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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-01-17

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

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

Thursday, 17 January 2013 Issue No: 4272

CONTENTS

  • [01] IMF approves 3.24-bln-euro loan disbursement to Greece
  • [02] PM chairs meeting on 'rebranding' Greece
  • [03] PM receives Central Macedonia regional authority chief
  • [04] MPs to make final decisions on organising vote for 'Lagarde list' case
  • [05] State Department: Greek-US counter-terrorism cooperation 'excellent'
  • [06] Gov't urges Tsipras to bring SYRIZA members 'into line' over issues of violence
  • [07] PM Samaras cuts New Year's pitta at party headquarters
  • [08] President Papoulias meets with justice & foreign affairs ministers; PACE president
  • [09] DIMAR leader meets with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece
  • [10] DIMAR is a junior partner in the three-party coalition government.
  • [11] Loverdos' party to be founded in six months
  • [12] Public administration, e-Governance minister unveils new organisational plan
  • [13] Delays in court decisions a major obstacle in investments, Dev't Minister says
  • [14] Greece plans no new net borrowing in 2013
  • [15] Second phase of process for development of Hellinikon site begins
  • [16] National Bank launches tender for "Mikro Kavouri"
  • [17] OTE announces bond swap plan
  • [18] Finance ministry promises funds to end Thessaloniki bus strike
  • [19] Athens Water mulling cut in water rates to consumers
  • [20] Santorini proclaims 2013 'Year of Gastronomy'
  • [21] Bank, private sector unions express support of TT bank employees
  • [22] Survey debunks belief that Greek doctors overprescribe
  • [23] Building activity down 26.6 pct in Jan-Oct
  • [24] Business Briefs
  • [25] Greek stocks resume their upward trend
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [29] Sudden storm causes problems in wider Athens
  • [30] Strong winds bring sailing ban from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio
  • [31] Police chief orders sweeping restructure of corruption-plagued Volos anti-drug division
  • [32] High ranking police officer arrested for drug trafficking
  • [33] More police officers suspended on drug trafficking charges
  • [34] Streets shut off for Special Olympics torch relay Thursday
  • [35] Turkish company denied permission to shoot shampoo ad in Greek museum
  • [36] Hospital and private practice doctors, dentists to strike on Thursday
  • [37] Thessaloniki bus strike ends
  • [38] Arrest for illegal trade of personal information
  • [39] Police close off Pireos Street after finding hand grenade
  • [40] Rainy on Thursday
  • [41] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] IMF approves 3.24-bln-euro loan disbursement to Greece

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P.Panagiotou)

    The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday approved the disbursement of a 3.24 billion euros aid tranche to Greece.

    "The International Monetary Fund today (Wednesday) completed the first and second reviews of Greece's economic performance under a program supported by a four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement for Greece," the fund said in a statement.

    The IMF stressed that completion of a Greek program review allows the disbursement of a loan tranche worth 3.24 billion euros (4.3 billion US dollars), raising the Fund's participation to a Greek rescue program to 4.197 billion units of special withdraw rights (around 4.86 billion euros or 6.46 billion US dollars).

    The tranche is part of a joint funding package to Greece agreed with Eurozone member-states, worth 172 billion euros, expanding over a four-year period.

    [02] PM chairs meeting on 'rebranding' Greece

    Ways of "rebranding" Greece in order to improve and promote its image abroad were the focus on a meeting on Wednesday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramo-poulos at the premier's offices, sources said.

    Kefalogianni has already made plans for such a rebranding campaign, while the foreign ministry is expected to play a key role in this effort on both a central level and through its various services and human resources. The meeting was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Notis Mitarakis, who is to take charge of the issue at the foreign ministry.

    The prime minister's interest in the project is especially keen, sources added, given that he has begun an effort to change the country's image and constantly stresses the need for credibility abroad.

    [03] PM receives Central Macedonia regional authority chief

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday received the new head of the Central Macedonia Region authority Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who has replaced Panagiotis Psomiadis at the helm of the northern Greek regional body.

    After the meeting, Tzitzikostas said that he had informed the prime minister about the changes at the regional authority, presenting the "new, modern and efficient management model we are introducing, which has a clear growth orientation and aims to establish a regional administration and mindset."

    He said the authority would directly exploit all the comparative advantages and the strategic position of Central Macedonia, trying to assist the national effort for economic recovery and an exit from the crisis.

    "I received the prime minister's assurance that he will be supportive in this new start we are making for our country and fellow citizens," said Tzitzikostas.

    Internationalization of Greek problem the purpose of his recent contacts abroad, SYRIZA leader briefs President

    Internationalization of the Greek problem which is part of the wider European problem, was the purpose of his recent international contacts in Latin American and with the German leadership in Berlin, main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday, and stressed that Greece, "with a multi-dimensional foreign policy", could "find allies and open up the rifts that exist".

    Tsipras briefed Papoulias on his recent visits to Latin American countries and most recently to Berlin, which he wound up on Tuesday and during which he met with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's special envoy for Greek-German cooperation, Deputy Labour Minister Hans Joachim Fuchtel.

    Speaking to waiting reporters after his one-hour meeting with Papoulias, Tsipras said he told the President that the German public opinion is sensitive to what the Greek people are going through while, asked by the press whether margins exist for negotiation, the SYRIZA leader underlined that "a government that disputes the Memorandum has substantial margins for negotiation".

    He told reporters after the meeting that he conveyed to Papoulias his party's displeasure over the fact that the three-party coalition government is introducing legislation through Legislative Acts, as well as his concern over the climate of violence and recent terrorist incidents.

    "Maximum condemnation (of such acts) by all the political parties is needed," Tsipras said.

    Questioned on speculation on Thursday's impending vote in parliament for the establishment of a parliamentary preliminary investigation committee on political accountability in the Lagarde list affair, he said: "It is incomprehensible, if what is being heard is true, that the three political leaders (of the parties supporting the coalition government) have agreed that the vote will be conducted with three ballots. This would undermine parliament's autonomy, with a process that abolishes the secrecy of the vote. This has never happened before, and indicates panic. Mr. Venizelos (leader of PASOK, a junior partner in the coalition government) is incriminating himself. He is seeking political support from Prime Minister (and New Democracy leader) Antonis Samaras, but is also making himself a hostage".

    "We address, primarily, the MPs of the majority: we must safeguard the parliamentary and democratic process," he added.

    Arriving at the Presidential Mansion earlier, Tsipras told Papoulias that he ascertained a turnabout in the public opinion in Germany, even on issues of the past, such as the forced WWII Nazi occupation loan.

    [04] MPs to make final decisions on organising vote for 'Lagarde list' case

    Final decisions on how to organise a vote on a Parliamentary preliminary investigation committee for the 'Lagarde list' case has been left up to MPs themselves, after the political parties failed to agree on Wednesday.

    In an often acrimonious debate, the parties represented in the Parliament presidium finally recommended having three ballot boxes, one for each proposal put forward by the parties in Parliament, but said the final decision must be made by the Parliament plenum at the start of Thursday's session.

    Opposition parties strongly criticised to the majority's recommendation, however, saying that there should be a ballot box for each of the four individuals that political parties have proposed be investigated, in order to ensure that the secrecy of the vote is respected.

    The presidium has also not made any decision concerning the method by which the votes will be counted and whether the votes cast in each ballot box will be added together or counted separately. In the second case, there is a high chance that none of the politicians named in connection with the case will be investigated. An issue was also raised over whether MPs would have to cast a vote in all three ballot boxes or just one, with opposition MPs again pointing out that the secrecy of the vote would be violated.

    As a result, it was decided that the parties will confer on these issues on Wednesday afternoon.

    On Thursday, Parliament will be called to decide whether the politicians that handled the 'Lagarde list' should face a criminal investigation over their failure to make use of the information this contained in order to uncover possible tax evasion or illegal income, and also in connection with the three names removed from the list that were family members of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou.

    The ruling coalition has proposed that there be a preliminary investigation only for Papaconstantinou, main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) wants an investigation of both Papaconstantinou and his successor at the finance ministry, current PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, while the Independent Greeks party has proposed that the investigation also include former premiers George Papandreou and Lucas Papademos.

    [05] State Department: Greek-US counter-terrorism cooperation 'excellent'

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    The US described its counter-terrorism cooperation with Greece as excellent, during a regular press briefing in Washington on Tuesday by State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

    Asked whether the recent fire-bomb attacks against journalists and shooting attack against the New Democracy (ND) Headquarters in Athens could be seen as a "comeback of terrorism", Nuland reiterated that "we condemn violence of any kind", adding: "If there are economic grievances, if there are political grievances, they ought to be addressed in a peaceful manner."

    To another question, she replied that US counter-terrorism cooperation with Greece "has been excellent for at least a decade and a half".

    [06] Gov't urges Tsipras to bring SYRIZA members 'into line' over issues of violence

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Wednesday urged main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras to first bring the members of his party "into line" over the issue of terror and violence, adding that the SYRIZA leader's concern over the escalation of violence was welcome, "even though late".

    "If he really wishes the 'maximum possible condemnation' he must first get his party members, who with incendiary statements continue to fire up the political climate, to conform" Kedikoglou said.

    Tsipras should first bring into line "the anarchist MP that he still has in his party, the party members and youth that take pride in the crowbars and masks that they keep in their homes," the spokesman added.

    [07] PM Samaras cuts New Year's pitta at party headquarters

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras cut the New Year's pitta at the New Democracy party headquarters on Wednesday.

    The prime minister said in a brief address that "in every crisis, such as this that Greece is going through, with youth at the forefront in these difficult times, this party is proud to have taken the helm to push Greece ahead," pointing out that this is also what it is doing now.

    Samaras also said "the only thing I can wish today is health to all and every success to Greece" and commenting on a brief power failure during his address he said that "the other power, that of the people, we have with us".

    [08] President Papoulias meets with justice & foreign affairs ministers; PACE president

    Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, who was accompanied by deputy minister Costas Karagounis and ministry general secretaries.

    Papoulias noted that "justice system reform is most important," adding that "hopefully, results will soon become apparent".

    Earlier, the president had met with Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and was briefed on foreign policy issues. Both agreed that Greece's image abroad is gradually changing.

    President Papoulias also received Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Jean-Claude Mignon.

    [09] DIMAR leader meets with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis met with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece on Wednesday.

    After the meeting, Kouvelis told reporters that he discussed with the Archbishop issues regarding the Church and particularly issues directly reflecting on society.

    "Our cooperation will continue in order for the problems to be faced and solutions to be found. Solutions and results for the Greek people and society, which is the priority in the Church's thoughts and choices," Kouvelis added.

    [10] DIMAR is a junior partner in the three-party coalition government.

    Reichenbach briefs relevant Parliamentary Committee on Task Force's work

    EU Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach expressed his satisfaction over the discussion held in Parliament's Permanent Public Administration, Justice and Public Order Committee on Wednesday.

    Reichenbach said he briefed the Committee on the Task Force's work in Greece and stressed the need for the country's successful course to continue.

    [11] Loverdos' party to be founded in six months

    Independent MP and former PASOK minister Andreas Loverdos presented on Wednesday a series of six-month proposals on the economy's development and disengagement from bureaucracy, to members of his newly founded "Radical Social-Democratic Alliance Movement (RIKSSY), underlining the need for immediate action.

    Loverdos, a high-profile PASOK minister in the past and MP elected in the Athens A' voting district, was expelled from PASOK by party leader Evangelos Venizelos in early December just hours after announcing the establishment of his RIKSSY political movement. The new movement's acronym RIKSSY is a homophone of the Greek word for rift. Two weeks later Loverdos announced his intention to establish his own political party within 2013, but clarified that he had no intention of toppling the government and forcing early elections

    In a press conference on Wednesday, Loverdos further clarified that the procedures for the founding of his new party will be completed within the next six months, stressing that it will not be a "PASOK no2".

    Asked whether he will vote in line with the three-party coalition government's position on the 'Lagarde list', he replied affirmatively.

    Finally, he noted the necessity of a major democratic party that requires "alliances without exclusions".

    [12] Public administration, e-Governance minister unveils new organisational plan

    The number of permanent positions at the public administration and and e-governance ministry has been reduced by 66 percent, based on the new organisational chart unveiled by the ministry. Specifically, the ministry's permanent employees will be reduced from 219 to 75, the general directorates will be cut down from 6 to 3 and directorates from 21 to 9.

    The ministry unveiled the new chart in a circular issued on Tuesday, following a meeting between Public Administration and e-Governance Minister Antonis Manitakis and President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias regarding the first results of the evaluation and on the course of administrative reform in the public sector.

    Manitakis presented new organizational charts of his own ministry and of the Environment Ministry after the implementation of the reform, adding that they were studies compiled by the civil servants themselves, without any extra pay and in extra time beyond their shifts.

    Similar changes will also be carried out in agencies under the ministry's supervision, namely, the National Center for Public Administration and the Inspectors-Controllers Body for Public Administration.

    Financial News

    [13] Delays in court decisions a major obstacle in investments, Dev't Minister says

    Delays in court decisions and ineffective implementation of justice are the basic obstructions to investing in Greece, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVEA) on Wednesday.

    Speaking at an event on the theme of "Arbitration in resolving conflicts in investments", said the Development Ministry wanted to solve the problem as soon as possible.

    Hatzidakis said that attracting direct foreign investments was of vital importance and the government is lifting obstacles in market entry, handling distortions in the market and limiting bureaucracy.

    The Justice Ministry, he added, is promoting measures for the fair, safe and timely judicial settlement of differences related to investments.

    On his part EVEA president Konstantinos Michalos said that the promotion of modern, alternative methods for resolving differences must be a field where the state, business agencies and the legal community meet and that the Chamber provides integrated services for the alternatives in resolving conflicts.

    [14] Greece plans no new net borrowing in 2013

    Net new borrowing through Treasury bills will be zero in 2013, while T-bill reserves are expected to remain at 15 billion euros during the year, the Greek finance ministry said on Wednesday. In a report to Parliament, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said that the sum of 40 billion euros recorded in this year's budget as short-term borrowing includes all monthly renewals of three- and six-month treasury bills. In the report, Staikouras said that "although T-bill auctions are public and open to anyone who wishes to participate, the biggest part of securities (around ?) are covered by domestic banks. However, only 30 pct of the sum held by banks is funded by the Eurosystem, while the remaining 70 pct is funded by banks' capital and saving deposits".

    [15] Second phase of process for development of Hellinikon site begins

    The second phase of a process for the development of the former Hellinikon airport site began last week, with the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund issuing eligible investors who had signed the necessary non-disclosure agreement a request for proposal, which includes instructions on the content and submission of their proposal and an overview of Phase B.

    The three bidders are Elbit Cochin Ltd, London & Regional Properties and Lamda Development. These eligible investors received information and access to the virtual data room, containing technical and legal data of the project in order to facilitate their due diligence process.

    Beginning next week eligible investors will be offered the opportunity to visit the site and attend presentation meetings.

    The final submission of technical offers is expected to take place in July 2013.

    In particular, eligible investors will be asked to submit their binding offers, along with their business plan for the development of the wider area. The basis for the offers must include the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Hellinikon S.A.

    The full development of the Hellinikon site is expected to enhance Greek GDP by 0.3% per year and to create over 10,000 new jobs on a yearly basis for the next decade.

    [16] National Bank launches tender for "Mikro Kavouri"

    National Bank Group on Wednesday launched an international tender seeking an investor to develop a 300,000 sq.m. seaside area, called "Mikro Kavouri" in Vouliagmeni, Attica, as part of an asset development plan, jointly with Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF).

    The area includes two buildings owned by Astir Palace Vouliagmeni and Greek Tourism Organization and is considered as one of the most beautiful public real estate properties not only in Attica, but worldwide.

    The process is also part of a plan of National Bank Group to boost its capital base and part of a strategic approach of the group to sell non-majority share holdings.

    [17] OTE announces bond swap plan

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Wednesday said its subsidiary OTE plc has signed a bond swap agreement under which a 187-million-euro bond loan maturing in August 2013 will be exchanged with a new bond issue worth 187.7 million euros, maturing in February 2015.

    In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, OTE said the new bonds will be traded in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and will be integrated with existing bonds -worth 600 million euros- maturing in February 2015 carrying a coupon of 7.25 pct. The bond swap agreement will be covered through a private placement.

    [18] Finance ministry promises funds to end Thessaloniki bus strike

    The finance ministry on Wednesday announced that it has found sums needed by Thessaloniki public bus company to stop Wednesday's labour action by staff, who have walked off the job because they were unpaid and owed back pay.

    The public transport company OASTh had requested a minimum of 10 million euros in order to pay wages and cover fuel costs.

    The Central Macedonia Regional Authority chief Apostolos Tzitzikostas was assured the money would be given during a meeting on Wednesday morning with Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, while the Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou had also contacted the minister over this issue on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, bus drivers and other staff are waiting for management to announce that the money to pay their wages has been disbursed in order to go back to work.

    [19] Athens Water mulling cut in water rates to consumers

    Athens Water - a Greek-listed water utility - plans to lower its water rates to consumers saying its increased water reserves could last for the next three or four years. Stelios Stavridis, the company' s chairman and chief executive, speaking to reporters said Athens Water will unveil its new bills in the next two months. He said that around 100,000 consumers were finding it difficult to pay one or two bills per year, while more than 200,000 families requested debt restructuring, annually.

    Athens Water also announced a plan to ensure payment of huge debts by municipal authorities and public sector agencies (330 million and 523 million euros, respectively).

    [20] Santorini proclaims 2013 'Year of Gastronomy'

    The development of Greek gastronomy as a tourism theme is one of her ministry's immediate priorities, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyanni said Wednesday, addressing an event organized by the municipality of Thira at the Acropolis Museum in Athens on the occasion of the declaration of 2013 as the Year of Gastronomy on the island of Santorini.

    Kefaloyanni said that the promotion of thematic tourism is an immediate priority in the overall strategy for developing Greek tourism, because it will enrich the tourism product and contribute to extending the tourism season, which she said is the big wager for Greek tourism.

    In that direction, the Thira municipality's initiative to declare 2013 the "Year of Gastronomy" on Santorini was a praiseworthy effort toward the desired purpose.

    She noted that Santorini, which was already a strong destination on the world tourism scene, was the ideal place from which an organized effort could start.

    [21] Bank, private sector unions express support of TT bank employees

    The umbrella union of bank employees OTOE joined Hellenic Postbank (TT) employees at a rally and march in downtown Athens on Wednesday. They were protesting restructuring plans that may include the bank's breakup.

    Criticising the government for what it called "the sell-off of Hellenic Postbank (TT)" and future layoffs, OTOE also said that "the bank recapitalisation and ongoing restructuring were supposed to bring the start of a new era for the banks, the economy and the pursued development." It added in its announcement, "If they mean that the way of accepting all this is further expanding unemployment by layoffs at banks, they have to understand early on that they are 'playing with fire' and that all their attempts may easily blow up."

    GSEE, the umbrella union of private sector employees, expressed solidarity to bank employees' demands and criticised the possible break-up of TT bank, while it said that "it is necessary to create a powerful public bank portal, TT bank included, which will operate as a development lever for the Greek economy."

    [22] Survey debunks belief that Greek doctors overprescribe

    A survey carried out by LeadPhysician, one of the leading companies in medical online market research, appears to contradict widely held beliefs of habitual overprescription by Greek doctors. This was reported in an announcement on Wednesday by the doctors' union at Greece's national organisation for the provision of healthcare services EOPYY.

    Based on the survey carried out by LeadPhysician (http://subscriber.amna.gr/anaweb/attachment/www.leadphysician.com), Greek doctors write an average of 210 prescriptions per month and place seventh from last in a list of 29 countries, well below the global average. The number of prescriptions written by Greek doctors are also significantly fewer than the average for several northern European countries, including Germany (250), Czech Republic (500), Hungary (550), Belgium (280), Austria (220), as well as southern European countries such as Italy (250) or Portugal (250).

    Noting these results, EOPYY doctors urge the health ministry to look elsewhere for the cause of an excessive spend on pharmaceuticals that is currently eating up 64 percent of the EOPYY budget and implement policies to reduce this amount, which currently for 64 percent of EOPYY's total budget.

    [23] Building activity down 26.6 pct in Jan-Oct

    Private building activity fell by 30.8 pct in October 2012 (measured in volume) and by 43.1 pct (measured in the number of permits issued), plunging the sector to an even deeper recession.

    Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a report issued on Wednesday, said that the number of building permits issued in October totaled 1,487, down 43.1 pct from the same month in 2011. The statistics service said that private building activity fell by 33.1 pct in the January-October period (permits) and by 26.6 pct (volume) compared with the same period in 2011.\

    [24] Business Briefs

    -- An international tender to sell DEPA Group -Public Gas Corporation- has entered its final phase with all five candidates which have submitted indicative bids eligible to participate, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund said on Wednesday.

    -- Hewlett Packard Hellas on Wednesday reported a decline in sales but higher profits in the 12-month period from November 1, 2011 to October 31, 2012.

    [25] Greek stocks resume their upward trend

    Greek stocks resumed their upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, after two days of profit taking pushed the market 3.43 pct down. The composite index rose 0.18 pct to end at 952.78 points, off the day's highs of 970.87 points. Turnover fell to 47.250 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.58 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.13 pct higher. The Telecoms (3.78 pct) and Banks (2.65 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Oil (1.92 pct) and Personal Products (1.73 pct) suffered losses.

    Piraeus Bank (6.90 pct), Eurobank (6.14 pct) and OTE (3.78 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (5.11 pct), Terna Energy (3.11 pct) and Intralot (2.4 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 85 to 72 with another 19 issues unchanged. Fieratex (29.27 pct), Logismos (28.33 pct) and Perseus (20 pct) were top gainers, while AAA (20 pct), Atti-kat (19.74 pct) and Alsinco (19.49 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -1.54%

    Commercial: -0.65%

    Construction: -1.06%

    Oil & Gas: -1.92%

    Personal & Household: -1.73%

    Raw Materials: -0.46%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.47%

    Technology: -0.68%

    Telecoms: +3.78%

    Banks: +2.65%

    Food & Beverages: +0.09%

    Health: +0.63%

    Utilities: +1.34%

    Financial Services: -0.19%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.32

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.54

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.30

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.99

    National Bank of Greece: 1.26

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.71

    OPAP: 6.42

    OTE: 5.76

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.31

    Titan: 14.90

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 10.18 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 10.23 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.73 pct and the German Bund 1.55 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.57 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.34 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 13.001 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,535 contracts worth 5.849 million euros, with 34,878 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 31,099 contracts worth 7.152 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,102), followed by Alpha Bank (6,888), Piraeus Bank (5,453), MIG (1,485), OTE (3,512), PPC (1,193), OPAP (1,491), Eurobank (506), Intralot (608), Mytilineos (524), Hellenic Exchanges (380), Ellaktor (190), GEK (411) and Terna Energy (175).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.347

    Pound sterling 0.842

    Danish kroner 7.574

    Swedish kroner 8.763

    Japanese yen 118.82

    Swiss franc 1.254

    Norwegian kroner 7.531

    Canadian dollar 1.329

    Australian dollar 1.278

    General News

    [29] Sudden storm causes problems in wider Athens

    A sudden storm and heavy rainfall, interspersed with sleet, hit the Attica basin on Wednesday morning and several other regions throughout the country.

    In Attica, the Fire Brigade was called in to pump water from flooded basements, chiefly in the western suburbs of the Greek capital, while the heavy rain wrought havoc on traffic on main Kifissias Avenue and the Athens-Corinth stretch of the national highway, and central Pireos Street leading to the port city of Piraeus.

    Rain and storms are forecast for most of the country on Wednesday, mainly in Thrace and spreading gradually to the eastern Aegean, while snowfall is anticipated on high ground in the western mainland, Epirus and western Sterea, with northerly winds in the seas reaching 8 beaufort velocity and briefly 9 beaufort in the Aegean.

    The inclement weather is due to subside briefly early Thursday but resume later in the day and continue until Friday.

    [30] Strong winds bring sailing ban from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio

    The Coast Guard issued a sailing ban on Wednesday afternoon for the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio due to strong winds that have reached 8 Beaufort in places at the Aegean Sea.

    Ships will not be leaving Piraeus for routes to Crete, the Dodecanese and the Cycladic Islands and the Saronicos Gulf. Also suspended are the Perama-Salamina island and the Agia Marina-Nea Styra routes.

    [31] Police chief orders sweeping restructure of corruption-plagued Volos anti-drug division

    Greek Police (EL.AS) Chief Nikos Papayiannopoulos on Wednesday ordered the restructuring of the Volos police drug division, transferring its officers away from the coastal city in central Greece to precincts in different parts of the country. The decision was taken in response to a new corruption incident involving the problem-plagued department, which led to the arrest of a 45-year-old police sergeant for drug possession and trafficking.

    The 33-year-old commanding officer of the division in question was arrested a few days ago for involvement in a large drug trafficking ring led by three Albanian nationals.

    The 45-year-old police sergeant was arrested on Tuesday, following a random identity check on two gypsies, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The crew of a Coastguard patrol car searched the suspects' vehicle and found 1,106 grammes of unprocessed cannabis, a small amount of cash and a number of mobile phones. During questioning, the two named the police officer as their drug supplier. He was later arrested in a sting operation and suspended from duty.

    A search in his house revealed the amount of 30,700 euros in cash, a pistol, and a knife.

    According to official figures for 2012, the Greek Coastguard has handled a total of 462 cases and 565 individuals were arrested. The drugs confiscated include, 3.5 tons of unprocessed and processed cannabis, 30 kilos of heroin, 108 grammes of cocaine and 300 ecstasy pills. A total of 498 cannabis plants were also seized.

    [32] High ranking police officer arrested for drug trafficking

    A random identity check on two gypsies led to the arrest of a 45-year-old police sergeant serving in the drug enforcement agency of Volos, central Greece, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The routine check was performed on Tuesday by the crew of a Coastguard patrol car. A search in the suspects' vehicle revealed 1,106 grammes of unprocessed cannabis, a small amount of cash and a number of mobile phones. During questioning, the two named a police officer as their drug supplier. He was later arrested in a sting operation and suspended from duty.

    A search in his house revealed the amount of 30,700 euros in cash, a pistol, and a knife.

    According to official figures for 2012, the Greek Coastguard has handled a total of 462 cases and 565 individuals were arrested. The drugs confiscated include, 3.5 tons of unprocessed and processed cannabis, 30 kilos of heroin, 108 grammes of cocaine and 300 ecstasy pills. A total of 498 cannabis plants were also seized.

    [33] More police officers suspended on drug trafficking charges

    Two police officers and two lower ranking policemen were suspended from duty according to a Greek Police (EL.AS) decision on Wednesday after being summoned to testify before an examining magistrate investigating a major drug trafficking case cracked by the Thessaloniki Police on Dec. 31, 2012.

    They are the Police Director of the Drug Division of Agrinio in western Greece, the officer in chief of a police station in Thessaloniki, a police officer serving in the same station and another police officer in the Drug Division of Giannitsa, northern Greece.

    For the record, other three police officers have been arrested for their involvement in the same case and have already been suspended from duty.

    A police internal inquiry has been ordered to investigate the actions of the seven officers involved.

    [34] Streets shut off for Special Olympics torch relay Thursday

    Parts of major streets in downtown Athens will be closed off to traffic on Thursday for the Special Olympics World Winter Games torch relay, police said on Wednesday.

    Streets affected from 10.30 to 14.00 include Vass. Konstantinou, Ardittou (off Vouliagmenis Ave.), Vass. Sofias and Messoghion. Also shut down, from 10.30 to 13.00, will be parts of Vas. Sofias, Vass. Olgas, Amalias Ave. and Irodou Attikou.

    The Winter Games will open in Korea on January 29 and end on February 5. The 2011 Summer Games were held in Athens.

    [35] Turkish company denied permission to shoot shampoo ad in Greek museum

    Greece's Central Archaeological Council on Wednesday unanimously refused a Turkish firm permission to shoot a shampoo advertisement in Athens' Numismatic Museum, overriding earlier permission granted by the museum's management.

    According to the culture ministry's museums, exhibitions and educational programmes directorate, the script proposed by L'Oreal Istanbul was "defamatory for our museums and their security" and it recommended that permission be denied.

    The request was made via the Greek production company Central Athens SA and would have featured a young woman secretly entering the museum, deftly avoiding laser security systems to reach the 'prize' - a bottle of the company's shampoo - and then realising joyfully that her hairstyle was still intact. The new scenario was an amended proposal, since the original involved a necklace that the girl would put on before escaping.

    Many council members wondered why the company had not elected a Turkish museum to shoot the ad and at the fact that the Numismatic Museum's management had agreed to the request.

    [36] Hospital and private practice doctors, dentists to strike on Thursday

    Doctors and dentists in state hospitals and private practice have decided to join forces and hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday, in protest against the deterioration of the health system and healthcare services.

    The strike was called by the Panhellenic Medical Association (PIS) and the Greek Dentistry Federation and will include hospital doctors. The unions demand that doctors' salaries are not "wiped out", that their prestige and dignity be protected and that doctors in private practice are not marginalised, calling for standards of public healthcare and services to be preserved.

    The hospital doctors' union federation (OENGE) has also declared a 24-hour strike on January 31, in collaboration with the national state hospital staff union federation, demanding that the new organisational charts for hospitals being prepared by the health ministry be immediately withdrawn.

    [37] Thessaloniki bus strike ends

    Public bus services gradually resumed in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Wednesday after workers in the city's public transport body OASTh went back to work on a promise that the wages they are owed will be paid on Thursday. Services were expected to be fully back to normal by Wednesday evening.

    The public transport company is expecting 10 million euros on Thursday to pay for wages and fuel, sent by the finance ministry in the wake of requests made to Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras by Central Macedonia Region authority chief Apostolos Tzitzikostas and the Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou.

    The head of OASTh warned, however, that staff would walk off the job indefinitely if the money failed to arrive.

    The city was without buses until Wednesday afternoon when staff walked off the job, demanding unpaid wages.

    [38] Arrest for illegal trade of personal information

    Personal data relating to hundreds of thousands of people, including names, vehicle details, unregistered telephone numbers, income and tax information, were found in the possession of a private company active in the sector of communications, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The electronic crimes squad discovered the data during a search conducted in the company offices on Tuesday following information that the company in question was engaging in illegal trade of personal data. Police confiscated three computer hard drives with a capacity of 13,500 GB.

    The company's 45-year-old owner was arrested.

    [39] Police close off Pireos Street after finding hand grenade

    Police closed off all lanes of Pireos Street on Wednesday evening, after a hand grenade was found outside a nightclub on the corner of Pireos and Persephonis streets in central Athens.

    Authorities have stopped all traffic on Pireos from the junction with Petrou Ralli and Iera Odos streets.

    The hand grenade was found outside the "Fotaerio" music hall and was finally neutralised with a controlled explosion by an army bomb disposal crew while the remains were taken for a laboratory examination. Traffic was restored in Pireos street late in the afternoon.

    Weather forecast

    [40] Rainy on Thursday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 5C and 18C. Cloudy with showers in Athens with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures between 7C and 17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 7C and 14C.

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

    AVGHI: "Government preparing ballot-rigging".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Richters of rage against Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Diotis' why and because".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Former Financial Crime Squad (SDOE) chief Yannis Diotis saw the light".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Abolition of a series of local tax bureau offices brings confusion to taxpayers".

    ESTIA: "Stournaras' straightforwardness".

    ETHNOS: "Time of judgment (evaluation) for 180,000 teaching staff".

    IMERISSIA: "Rift over the shops' working days".

    KATHIMERINI: "Fears of a major terrorist attack".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "13+1 special interventions for tourism investments".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "People will reject the terror climate against them".

    TA NEA: "Parties passing the buck over the 'Lagarde list'."

    6 DAYS: "Parties pen in their deputies".

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