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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-03-27

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

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

Tuesday, 27 March 2012 Issue No: 4031

CONTENTS

  • [01] 30 reception centres for illegal migrants announced
  • [02] Online EU newspaper publishes news report on illegal migration problem in Greece
  • [03] EU General Affairs Council focuses on new 2014-2020 fiscal framework
  • [04] PASOK leader urges party's ministers not to 'relax' running of state in run-up to elections
  • [05] PASOK leader presents party's new press spokesperson
  • [06] PASOK political council to convene on Tues.
  • [07] ND shuns tax policy dialogue; controversial clause withdrawn
  • [08] ND party denounces hirings in public sector agencies
  • [09] ND decides against campaign offices in upcoming election race
  • [10] Papariga: They are terrorizing the people
  • [11] LAOS leader meets PM, warns of 'repulsive measures' in June
  • [12] Dem. Left leader meets young jobless, stresses need for social safety net
  • [13] DM Avramopoulos briefs Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee
  • [14] Gov't spokesman: Parades could not be held without police surveillance
  • [15] Papandreou says decision on reopening of Halki School 'positive development'
  • [16] Gov't VP in Qatar
  • [17] Leftist leader meets with Turkey's new envoy to Athens
  • [18] Chinese ambassador visits Patra
  • [19] Interior ministry abolished 104 unoccupied positions
  • [20] Greece, Switzerland signed cooperation memorandum on energy, environment policy
  • [21] Financial prosecutor investigating power companies failing to hand over property surtax
  • [22] Elval reports improved 2011 results
  • [23] Bussiness Briefs
  • [24] Stocks end moderately lower
  • [25] The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [29] EU: Computer literacy rate in Greece still lagging in older populations
  • [30] Larissa garden allotment scheme for jobless attracts imitators
  • [31] Greek Cinema Week in Moscow
  • [32] Japanese 'Peace Ship' to sail into port of Piraeus on Tuesday
  • [33] Parliament to finance conversion of first 'National Assembly' building into museum
  • [34] Fatally injured female seal found
  • [35] Weapons found in sea region off Varkiza
  • [36] Olympic Torch Relay in Greece fully funded by private sponsors
  • [37] Cloudy on Tuesday
  • [38] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] 30 reception centres for illegal migrants announced

    The government on Monday announced the creation of 30 guarded reception centres for illegal migrants in 10 of the country's 13 administrative regions, with the exception of the regions of the Aegean and Ionian islands and the large island of Crete.

    The announcement came after Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis met with the regional governors, seeking a solution to the pressing and explosive illegal migration problem in the country.

    Each of the reception centres will have a capacity of 1,000 individuals, while a total of 250 million euro in EU funds will be used for this purpose by 2013. Chryssohoidis informed the regional governors that within the next 15 days they should suggest the appropriate spaces that could be used as reception centres for illegal migrants.

    The minister stated that if the regional governors have no suggestions a decision will be made through a legislative act to be presented to the cabinet in cooperation with the ministry of defence.

    Earlier, speaking to a private radio station, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Lefteris Economou said the reception centres will be guarded by police and that the illegal migrants will be afforded medical care, adding that local communities will have a financial gain considering that the daily operating cost of the facilities is estimated to 20,000 euros.

    [02] Online EU newspaper publishes news report on illegal migration problem in Greece

    BRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Aroni)

    A news report entitled "asylum seekers flock to EU safe haven", referring to the illegal migration problem in Greece, was published on Monday in the euobserver.com, an independent online newspaper.

    The news report underlined that "just over 300,000 asylum applicants registered in Europe last year, up from 259,000 in 2010, the EU's statistical office, Eurostat, revealed on Friday, March 23. The vast majority registered in France, Germany and Italy. Most came from Afghanistan and Russia."

    Referring to Greece it mentioned that "fewer than 10,000 asylum seekers registered in the country, but Greece's management of its border crossing with Turkey has caused resentment in some of the larger member states," adding that both Germany and Austria are pressing Athens to properly secure the 180-km Evros River, the country's land border with Turkey.

    "The (Greek) border is open like a barn door. The pressure on Greece must be increased ... It cannot be that a member state which does not do its homework gets away with it scot-free," said Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner earlier this month.

    The news report stressed that "the border with Turkey is for the most part patrolled by Greek authorities with assistance from Frontex, the EU's border agency. In February, the Greek government started building a 12.6-km-long razor wire-topped fence in zone where the river loops into Turkey.

    Around 6,000 were crossing the Greek-Turkish border every month last summer. In January, the figure dropped to 2,800 according to Frontex. Many come from Afghanistan, trekking their way across Turkey before making their final way into Greece.

    Suffering from a severe lack of resources and manpower, the reception of asylum seekers in Greece is dire."

    The news report stressed that "every Saturday morning, large lines of around 100 asylum seekers, including women and children, stand outside Athens' Aliens Police Directorate hoping to get registered. Understaffed, the Greek police can only register 20 at a time, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The rest scatter only to repeat the ritual the following week."

    It is also reminded that "the EU is aiming to introduce a new common asylum system (CEAS) before the end of the year."

    In December, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said solidarity is key to Europe's fragmented asylum seeker system. But the spat with Greece could jeopardize the CEAS project, the news report concluded.

    [03] EU General Affairs Council focuses on new 2014-2020 fiscal framework

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/V. Demiris)

    The negotiations on the shaping of the new 2014-2020 fiscal framework were the focus of the European Union's General Affairs Council here on Monday.

    Greece's positions were backed by Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas, who participated earlier in a working breakfast of the European Peaple's Party (EPP) Foreign ministers.

    Addressing the Council, the Greek Foreign minister stressed that the new multi-year Fiscal Framework must constitute a considerable growth lever of the EU's member-states, for the 2014-2020 period, securing economic, social convergence and cohesion as, in any case, is also anticipated by the EU's very own Treaties.

    In light of the recession period that Europe is going through, Dimas said, the EU's action for the economy's recovery, growth and the creation of jobs is more necessary than ever.

    The Foreign minister reconfirmed Greece's support for the Danish Presidency's negotiations efforts for the processing, as much as possible, of an integrated proposals plan on the general principles of the new fiscal framework, while underlining that the positions of certain countries on the further decrease of the 2014-2020 funding Framework in relation to the current one (2007-13) are incompatible, on the one hand with the EU's effort for boosting growth and on the other with the increased, due to the Lisbon Treaty, duties of the enlarged EU, that all the member-states support.

    Referring to the Framework's individual issues, Dimas said that the proposed increase in funds for the internal affairs sector is a positive development, noting however that this increase is not adequate to handle challenges in the sector of immigration and asylum, particularly for member-states having external borders. He stressed that the substansive increase of funds in this sector of the budget will produce additional value for the EU and the member-states in their entirety.

    [04] PASOK leader urges party's ministers not to 'relax' running of state in run-up to elections

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Monday chaired a meeting with members of the party in the government at PASOK's headquarters on Ippokratous Street, during which he stressed that there must not be any relaxation in the running of the state between now and the upcoming elections.

    According to a briefing held by PASOK party spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata, Venizelos particularly emphasised the need to maintain revenue collection and to coordinate last-minute essential legislation such as the deregulation of the taxi sector or measures for illegally building use conversions.

    He also asked the party's ministers for proposals that might be included in the party's policy platform, placing finance ministry general secretary Ilias Plaskovitis and culture ministry general secretary Lina Mendoni in charge of coordinating this effort.

    The meeting additionally focused on election campaign tactics, especially the effort to highlight what Venizelos said contradictory positions adopted by main opposition New Democracy.

    Gennimata announced that Venizelos' first foreign visit as PASOK's leader will be to Cyprus, where he will be accompany by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Maniatis and PASOK Parliamentary representative Petros Efthymiou.

    In response to questions, meanwhile, she underlined that PASOK 'respected' the authority of the prime minister to coordinate the government's work and did not raise obstacles, such as when ND demanded the withdrawal of draft legislation.

    [05] PASOK leader presents party's new press spokesperson

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Monday officially presented the party's new press spokesperson, former alternate minister Fofi Gennimata.

    After welcoming Gennimata, Venizelos said that she is a personality that was formed within the political struggle and the political action adding that her personality includes many sensitive elements which are needed in order to face the crisis.

    On her part, Gennimata said that it is a huge responsibility to undertake this post in such a critical moment, in a party that is responsible for all the major changes in this country. "Our responsibility in the new page we are opening in PASOK is to highlight all the efforts that we have made in the last two difficult years and additionally to speak with frankness about our mistakes and oversights.

    "Our responsibility is, especially today, to support this new page we opened in PASOK, which is a proposal that will lead the country to move forward and that will combine vision with realism," she said, adding that "the word vision may be provocative in the current conditions, however politics have no meaning without vision".

    [06] PASOK political council to convene on Tues.

    PASOK's political council, chaired by newly elected leader Evangelos Venizelos, will convene on Tuesday morning. The meeting will focus on the party's pre-election campaign ahead of pending general elections.

    Meanwhile, council member Giorgos Panagiotakopoulos, who had resigned in February, reversed his decision, reportedly following a request by Venizelos.

    [07] ND shuns tax policy dialogue; controversial clause withdrawn

    New Democracy (ND) will not return to dialogue on a new taxation policy despite of the fact that the ministry of finance on Monday unceremoniously withdrew a controversial clause, the party announced hours later.

    According to the now withdrawn clause in question, buildings constructed without a planning permit but recently legalised after their owners paid a fine, would be taken into account when calculating the taxpayers' income.

    ND alternate economy sector head MP Yannis Vroutsis accused PASOK of continuing to embrace a "tax-raiding" policy.

    Vroutsis also accused PASOK of contributing to the destruction of the Greek economy for more than two years, adding that ND's persistence has avoided yet another levy on taxpayers.

    "ND wants a taxation system that is simple, fair and promotes economic growth," he noted.

    The withdrawal was announced live on a private television station's morning news programme by Alternate Ecomony Minister Pantelis Economou.

    [08] ND party denounces hirings in public sector agencies

    The New Democracy (ND) party denounced on Monday what it called "clientelism" hirings shortly before the start of the election period, criticising the PASOK party of "proving that not only does it not want to curb the extravagant state, but of swelling it for canvassing reasons."

    According to ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, on March 12, 2012, with a joint ministerial decision, which then finance minister and new PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos jointly signed, ministers of PASOK approved the hiring by the Hellenic Post Offices (ELTA) of 2,340 people with 8-month contracts, while a few days later, on March 23, 2012, the Greek Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) announced, through its website, the hiring of 1,000 associates, and determining the expiry of the submission of applications on April 28.

    ND calls on the relevant ministers to take back these clientele decisions and, otherwise, it declares that when in government it will not recognise their results.

    [09] ND decides against campaign offices in upcoming election race

    Main opposition New Democracy on Monday announced that the party will not open any campaign offices in any Greek city during the upcoming electoral race, in line with the "current climate".

    "The economic crisis the country is undergoing and the difficulties faced by the citizens impose an equivalent adaptation in the pre-election activities of the parties," ND said, adding that the existing offices of the party can serve pre-election needs.

    ND urged its candidates for Parliament to restrict their spending on campaign material to the bare minimum.

    [10] Papariga: They are terrorizing the people

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga, speaking at the Perama working class district of Piraeus on Monday, reiterated that the dilemma as a vote criterion "we must be governed or else chaos will prevail" is fake and is used to terrorise the people.

    "This indicates what the interests are of those who want a Greece of development with salaries of 200 -300 euro, public hospitals with a 70 percent 'haircut' of their reserves, and with pensions of 300-400 euros. The Greek people must reject this chaos," said Papariga.

    [11] LAOS leader meets PM, warns of 'repulsive measures' in June

    In statements after a meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Monday, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis claimed that the prime minister and the heads of the two main parties - New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos - had "fallen for the bluff" of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and bowed to her pressure when they unconditionally signed the second Memorandum.

    He also warned that "entirely repulsive measures" that would destroy social cohesion were likely to be imposed in June.

    The meeting lasted roughly an hour and focused on current political developments.

    "I told them repeatedly, every night during meetings here, that she was bluffing. They did not believe me. Ms Merkel admitted today that there was no chance that she would let Greece default and no chance that Greece would leave the euro. Unfortunately, however, the decisions taken under her pressure were extremely unfavourable for the Greek people and will be maximised in June, with a danger of blasting social cohesion," he stressed.

    Karatzaferis underlined that the second Memorandum, in which Merkel played a crucial role, would "change all of our lives" and that those responsible for this were those "lacking the maturity and experience to deflect them".

    Concerning the date of the upcoming elections, LAOS leader said that he had asked Papademos to delay dissolving Parliament until after Easter so as not to disrupt the religious holiday for the Greek people.

    [12] Dem. Left leader meets young jobless, stresses need for social safety net

    In a meeting with young unemployed people on Monday, Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis noted that the recent measures taken with the aim of boosting competitiveness were disrupting the social fabric and violating the labour rights of the workforce.

    The meeting was organised in the framework of Kouvelis' contacts with sections of the population worst hit by the economic crisis.

    He noted that large sections of society had taken a severe blow and underlined the need for a social safety net and measures to protect the unemployed, especially unemployed young people that figured so prominently in the ranks of the jobless and were basically dependent on their families without any assistance from the state.

    Kouvelis also underlined that the cause of high unemployment was not a lack of skills among potential job candidates, since young people were currently more than qualified for the work available and the younger generation faced an entirely new set of social problems, with demographic, cultural, social, financial and political ramifications.

    [13] DM Avramopoulos briefs Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos attributed the entry of a Turkish frigate into Greek territorial waters last week, on the eve of the national anniversary, to a "domestic problem of Turkey", since as he stressed "if the Turkish armed forces act by themselves without informing their political leadership, is their problem."

    In any case, "the Turkish frigate felt on its neck at some moment the breath of the Greek airplanes and frigates" since in the Aegean "a mosquito does not move without the prevention system being activated" and "the reaction was immediate. The era of gunboats has gone forever," he said.

    Briefing the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee on current issues pertaining to his ministry and regarding developments in the wider region of the southeastern Mediterranean, Avramopoulos said that the role of the Armed Forces is not only a preventive one, but also supportive of peace and security.

    [14] Gov't spokesman: Parades could not be held without police surveillance

    Government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Monday morning opined that the general elections will take place either on April 29 or May 6 and rejected the possibility that they will be held on May 13, speaking on private Antenna television station.

    Referring to the police measures at March 25 Greek Independence Day military parade in Athens, he noted "Could a parade have been held without these security measures, without police surveillance? Not even the pupils' parades could have taken place without these measures".

    [15] Papandreou says decision on reopening of Halki School 'positive development'

    The reopening of the Halki School was one of the issues discussed by former prime minister and Socialist International president George Papandreou, during his stay in Istanbul last week, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    During his discussion with Erdogan, Papandreou termed this decision by Turkey a "positive development", for which US President Barack Obama was also notified.

    The former prime minister also referred to the issue during his discussion with the Ecumenical Patriarch, with whom he shared the joint expression of the hope, as is mentioned in an announcement by Papandreou's office, "that we shall see the School of Halki operating again soon."

    [16] Gov't VP in Qatar

    Government Vice-President Theodoros Pangalos will pay a visit to Qatar this week following an invitation by the country's prime minister, Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani, with the focus reportedly on attracting investments, including exploitation of former Athens airport at the Helliniko site in southern coastal Athens.

    Pangalos, who announced over the weekend that he will not run for re-election to Parliament in the upcoming election, is scheduled to return to Athens on Thursday.

    [17] Leftist leader meets with Turkey's new envoy to Athens

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday met with Turkey's new ambassador to Athens, Kerim Uras, with talks focusing on Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.

    Tsipras repeated his party's position for a solution to the Greek-Turkish problems through dialogue based on international law and mutual respect of national sovereignty.

    He reminded SYRIZA's proposal for a bilateral agreement on mutual and balanced reduction in armaments, ones aimed at solving the economic and social problems faced by the two peoples, as he said.

    As regards the Cyprus issue, Tsipras referred to the initiatives undertaken by Cyprus Republic President Demetris Christofias and the importance of a solution that will be based on UN decisions for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

    Finally, he referred to his party's position for a nuclear-free Middle East and expressed opposition to the threats for any new war in the region under the pretext of Iran's nuclear programme.

    [18] Chinese ambassador visits Patra

    Chinese ambassador Do Ki Yen visited the port city of Patra on Monday where he was briefed on the economic, social and cultural level of the region of Western Greece.

    The Chinese ambassador underlined his country's interest in developing cooperation and partnership relations with Western Greece, stressing that the Chinese embassy in Greece can be a cooperation "bridge" for the development of these relations.

    The ambassador was briefed by vice Development regional governors George Angelopoulos and Economy George Georgiopoulos, due to the absence of regional governor Apostolos Katsifaras in Athens.

    Georgiopoulos invited the Chinese ambassador to attend the upcoming ceremony on the lighting of the Olympic Flame in light of the Olympic Games that will take place in London.

    [19] Interior ministry abolished 104 unoccupied positions

    Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Monday announced that 104 currently unoccupied permanent posts in the organisational structure of the ministry are to be abolished as part of a policy for downsizing the public sector.

    The decisions reduces the total number of permanent positions envisaged in the ministry organisational structure from 142 to just 38. The positions involved are mostly those of inspectors, administrative employees, technicians and typists-stenographers.

    Financial News

    [20] Greece, Switzerland signed cooperation memorandum on energy, environment policy

    Greece and Switzerland on Monday signed a memorandum of cooperation on energy and environmental policy, designed to promote closer cooperation in the exchange of knowhow and making investments. The agreement was signed by Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou and Swiss Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications Minister Doris Leuthard in Berne.

    During a meeting prior to signing the agreement, Papaconstantinou and Leuthard discussed the Helios solar power programme in Greece and developments concerning natural gas pipelines in the area, particularly the South Corridor and other new prospects arising through hydrocarbon prospecting in the southeastern Mediterranean.

    The Swiss side expressed strong interest in the Helios programme, while there was also extensive discussion on cooperation in the area of energy conservation.

    In statements after the meeting, Papaconstantinou emphasised the potential for cooperation between Greece and Switzerland, which he said was now in the process of shifting its energy policy toward energy conservation and reducing its carbon footprint.

    He also noted that Greece's efforts to restructure its economy were gaining recognition and that confidence in the country was gradually being restored, with greater interest expressed both by national governments and private investors.

    "This interest was confirmed in the context of contacts with representatives of Swiss businesses organised by the [Swiss] Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications Ministry that are either already active in our country in the energy sector or are interested in making new investments in Greece," he added.

    During his visit to Switzerland, Papaconstantinou visited a waste management plant and a photovoltaic panel production plant.

    [21] Financial prosecutor investigating power companies failing to hand over property surtax

    Finance prosecutor Grigoris Peponis on Monday announced the launch of an investigation to determine whether private power companies, in addition to Energa and Hellas Power, had failed to legally and promptly give the state sums collected for the special property surtax attached to electricity bills.

    The prosecutor has asked authorities to determined how many other electricity suppliers have failed to pay the sums due and how many days payment has been delayed.

    [22] Elval reports improved 2011 results

    Elval Group on Monday reported improved 2011 results, with consolidated turnover rising 14.2 pct to 1.062 billion euros and gross earnings totaling 84.8 million euros last year.

    EBITDA totaled 82.4 million euros and pre-tax profits were 23.1 pct and after tax and minorities profits jumped to 17.4 million euros in 2011 from 8.5 million in 2010. Earnings per share rose to 0.140 euros in 2011 from 0.069 euros in 2010).

    Consolidated net borrowing fell by 17 pct last year to 232.7 million euros.

    [23] Bussiness Briefs

    -- National Bank on Monday said it was taking over the sum total of saving deposits of three cooperative banks (Ahaiki, Lamia and Lesvos-Lemnos), whose operating licenses have been revoked due to financial problems.

    -- The value of the Greek technological consumer product market fell 19.3 pct in 2011 to 2.3 billion euros, compared with 2010, a report by GfK Temax showed on Monday.

    -- Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) on Monday said its net profits fell last year, hit by a deep economic crisis despite a 35 pct increase in sea cruise passenger traffic.

    -- ETEM SA on Monday reported losses totaling 14.9 million euros in 2011, after losses of 12.6 million euros in the previous year and said that consolidated sales fell 9.4 pct to 100.3 million euros.

    [24] Stocks end moderately lower

    Stocks ended moderately lower in very thin trading conditions at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. Bank shares remained at the focus of profit taking selling, while buying activity for OTE and OPAP shares offered support. The composite index ended at 767.32 points, off 0.69 pct, while turnover shrank to 29.453 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 1.10 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.20 pct higher and the Small Cap index dropped 3.79 pct. The Telecoms (4.26 pct), Travel (2.13 pct) and Raw Materials (1.02 pct) sectors scored gains, while Chemicals (8.82 pct), Technology (3.74 pct), Banks (3.55 pct) and Food (2.66 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    OTE (4.26 pct), OPAP (2.35 pct) and Mytilineos (1.67 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (9.09 pct), Piraeus Bank (8.59 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (7.74 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 83 to 54 with another 23 issues unchanged. Centric Multimedia (25 pct), Fieratex (23.45 pct) and HOL (19.8 pct) were top gainers, while Dromeas (27.44 pct), Olympic Catering (20 pct) and Varvaressos (19.66 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +0.20%

    Commercial: +0.57%

    Construction: -0.78%

    Oil & Gas: +0.48%

    Personal & Household: +0.40%

    Raw Materials: +1.02%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.13%

    Technology: -3.74%

    Telecoms: +4.26%

    Banks: -3.55%

    Food & Beverages: -2.66%

    Health: -0.39%

    Utilities: +0.83%

    Chemicals: -8.82%

    Financial Services: -1.33%

    [25] The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.26

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.79

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.60

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.80

    National Bank of Greece: 2.28

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.80

    OPAP: 7.40

    OTE: 3.18

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.33

    Titan: 14.12

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 11-year Greek bond and the 10-year German benchmark bond widened to 18.41 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 20.33 pct and the German Bund 1.92pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate was 1.44 pct, the six-month rate 1.10 pct, the three-month 0.80 pct and the one-month rate 0.42 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.80 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining an extremely low 7.257 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,477 contracts worth 3.705 million euros, with 17,494 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,444 contracts worth 3.552 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (8,966), followed by Cyprus Bank (2,088), MIG (350), OTE (1,714), PPC (614), Piraeus Bank (1,061), National Bank (3,905), Mytilineos (643), Hellenic Postbank (204), Ellaktor (156) and OPAP (163).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.347

    Pound sterling 0.847

    Danish kroner 7.547

    Swedish kroner 9.061

    Japanese yen 111.47

    Swiss franc 1.223

    Norwegian kroner 7.723

    Canadian dollar 1.342

    Australian dollar 1.282

    General News

    [29] EU: Computer literacy rate in Greece still lagging in older populations

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)

    Greece records one of the lowest percentage rates of computer use in the European Union among the 16-74 age group, Eurostat said on Monday.

    The EU executive's statistics service, in a report published here, said that 59 pct of the Greek population (aged 16-74) has ever used a computer, ranking third from the bottom after Romania (50 pct) and Bulgaria (55 pct).

    Sweden (96 pct), Denmark, Luxembourg and Holland (94 pct) recorded the biggest percentage rates, while the EU-27 average rate was 78 pct.

    However, 97 pct of Greeks aged 16-24, are using computers, slightly better than the EU average rate of 96 pct. Youths in Holland, Austria, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland and the UK recorded the highest rates (100 pct), while Romania (81 pct), Bulgaria (87 pct) and Italy (90 pct) recorded the lowest rates.

    The increasing use of computers in the work place has led to computer literacy being a necessity in a large majority of professions. A sound understanding and knowledge of computer applications and programs is becoming more and more important in working life, Eurostat said.

    In the EU27, the share of computing graduates was 3.4 percent of all university graduates in 2009, compared with 4.0 percent in 2005. In 2011, almost two thirds of individuals aged 16-74 in the EU27 reported having moved or copied files or folders on a computer, compared with 89 percent for those aged 16-24.

    [30] Larissa garden allotment scheme for jobless attracts imitators

    An original initiative by the Larissa municipality, which has set up a municipal organic vegetable garden for use by the unemployed in a 2.2-hectare expanse owned by the local authority, is attracting lively interest from other parts of the country.

    The scheme was initiated in February and has already been adopted by other municipalities in Thessaly, such as Trikala and Karditsa, while the municipal authorities in Kavala and Kozani have asked for more information concerning the project.

    The land has been divided into 277 allotments, the first 156 of which were assigned to the same number of jobless applicants, while another 60 were given to pensioners, OAP centres, to Thessaly University for use in experimental research and to a number of schools.

    Demand has greatly outstripped the supply of allotments, which several applications still pending.

    The allotment is given free of charge and applicants sign a two-year contract with the municipality, on condition that the crops planted are organic and annual. The municipality, on its part, provides a central irrigation system and free water, as well as free advice from an agricultural scientist that visits the site each morning.

    The municipality also intends to provide benches, a reception desk, pavilions and a playground so that the site can also be a place to socialise and meet others.

    The vegetables grown are currently destined primarily for home use by the allotment holders but the municipality is also examining the possibility of forming an agricultural cooperative so that surplus produce can be sold for a small income. Apart from this, all allotment holders are required to give 10 percent of their produce to the municipality's Social Grocery Store.

    [31] Greek Cinema Week in Moscow

    Moscow will host a Greek Cinema Week until April 1, organised by local municipal authorities and the city's Hellenic Cultural Centre.

    The Greek Cinema Week events are hosted within the framework of the "Cinema of friends" forum offering a unique opportunity to the public to become familiar with the best examples of classical Greek cinema and very interesting new filmmakers.

    Parallel events include an exhibition of works by Russian painters having Greece as a theme to be inaugurated at Moscow's historical cinema theatre "Hudozhestvennyi".

    The public will also have the opportunity to taste Grecian cuisine, watch folk dances performed by the centre's dance troupe and attend a musical concert.

    [32] Japanese 'Peace Ship' to sail into port of Piraeus on Tuesday

    The Japanese "Peace Ship" with 1,000 passengers on board, including survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Holocaust, will sail into the port of Piraeus at about 11 on Tuesday morning, coming from Italy.

    The main aim of the ship's voyage is a programme being promoted by the UN for 2012, with the slogan "For a world without nuclear weapons."

    A delegation from the ship, on which 10 "Hibakusa" (survivors of the nuclear bombs, five from Hiroshima and five from Nagasaki) are on board, as well as victims of the nuclear accident from Chernobyl, is expected to meet with Piraeus Mayor Vassilis Mihaloliakos.

    [33] Parliament to finance conversion of first 'National Assembly' building into museum

    The building in the town of Epidaurus that housed the first 'National Assembly' created by the nascent Greek state in December 1821, following the war of independence to shake off 400 years of Ottoman rule, is to be converted into a museum with funds provided by the Greek Parliament.

    The building, which was later used as the Epidaurus primary school, was where the leaders of the independence war drafted Greece's declaration of independence and where they voted for the newly-emergent nation's first-ever Constitution in January 1822.

    The new museum will store and display historical and archive material from this period, following an agreement signed there on Sunday, the anniversary of Greece's Independence Day holiday, between Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos and Epidaurus Mayor Costas Gatzios.

    The work to renovate and modify the building for a museum is budgeted at 100,000 euro, with the Parliament president pledging another 50,000 euro in order to improve and landscape the surrounding area.

    [34] Fatally injured female seal found

    A fatally injured female seal was washed ashore at Ai-Giannis Abdera beach. The seal was found by two winter swimmers and, according to authorities, the mammal was injured by a human and was either shot or struck with a sharp object. The rare species is the only seal in the Mediterranean that resembles a dolphin but has a short snout and is black on the back, grey at the sides and has a white belly. It is one of the smallest sea mammals and its length reaches 1.30m and weighs up to 50 kilos.

    The specific species is not on the international red list of endangered species, however in Greece it is hunted by fishermen who believe that it destroys their fishing nets and eats their fish.

    [35] Weapons found in sea region off Varkiza

    Three Kalashnikov assault rifles with 12 magazines, a 9mm makarov pistol, two 7.65mm beretta pistols, three 45mm browning pistols, three bayonets and about 300 cartridges were found in the sea in the region of Varkiza, eastern Attica, in investigations taking place 10 days ago.

    The weapons were taken for laboratory tests, while excperts treated it in a way, due to corrosion caused by seawater, allowing for investigations to ascertain whether it had been used in any criminal acts.

    Olympics

    [36] Olympic Torch Relay in Greece fully funded by private sponsors

    Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) President Spyros Capralos on Monday stated that Greece has found enough sponsors to fund the Olympic Torch Relay scheduled to arrive at Athens' Panathenian Stadium on May 17.

    In a press conference at the HOC offices, media representatives were presented with detailed information concerning the torch relay and parallel events.

    The Olympic Torch Relay will begin from Ancient Olympia on May 10 after the Flame Lighting ceremony and the Olympic Flame will conclude its 3,000-kilometers-long journey across Greece passing through more than 43 cities and carried by 500 torchbearers before being flown to the UK for the London Olympic Games to be launched on July 27.

    Weather forecast

    [37] Cloudy on Tuesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 21C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 15C.

    [38] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Troika's (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) arrival and speculations of a new package of harsh measures, and the reduction in the number of new entrants in universities mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The State loses 2.5 billion euros every year from non-exploitation of its 97,860 buildings!".

    AVRIANI: "Withdraw from the eurozone immediately and devaluate the national currency by 50 percent ".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Omerta on Siemens issue".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Troika devastates the social benefits".

    ETHNOS: "Fewer students will enter 85 university schools".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika begins work for the new package of measures".

    TA NEA: "Shock! PPC bill up 30 percent".

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