|Thursday, 18 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-05-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 24 May 2012 Issue No: 4079
 PM Pikrammenos holds separate meetings in Brussels with French President Hollande and German Chancellor MerkelBRUSSELS (AMNA/V. Demiris)
Greek caretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos held separate meetings with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Brussels on Wednesday, ahead of an EU informal summit.
According to diplomatic sources, in the 20-minute meeting with the French president, Hollande committed himself to the continuation of the EU's aid on condition that Greece will observe its commitments. Hollande stressed that EU aid should have been given earlier and expressed the hope that a stable government will be formed after the Jume 17 elections in Greece. Pikrammenos delivered a memorandum to Hollande containing the Greek positions on the growth issues.
In the meeting with the German chancellor that lasted 40 minutes Merkel stressed the importance of Greece staying in the eurozone and expressed Europe's readiness to support Greece on condition that Athens will observe what has been agreed. The Greek prime minister referred to the difficult social situation in Greece.
 PM Pikrammenos speaks at EU informal summitBRUSSELS (AMNA/V.Demiris)
Greek caretaker prime minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos told an EU informal summit here on Wednesday that the results of the May 6 general elections in Greece expressed the uncertainty and the agony of the Greek society for the future.
According to diplomatic sources, Pikrammenos referred to the consequences of the recession, which totally reache 15 per cent and to unemployment which is over 20 per cent. The cost of such an adjustment puts into test the Greek society's endurances and this is why an immediate regaining of trust is needed, as well as growth measures that will give hope to citizens.
He also suggested that project eurobonds would contribute to the economy's restarting as well as the dibursment of 6.5 billion euros for the market.
 Bailout agreement the quickest way to exit crisis, Barroso says after meeting Greek PMBRUSSELS (AMNA - V. Demiris)
The second bailout agreement is the quickest and least painful way for Greece to restore growth, create jobs and exit the crisis, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stressed on Wednesday, in a written statement issued after his meeting with Greece's caretaker prime minister, Panagiotis Pikrammenos.
He underlined the Commission's strong desire that Greece remain a part of the eurozone and said every effort will be made in this direction, with continued support for Greece, and said that the caretaker government will have a decisive role over the coming weeks in Greece.
Barroso said the Eurozone countries had shown unprecedented solidarity toward Greece adn the Greek people with their commitment to continue financial support for as long as it's needed, provided that Greece fulfills its commitments in terms of implementing the structural reforms necessary for a return to growth.
"Without solidarity, Greece will not be in a position to return to growth and prosperity," he stressed, while recognising that Greeks have made huge sacrifices.
 ND leader Samaras calls for measures to stop downward slideBRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Aroni)
New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Wednesday called for measures to stop what he called the economy's downward slide., "because otherwise Greece cannot exit the crisis. Nor can it achieve its targets."
Samaras spoke at a European People's Party's (EPP) conference, and ahead of an informal EU summit.
"I requested, therefore, apart from the effort for fiscal adjustment, a revision and amendments of policies that did not perform; for the recession to stop; for unemployment the decrease; for hope to be given to our fellow countrymen, who lost everything in two years."
"...At the same time I called for measures that will help growth, such as bonds for infrastructure projects, support for the unemployed, with additional EU funds, support for liquidity, the more active involvement of the European Investment Bank for the support of the real economy, creation of a European apparatus for the guaranteeing of investments, so that the bloodletting of deposits from the European south to the north will stop," Samaras also told reporters.
"Now, gradually, all of Europe is converging on what we were insisting on over the past two years that, apart of all the rest, growth is necessary for us to exit from the crisis," Samaras noted, adding that "and now that Europe is changing, Greece must not find itself outside Europe."
The EPP conference made explicit reference to Greece in its final conclusions.
"In relation to Greece that is faced with an economic and social crisis of an unprecedented magnitude, we declare our respect for the sacrifices that the Greek people have been through over the last two years and we acknowledge the progress made in a number of areas. We support the efforts of Nea Demokratia and its President, Antonis Samaras, to elaborate an integrated policy mix aiming to eliminate the deficit while restoring growth and confidence in the Greek economy. We are prepared to consider possible ways to strengthen investment, growth and employment complementing the necessary reform measures and respecting the commitments of the pursued programme," the conclusions statement said.
According to reports, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, during an intervention at the EPP's conference, stated that for a country of the euro to denounce the reforms is not merely a mistake, but a lie.
Samaras held separate meetings on the sidelines of the EPP summit with Eurogroup President and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President Jose Emmanuel Barroso, EPP President Wilfried Martens, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Coelho.
The ND leader will be meeting Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Thursday morning.
 Venizelos meets with leaders of European socialist partiesBRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Spinthourakis)
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos met here on Wednesday with Spain's Socialist Party leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, Italy's Democratic Party secretary Pier Luigi Bersani and Germany's Social-Democratic Party (SPD) leader Zigmar Gabriel.
Venizelos, who is in Brussels for the summit meeting of the Party of European Socialists (PES), emphasised that Greece is being met with an environment of solidarity while there is agreement on the need to stimulate economic growth.
Addressing SPD leader Gabriel, the PASOK leader asked him, in the presence of reporters, what he thought of Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, after their meeting on Tuesday in Berlin.
In response, the SPD leader said talks were tough and the leader of PASOK underlined that his statements (the SPD leader) were harsh but correct.
 Greece must remain in euro, Hollande-Rajoy stress after Paris meetingPARIS (AMNA - O. Tsipira)
French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy clearly signalled their determination to keep Greece in the euro on Wednesday, in statements following their meeting here to prepare for the EU summit in Brussels.
"I will do whatever I can from my position to convince Greeks to choose to remain in the eurozone, honouring their commitments. I will also do everything that I can to convince Europeans that might be having doubts about the necessity of Greece staying in the euro," he said.
Addressing the press, Hollande appealed to them to convey his message to Greek voters and convince them that they can trust his stance in favour of Greece. He also underlined that, for him, there was no alternative plan to Greece remaining in the euro area.
"This is not an important matter for the Greeks alone, it is an important matter for the eurozone, for Europe and for conditions for growth in the world. While this may seem disproportionate, if we have a new crisis in Greece such as might be caused by the elections of June 17, it will necessarily affect growth in Europe and subsequently the rest of the world. I do not want to overestimate the event but neither do I want to underestimate it," he said.
Asked whether he had information on a 'contingency plan' preparing for Greece's exit from the euro, Hollande denied either having or wanting knowledge of such a plan, since that would give the impression that he was preparing for such an outcome and this was not the case.
"Through [the media's] intervention, the Greeks must know that they must trust in my behaviour in relation to Greece. At the same time, however, we have the demands that have been made arising from the commitments between Greece and Europe and there must be no doubts, either as to Europe's intentions nor as to the intentions of Greece. We must be together and I have no other outcome to prepare for apart from that," Hollande told reporters.
Similarly, Rajoy underlined his desire for Greece to remain in the eurozone, saying that this would be "best for Greece and for Europe".
Replying to question concerning a request that Greece be given more time to carry out the measures, the French president noted that Europe could be taking immediate action, in addition to the measures of the bailout agreements, to support growth in Greece. He said this could happen through the transfer of greater sums via structural funds that would secure better living conditions for the Greek people through the direct intervention of Europe.
All this could be done without casting Greece's obligations in terms of the agreements it signed into doubt.
"We cannot let the Greeks think that there will be no accompanying support. This support will exist from the moment they choose to give their presence in the eurozone a consistency and strength that will inspire confidence in Europeans," Hollande said.
Concerning the way Europe's leadership has handled the crisis over the past two and half years, Hollande talked about a problem with decision-making mechanisms in the EU, which he said needed to act more quickly and decisively and deal with more than just the financial aspect.
He said this must be complementing with a pact for growth and a 'political direction', so that Europeans would know which direction Europe was heading in.
"If there has been indifference among people at European elections, it is because Europe has not replied quickly, as it should, to a number of problems and especially the problem of unemployment and economic activity. But it must give answers for our common future," he stressed, saying that this would be among the issues he would raise at the EU summit.
"The issue is political because I do not want Europe won by populist movements, who are becoming stronger in the North around the idea that the South must not be helped and in the countries of the South because the people can no longer put up with being subjected to austerity policies. It is a political and democratic issue of primary importance," Hollande stressed.
 SYRIZA leader visits labour minister, calls for suspension of wage and pension cutsIn a visit to caretaker government Labour Minister Antonis Roupakiotis on Wednesday, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras asked that he suspend implementation of measures leading to a reduction in wages and pensions. Tsipras said the decisions on labour relations and pensions were disrupting the existing system of law and he called for a freeze in the expiration of residual duration of collective agreements.
Commenting on statements made by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos after meeting the French president, Tsipras accused him of "arrogance" in claiming to speak on behalf of the Greek people and called on PASOK's leader to "name the employer and business interests that imposed the laws that led to a reduction of incomes for workers in the private sector from 25-50 percent".
The labour minister made no statements but has arranged meetings with the social partners (employers and trade union organisations) in order to discuss collective labour agreements, with the first such meeting due to be held on Friday.
 SYRIZA proposals 'unrealistic', former Greek PM Papandreou claimsFormer Greek prime minister and current Socialist International President George Papandreou dismissed the proposals of the left-wing SYRIZA party as "unrealistic" in an interview with the BBC programme Newsnight on Tuesday, suggesting that SYRIZA "wants to have its cake and eat it".
Papandreou stressed that the prospect of Greece exiting the euro was a "much worse choice" and would lead to bank run and "destroy the economy".
He stressed that Greeks do not desire to leave the euro because the common currency, in spite of the difficulties, provided security.
The former PASOK president and premier also underlined the need to stop the insecurity and uncertainty in Greece by sending a clear message in the upcoming elections.
 Communist leader sees no solution for country inside EUCommunist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday toured the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) offices and called on its staff to decide on how they'll vote in the June 17 elections, based on the fact that "pro-people" economic growth, as she called it, and a way out of the crisis are impossible within the EU.
She also opined "that monopolies and people cannot co-exist".
Papariga called on employees to think of the consequences in case of a weak KKE representation in the next Parliament. She also added that workers should not trust the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) "because it will not keep its promises".
Referring to the crisis in the eurozone, Papariga said it will become deeper and any recovery will be slight, adding that "a new wave of crisis will follow which will sweep through even the most powerful countries." The communist leader stressed that "in these circumstances, Greece will be led out of the eurozone, without ruling out the introduction of a 'Greek euro', or there will be another 'haircut' and new economic measures for Greece."
 Papariga charges anti-KKE campaignAn anti-KKE campaign was currently underway, with the aim ridding the system from the presence of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its action, "which is annoying" to the system, KKE leader Aleka Papariga said Tuesday evening at an open gathering in the western port city of Patras.
She said the attack was being made with the 'argument' that the 'KKE does not ease up on its positions in order to participate in a government that perhaps could do something better'.
On the crisis in Greece, she said that the people have two 'ugly versions" before it, which could evolve in the immediate future in the country. Those scenarios, she continued, will come to pass without respect to whether there is a Center-Left or a Center-Right government: Either Greece will undergo expulsion from the eurozone, or there will be a variation of expulsion in which Greece will not have a drachma as its currency, but a euro with the value of a drachma. The second version, she said, is another haircut of its debt, of 85-90 percent, by its creditors, but in exchange for even worse Memorandums.
Papariga further passed off as "illusory" the "new wind blowing in Europe" because "it is a different mix of administration, which provides for growth combined with austerity, in other words bigger problems and exploitation of the working people".
She warned that investments will be made, but in those areas where the big capital anticipates the biggest possible profits and with China or India salaries for the working people.
 Caretaker FM briefs President on NATO summitCaretaker foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday briefed President Karolos Papoulias on the NATO summit held in Chicago earlier in the week, and also conveyed to him greetings from US President Barack Obama.
Greece is at the focus of concern of its allies and partners, Molyviatis said upon arrival at the Presidential Mansion, adding that "everyone assured me that they will stand at our side to overcome the crisis".
"We need it, and Brussels must take decisions quickly," Papoulias replied before the two men went into the President's office for the briefing.
 Head of 'Recreate Greece' party to meet EU Parliament ALDE group presidentThe head of the fledgling "Recreate Greece" party Thanos Tzimeros is due to meet the president of the European Parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group Guy Verhofstadt on Wednesday.
In statements, Tzimeros stressed the need to boost reform efforts in Greece and Europe, adding that the reforms in Greece must be carried out "because the country needs them and not because they are imposed by the European Union". He also noted, however, that it was impossible for a monetary union to work without a fiscal policy to back it up.
 Greek current account deficit down 34.5 pct in Q1Greece's current account deficit shrank by 34.5 pct in the first quarter of 2012 to 4.7 billion euros, from 7.2 billion euros in the same period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report, said that in March 12, the current account balance showed a deficit of ? 2.1 billion, down by 446 million euros or 17.3 percent year-on-year.
The trade deficit fell by 263 million euros, mainly as a result of a 575 million decrease in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, as well as a 133 million euros decline in net payments for purchases of ships, while the net oil import bill rose by 445 million. The trade deficit excluding oil and ships shrank mainly due to the considerably reduced import bill (down by 536 million euros or 22.7 percent), whereas the rise in export receipts was very small, 40 million or 3.5 percent.
The surplus of the services balance increased by 66 million euros mainly as a result of higher net transport receipts and, secondarily, lower net payments for "other" services. By contrast, the very small surplus of the travel services balance fell considerably year-on-year. In more detail, in comparison with March 2011, travel spending in Greece by non-residents decreased by 11.2 percent, while travel spending abroad by residents fell by 4.8 percent. In the same month, non-residents' arrivals fell by 12.7 percent, according to data from the Bank of Greece's border survey. Gross transport receipts (chiefly from merchant shipping) did not change considerably (+1.6 percent), but the corresponding payments decreased significantly (by 8.1 percent); as a result, net receipts grew by 13.3 percent. The income account deficit increased by 19 million euros, owing to higher net payments for interest, dividends and profits. Finally, the current transfers balance showed a small surplus of 5.3 million euros, compared with a deficit of 131 million in March 2011.
In the first quarter of 2012, the current account deficit fell by 2.5 billion euros or 34.5 percent year-on-year, to 4.7 billion. This development is attributable to, mainly, a significant decline of 1.5 billion euros in the non-oil trade deficit and an increase of 498 million euros in the surplus of the services balance and, secondarily, a rise (of 186 million) in the current transfers surplus and a decrease (of 71 million) in the income account deficit. At the same time, there was also a decline of 189 million in the net oil import bill.
More analytically, the overall trade deficit decreased by 1.7 billion euros, as a result of a 1 billion euros (or 29.7 percent) decline in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships and a 548 million fall in net payments for purchases of ships, whereas the net oil import bill also decreased, as already mentioned. Receipts from exports of goods excluding oil and ships rose by 7.2 percent, while the corresponding import bill declined at a relatively faster pace (12.1 percent).
An increase in the surplus of the services balance reflects higher net transport receipts and lower net payments for "other" services and - to a much lesser extent - lower net travel payments. In more detail, travel spending in Greece by non-residents fell markedly (by 15.1 percent) year-on-year, reflecting also a fall in non-residents' arrivals at an average annual rate of 11.7 percent (according to data from the Bank of Greece's border survey). Moreover, travel spending abroad by residents fell by 19.9 percent. Over the same period, gross transport receipts (chiefly from merchant shipping) remained almost unchanged (+0.8 percent), but the corresponding payments decreased by 11.9 percent; as a result, net receipts rose by 248 million euros.
The income account deficit decreased by 71 million euros year-on-year, mainly due to lower net payments for interest, dividends and profits.
Finally, the current transfers balance showed a surplus of 1.4 billion euros, up by 186 million year-on-year. This development is mainly due to a rise of 116 million euros in the net current transfer receipts of general government.
At end-March 2012, Greece's reserve assets stood at 5.4 billion euros.
 Ministry denies claim of plans for 'Grexit'The Greek finance ministry on Wednesday categorically denied reports that in the teleconference, organised in the framework of the Euro working group, eurozone member-states were supposedly requested to prepare plans dealing with a possible Greek exit from the eurozone.
The ministry's announcement stresses that reports do not correspond to reality and also harm the efforts being made by the country to tackle its economic problems.
 Eurobank flatly denies claim by SYRIZAEurobank, in a statement on Wednesday evening, categorically denied claims aired earlier in the day by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), which cited "warnings" by the bank's management over a possible SYRIZA victory in the June 17 election.
"The allegations of supposed interventions by management in employees' political preferences and vis-a-vis our customers are unfounded," a Eurobank announcement said.
"Since its founding it (bank) has unwaveringly observed the principle of non-involvement in political processses and respect for democratic institutions, which constitutes a paramount issue of principle for the management and its staff."
 EuroParliament adopts Greek MEP's report for financial transactions taxThe European Parliament plenum, by an overwhelming majority of 487 votes in favour, on Wednesday adopted a report written by PASOK MEP Anni Podimata that proposes imposing a tax on financial transactions. The report was past by 487 votes in favour, 152 against and 46 abstentions.
The report adopted by MEPs approves the tax coefficients proposed by the European Commission, which call for a 0.1 percent tax on shares and a 0.01 percent tax on bonds.
The MEPs also consider that the tax must be imposed even if only some of the EU member-states agree to its implementation, while calling for the exemption from such tax of transactions by pension funds.
According to Podimata, the proposed tax must be designed so as to ensure the greatest possible coverage of all bodies and transactions and so that its avoidance is expensive. She said it could become an inseparable part of exiting the crisis and lead to a fairer distribution of the burdens imposed by the economic crisis.
Podimata also claimed that such a tax would not lead to the relocation of financial organisations outside the EU because the cost of such a relocation would be higher than paying the tax.
The European Parliament adopted the principle whereby the tax must be paid financial institutions outside the tax zone if they carry out transactions involving paper initially issued within the tax zone - a measures not originally included in the European Commission's original proposal.
For example, shares in the company Siemens originally issued in Germany that are traded between a financial institution in Hong Kong and one in the United States would still be liable to taxation under the law. The European Commission has also proposed that shares issued outside the taxation zone should again be included if at least one financial institution based within the zone carries out transactions in these shares.
The European Parliament's proposal seeks to make efforts to avoid the tax counterproductive by making payment of a financial transaction tax a certificate of the legal enforceability of a transaction, which will not be valid without it.
The MEPs have also approved the schedule proposed by the Commission for implementing the measures, which calls for adoption of the laws enacting the measures by December 31, 2013 and that these should become binding as law in Europe by December 31, 2014.
 Jumbo Group reports higher sales and profitsJumbo Group on Wednesday reported a 5.62-pct increase in net profits and a 2.04 pct rise in sales in the nine-month period from July 2011 to March 2012, with sales totaling 380.31 million euros and net profits totaling 67.91 million euros. The group said its Jumbo retail sales network reported a 5.72 pct increase in turnover during this period.
Gross profit margin rose to 52.23 pct, from 51.67 pct in the corresponding period last year, while EBITDA rose to 95.53 million euros from 93.18 million euros respectively, an increase of 2.52 pct. Consolidated pre-tax profits totaled 83.24 pct in the nine-month period, up 1.48 pct from 2011.
 Stocks end 1.79 pct downStocks remained under heavy pressure to end significantly lower amid fears over the country's future in the Eurozone following comments made by former Prime Minister Lucas Papademos over a real risk of Greece leaving the euro. These comments made to Wall Street Journal undermined sentiment in European stock markets and pressured the euro's rate. The composite index of the market fell 1.79 pct to end at 526.39 points, with turnover remaining a low 30.525 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 2.16 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.98 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 0.51 pct. Banks (0.62 pct) and Industrial Products (0.58 pct) were top gainers, while Telecoms (9.43 pct), Commerce (8.88 pct) and Constructions (5.38 pct) were top losers. Alpha Bank (6.06 pct), Eurobank (4.84 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.74 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (1.88 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (9.43 pct), Folli Follie (9.09 pct), Titan (6.06 pct) and PPC (5.06 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 76 to 40 with another 21 issues unchanged. AXON Holdings (19.64 pct), Euroholdings (18.75 pct) and Paperpack (12 pct) were top gainers, while 3A (20 pct), NEL (19.61 pct) and Lambrakis Press (19.54 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.26%
Personal & Household: -1.13%
Raw Materials: -1.31%
Travel & Leisure: -3.41%
Food & Beverages: -1.50%
Financial Services: -0.54%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE, and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: +0.82
Public Power Corp (PPC): +1.50
HBC Coca Cola: +12.50
Hellenic Petroleum: +4.85
National Bank of Greece: +1.26
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: +0.54
Bank of Piraeus: +0.23
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened significantly to 28.41 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 27.56 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 29.79 pct and the German Bund 1.38 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. the 12-month rate was 1.25 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 1.11 pct, the six-month rate was 0.96 pct, the three-month 0.68 pct and the one-month rate was 0.39 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.49 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining an extremely low 4.263 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,045 contracts worth 1.995 million euros, with 19,755 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,870 contracts worth 2.269 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,135), followed by Alpha Bank (5,279), OTE (864), PPC (361), OPAP (1,046), Piraeus Bank (405), Cyprus Bank (1,384), Mytilineos (69) and Motor Oil (53).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1284
Pound sterling 816
Danish kroner 7543
Swedish kroner 9196
Japanese yen 102.1
Swiss franc 1219
Norwegian kroner 7686
Canadian dollar 1313
Australian dollar 1317
 Manhunt for armed bank robbers, taxi driver injuredA manhunt was underway on Wednesday in the Athens suburb of Ilioupolis to track down two armed bank robbers, who shot a taxi driver in the leg to take his vehicle while being pursued police, on whom they opened fire.
Two bank robbers armed with Kalashnikov semi-automatic rifles stormed into a National Bank branch in Kanaria Square in Ilioupolis at about 11:00 a.m., immobilized employees and customers at gunpoint and attempted to escape with an unknown amount of money on two motorcycles that they had left outside the bank, but the motorcycles would not start and they grabbed a passing car from its woman driver, with which they sped away from the scene.
Police DIAS motorcycle police spotted the gunmen in nearby Aghios Dimitrios district, but the bank robbers opened fire on the policemen and managed to escape. A short while later, they abandoned the car on coastal Amfitheas Boulevard, forcibly removed the driver from a passing taxi, shooting him in the leg, and sped off.
They abandoned the taxi outside the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliron, but grabbed a second taxi from its driver at gunpoint and fled once again.
A strong police contingent was scouring the wider area to locate and arrest the armed bank robbers.
 Memorial service for pilot IliakisFirst Lt. Konstantinos Iliakis was honored by the state on Wednesday.
Iliakis fell in the line of duty on May 23, 2006 as the pilot of a F-16 sent to identify and intercept a Turkish fighter plane that had entered the Athens FIR without having filed a flight plan.
A memorial service and a wreath laying ceremony held on the Dodecanese island of Karpathos to mark the sixth anniversary of his death.
 Fresh incidents break out outside former factory in PatraFresh incidents broke out outside the building installations of the former factory of Piraiki-Patraiki in the city of Patra shortly after 9:30 on Wednesday evening, where extensive clashes had occurred on Tuesday.
Morte specifically, groups of people having their faces covered attacked riot police, while the police responded by firing teargas.
The demonstrators are protesting the presence of illegal immigrants in the area.
 Greece's 'Aphrodisiac' in Eurovision finalGreece's "Aphrodisiac" was among the song that qualified for the finals of the Eurovision song contest in Tuesday night's first semi-final held in Baku, Azerbaijan. Singer Eleftheria Eleftheriou and the group of dancers gave an excellent performance and were voted for by the committee of critics and the people of Europe.
Aphrodisiac, with words and music by Dimitris Stassou, Mikaela Stenstrum and Dajana Loof, and the entries from Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Russia and Ireland, which also qualified, will compete in the final of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest that will be held on Saturday in Baku.
 'Warrior with accompanying elements' statue debuts in SkopjeSKOPJE (AMNA)
The latest antique-style statue erected in downtown Skopje appeared on the horizon on Tuesday, with a 29-metre tall bronze statue bearing a striking resemblance to a muscular Phillip II of Macedon -- although Phillip's gouged out right eye (in battle) is not reproduced on the specific depiction.
This statue, entitled "Warrior with accompanying elements", faces another massive bronze statue known simply as the "equestrian warrior", which itself bears a resemblance to works of art in Greece and elsewhere in the world of Alexander the Great on horseback.
The two Hellenistic era-inspired statues are part of the ambitious "Skopje 2014" beautification project in the capital of the landlocked former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM).
 Four-month-old bear cub found in NW GreeceA four-month-old male bear cub was found in the area of Krania, Grevena prefecture by a passing driver who alerted the non-governmental Arcturos wildlife conservation organisation.
Despite instructions by an Arcturos rescue team that the obviously worn out stray cub be placed in a fenced-in area until it was picked up, the cub was taken to nearby Krania village square where children petted it and had pictures taken with it. "This is not proper practice because wild animals should not come into such close contact with people, Arcturos public relations director Vasso Petridou explained to AMNA.
It is very likely that the cub had been roaming around on its own for several days without food, because it weighs just 3.5 kilos when the normal weight for its age is over 8 kilos. The cub was returned to a neighbouring forested area in an attempt for it to find its way back its mother, however without any result after 36 hours, during which the cub was closely monitored.
The cub was subsequently taken to the Arcturos veterinary station for wild animals in Florina, where the difficult task of nurturing it began.
"This is a very difficult attempt, since the chances of such a young bear cub surviving are slim, even under the care of specialists. Bear cubs stay with their mothers for two whole years in order to learn how to survive in the wild on their own," Petridou said, but on a more optimistic note she cited the cases of two orphaned cubs, Little John and Nikitas, which were successfully reintroduced to the wild earlier this year.
As for the cub's name...Arcturos invites interested potential 'godparents' to visit the organisation's site on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/arcturosgr) and make their own suggestions.
 Origami White Tower in Thessaloniki seeks a place in GuinnessA replica of Thessaloniki's trademark, the White Tower monument located on the city's waterfront, will be created on Aristotelous Square using the origami technique, the traditional Japanese art of paper folding.
The White Tower origami mosaic, aiming for a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, will be created on May 31 from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. It will cover an area of 400 square meters and will be made of 40,000 paper lotus flowers.
The largest origami mosaic is 320.87 square meters (3,453 square feet) and was created in Hong Kong on July 26, 2008.
 Illegals arrested at Samos airport in possession of fake passportsTwo illegal migrants from Afghanistan, aged 19 and 35, were arrested at the airport of Samos for possessing forged travel documents in a bid to depart the country illegally, police announced on Wednesday.
The two men attempted to board a charter flight to Dusseldorf, but were arrested during passport control. Their forged passports were confiscated and both were led before a prosecutor.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe EU Summit in Brussels on Wednesday and the eurobond issue as well, French President Francois Hollande's stance on Greece, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras: SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is naive and dangerous".
AVGHI: "Europe's future passes through the Left".
AVRIANI: "French President Francois Hollande's provocative intervention in Greece's internal affairs".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They have 'ousted' Tsipras from the euro".
ESTIA: "Everything to be decided in the next 25 days".
ETHNOS: "Hollande's signal for changes to the Memorandum".
IMERISSIA: "18 billion euros shield to major banks".
KATHIMERINI: "Europe agrees, but only for Greece".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "OECD: Greece in recession course in 2013".
RIZOSPASTIS: "People must vote for a solid and strong Communist Party (KKE) in elections".
TA NEA: " 'Hollande-reou' votes.... for Greece".
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