|Tuesday, 23 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-04-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 27 April 2012 Issue No: 4056
 KYSEA cancels buying of four C 27 aircraftThe Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), that convened on Thursday afternoon under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, decided to cancel the buying of the remaining four C 27 transport aircraft.
According to relevant government sources, the 8 of the 12 that Greece has ordered from an Italian company have already been received, but only one is in full operational readiness.
Consequently, according to the same sources, a consultation is under way with the Italian Alonia company, so that instead of the four aircraft, Greece to obtain spare parts for the functioning of the seven that have been received but for which there are not enough spare parts for them to function fully.
It is estimated that about 58 million euros will be saved from this change.
KYSEA also approved the new manual on the handling of crises based on the armed forces new structure, as well as Greece's response to the obligation to provide officers for NATO's rapid intervention forces.
In another development, Papademos will address a conference of the Exporters Federation at 12 noon on Friday, while later, at two in the afternoon, he will chair a cabinet meeting focusing on the recapitalisation of banks.
 PM and regional authority chiefs discuss obstacles to action for growthPrime Minister Lucas Papademos had a two-hour meeting with the heads of Greek regional authorities on Thursday, during which they discussed the problems faced by regions in their efforts to initiate action to generate economic growth.
Afterwards, Attica Regional chief Yiannis Sgouros stressed the need for all sides to compromise and join forces in order to see positive results.
The meeting examined ways to unblock Community funding that can finance regional developmental programmes and the bureaucratic obstacles that cause the problems.
Welcoming the regional authority heads, Papademos noted that some the issues they had raised had already been resolved by the interior ministry and that the next government will deal with any outstanding administrative issues.
 Venizelos meets with heads of innovation SMEsThe markets' perception on Greece and the Greek banks will change now that it will begin to appear that the Greek debt is sustainable, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday during a meeting at the party's downtown Athens headquarters with the heads of small and medium size innovative businesses.
During the meeting, which was also attended by development minister Anna Diamantopoulou, Venizelos said that the fundamental aspiration is to highlight the value of entrepreneurship, which has been 'vilified' in recent decades, both to the education system and to society, whereas the state, the public administration and the justice system lack a developmental orientation.
He said that there are sections of society that cannot perceive the value of entrepreneurship for the creation of new jobs as well as for the protection of existing jobs, adding that "we must reconcile entrepreneurship and employment".
Venizelos further said that the departure of Greece's "intellectual capital" for other countries is a loss for Greece, noting that model countries, such as the Scandinavian states, invest greatly in that capital.
He said that research, development and innovation could serve as the springboard for Greece to 'chase' the innovation indicators, noting that state spending on research and innovation was higher than that of the private sector, adding that the private concerns should make use of the state research infrastructures.
A necessary condition for the development of entrepreneurship is ensuring liquidity, Venizelos stressed, adding that the 50 billion euros earmarked for the recapitalisation of the banks will be channeled to the market, while "we are relieving the banks of the 10 billion euros they were lending to the state".
He further reiterated the "desire for the deposits to return to Greece".
 PASOK on Hollande's statement for GreecePASOK spokesperson Fofi Gennimata said on Thursday, commenting French Presidential candidate Francois Hollande's statements on Greece: "We welcome Mr. Hollande's statements on Greece regarding a different course in Europe. PASOK was the first to support and highlight these positions in an exceptionally adverse climate for our country."
She added that "we will jointly form the socialist and progressive European forces' political proposal, and we call on the other Greek forces of the Left to follow the example of the French Left and to support this course".
 Samaras unveils ND platform on societyNew Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras unveiled his party's platform on society, the institutions and citizens' security on Thursday, calling for change of the country's model of governance.
Speaking at the Zappion press center, Samaras said ND's target after the elections is to change the models of both the economy and governance. "We need to sign a social pact with the Greek people on what we must change.
"Greece is a country, not a place, and the Greeks are a people, not a population. The big reversal can come about only with the clear mandate of the Greek people. The messages for ND are very positive," he said.
Among the changes envisaged are a revision of the Constitution, change of the law on ministerial accountability, incompatibility of ministerial and MP posts (meaning that an individual cannot be both), he said.
Samaras pledge to form a small Cabinet that would gradually be reduced to 10 ministers and reiterated his commitment for an audit of the 'source of wealth' statements of all individuals who have served in government posts from 1974 onwards.
On security, he reiterated his commitment to clamp down on illegal immigration, "to take back our cities", while he also promised efficient policing and enhancement of the citizens' security, and to "take the hoods off" the marginal elements that cause violence.
Announcing a "zero tolerance dogma" on crime, Samaras said he would take steps to reduce delinquency and illegality, while he also pledged to stamp out the 'scourge' of drugs and for the rehabilitation of substance users.
 ND leader addresses rally in Sparti, calls for citizens' supportNew Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras addressed a rally in an indoor stadium in the city of Sparti, southern Peloponnese, on Thursday evening, calling on the citizens and young people in particular to believe in Greece, saying that "each of us can work miracles, come for us to prove that Greece will succeed."
The ND leader said that correlations and balances are changing in Europe and voices for growth are multiplying, adding that "we must make a social contract with the Greek people that the time has come for us to give the right of hope and growth."
Samaras further said "we can turn a page to go to Greece of growth and dignity" and stressed that "we shall make a leap in growth because it is this that the young people are calling for."
 KKE chief optimistic over election outcomeCommunist party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday expressed optimism about the election battle and her party's performance but, at the same time, she was pessimistic referring to the situation the country and workers, particularly the young, will have to face the day after the May 6 elections.
In a press conference she stressed that "the voter who will back KKE will do it in order to react and punish while helping to shape a movement that will win conquests and avert the worst that are on their way."
"The problems will be present the day after the elections," she said, and referred to the measures PASOK and New Democracy (ND) have been committed to undertake.
Papariga also referred to the issue of sector labour contract bargaining criticizing PASOK, ND and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) for putting their signatures under big wage cuts.
Referring to the young, Papariga talked about wage cuts, labour relations and the absence of future prospects, stressing that even if there is economic growth it will evolve into a tragedy for the young people because of the humiliating wages and the overall situation in labour relations.
 Interview with KKE leader Aleka PaparigaThe Communist party (KKE) aspires to win strong support in the upcoming general elections on May 6, the party's general secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday stressed in an interview with AMNA.
She underlined that the day after the elections, KKE will focus its attention on the trade unionist movement, pointing out that important steps need to be made to be reorganized and regenerated, stressing that the capital will dominate politically and economically regardless of the election outcome.
The KKE general secretary outlined the reasons for which her party will not cooperate with other political powers focusing her criticism on the stance adopted by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and stressing that there is no room for common ground with SYRIZA or the Democratic Left (DIM.AR).
Referring to the phenomenon of the ultra-rightists of Chryssi Avgi, she put the blame on the capitalists, the state mechanisms and the political parties that support and reinforce such reactionary groups and organizations which have as a goal to deliver a blow to the popular movement.
Papariga stated that those forces are trying to use Chryssi Avgi in an attempt to apply the so-called "theory of the extremes" that "threaten democracy", when in fact they are trying to disorientate and intimidate the workers.
She stressed that developments in the Eurozone confirm KKE's position that the crisis will be deep and prolonged and any attempt for a recovery will be inadequate, pointing out that KKE's political proposal is the only way out. Namely, unilaterally write off the debt, disengage from the EU, abolish monopolies and institute popular economy.
Papariga referred to a "Euro-one-way street" policy, saying that a series of measures, like those implemented in Greece, have already been implemented in countries like, the UK or Germany, independently of the crisis or memorandums. She also stressed that SYRIZA is one of the leftist parties that support the Euro-policy underlining that it adopts a submissive stance vis-?-vis the capitalist strategy.
 LAOS leader sternly attacks former ND and PASOK PMsPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Thursday sternly attacked former prime ministers Costas Karamanlis (ND) and George Papandreou (PASOK) on the occasion of the their recent interventions and accused them of "fleeing in the face of the difficulties".
Karatzaferis said that "as long as they do not say they are sorry, their words do not have any effect on the Greek people".
He said that Karamanlis and his party New Democracy (ND) in only five years doubled the public debt and referring to Papandreou he said that "Mr. Papandreou and PASOK destroyed the country with their political selections".
Karatzaferis stressed that the word 'sorry' needs courage and concluded "Both of them fled in the face of the difficulties. Greece needs a prime minister that can stand tall and say 'NO' when the circumstances warrant it. The days ahead are very difficult".
 LA.O.S' Karatzaferis in KarystosPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) President Giorgos Karatzaferis on Wednesday underlined that countries in the European south should form a unified front and "sent out the message that the north cannot be their economic oppressor".
The LA.O.S president visited Karystos in the extreme southern tip of large Evia island, off central Greece, to inaugurate a health clinic he donated to the local community.
 Social Contract leader Louka Katseli outlines party's policy"The Social Contract party is more than ready for the elections and aspires to cause a major upset blocking the 'one-way street' of austerity, recession and unemployment and promote a reconstruction plan that will lead the country out of the crisis," party president Louka Katseli on Thursday stressed.
Speaking in a televised press conference, she said she was in favour of post-election cooperation with progressive center-left forces and other political parties "in support of a strong majority government that will implement a mutually acceptable reconstruction plan".
Katseli stressed that the dilemma "memorandum or absence of governance", set before the people, is false, adding that if PASOK and New Democracy (ND) govern together to implement the memorandum recipe will only deepen the crisis and lead the country to a cessation of payments. She also said that the "euro or drachma" dilemma, raised by former prime minister George Papandreou, is equally false.
She strongly criticized PASOK's leader Evangelos Venizelos and ND's Antonis Samaras saying that "the economic policy of the second memorandum and the commitments undertaken by the two leaders will lead the average household to great poverty".
 Dem. Alliance leader: ND no longer the party I had servedDemocratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday appeared certain that her party will be voted into the next parliament, while she also reiterated her determination not to return to New Democracy (ND) party, at a press conference held during her campaign tour in eastern Crete.
Bakoyannis made her own self-criticism and clarified that her party is not a "flag of convenience", but a party that was built through hard work, and attacked ND leader Antonis Samaras, stressing that ND "is no longer the party I had served, but a private group".
 Five additional parties to join Cross-party Elections Committee on ThursdayFive additional parties, in addition to those currently represented in Parliament, will join an expanded meeting of the Cross-party Elections Committee that convenes on Thursday, called by Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis.
The five new parties were added after the Supreme Court officially announced the election tickets since they met the requirement that they have candidates running for all available seats in at least 39 constituencies, or 70 percent of the total.
The five new parties are the Association of National Unity, the Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for Overthrow (ANTARSYA) and Front of the Anticapitalist, Revolutionary, Communist Left and Radical Ecology coalition, the Centrists Union, the Ecologists Greens and the Golden Dawn - Popular Association.
The cross-party elections committee had met for the first time on April 18 with representatives of the nine parties that have an MP in Parliament (PASOK, New Democracy, Communist Party of Greece, Coalition of the Radical Left, Popular Orthodox Rally, Democratic Left, Independent Greeks, Democratic Alliance, Social Contract).
 Government delays may mar elections, judicial employees union warnsA warning that government delays might mar the smooth organisation of elections on May 6 was issued on Thursday by the board of the Greek judicial employees union federation.
The union expressed intense concern that joint ministerial decisions needed to organise the attendance of judicial representatives and set up election crews at courts throughout the country had not yet been issued. As a result, they said, all the preparatory actions that had to take place to properly organise the holding of the Parliamentary elections on May 6 were already delayed and time was running out, so that there was now a "visible possibility" of problems in the preparation and holding of the elections.
 Thessaloniki mayor again declines permission for political rally in Aristotelous SquareThessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris on Thursday repeated the municipality's decision to refuse permission for large rallies and meetings in the city's central Aristotelous Square.
The municipality repeated this position after the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announced its decision to hold a major pre-election rally in the square on Monday night, to be addressed by KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga.
"Gatherings in Aristotelous Square create serious problems to the operation of the market since the police closes off roads early on and we have complaints from residents. Anyone wishing to hold a rally there is unaware of the municipal council's decision," Boutaris said in statement.
In addition to KKE, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is planning a pre-election rally with Alexis Tsipras as its main speaker in Aristotelous Square on May 4.
 Citizen Protection minister repeats call for EU-Turkey readmission treaty at EU ministers' councilBRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni)
Addressing a meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers' council meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday, Greece's Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis repeated a call for full implementation of a treaty for the readmission of immigrants between the EU and Turkey.
The meeting focused on the humanitarian crisis unfolding along the Greek-Turkish border as a result of illegal migrants using Turkey as a transit country to reach the European Union. Chrysohoidis presented the Greek government's plans to create a centre for holding illegal migrants in the region of Amygdaleza in Attica, noting that Greece was intensifying its efforts for a dramatic improvement in tacking illegal migration, but also emphasised the need for EU to take action for an effective approach to the problem in the future.
In particular, he stressed that agreements with third countries should include sanctions against countries that failed to uphold readmission treaties and emphasised that the EU must actively support the Greek government's plans to set up 30 centres for holding illegal migrants around the country, which he said would be crucial to gradually closing the gate for uncontrolled illegal migration into Europe via Greece.
According to an announcement issued by the Greek ministry, European Commissioner for migration issues Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Asylum Sypport Office and the European border agency FRONTEX backed Greece's policies and noted the progress made on the issue.
 Athens condemns exploratory drilling in occupied part of CyprusThe Greek foreign ministry on Thursday sharply condemned the exploratory drilling launched by a Turkish firm in the region of Sygkrasi (Sinirustu in Turkish) near the town Famagusta in the Turkish-occupied northern third of Cyprus.
Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras, referring to the drilling by a Turkish petrol company, stressed that this is another illegal Turkish move, blatantly violating the UN Security Council resolutions that call on all countries to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. The UN resolutions call on all countries not to recognise or help in any way the illegitimate, secessionist entity in the occupied part of northern Cyprus, he underlined.
The spokesman observed that this move is yet more proof of the fact that the Cyprus issue is primarily an international problem of invasion and occupation.
Delavekouras called on Ankara to contribute, in a tangible way, to the efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive and mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue within the framework of the agreed negotiating effort based on the UN Security Council resolutions and Cyprus' status as an EU member.
 Demarche to German Foreign ministry by Greek ambassador regarding owner of Greek embassy buildingGERMANY (AMNA/F. Karaviti)
The Greek ambassador in Berlin Dimitrios Rallis on Thursday called for the German Foreign ministry's protection when the owner of the real estate attempted to transfer the entrance and emblem of the embassy without the approval of the Greek diplomatic mission.
Following a demarche by Rallis, the German Foreign ministry's Formality Department, reacting immediately, imposed the stoppage of work until the issue was examined.
On the part of the Greek embassy, it is considered that the unilateral action by the owner of the real estate constitutes a violation of the Vienna Treaty on diplomatic relations of states.
 Tsohatzopoulos' daughter remanded in custodyThe daughter of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Areti Tsohatzopoulou, on Thursday was remanded in custody pending trial after her testimony before an examining magistrate investigating a high-profile money laundering probe against the one-time PASOK politician.
Tsohatzopoulos himself remanded in custody before Orthodox Easter after appearing before magistrate Gabriel Mallis to answer to charges of money laundering, and specifically charges of kickbacks that he received in order to approve the purchase of the Russian-made TOR-M1 missile systems and German-designed (HDW) submarines for the Hellenic Navy.
The chief prosecutor's decision also concerns the bank accounts that belong to Asterios Economidis.
Economidis is the major shareholder of a construction company that did renovation work at the former minister's luxurious house on Dionyssios Areopagitis Street and sold an apartment to Tsohatzopoulos' daughter located in Athens' upscale Kolonaki district.
In a later development, an aunt of Tsohatzopoulos' wife also provided testimony in the case.
Ekaterini Stamati, an aunt of Vicky Stamati, Tsohatzopoulos' wife, submitted a memorandum whose contents allegedly link Tsohatzopoulos with the off-shore company Torcaso.
The woman decried what she called behaviour treating her as a "professional criminal" only because "I received, without knowing and only once, money (bank transfer) from a company linked to Mr. Tsohatzopoulos".
The former minister's brother-in-law, Panayiotis Stamatis, is due to appear before the magistrate on Thursday, as is his sister and Tsohatzopoulos' wife, Vicky Stamati.
 Newly-elected Bulgarian president says his first visit abroad will be to GreeceBULGARIA (AMNA/B. Borisov)
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, in a meeting with the business community of Greece in Sofia, made it clear that Bulgaria looks forward to cooperation with Greece, in whose image it sees a strategic partner in the European Union, as he stressed in his address at Thursday's event of the Greek Business Council in Bulgaria (EESB), that took place in a downtown hotel in Sofia.
"Relations between Greece and Bulgaria are not merely excellent. They are very 'special' relations. Because for years Greeks and Bulgarians are cooperating and entertaining themselves as well, they do skiing together, they go for a swim in the sea... They merely live together. And I would like to point out, that for me as the president and for all the relevant insitutions of Bulgaria, our relations with Greece are relations of strategic partners. My first visit in the framework of unified Europe was to Brussels, but my first visit to a country of the European Union will be to Athens in the near future. For us this is a clear signal and a symbolic message, that we are doing important things in our region together," the Bulgarian president stressed.
He also expressed his gratitude to the business community of Greece for support during the development of the first big centre of business and commercial activities in the eastern outskirts of Sofia under the management of himself as the person responsible for the building of the "Mlantost" business park, that was inaugurated 10 years ago.
"It is a real honour for us to host the first citizen of Bulgaria at the event of the EESB," the Council's president Stamatis Theodoropoulos said in his address. Theodoropoulos termed as "a project very impressive in size" the Mladost Business Park that housed tens of companies and considerably improved the business profile of the Bulgarian capital.
The 130 companies and banks alone, members of the EESB from Greece and Cyprus (about 70 Bulgarian and other businesses also participate in the council) have created jobs for 35,000 Bulgarian citizens over the past 20 years, EESB president Stamatis Theodoropopulos told AMNA.
Greece is the third biggest foreign investor in Bulgaria, whose total investments approach three billion euros, as was announced at Thursday's event.
 IOM delegation tours Evros regionMembers of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are on a two-day tour of the region of Evros (northwestern Greece on the borders with Turkey) headed by the director of the organisation in Athens Daniel Esdra, in order to visit the illegal migrants' hosting centers.
According to Esdra the delegation's aim is to inform the illegal migrants on the opportunity for their repatriation.
A large number of illegal migrants appear to be disappointed with the situation they find in Greece and Europe, which is different than they anticipated, and have expressed the hope to return to their countries.
IOM was founded in 1951 in order to find solutions to the migration problem on international market level, a problem that skyrocketed after WWII.
The results of the delegation's tour will be announced in a press conference after the conclusion of their visit.
 EU closes proceedings against Greece on notarial professionThe Commission decided on Thursday to close infringement proceedings against Greece concerning the nationality condition for access to the notarial profession. All Member States censured by the Court of Justice in its judgments of 24 May 2011 have now put an end to this discrimination by amending their legislation.
 EU says Greece's special rights in OTE-DT deal incompatibleThe European Commission on Thursday acted to ensure that Greece complies with its obligations to implement EU rules on free movement of capital and the right of establishment. The non-compliance with EU law results from the application of a State measure, adopted in the context of Deutsche Telekom's (DT) participation in the Hellenic Telecommunication Organisation (OTE) and granting special rights ("golden share") to the Greek State. The Commission's request to Greece takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If the national authorities do not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Greece and Deutsche Telekom (DT) entered into a share purchase agreement (SPA) for 3.03% of the Hellenic Telecommunication Organisation's (OTE) shares and a Shareholders' Agreement (SA). Upon completion of the SPA, Greece and DT each held 25% plus one of OTE shares. On 11 July 2008 the aforementioned agreements were ratified by national law.
The Commission contests the provisions of the above-mentioned law that:
? introduces special rights for the State such as: the possibility for the State, even as a minority shareholder, to appoint half of the members on OTE governing bodies,
? includes a wide range of veto rights on corporate and business matters such as a company's dissolution or merger, transfer or conversion of a strategic company's assets, changes in a company's nationality or capital,
? requires prior approval by the Greek authorities for the transfer of OTE shares by DT and a change of control clause.
The Commission considers that the national law enables the Greek Government to participate in OTE's governing bodies in a more significant manner than its shareholder status would normally allow. Therefore, investors, other than the Greek State and DT, might be dissuaded from increasing their investment in OTE.
Consequently, these provisions are considered to be incompatible with the Treaty freedoms on capital movement and establishment.
 National Bank to set up subsidiary for SE European unitsNational Bank's chief executive, Apostolos Tamvakakis, on Thursday expressed optimism over political developments in Greece, saying the country will have a stable government after the May 6 general elections.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by the bank to award innovative business ideas, Tamvakakis said the final bank recapitalisation plan will be ready after the elections.
Commenting on National Bank, he said the bank will continue its efforts to boost its capital adequacy and noted that nothing has changed over a decision to sell a minority equity stake in its subsidiary in Turkey, Finansbank, although he stressed that this will happen when market conditions allow it.
Tamvakakis said National Bank will present in the next four months NBG International, a new subsidiary which will take under its umbrella all group subsidiaries in Southeastern Europe (except Turkey) and noted that the bank was examining a plan to sell a minority stake in the new company.
The Greek banker said National Bank was moving towards selling its Astir Vouliagmeni resort through an international tender.
Meanwhile, OTOE, the Federation of bank employees, urged all commercial banks - both private and state-owned along with cooperative banks - to participate in a recapitalisation plan envisaged by a PSI programme.
In a letter sent to all political parties, OTOE also urged for new regulatory framework to protecting borrowers, protecting employment in the banking sector and ensuring that banks continued to support economic growth.
 Construction of undersea power cable to link Israel-Cyprus-GreecePPC Quantum Energy S.A., a subsidiary of public-run Public Power Corp. S.A., on Thursday formally announced the launch of the construction of a 2,000 MW undersea electricity cable to link up the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
The company has notified the Greek Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) and CERA, the corresponding authority in Cyprus, over the "EuroAsia Interconnector" project.
In a joint letter to the company, both authorities underlined that the implementation of such an ambitious project will decisively contribute to ensure the safety of power supply for the entire region of SE Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.
They also suggested a meeting to take place between the company and the parties involved for the formal presentation of the project.
 Tax authorities to proceed with immediate freezing of tax evaders' bank depositsThe tax authorities will be proceeding with the immediate freezing of bank deposits of taxpayers who are detected tax evading.
This is pointed out in a circular of the Finance ministry that has been sent to all tax offices in the country and in which it is stressed that freezing will be taking place before the taxpayer's summoning for a hearing.
The Finance ministry is going ahead with this measure for the immediate safeguarding of the state's interests in cases of tax evasion and to prevent phenomena of bank deposit withdrawals by people accused of tax evasion.
 Athens Airport offers summer season discounts for airlinesAthens International Airport (AIA) on Thursday announced new incentives for airline companies for the duration of the summer season to boost tourist flow in Greece.
The new initiatives that correspond to discounts of up to 20 pct will be effective until October.
They will replace a winter season special economic incentive for low-cost tickets, available by all airlines, that expires on April 30.
 Stocks continue moving sidewaysStocks ended mixed to lower in the Athens Stock Exchange in very thin trading conditions with the day's turnover falling to 16.660 million euros, a new 2012 low. The composite index of the market remained below the 700 level, closing at 696.66 points, down 0.20 pct, off the day's highs of 708.46 points.
The Big Cap index fell 0.57 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.65 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 1.64 pct. The Media (2.60 pct) and Oil (1.31 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Chemicals (7.13 pct) and Telecoms (5.88 pct) suffered losses. MIG (5.15 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (1.65 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (1.40 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (5.88 pct), PPC (2.78 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (2.36 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 59 to 57 with another 28 issues unchanged. HOL (19.8 pct), Progressive (17.65 pct) and Boutaris (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Neorio (20 pct), Edrasi (19.23 pct) and Sato (17.07 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.31%
Personal & Household: -0.28%
Raw Materials: -0.42%
Travel & Leisure: -0.83%
Food & Beverages: +0.98%
Financial Services: +0.79%
The stocks with the highest turnover were PPC, OTE, OPAP and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.06
Public Power Corp (PPC): 2.45
HBC Coca Cola: 14.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.54
National Bank of Greece: 1.68
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.61
Bank of Piraeus: 0.26
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.28 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking further to 3.377 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 885 contracts worth 1.189 million euros, with 21,966 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12.145 contracts worth 2.188 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (3,612), followed by Cyprus Bank (1,040), OTE (913), PPC (2,147), OPAP (194), Piraeus Bank (279), National Bank (3,109), Marfin Popular Bank (198), Motor Oil (268) and Titan (51).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.341
Pound sterling 0.828
Danish kroner 7.550
Swedish kroner 9.009
Japanese yen 108.56
Swiss franc 1.219
Norwegian kroner 7.690
Canadian dollar 1.316
Australian dollar 1.292
 'The Greek Monsters' by Beetroot exhibition at Benaki Museum"The Greek Monsters", an exhibition by the Thessaloniki-based Beetroot design group and think-tank that won the prestigious Red-Dot Communication Design Award for the Year 2011, was inaugurated on Wednesday evening at the Benaki Museum in Athens, finally coming 'home' after a long and successful tour of European museums.
The Greek Monsters exhibition was created to celebrate Beetroot's "consistently brilliant level" in design that won its prestigious distinction: the Red-Dot Communication Design Award as the Agency of the Year 2011, one of the highest distinctions in communication design in the world, while the exhibition itself earned Beetroot the best prize at the "Red Dot Design Awards" in 2011, the leading International Awards of Communication Design.
As part of its reputable support to New Greek Excellence, Benaki Museum will be hosting the "Monsters" at the Pireos St. Annex through June.
The "Greek Monsters" exhibition consists of installations, sculptures, idols, stencil graffiti (resembling a contemporary frieze) and also "invisible" monsters that can be perceived only with the use of audio-visual technology. All exhibits are inspired by the vivid ancient Greek mythology and are designed in a neo-black-figure style specially developed by Beetroot. Each exhibit is also accompanied by an exhibition tag that instead of facts and information on its make and history, presents an original poem on the philosophy or practice it stands for.
The exhibition features 3D sculptures of Cyclops, the Minotaur, the Stymphalian Birds and other digital "invisible" monsters that are brought to life through smart electronic devices.
With the Greek Monsters, Beetroot aims to respond -not without a sense of humor- to the current ill socio-economical image of modern Greece as this is largely presented in the media around the globe, while presenting key philosophical stands and practices in design. The Greek Monsters are used with their dual meaning both as perpetrators and victims, and ultimately as contemporary symbols against racism, generalization and exclusion.
In a time where Greece is arguably Europe's new "Monster", Beetroot accepts this "label" but only to reverse (or even add to) its meaning: Beetroot's Greek Monsters aim at re-inventing and re-introducing a Greek creative identity that is both timeless and global.
According to the design group members, the "Greek Monsters" are not as monstrous as they seem. The talented Greek graphic artists have tried to fix the misunderstood reputation of the Greek mythology monsters as victims and perpetrators while launching their exhibits in Berlin.
Beetroot is an award winning design group based in Thessaloniki, Greece. All team members are design enthusiasts with expertise and skills in the creative field. Beetroot has been seeking new ways of expressing creativity and providing design solutions since September 2000.
 National Gallery disputes inspector's claim of 'inadequately maintained' security systemOpenly disputing a report by Public Administration General Inspector Leandros Rakintzis, the National Gallery on Thursday issued a statement claiming that its security system was "in excellent order".
The inspector had been called in to investigate security measures at the gallery after three valuable paintings - including one donated to the Greek state by Pablo Picasso - were stolen during a robbery on January 9. In his report, Rakintzis had judged the gallery's security measures inadequate and said its security system was not properly maintained, laying responsibility at the door of the board of directors.
Replying the gallery's board said that the claims in the report "did not reflect reality" and asserted that the system was in a very working order and studiously maintained. It countered that the inspector's report was incomplete because the staff responsible for the gallery's security had not been consulted or questioned.
The gallery added that the system on its own, however well-maintained, could not adequately protect the gallery when it was not backed up by the required number of guards, which the gallery had repeatedly requested from the culture ministry before the robbery took place. It also noted that, in a time of public debt crisis, it was inevitable that spending cuts slowed the rate of updating security systems.
 Twenty-six people arrested in Attica prefecture in two days for debts to the stateTwenty-six people have been arrested in various regions of the Attica prefecture, over the April 24-25 two-day period, for debts owed to the state whose total exceeds 14 million euros.
Seven cases concern the non-payment of VAT and for this those arrested face criminal charges.
The arrested persons were brought before the relevant prosecutors.
 Carrefour-Marinopoulos group under investigation for dodging VAT through fake invoicesThe Greek financial crimes squad SDOE, following an investigation, is preparing to charge the Greece-based Carrefour-Marinopoulos group of dodging VAT payments in Greece via a fake invoice scam with businesses based in another EU country. In an announcement the same day, Carrefour-Marinopoulos has denied the charges, stressing that all its dealings with its suppliers were in full compliance with the laws.
According to the findings of the SDOE investigation, the company Orbicom issued fake invoices to Carrefour-Marinopoulos SA supermarket chain in 2007 and 2008, for the supply of goods that never actually took place.
Tax authorities have confirmed the findings of the SDOE report and are now working in cooperation with Carrefour-Marinopoulos SA on the case. SDOE said Orbicom is no longer in operation and has already slapped fines and penalties amounting to 300 million euro on the company for tax evasion.
In an announcement, Carrefour-Marinopoulos SA denied wrongdoing and said that it daily processed thousands of invoices from its suppliers and invariably followed all legal procedures.
It termed its transactions with Orbicom "an unremarkable and quantitatively insignificant commercial collaboration" that was in full compliance with the laws.
 Man falls onto Metro train track, suffers head injuries but is reported out of dangerA 50-year-old man fell onto the Metro track under circumstances as yet unclear in the Ambelokipi station early Thursday as a train was arriving at the station, suffering head injuries but reported to be in a non life-threatening condition at an Athens hospital.
The man, aged approximately 50, fell onto the tracks at about 8:00 a.m. as a train was arriving at the Ambelokipi station in central Athens.
He was dragged by the train and finally trapped beneath it.
The Fire Department was called in to dislodge the man from under the train.
A preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the fall is underway.
 Dockworker dies in Egio port accidentA 55-year-old dockworker was killed in the port of Egio when a cabin for the handling of a freighter ship crane which he was boarding was crushed by the metallic construction when the wire rope holding it broke.
The crane was unloading at the time of the accident a refrigerated container full of bananas from the Panama-flag ship "Crown Topaz".
The Fire Brigade freed the unfortunate dockworker, who was taken in an ambulance to the Egio hospital where his death was ascertained.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceFrench Presidential candidate Francois Hollande's statements for a new Memorandum and turn towards development and the parties election campaigns for the May 6 parliamentary elections in Greece, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Citizens at robbers' mercy!".
AVGHI: "SYRIZA takes the initiative in its own hands".
AVRIANI: "Georgie (Papandreou, former prime minister and PASOK ex-leader) a crook who deliberately sent the country to the IMF to facilitate the international speculators".
DIMOKRATIA: "PASOK terrified by Costas Karamanlis' (former prime minister and New Democracy ex-leader) intervention ".
ESTIA: "The danger of lack of governance ".
ETHNOS: "Hollande demolishes (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel's wall".
IMERISSIA: "Euro-bond movement - Pressures for developmental agreement in EU".
KATHIMERINI: "The debate on austerity opens now in Europe".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Eurozone is afraid and seeks development steps".
RIZOSPASTIS: "People's emancipation to express themselves at the ballot".
TA NEA: "French Revolution - Rescue plan for Greece (too)".
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