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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-11

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

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

Thursday, 11 October 2012 Issue No: 4196

CONTENTS

  • [01] Hollande, Rajoy urge support to Greece
  • [02] Foreign minister meets Davutoglu; Greece-Turkey to resume High Level Cooperation Council meetings
  • [03] Samaras meets with visiting Turkish FM
  • [04] Parliament president receives visiting Turkish foreign minister
  • [05] Turkish fighter planes infringe Athens FIR, violate Greek air space
  • [06] Gov't spokesman: Greece's effort acknowledged
  • [07] FinMin: Merkel's visit 'positive'
  • [08] Minister calls on German institutes in Greece to boost country's image abroad
  • [09] PASOK says 'no palpable results' from Merkel visit
  • [10] Democratic Left party says Merkel visit positive event
  • [11] Financial crimes prosecutors call on FinMin to again request 'Lagarde' list again from Paris
  • [12] FinMin on checks on capital transfers abroad
  • [13] KKE party congratulates Communist Party of Venezuela
  • [14] Parliament briefed on repayment of Libyan debt owed to Greece-based businesses
  • [15] FinMin concludes meeting with troika, new meeting on Thursday
  • [16] Tourism minister in New York
  • [17] Dep. Dev'p minister to represent Athens in annual WB, IMF meetings in Tokyo
  • [18] Gov't cash deficit significantly down in Jan-Sep.
  • [19] Exports up, imports down in August
  • [20] EIB to support local enterprises with 150 million euros by end of year
  • [21] COSCO rejects allegations of special tax regime
  • [22] Executive: Cigarette smuggling costs 400 mln euros in lost state revenue
  • [23] Nationwide 24h strike on Oct. 18
  • [24] Business Briefs
  • [25] Stocks end significantly down
  • [26] Greek bond market closing
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [29] Series of events to promote Archaeological Service's work
  • [30] Nicosia event in memory of former AMNA gd Andreas Christodoulides
  • [31] Criminal charges against 24 protestors arrested during Merkel visit
  • [32] Streaker at protest acquitted of indecent exposure charge
  • [33] Foreign national found dead
  • [34] Sirens to sound in civil defence exercise on Thur.
  • [35] Rainy on Thursday
  • [36] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Hollande, Rajoy urge support to Greece

    PARIS (AMNA - O. Tsipira)

    French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy presented their shared vision on how the Eurozone should proceed in coming weeks during a press conference held at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday, indicating there must be progress on creating a European banking union and support for Greece to stay in the euro.

    "A Greek exit from the euro would be a collective failure for the EU, a failure that we cannot accept," Rajoy said, stressing that "Spain believes that Greece must stay in the euro".

    Hollande said that Spain and France have the same positions on how the Eurozone should proceed in the coming weeks and that both considered it a top priority that there be progress toward a banking union for Europe at the upcoming European Council on October 18.

    "We must also find a solution for Greece as soon as we receive the troika's report. Provided that Greece reaffirms its commitments, it must have Europe's support and there is no doubt about our own desire, of France and Spain, that Greece must remain fully in the eurozone," Hollande said.

    Rajoy expressed his conviction that European countries, working together, "will be able to find ways so that Greece can respect its commitments and the other countries can take the appropriate decisions for Greece to stay in the euro."

    [02] Foreign minister meets Davutoglu; Greece-Turkey to resume High Level Cooperation Council meetings

    Greece and Turkey intend to resume High Level Cooperation Council meetings, with the second taking place in January, Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos announced on Wednesday after talks with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu. The minister also promised Greece's support in relation to the tension that has arisen between Ankara and Damascus.

    "We condemn and deplore any violation of a state's territorial integrity by anyone," Avramopoulos said, reaffirming a pledge of solidarity for Turkey first expressed by Athens at a NATO meeting on Tuesday. He called for steps to reduce tension and to find a political solution to the problems.

    Davutoglu underlined the importance of efforts being made by the United Nations and acknowledged that UN support for Ankara was partly a result of Greece's efforts.

    "As democratic countries we provide support for the democratic rights of Arab peoples," he added.

    The Turkish minister then called for an effort to "resolve the differences in the Aegean through positive approaches", adding that his country was making serious efforts concerning minorities in Turkey and that these efforts had been recognised by Athens.

    Avramopoulos asked for an avoidance of actions that could lead to accidents or crises, stressing that understanding between neighbouring countries was a condition for ensuring good communication and in order to establish a climate of trust that would boost security and stability in the region.

    He again expressed Greece's support for Turkey's full EU accession based on the criteria that applied to all candidate countries, underlining that among these conditions was a solution of the Cyprus issue based on the decisions of the UN Security Council and in line with European rules and practices.

    On the issue of illegal migration, Avramopoulos said that some progress has been made but a lot still needs to be done. He underlined that Greece places emphasis on improving Greek-Turkish and European-Turkish cooperation.

    Both Davutoglu and Avramopoulos referred to a "common vision" shared by the two countries, for what Avramopoulos described as a "neighbourhood that is an oasis of cooperation, security and friendship", in pursuit of which the two sides would work together to try and solve any differences and problems.

    "Our governments must open roads for a meeting of our peoples, far from populism and extremes," he added.

    The Turkish minister also referred to the economic crisis in Greece, expressing his conviction that the hard-working Greek people will be able to rise to the challenge. "The Turkish people support Greece in the effort it is making," Davutoglu said.

    Both ministers referred to the progress made in economic, cultural and tourism cooperation, with Davutoglu saying that the goal of increasing the level of bilateral transactions to 10 billion dollars per year from four billion dollars at present was "not impossible". He called for further improvements of sea and rail transport between the two countries.

    Avramopoulos said the Greek and Turkish peoples had become closer through tourism and expressed a desire to extend a pilot scheme for issuing visas on islands in order for both countries to attract more tourists.

    Though a press conference had been announced, the two ministers did not take reporters' questions, citing a delay in the visit schedule.

    [03] Samaras meets with visiting Turkish FM

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held a 55-minute meeting with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who arrived in Athens earlier in the morning on an official visit.

    Davutoglu conveyed to Samaras greetings from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the latter's wishes for success in the work of the Greek government.

    The two officials discussed Greek-Turkish relations as well as the developments in the wider region, particularly in Syria, while Samaras also put forward the problem of illegal migration.

    [04] Parliament president receives visiting Turkish foreign minister

    Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday received Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is currently visiting Athens.

    Meimarakis stressed that the currently difficult period and the major problems in the neighbourhood of the two countries "oblige us to consider more maturely, more wisely how the our two countries can truly contribute to peace and security in the region."

    At the same time, he pointed out that certain conditions had to be satisfied before there could be progress to further understanding and cooperation between the two Parliaments, chiefly that Turkey lift its threat of war in the case that Greece decides to exercise its right to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles.

    Meimarakis then presented Davutoglu with a model ship as a symbolic gift, "signifying a ship that can move freely in our Aegean".

    According to a clarification issued by the Parliament presidency later in the day, Davutoglu's reply had stressed Turkey's desire that the Aegean, "as a sea of peace and frienship, be open to every kind of cooperation". A Parliament president's press office announcement said this was a more accurate translation of the Turkish minister's original statements, while reports that Davutoglu had asked for the Aegean "to always be free" were attributed to an error by the Turkish interpreter at the meeting. The second translation was supplied by the Greek foreign ministry from a recording of the meeting.

    During their half-hour meeting, Davutoglu and Meimarakis stressed the need to further boost and improve relations between Greece and Turkey through honest dialogue, with Meimarakis praising the Turkish side for "its new perspective in its approach to the relations of the two countries", while he appeared sanguine that progress will be made, "though we still have a long way ahead".

    "Greece and Turkey are neighbouring and friendly countries and the friendship between the two peoples finds correspondence in the Parliaments of the two countries. The protocols and the agreements that will be signed between the two countries and our Parliaments will seal the will of the people," Davutoglu said.

    [05] Turkish fighter planes infringe Athens FIR, violate Greek air space

    A formation of four Turkish fighter planes, two of them armed, on Wednesday infringed the Athens Flight Information Region and violated Greek airspce in the northern Aegean on two occasions. All the Turkish planes were intercepted and identified by Hellenic Air Force planes, in accordance with standard practice and international rules.

    The FIR infringements and airspace violation coincided with an official visit to Greece by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    [06] Gov't spokesman: Greece's effort acknowledged

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledges the government's efforts and the people's sacrifices, stressed on Wednesday government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou speaking to a private radio station.

    "I believe it was clear her support for the government's efforts and the people's sacrifices," he said, and added that the messages from the Eurogroup were positive underlining that ".the Europeans and the IMF, acknowledge that we are doing well. That they have different approaches in the management of the development of the economy, is another issue. Greece's efforts are acknowledged".

    Kedikoglou also noted that the structural changes and the measures are painful but he estimated that the package will close. "The measures will close. You'll have to wait to see the final form. You are aware that a huge effort is being made and for this reason the negotiations have lasted for so long. A strong negotiation in underway," he said.

    [07] FinMin: Merkel's visit 'positive'

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras in a statement on Tuesday night described as "positive" German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Greece.

    Stournaras also opined after his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the Maximos Mansion, that the assessment of Merkel's visit was positive, and he also appeared optimistic over the disbursement of the bailout loan tranche, which he said he expects in November.

    Referring to the Monday's Eurogroup meeting, Stournaras said that the 'picture was somewhat better', and added that he briefed Samaras in detail, as well as the political leaders, on what exactly happened at the Eurogroup meeting. "We still have a long way ahead of us but at least we know what we have to deal with," he noted.

    The Finance Minister also said that we have asked for the extension and the issue is on the table. "The problem with the extension is that more money is needed. We received the order from the Eurogroup to examine how the extra money will be found. I believe that it is not such a difficult problem," stressed Stournaras.

    [08] Minister calls on German institutes in Greece to boost country's image abroad

    Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Wednesday called on the representatives of German think tanks with affiliates in Greece to assist in the efforts aimed at highlighting the country's positive image abroad.

    The meeting with the interior minister was attended by representatives of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, which closely cooperates with the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, which collaborates with the Andreas G. Papandreou Foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Green Institute and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which collaborates with the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).

    [09] PASOK says 'no palpable results' from Merkel visit

    The German chancellor's visit "had no palpable results within the framework of the negotiations," PASOK sources opined on Wednesday, adding that the party acknowledges that the visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel helped the national cause both in the country and abroad.

    They nevertheless pointed out that Merkel simply "expressed a wish and hope that the country will remain in the eurozone".

    Referring to the negotiations, PASOK sources said "all issues are still open. We are waiting for the troika report and we are still being confronted with the size, content and time framework of the economic package."

    On the position expressed by Democratic Left (DIM.AR) president Fotis Kouvelis, who objected to the participation of all political leaders backing the government in the meeting with the German chancellor, they said an opportunity to jointly back the national strategy was missed.

    Criticising main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), PASOK sources stressed that it remains trapped in its internal disagreements as regards the country's European orientation.

    In an unrelated development, the ongoing investigation into the so-called "Lagarde list" (with the names of some 2,000 Greek citizens reportedly holding large bank accounts abroad), PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos will appear before a Parliamentary special permanent committee on Thursday. He will be followed by former finance minister Filippos Sahinidis, who will appear before the committee later on the same day, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will testify most likely on Friday, while former minister George Papaconstantinou, who is currently abroad and is expected to return next week, has also been summonsed to appear before the committee.

    [10] Democratic Left party says Merkel visit positive event

    The Democratic Left party, in an announcement on Wednesday, terms the visit to Athens by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesady a "positive event as part of the process for political renegotiating with our partners at political level".

    The announcement added, that the ratification of the package of measures and the promotion of the structural changes must lead to a final agreement-political commitment on the country's stay in the euro that will include, among other things, the full payment of the tranche for 31.5 billion, the time extension and no further increase in the part of the package conerning salaries-pensions-bonuses.

    According to the party, "the position of the forces of the opposition that the country does not need to negotiate and consult with its partners shows that the exclusive interest of these forces is to obtain protest votes and nothing more".

    [11] Financial crimes prosecutors call on FinMin to again request 'Lagarde' list again from Paris

    Financial crime prosecutors called on Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras to again request the so-called "Lagarde" list from France in order to allow them to ascertain the authenticity of a list they have in their hands.

    [12] FinMin on checks on capital transfers abroad

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, in a document replying to the request that the list of private persons and legal entities of public law transferring abroad an amount exceeding 100,000 euros from 2009 to date be sent to Parliament, stressed the Finance ministry's intention to send to Parliament immediately data that can contribute to the transparency of public and political life if it is ascertained that there had been persons who acted illegally.

    "The issue is under investigation. Provided that in the future, throughout tax checks, it is ascertained that there are persons who acted in violation of tax legislation and provided that their publicising, in the framework of Parliamentary control, serves the transparency of public political life, the Finance ministry, with the reservation of the existing legislation and in cooperation with the judicial authorities intends to submit the data in Parliament without fail," the Finance minister says in reply to a question and an application for the submission of documents tabled by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputies Panayiotis Lafazanis and Athanasios Petrakos.

    [13] KKE party congratulates Communist Party of Venezuela

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has sent a message of congratulations to the Communist Party of Venezuela "on the occasion of the victory of the Great Patriotic Pole and the re-election of President Hugo Chavez, as well as the strengthening registered by the Communist Party of Venezuela".

    The message also referred to the political action of the Communist Party of Venezuela and the "prospect of reversing the power of capital and abolishing the exploitation of man by man."

    [14] Parliament briefed on repayment of Libyan debt owed to Greece-based businesses

    The foreign ministry is aware and following problems related to the payment -- or non-payment -- of money owed to Greece-based businesses for healthcare and hotel accommodations provided to recuperating Libyan nationals, injured during the civil war the North African country last year, according to a foreign ministry report forwarded to Parliament on Wednesday.

    The document, signed by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, has been forwarded to Parliament in response to a question tabled by New Democracy (ND) MP Adonis Georgiadis. The MP requested to be briefed on the actions so far to off-set the financial damage sustained by hotels (in Athens and Thessaloniki) that accommodated several thousand Libyans, considering that payments have been suspended and the amount owed is estimated in the millions of euros.

    Avramopoulos said representatives of local hotel owners notified the foreign ministry about the problem in May 2012, leading to repeated demarches lodged with the Libyan side.

    As a result, a special debt verification committee was formed in Libya, which visited Greece on July 30. Following a meeting with committee members, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas lodged another demarche with the Libyan embassy charge d' affaires in Athens, underlining the Greek foreign ministry's strong interest in the case.

    According to Avramopoulos, representatives of Greek hospitals and hotels, enjoying the unreserved support of the Greek embassy, have already visited Tripoli to reach a financial settlement with the Libyan side.

    The foreign minister concluded that a small part of the debt has been repaid and that the issue is being closely monitored.

    In August, Thessaloniki Hotel Owners' Association president Aristotelis Thomopoulos told AMNA that since the beginning of the year, roughly 130,000 Libyans were lodged in Thessaloniki hotels, which were booked by local hospitals that treated the injured.

    Roughly 150 million euros are owed to Greece-based businesses, according to existing invoices, with 10 million euros owed to 16 hotels in Thessaloniki and 19 million euros to hotels in Athens.

    "The money is owed to Thessaloniki hotels by third parties (private hospitals, travel agencies etc) who, in turn, maintain that they were not paid either," Thomopoulos had said.

    Financial News

    [15] FinMin concludes meeting with troika, new meeting on Thursday

    The first meeting in the new round of talks between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the heads of the EC/ECB/IMF troika, on the package of measures amounting to 13.9 billion euros and the 89 interventions anticipated in the memorandum and considered a precondition for the disbursement of the tranche of 31.5 billion euros, was concluded after two hours on Wednesday evening.

    According to Finance ministry officials, the meetings will be taking place on a daily basis (a new one has been scheduled for 6:30 in the evening on Thursday) and the effort is focused on the package being completed by the October 18 EU summit. The Greek side is aiming for the fiscal burden for 2013 being limited below the 9 billon euros, that constitute the additional measures demanded by the troika, (compared to 7.8 billion euros anticipated by the budget). It also aims at priority being given to the additional cutback from the total amount of the operational expenditures of the narrow and wider public sector.

    However, the time limits are narrowing since, according to a senior Finance ministry official, available cash can reach mid-November. While the tax revenues over the 9-month period were below expectations due to the strike mobilisations at tax offices (it is estimated that the "losses" amount to about 500 million euros which, however, will probably be registered in the 10-month period).

    It is noted that the tranche for 31.5 billion euros must be disbursed in November. The tranche should have been disbursed in July. In parallel, a tranche for 5 billion euros is pending (that should have been disbursed in September), while another 7.2 billion euros must be given to the country by the end of December.

    [16] Tourism minister in New York

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    The Greek government's and people's efforts for overcoming the crisis are being acknowledged, while there has been an improvement in the conditions for attracting investors and tourists to Greece, tourism minister Olga Kefaloyanni and deputy development, competitiveness, infrastructures, transport and networks minister Notis Mitarakis stressed during a press conference at the Greek press office in New York on Tuesday night.

    Referring to a forum on investments in Greece held at the Bloomberg building in Manhattan earlier in the day, the two officials said that there is interest in investments in the country and that the "first positive indications" were ascertained.

    Kefaloyanni said that "we are very much interested in the American market", noting that the Greek community in the US could be of substantial help in that direction, while Mitarakis noted that "investors are awaiting the restoration of fiscal security and liquidity in the Greek market".

    Kefaloyanni presented a brief outline of her ministry's policy, which aims at taking advantage of and showcasing the elements and sectors that enrich and enhance the Greek tourism product, noting that her visit to the US is in the context of a strategy introduced this summer and a studied approach to markets of special interest to Greece both with respect to visitors and investors. She added that visits in this context have already been made to Britain, Turkey and Abu Dhabi.

    [17] Dep. Dev'p minister to represent Athens in annual WB, IMF meetings in Tokyo

    Deputy Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Notis Mitarakis, currently in New York, will head the Greek delegation at the 2012 annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Tokyo.

    Mitarakis will depart for the Japanese capital on Wednesday.

    On the sidelines of the meetings, which will be completed on Oct. 14, he will have contacts with officials of the two international organisations and representatives of foreign missions.

    [18] Gov't cash deficit significantly down in Jan-Sep.

    Greece's central government cash deficit decreased to 6.599 billion euros in the January-September period this year, down from 19.231 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said that ordinary budget revenue amounted to 34.062 billion euros in the nine-month period, slightly down from 35.257 billion euros last year.

    Ordinary budget expenditure decreased to 40.541 billion euros from 53.077 billion euros in January-September 2011.

    [19] Exports up, imports down in August

    Greek exports returned to an upward course in August, posting a rise of 9.8 percent, while imports dropped by 7.2 percent, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that the total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, in August 2012 amounted to 2236.1 million euros against 2410.4 million euros in August 2011, recording a drop of 7.2%.

    The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, for the 12-month time period of September 2011 - August 2012 decreased by 10.2% compared to the corresponding 12-month time period of September 2010 - August 2011.

    The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, in August 2012 amounted to 1236.8 million euros against 1125.9 million euros in August 2011, recording an increase of 9.8%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, for the 12-month time period of September 2011 - August 2012 increased by 7.1% compared to the corresponding 12-month time period of September 2010 - August 2011.

    [20] EIB to support local enterprises with 150 million euros by end of year

    The sum of 150 million euros will be released by the end of the year after bilateral contracts between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and private banks are finalised, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis underlined in a document forwarded to Parliament, it was announced on Wednesday.

    In response to a question tabled by Democratic Left (DIM.AR) MP Asimina Xitotiri Ekaterinari on the participation of the Greek banks and the EIB in the efforts to support real economy, Hatzidakis said government's top priority is to ensure the country's economic recovery.

    [21] COSCO rejects allegations of special tax regime

    COSCO on Wednesday rejected press reports alleging that the European Commission has asked the Greek government to present a report over complaints made with European authorities over the tax regime offered to the Chinese company -the operator of Piraeus Port's cargo terminal.

    COSCO officials told reporters that COSCO enjoys the same tax regime as all other companies which have signed concession contracts with the Greek government to build infrastructure projects in the last 20 years in Greece.

    According to sources, the European Commission's inquiry on the issue was based on complaints made by the Prefect of Piraeus Yiannis Mihas and the Union of Dockers in 2009.

    [22] Executive: Cigarette smuggling costs 400 mln euros in lost state revenue

    The state loses up to 400 million euros annually in tax revenue from a thriving cigarette smuggling sector in the country, a sum equaling pension payments for civil servants for an entire month, or 860,000 unemployment benefits.

    Nikitas Theofilopoulos, chairman and chief executive of the Papastratos Group - a Greek cigarette manufacturer -- said during a news conference on Wednesday that smuggling and consumption of of cigarettes rose to 13.2 pct in April 2012.

    He noted that cigarette consumption totaled 26.8 billion cigarettes in 2011, down 8.4 pct from 2010, or 10.1 pct of total consumption in the country, five times more compared with a 2.2 pct figure recorded in 2008. Illicit whites accounted for 45 pct of illegal cigarettes.

    Greece recorded the second largest percentage increase in illegal cigarettes in the European Union (3.8 percentage points in 2011). A survey conducted in April 2012 showed that the trend of the illegal cigarette market was expected to surpass 13 pct this year and noted that combating all illegal activity would boost legal cigarette sales by 15 pct.

    Theofilopoulos said this illegal activity resulted to lower state revenue, more job losses and lost turnover for the industry, unfair competition, undermining of public health policies and funding of criminal activities in the country. Theofilopoulos stressed it was necessary to draft an integrated policy to combating illegal cigarette trade.

    [23] Nationwide 24h strike on Oct. 18

    Greece's two major umbrella labour federations ADEDY and GSEE on Wednesday declared a 24-hour nationwide strike for 18 October in opposition to the government's economic policy. A protest rally will also be staged that day at the Pedion tou Areos park.

    At a joint press conference, the two federations also said that the federations' leaders would be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday, October 16.

    They further announced that another 24-hour strike and demonstration will be staged, with the date as yet open, to coincide with the tabling of the new austerity measures in parliament.

    [24] Business Briefs

    -- Greece's Competition Commission on Wednesday announced a unanimous decision to approve the acquisition of ATEbank's healthy assets by Piraeus Bank.

    -- Industrial production rose by 2.5 pct in August this year, reflecting a 2.0-pct increase in manufacturing production in the month, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Wednesday.

    [25] Stocks end significantly down

    Stocks came under strong selling pressure to end significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as investors took profits awaiting the government's next moves to reach an agreement with the' troika' over a new austerity package.

    The composite index dropped 3.64 pct to end at 799.42 points, off the day's lows of 796.27 points. Turnover was a moderate 56.8 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 4.35 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.29 pct lower. All sectors ended lower with the Commerce (10.38 pct), Banks (6.15 pct) and Constructions (5.67 pct) sectors suffering the heaviest percentage losses. Folli Follie (10.56 pct), Eurobank (6.67 pct), Cyprus Bank (6.23 pct), OPAP (6.0 pct) and National Bank (5.94 pct) were top losers among blue chip stocks.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 105 to 46 with another 9 issues unchanged. Logismos (29.6 pct), Audiovisual (29.27 pct) and Compucon (18.6 pct) were top gainers, while Karamolegos (23.12 pct), Alsinco (20 pct) and Alpha Real Estate (19.44 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -3.24%

    Commercial: -10.38%

    Construction -5.67%

    Oil & Gas: -3.46%

    Personal & Household: -0.97%

    Raw Materials: -3.98%

    Travel & Leisure: -5.40%

    Technology: -4.74%

    Telecoms: -1.76%

    Banks: -6.15%

    Food & Beverages: -1.48%

    Health: -6.73%

    Utilities: -4.17%

    Financial Services: -2.28%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Bank of Piraeus and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.78

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.80

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.46

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.61

    National Bank of Greece: 2.06

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.12

    OPAP: 4.23

    OTE: 3.35

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.46

    Titan: 13.91

    [26] Greek bond market closing

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 16.76 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.25 pct and the German Bund 1.49 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, one buy order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.65 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.41 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.45 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising slightly to 18.179 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,723 contracts worth 8.444 million euros, with 30,249 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 51,616 contracts worth 9.735 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (17,765), followed by Alpha Bank (10,456), Cyprus Bank (4,234), MIG (1,676), OTE (2,075), PPC (1,558), OPAP (2,167), Piraeus Bank (8,346), Eurobank (1,020), Intralot (560), Mytilineos (279) and Coca Cola 3E (295).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.308

    Pound sterling 0.817

    Danish kroner 7.570

    Swedish kroner 8.735

    Japanese yen 102.45

    Swiss franc 1.229

    Norwegian kroner 7.509

    Canadian dollar 1.278

    Australian dollar 1.276

    General News

    [29] Series of events to promote Archaeological Service's work

    The National Archaeological Museum (http://subscriber.amna.gr/anaweb/attachment/www.namuseum.gr hhtp://www.namuseum.gr/) will present a series of events and activities on Sunday, 21 October, a day dedicated to the promotion of the work of the Archaeological Service.

    All museums, archaeological sites and monuments as well as antiquities restoration labs and warehouses will open their doors to public in order to exhibit and promote the excavations and educational and restoration work that is being conducted by the Archaeological Service, as well as to highlight their importance for the economy, progress and the reinforcement of the identity and the education of the local society.

    [30] Nicosia event in memory of former AMNA gd Andreas Christodoulides

    NICOSIA (AMNA/A.Viketos)

    The Cyprus Socialist EDEK party held, here on Tuesday evening, an event in memory of former AMNA general director Andreas Christodoulides.

    The event began with a brief address by Union of Cyprus Journalists (ESK) president Antonis Makrides who stressed that Christodoulides "was a great teacher for the journalists and at the same time he was distinguished for his humanity and humbleness", adding that a friend told him "Andreas taught me to think politically".

    Honourary EDEK president Vasos Lyssarides, EDEK President and House of Representatives Speaker Yiannakis Omirou and the director of the Cyprus "Kathimerini" newspaper Andreas Paraschos were main speakers at the event.

    Lyssarides referred to his close personal friendship with Christodoulides and praised his great contribution to the struggle against the 1967-74 dictatorship in Greece, the struggle of Cypriot Hellenism, the founding of the PASOK party, the growth of EDEK and journalism.

    [31] Criminal charges against 24 protestors arrested during Merkel visit

    A public prosecutor on Wednesday pressed charges for a series of criminal offences and misdemeanours against the 24 protestors arrested during demonstrations held to coincide with a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Greece on Tuesday.

    The charges include attempt to inflict serious bodily harm on police officers, disturbing the peace while concealing one's face, resisting arrest, attempting to free a prisoner, illegally carrying weapons, insubordination and unprovoked insulting behaviour.

    All 24 will now go before an examining magistrate.

    [32] Streaker at protest acquitted of indecent exposure charge

    A US national, who ran nude through Tuesday's protests in central Athens, was acquitted of the charges for indecent exposure, following a decision by a first instance court in the Greek capital on Wednesday.

    However, he received a suspended sentence of four months for illegally entering the country, given that he could not produce a passport, saying it was stolen from him.

    His attorney told the court that his client suffers from psychological problems and that his passport had indeed been stolen two months ago.

    The 56-year-old man, reportedly from New York, resides in the north Athens suburb of Maroussi. He was arrested near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Parliament building.

    He reportedly told police he was protesting the socio-economic crisis in Greece.

    Last August he was arrested for walking on the metro lines. That case is still pending.

    [33] Foreign national found dead

    A Pakistani national was found dead on Tuesday night in a remote area in the Athens suburb of Peania. The body was found in an advanced state of decay.

    Police are investigating the possibility of foul play

    [34] Sirens to sound in civil defence exercise on Thur.

    Civil defence sirens will sound around the country on Thursday morning.

    According to a police announcement, activation of the sirens comes within the framework of a regular civil defence readiness exercise.

    Sirens will sound at 11.00 (9.00 GMT) for 60 seconds, followed at 11:05 for 60 seconds to mark the end of the exercise.

    Weather forecast

    [35] Rainy on Thursday

    Rainy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-5 beauforte. Temperatures between 9C and 26C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens with variable 3-4 beauforte winds and temperatures between 16C and 25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14C and 23C.

    [36] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Athens on Tuesday dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Merkel at Greece's side".

    AVGHI: "Mechanical support to prime minister Antonis Samaras".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Merkel's promise to Maximos Mansion (premier's office)".

    ESTIA: "Merkel's visit a great success".

    ETHNOS: "Tranche and extension in the final stretch".

    IMERISSIA: "German support for tranche and extension".

    KATHIMERINI: "Support from Merkel, race against time".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Merkel: Message of support and recommendation for adjustment".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Thousands of people demonstrated on Tuesday with PAME (Labour organisation affiliated to Communist Party)".

    TA NEA: "She came...she saw...she promised".

    VRADYNI: "Merkel bears message of progress...with austerity".

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