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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-01-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 3 January 2013 Issue No: 4261


  • [01] Piraeus port expects more than 710 sea cruise vessels in 2013
  • [02] Development minister: Memorandum target for absorption of EU funds in 2nd half of year attained
  • [03] Government KYSEA council meets on Wednesday
  • [04] SYRIZA on Lagarde list, government spokesman's response
  • [05] SYRIZA Coordinating Secretariat
  • [06] FinMin on 'Lagarde list'
  • [07] Prosecutor to summon three deleted from 'Lagarde list' to testify as suspects
  • [08] Former minister's 'Lagarde list' cousin resigns from privatisations agency HRADF
  • [09] DIM.AR calls for full investigation of politicians' past wealth statements
  • [10] KKE warns of wood-fire smog health risks, urges lower taxes on heating
  • [11] Political parties received 3rd tranche of state funding, amounting to 7.7 million euros
  • [12] Telephone contacts between Cyprus president, Greek president and Greek PM
  • [13] 2.3bln euro surplus in general government in 11-month period
  • [14] Greek market opposes imposition of capital gains tax
  • [15] Delayed January pension cuts in installments, ministry says
  • [16] OAEE pension payments to stop for those not in fund census, minister stresses
  • [17] Winter sales period beginning on Jan. 15
  • [18] Greek stocks jump 3.67 pct
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [21] Quadrantids, the first meteor shower of 2013, to put on spectacular cosmic fireworks display pre-dawn Thursday
  • [22] Eight defendants in drug trafficking ring remanded in custody
  • [23] Cloudy on Thursday
  • [24] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Piraeus port expects more than 710 sea cruise vessels in 2013

    The port of Piraeus expects more than 710 sea cruise vessels this year, George Anomeritis, chairman and chief executive of the Piraeus Port Organization said on Wednesday, welcoming the captain of "Costa Magica" sea cruise vessel, the first to enter the port in 2013, carrying 3,336 passengers on board.

    "Greece is a unique destination offering quality, security, natural beauty and a timeless culture," Anomeritis said, adding that "2013 will be a good year for the sea cruise and the port will welcome more than 2.2 million tourists".

    The "Costa Magica" is part of the Costa shipping company, owned by Carnival Group. Carnival has scheduled 74 visits to Piraeus port this year, up from 33 in 2012.

    Piraeus port operates 11 sea cruise vessel docking positions and plans to expand its facilities with six new docking positions. The port will freeze its docking rates in the 2013-2016 period and has already began operating a berth allocation regulation for the current year.

    [02] Development minister: Memorandum target for absorption of EU funds in 2nd half of year attained

    The year 2013 was beginning with some positive news on the NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework, or ESPA), as Greece attained the target for absorption of these EU funds earmarked for Greece in the second half of 2012, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Wednesday.

    Briefing the press on the progress in absorption of the NSRF funds, Hatzidakis added, however, that management problems continued to exist, although 60 of the red tape has already been reduced, while by February new announcements will be made regarding the acceleration of the judicial process and for reducing various costs.

    He stressed that market liquidity continues to be the biggest problem, but expressed optimism that the "bulldozers will take up work as of April and there will be an acceleration in the absorption of funds".

    Hatzidakis added that the recapitalization of the banks is expected to improve the liquidity level in the economy, which had been the major stumbling block to absorption of funds last year.

    The minister explained that, in the annual expenditures for 2012, an 'exceptionally ambitious' target of 3.73 billion euros in EU funds had been agreed in the Memorandum, of which Greece, in the second half of the year managed to exceed the target for that period, attaining 102.64 percent of the target, bringing NSRF expenditure to 88.39 percent of the annual target following a shortfall in the first half, in which only 59.52 percent of the target was absorbed.

    [03] Government KYSEA council meets on Wednesday

    The government on Wednesday evening held a meeting on foreign and defence policy (KYSEA - Government Council on Foreign and Defence Policy), focusing on a series of issues broadly relating to the country's national security and defence, as well as to the armed forces.

    Is a short statement after the end of the meeting, National Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos told reporters that all the relevant policy decisions were taken to allow for his ministry's work to go ahead.

    The government will spend 183.7 million euros, to be paid over a period of five years, to purchase replacement parts for the engines of 67 F-16 BLOCK 52+ fighter jets from the US, following a unanimous decision taken at the KYSEA meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

    A government announcement said the procurement will be made on the basis of an agreement with the relevant US authority.

    [04] SYRIZA on Lagarde list, government spokesman's response

    Confining the 'Lagarde list' case parliamentary probe exclusively to former finance minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou simply aims at leading the whole case to a controlled defusing, as well as to covering up the responsibilities of the rest of the persons involved, the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) stressed in an announcement on Wednesday.

    It added that the Greek people do not forget that (PASOK party leader Evangelos) Venizelos kept the list in his coffer for months, as well as that former premier George Papandreou was aware of its existence and its remaining 'unused,' and that Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was pushed to seeking the authentic list under the popular outcry after three whole months.

    Commenting on SYRIZA's announcement on the case of the Lagarde list, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that "political adventurism has its limits," adding that "SYRIZA's annoyance is to be expected for its delayed reaction to the required Parliamentary handling of the Lagarde list.

    "It is not permissible, however, for annoyance to lead a complete dishonor of basic rules of law".

    [05] SYRIZA Coordinating Secretariat

    The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) will ask in a proposal for the setting up of a preliminary committee to probe the penal responsibilities of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, in relation to the 'Lagarde list' case.

    According to an announcement by SYRIZA's Coordinating Secretariat, "the proposal will concern all offences on their part against the Hellenic state, including the already documented penal offences at this stage, violation of duty, misappropriation of a document and all related economic and tax offences".

    At the same time, SYRIZA declared "it reserves the right to submit every necessary supplementary proposal for the extension of the preliminary investigation or prosecution against persons and on offences that may be documented or appear in the course of the investigation".

    The announcement further says "the case of the 'Lagarde List' no longer 'fits in the drawers' of any memorandum government. And neither will today's effort to obscure it remain unchecked."

    "The 'Lagarde list' case implicates political persons who exercised and are exercising power from a very high government or political position, including all the finance ministers and their political superiors from 2010 to date."

    [06] FinMin on 'Lagarde list'

    "No comment," was Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras' reply to a question by reporters on that the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) reportedly intends to implicate him in its proposal on the setting up a special parliamentary committee to probe the 'Lagarde list' case.

    Stournaras said that he had no comment to make, as he was "the one who brought the (Lagarde) list" to parliament.

    "In a democracy, everyone does what they like," he added.

    [07] Prosecutor to summon three deleted from 'Lagarde list' to testify as suspects

    Greek authorities are to summon the three relatives of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou deleted from the first 'Lagarde list' to give testimony as suspects, judicial sources revealed on Wednesday. The list contained the names of Greeks with sizeable Swiss bank accounts at a Geneva branch of HSBC.

    The two financial prosecutors in charge of the investigation will call the two cousins of the former minister and their spouses to explain why their names had been removed from the first version of the list handed over to Greek justice.

    In the meantime, the finance ministry's financial crimes' squad SDOE is conducting a thorough check of their tax records and those of the former minister, as well as other depositors on the list, under the supervision of financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spiros Mouzakitis.

    Sources say that initial comparisons between the deposits and the tax statements show that several of the individuals on the list cannot account for the sums deposited from their declared income.

    [08] Former minister's 'Lagarde list' cousin resigns from privatisations agency HRADF

    Eleni Papaconstantinou, a cousin of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou whose name was notoriously found deleted from a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts known as the 'Lagarde list', on Wednesday resigned from her position as legal consultant of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) in charge of Greece's ambitious privatisations programme.

    In a letter to the HRADF's management, Papaconstantinou said that she was offering her resignation so that the smooth running of the agency should not be called into question and in order to facilitate the management. She stressed, however, that the joint bank account at the Swiss branch of HSBC with her husband was completely legal and above board.

    Papaconstantinou had been appointed to the fund's council of experts as legal consultant on September 20.

    Reacting to her resignation, opposition Independent Greeks party spokesman Notis Marias on Wednesday stressed that this did not clear the government of its own responsibilities over the affair and again called for the resignation of current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who had failed to remove her, as well as the head of HRADF Takis Athanasopoulos and the entire board responsible for her appointment.

    [09] DIM.AR calls for full investigation of politicians' past wealth statements

    The Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, the smallest of the three parties supporting Greece's coalition government, on Wednesday called for a speedy investigation of past wealth statements submitted by politicians and anyone handling public money in accordance with a new law passed in 2012.

    In cases where indications of unlawful enrichment were found, the cases should be referred to justice for investigation and full use of legal powers to seize illegally acquired assets should be made, DIM.AR added.

    "For the execution of this urgent and important work there must be full support in terms of human resources and equipment for the competent bodies," a party announcement said.

    [10] KKE warns of wood-fire smog health risks, urges lower taxes on heating

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday warned of the dangers to public health from the wood-fire smog that has lately appeared over large Greek cities in response to soaring prices of heating oil and called for the abolition of taxes on heating oil and zero hikes in electricity rates for the unemployed and poorer classes.

    "The smog that is choking all the big cities of the country is setting at risk the health of the people and especially of children. Obviously, the responsibility does not lie with working-class households trying to stay warm in any way they can but with the parties of the coalition government and the EU that will constant, annihilatory measures against the people force them to restor to wood stoves," KKE noted.

    [11] Political parties received 3rd tranche of state funding, amounting to 7.7 million euros

    Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Wednesday signed a joint ministerial order releasing the third tranche of state funding for the political parties in 2012, amounting to 7.72 million euros.

    The funds form part of the regular annual funding given to political parties by the state for their financial support, research and educational purposes. The sums were allocated based on the number of valid votes cast for each party in the elections of 2009.

    This means that PASOK will receive 3,107,705 euros, New Democracy will receive 2,429,469 euros, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will get 746,737 euros, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party will receive 622,748 euros, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party will receive 556,005 euros and the Ecologists-Greens will get 257,333 euros.

    [12] Telephone contacts between Cyprus president, Greek president and Greek PM

    NICOSIA (AMNA/A. Viketos)

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, on the occasion of the new year, had telephone conversations on Wednesday with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, with whom he exchanged warm wishes on the coming of 2013.

    The three political leaders exchanged wishes, such as "Cyprus and Greece to exit from the economic crisis soon and expressed mutual brotherly solidarity", according to an announcement by the Cypriot Presidency.

    Financial News

    [13] 2.3bln euro surplus in general government in 11-month period

    Greece's general government budget posted a primary surplus of 2.3 billion euros, on a non-consolidated basis, in the first 11 months of 2012, against a primary deficit of 3.6 billion euros in the corresponding period of 2011, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.

    The ministry said that the performance in the 11-month period remained at the same level as the 10-month period of 2012, with a reduction of 119 million euro in the state's outstanding debts in November.

    It added that the General Government data of the 11-month period of January-November 2012 "confirm the satisfactory execution of the budget", noting that "these positive developments in the execution of the budget indicate that the effort fiscal streamlining, adjustment and discipline are bearing fruit, while the conditions are also being created for a gradual re-start of the economy, aiming for the country to move on from a deficits cycle to a cycle of sustainable growth, on firm foundations".

    [14] Greek market opposes imposition of capital gains tax

    Greek capital market authorities on Wednesday expressed their opposition to a forthcoming imposition of a capital gains tax on securities (from spring 2013) and said they were awaiting a change in the stance of the Finance ministry on the issue as the measure was not supportive for the stock market.

    Constantinos Botopoulos, president of the Capital Market Commission, addressing a ceremony to launch the first trading session of 2013 in the Athens Stock Exchange, said the measure should not be imposed.

    Botopoulos said that the Greek economy and the capital market should begin seeing the first signs of recovery this year -on the preconditions of maintaining a stability policy and having smooth economic developments in Europe- and stressed that the Greek market was expected to enjoy an improved regulatory framework and to be cleared from inactive companies in the market.

    The Athens Stock Exchange was among the top performers in Europe in 2012 and was expected to attract even more investment interest from abroad this year, Socrates Lazarides, president of the Athens Stock Exchange and chief executive of Hellenic Exchanges said. He noted that the composite index of the market was the top performer in Europe and ranked 10th among 92 markets worldwide.

    Hellenic Exchanges' chairman, Iakovos Georganas, said that the trend of the market was showing that things would be better in 2013 and underlined the significance of promoted structural reforms and a bank recapitalization plan.

    George Zanias, chairman of National Bank, said there were fundamental reasons to be optimistic for this year and stressed the significance of strictly adhering to a reform program and execution of the state budget.

    [15] Delayed January pension cuts in installments, ministry says

    Planned pension cuts that failed to be imposed in January because the relevant payment system had not been completed will be divided into installments over the coming months, the labour ministry clarified on Wednesday.

    The ministry announced that January pensions will be paid without the cuts envisioned under the new law and the excess sum given will be withheld from pensions later, with the ministry now looking at ways to spread this repayment over the next three to four months in order to make its less "painful" for pensioners.

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said that pension payments in February will incorporate the cuts and be made using the new electronic system. He ruled out the possibility that the entire 'extra' payment for January will be withheld from the February pensions, however, saying that such a "double cut" would create serious problems for pensioners.

    After the latest round of pension cuts, pensions are to be reduced from 5 percent to 20 percent for main and supplementary pensions that together exceed 1,000 euro a month.

    [16] OAEE pension payments to stop for those not in fund census, minister stresses

    Pensioners with OAEE, the social insurance fund for self-employed and freelance workers, will have their pension payments suspended from February if they fail to register in the OAEE pensioners' census, Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis warned on Wednesday.

    The minister made the statement after the deadline for the census was once again pushed back to January 4.

    Vroutsis said that roughly 45,000 of the 350,000 pensioners on OAEE's records had so far failed to turn up for the fund's census and stressed that "there was no room for excuses" since the two months given had been ample.

    [17] Winter sales period beginning on Jan. 15

    The winter sales period will begin on January 15, and prices are expected to drop by up to 70 percent from the very first day.

    Business, as they are disappointed by their holiday sales, are preparing to do their best to revive the market. The sales period will last until February 28.

    [18] Greek stocks jump 3.67 pct

    Greek stocks soared in the first trading session of 2013 in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market to new 15-month highs. The index jumped 3.67 percent to end at 941.26 points, off the day's highs of 944.15 points. The Greek market followed an upward trend prevailing in other international markets after the US government announced a political agreement to avoid a "fiscal cliff". Turnover remained a low 48.123 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 4.18 percent and the Mid Cap index ended 4.03 percent higher. The Technology (6.95 percent), Telecoms (6.86 percent), Financial Services (6.43 percent) and Banks (4.93 percent) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day. All blue chip stocks ended higher with Ellaktor (7.29 percent), Viohalco (7.14 percent), Hellenic Exchanges (6.90 percent), OTE (6.86 percent), Alpha Bank (6.25 percent), MIG (6.06 percent) and Eurobank (5.93 percent) scoring the biggest gains. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 153 to 18 with another 17 issues unchanged. Mohlos (28.18 percent), CPI (22.78 percent) and Eurobrokers (19.65 percent) were top gainers, while Douros (19.94 percent), AAA (19.59 percent) and Compucon (14.89 percent) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +4.55%

    Commercial: +2.71%

    Construction: +4.23%

    Oil & Gas: +3.53%

    Personal & Household: +2.65%

    Raw Materials: +4.52%

    Travel & Leisure: +4.88%

    Technology: +6.95%

    Telecoms: +6.86%

    Banks: +4.93%

    Food & Beverages: +1.06%

    Health: +1.49%

    Utilities: +4.40%

    Financial Services: +6.43%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, PPC and National Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.53

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.18

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.88

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.73

    National Bank of Greece: 1.36

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.68

    OPAP: 5.67

    OTE: 5.45

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.35

    Titan: 14.39

    Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 10.38 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.81 pct and the German Bund 1.43 pct. Turnover was a thin 5.0 million euros, all buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.54 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.31 pct, the three-month rate was 0.18 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [19] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.97 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 11.233 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,568 contracts worth 5.793 million euros, with 30,816 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,660 contracts worth 5.440 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,175), followed by Alpha Bank (2,791), Piraeus Bank (3,555), Cyprus Bank (1,409), MIG (3,086), OTE (1,944), PPC (1,804), OPAP (1,420), Eurobank (746), GEK (779), Ellaktor (593), Intralot (763) and Hellenic Exchanges (427).

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.346

    Pound sterling 0.826

    Danish kroner 7.572

    Swedish kroner 8.699

    Japanese yen 117.11

    Swiss franc 1.227

    Norwegian kroner 7.427

    Canadian dollar 1.325

    Australian dollar 1.282

    General News

    [21] Quadrantids, the first meteor shower of 2013, to put on spectacular cosmic fireworks display pre-dawn Thursday

    The first meteor shower of 2013, the lesser known Quadrantid meteor shower, kicks off a new skywatching year as it peaks in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, putting on a brief but spectacular cosmic fireworks display, with the best time for optimum viewing between 2:00 and 6:30 a.m. at a spot as far away from city lights as possible.

    Like the Geminids, the Quadrantid meteors originate from the asteroid 2003 EH1, and were first seen in 1825. According to some studies, this cosmic body could be a piece of a comet that broke apart several centuries ago, and the Quadrantids are the small debris from this fragmentation, according to NASA.

    After hundreds of years of orbiting the sun, they will enter Earth's atmosphere at a blistering speed of nearly 145,000 kilometers per hour, burning up at about 80 km above the planet's surface.

    Most meteor showers get their name based on the constellations from which they appear to streak. When we look at the so-called radiants, we are looking down the paths of the meteors that strike Earth's atmosphere.

    Because of the location of the radiant, at the northern tip of the constellation Bootes, only northern hemisphere skywatchers will be able to see the Quadrantids.

    The Quadrantids were named after the constellation of Quadrans Muralis, the wall quadrant, which was created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795 and is located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco. Quadrans represents an early astronomical instrument that was used to observe and plot stars.

    Interestingly, the constellation is no longer recognized by the astronomical community, but was around long enough to give the meteor shower its name, which lives on with the January meteor shower.

    The Quadrantids can be quite impressive with a Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of up to 120 meteors per hour at their peak (under perfect conditions) and can sometimes produce rates of 60 to 200 meteors per hour. The peak is quite narrow lasting only a few hours, with activity either side of the peak sometimes being weak, but well worth observing.

    [22] Eight defendants in drug trafficking ring remanded in custody

    Eight of 13 defendants in a major drug trafficking ring in the northern cities of Thessaloniki, Volos and Agrinio, have been remanded in custody, after they appeared before the 4th public investigator in Thessaloniki.

    The eight, who denied almost all of the serious charges, are accused of trafficking illicit drugs. The remaining five were released, but their exit from the country has been restricted and they will have to report regularly in their local police station, as they were only drug users without active participation in the ring's operation.

    A number of other defendants, including three police officers, are to appear before a prosecutor on Thursday and Friday. So far, a total of 35 persons have been arrested in relation to the case.

    Weather forecast

    [23] Cloudy on Thursday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures between -3C and 17C. Fair in Athens with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 5C and 15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 3C and 13C.

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

    DIMOKRATIA: "January's heavy package (of austerity measures)".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Four names implicated with the Lagarde list".

    ELLADA: "Possible referral (to Special Court) of Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK leader and former finance minister) and George Papandreou (former prime minister and ex PASOK leader) over Lagarde list divides ND".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Turkey may 'manufacture' new Imia crisis".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They are ensuring the conviction of Papaconstantinou (former PASOK finance minister)".

    ESTIA: "The crucial six months for Greece".

    ETHNOS: "Greece sighs at the Tax Bureau offices".

    KATHIMERINI: "Full-speed ahead towards parliamentary preliminary investigation committee (on ministerial criminal accountability over Lagarde list affair)".

    TA NEA: " The secrets of the referral'.

    VRADYNI: "Pensions: The new retirement ages for 'heavy and hazardous' professions".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS

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