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Athens News Agency: News in English, 12-03-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PSI succeeds, participation at 85.8 percentAMNA--Greece on Friday morning announced that 85.8 percent of private holders of state bonds announced participation in the bond swap programme under the PSI procedure for the haircut of the Greek debt.
According to the finance ministry, if the collection action clauses (CACs) are activated, the private sector participation will reach 95.7 percent.
The decision for activation of the CACs, as per the Greek government's desire, which will render obligatory the participation of the bond-holders that did not state participation in the PSI, is due to be taken by the Eurogroup during a remote conference on Friday afternoon.
"It is a historic moment for the country, for the very successful bond swaps. This enables us to proceed to the stabilization of the economy and to growth," government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis said on private Mega television station on Friday morning.amna
The finance ministry announced that the participation of private creditors, which are subject to Greek law, concerns bonds worth 152 billion euros of a total 177.4 billion euros privately held.
The Greek finance ministry issued an Invitation for the bond swap to its private creditors on February 24, and the PSI process was completed at 10:00 Thursday night (18:00 GMT).
The ministry announcement said that a proportion of 5.3 of the bond-holders of the total that participated in the process opposed the proposed amendments, adding that the government intends to amend the terms of all the bondholders subject to Greek law, including those who did not state participation in the swap, as set out in the Legislative Act concerning the holders of Greek bonds, and consequently there will be no extension of the deadline for the bonds subject to Greek law.amna
As for the Greek bonds that are subject to international law, the Invitation for the swap and relevant submission of proposals will remain "open" up to and including March 23. After that date, the ministry said, there will be no further opportunity for creditors holding Greek bonds to benefit from the EFSF titles, the co-financing and the connection with the GDP, which comprise an important and inseparable part of Greece's offer.amna
Government vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos will hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. (10:30 GMT) on Friday.
"On behalf of Greece, I wish to express my appreciation to all the creditors that have supported our ambitious programme for reforms and adjustments and who have shared in the sacrifices of the Greek people in this historic effort," Venizelos said.
"With the support of the official sector and the private creditors, Greece will continue to implement the measures needed in order to achieve the fiscal adjustments and structural reforms it has committed to doing and which will put Greece back on the road of sustainable growth," he added.
 One in three shops closed in AthensAMNA--A total of 2,374 businesses have terminated their operation, out of a total of 9,274 enterprises operating in the Attica region, a report by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) stated on Thursday.
ESEE, in a report, said the situation in central Athens remained critical, with conditions worsening since the last six-month period, as the percentage of closed enterprises rose to 29.6 pct, from 24.4 pct in August 2011 and 23.4 pct in March 2011. amna
In Piraeus, this percentage rose to 27.3 pct, rising by 10 percentage points since March 2011. In Kifisia, the percentage of closed enterprises was around 23.7 pct, almost unchanged at the previous six-month rate, while in Glyfada, this rate remained at lower levels (18.8 pct).
Vasilis Korkidis, the president of ESEE, said the report showed a "sad reality", but at the same time this was "helping everyone document a new development plan for Greek commerce".amna
“This worsening of the survival index in the commercial sector, with a new wave of closings in the market, shows that the market’s resistance is waning. Psychology and the image of the market is disappointing, but we have no right to let our work and sacrifices go wasted. We must continue the battle of daily survival and keep our shops open”.
 Main parties joint amendment on settling debts to banksAMNA--The two largest parties in Parliament, coalition partners PASOK and New Democracy, on Thursday jointly tabled an amendment that stipulates how political parties will pay off outstanding loans taken out against their future state funding. The amendment was attached as a rider to a draft bill regulating livestock breeding.
It provides that loans taken out by the end of 2011 will be paid off in fixed annual installments at an interest rate of four percent. The size of the installment is set at 20 percent of a party's annual regular state funding for debts less than 20 million euro and at 50 percent of their annual state funding for debts above this amount.amna
Under the amendment, the Greek state is required to pay each of the debt-holders the proportion of the "agreed interest-bearing installment" that is due to them, while the rest will go to the political parties involved.amna
It also stipulates that parties will not be able to hand over more than 50 percent of their regular annual funding in order to take out loans after January 1, 2012. A reference in the amendment to "writing off unpaid interest" was removed by the two parties later on Thursday.
 PASOK and ND spokesmen agree on elections after completion of Papademos government's missionAMNA--Minister of State and government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis and New Democracy party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, speaking at an event of the ND-affiliated youth group ONNED on the theme "Is there independence of the Press vis-a-vis the governments of Greece?", agreed to the position that "the (Lucas) Papademos government based itself on the agreement of the party leaders under the President of the Republic to fulfill a specific mission and the country will be led to elections after its completion." amna
Kapsis pointed out that "the media cannot prolong the life of the government since there is a specific agreement," while Mihelakis said "the Papademos government has resulted from an agreement of the party leaders, it has a specifc mission to carry out, that is the PSI and the loan agreement and in this sense it also has a specifc horizon. When it completes its mission the country will be led to elections."
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
The success of the voluntary bond swap (PSI) with 85.8 percent participation and the sharp rise in unemployment mainly dominated the front pages of Athens' newspapers on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Salary increases of 400-700 euros for 500 elite members of the party system that serve in deputy ministers' and ministry general secretaries' offices, as they make haircuts to the 300-euro pensions".
AVRIANI: "Provocative amendment to settle the debts of the political parties".
AVGHI: "Barren country in the Middle Ages of the Memorandum - Unemployment among youth up to 24 years of age at 51.1 percent - 1,000 layoffs per day".
DIMOKRATIA: "Threat for deposits above 2,000 euros".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Amnesty to Siemens in exchange for a few euros and an...apology".
ESTIA: "Not now elections - They could lead to an impasse".
ETHNOS: "Debt haircut: bond swap nears 97 percent participation".
IMERISSIA: "Greece at a new starting point - The high PSI acceptance a national success".
KATHIMERINI: "The biggest state debt write-off".
LOGOS: "New historic record: Unemployment shoots to 21 percent".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Voluntary participation in the 'haircut' a success".
NIKI: "Increase your revenues with 'smart' deposits".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The government is bankrupting the people and financing the banks".
TA NEA: "We've had a haircut - The success of the PSI brings a new page".
VRADYNI: "Samaras (New Democracy leader) calls for haircut of loans (of overindebted citizens)".
 Alleged leader of gang of robbers charged with homicideAMNA--A 31-year-old Albanian man was led before a Halkida examining magistrate on Thursday on charges of homicide and of leading a ruthless gang of robbers targeting elderly people. The suspect is accused of killing a 68-year-old man.
The gang was notable for using extraordinary violence and had terrorised old people in Attica, Evia, Viotia, Corfu and possibly other areas of Greece.
A Halkida public prosecutor had earlier charged the 31-year-old had with forming a criminal organisation, murder, robbery, grand theft, drug dealing and weapons violations.amna
The suspect was arrested on Tuesday afternoon during a police raid conducted by Halkida security police and the counter-terrorism squad at his residence in the suburb of Penteli. An investigation showed that he had shot and killed a 68-year-old robbery victim on January 22, on the Avlida coast.amna
The victim was staying at a friend's holiday home with his wife when he heard a noise and went to investigate. He saw three thieves and shot in the air with a hunting shotgun to frighten them but the 31-year-old returned fire with a Kalashnikov, killing him without hesitation.
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