|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-05-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 10 May 2012 Issue No: 4067
 SYRIZA leader Tsipras fails to form a governmentRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras will hand back the exploratory mandate to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at 1 p.m. on Thursday, since the creation of a coalition government was not made possible.
However, there is satisfaction in the party on the tactic followed, while party sources stress that SYRIZA is now being recorded in the conscience of the Greek people as a responsible national force.
Tsipras met successively on Wednesday afternoon with Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venzelos and New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras, completing his cycle of contacts.
Tsipras, addressing the first session of the party's new Parliamentary Group on Wednesday evening, stressed that "our effort does not end here. After the end of the contacts, we are ascertaining that our proposal has wide social support but weak Parliamentary support."
Tsipras added that "we cannot make our dream for a government of the left a reality, we shall continue however to be in the front line of the struggle," while pointing out that he will hand back the mandate to the President of the Republic on Thursday morning and will participate in all the procedures anticipated by the constitution.
Tsipras, whose party came second after New Democracy in elections on Sunday that resulted in a hung Parliament, currently holds an exploratory mandate to form a government capable of leading the country.
Tsipras has scheduled a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, at which time most analysts expect him to hand back the exploratory mandate and say he was unable to form a viable coalition. He is also scheduled to address the party's Parliamentary group on Wednesday night, after the day's round of meetings have been completed.
Sources within the party said that an attempt was made to arrange a meeting between Tsipras and new French President Francois Hollande but this was refused because protocol prevents the French president from receiving party leaders.
 ND leader Samaras holds talks with SYRIZA leader TsiprasNew Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, in a statement on Wednesday evening after meeting Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, said "I explained to Mr. Tsipras that the terms he raised do not lead to the renegotiating of the policy of the memorandum, but to its unilateral denouncement and the country's immediate default."
"I reiterated to him that I am prepared to support a salvation government with the participation of all, with the aim of the country's stay in the euro and the change of the memorandum's policy. I told him that I am prepared even to provide tolerance to a minority government, without our participation, with the undeviating term of our stay in the euro," Samaras added.
"I pointed out to him that with the letter I sent to our creditors I raised for the first time officiallly what nobody had dared to do until then: The need for changes, amendments, in the economic policy so that there can be recovery and unemployment to stop.
"What many were telling us until recently that 'it cannot be done'... And our partners, with the acceptance of that letter of mine, accepted it. It is, therefore, an 'achievement in hand' for Greece, not something that we should take back," Samaras went on to say, adding that "the Greek people voted for two things: the stay in the euro and a change in policy. At this moment, we succeeded on these two demands to also have the support of many other European countries as well. Greece must insist there, therefore."
"Mr. Tsipras is not asking from me to withdraw my signature. He is asking from me to accept Greece's exit from the euro and the country's default. And I am not going to do this," Samaras concluded.
 Tsipras-Venizelos meeting; latter makes 2 proposals for new gov'tRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, who holds a mandate to form a new Greek government in the wake of Sunday's election, met on Wednesday with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos. SYRIZA came in second and PASOK third in the election, as New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras failed to form a government and handed back the mandate on Monday.
Speaking immediately after the meeting, Venizelos tabled two alternative proposals, as he said, for the formation of a unity government.
The first is the creation of a national unity government with participation of "pro-European" forces, and the second concerns a government with the participation of SYRIZA, the Democratic Left and the Independent Greeks, which he said PASOK can support provided that such a government guarantees the country's membership in the eurozone and the improvement of the country's position vis-a-vis creditors via negotiations.
Finally, the PASOK leader rejected the possibility of an all-party government, saying that in the present phase it appears "we cannot reach a solution".
Venizelos said he will receive the exploratory mandate from the President of the Republic on Thursday and will continue such efforts.
 Kammenos says there is no necessary majority for formation of 'antimemorandum' governmentIndependent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos, in a statement after meeting Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday, made estimated that there is no necessary majority for a discussion to take place on the creation of an "antimemorandum front."
Kammenos said he had an "extensive" discussion on economic issues and individual matters as well with Tsipras.
Kammenos pointed out that the seats of the Independent Greeks, SYRIZA and the Democratic Left are not enough for an "antimemorandum" government to be formed, "given the refusal of KKE (the Communist Party of Greece)."
He also said that there exist ascertained "disagreements" with SYRIZA on issues such as, among other things, on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and "illegal immigration."
 Tsipras again demands ND, PASOK leaders rescind support for MemorandumLeftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday held a series of meetings with delegations of social partners, within the framework of his efforts to form a government.
"We are very concerned for the country's governance, but foremostly, we are concerned over the contents (of policy). We do not ask for statements of remorse, we ask that whatever shenanigans against the Greek people cease; we ask for honest statements," he said, a day after demanding that the leaders of ND and PASOK parties, Antonis Samaras and Evangelos Venizelos, respectively, rescind their support for the EC-ECB-IMF bailout Memorandums signed by the previous Greek government.
Referring to the two rival political leaders, Tsipras said that if they accept our proposals as the basis of dialogue; if they reassure us that commitments to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde are not valid, then maybe discussion has a meaning ... if they seek to lead the country into a government that is a hostage in their comittments, they should forget it".
 SYRIZA's Tsipras meets trade unionists, employer groups to sound out support for Leftist policyCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday held a meeting with trade unionists and the heads of industry trade associations in Parliament, in order to discuss the five proposals that his party considers a 'minimum consensus' for forming a coalition government.
Tsipras, whose party came second in general elections after New Democracy, currently holds an exploratory mandate to try to form a coalition government capable of leading the country.
Explaining his decision to meet with parties did not enter Parliament, or with trade unions and industry groups, Tsipras noted that his party was given the mandate by the electorate in order to openly investigate whether the conditions exist for a "new relation of trust with society itself".
He noted that a large Parliamentary majority was not enough to form a government and that this would also need support outside Parliament, claiming "continued attacks from the political, economic and media establishment against SYRIZA".
Tsipras also underlined that SYRIZA was not interested in political stability that was inextricably linked to the content of the policies already being followed, stressing that the party's responsibility was to be "society's expression for major change".
In this framework, he ruled out renegotiation of the bailout agreements, saying that these were fundamentally flawed in their philosophy and must be withdrawn entirely to be replaced by a plan whose main pillars were growth and social cohesion.
According to Tsipras, all of Europe was now at a crossroads and was fortunate that "guinea-pig Greece" had put up a resistance, as expressed in Sunday's election result, which must now be used and linked to developments in Europe that might bring about a change to the current, dead-end policies of blind austerity.
"Society cannot take any more barbarous measures that don't bring results. What the overwhelming majority wants, regardless of what they voted for, is change," Tsipras emphasised.
The trade union and business association leaders that responded to the invitation largely supported the prospect of a leftist or progressive coalition government opposed to the terms of the bailouts, while many asked that the parties strive to combine their views and agree to compromises in order to form a broad coalition government, avoiding repeat elections.
The head of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce Vassilis Korkidis underlined that the "market has no more time to wait" and asked that SYRIZA spearhead the effort to renegotiate the bailout agreements. Support for a "progressive leftist direction" was also expressed by the head of the journalists national union confederation POESY George Savvidis, who emphasised that journalists had been the first to suffer the repercussions of austerity policies, while dwelling especially on the treatment of journalists at the hands of Golden Dawn party members on the night of the elections.
 SYRIZA'S Tsipras holds meeting with university rectorsUniversity rectors were among those met by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday, during a round of meetings held to explore the prospects of forming a coalition government capable of leading the country.
During the meeting, Tsipras underlined the need to build relations of trust with those working to generate knowledge and promised to raise the issue of suspending and abolishing the current law on running universities in his meetings with party leaders, calling it unenforceable.
The majority of rectors also strongly criticised the law on universities and the stance adopted by the former minister Anna Diamantopoulou.
 GSEE, ADEDY reject Tsipras invitation for talksGreece's two largest umbrella labour federations GSEE and ADEDY, representing the private and public sector respectively, on Wednesday rejected an invitation by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras for meetings later in the day, as part of a series of discussions with the so-called 'social partners'.
In separate announcements, both the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' unions' supreme administrative council (ADEDY) pointed out that the trade union organisations are not involved in the procedures foreseen by the Constitution and the institutional meetings currently underway for the formation of a government.
Tsipras, whose party polled second in Sunday's general elections, was on Tuesday given the second exploratory mandate for the formation of a coalition government after the first mandate was returned to the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias by New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, who failed to iron out an agreement for governmental cooperation with other elected parties.
GSEE said that if and when this new government is formed, GSEE will meet with its representatives in order to put to them the immense problems faced by the working people, who are the first and biggest victims of the injustices, inequalities and inefficient policies that are exercised in Greece on the orders of its lenders, as well as the more general problems faced by Greece and its European prospect.
In a similar announcement, ADEDY stressed that the trade union movement, by virtue of its role, is not involved in the procedures for the formation of a government, adding that before the elections ADEDY had briefed the political parties on the issues concerning the civil servants.
ADEDY also said that as soon as a new government is formed it is prepared to submit its positions and proposals for dealing with the problems faced by the workers in the public sector, who have been hard hit by the policies of one-sided austerity.
 Teachers' Federation turns down Tsipras invitation for meetingThe Teachers' Federation of Greece (DOE), which represents Greece's public primary school teachers, on Wednesday turned down an invitation by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras for a meeting later in the day with the DOE board, as part of a series of meetings with the so-called 'social partners'.
DOE turned down Tsipras' invitation, saying that the teachers' trade union has no constitutional role in the context of the exploratory mandates for the formation of a coalition government, the second of which is currently in Tsipras' hands as the leader of the party that polled second in Sunday's general elections.
Tsipras was given the exploratory mandate on Tuesday after the first mandate was returned to the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias by New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, who failed to iron out an agreement for governmental cooperation with other elected parties.
 ND leader: I hope Tsipras will change his mind before our meetingNew Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Wednesday made a plea to the Greek people and all the forces of the center-right in or outside parliament in order, as he said, for Greece's course in Europe to be safeguarded and the economic policy to be changed.
Addressing ND's Executive Secretariat, Samaras stressed that "before the elections we had warned of the danger of lack of governance and now are doing our best to prevent it, we are doing whatever possible to restore the governmental stability".
He also noted that on Tuesday he stated that he is willing to offer even a tolerance vote to SYRIZA, however, "Mr. Tsipras ruled out such a possibility" and warned that a denouncement of the loan agreements that Mr. Tsipras proposed will lead the country out of the eurozone, and that there are some forces in Europe that are seeking to do so, unless such statements are playing that game.
Samaras opined that an agreed amendment of some articles of the loan agreement is one thing and a unilateral denouncement of it is something else that leads with certainty to disaster. "I hope that Mr. Tsipras will come to his senses by our meeting this afternoon. If not, then it will mean that he is trying to create an anti-Europe front. ND is the only pillar of stability and we will guarantee the country's course and the change of the economic policy. The Greek people did not give a mandate either for Greece to leave Europe or for the country's dissolution."
 Kammenos calls on parties to take position on five pointsIndependent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos, speaking Wednesday at the first meeting of his party's parliamentary group that emerged from Sunday's general elections, called for a rallying of all the forces that are against the Memorandum, for the creation a major anti-Memorandum front, and called his party a "force of stability in a climate of unreliability".
He said that the denouncement of the loan agreements, denouncement of the Memorandum, a write-off of Greece's debt, punishment of the guilty, and the delineation of Greece's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), are the five points on which he calls on all the political parties to take a position.
"We can create a governmental majority," he said, and strongly criticised PASOK and New Democracy (ND) on their stance on the Memorandum and towards the bankers, adding that his party marks a return to morality.
"Our movement is not dependent on sponsors or bosses. We give account only to the Greek citizens, they are our bosses," Kammenos said, adding that in the elections the Greeks sent the message that they are not intimidated by the new order.
The danger for Greece, he said, are the "forces of subjugation" the "project the threat of lack of government when they themselves comprise that threat, glued to their 'chairs'," adding that "they are not even convening their parliamentary groups in fear of being toppled from their chair".
Kammenos warned that a "communications game" is being played out these past days, while he also opined that there is no possibility of a pro-Memorandum government being formed.
He attributed the rise of the ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) party to the stance of the banks, explaining that "the banks mediate in the financing of the countries by the European Central Bank, taking multiple interest rates and leading the people to poverty, which in turn creates neo-Nazi phenomena".
Kammenos demanded that ND leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos state clearly whether or not they agree to FYROM's joining NATO under the name "Macedonia", and with SYRIZA's positions on illegal immigration. "If not, then how can you give a vote of tolerance to Tsipras?".
The Independent Greeks leader said that the only quandary is "yes or no to the Memorandum", stressing that 68 percent of the people voted against the Memorandum.
He said that he will invite all the MPs of all the parties "to give a national solution, now".
Kammenos said that he will also propose to each parliamentary group to ask its leaders who signed the letters (of guarantee on the Memorandum) to either resign or withdraw their letters to the troika, and called for a rallying together "to protect the country". He added that his invitation is addressed even to those with whom he has clashed in the past in order to forge a mass anti-Memorandum front "because the battle for the salvation of the country is above everything else", adding that "we must safeguard the Europe of the nations, and not the Europe of the bankers".
Kammenos further said that the party bodies will be its parliamentary group and the Congress, adding that the MPs will vote in accordance with their conscience and that there will be no requirement of party discipline or disciplinary councils.
He further said that he will not agree to impunity for anyone, regardless of where he came from, and that "there is no statute of limitations for any crime".
"It is clear that everyone will pay. There are no statutes of limitations for the crimes of setting up a gang, and for money laundering, and those who contributed to the country reaching its present state have committed crimes that have no statutes of limitations. There will be ethics in politics," Kammenos said.
 Kouvelis ruled out ND, PASOK, and DIMAR govtDemocratic Left (DIM.AR) party leader Fotis Kouvelis on Wednesday denied the speculations of a New Democracy, PASOK and DIM.AR coalition government with himself as prime minister.
Kouvelis, speaking on private radio station Real FM, noted that "it is a scenario without any basis" and opined that the country will be led once again to elections.
 Barroso: Greece must respect terms of bailout agreementGreece must uphold the terms of bailout agreements signed with the Eurozone, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stressed on Wednesday, while speaking at a Europa Forum event. He warned that, if Greece violates the terms of the bailout, there would be "very negative" consequences for the country.
Barroso underlined that the terms of bailout agreements must be upheld by Greece and all the other countries that have signed them, noting that it was an issue of credibility for Greece and the entire Eurozone. He repeated that there was no other alternative to the austerity programme.
"We must explain to the Greeks how important a challenge it is to implement the programme, which is a policy mix combining fiscal discipline, structural reforms but also growth," Barroso said.
The Commission's president noted that Greece must reduce its deficit and debt and carry out structural reforms, while Europe would help with investments.
"What is demanded in Greece is discipline and convergence, responsibility and solidarity," Barroso said.
Commenting on the rise of the extreme right and left throughout Europe, Barroso said this was due to politicians blaming Brussels when things went badly while trying to present successes as exclusively their own.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz insisted that Greece must uphold this "mutual" agreement and stressed that he intends to visit Athens in the near future to meet with the politicians elected in the recent elections, with which he is unacquainted. He also noted the large abstention rate of nearly 40 percent, stressing that if there are repeat elections there must be greater participation by voters. He also called on the EU summit to send a message of hope to Greece.
 European Commission vice-president opposed to Greek exit from euroROME (AMNA - Th. Andreadis)
For Greece to leave the euro would be an effort to solve a problem by creating an even bigger problem, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani said in statements to the local television station Rai Uno on Wednesday.
Tajani said that such a move would result in massive damage to Greece itself and have undisputable negative repercussions for the entire European economy.
"Athens' exit from the common currency would send an extremely bad message to markets," he continued, adding that Europe must take action so that Greece's future remains within Europe and the euro by supporting economic growth in EU member-states. He noted that a meeting on this issue will be held at the European Commission on May 16 and would be followed by an emergency EU summit on May 23.
In the meantime, he announced that the European Investment Bank will immediately begin active intervention to boost liquidity and provide credit to small and medium-sized businesses.
 Mikis Theodorakis expresses backing for SYRIZARenowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis expressed late Tuesday his support for SYRIZA party and its leader Alexis Tsipras' efforts "to form a government that will denounce the Memorandum and will seek to recover our country's national sovereignty".
Theodorakis made the statements after his meeting with Alexis Tsipras, who was accompanied by the head of SYRIZA's State deputies ticket Manolis Glezos and constitutional law expert Giorgos Kassimatis.
Theodorakis called on all the "patriots" and "creative Greeks" to help in order for Greece to be led to self-sufficiency, progress and rebirth.
 PASOK leader meets with top party cadresPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday held a meeting with party cadres to strategic issues dealing with the party's "next day".
According to party sources, Venizelos will receive the exploratory mandate from the President of the Republic and will proceed with specific moves.
The meeting was attended by Apostolos Kaklamanis, Andreas Loverdos, Paris Koukoulopoulos and Costas Skandalidis.
 Ex-minister Pangalos on PASOK's leadership issueFormer PASOK minister and MP Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday called for a party congress to discuss the issues of its leadership and, in fact, the party's very existence.
Speaking to an Athens private radio station, he noted that "whoever said PASOK should give a vote of tolerance (Radical Left Coalition - SYRIZA) is ridiculous".
Referring to SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, he said "it is totally ludicrous and unconstitutional to act like a prime minister. He wants to exploit the exploratory mandate to form a government in a ludicrous way. He shouldn't have accepted it in the first place."
 "Drassi" leader in talks with Democratic Alliance"Drassi" party leader Stefanos Manos on Wednesday said cooperation between his party and Dora Bakoyannis' Democratic Alliance is easier and more reasonable to take place in the event of new elections, instead of with New Democracy (ND).
Manos doubted the "sincerity" of the efforts made by ND leader Antonis Samaras to unite the center-right, as he said.
Both parties, headed respectively by Manos and Bakoyannis, failed to reach the 3-percent level needed for representation in the Greek parliament. Both had served as top ND ministers and MPs in the past.
 Papandreou holds telephone conversation with Francois HollandeSocialist International (SI) President George Papandreou held a telephone conversation with newly-elected French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday.
As it was revealed, Papandreou congratulated Hollande for his victory in the elections and expressed his wishes to him for success in his task. The two men also exchanged views on developments in Greece and Europe.
 Victory Day in Europe celebrations in AthensEvents marking the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, known as Victory Day (V-E), were celebrated on Wednesday in Athens.
Members of the country's political and military leadership attended a memorial service at the Aghios (St.) Dionyssios Areopagitis Cathedral in the Kolonaki district and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier.
 Greece to receive 5.2 bln euros in bailout loan on Thur.Greece is expected to receive a tranche of 5.2 billion euros from its creditors on Thursday, despite the political uncertainty prevailing in the country, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, he warned, the next tranches of the bailout package "are in the air".
"The disbursement will take place because it has already been decided," European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaz said.
Asselborn also warned that there will be no further disbursements if a government is not formed in Athens.
 EFSF announces 4.2 billion euros to be disbursed to Greece on May 10BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)
The board of the European Fiscal Stability Fund (EFSF) announced in Luxembourg on Wednesday that on May 10, 4.2 billion euros will be disbursed to Greece.
The EFSF stressed that it is releasing the 5.2 billion euros that are pending from the first loan "package" amounting to 39.4 billion euros by the end of June."The amunt of 4.2 bilion euros will be disbursed on May 10. The remaining 1 billion euros is not necessary before June and will be disbursed in accordance with the financial needs of Greece. As with the previous tranches to Greece as well, the EFSF will transfer the 4.2 billioin euros to a bound account that gives priority to the serving of the public debt," the announcement by the EFSF said.
 FinMin: Greek economy not productiveFinance Minister Filippos Sahinidis stressed on Wednesday that the problem for the Greek economy is that it is not productive, ?and this not because the production means are controlled by private concerns", and noted that at the moment the need is for the people to be persuaded to return to the production process.
Sahinidis underlined that "the margins for renegotiation of the Memorandum are those given every time the Troika delegation comes to Greece for evaluation. However, this relation is not static but dynamic".
He also pointed out that even if the climate changes substantially after the elections, the new government must ensure from the countries that are Greece's lenders that they are willing to give more money. In the meantime, they are already lending to us at lower interest rates than they themselves are borrowing.
 FinMin: Political leaders must decide on 435-mln-bond maturing on May 15Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis on Wednesday stressed that a pre-registration contract opening the path for a preliminary recapitalisation of domestic banks will be ready in the next few day.
Speaking on a private Athens television station, Sahinidis, who retains his portfolio given that no new government has arisen following the May 6 election in Greece, also emphasised that a decision over a 435-million-euro bond that matures on May 15 -- and which has not been included in the recent PSI 'haircut' -- will be taken by political leaders.
"Leaders of political parties represented in Parliament must come to an understanding, so that we know what their opinion is ... because I could not take any initiative and commit myself vis-a-vis future governments without taking into consideration the view expressed by political leaders," he underlined.
 Greek tourism prospects deteriorating, sector officials warnThe domestic tourism sector is entering a crucial phase following Sunday's general elections results, with tourism officials warning over the prospects of the sector.
Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, said that bookings from abroad fell 50 pct in the last two days.
He said it was very difficult to reverse the prevailing negative image of the country in the markets of Germany, UK and France and noted that any further increase from the Russian market could not counterbalance losses from Greece's traditional tourism markets.
Alexandros Aggelopoulos, a member of the Association, underlined that the prevailing political situation in Greece was undermining the country's tourism product.
Tourism officials expects this year's arrivals to fall by 7-10 pct, and revenues to drop by 10 pct.
 SETE tourist federation on tourist bookings from abroadGreek tourism is entering a very crucial phase following the latest developments on the front of politics, with tourism agencies sounding the alarm on the future of the Greek economy's most productive pylon. Speaking to reporters, the president of the Federation of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, in the framework of the presentation of a new cruise ship at the Zea Marina, in the port of Piraeus, stressed that over the past two days a 50 percent decrease is being noted in the rate of bookings in markets overseas.
This, as can be understood, constitutes a very big obstacle for the already negative picture from the markets of Germany mostly as well as from the other countries (England, France, etc) to be reversed.
Indeed, whatever other increase from the Russian market can in no way equalise the losses for Greece, as it is being stressed characteristically.
 Stocks end at new 20-year lowStocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market falling to new 20-year lows on market concern over political developments in the country. The index fell 0.87 pct to end at 615.12 points, after rising as much as 1.08 pct during the day.
Turnover was a meager 26.960 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 0.81 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.46 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.53 pct higher. Utilities (1.72 pct) and Commerce (1.44 pct) were top gainers, while Telecoms (2.88 pct), Travel (2.84 pct) and Industrial Products (2.12 pct) were top losers. Eurobank (6.09 pct), Hellenic Postbank (5.94 pct), Cyprus Bank (2.40 pct) and Piraeus Bank (2.40 pct) scored gains among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (3.08 pct), OPAP (3.07 pct) and OTE (2.88 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 64 to 59 with another 26 issues unchanged. Dromeas (22.5 pct), Altec (20 pct) and Spider (19.74 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (20 pct), PC Systems (20 pct) and Olympic Catering (20 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.12%
Personal & Household: +0.09%
Raw Materials: -1.46%
Travel & Leisure: -2.84%
Food & Beverages: -2.00%
Financial Services: -1.89%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, OPAP, National Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.72
Public Power Corp (PPC): 1.97
HBC Coca Cola: 13.82
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.16
National Bank of Greece: 1.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.49
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 7.999 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,652 contracts worth 5.325 million euros, with 21,936 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 29,809 contracts worth 2.670 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (14,767), followed by Cyprus Bank (4,580), MIG (316), PPC (534), Piraeus Bank (874), National Bank (6,652), Marfin Popular Bank (379), Mytilineos (199), Hellenic Postbank (685) and Metka (182).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.314
Pound sterling 0.817
Danish kroner 7.546
Swedish kroner 9.043
Japanese yen 104.53
Swiss franc 1.219
Norwegian kroner 7.676
Canadian dollar 1.320
Australian dollar 1.307
 Five of first 100 men checked after unprotected sex with HIV+ prostitutes test positiveFive of the first 100 men checked after allegedly having unprotected sex with HIV+ prostitutes have tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS, the health minister announced on Wednesday.
Minister Andreas Loverdos added that the number of recently checked sex workers, both registered and illegal prostitutes, who have tested HIV+ reached 29.
Loverdos said the number of prostitutes found to be HIV+in ongoing medical checks in and around downtown Athens districts with a high concentration of prostitutes commenced on May 2 via mobile units belonging the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEEL.PNO) rose to 29, of which 28 are streetwalkers and only one found in an illegal brothel.
The first case, involving a 22-year-old Russian woman, was reported on May 2, following a raid at an illegal brothel in central Athens. The woman remanded without bond pending trial after she was found to be HIV+, facing charges of intentional grievous bodily harm, a felony.
The same charges apply to all the other alleged prostitutes, the names and photographs of which, in an unprecedented move, were released by police and broadcast by several local media outlets, a decision taken by a relevant prosecutor in consideration of the threat posed to the public health.
The decision to publish names and photographs generated a fire-storm of controversy and stoked public debate on the issue of protecting public health versus the rights of individuals to keep medical histories confidential.
Loverdos said that more than 6,000 people -- 90 percent of them are Greek citizens -- have called the KEEL.PNO since the first case was reported to be tested for AIDS, after having unprotected sex with the HIV+ streetwalkers.
He said the number of AIDS tests has also risen considerably in the private sector, for which no statistics are as yet available with respect to the number found to be HIV+.
Loverdos reiterated that people demanding sex with prostitutes without the use of prescribed protection should also be punished.
 Event on Nikos Kazantzakis in BeijingAn event hosted at the Greek embassy in Beijing highlighted the relation of world-renowned writer Nikos Kazantzakis with China.
The event, co-organized by the Greek embassy's cultural office, Nikos Kazantzakis Museum on Crete and the International Society of Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis (ISFNK) in Geneva, was held last Sunday.
The Nikos Kazantzakis Museum director presented the foundation's actions, while ISFNK president Giorgos Stasinakis referred to the work of Kazantzakis, the most popular Greek author in China. The "Greekness" of "Zorba", Kazantzakis' most known hero, was analyzed by Li Chenggui, the translator of Kazantzakis' work into Chinese.
Nikos Kazantzakis, an admirer of China, its people and civilization visited the country twice in 1935 and 1957. Fifty five years later he "returns" in order to be twinned with Lu Xun, father of contemporary Chinese literature, following an initiative by ISFNK. The twinning ceremony will be held on May 11 in Shaoxing city, Zhejiang province, at the outskirts of Shanghai.
 Police investigating two incidents of beatings in AthensAthens security police are investigating two incidents of beatings -- of immigrants and a Greek -- in the Kallithea and Exarchia districts respectively late Tuesday.
Three immigrants -- two Egyptians and a Palestinian -- were taken to hospital after being attacked late Tuesday night by a group of individuals in Kyprou Square in Kallithea.
According to eyewitnesses, a group of individuals on motorcycles attacked the three immigrants without cause, beat them with crowbars and brass knuckles, and fled on their motorcycles.
The three injured men were taken to a hospital.
Eye-witnesses said the attackers were Greek.
Earlier, a 19-year-old Greek man, badly beaten and wearing only an undergarment, sought help from a MAT riot police patrol on the street in the downtown district of Exarchia, who took him to a hospital.
The young man said he and a friend had been sitting at a cafe in the area when they were attacked by a group of young men who beat them and took their clothing.
Police are investigating the incidents to ascertain the motives of the two attacks, and are examining all possibilities.
 Former Archimandrite Yiossakis receives suspended sentenceA Court of Appeals on Wednesday handed down a 14-month suspended sentence to defrocked former Archimandrite Iacovos Yiossakis for his involvement in a trial-fixing scandal.
The Court of Appeals cleared Yiossakis of the felony charges against him (for which he had received 9 years in prison by a first instance court) and found him guilty of a misdemeanor for moral complicity in breach of duty.
A suspended sentence of 12 months was received by former judge Panagiota Tsevi.
Lawyers Sakis Kehagioglou and Nikos Emmanuilidis were also acquitted.
The investigation into the judicial corruption scandal was launched in 2004.
 Police crack murder of Ioannina woman, arrest Georgian gang membersIoannina police on Wednesday announced that they had cracked the murder of a 67-year-old local woman, who was found dead in an unlet flat that she owned in the city the previous week. Police said the evidence pointed to a large gang of Georgians who were aware that the victim was wealthy and had posed as prospective tenants in order to rob her.
They asked the victim to show them the apartment and, once inside, they tied her up and gagged her, so that she later died of asphyxiation.
Five suspects, all Georgian nationals, have been arrested in connection with the case. They include three men aged 32, 27 and 36 years old, respectively, as well as two women aged 33 and 37 years old. Two more male suspects aged 25 and 43 years old, both Georgian nationals, are being sought after warrants were issued for their arrest.
The 25-year-old that evaded arrest was among the members of the gang posing as potential tenants that wanted to rent the empty flat next to the woman's own residence. After they had tied up the owner, they broke into her apartment and unsuccessfully attempted to break open a safe hidden in her bedroom.
A police investigation showed that the suspects acted on the orders and using information suppled by the other four members of the gang, in order to take money and other valuables from the dead woman's home. The investigation also revealed that they had prepared carefully for the robbery, gathering information about the woman's habits and activities and her financial situation.
All five suspects arrested will be led before an Ioannina public prosecutor, while the hunt for the two still at large continues
 2 arrests for Internet copyright fraudA 30-year-old special guard policeman and a 46-year-old IKA employee were arrested at Lagonissi coastal resort, southeast of Athens, accused of fraud and violation of intellectual property laws, the electronic crimes squad announced on Wednesday.
The two were arrested last Monday based on evidence, according to which, both were operating a website allowing visitors and registered members to download films, video games and various software after paying a fee.
Losses suffered by companies and copyright owners are estimated to be close to 15 million euros.
 Olympic Flame to be lit in ancient Olympia on Thur.The formal lighting ceremony of the Olympic Flame will take place in Ancient Olympia at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 10 followed by the Olympic Torch Relay across the country ahead of the London Olympic Games to be launched on July 27.
The Olympic Flame lighting ceremony will be hosted by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) and will be attended by IOC President Jacques Rogge, "London 2012" Olympic Games organizing committee president Lord Sebastian Coe, British Minister for Sport and Olympics Hugh Robertson and UK ambassador to Athens David Landsman.
The flame will be passed on to the first torchbearer, World Swimming Champion Spyros Gianniotis by Head Priestess Ino Menegaki.
The Olympic Flame's 3,000-km-long journey across Greece will be completed on May 17 with its arrival at Athens' Panathinaiko Stadium where it will be handed over to the "London 2012" Olympic Games organizing committee.
The ceremony will be held in the presence of Princess Anna, who will represent the British Royal Family.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' conditions for the formation of a coalition government, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Make Tsipras ...prime minister".
AVGHI: "Five conditions for turning the page".
AVRIANI: "Foreign loansharks blackmail in order to prevent the formation of a coalition government that will denounce the Memorandum".
DIMOKRATIA: "The trap of new elections!".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hour of awakening and rallying for the forces of the centre-right".
ESTIA: "Control of the economy comes first".
ETHNOS: "Terror game with the mandates".
IMERISSIA: "Economy in a political instability vise".
KATHIMERINI: "Solution at the presidential mansion or elections".
LOGOS: "Tsipras message: Take back your commitments".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU president Jose Manuel Barroso: "Streamlining or disorderly default".
NIKI: "Dangerous games with bank deposits".
RIZOSPASTIS: "SYRIZA's governmental proposal is not people- friendly".
TA NEA: "Tsipras' trick with the five conditions".
VRADYNI: "Clash between the Central- Right and the Left of the chaos".
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