|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-03-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 7 March 2012 Issue No: 4015
 Greece approves six energy investment projects worth 5.6 bln eurosGreece's inter-ministerial Strategic Investments Commission on Tuesday approved a plan to include six new large investments, worth 5.6 billion euros, in a fast-track procedure programme. These investments were expected to have a very positive impact on the country's energy balance, as the projects were expected to add 2,900 MW from renewable energy sources projects.
The Commission meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, approved the six investment plans and agreed to resolve bureaucratic issues through fast-track procedures envisaged by Greek legislation, with the help of Invest in Greece.
Commenting on the six new investment plans, Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, said: "The benefits for the country from these investments will be multiple, both for local societies and the country in general, from new job positions which will be created, the development of renewable energy sources and economic growth in general".
The investment projects are:
-Investment in the mining sector to exploit a gold reserve field in the prefecture of Evros by Thrace Goldmines (budgeted at 129 million euros).
-Development of windpower parks, with a power capacity of 1,005 MW in Crete by Elica Group (budgeted at 1.99 billion euros).
-Building a solar power station, 70 MW in Lasithi, eastern Crete, by Solar Power Plant Lassithi Ltd (budgeted at 268 million euros).
-Building 12 photovoltaic power parks, 166 MW in central and western Greece by Spes Solaris-Solar Concept SA (budgeted at 332.284 million euros).
-Pump/reserve energy systems, 587 MW, in the Kastraki lake in western Greece by Terna Energy (budgeted at 501,830,000 euros).
-Windpower station, 1,077 MW in Crete, by Terna Energy (budgeted at 2.46 billion euros).
 Rehn: Greece needs new investments to return to growthBRUSSELS (AMNA / V. Demiris)
An economic recovery in Greece demands new investments, Greek and foreign, in order to have growth and new job positions, EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn said on Tuesday.
In a speed delivered in Paris, Rehn said the necessary positive conditions to attracting investments - such as an effective and fair tax system, an efficient civil administration, better use of structural funds and competitive labour costs - must be created to have economic growth.
"We support Greece in its efforts with an unprecedented technical assistance," Rehn said, adding that resolving a debt crisis was the sustainable solution for Greece.
The Commissioner stressed that last week's deal on a second support package for Greece will contribute in restoring sustainability of public debt and boosting competitiveness in the country.
 Government reshuffle announcedAthens University Professor George Bambiniotis was appointed Education Minister replacing Anna Diamantopoulou, who moves to the development ministry, in a government reshuffle announced late Tuesday night.
Mihalis Chryssohoidis, until now development minister, replaces Christos Papoutsis, who resigned last week from the post of citizen's protection minister.
Eleftherios Economou was appointed citizen's protection deputy minister.
 PM receives PASOK leader, discusses latest developmentsPrime Minister Lucas Papademos received PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday afternoon for talks on six major recent developments concerning Greece.
These included the results of the latest European Union summit, developments in Europe and the eurozone, Papademos' recent meeting with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) premier Nikola Gruevski, the progress of PSI bond swaps, the loan agreement that Greece must sign with its Eurozone partners, including the actions that must be taken in advance of signing the agreement, and ways of boosting economic growth.
 PASOK leader hosts dinner for MEPsPASOK party leader George Papandreou hosted a working dinner on Tuesday evening to EuroParliament MEPs Robert Goebbels (Luxembourg), Elisa Ferreira (Portugal) and Ivailo Kalfin (Bulgaria). The three MEPs are members of EU Parliament Socialist Group 'troika' for employment and growth.
According to PASOK sources, Papandreou briefed the MEPs on the situation currently prevailing in Greece.
 Papandreou briefed on progress of search for hydrocarbons in GreeceDeputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Tuesday briefed PASOK's leader George Papandreou on the progress of efforts to find hydrocarbon fuel reserves in Greece, during a meeting held in Parliament.
He also briefed Papandreou on the results of eight international tenders for the rights to eight geothermal fields in Greece, which are expected to yield immediate results and applications for agriculture.
 Gov't on PSI participation; public sector redundancies; 'potato movement'"It will be for the benefit of every state bond issue holder to participate in the PSI," government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Tuesday stated.
Speaking to public radio, he said referring to small investors that "for now and for legal reasons all bonds should be treated the same way. Later on, an effort will be made for those who had invested their life savings. However, we should first let the PSI process be completed and not rush to open issues prematurely."
Responding to a question on the reduction in the number of public sector employees, he said that it is an issue that will be dealt with by the new government. He stressed that "being left without a job is tough. We need to find ways to support the unemployed in the private sector and those who will find themselves to be redundant public sector employees."
Referring to the so-called "potato movement" (a series of initiatives to cut out middlemen in the sale of farm products to consumers), he said that it is a positive move, underlining that it highlights the lack of sufficient initiatives on behalf of farm cooperatives in this area.
 Gov't spokesman: Election campaign period means nothing but work for gov't"This is PSI week and the government proceeds with the implementation of all the commitments it has undertaken," government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Tuesday underlined.
Speaking in a press briefing, he said that "we are aware that election date will come at some point. The government will continue its work in the same pace as dictated by the state of the economy and the huge obligations we have undertaken and need to be met".
He said that this "will not be a routine election campaign period" and added that "will mean nothing but work for the government," pointing out that "very serious issues lie ahead and no relaxation is allowed."
As regards the election date, Kapsis repeated that there is an agreement between PASOK and New Democracy (ND) that the issue will be raised as soon as the government's mission is completed.
Responding to a question concerning the meeting of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos with his fYRoM counterpart, he said that he has nothing more to say than the statements already issued, adding that "we firmly support the process launched through the UN."
 ND demands immediate solution to confusion over property surtax rulingMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Tuesday called for a "responsible and clearcut solution" to cut through the confusion caused by a Council of State ruling on the emergency property surtax levied via electricity bills.
The decision, which ruled that the surtax itself was legal but not the penalty of cutting off the electricity of those that fail to pay, has resulted in what ND described as "chaos" between the two ministries involved - the finance ministry that legislated for the tax and the environment and energy ministry, which supervises the Public Power Corporation (PPC).
Mihelakis noted that people were being forced to wait in endless lines at tax offices and the PPC, without being able to get a clear answer about what they must do.
"It is proved, finally, that for both [Finance Minister Evangelos] Venizelos and for [Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George] Papaconstantinou, the self-evident is a difficult affair. This situation cannot, however, continue. A responsible and clearcut solution is demanded. Today. Because the state cannot act like a tyrant but is obliged to respect and facilitate citizens, especially vulnerable groups," Mihelakis said.
 PASOK cites scam with blogspot involving PapandreouPASOK party on Tuesday said there is no connection whatsoever with the party or its president, George Papandreou, with a newly appeared internet blog featured under the name "Movement of friends of GAP (meaning George A. Papandreou)".
The site aired recently and, among others, asks for contributions in US dollars, according to PASOK's press office.
"The (police) electronic squad is currently investigating the incident, following charges by citizens and the general secretary of PASOK's national council," an announcement read.
 Greece's oil sufficiency ensured, LAOS leader says after meeting with new Iranian ambassadorPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis met on Tuesday with Iran's new envoy to Greece, Ambassador Behrouz Behnam, and told reporters afterwards that the ambassador conveyed assurances that Iran will support Greece with respect to the country's energy sufficiency in oil.
Behnam said that the Iranian people consider the Greeks a "friendly people" and reiterated that the government of Iran is prepared to contribute to the improvement of their bilateral relations to the benefit of both countries.
Karatzaferis welcomed the new ambassador to Athens and expressed his certainty that Greece is secure with respect to energy.
"I am optimistic that Iran knows who its friends are, and I am certain that the Iranians, true the Arab principles and traditions, do not betray their friends," Karatzaferis said, to which Behnam replied "definitely".
 Democratic Alliance party leader to meet Juncker on WednesdayDemocratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis will be meeting Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.
Bakoyannis will be travelling to Luxembourg where she will meet the Eurogroup president at 13:00 (Greek time), while she will also be meeting with the EFSF's managing director, secretary general and research and institutional relations director.
Before returning to Athens on Thursday, Bakoyannis will also be meeting the Luxembourg Foreign minister while, according to reports, in all her meetings she will be presenting the Democratic Alliance's positions on the handling of the economic crisis and the need for implementing a second "Marshal plan."
 FinMin Venizelos visits Archbishop IeronymosGovernment vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos visited Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Tuesday evening and, according to reports, discused issues with him concerning the finances of the Church and the utilisation of its property.
Last Sunday the Archbishop had stated his position in public on the problems facing the Church regarding its plans to create a photovoltaic park in a region of the Penteli Monastery.
 Public consultation launched on policy for contemporary cultureCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Tuesday launched a public consultation on a proposal for the management and promotion of Greek contemporary culture by creating the appropriate structures at the ministry.
The proposal unveiled by the minister was drawn up by a working group set up at the culture ministry last autumn, which was instructed to write a "White Book" on this issue.
"Until now, ministry policy and actions for modern culture are implemented in a fragmentary way due to a lack of structures," Geroulanos said, noting that contemporary Greek culture was the great 'loser' in terms of the management of cultural heritage.
Among the proposals put forward are the creation of an 11-member Council for Contemporary Culture whose members will be appointed by the minister, along the lines of the Central Archaeological Council but having an advisory role.
Other changes envisaged are the splitting of the ministry's current General Directorate for Contemporary Culture into five separate directorates.
The proposal also addressed issues such as the funding of cultural bodies supervised by the ministry, which currently absorb 90 percent of the money spent by the ministry on contemporary culture, and also called for action to ensure a uniform framework for the management and operation of such bodies that also allowed them sufficient freedom and took into account their special needs relative to other state organisations.
 First witness examined in Parliamentary inquiry into alleged inflation of 2009 deficitELSTAT board chairman Andreas Georgiou was on Tuesday the first witness in a Parliamentary investigation into allegations that Greece's independent statistical authority had artificially inflated the public deficit for 2009.
In his testimony before a Parliamentary examination committee, Georgiou defended his actions as head of the authority and said that he had faithfully applied the rules followed by all EU statistical authorities supplying figures to Eurostat, without coming under any pressure or political intervention.
He repeated that credibility issues due to the flawed statistics generated by Greece were corrected under his leadership, following 10 visits by members of Eurostat to provide clarifications. He also repeated accusations that his work had been undermined by other members of ELSTAT's board and that his e-mails had been spied on.
Georgiou did not, however, deny authorship of an e-mail sent to the head of the EU-IMF troika mission in Greece Poul Thomsen, which was revealed to the committee by independent MP Panagiotis Kouroublis.
In this, Georgiou asked Thomsen to intervene in order to change laws governing ELSTAT's operation and to clarify "the powers of the chairman and board members given the continuous misinterpretation of the existing law by specific members of the authority."
The Parliamentary committee had also called Georgiou's predecessor Manolis Kontopyrakis to testify but the latter did not appear, claiming reasons of poor health. The head of the Parliament committee Christos Protopapas advised Kontopyrakis' lawyer that his client's must come forward to testify, by force if necessary, since he was a key witness in the case and Kontopyrakis later replied that he would appear before the committee next Tuesday.
The committee has also sent letters to Joaquin Almunia, who was EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner in 2009, and the head of Eurostat, asking them to testify.
The investigation was launched following allegations made to the press by former ELSTAT board member Zoi Georganta, who said that the country's public deficit for 2009 had been deliberately and artificially inflated in an attempt to pave the way for harsh austerity measures.
Greece's 2009 deficit was revised upward in November 2010, from 13.6 percent of GDP to 15.4 percent of GDP, making it the worst fiscal deficit in Europe. Georganta told Greek media that this was achieved by including the spending of several utilities under general government data, under German pressure.
Georganta went public with her allegations after ELSTAT's entire board, with the exception of Georgiou, were summarily dismissed by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in September 2011.
 FinMin chairs meeting on boosting liquidity, exit from recessionFinance minister Evangelos Venizelos chaired a broad ministerial meeting on Tuesday on ways to boost liquidity on the market and to put a halt to recession.
Sources told AMNA that the talks focused on absorption of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds and on completion of programmes and projects financed by EU funds.
The meeting was attended by development minister Michalis Chryssohoidis, environment, energy and climate change minister George Papaconstantinou, transport, infrastructure and networks minister Dimitris Dollis, and representatives of several other ministries.
 Administrations of six biggest Greek banks meet FinMin VenizelosThe administrations of the six biggest Greek banks (National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, Hellenic Postbank and ATEbank) visited Government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday.
According to an announcement by the ministry, the administrations briefed Venizelos that either they have already decided or will propose to their boards on Wednesday and Thursday the full voluntary acceptance of the Hellenic state's offer regarding the PSI.
 FinMin: tax audit subjects to be selected based on risk assessment methodsThe cases that will be put under the microscope of tax auditing mechanisms will be selected based on data provided by risk assessment methods, a document signed by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos forwarded to parliament on March 2 underlined.
The document was issued in response to a question by PASOK MP Maria Skrafnaki referring to revenues collected following the arrests of individuals owing large amounts of money to the state.
The minister of finance underlined that the selection of the cases to be audited will be made based on qualitative characteristics related, among others, with the debtor's business sector and credibility, in collaboration with ELENXIS risk management system targeting taxpayers who should be checked because they might be evading.
Venizelos stressed that an electronic crosschecking plan is in the works aimed at combating tax evasion, adding that a private real estate property registry will also be created.
The finance minister stressed that a total of 69 individuals owing large amounts to the state have been arrested so far and in 29 instances they paid part of their debt to avoid arrest sending a total of 8,446,000 euros to state coffers.
 Draft law on Helliniko, Helios project under discussion in parliamentary com'tEnvironment Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday expressed certainty that the development of the site of the former airport at Helliniko in Athens and the promotion of the Helios photovoltaic project for the production and export of electricity can help the economy regain its competitiveness.
Addressing the responsible parliamentary committee, the environment minister referred to Helliniko, stressing that the time has come for decisions in support of initiatives that will boost development.
As regards the Helios project, he stated that the country imports petrol and natural gas but is unable to export its primary renewable energy resource, the solar energy-generated electricity.
Speaking before the committee, PASOK rapporteur MP Giorgos Haralambopoulos referred to the multiple benefits stemming from the Helios project and the exploitation of Helliniko.
New Democracy (ND) MP Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said that in principle he sees both projects positively adding, however, that clarifications, improvements and further dialogue, are necessary.
The Communist Party (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) repporteurs expressed opposition to both initiatives, while the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) saw positive elements.
 Central bank chief upbeat on economy, exit from crisisCentral bank governor George Provopoulos expressed optimism on the course of the Greek economy and the country's exit from the crisis, in a statement to the press before going into a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The central Bank of Greece (BoG) chief described as positive the fact that Greece's partners were supporting the country with their recent decisions, adding that this is a big success, and expressed hope that the completion of the PSI on Thursday night will also be a successful step.
He said that, following the above positive signs, a more hopeful page was turning for the Greek economy.
Of course, Provopoulos added, the climate is still negative, but "it is up to us to change it, the fate of the country is in our hands and we won't let everything go to waste".
 International tender launched for exploitation of property in Kassiopi, CorfuGreece on Tuesday launched an international tender for the exploitation of a property located in the Kassiopi area of Corfu island.
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) announced on Tuesday the launch of the international tender process for the exploitation of the property located in the Kassiopi area of Corfu for a period of up to 100 years.
The international tender offers the exploitation potential of the property, through the sale of the right of surface which will be extended up to one hundred (100) years. The sea-front property of approximately 500,000 m2 is located in the north-eastern coastline of Corfu, just 38 km from the city centre, with significant development potential, according to the HRADF
Corfu has an international airport which serves domestic and international flights, as well as charter flights from the largest European cities, as well as a port with ferry crossings to other islands of the Ionian Sea, to Patras and to Italy, the HRADF added in its announcement.
The property's touristic development will enhance the local economy and create new prospects and new jobs in the area, the HRADF continued.
The first phase of the tender requires potential investors to submit their expression of interest by April 10, 2012 and demonstrate they fulfil certain financial and legal criteria described in detail in the Invitation to submit an Expression of Interest. Pre-selected investors will be invited to submit a Binding Offer, according to the regulations and transparency standards of the European Union, the HRADF explained.
Eurobank EFG Equities Investment Firm S.A. is acting as financial advisor to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on this tender.
Further information is available on the website: www.hradf.com.
 Culture minister to represent Greece at ITB International Tourism Exhibition in BerlinBERLIN (AMNA/F. Karaviti)
Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis will represent Greece at Berlin's International Tourism Exhibition (ITB) that will be taking place between March 7-11. The Greek participation's pavilion is also expected to be visited by German Economy Minister Filipp Roesler on Wednesday.
The Greek delegation will be giving a press conference on Thursday, while interviews have been scheduled with major German and international media, contacts with travel agents and meetings with tourist industry officials.
The ITB 2012, with over 10,000 exhibitors from 187 countries and over 110,000 visitors from all over the world, constitutes a leading exhibition for the tourism sector worldwide.
 Greece raises 1.137 bln euros from T-bill auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned off a six-month T-bills issue raising 1.137 billion euros from market at a lower cost.
The Public Debt Management Organization, in an announcement, said the interest rate on the issue was set at 4.80 pct, down from 4.86 pct in the previous auction of same T-bills, while bids submitted were 2.63 times more than the asked sum (875 mllion euros), totaling 2.298 billion euros. The organization will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum.
 Athens Polytechnic asks to be exempted from PSIThe National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) or Athens 'Polytechnic' has asked to be exempted from the PSI debt haircut in a letter sent to Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday.
NTUA rector Simos Simopoulos said that the NTUA special account holds bonds worth 37.6 million euro, while various trust accounts hold bonds with a nominal value of 4.0 million euro, which would lead to losses amounting to tens of millions if the university participated in PSI.
The rector also highlighted the risk of possibly serious repercussions for the functioning of its special account, which might result in an inability to carry out externally financed projects and possibly activate penalty clauses in contracts signed with public and private bodies or the EU. He underlined the very unfavourable repercussions that such a development would have for the NTUA's ability to produce innovations and its contribution to economic growth.
Concerning the bonds held by trusts and bequests, Simopoulos noted the disruption that this would cause to student scholarships, prizes etc.
 Greek GDP shrinks by 7.0% in Q4 2011BRUSSELS (AMNA / V. Demiris)
The Greek economy shrank by 7.0 pct in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with the corresponding period in 2010, Eurostat announced on Tuesday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report published here, said the Eurozone economy grew by 0.7 pct in the same period, while the EU-27 economy grew by 0.9 pct in the October-December period last year. Portugal (-2.7 pct), Slovenia (-1.5 pct), Holland (-0.7 pct), Italy and Cyprus (-0.5 pct each) also recorded a shrinking Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, Lithuania (5.4 pct), Latvia (5.3 pct) and Poland (4.3 pct) recorded the biggest percentage GDP growth rates in the October-December period.
 Greek Mediterranean Cuisine quality sealThe Hellenic Chefs Club will open a branch in Germany, with its headquarters in the offices of the German-Greek Business Association (DHW) in Cologne, under an agreement signed with the German Hotels and Restaurants Association (DEHOGA) for the establishment of a "Greek Mediterranean Cuisine" quality seal.
According to a DHW announcement, the agreement provides for the post-graduate training of graduates of German culinary schools in the "Greek Mediterranean Cuisine" at the Gastronomy and Hotel Studies Center "Les Chefs" run by the Hellenic Chefs Club.
The "Greek Mediterranean Cuisine" quality seal aims to showcase Greek gastronomy internationally, familiarise the international public with the healthy Greek Mediterranean cuisine and the Cretan diet, and promote not only the Greek hospitality but also the quality products of the Greek earth through dining establishments.
The seal will be awarded to selected restaurants, after relevant applications are submitted, provided they fulfill all the terms and conditions for the seal, while their menu must receive approval by the Hellenic Chefs Club.
 Greek distinction at Beijing travel awards ceremonyA travel awards ceremony took place in Beijing's vibrant Financial Street late last month with the cooperation of various foreign diplomatic missions in the Chinese capital, local mass media outlets and tourism services, including hotels and airlines companies.
The event was sponsored by the tourism magazine "Travel & Leisure".
The Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius was honored as the best tourism destination for the Chinese market.
The prize for the best travel article was awarded to journalist Marco Zoe for his 10-page article entitled "Greece: The Most Fabulous Place for Cruise", published in November 2011 edition of the magazine.
The writer's Greek isle cruise was organised by the Greek embassy in China's press & communication office, in cooperation with the Secretariat General of Information and Communication, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and Louis Cruises.
 PDO identification for Halkidiki green olivesThe "Halkidiki Green Olive" brand name, referring to the variety of green olives produced in the region of Halkidiki, northern Greece, will soon be registered in the EU as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product thus acquiring a high added value, it was announced on Tuesday. The EU quality schemes identify products and foodstuffs farmed and produced to exacting specifications.
The PDO identification process for the green olives produced in Halkidiki was temporarily delayed following objections raised by producers in Belgium and Canada in an effort to protect their own interests.
 Tethys Ocean BV raises stake in Dias Aquaculture to 50.29%Tethys Ocean BV raised its equity stake in Dias Aquaculture to more than 50 pct and has pledged to purchase another 5.6558 pct in the Greek company by March 15.
Dias Aquaculture, in an announcement, said that Tethys Ocean BV, owned by Georgian investor Kakha Bendukidze, raised its equity stake in the company to 50.2894 pct from 30.40 pct after a transaction made in March 1, 2012.
Tethys Ocean BV is a fully-owned subsidiary of Linnaeus Capital Partners BV, which is fully owned by IIHC Industrial Investments Ltd. in which Bendukidze has a 74.30 pct majority stake.
 Bussiness Briefs-- Pharmaceutical enterprises' revenues from their sales in the domestic market (excluding hospitals) fell by 4.5 pct or 170 million euros in 2011, a survey by IMS showed on Tuesday.
-- K.P. Marinopoulos SA, a subsidiary of Alapis Group, on Tuesday applied for court protection from its creditors, submitting a new restructuring business plan based on the Article 99 of a bankruptcy code.
 Stocks end 2.77 pct higherStocks recovered spectacularly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as buyers took the upper hand again in the market discounting a positive outcome in a PSI process.
Bank shares were at the focus of buying activity, which pushed the composite index of the market 2.77 pct higher to end at 755.06 points. Turnvoer was an improved 70.447 million euros.
The Big Cap index jumped 4.21 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.14 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.70 pct. Banks (8.30 pct), Telecoms (5.45 pct) and Financial Services (2.92 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Personal Products (0.95 pct), Chemicals (0.05 pct) and Food (0.02 pct) suffered losses.
Eurobank (20.41 pct), Alpha Bank (19.23 pct), Hellenic Postbank (14.67 pct), Piraeus Bank (10.74 pct) and National Bank (7.79 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (2.17 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (1.61 pct) and Cyprus Bank (0.74 pct) ended lower.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 101 to 52 with another 32 issues unchanged. Newsphone Hellas (27.66 pct), Eurobank (20.41 pct) and Douros (19.92 pct) were top gainers, while Attikat (19.35 pct), Kordellos Bros (18.52 pct) and Evrofarma (14.04 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.84%
Personal & Household: -0.95%
Raw Materials: +2.36%
Travel & Leisure: +2.58%
Food & Beverages: -0.02%
Financial Services: +2.92%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.55
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.40
HBC Coca Cola: 14.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.47
National Bank of Greece: 2.49
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.18
Bank of Piraeus: 0.50
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 27.66 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bonds yielding 29.46 pct and the German Bund 1.80 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 1.56 pct, the six-month rate 1.22 pct, the three-month rate 0.92 pct and the one-month rate 0.51 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.53 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 34.856 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,295 contracts worth 23.489 million euros, with 24,609 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 72,208 contracts worth 11.367 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (26,321), followed by Cyprus Bank (14,875), OTE (2,130), PPC (833), OPAP (649), Piraeus Bank (3,567), National Bank (18,261), Marfin Popular Bank (1,757), Hellenic Postbank (1,322), GEK (679), Mytilineos (547) and Hellenic Exchanges (91).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.335
Pound sterling 0.845
Danish kroner 7.545
Swedish kroner 9.024
Japanese yen 108.26
Swiss franc 1.223
Norwegian kroner 7.563
Canadian dollar 1.333
Australian dollar 1.260
 Two arrested for illegal possession of antiquitiesPolice on Tuesday reported the arrest of two men aged 45 and 36 years old, respectively, who were caught with a total of 36 ancient coins that they are accused of illegally excavating from an archaeological dig near Alexandroupolis using a metal detector.
Investigating officers carried out the arrests after finding the ancient coins in a car used by the suspects. Further investigation showed that the two men had carried out an illegal archaeological dig in the Makri-Mesimvria region.
The coins will be sent to the Komotini archaeological service for an assessment of their value, while police have also confiscated the car, the metal detector and excavation tools used by the suspects.
The two men will be led before an Alexandroupolis first-instance court prosecutor to be charged with violating laws on antiquities and protection of cultural heritage.
 Crew member of catamaran missing after falling into seaA crew member of the passenger catamaran ILION fell into the sea, west of the Ionian island of Cephallonia under circumstances as yet unknown. According to initial reports, a coast guard patrol boat was informed by the ship's captain that the catamaran's second engineer fell into the sea.
Coast guard vessels and helicopters have mounted a search and rescue operation in the area to locate the missing man.
The catamaran, with the remaining five crew members (three Greek and two foreign nationals), was led to Argostoli port on the island of Cephallonia.
 President Papoulias inaugurates exhibition of historic relics of Trikoupis familyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias inaugurated an exhibition titled "Harilaos Trikoupis: exhibition of historic relics of the Trikoupis family" in Parliament's Eleftherios Venizelos hall on Tuesday evening.
The archives, the library, historic relics, personal and family items donated by Rita Frei-Trikoupis, the widow of Constantine Sp. Trikoupis to Parliament's library, in 2010, are being presented, while the exhibition is supplemented with printed material, pamphlets, books, newspapers and magazines.
 Authorities in Corfu report fraud in several cases of disability benefitsMunicipal authorities on the Ionian island of Corfu on Tuesday announced several cases where local residents allegedly received stipends and benefits with bogus disability certificates, including instances where dead people also apparently received benefits.
Some 2,500 case files are under scrutiny, with the most glaring instances showing that between 30,000 to 70,000 euros in benefits were illegally paid out to bogus beneficiaries over the past decade.
According to Corfu Mayor Yiannis Trepeklis, there were instances where beneficiaries receiving disability benefits, i.e. for blindness, failed to submit any necessary medical documentation.
Officials said some people illegally receiving benefits returned the money to the Corfu municipality's coffers, while in at least three instances, illegally received benefits have not been returned.
"There was one case involving a blind person who died five years ago, and where a relative (of the deceased) illegally pocketed 38,000 euros. In another instance, which we discovered 10 days ago, we had an individual with a power-of-attorney (document) who collected a sum of 70,000 euros for a blind person who died a decade ago ... In the first place, this a great injustice for those who are truly eligible for these benefits," the relevant deputy mayor, Alekos Poulis, said.
 Athens, Piraeus pharmacies open despite 48h nationwide strikeThe pharmacists of Athens and Piraeus decided late Monday not to follow the decision of the Panhellenic Pharmacies Association for a 48-hour strike on Thursday and Friday (March 8 and 9).
Pharmacies in Athens and Piraeus will remain open, however they will not give medicine with credit to those insured in all the overdebted social security funds.
In the rest of the country the pharmacies will remain closed if the all the local associations comply with the central association's decision.
The pharmacists disagree with the deregulation of the pharmacies' working hours and the cut in their profit percentage, and demand from the social security funds the money they owe them.
 Contraband cigarettes found on catamaran reporting missing sailorCoastguard officers on Tuesday reported the discovery of large quantities of contraband cigarettes on board the catamaran 'Ilios', which had earlier issued a man overboard distress call. The 'Ilios' was intercepted at midnight on Monday, 17 nautical miles west of the Ionian Sea island of Cephalonia.
Earlier, its captain had informed a Coastguard patrol boat that a 40-year-old crew member, the ship's second engineer, was missing after falling overboard in unclear circumstances. A search and rescue operation was immediately launched in the area, with the participation of ships and a helicopter, but had not found the missing man by Tuesday evening.
The catamaran and its five-member crew, 3 Greeks and 2 foreigners, was led to the port of Argostoli. All five crew members are being detained following the orders of a prosecutor.
 Prison staff announce rolling 24-hour strikesStaff in Greece's correctional facilities have announced a series of nationwide rolling 24-hour strikes beginning on Wednesday. As a result of the strikes called by their national union federation, it will not be possible to conduct prisoner transfers or visits to prisons.
Prison guards are striking in protest against the poor conditions in the country's correctional facilities and over the non-payment of night-shift bonuses.
The union federation stressed in an announcement on Tuesday that prison overcrowding can only be relieved if the prisons in Serres, Chania and Drama are opened and if additional prison staff are hired.
 Burglars make away with 275,000 euros in cash from home in ThesprotiaBurglars broke into the home of a 57-year-old man in Argyrotopos, Thesprotia prefecture on Tuesday and made away with 275,000 euros in cash and some 1,500 euros in jewelry, police said.
Police have launched an investigation to track down the burglars.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 11C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceOptimism for the success of the PSI expressed by the Finance Ministry and the IIF, the opening of the election campaign and the arrangement for the surtax on real estate as well as the abolition of branch agreements for workers under the age of 25, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Cooperation memorandum among Greece, Cyprus and Israel".
AVGHI: "Setback with the surtax".
AVRIANI: "Evangelos Venizelos (Finance Minister) sweeping prevalence in PASOK party elections".
DIMOKRATIA: "George Papandreou (PASOK president) should go to jail for what he did".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "56,000 euros bonus to former interior minister Yiannis Ragoussis from Labour Housing Organisation".
ESTIA: "Why the bipartisanism is collapsing".
ETHNOS: "Super profits for the wholesalers' and intermediaries' club".
IMERISSIA: "Positive messages for the PSI".
KATHIMERINI: "Agreement for an energy triangle".
LOGOS: "30 percent haircut to the households' debts".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Banks say yes to the bonds swap".
RIZOSPASTIS: "511 euros gross salary for the young regardless of contract".
TA NEA: "The huge trick with the 'golden' invoices".
VRADYNI: "Tax on field plots, too".
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