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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-03-01

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

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

Thursday, 1 March 2012 Issue No: 4010

CONTENTS

  • [01] Barroso after meeting with Papademos: 'Greece can'
  • [02] Final decision on ratification of new programme for Greece on March 12
  • [03] ND leader to have series of meetings in Brussels
  • [04] Bundestag president addresses letter to Greek counterpart
  • [05] Sharp ministry reply to German media reports
  • [06] Leftist leader lashes out at Samaras
  • [07] Minister villifies reactions to bill envisioning widespread use of generic drugs
  • [08] Bakoyannis calls for disciplinary, legal action against prosecutor
  • [09] Deputy FM Dollis visits Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [10] Education minister meets Archbishop Ieronymos
  • [11] TI assessment report on Greece
  • [12] Greece launches tender for the sale of DEPA
  • [13] Credit to private sector remained negative in Jan.
  • [14] Greek inflation slows to 2.1 pct in Jan., Eurostat
  • [15] Retail tradevolume down 12.7pct in Dec. 2011
  • [16] Bussiness Briefs
  • [17] Stocks rebound strongly
  • [18] Greek bond market closing report
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [21] Italian, Greek mayors found solidarity network
  • [22] Deputy Justice minister visits minors' prison in Avlonas
  • [23] Bomb explosion at ship supply company in Kaminia
  • [24] Road accidents causing fatalities or injuries down 4.1pct in Dec. 2011
  • [25] Bus service only in Athens on Thursday
  • [26] Cloudy on Thursday
  • [27] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Barroso after meeting with Papademos: 'Greece can'

    BRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Aroni)

    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, speaking during a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos shortly after talks here, expressed his conviction that Greece can successfully complete the implementation of a second adjustment programme by enacting all necessary reforms.

    On his part, Papademos said Greece can and shall do what is necessary to implement this programme.

    Referring to the second adjustment programme that was approved for Greece recently, Barroso said the aim is not only the country's economic restructuring, but structural reforms as well, which will improve competitiveness and bring growth to Greece. He termed as "Herculean" the task of the Commission's experts who, in cooperation with Greek authorities, "are trying to find a solution for the long-standing problem of competitiveness that the Greek economy is facing."

    Barroso added that progress has been achieved in Greece, pointing out that time is necessary for reforms to produce results, as well as a specific plan for growth and higher employment.

    The head of the Commission stressed that the primary issue of his talks with Papademos dealt with accelerating the absorption of the EU programmes that will bring growth to Greece, adding that more must be done before 2013 whereas some 20 billion euros of the national strategic reference programme from the 2007-2013 period must be absorbed quicker.

    In this effort, Barroso expressed the Commission's will to assist Greek authorities so that it will be secured, so that EU funding will reach the real economy as soon as possible.

    Barroso further said that the progress achieved in all the aforementioned sectors will be assessed at the end of March, while he concluded by saying, in Greek, "Greece can."

    On his part, Papademos said that during his talks with Barroso two issues were mainly discussed: improving the absorption of EU funds and establishing entities that will boost employment in Greece, in the short as well as in the long term.

    Papademos added that in order to make possible the greater absorption of European funds, Greek officials must cooperate with European Commission experts. He added that issues relating to strategic investment projects for Greece, such as the "Helios" photovoltaic energy initiative, were also discussed.

    The Greek premier underlined that the new economic programme comprises a wide range of reforms that will reinforce the effectiveness of the private and public sectors and will restore competitiveness.

    He also pointed to the need of the second programme being accompanied by concrete measures and actions which will have a positive result on economic activity and employment.

    Asked to comment on a Eurogroup President Jean Claude Juncker's proposal for the appointment of a commissioner whose task would be the coordination of EU Commissioners' portfolios for growth in Greece, Papademos underlined that the responsibility of implementing the programme belongs to Athens, Greek authorities, and that the support being offered by the European Commission was adequate for the programme's full implementation.

    Lastly, as it became known during the meeting, it was stressed, in particular on the part of the EU, that there must be measures "in the coming weeks and not the coming months" while the possibility of increasing funds for agricultural programmes is also being examined.

    [02] Final decision on ratification of new programme for Greece on March 12

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that the final decision on the ratification of the new aid programme to Greece will be adopted at the next Eurogroup session due to convene on March 12.

    Speaking during the European Parliament's economic affairs committee meeting, Juncker said this will happen because it is essential that the ministers know the results from the so-called PSI (bonds swap), meaning the degree of the participation of the private sector in the decrease of the Greek debt.

    As regards Thursday's Eurogroup, Juncker said that the Greek side will provide an initial picture to the Council on the course of the PSI, as well as on the extent of the fulfillment of the necessary actions that have been set as a precondition for the new programme's implementation.

    [03] ND leader to have series of meetings in Brussels

    New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras is currently in Brussels to participate in a meeting of the European People's Party grouping of the European Parliament.

    On the sidelines of the conference Samaras will meet on Thursday morning with Eurogroup president Jean Claude Juncker, while before the opening of the conference he will meet in private with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    The talks will focus on the conditions formed for Greece after the new bailout loan and Samaras will again put forward the issue of taking developmental measures in order for the country to exit from the crisis.

    On Tuesday evening the ND leader spoke on the phone with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

    [04] Bundestag president addresses letter to Greek counterpart

    BERLIN (AMNA / F. Karaviti)

    German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert addressed a letter to Greek Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos requesting clarifications as regards media reports, according to which, Greek MPs have transferred money abroad, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote.

    Lammert underlined in his letter that his country participates in the loan package to Greece, a fact that overturns an impression that Germany does not display solidarity.

    The Bundestag president stressed that German MPs are concerned in response to media reports according to which Greek MPs have transferred money abroad and called on Petsalnikos to suggest ways to reassure members of the federal parliament of Germany.

    [05] Sharp ministry reply to German media reports

    The ministry of development, competitiveness & shipping leadership, in a statement issued on Wednesday, attributed German media reports to petty-politicking games "at a time when Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso are discussing in Brussels the implementation of a plan drawn up by the ministry of development to create new funding tools in support of Greece's efforts to achieve economic growth".

    The statement underlined that "part of the German media and political system systematically continue to undermine this effort," adding that "they are those who just a few months ago were supposedly working together with Greek authorities in an effort to attract foreign investors in Greece and, at the same time, declared that Greece's default is not taboo."

    The ministry statement stressed that to put things into perspective it should be clarified that the top priority of German Economics and Technology Minister Philipp Rosler visit to Greece was not investments but to ensure that the debts to German companies will be paid off. This was set as a precondition before any discussion on investments was held. His top priorities did not include improving competitiveness and changing the business environment, the statement wrote.

    It was underlined that these are sectors in which the Greek government in cooperation with the EC-ECB-IMF troika and Horst Reichenbach, head of the European Commission Task Force for Greece, have already implemented important reforms with tangible results noted by the creditors and independent international organizations like the OECD. For the record, a statement issued by OECD on Tuesday puts Greece at the top of the list of European countries that in the past two years have engaged in the implementation of structural reforms in their economies.

    The ministry of development concluded that "we expect from the German ministry of economics and technology to put the same effort into the promotion of real German investments in Greece with the effort it puts into feeding the German media with negative leaks for the Greek government, a move made clearly for domestic consumption purposes."

    [06] Leftist leader lashes out at Samaras

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday lashed out at New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, a day after the latter's address in Parliament and the sharp criticism he launched against left-wing parties.

    Speaking to an Athens-based private radio, Tsipras said that there is a "holy alliance between (Jean-Claude) Juncker, (Evangelos) Venizelos and Samaras aimed at containing the left," adding that the ND leader "has made more concessions than those made by PASOK leader George Papandreou when he was a prime minister. Imagine what will happen if he (Samaras) becomes a prime minister."

    Tsipras said that former PM Costas Karamanlis withdrew from power because he did not want to implement a pre-determined plan as opposed to George Papandreou, who "committed a premeditated crime". He maintained that Greece could have opted for alternative solutions other than seeking the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    [07] Minister villifies reactions to bill envisioning widespread use of generic drugs

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday referred to demagoguery against him for tabling a draft law envisioning new regulations and changes in Greece's bloated and costly pharmaceutical consumption.

    Speaking in Parliament during debate on the Memorandum's enabling law, which provides for the merger of supplementary pension funds, deregulation of pharmacies' opening hours and the largescale introduction of generic drugs to the market, Loverdos said that he was being personally attacked by an "alliance of private interests".

    He underlined that he will not abandon the effort to save up to a billion euros in 2012 by cutting pharmaceutical costs.

    The minister stated that the use of generic drugs will increase to 50 pct from its current 18 pct. As regards cases of prescription drugs fraud, he said an amendment will be tabled in Parliament that stipulates specific legal sanctions against physicians that over-subscribe pharmaceuticals.

    Referring to the opposition expressed to the deregulation of the opening hours for pharmacies, he referred to a "a ploy", saying that behind the reactions are only a couple of pharmacists' associations.

    [08] Bakoyannis calls for disciplinary, legal action against prosecutor

    Independent MP Dora Bakoyannis, formerly a New Democracy (ND) MP and minister, on Wednesday called for disciplinary and even legal action to be taken against Supreme Court prosecutor Panagiotis Nikoloudis, alleging an unspecified "attempted cover-up or defamation campaign" targeting her and her political party.

    Bakoyannis made the comments upon her exiting the Supreme Court building after meeting with prosecutor Ioannis Tentes. She stressed that Democratic Alliance, which she formed after her expulsion from ND, has been a nuisance to many and "we will not tolerate any attempt to smear us".

    She submitted a four-page formal complaint to the Supreme Court targeting the head of the money-laundering watchdog prosecutor Nikoloudis for the way he handled the case concerning the transfer of a million euros abroad. The complaint will be forwarded to justice minister Miltiadis Papaioannou.

    Nikoloudis had made revelations concerning the actions of an unidentified MP who had transferred a million euros to a bank abroad last year. After intense media speculation of two weeks it was revealed that the individual in question was Bakoyannis' husband Isidoros Kouvelos.

    Bakoyannis justified her husband's actions saying that he legally transferred the funds abroad for the purchase of a merchant vessel, underlining that the money transferred from a Greek bank was initially generated from the liquidation of stock market shares that Kouvelos owned in the United States. According to Bakoyannis, the vessel was purchased via a transaction in London.

    [09] Deputy FM Dollis visits Ecumenical Patriarchate

    ISTANBUL (AMNA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos discussed issues concerning the Ecumenical Throne's activity all over the world, in a meeting held at the Phanar on Wednesday.

    Dollis, who arrived to Istanbul from Jerusalem, had the opportunity of being briefed on issues preoccupying the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to wish all the best to Patriarch Vartholomeos who is celebrating his 72nd birthday on Wednesday.

    Dollis was accompanied at the meeting by Greece's General Consul in Istanbul Nikos Mathioudakis.

    [10] Education minister meets Archbishop Ieronymos

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou stressed the need for cooperation and the joining of forces for the best possible result at a time of crisis and social problems during an event at the Education ministry, that was also attended by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos who expressed the grievances of the Church over aspects of overall government policy.

    The meeting's theme was "State and Church: relations of cooperation at a time of crisis", while the minister praised the Archbishop's stance who, as she said, supports cooperation between the State and the Church.

    The Archbishop declared his satisfaction with his cooperation with the Education ministry but also spoke of "unbelievable bureaucracy and the lack of communication between the political leaderships of ministries and their administrative structures."

    [11] TI assessment report on Greece

    The debt crisis plaguing Greece is the result of many decades of overspending, mismanagement and structural dysfunctions with most vulnerable sectors to corruption being the judiciary, business and media, according to the National Integrity System (NIS) assessment report drawn up by the NGO "Transparency International - Greece", which was unveiled on Wednesday.

    The report drawn up for the first time in Greece was based on the assessment of 13 institutions, namely, Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Public Sector, Law Enforcement, Electoral Management Body, Ombudsman, Audit Institution, Anti-Corruption Agencies, Political Parties, Media, Civil Society and Business.

    The report found substantive weaknesses in fundamental pillars of the Greek society considering that nine of the above mentioned institutions were graded below average.

    The lowest grades were given to the media which are highly politicized, the judiciary which is considerably influenced by the government and the business sector due to the fashion of operation of not listed companies

    On the contrary, elections are among the most irreproachable and less questioned procedures, as well as, the Ombudsman office, an institution introduced in Greece to contribute to the efforts to combat widespread mismanagement.

    The main conclusion of the report is that corruption in Greece stems from a "crisis of values" that has permeated the people's mentality and the country's institutions. An important finding is the imbalance between the law and its implementation.

    Financial News

    [12] Greece launches tender for the sale of DEPA

    Greece on Wednesday launched an international tender for the sale of DEPA, the state-owned gas company- as part of an ambitious privatization programme.

    The Greek state has a 65 pct equity stake in DEPA while Hellenic Petroleum SA has the remaining 35 pct. Both shareholders and the State's Private Property Fund have agreed to jointly sell their stakes in DEPA. Under the terms of the tender, all interested parties will submit bids on a bundle or unbundle basis and stressed that the state will retain 34 pct of DESFA, the gas grid operator.

    The deadline for invitations ends in March 22, 2012. Preselected investors will then submit indicative bids in the second phase of the tender before a short-list is drafted. The tender procedure is scheduled to be completed in August 2012.

    DEPA is active in the wholesale, trading and supply of gas both to retail and industrial clients and participates in international gas pipeline projects, such as the Greece-Italy project (ITGI), the Greece-Bulgaria project (IGB) and the SouthStream project.

    UBS Ltd, NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd ??? Alpha Bank A.E. will act as financial advisers to the sale, while Clifford Chance LLP and Koutalidis Law Firm will act as legal advisers.

    [13] Credit to private sector remained negative in Jan.

    Credit to the private sector remained negative in the first month of 2012, extending last year's trend, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. The central bank, in a monthly report, said tha the annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector decreased to -3.3 percent in January 2012 (December 2011: -3.1 percent). The net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative amounting to 407 million euros (January 2011: negative net flow of 150 million).

    The net flow of credit to enterprises in January 2012 was positive, amounting to 206 million euros (January 2011: positive net flow of 160 million) and the annual growth rate of credit stood at -1.9 percent from -2.0 percent in December 2011. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial enterprises decreased to -2.6 percent in January 2012 from -1.8 percent in the previous month, while the annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries, which includes significant intra-group transactions, increased significantly to 10.5 percent in January 2012 from -5.2 percent in December 2011.

    The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative amounting to 96 million euros (January 2011: positive net flow of 7 million) and the annual rate of change of credit decreased to -7.3 percent in January 2012 from -6.6 percent in the previous month.

    In January 2012, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 516 million euros (January 2011: negative net flow of 316 million). As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions decreased to -4.1 percent in January 2012 from -3.9 percent, in December 2011.

    [14] Greek inflation slows to 2.1 pct in Jan., Eurostat

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/V.Demiris)

    Greek inflation rate slowed to 2.1 pct in January from 2.2 pct in December 2011, Eurostat said on Wednesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a monthly report, said the inflation rate slowed to 2.6 pct from 2.7 pct over the same periods, respectively, but it was up compared with 2.3 pct in January 2011, while in the EU-27, the inflation rate slowed to 2.9 pct in January from 3.0 pct in December but it was up from 2.7 pct in January last year.

    Sweden (0.7 pct), Ireland (1.3 pct) and Malta (1.5 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in January, while Hungary (5.6 pct), Estonia (4.7 pct), Poland and Slovakia (4.1 pct) recorded the highest rates.

    Eurostat said that the inflation rate rose in nine member-states in January, it was unchanged in two and fell in 16 member states.

    [15] Retail tradevolume down 12.7pct in Dec. 2011

    The volume of retail trade declined by 12.7 percent in December 2011 against the same month in 2010, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that according to provisional results, the turnover index in retail trade at current prices, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 9.1% in December 2011 compared with December 2010. The Index in December 2010 recorded a decrease of 17.2% compared with December 2009.

    The turnover index in retail trade, including automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 11.0% in December 2011 compared with December 2010. The Index in December 2010 recorded a decrease of 13.5% compared with December 2009.

    The volume of retail trade (i.e. turnover in retail trade at constant prices), excluding automotive fuel, decreased by 10.0% in December 2011, compared with December 2010. The Index in December 2010 recorded a decrease of 20.1% compared with December 2009.

    The retail trade volume index, including automotive fuel, decreased by 12.7% in December 2011 compared with December 2010. The Index in December 2010 recorded a decrease of 19.4% compared with December 2009.

    [16] Bussiness Briefs

    -- Greece's Producer's Price composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets), rose 7.5 pct in January, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 7.3 pct recorded in January 2011, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    -- Public Power Corporation on Wednesday announced it would raise its high-voltage electricity rates by an average 7.0 pct in March, saying these particular rates remained frozen since July 2008.

    -- Hellenic Sugar Industry on Wednesday reported a 16.5-pct decline in its turnover over the six-month period from July 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, totaling 87 million euros, while consolidated turnover fell 13.6 pct to 117.4 million euros.

    -- Ryannair on Wednesday it was raising its low-cost flight programme from Thessaloniki to 13 from May 16, 2012, adding the Thessaloniki-Dusseldorf flight to Weeze airport.

    [17] Stocks rebound strongly

    Stocks rebounded strongly in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, helped by renewed buying interest for bank shares following reports that Russian bank VTB Bank OJSC has expressed interest in buying equity stake in Marfin Popular Bank.

    The composite index of the market rose 2.26 pct to end at 743.59 points, recovering after an initial 1.67 pct drop. Turnover was a low 68.768 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 4.10 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.97 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 1.74 pct up. Financial Services (12.29 pct), Banks (8.53 pct) and Constructions (4.96 pct) were top gainers, while Media (10 pct) and Telecoms (1.25 pct) suffered losses. Marfin Popular Bank (27.27 pct), MIG (16.90 pct), Hellenic Postbank (9.59 pct), Piraeus Bank (8.94 pct) and Alpha Bank (8.13 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Motor Oil (1.85 pct) and OTE (1.24 pct) ended lower.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 105 to 50 with another 23 issues unchanged. Marfin Popular Bank (27.27 pct), Lambrakis Press (20 pct) and Perseus (19.89 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzioannou (18.84 pct), Attikat (18.60 pct) and Sanyo Hellas (18.18 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +1.73%

    Commercial: +3.32%

    Construction: +4.96%

    Oil & Gas: -0.46%

    Personal & Household: +0.07%

    Raw Materials: +4.43%

    Media: -10.00%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.17%

    Technology: +4.22%

    Telecoms: -1.25%

    Banks: +8.53%

    Food & Beverages: +0.66%

    Health: +3.64%

    Utilities: +3.38%

    Chemicals: +0.14%

    Financial Services: +12.29%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.33

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.51

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.50

    National Bank of Greece: 2.35

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.03

    OPAP: 6.70

    OTE: 2.38

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.48

    Titan: 15.00

    [18] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 28.70 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 28.49 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 30.49 pct and the German Bund 1.79 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate was 1.61 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month 0.96 pct and the one-month rate 0.56 pct.

    [19] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.81 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 17.910 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,323 contracts worth 7.929 million euros, with 25,451 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 75,910 contracts worth 9.981 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (28,052), followed by Cyprus Bank (12,579), MIG (1,756), OTE (386), PPC (794), OPAP (655), Piraeus Bank (10,373), National Bank (17,085), Marfin Popular Bank (2,471), Hellenic Postbank (835) and Titan (96).

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.364

    Pound sterling 0.856

    Danish kroner 7.547

    Swedish kroner 8.940

    Japanese yen 109.54

    Swiss franc 1.223

    Norwegian kroner 7.552

    Canadian dollar 1.348

    Australian dollar 1.26

    General News

    [21] Italian, Greek mayors found solidarity network

    Mayors from Greece and Italy on Wednesday announced the creation of a European network of cities that will demand Europe's return to what they called the "fundamental values of social solidarity and cohesion".

    The announcement was made during a joint press conference by the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) and the two Italian mayors who have donated their salaries in support of Greece.

    The two mayors came to Athens at KEDE's invitation as representatives of the national union of municipalities of Italy.

    Marco Galdi, mayor of Cava dei Tirreni, and Giovanni Mosciatello from Baronissi, near Salerno, will donate the symbolic sum of 1,880 euros for a year with the prospect of continuing their gesture until the end of their term in office. The money will go to the Hellenic Red Cross.

    The two mayors were later received by Interior Minister Tasos Yiannitsis.

    "For us to overcome the present very difficult period, we, all the countries of the European Union, must combine solidarity, realism, vision and national responsibility," Yiannitsis said.

    He thanked the two Italian mayors on behalf of the Greek government.

    [22] Deputy Justice minister visits minors' prison in Avlonas

    Deputy Justice Minister George Petalotis visited the minors' prison in Avlonas on Wednesday and met with its administration and staff, as well as with the underaged detainees.

    Petalotis, according to a relevant announcement, inspected the prison's premises and installations and discussed at length issues preoccupying the detainees. In parallel, he expressed satisfaction over the fact that there is a partial decongestion of the prison with the recent legislative arrangement.

    [23] Bomb explosion at ship supply company in Kaminia

    A powerful explosion rocked a ship supply company in the Piraeus port city's district of Kaminia at dawn on Wednesday, causing extensive damage to the building housing the supplier and also to nearby buildings and shops, but no injuries were reported.

    According to police, a home-made explosive device containing a large quantity of explosive material with a slow-burning fuse was the cause of the explosion, which occurred in a side entrance of the building.

    Police bomb-disposal experts were collecting remnants of the device and other material for inspection by the security police crime lab.

    [24] Road accidents causing fatalities or injuries down 4.1pct in Dec. 2011

    Road accidents throughout Greece resulting in fatalities or injuries declined by 4.1 percent in December 2011, compared with the same month in 2010, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.

    The number of traffic accidents resulting in deaths or injuries fell to 1,123 in December 2011, recording a drop of 4.1 percent against December 2010.

    A total of 92 people lost their lives in those accidents, posting a16.4 percent decline over December 2010, 132 people were serious injured (22.2 percent rise against Dec. 2010) and 1,217 people suffered light injuries (5.7 percent decline over Dec. 2010).

    [25] Bus service only in Athens on Thursday

    Only bus service will be available to commuters in Athens on Thursday, as employees of the rail services - Athens Metro, ISAP electric rail and Tram -- will be staging a 24-hour strike.

    The employees' unions have called the strike in protest to the implementation of new austerity measures and also what they charged as the indifference of the STASY administration to abide by the timetables and operational regulations of the rail transport services.

    STASY S.A. is the state-run company that manages rail-based transport infrastructure in the greater Athens area.

    An announcement by the rail employees said that the inability to collect revenues continues, as more than half the ticket issuing booths are closed, resulting in the number of passengers traveling without tickets having reached a very high percentage since even the ability to check tickets is insufficient due to a shortage created by the recent transfers of personnel coupled by retirements.

    Weather forecast

    [26] Cloudy on Thursday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -7C and 14C. Cloudy with local showers or sleet in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 1C to 7C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 1C to 8C.

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

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednes-day evening in Brussels, the retroactive cutbacks in salaries in the private sector and the evaluation of state services and entities as well as the bill introducing generic medicines, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government razing everything in salaries, benefits and tenure!".

    AVGHI: "The Left a nightmare for the EU".

    DIMOKRATIA: "They're devastating the 'the 435 euros generation '."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "22 percent retroactive cutbacks in private sector salaries".

    ESTIA: "Tax rate on everything".

    ETHNOS: "French...lessons in public sector".

    IMERISSIA: "Development package".

    KATHIMERINI: "Four actions for progress".

    LOGOS: "Changes in labour relations as from Feb. 14".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "In 'selective bankruptcy' status for procedural reasons".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Labour-wide uprising to avert the salaries' massacre".

    TA NEA: "The 'golden' pills - Billion euros war over the changes in medicines".

    VRADYNI: "Radical changes in the General Construction Regulation".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS


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