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Athens News Agency: News in English, 12-01-26
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Putin receives Samaras in MoscowMOSCOW (AMNA) / Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin received New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras here on Thursday, with talks reportedly focusing on overcoming whatever stagnation in Greek-Russian relations and prospects for boosting bilateral cooperation.
"My meeting with the prime minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, took place in a very good climate and was exhaustive on all issues," Samaras told reporters afterwards.
"I outlined the situation to Mr. Putin, as is being shaped in Greece today and the prospects that exist. He showed particular interest and a mood to assist our country. We also spoke of the problems in Greek-Russian relations and we examined ways to overcome them. We agreed to remain in contact. Greece needs all its friends today and Russia can prove to be a valuable friend," Samaras added. amna
According to Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the Russian prime minister met with Samaras in the former's capacity as the leader of the ruling United Russia party, a "brother" party with New Democracy -- an announcement apparently referring to a deviation from strict Russian government protocol.
During the meeting, the spokesman said, the current situation was discussed, as well as prospects for the greater development of bilateral relations, with emphasis on economic cooperation even in diverse sectors, while the two leaders also exchanged views, in detail, regarding the crisis in the eurozone.
According to reports, Putin expressed a strong interest in developments in Greece and their economic dimension, as well as in relations between Greece and Russia over the past period. amna
Talks also touched on energy cooperation and Russian interest in privatisation tenders, particularly in major infrastructures projects, such as ports, airports and possibly railways.
Putin placed particular emphasis on the issue of the construction of the southern portion of the South Stream natgas pipeline, whose construction is being accelerated and will start before the end of 2012, instead of the spring of 2013. Putin reiterated, according to the same reports, that Moscow desires that all serious decisions (quantities, pipeline course) to have been taken by the project's partner countries, such as Greece, by that time. The issue was also discussed earlier in the day between Samaras and the president of Gazprom's board, Alexei Miller.
One Gazprom proposal apparently cited the construction of a power production unit in Greece, whose surplus electric power will be exported to Italy.
During the Putin-Samaras meeting, in which the deputy director of the Russian prime minister's office Yuri Ushakov also participated, the bedeviled Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project was discussed. The latter project is now frozen due to a negative stance by the current Bulgarian government, although Russian interest remains, reports stated. www.amna.gr
The Greek side reportedly raised the issue of easier access of Greek farm products into the Russian market, a growing market for Greek exports, as well as overcoming the obstacles faced by Russian tourists in seeking holiday visas.
Caption: A view of Antonis Samaras' meeting with Gazprom chief Alexi Miller in Moscow on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. AMNA / photo
 Stocks end 3.93 pct higherAMNA / Stocks continued moving higher on Thursday, led by banks as investors discounted that talks over a PSI programme would be completed with more favourable terms for Greece.
The composite index of the market ended at 766.23 points, with a gain of 3.93 pct, off the day’s highs. The index is up 22.53 pct compared with its closing in January 10, while the bank index is up 80.20 pct over the same period. Turnover surpassed the 100 million euros level for the first time in several weeks, totaling 118.354 million euros.
Piraeus Bank (29.94 pct), Eurobank (28.81 pct), Alpha Bank (28.41 pct), Hellenic Postbank (22.40 pct) and National Bank (18.14 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (2.75 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (2.68 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (0.65 pct) were top losers.
The Big Cap index soared 6.64 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 4.82 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.96 pct. Banks (18.94 pct), Financial Services (7.80 pct) and Raw Materials (4.48 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (6.20 pct) and Food (2.56 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 118 to 48 with another 20 issues unchanged. Piraeus Bank (29.94 pct), Eurobank (28.81 pct) and Pasal (28.75 pct) were top gainers, while Zampa (18.42 pct), Hellenic Fish Farms (16.67 pct) and Douros (16 pct) were top losers.
 fYRoM Dep. PM Arifi in Athens, meeting with VP PangalosAMNA -- Common interesst by Greece and the neighbouring former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), such as greater cross-border and economic cooperation, dominated a meeting in Athens on Wednesday between government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos and his fYRoM counterpart Teuta Arifi.
Arifi, a deputy prime minister in charge of European affairs for the Skopje government, is currently on a visit to Athens.
Afterwards, Pangalos said each side expressed its views and common conclusions were reached, adding that an effort will be made for their implementation in the immediate future.
On her part, Arifi said she wanted to send a strong message in favour of bilateral cooperation, because this is the only answer to problems faced by the two countries.
Arifi also handed Pangalos a letter by fYRoM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski addressed to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the content of which were not revealed. amna
“Greece plays an active role in the economy of the neighbouring country. We have important investments and many businesses are active there. Our trade increases, as well as tourism,” Pangalos said.
He also expressed Athens' will to assist Skopje in its European accession course through the utilisation of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), with services that will facilitate talks with the EU.
“We appreciate the experience Greece has in the EU and we wish to utilise this knowledge,” Arifi said, underlining the importance of cross-border cooperation for residents on both sides of the border.
She also referred to the “Agenda 2014” initiative for the European integration of the western Balkans and expressed a hope that “through the European integration all the region’s problems will find their solution”.
Arifi, who was elected with the DUI party in the neighbouring country, also briefed Pangalos on the reforms implemented in fYRoM, ones aimed at meeting the criteria for EU accession. www.amna.gr
The Ochrid peace agreement was among the issues discussed with Arifi expressing satisfaction for the goals met since its implementation. amna
 'Byzantium - Masterpieces from Greek Collections' exhibitionAMNA--An exhibition tentatively titled "Byzantium - Masterpieces from Greek Collections" will travel to the US in the autumn of 2013, containing some 300 masterpieces from Greek museums, public and private collections and monasteries, as well as finds from recent excavations, to be shown first at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, followed by the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California.
The exhibition, which will run through spring 2014, aims to familiarise the American public with the Hellenic civilization throughout the Byzantine era, and thus will cover all periods of Byzantine history, from 330 AD to 1453 AD.amna
Greece's Central Archaeology Council (KAS) on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the organisation of the traveling archaeological exhibition, to be organised by the culture and tourism ministry's general directorate for Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, in collaboration with the Benaki Museum.
The exhibition will comprise five unities, tentatively titled "From the Ancient to the Byzantine World", "The Christian World", "The Intellectuals", "The Joys of Life" and "Byzantium at a Crossroads".
The exhibition is budgeted at 3.2 million euros, of which 2.5 million are in insurance premiums.
This event will be enhanced by a second, equally significant, exhibition being prepared in tandem by the ministry in collaboration with National Geographic magazine, which will pertain to the Ancient Greeks throughout the ages, from pre-historic times to the beginning of the Hellenistic Period.amna
The aim is for the second exhibition to coincide with the Masterpieces exhibition. amna
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