000 deaths related to lung cancer every year in Greece, with scientists noting that the disease has become a public health problem of epidemic proportions.
The number of incidents treated by cancer clinics in public hospitals has increased over the last year - an increase attributed to both a rise in the number of incidents and the economic crisis that sends people that would have otherwise sought private health care to the public health system.
Cases at the 'Sotiria' Hospital cancer clinic have increased by 24-30 percent as a result, while lung cancer remains the top cause of death among both men and women, surpassing breast cancer for the latter.
The figures were presented during a press conference to announce the 2nd International Concerence on Lung Cancer "From the Laboratory to Clinical Practice" that will be held in Athens on February 3-4.
Doctors note that there have been minimal improvements in patient survival rates once cancer is diagnosed over the years and that the chemotherapy normally used to treat such cases had reached their limits.
"We need different strategies, beyond chemotherapy, in order to achieve a significant extension of patient survival and to ensure a satisfactory quality of life for them," they noted.
 Eighty four illegal migrants send back to their countriesEighty-four illegal migrants were repatriated on Monday to their countries of origin. Eighty of them were Pakistani nationals, one Serb and three Turkish nationals.
The Pakistanis left from Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" with a charter flight with destination the cities of Islamabad and Lahore while the Serb and the Turkish nationals were sent back to their countries by bus via the border stations of Evzoni and Kipi respectively.
The repatriation of illegal migrants is conducted within the framework of the actions against illegal migration and the cost is covered by the European Fund for Repatriation.
 EU national arrested on European warrant for molestation of minorA German national, wanted on a European warrant for molestation of a minor in Germany, has been arrested in Katerini, northern Greece, Greek Police said on Tuesday.
According to a police announcement, the 67-year-old German, who is accused of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, will appear before a Thessaloniki prosecutor in order for the procedures to begin for his extradition to Germany.
The suspect was located in Katerini on Monday night, police said, adding that a European arrest warrant had been issued against him by the German authorities in earliy 2011.
 More high-profile arrests of major state debtors announcedThree people were arrested in the greater Athens area for massive overdue debts to the state, it was announced on Tuesday.
A 47-year-old managing director of a transport company based in the east Attica district of Koropi was arrested in the seaside suburb of Glyfada on Tuesday morning for overdue debts of 12.6 million euros.
Another two people, a 56-year-old handbag manufacturer and the legal representative of a hotel and catering company, were arrested for overdue debts of 288,000 euros and 217,000 euros, respectively.
 Man killed in Stylida incidentA clash occured in the city of Stylida, central Greece, on Tuesday afternoon during which an Albanian national was killed.
According to initial reports by the police, three men, all Albanian nationals, were in an ouzo store in Stylida since noon and friction they had with the storekeeper and certain customers led to the point of a scuffle. The three Albanians reportedly smashed up the store before the storekeeper sent them away at about 5 in the afternoon to avoid worse.
The group of three foreigners left but shortly afterwards, according to the reports, they returned armed with pistols.
According to the initial reports by the police, the 54-year-old storekeeper, who was a hunter, took the hunting rifle he kept in the store's kitchen and fired at the three Albanians, fatally wounding one of them, while the other two left after this development and are being sought by the police.
The storekeeper gave himself up at the Stylida police station after the incident. A group of foreigners moved menacingly against him even when he was in the police station, while in the evening big groups of Albanian nationals began gathering in the square of Stylida and were threatening with reprisals.
 Cocaine ring busted in AthensThe Attica Narcotics Squad on Tuesday announced that an organised crime ring supplying cocaine to large numbers of users in Athens was dismantled during police raids in Pagrati and Piraeus on Monday night.
Three men and one woman were arrested during the raids - two Greeks aged 43 and 38 years old, respectively, an Albanian man aged 27 and a Greek woman aged 35. In the apartment they used as a hideout, police found and confiscated 460 grammes of cocaine, a small quantity of cannabis, two electronic scales, eight mobile phones and one private car.
In another drugs bust in the Agios Panteleimonas district on Monday night, police arrested five Afghans suspected of systematically dealing in drugs in central Athens, which they hid and packaged in an abandoned building on Liosion Street.
The gang was found carrying 14 packets of heroin weighing 15.6 grammes, 25 packets of crystal meths weighing 25.9 grammes and other evidence.
The suspects were led before an Athens Misdemeanours' Court prosecutor.
 Road deaths down 3.2 pct in Nov. 2011Deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents throughout Greece fell by 3.2 percent in November 2011 against the same month in 2010, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) reported on Tuesday.
A total of 1,122 road accidents were reported in November, resulting in 91 deaths (a 9.6 percent increase against Nov. 2010), 110 serious injuries (23.6 percent decline against Nov. 2010) and 1,196 lighter injuries (1.7 percent decline against Nov. 2010).
 Cloudy with snow on WednesdayCloudy with sleet or snow and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -6C and 11C. Cloudy with light snowfall in Athens, with northerly 3-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from -1C to 5C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -6C to 1C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe EU Summit in Brussels and Germany's retraction of its demand for the appointment of a budget commissioner in Greece, the Troika's (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) demand for layoffs in the public sector and Alpha Bank's announcement that the agreement for its merger with Eurobank is facing difficulties, mostly dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Anticyclone from Siberia covers Greece".
AVGHI: "They (our European partners) are punishing us for their own failure".
AVRIANI: "PASOK MPs collecting signatures to get rid of George Papandreou (PASOK leader)".
DIMOKRATIA: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel playing with fire".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Reversals in public sector with thousands of layoffs".
ESTIA: "Greece of creativity undermined by the misery of merchants ".
ETHNOS: "Germany pressures for the new loan".
IMERISSIA: "Alpha Bank's deal with Eurobank in the air!".
KATHIMERINI: "Five days deadline for the agreement".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Germany takes back the proposal for a fiscal commissioner in Greece".
NIKI: "100 billion euros 'hidden' debt".
LOGOS: "Troika demands 10,000 layoffs in public sector in order to give the new loan...".
RIZOSPASTIS: "20 percent new cutbacks in salaries".
TA NEA: "The nein 'killed' the commissioner".
VRADYNI: "The changes in the public sector on civil servants' retirement".
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