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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-26
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Italian appeals court rules in favor of kin of WWII-era Distomo massacreAn appellate court in Florence, Italy, on Tuesday ruled that a previous verdict handed down by Greek first instance court ordering the German state to pay 50 million euros in damages to the relatives of victims executed by Nazi troops in a south-central Greek village during WWII is valid.
A constitutional court ruled in 1992 that cases involving Nazi massacres or mass executions can be tried in Italy, regardless of whether the crime was committed in a third country.
The massacre in question took place in the town of Distomo, Thebes prefecture, where 218 local residents were executed as part of Nazi reprisals for the activity of partisans in the area.
The decision taken in Florence was publicised by lawyer Ioakim Laou, an advocate for the victims' relatives, who worked for several years together with his Greek colleague Yiannis Stamoulis.
An objection raised by the German state, claiming that Italian courts had no authority to reach a decision on the issue, was overruled.
What remains to be decided is whether a continuation will be given to the decision on the "partial mortgaging" of an eponymous villa located in northern Italy, in the region of Lake Como, since the property belongs to the German state and houses a studies centre on international law.
Italian justice will have to rule on April 22, 2009, on whether the mortgage will be ratified and whether the villa can be confiscated to liquefy its value for the benefit of families of the Distomo victims.
According to Laou, "the judges of Florence proved with their ruling that there is no kind of asylum for cases concerning crimes against humanity."
 FinMin briefs Parliament on Eurogroup summit; predictions for Greek economyFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday briefed the relevant Parliamentary committee over the outcome of a Eurogroup and Ecofin council meetings in Brussels earlier in the month, appealing to social groups to place national interest above union interests in order to enable the economic crisis to be overcome.
Alogoskoufis said the government has a plan to face the crisis that, however, "requires wider consensuses in society. It requires wider convergences. It requires from social groups to place, over a period of time at least, national interest above their trade union interest."
The minister also reassured that "we shall continue to move along the difficult path of reforms both within the state and public finances," adding that what is important is for everyone to contribute to this effort on his part.
Referring to the European Commission's predictions on the European economy, Alogoskoufis said they might "prove to be optimistic", such as a prediction on a decrease in the eurozone's growth rate from 1.2 percent in 2008 to 0.1 percent in 2009.
As regards the European Union's predictions for the Greek economy in particular, and the differences with corresponding assessments made in the Greek budget, he said they are very small, while stressing that Greece's predictions might prove to be optimistic and that predictions of the EU might also prove to be optimistic.
Lastly, on the occasion of speculation taking place in EU countries on a decrease in VAT for certain labour-intense sectors, Alogoskoufis said "we are insisting on our view for a decrease in VAT on farm products."
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 55.940 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.83 pct, with volume of 9,889 contracts worth 47.412 million euros, with 28,127 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 8,708 contracts worth 8.197 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,319), followed by Eurobank (483), OTE (1,931), PPC (488), Alpha Bank (445), Intralot (382) and ATEbank (272).
 President Hu Jintao visits CreteChinese President Hu Jintao visited the city of Iraklio, the largest city on the island of Crete, on Wednesday, part of his official visit to the east Mediterranean country.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who hosted a luncheon in the Chinese leader's honor, stressed that his visit to the large Mediterranean island and its cultural treasures is a great honor for Greece.
"I am greatly pleased to be visiting beautiful Crete. From the moment that we set foot on their island's soil, we were enchanted by its long history and we felt the love and the friendship bestowed upon us by the people of Crete," President Hu Jintao said, while expressing his best wishes to the island's people.
The Chinese leader noted that Cretan civilisation is a considerable component of ancient Greek civilisation and added that "the ancient civilisations of the east and the west cross each other here and have left valuable cultural heritages."
Furthermore, he said that "the region of Crete is playing a considerable role in local cooperation between China and Greece. Agricultural cooperation between the two sides has a special characteristic. Cretan olive oil has already started to enter the Chinese market, while over the past years the region of Crete has close exchanges with the prefecture of Hainan in China, actively promoting bilateral cooperation in insular economic growth."
Hu Jintao also referred to the tourism sector, "given that Crete has rich tourist resources, cooperation between the two countries has great possibilities. The Chinese and Greek people have strong traditional ties. Friendly cooperation has firm foundations."
"The talks and the meetings that I had these days with the leaders of your country produced major results, reaching considerable common views on strengthening the overall strategic relation between the two countries. Today, we shall be leaving your country with the deep feelings of friendship and love of the Greek people for the Chinese people, and I believe that with our joint effort the tree of friendly cooperation between China and Greece will bear abundant fruit," he concluded.
Caption: The President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, and his wife, Liu Yongqing, are given a guided tour of a model olive oil-producing cooperative in the village of Peza, Irakleio prefecture, Crete, on Wednesday, 26 November 2008. ANA-MPA / STEFANOS RAPANIS.
 Nat'l Bank net profits up 7%National Bank of Greece (NBG) will participate in a government plan aimed to boost liquidity in the economy, the bank's chairman and chief executive Takis Arapoglou said on Wednesday.
Presenting the bank's results for the third quarter, Arapoglou said "National Bank acknowledges its specific role in helping enterprises, households and the economy, in general, to overcoming the current negative juncture, and will participate in the government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the market".
"The participation of the largest financial organization in the country, with the strongest fundamental capital and liquidity figures, confirms that the Greek banking system will respond in a coordinated fashion to the impact of an international financial crisis," Arapolgou said, adding that the bank's strong capital position, combined with high liquidity, allowed the bank to continue supporting its customers.
Commenting on the bank's third quarter results, he stressed that "they confirmed our policy of prudent lending, capital strengthening and maintaining a high liquidity rate, National Bank's competitive advantage in the current crucial juncture".
National Bank's net profits totaled 1.235 billion euros in the nine-month period from January to September, up 7.0 pct from the same period last year, while its return on equity ratio eased to 25 pct from 26 pct, respectively.
Net profits from domestic activities rose 7.0 pct to 732 million euros, while Finansbank's profits jumped 21 pct to 363 million euros, or 29 pct of total profitability of the Group. Activities in Southeastern Europe recorded a 64 pct increase in net profits to 169 million euros, contributing 13 pct to the Group's profitability.
Third quarter net profits totaled 400 million euros, almost unchanged at the two previous quarters' levels, while net profits from domestic activities fell 13 pct.
The Group's lending portfolio rose 26 pct to 65.8 billion euros at the end of September, while its bad loans rate fell to a record low of 3.1 pct, although National Bank raises its provisions against credit risks by 21 pct to 112 million euros.
Saving deposits grew 17 pct to 67.2 billion euros. Net lending in Greece totaled 5.5 billion euros in the nine-month period, for an annual growth rate of 20 pct.
Capital under management totaled 5.0 billion euros, placing the bank at the top with a market share of 29 pct despite capital outflows in the third quarter.
Finansbank said net profits rose 21 pct to 363 million euros.
National Bank said its activities in Southeastern Europe include 700 branches, up 105 from September 2007, with 9,357 workers (up 10 pct).
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of NBG CEO Takis Arapoglou.
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