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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-05-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 Issue No: 4365


  • [01] PM Samaras briefs president on results of China-Azerbaijan trip
  • [02] PM receives Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, discusses 'mutual cooperation'
  • [03] PM Samaras to address New Democracy pre-congress June 9
  • [04] SYRIZA on PM's statements
  • [05] ND accuses SYRIZA of 'mixed messages' on anti-racism bill; SYRIZA position clear, main opposition replies
  • [06] Bill on antiracism a must, DIM.AR leader Fotis Kouvelis
  • [07] Greece seeing 'end of tunnel' according to 'La Repubblica'
  • [08] US State Dep't annual report warns about Golden Dawn's 'anti-Semitism, racism'
  • [09] SYRIZA-EKM leader meets GSEVEE presidency
  • [10] Defence Minister in Moscow on Wednesday
  • [11] Foreign minors should not be detained for long time, Ombudsman says
  • [12] European Parliament lifts immunity of Greek EuroMP
  • [13] Entry to Parliament only through metal detectors from Tuesday
  • [14] FM Avramopoulos sends condolences to U.S. Secretary of State
  • [15] The highest bidder will buy DEPA/DESFA, Stavridis says
  • [16] Tourism minister holds meeting with Chinese journalists
  • [17] Environment, town planning key aspects for growth policy, Environment minister tells conference
  • [18] Greek banks' dependence from ECB, ELA funding operations up in April
  • [19] Premium production down 13.2 pct in domestic insurance market in Q1
  • [20] Six Greek mediators certified by China's Central Chamber
  • [21] Papoutsanis reports improved Q1 results
  • [22] Novartis Hellas reports lower 2012 results
  • [23] J&P Avax signs 125-mln-euro contract in UAE
  • [24] Greek stocks end sharply lower
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [28] City of Athens free cultural events for the summer - and beyond
  • [29] Ionian Islands celebrate 149th anniversary of incorporation into Greece
  • [30] Four shells discovered at Vouliagmeni beach
  • [31] Detainee escapes after testifying
  • [32] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [33] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras briefs president on results of China-Azerbaijan trip

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday paid a visit to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias in order to brief him on the results of his trip to China and Azerbaijan. In statements as he left the meeting, Samaras stressed that the government's goal was to make Greek stable in Europe and the rest of the world.

    "We have stabilised the country in Europe. Now we are stabilising it on the world map. Opportunities, openness and investments. This is how I think we shall fight unemployment, which is the biggest problem in the country," the prime minister said.

    Receiving Samaras, Papoulias noted that the Greek premier had had "a very good trip," with Samaras replying: "There will be others."

    "We must create an opportunity for Greece and Greeks. In this way it is made clear that Greece is dynamically returning to areas where it is worth having contacts in order to create investment opportunities to reduce unemployment, especially among the young," the premier added.

    Samaras also emphasised the need to follow up the effort and replied to the president's questions regarding the situation in Shanghai, noting that both the Chinese and Azeri presidents were pleased to receive an invitation to visit Greece.

    The Greek prime minister carried out an official visit to China on May 15-19, meeting the country's new political leadership, and a brief working visit to Azerbaijan on Sunday, where he had a meeting with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, before his return to Athens.

    [02] PM receives Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, discusses 'mutual cooperation'

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday received Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, the head of the Russian energy giant and largest global producer of natural gas, at the government's headquarters in the Maximos Mansion. The meeting was also attended by Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou, Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) CEO Yiannis Emiris and government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou.

    According to an announcement issued by Gazprom, the two sides held talks on the "excellent cooperation in the sector of natural gas and expressed their interest in further developing mutually beneficial cooperation".

    Gazprom is among the companies planning to bid in an international tender for the privatisation of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA).

    According to sources, Gazprom intends to submit a binding offer for DEPA but they did not specify whether agreement was reached on the demands made by the Russian side concerning the terms of the tender, such as the letter of guarantee required of participants and the debts toward DEPA.

    The same sources said the talks with the government included discussion on the terms and prices for the supply of natural gas to Greece in the framework of an existing contract that expires in 2016.

    Gazprom's announcement said that natural gas deliveries to Greece began in 1996 and, according to preliminary figures, total deliveries for 2012 came to 2.5 billion cubic metres.

    [03] PM Samaras to address New Democracy pre-congress June 9

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, president of New Democracy, will address his party's pre-congress in Thessaloniki on Sunday, June 9.

    The first two days of the pre-congress will be devoted to party officials' meetings with local government officials. A day-long meeting on national issues will be also held on Saturday, while Samaras' address will be preceded by speeches by party and the party's youth organisation (ONNED) officials and a presentation of the results of meetings held with local administrators.

    The regional officers of the party will be decided by a vote on Sunday.

    On Sunday, May 26, the party will hold elections for president of ONNED; Thessaloniki area residents will be able to vote locally.

    [04] SYRIZA on PM's statements

    The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on statements made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday, said that "the country's biggest problem, among other things, is the extreme memorandum policy that the government is exercising and the prime minister personally against the majority of society".

    SYRIZA added that with "this failed policy, not only is Mr. Samaras not combatting unemployment, as he states hypocritically, but on the contrary, he swells it, leaving thousands of households without any income and sending young scientists to migration."

    [05] ND accuses SYRIZA of 'mixed messages' on anti-racism bill; SYRIZA position clear, main opposition replies

    The New Democracy party, the leading partner in Greece's ruling coalition, on Tuesday stepped up its attack on main opposition SYRIZA-EKM and accused the party of having a 'hypocritical' stance on the draft anti-racism bill now processed by a legal committee in Parliament.

    ND sources cited the positions expressed SYRIZA spokesman Vassilis Moulopoulos in December 2011, before a Parliamentary committee then discussing an anti-racism bill brought to Parliament by then justice minister Miltiadis Papaioannou.

    Noting that the present version of the anti-racism bill was based on the Papaioannou bill and harking back to Moulopoulos' statements, ND challenged the main opposition to explain "when it had been right, with its current positions or with those expressed by Moulopoulos".

    Quoting from the committee minutes, they noted that Moulopoulos had then warned against attempts to "criminalise" actions such as refusing, praising or belittling crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and warm crimes, noting that such an approach would be "unproductive and dangerous" and risked restricting freedom of speech and the free movement of ideas.

    "The major problem for Greece is racist violence, not racist speech," Moulopoulos had said, while in other statements before the committee, he described existing legal statutes as "adequate to punish the specific acts."

    The question remained moot, since the Papaioannou bill never made it beyond the committee stage and was never brought before the Parliament plenum. ND had expressed objections to it at the time, while the party said that it would now wait for the report of the committee processing the bill before stating its position.

    Replying to ND, SYRIZA accused the party of blocking the anti-racism bill's course through Parliament "and doing everything in its power to lay down the carpet for the rise of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi)".

    Regarding the contents of the draft bill, the main opposition stressed that its position was clear:

    "It is necessary to establish and implement a strict legal framework that acts to deter racist violence and puts an end to immunity for crimes against migrants," the party said.

    At the same time, the announcement added, SYRIZA differentiated between acts of propaganda paving the way for crime and the dissemination of even the most repulsive ideas, on the grounds that it was extremely dangerous to restrict the freedom of expression. It also noted that a legal framework alone could not be a reply to racism, unless it was accompanied by actions to fight the social and economic causes that generated racism.

    It further noted that in 2011 when Moulopoulos had been speaking, ultra far-right and openly anti-migrant Golden Dawn had not been elected to Parliament and racist violence had not reached such a peak.

    [06] Bill on antiracism a must, DIM.AR leader Fotis Kouvelis

    Passing an antiracism law to deal with "racist and hate speech, racist violence and acts" is "an obligation for Greece", Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party Fotis Kouvelis told ANA-MPA TV on Tuesday.

    In statements to the agency, Kouvelis said, "An antiracism regulation is a must, and no political tug of war is acceptable on such an issue." He added that democracy may be tolerant but it has rules, "and these rules must be respected by all."

    Commenting on the role of his party as a junior member of the ruling coalition, with New Democracy and PASOK, the DIM.AR leader said that it would have been very easy "to move to the parliamentary seats of the minor opposition, but there would have been no political stability or a prospect of exiting the crisis, which was present and is still here, to a lesser degree. That is a responsible Left."

    He asserted that although unemployment was "a great wound" for Greece that could not be resolved overnight, the course of the economy "will change at end-2013 and Greece will be able to partly return to markets in 2014."

    Kouvelis also called for European political leaders to "resist Germany's choice to maintain the model of austerity and strict fiscal adjustment," as continuing these policies would bring "results that do not help resolve the huge problems faced by countries and their populations."

    [07] Greece seeing 'end of tunnel' according to 'La Repubblica'

    ROME (ANA-MPA - Th. Andreadis)

    In an article entitled "Greece sees the end of the tunnel" in the newspaper "La Repubblica" on Tuesday, Italian journalist Ettore Livini joined the ranks of European analysts seeing a return of hope in the crisis-stricken country.

    Livini noted that the Greek stock market is "flying" and spreads on Greek bonds are falling rapidly, to the applause of the country's troika of lenders (the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund).

    At the same time, he adds, Greek society remains in a "state of emergency" after five nightmarish years of deep recession that "burned" a quarter of the country's GDP.

    Stock brokers, however, have already returned their verdict and decided that the painful austerity imposed by Greece's creditors has brought results, the journalist noted. As evidence he cited a 134 pct rise in the stock market in the past year, a recent upgrade of the country's credit rating by Fitch, a state budget surplus in the first quarter of 2013 and the fact that hedge funds are busy snapping up Greek bank shares.

    But no one in Greece is breaking out the ouzo yet, Livini noted, as GDP recorded its 19th decline in the first quarter, posting a cumulative 28 pct decline since 2008, and unemployment surged to 27 pct overall and 64.2 pct for young people, with 3.4 million Greeks living below the poverty line.

    The article points to optimistic predictions from Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Brussels, the beginning of the privatisation process after several false starts, a start to dismissals from the public sector and even an improvement in tax revenues. At the same time, it notes that ordinary Greeks have benefited little from the emerging signs of recovery, with the troika announcing the need for additional sacrifices of 4.0 billion euros from 2014.

    [08] US State Dep't annual report warns about Golden Dawn's 'anti-Semitism, racism'

    (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The US State Department issued its annual Report on International Religious Freedom (2012) on Monday, highlighting the role of extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party in the rise of racist and anti-Semitism incidents in Greece.

    The report, presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, reviewed the state of religious freedom in Greece and said that "expressions of anti-Semitism increased after voters elected members of Golden Dawn to parliament."

    It added that "although government leaders publicly condemned some anti-Semitic and racist incidents, observers called on the authorities to do more to counter hate speech and the violent actions of the extreme-right party's members."

    The constitution of Greece and other laws and policies protect religious freedom with some restrictions, it said in its review of the policies in place: in practice, it said, the government generally respected religious freedom, "although it imposed restrictions affecting members of non-Greek Orthodox religious groups. The government granted privileges and legal prerogatives to the Orthodox Church that it did not afford other religious groups, such as preferential taxation and an institutionalized link to the government."

    Construction of a government-funded mosque in Athens approved by the parliament in 2011 did not begin, it noted, although the government took steps to create an architectural model and secure permits and funds.

    "Members of Golden Dawn, a political party openly espousing anti-Semitism and racism and linked to violent attacks against individuals perceived to be immigrants, were elected to parliament," the report said, calling the party "an openly anti-Semitic and xenophobic political party" elected to the national parliament for the first time, with almost 7 percent of the vote.

    The government publicly condemned some anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents, such as vandalism and destruction of religious monuments. However, observers such as the European Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League called on the authorities to do more to counter Golden Dawn's anti-Semitic rhetoric and violent actions, it said, and pointed out that party leader Nikos Michaloliakos "publicly and repeatedly denied the Holocaust and often gave Nazi salutes at public events. During an October plenary session of parliament, a member of Golden Dawn read passages from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

    The report mentioned incidents of Jewish cemetery defacements, mentioning swastikas drawn on the door of the Jewish cemetery in Ioannina in April and vandals defacing the wall of the Jewish cemetery in Drama with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans in September.

    "Human Rights Watch and other groups alleged the police took little action to curb violent Golden Dawn activities," it noted. "In October the parliament voted to lift the immunity of three Golden Dawn members of parliament so that they could be investigated for criminal offenses. Law enforcement authorities suspected the party spokesperson of involvement in a 2007 armed robbery, and suspected two other members of property damage during September attacks against immigrants."

    The Greek Orthodox Church exercised significant social, political, and economic influence in Greece, the report said, while some non-Orthodox citizens complained of being treated with suspicion or being told they were not truly Greek when they revealed their religious affiliations to other Greek citizens. Members of non-Orthodox religious groups reported incidents of societal discrimination. Members of the Muslim minority in Thrace were underrepresented in public sector employment, and no Muslim military personnel advanced to officer ranks, it added.

    The US ambassador to Greece and other U.S. officials met with senior government officials, including the secretary general for religions, municipal leaders, and members of parliament, to promote religious tolerance and diversity, and to urge the government to speak out more strongly against the anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric and violent actions of Golden Dawn, the report said. Officers from the embassy and the consulate general in Thessaloniki met regularly with representatives of religious groups to discuss religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, visited religious sites throughout the country, and investigated reports of societal discrimination.

    The government invoked the law against blasphemy in two cases. In September the cyber-crime police arrested a 27-year-old man and charged him with blasphemy and insulting religion for setting up a Facebook page using a name that played on the name of a legendary Mount Athos monk, while in November the Metropolitan of Piraeus filed a blasphemy complaint against the director and actors of the theatrical play "Corpus Christi," which portrayed Jesus and the Apostles as gay men.

    An Athens prosecutor pressed charges, but no trial date was set. The theater cancelled performances of the play a few days after its October premiere due to violent protests by some Greek Orthodox priests and Golden Dawn supporters. Several Golden Dawn members of parliament blocked the entrance of the theater and clashed with police on opening night. Police charged one member of parliament with intervening in the arrest of a protestor, the review said.

    The report quoted the National Statistics Service as estimating the population of Greece at 9.9 million. "The government does not keep statistics on religious groups. The U.S. government estimates that 98 percent of the population self-identifies as Greek Orthodox," it said.

    The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, it noted, created an officially recognized "Muslim minority," estimated at 140,000 to 150,000 (approximately 1.3 percent of the total population) residing in Thrace. Additionally, NGOs estimate that between 500,000 and 700,000 Muslims from Albania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Syria, and North Africa reside in the region of Attica, which encompasses Athens. Other religious groups include Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Old Calendarist Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, among others, the report said.

    [09] SYRIZA-EKM leader meets GSEVEE presidency

    Main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA-EKM) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday stressed the need to provide support to small and medium-sized businesses during a meeting with the presidency of the General Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE).

    "We have to realise that if demand on the market is not boosted, unless the internal devaluation programmes are scrapped, unless memorandum policies are abolished, then small and medium-sized businesses will not recover," he said.

    The failure of SMEs will result in job losses, higher unemployment and conditions of humanitarian crisis for more than a million Greeks, if one also considered the families of small business owners, most of whom were currently unable to pay for their social insurance contributions and had no medical care, he added.

    He called for a substantive discussion on the viability of the OAEE pension and welfare fund for the self-employed, which he claimed was one step before collapse and without immediate measures would lead to further cuts to already slashed pensions.

    Tsipras also emphasised the need for greater liquidity in the market, without which SMEs could not survive, repeating a proposal for a special-purpose, development bank to support SMEs.

    GSEVEE President Giorgos Kavvathas said he had briefed Tsipras on issues concerning collective labour agreements and the problems faced by OAEE, noting that 350 freelance professionals and small business owners that were currently uninsured had to be reactivated to bring funds to OAEE.

    [10] Defence Minister in Moscow on Wednesday

    Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos will speak on "Security Challenges in the Mediterrenean Region" in Moscow on Wednesday, in the framework of an international Congress organised in the Russian capital on "Military and Political views on the European Security".

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu and French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian will also address the congress.

    During his two-day visit to Moscow, Panagiotopoulos will meet with his Russian counterpart and other Russian government officials.

    [11] Foreign minors should not be detained for long time, Ombudsman says

    The prolonged administrative detention of minors is unacceptable, the Ombudsman said in a letter addressed to the Public Order minister Nikos Dendias, on Tuesday.

    The letter stresses the need to reduce detention time of minors to a minimum as required for registration of their particulars and referral to a reception centre or reunification with relations, as this is also stipulated in international treaties.

    In the early days of the year, the Ombudsman visited the Detention Location for Foreign Minors in Amygdaleza, Attica prefecture and found out that that minors were kept for up to as much as four months. Among them were international protection beneficiaries, on the basis of the Geneva Convention.

    For this reason, the independent authority stresses to the ministry that "living conditions of minors in detention locations are distant from those corresponding to their age needs and rights."

    The issue of treating unaccompanied minors in Greece has preoccupied the Ombudsman in the past as well, and the authority has repeatedly visited detention centres and hosting locations for unaccompanied minors and has summed up his views in a Special Report.

    [12] European Parliament lifts immunity of Greek EuroMP


    The European Parliament approved the lifting of immunity for PASOK Eurodeputy Spyros Danellis, following his own request, to stand trial for two court cases dating back to 2004-2005.

    The two cases coming up for trial date to the time Danellis was mayor of Hersonissos, a town east of the main city of Iraklio on the island of Crete, and involve local projects.

    In the first case he was jointly charged with two deputy mayors for their handling of two stores in a hotel complex at Anisaras. The case was split into two in order to allow for Danellis' immunity lifting; the deputy mayors were tried in July 2012 and unanimously declared innocent.

    In the second case, he was included in a suit involving 56 residents of Langadas that was filed by the contractor assigned to process 52,000 trees cut to build the dam of Aposelemis. Again, this case was split, and all defendants in one of the two split cases were found unanimously innocent by the court.

    [13] Entry to Parliament only through metal detectors from Tuesday

    All persons entering Parliament, including members of the government and the prime minister, will henceforth be restricted to using the magnetic gateway that is equipped with metal detectors, the Parliament guard decided on Tuesday.

    All entrances to Parliament are equipped with magnetic gateways, which were previously used for the staff and various aides.

    [14] FM Avramopoulos sends condolences to U.S. Secretary of State

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing his condolences to the families of the victims of Monday's devastating mile-wide tornado that struck the outskirts of Oklahoma City, killing up to 91 people and trapping two dozen children inside the rubble of a school.

    According to a ministry announcement, Avramopoulos also expressed "the Greek people's support to our friends the American people".

    Financial News

    [15] The highest bidder will buy DEPA/DESFA, Stavridis says

    The highest bidder will win a tender to buy DEPA and DESFA, Greece's natural gas distribution companies, Stelios Stavridis, head of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund said on Tuesday.

    In comments made in Greek radio, Stavridis said there were certain issues, such as a letter of guarantee.

    "The Russians' initial letter of guarantee - at 20 pct of the first offer of 900 million euros - was extremely high," he said. "Thus, the value of the letter of guarantee was lowered to become more rational. Another big problem in the energy market is that because of the crisis everybody owes to everyone. It is the government's obligation and up to government will to find a solution to the problem."

    [16] Tourism minister holds meeting with Chinese journalists

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni held a meeting on Tuesday with a delegation of the Chinese Journalists Union and the Charge d'Affaires of the People's Republic of China, Zhao Liyng. Kefaloyianni pointed out to her interlocutors that the ministry's aim is for Greece to become the first tourist destination for the Chinese in Europe.

    A prolonged discussion was held during the meeting on the big changes that are taking place in Greece over the past two years. The minister stressed that the two peoples have many common elements that they can utilise with a mutual benefit.

    Kefaloyianni further said that Greece will participate in the international tourist exhibition that will be held in China in October. She also assured the Chinese journalists that Greece will activate all the agreements that have been signed between the two countries since 2006.

    The Tourism minister called on the Chinese journalists to promote Greece in their country and stressed that all the necessary measures are being taken that will facilitate the attraction of Chinese visitors to Greece.

    [17] Environment, town planning key aspects for growth policy, Environment minister tells conference

    Alternate Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Stavros Kalafatis on Tuesday outlined the ministry's policies at a conference on the national strategy for the environment, energy and climate change, noting that the environment and town planning would be fundamental aspects of the new growth policy for 2014-2020.

    The minister said the plans included a "radical reform with a long-term range" relating to the land cadastre, forest maps, unauthorised construction and the environmental balance, town and spatial planning, inspections, intervention in forests and the special spatial plan for tourism.

    Among the ministry's immediate goals was the 'unblock' chronic problems faced by building associations in order to attract capital for private construction and boost the construction sector in order to create jobs.

    [18] Greek banks' dependence from ECB, ELA funding operations up in April

    Greek banks raised their dependence from European Central Bank's funding operations and an emergency lending assistance mechanism of the Bank of Greece in April.

    A report by the country's central bank said that funding of Greek banks by the ECB and the Bank of Greece rose to 94.3 billion euros in April, from 91.95 billion euros in March. This development basically reflected a capital outflow from Greek banks at the height of a banking crisis in Cyprus. Greek banks raised their dependence from the Bank of Greece's emergency lending assistance mechanism (ELA) to 33.4 billion euros in April, from 21.22 billion in March. Bank officials expect this trend to change in May.

    [19] Premium production down 13.2 pct in domestic insurance market in Q1

    Premium production by insurance companies fell 13.2 pct in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the same period last year, a report by the Association of Insurance Companies (EAEE) said on Tuesday.

    The report said that premium production in life insurance contracts dropped 23.6 pct, general insurance production was down 4.5 pct and vehicle contracts production fell 8.8 pct in the January-March period.

    The report was based on data offered by 61 insurance companies which accounted for 95.4 pct of all premium production, of which 22 were life insurance companies with a market share of 99.3 pct and another 50 in the damages insurance sector with a market share of 92.5 pct.

    Premium production totaled 1.0 billion euros in the first three months of 2013. The vehicle insurance sector is the biggest business in the damages category with a premium production of 290 million euros (47.6 pct of total), followed by the fire sector (108 million euros and 17.7 pct).

    [20] Six Greek mediators certified by China's Central Chamber

    China's Central Chamber has given a 'vote of confidence' to the Hellenic Arbitration and Mediation Centre by including six of its mediators to its list of certified Mediators.

    Commenting on the accreditation, president of the Greek centre Ioanna Anastasopoulou said it was "an important distinction of Greek mediation in view of an expected flow of business deals between Greece and China."

    The Hellenic Arbitration and Mediation Centre was founded in 2006 and has since been developing a unique and pioneering expertise, offering mediation services as well as training programmes in collaboration with foreign organizations.

    [21] Papoutsanis reports improved Q1 results

    Papoutsanis ABEE on Tuesday reported consolidated pre-tax losses of 63,000 euros in the first quarter of 2013, from a loss of 166,000 euros in the corresponding period last year.

    The company said its after tax profits totaled 36,000 euros in the January-March period from a loss of 213,000 euros last year. EBITDA was a positive 335,000 euros up 27 pct from 2012.

    Consolidated turnover rose 4.4 pct to 3.4 million euros in the first three months of the year, from 3.3 million euros in 2012, of which 20 pct were brand products, 20 pct product sales to hotel and another 60 pct industrial sales. Papoutsanis said around 39 pct of its annual turnover were exports. Gross profit margin rose to 25.1 pct in the first quarter from 18.9 pct in 2012.

    [22] Novartis Hellas reports lower 2012 results

    Novartis Hellas on Tuesday reported lower revenues in 2012 but said its market share grew further last year. Revenues fell to 410.1 million euros, from 440.21 million in 2011, a decline of 6.8 pct.

    The company reported operating losses of 9.88 million euros. Pre-tax earnings totaled 1.02 million euros, while net results reported a loss of 3.49 million euros last year, from net gains of 10.49 million euros in 2011.

    Novartis completed a share capital increase plan last year, while its bank debt fell to zero.

    [23] J&P Avax signs 125-mln-euro contract in UAE

    J&P Avax on Tuesday said its subsidiary Athina ATE signed a contract worth 125 million euros with Aldar Properties PJSC of the United Arab Emirates for the construction, operation and maintenance of port projects, road projects and infrastructure projects in the island of Yas, east of Abu Dhabi. Under the terms of the contract, building of the project will be completed in 28 months, while the operation and maintenance job will last 24 months.

    Athina ATE recently signed another contract, worth 30.1 million euros, with a consortium which is building a nuclear power station in the UAE.

    [24] Greek stocks end sharply lower

    Greek shares remained under pressure for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market sharply lower. Bank shares remained at the epicenter of selling activity, while Coca Cola HBC also suffered heavy losses. The composite index fell 3.96 pct to end at 1,090.89 points, off the day's lows of 5.47 pct. Turnover remained a heavy 161.579 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 5.54 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.67 pct lower. Folli Follie (3.13 pct), Korinth Steel Pipes (2.19 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (1.09 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (26.75 pct), Eurobank (26.07 pct) and Piraeus Bank (21.48 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    The Commerce (3.08 pct), Personal Products (0.71 pct) and Oil (0.64 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (18.93 pct), Technology (6.36 pct) and Food (5.21 pct) ended sharply lower. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 107 to 52 with another 20 issues unchanged. Loulis Mills (20.23 pct), Teletypos (19.66 pct) and Alpha Grissin (19.66 pct) were top gainers, while BIS (30 pct), Pairis (27.87 pct) and National Bank (26.75 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.91%

    Commercial: -0.15%

    Construction: -0.15%

    Oil & Gas: +0.64%

    Personal & Household: +0.71%

    Raw Materials: -0.63%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.55%

    Technology: -6.38%

    Telecoms: -4.81%

    Banks: -18.93%

    Food & Beverages: -5.21%

    Health: -4.95%

    Utilities: -3.58%

    Financial Services: +0.68%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.56

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.99

    Coca-Cola: 21.42

    Hellenic Petroleum: 9.30

    National Bank of Greece: 1.15

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.36

    OPAP: 8.05

    OTE: 6.92

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.36

    Titan: 14.50

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds continued shrinking to 6.62 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 6.85 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.02 pct and the German Bund 1.40 pct. The yield spread remained below the 7.0 pct level for the second consecutive session helped by a significant increase in the German Bund's yield.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.47 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.38 pct, the six- month rate eased to 0.29 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.55 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 25.528 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,161 contracts worth 19.532 million euros, with 38,399 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,616 contracts worth 5.996 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (5,328), followed by MIG (2,529), OTE (3,167), PPC (2,001), OPAP (619), Hellenic Exchanges (275), Mytilineos (511), Sidenor (329), GEK (566), Ellaktor (159), Intralot (349) and Eurobank Properties (190).

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.305

    Pound sterling 0.861

    Danish kroner 7.564

    Swedish kroner 8.688

    Japanese yen 134.31

    Swiss franc 1.266

    Norwegian kroner 7.619

    Canadian dollar 1.341

    Australian dollar 1.334

    General News

    [28] City of Athens free cultural events for the summer - and beyond

    The city of Athens has scheduled a series of cultural events in the capital for May through November, involving music, drama, dance, the arts, and international festivals. Entrance is free at all events.

    The following programme was announced by the mayor of Athens:

  • Book fair, May 24-June 9, Pedion tou Areos (corner of Alexandras and Patission Aves.)

  • Modern design show, May 25-27, Technopolis (Kerameikos Metro stop)

  • Jazz festival, May 31-June 2, Technopolis; performers come from Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain

  • Recycling festival, June 3-5, Technopolis

  • Athens Garden Festival, June 15-18, with music, plays and interactive games performed at the National Garden

  • Play and dance performances by young artists, June 20-July 7, Kolonos open-air theatre and Koumoundourou Square theatre

  • Concerts and plays, June 29-July 20, Attiko Alsos theatre

  • Open Air Cinema, July 12-14, Technopolis

  • 2nd Festival of International Music, July 15-19, Technopolis, with performers from the "PIIGS" countries, hit the hardest by the financial crisis (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain)

  • 5th International Street Festival, September 7-October 6, Panathenaic ("Kallimarmaro") Stadium, Avissinia and Thission Squares, Ermou St, Kapnikareas and Apostolou Pavlou pedestrian walkways downtown

  • "Little Paris of Athens", October 9-16, with events performed at Athenian Streets named after French historical personalities

  • International Meeting of Graphic Arts, October 17-20, Technopolis

  • "Store of the Future" events, October 22-24, Technopolis, a virtual reproduction of retail trade stores and spaces, presenting all new trends and technologies in retail trade

  • Athens Photo Festival, November 1-20, Technopolis

    Lefkada island features in Austria's Kronen Zeitung daily

    A feature in the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung highlights the beaches of the Ionian island of Lefkada, which are considered among the most beautiful in Europe.

    In "Lefkada, a visit to Greece's pearl", the top-selling daily noted that the island has no massive tourism on the island and the locals are very hospitable and welcoming.

    The article also noted that in 2012 all tourist accomodations on Lefkada were renovated, without changing the island's traditional architecture.

    [29] Ionian Islands celebrate 149th anniversary of incorporation into Greece

    The 149th anniversary of the incorporation of the Ionian islands - Corfu, Zakynthos, Cephallonia, Ithaca and Lefkada - into Greece is being commemorated on Tuesday.

    Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias will represent the government in the celebration on Corfu, while prefector Spyros Spyrou will attend the events on Lefkada.

    On Zakynthos an official liturgy took place at the metropolitan church. Another commemorative event will be held at the Venetian castle of the island for officials and people on the island.

    [30] Four shells discovered at Vouliagmeni beach

    Four shells have been discovered at the Vouliagmeni beach, in Attica, resulting in the area being sealed off by a harbour corps force.

    A bather had detected a shell in the same sea area on Monday, at a depth of 3.5 metres, and army bomb disposal experts had neutralised it.

    The four shells were found by frogmen from a private school and buoys have been placed to determine their locations.

    They have a length of about 30cm and a diameter of 15cm and are scattered over a distance of 15 to 150 metres from land and at a depth ranging between 1 and 4 metres.

    [31] Detainee escapes after testifying

    A 20 year-old Albanian national escaped from the Aghios Dimitrios police station lockup facility on Monday evening.

    The suspect was being led to jail after testifying over charges of driving a stolen motorcycle and carrying a gun when he broke away after a scuffle with the policeman escorting him and escaped.

    Weather forecast

    [32] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 15C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 18C and 32C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 17C and 29C.

    [33] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: 12 measures to rescue social security funds and pensions.

    DIMOKRATIA: The secrets of the new tax statement.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Antiracist bill to the pyre.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: 'Golden Boys' with 400,000-euro salary.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: EU Regional Fund (ESPA) offers job opportunities to the young unemployed.

    ELLADA AVRIO: 19 taxes for real estate properties.

    ESTIA: (What) if main opposition SYRIZA had been elected.

    ETHNOS: Russian siege of DEPA (Greek State Gas Company).

    IMERISSIA: DEPA deal at a crucial stage.

    KATHIMERINI: Only 688 million euros in back taxes and fines collected, of 14 billion (ruled upon by courts).

    LOGOS: Storm of surtaxes.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Harsh geopolitical battle in transport and energy.

    RIZOSPASTIS: All together in the battle for Social Security.

    TA NEA: Finance Ministry to have free access to citizens' bank accounts.

    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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