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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-04-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 12 April 2012 Issue No: 4045
 Early general elections on May 6Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Wednesday announced the dissolution of parliament and called general elections for May 6, adding that the new parliament will convene on Thursday, May 17 at 11:00 a.m.
Speaking during a cabinet meeting, he said that his government produced positive results leaving behind an "important legacy" considering that "in the past five months it became obvious that we can cooperate, combine viewpoints when necessary and put our differences aside making decisions for the good of the country."
Papademos stressed that in certain cases there were operational problems, particularly in the first two months, adding that "important decisions should be made immediately to complete and consolidate the effort for the reconstruction of the economy".
He said that the new Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy Framework 2013-2016 should be voted in parliament in June, while the new economic programme must be implemented, as well as, all structural reforms that are necessary preconditions for the sustainable growth of the Greek economy and the country's presence in the Eurozone.
Referring to the recapitalization of the banks, he said that all necessary terms will have to be created to ensure the liquidity of the economy.
He underlined that the immediate risk for a default has been averted and that the government has shaped the best possible conditions for the continuation of the efforts aimed at state reform, fiscal stability and competitive economy. He called on the government ministers to continue their efforts until the election date stressing that important decisions need to be made and policies approved by parliament must be implemented. "We have to present the new government with processed proposals allowing it to make its own decisions in the best possible way. We should hand over a state that operates fully," he said. Greek voters will head to the polls on May 6 to elect a new government that will inherit the worst economic and financial crisis plaguing the east Mediterranean country since the Great Depression, following an announcement on Wednesday afternoon by interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. The closely watched and eagerly expected election will come two and a half years after socialist PASOK party swept to power with a wide majority, and six months after the same government, under ex-PM George Papandreou, stepped down to allow the formation of a transitional Cabinet under Papademos. The resulting three-party government -- PASOK, New Democracy and, initially, the small Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) -- faced the Herculean task of signing a new loan agreement (Memorandum II) with EC-ECB-IMF creditors and negotiating a PSI "haircut" with bondholders. A bevy of recent opinion polls have shown an unprecedented fluidity in voters' preferences, with between five and eight parties expected to enter the 300-MP Parliament, and with a clear majority by one single party appearing remote, according to results. An already shortened election season will begin, in essence, the week after Orthodox Easter on Sunday.
 'I am sure that as a society we shall invest in creation', PM Papademos says in message to Greek peoplePrime Minister Lucas Papademos, in a televised message to the Greek people on Wednesday following the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of general elections on May 6, stressed his conviction that the Greek citizens will not vote with their gaze on the past, but for the country's safegurading within the euro. "I am sure that as a society we shall invest in creation and not in backtracking. This means that we select the path that safeguards the position of our country in the European Union and the euro. The path of fiscal restructuring and of structural changes that will lead to a modern competitive economy, to viable growth of incomes and to a decrease in unemployment," he said and called on the political parties to observe the rules of democracy and dialogue in the election period. "All views must be formulated freely and the citizens to make their choices having full awareness of reality," he said. The prime minister made it clear that the effort that has started must not be slackened and for this a tough and disciplined effort is necessary since, as he said, "it will not only be judged which government will be formed the day after the elections. Greece's course in the next decades will be judged. Our decisions must not be turned to yesterday but to tomorrow. To the building of a better future for all." Papademos added that nobody can take the country out of the crisis painlessly. "If we want to get out of the situation we are in, we must struggle with our forces and decrease our foreign dependences." Moreover, he stressed that he realises the reactions of all who feel indignant and unfairly treated. "Greece is in the middle of a difficult course. The economic and social cost is heavy. Fatigue, dissatisfaction, in certain cases and indignation are understandable and justified sometimes, particularly when the burdens are not allocated fairly. A large number of citizens have been pressured intensely and react to the policies being implemented," the prime minister said. Lastly, Papademos made an account of his government tenure, terming its mission successful.
 PASOK President Venizelos addressed the party's National CouncilPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday termed the May 6 general election battle as "extremely difficult and fascinating". Addressing his party's National Council meeting in which PASOK's ballot was approved, he underlined that this was the first time the party's candidate lists were announced on the same day the dissolution of parliament was announced. Venizelos referred to a number of initiatives to be undertaken by PASOK soon after the elections, as well as, to the implementation of immediate cuts in election campaign expenditures. He also said that the Party Congress will take place on Sept. 3. He stressed that immediately after the elections PASOK will undertake an initiative for the revision of the parliamentary rules of procedure, adding that his party's MPs will resign from parliamentary immunity which will only cover their political activities. Venizelos backed a constitutional revision and the amendment of the ministerial liability clause stressing that no criminal act can be covered by law. The PASOK leader stated that the party ballots meet the preconditions of unity, renewal and meritocracy, underlining that over 60 pct of the candidates are new faces, while the participation of people under the age of 40 is impressive. He stated that all new MPs will have to submit a "source of income" statement and referring to the finances of the political parties, he said that PASOK will call for limited state funding. He acknowledged that there is a problem with the PASOK party finances and stated that an audit will be conducted by an international firm. Referring to the election campaign atmosphere, he said that the political world enjoys no respect and admitted that the responsibility lies entirely with the political system and not the people, adding that PASOK has a share of the responsibility.
 PASOK party leader Venizelos candidate in Thessaloniki A' and Iraklio constituenciesPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos will be a candidate deputy in the Thessaloniki A' constituency, where he has been elected since 1993, as well as in Iraklio since, being a party leader he can be a candidate in two electoral constituencies. This was announced on Wednesday during the party's National Council conference that dealt with the preparation of the party's tickets.
 Former PM Papandreou to run with PASOK in the constituency of AchaiaFormer prime minister George Papandreou on Wednesday announced that he will run with PASOK in the May 6 general elections and that he will be a candidate in the constituency of Achaia, in the Peloponnese. Papandreou stressed that he will continue the fight aimed at leading the country out of the crisis and promote the vital changes necessary, adding that everybody will have to be present in the effort made.
 'Greece will make it', ND leader Samaras saysNew Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras sent a message to the Greek people on Wednesday that they have the strength to change everything on May 6, making the assessment that Greece "will make it". Shortly after the announcement of the election date by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the ND leader stressed that a new page is opening for the country now. "The people, the last time, in October 2009, voted believing in empty promises. They paid for it dearly. And today they are wiser. They told them many times that they 'saved' them. And they created a much bigger problem for them," Samaras said and pointed out that Greece is currently in the worst situation that it has ever found itself in a period of peace and is continuing to suffer but at least, as he said, it has gained time. The ND leader clarified that the Greek people will have the opportunity to decide on their future with the elections and called on citizens to be very careful since some will attempt to convince them that all that took place is...for their good. "Don't believe them," Samaras said, criticising former prime minister George Papandreou and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos. "We had problems, but we found ourselves here because of the unbelievable mistakes, the populism and the irresponsibility of the Papandreou government. With whom Mr. Venizelos identified himself absolutely, from the beginning to the end," he further said and underlined that some will attempt to convince society that everything is vain now and that Greece has no hope of standing on its feet. "Do not believe them. They are speculating on the crisis from your anxiety. They are playing dangerous games with the people's despair. Greece will make it. It needs a people who believe in themselves. And a government that places national interest above all. That can take decisions and can negotiate abroad," he said.
 Viotia deputy Aria Agatsa joins ND partyNew Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, speaking on Wednesday after holding a meeting with independent Viotia deputy Ariadni Agatsa at the party's head office, announced that the deputy was joining the ND party. "I welcome in the ranks of New Democracy and the national effort a young politician who dares, a dynamic woman, listening to the voice of her conscience, to wage her own struggle for the Greece of tomorrow." "In her person, ND welcomes all those men and women, from whatever place they may come from, struggling with us for the hope and the recovery of the country. They struggle and win," Samaras added. On her part, the deputy announced that in the next Parliamentary elections she will be a candidate in Viotia with ND. Agatsa had left the PASOK party a few days ago to become an independent deputy.
 KKE leader Papariga calls for mass voting for party's ticketsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, in a statement on Wednesday on the occasion of the proclamation of elections, called for mass voting for KKE's tickets. Papariga said that KKE "extends an invitation to the exploited working class, to the suffering poor working people of the city and the countryside, the new generation and to women who are suffering and we call on them to make a great leap in the May elections, a longjump, with the mass voting of KKE's tickets everywhere in the entire country." She added that a "militant popular alliance must appear after the elections, that will be stronger and more militant than it was until now, that will achieve and pursue the reversal of the new measures that are coming and which will be even worse than those it has experienced."
 Kouvelis calls on people to give strength to Democratic Left partyDemocratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis, in a statement on Wednesday on the occasion of the official proclamation of elections, called on the Greek people to give strength to the Democratic Left and expressed optimism for his party. "We are going to the elections with optimism and confidence in the judegement of the sovereign people. We are ready with a programme and positions. We appeal to the citizens and call on them to give strength to the Democratic Left. For Greeece to be alive, with society upright. In Europe. For the country to disengage itself gradually from the memorandum and its unacceptable measures," Kouvelis said.
 Majority of citizens prefer coalition government, poll showsA new opinion poll conducted by the Public Issue company and publicised by the Sky television channel shows fluidity on the political scene and anticipates a decrease in the influence of the two mainstream parties and the fragmentation of the choices of citizens, whose majority supports coalition governments. According to the company's evaluation, nine parties will be represented in the new Parliament since the New Democracy (ND) party that is in the lead garners 19 percent, PASOK 14.5, the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) 13, the Democratic Left 12, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 11, the Independent Greeks 11, Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) 5, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 3, the Ecologists-Greens 3, the Democratic Alliance 2, Action 2 and 3.5 the rest. Moreover, 89 percent of citizens believe that a majority government will not result from the elections, while 52 percent declare preference for a coalition government.
 PASOK leader meets US officialPASOK president Evangelos Venizelos received in his office at PASOK headquarters in Athens on Wednesday US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia. The two officials discussed the economic developments in Greece, the eurozone and USA as well as the cooperation between the two countries.
 Former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrestedA police investigation was held on Wednesday in the presence of a prosecutor in two houses owned by the daughter of former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos. According to information, police confiscated important documentation concerning movement of bank accounts, gold bars and a personal computer. The former minister was arrested earlier in the day, accused of money laundering linked to his failure to declare property he owns in central Athens, when he filed a "source of income" statement in 2010 submitted for the fiscal year 2009. His daughter Areti Tsohatzopoulou and his wife are implicated in the case but no arrest warrants have been issued against them. However, arrest warrants have been issued against a total of five defendants, while more than 10 individuals are facing charges. Sources at the prosecutor's office said that "the amount of evidence collected is overwhelming and very serious". Two individuals, businessman Giorgos Sahpatzidis, aged 62, and a cousin of the former minister, were arrested in Thessaloniki accused of being involved in the case concerning Tsohatzopoulos' property assets helping him to conceal them. Tsohatzopoulos' cousin allegedly operated an offshore firm used in the purchase of real estate.
 Tsohatzopoulos given time until Easter Monday to prepare testimonyFormer PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos appeared before a special investigator on Wednesday afternoon who gave him a time limit until Easter Monday to make his testimony. The former minister requested and received time until Easter Monday since the five-day limit also provided by law expires then. Tsohatzopoulos remains in custody until he is brought before the investigator again.
 ND, KKE parties on arrest of Akis TsohatzopoulosNew Democracy ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, in an announcement on Wednesday commented on the arrest of former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, stressed that the former minister is the third official of PASOK who is being charged by justice, after TheodorosTsoukatos and Tassos Mantelis, "a fact showing how PASOK managed public money over a number of years." Mihelakis added that "even late, the former candidate leader of PASOK and a minister of its governments over a number of years, Mr. Akis Tsohatzopoulos is taking the path shown by justice." In an announcement on the same issue, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) says that "the people must be distrustful on what they tell them about transparency and a cleanup, regarding the arrest of Akis Tsohatzopoulos, when indeed they want to capitalise on the existing problem for electoral disorientation."
 Greek budget deficit below targets in Q1Greece's state budget deficit totaled 7.302 billion euros, with the government reporting a primary deficit of 365 million euros in the first three months of the year showing an improvement compared with official budget targets (8.596 billion euros and 1.399 billion euros, respectively), official figures showed on Wednesday. Provisional figures on budget execution, on a cash basis, showed that net budget revenues totaled 12.808 billion euros in the first quarter of 2012, down 167 million euros from budget targets, reflecting lower revenues from a fuel consumption tax and lower VAT receipts. However, it should be noticed that pre-return revenues of the regular budget were higher in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2011. The Public Investments Program's revenues totaled 1.371 billion euros in the January-March period, achieving a target of 1.372 billion euros for the period. State budget spending totaled 20.110 billion euros in the first three months of 2012, down 1.461 billion euros from a budget target of 21.571 billion euros. This development reflects a significant cut in regular budget spending, as a result of strict control in primary spending, lower defense spending and lower capital spending. Spending by a Public Investments Program fell to 488 million euros, down from a budget target of 950 million euros.
 Greek government cash deficit falls to 1.3 bln euros in Q1Greece's central government cash deficit fell to 1.318 billion euros in the first three months of 2012, from 4.254 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2011, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. The central bank, in a report, said that ordinary budget revenue increased to 11.413 billion euros in the January-March period, from 11.184 billion euros last year. Ordinary budget expenditure decreased to 13.575 billion euros from 15.048 billion euros in January-March 2011.
 Gov't lags in overdue tax collectionOverdue debt and tax fines adjudged by tax courts totaled 8.2 billion euros, of which tax agencies have collected only 615 million euros, official figures showed on Tuesday. A report by the finance ministry's IT secretariat, tax courts have adjudged a total of 8,222,957,957 euros of which only 615,288,124 euros have been collected, a 7.48 pct of total debt. The report said that these sums refer to overdue tax payments to the state.
 Tourist arrivals in airports downTourist arrivals at airports throughout Greece fell by 8.8 percent in the first three months of 2012 in comparison with the same period in 2011, according to figures released by SETE, with arrivals reaching 551,442 arrivals . SETE said that arrivals at all airports throughout the country fell with Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport (AIA), marking a 15.6 percent decline. Arrivals at the airport of the island of Rhodes presented the largest decline, reaching 54.00 percent followed by Kos airport which posted a 39 percent decline. However, a substantial 14.6 percent increase presented the arrivals at Heraklion, Crete.
 Number of car owners not paying circulation fees on the riseThe automobile owners, who have decided to stop using their vehicles to avoid paying circulation fees, have recorded an impressive increase in the past five months according to official figures forwarded to parliament on Wednesday showing that roughly 204,000 vehicles were taken off the streets between Nov. 1, 2011 and March 29, 2012. However, Alternate Finance Minister Pantelis Economou underlined that currently there can be no exact picture of the number of cars for which their owners will pay no circulation fees. The figures were forwarded to parliament in response to a relevant question tabled by Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) MP Costas Aivaliotis.
 Greek stocks end lower on profit takingGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as investors took profits after Tuesday's sharp advance. The composite index of the market fell 0.88 pct to end at 723.61 points, after rising as much as 1.31 pct during the session. Turnover fell to 48.038 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.79 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.30 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.21 pct. The Media (7.34 pct), Telecoms (3.28 pct) and Chemicals (2.12 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (6.92 pct), Financial Services (4.20 pct) and Utilities (1.77 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. OTE (3.28 pct), Titan (2.67 pct) and Viohalco (1.89 pct) scored the biggest gains among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Postbank (12.22 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (10.38 pct) and National Bank (10.24 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 71 to 59 with another 21 issues unchanged. Progressive (24.21 pct), HOL (19.80 pct) and Technical Publications (19.35 pct) were top gainers, while Flexopack (29.36 pct), Elfico (20.0 pct) and Sfakianakis (20 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows: Industrials: +0.19% Commercial: -0.99% Construction: +2.04% Media: +7.34% Oil & Gas: +1.72% Personal & Household: +0.44% Raw Materials: -0.42% Travel & Leisure: +1.73% Technology: -0.07% Telecoms: +3.28% Banks: -6.92% Food & Beverages: -0.96% Health: -0.97% Utilities: -1.77% Chemicals: +2.12% Financial Services: -4.20%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows: Alpha Bank: 1.08 Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.17 HBC Coca Cola: 13.55 Hellenic Petroleum: 6.10 National Bank of Greece: 1.84 EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.68 OPAP: 6.74 OTE: 3.15 Bank of Piraeus: 0.31 Titan: 15.40
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 19.9 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 20.50 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 21.69 pct and the German Bund 1.79 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, all buy orders. In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate eased to 1.38 pct, the six-month rate fell to 1.02 pct, the three-month fell to 0.68 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.36 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.01 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 17.180 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,146 contracts worth 8.709 million euros, with 18,855 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 59,210 contracts worth 8.471 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (31,598), followed by National Bank (20,004), Piraeus Bank (1,548), Cyprus Bank (2,888), Mytilineos (442), ATEbank (399), Hellenic Postbank (394), OPAP (372), OTE (256), PPC (299) and Hellenic Petroleum (314).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank: U.S. dollar 1.332 Pound sterling 0.838 Danish kroner 7.549 Swedish kroner 9.040 Japanese yen 107.77 Swiss franc 1.219 Norwegian kroner 7.718 Canadian dollar 1.336 Australian dollar 1.293
 Akrotiri archaeological site on Santorini openedThe archaeological site of Akrotiri on Santorini island opened to public on Wednesday morning following its inauguration by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Alivizatos and Santorini mayor Nikos Zorzos. Alivizatos in his statements referred to the significance of the site, the most important among the prehistoric settlements in the Aegean Sea. The Akrotiri archaeological site on the island of Santorini reopened, after remaining closed for more than 6 1/2 years following the collapse of a steel roof that claimed the life of a British tourist and injured six other visitors. In September 2005, a steel roof in the archaeological site collapsed, killing a tourist from Wales and injuring another six -- two Slovenian tourists, two Americans, a German and a Greek -- three of them seriously. The culture ministry at the time had blamed the collapse on "wrong technical choices", and three engineers involved in the construction of the roof over the site were charged. The first habitation at the site dates from the Late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium B.C.). During the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium B.C.), a sizeable settlement was founded and in the Middle and early Late Bronze Age (ca. 20th-17th centuries B.C.) it was extended and gradually developed into one of the main urban centres and ports of the Aegean. The large extent of the settlement (approx. 20 hectares), the elaborate drainage system, the sophisticated multi-storied buildings with the magnificent wall-paintings, furniture and vessels, show its great development and prosperity. The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network of its external relations. Akrotiri was in contact with Crete but also communicated with the Greek Mainland, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt. The town's life came to an abrupt end in the last quarter of the 17th century B.C. when the inhabitants were obliged to abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes. There followed the devastating eruption of the island's volcano, known as the Minoan or Thera (Santorini) eruption, one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The volcanic materials covered the entire island and the town itself. These materials, however, have protected up to date the buildings and their contents, just like in Pompeii. Akrotiri archaeological site will be open to visitors from 10:00 to 17:00.
 Operation to locate missing British manAn operation is underway to locate a 66- year -old Briton who is missing from Sunday. The man participated in a cross country race held at a remote area near Exohori village, southern Greece. A super puma helicopter is searching the area in the last two days and currently rescue teams and volunteers have joined the operation.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds southerly 3-5 beauforte. Temperatures between 8C and 22C. Cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-4 beauforte winds and temperatures between 8C and 22C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki and temperatures between 8C and 19C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe announcement of the date of the general elections and the recapitalisation of the banks, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "712,076 the number of civil servants".
AVGHI: "Black to Memorandum's chaos".
AVRIANI: "Banks kick start".
DIMOKRATIA: "Look who are talking".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Venizelos'(former Finance Minister) scam abolishes benefits".
ETHNOS: "Prime Minister Lucas Papadimos to give the signal for start of elections campaign".
IMERISSIA: "Optimism now for banks and Athens stock market".
KATHIMERINI: "Crisis elections on May 6".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The banks plan led to stocks' rally".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Dangerous changes for the poor working classes in public sector ".
TA NEA: "Parties solving tickets puzzles".
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