|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Karamanlis meets with ND sec't Zagoritis; latter confident over ND's push to revise Article XVIThe ruling party's initiatives and planning in the coming period dominated a meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and New Democracy (ND) secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, with ND's political council set to convene on Thursday morning and a central committee meeting also scheduled for this month.
Afterwards, Zagoritis again answered an oft-repeated query of political reporters, namely, if and when early elections will take place. The ND secretary me-rely reminded of the premier's standing position that elections will take place in 2008, when the government's term expires.
"What we're interested in, and what interests all citizens isn't elections, but if there are results (from the government's policies)," he merely added.
He also stressed that the government's high-profile reforms policy will continue.
Finally, asked about the looming prospect of setting in motion the legal process to revise Article XVI, Zagoritis said a lengthy dialogue has already taken place on the issue, whereas most citizens now share the ruling party's position that a constitutional ban on anything but state-run universities should be repealed.
A first vote in this Parliament to revise Article XVI will probably occur next month or in early March. If 180 deputies vote in favor of the revision in this session, then a simple majority of 151 MPs (out of a total of 300) in the next legislative body to be sworn-in -- following the upcoming general election -- will be needed to revise the constitutional article.
If only a simple majority votes in favor of the proposal in this Parliament, then 180 MPs will be needed to revise the article in the next Parliament.
Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday that in the context of consensus, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) could also vote for the proposal by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party for the revision of Article 16 of the Constitution.
He was answering reporters' questions whether the government could accept PASOK's relevant proposal.
Roussopoulos evaluated that "the two proposals are very close to each other."
Regarding the majority of the Universities' Senate, which is opposed to the revision of Article 16, the government spokesman noted that "this majority does not arise from anywhere," adding that "the government, however, has its position, which has been voted by the overwhelming majority of the Greek citizens, who demand changes and want the government to govern and not to watch."
The government spokesman also clarified that the government "is not proposing the founding of private universities."
Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, called on to comment on action to be taken by the education community on the issue of the revision of article 16, said on Monday that "the M. Yiannakou education ministry is here for the public university."
The minister stressed that the discussion is a Parliamentary process, adding that knowledge knows no borders, while universities are being internationalized and pointed out that there will be support for the quality of universities.
Yiannakou also pointed to the coincidence of views with main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou and former minister Theodoros Pangalos on the issue of article 16.
Parents and teachers are planning a protest gathering outside the education ministry at noon on Tuesday, while at 6 in the evening a group of students intends to surround Parliament symbolically.
 PASOK party members discuss revision of article 16 of the constitutionViews in favour and against the revision of article 16 of the constitution were heard during a discussion held on Monday night by the "initiative by members of PASOK against the revision of article 16 of the constitution" in the Athens district of Peristeri.
PASOK's education sector official Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who said he also represented party leader George Papandreou, accused the ruling New Democracy party of "bringing public education into disdain" and spoke of "dramatic repercussions as a result of inertia and of the widening of inequality in education on a daily basis."
Chrysohoidis reiterated the 15 positions on education that Papandreou had submitted in Parliament and said that the change in article 16 does not mean the degrading of public education, adding that article 16 does not protect it. On the contrary, the policy determining public education as a public social good protects it effectively.
The former PASOK minister also pointed out that when PASOK comes to power in the next elections (they are normally due to take place in March 2008) it will call for a referendum to be held on these 15 positions.
Private Education Functionaries Federation favours revision of article 16
The Federation of Private Education Functionaries of Greece (OIELE) on Monday expressed support for the revision of article 16 of the constitution on condition that a strict executive law is passed.
According to its President, Mihalis Kouroutos, Free Studies Centers operate in our country without control, which will close if a strict legislative framework is enacted.
He further said that public education has nothing to fear from private education nor is it threatened by it, adding that previous experience shows that the more public schools are upgraded the more private schools decrease in number.
The president of OIELE also said that only some of the unions do not want the revision of article 16.
"They are people inside and outside universities, as well as preparatory school owners who pave the way for future students. The number one danger is not the establishment of private universities, but the exploitation that is carried out by Free Studies Centres of thousands of young people today, who pay excessive amounts for studies of a doubtful quality," he said.
 Papariga on revision of Article XVI, visit to West BankCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday reiterated her party's stern opposition to any revision in Article XVI, which bans the recognition of non-state universities in Greece.
Speaking during a press conference, Papariga attacked both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK for their positions in favor of revising the controversial constitutional article, while detailing her party's positions over a state monopoly in the education sector as a whole.
She also said participation a mass rally on Wednesday to protest the prospects of revision should be high.
Statements on West Bank visit
In an unrelated development, Papariga briefed reporters over her tour of the West Bank last week and meeting with Palestinian officials and politicians.
The KKE leader referred to what she called the ātragic situationā in the region due to violence on the part of Israeli forces as well as to a security wall being built by the Israeli state.
Papariga said the wall essentially aims to create political and real boundaries in the area between Israel and the Palestinian areas.
Finally, she called on local parties and the international community to condemn Israel's policy.
 PM to chair meeting of ND's political councilPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President of the New Democracy party will chair a meeting of the party's Political Council on Thursday morning, it was announced on Monday.
Karamanlis will also chair a meeting of the Inner Cabinet on Tuesday morning, focusing on employment issues.
 Gov't on ongoing probe into military deferment, exceptions ringThe government spokesman on Monday fielded a series of press queries regarding a high-profile investigation into illegal military service exemptions and deferments, ostensibly for "well connected" individuals, such as entertainers, lawyers, journalists and even politicians, according to press reports.
Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos reminded that the Karamanlis government, since taking office in March 2004, has taken a series of measures to end what he called a "regime of impunity that existed, unfortunately, until 2004."
The spokesman said a key suspect in the previous scam -- retired army surgeon Brig. Gen. Niotis -- was fired as a department head at the army pension hospital in Athens (Nimits) before he subsequently fled the country to avoid criminal charges.
Additionally, Roussopoulos said the government passed a stricter law regarding compulsory military obligation in 2005, while the national defense ministry is also rapidly computerizing the conscription service's files.
"Whatever officers, doctors or conscription service staffers were judged as poorly carrying out their duties were reprimanded. The government has zero tolerance on this subject," Roussopoulos added.
The entire issue resurfaced last week when a lieutenant colonel assigned to a conscription service unit in Athens was caught on hidden camera lifting documents from individual files. A subsequent search of his residence revealed at least three trash bags filled with official documents and files, according to charges.
 Papandreou: 'Country will begin new page in 2007'Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday reiterated his position that the country will turn a "new page in 2007", saying the objective shared by PASOK and the Greek people, namely, a fair society, will be met.
Papandreou made the comments during a traditional New Year's rite in the east Mediterranean country, whereby families, businesses and various institutions cut a pound cake and hand out pieces -- one of which contains a coin or charm -- to attendees for good luck in the coming year.
Speaking during such a ceremony held at PASOK party's offices on Monday, Papandreou thanked employees and cadres for their efforts, while he expressed his confidence that results will be positive both for the party and country.
 Gov't on opposition demands for com't of inquiry into mobile phone tapping caseThe government on Monday reiterated its position of declining to establish Parliamentary committees of inquiry when cases are still being investigated by the independent judiciary.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement at his regular press briefing when asked about opposition demands to form such a committee of inquiry into the Vodafone phone tapping case.
 PM receives new Piraeus mayor FassoulasPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received new Piraeus Mayor Panayiotis Fassoulas at his office, with talks reportedly touching on the major port city's tight fiscal condition and its budget deficits.
Fassoulas, who was supported by main opposition PASOK, won the Piraeus mayoral race last October, beating out Christos Agrapidis, whom he succeeded.
Other subjects discussed included the issue of a handful of state government-owned building sites left uncompleted for decades.
Finally, asked by reporters over the government's intent to privatize the services sector at Piraeus' commercial container port, Fassoulas - a towering former basketball international - said any privatization should proceed very carefully.
 Synaspismos leader Alavanos meets Security Corps trade unionistsCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Monday met with the trade unionists of the Security Corps.
After the meeting, he said his party supports the demands of those working in the Police, Firebrigade and Port Authority.
"It may appear peculiar but their problem is not Synaspismos. Their problem are the government policies and I speak about the government policies of the previous one but also of the current government and on their being handled as working people," Alavanos said, adding that "the government cannot give promises, for example, for an increase of 140 euros, and not keep them."
 New Hania prefect receives US commander of NSA Souda BayNew Hania Prefect Grigoris Archontakis on Monday received US Navy Capt. Stephen B. Sale, the commanding officer of NSA Souda Bay, a US military installation located within the same-name Hellenic Airforce base in western Crete.
During the courtesy visit, the new prefect reportedly called for increased commercial ties between the local business community and the key US installation.
On his part, Capt. Sale noted that the base purchased goods and services from the local community in 2006 totalling 25 million euros.
Additionally, both men discussed issues dealing with off-duty and off-base US military personnel.
 Greek government focusing on Lisbon Strategy goals, development minister saysDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday that the Greek government remains focused on the Lisbon Strategy goals, implementing the national reforms program which is producing results, as appears by the assessment of the program issued by the European Commission last month that will be submitted to the spring European Council in March 2007.
"We are making an effort and we have taken considerable measures to achieve the goals of the Lisbon Strategy. However, we are aware that much more remains to be done and this is what we are doing. We are planning and implementing the necessary interventions and reforms to strengthen the competitiveness of the Greek economy and of Greek businesses," he said.
The minister underlined that the European Commission pointed out that in past years the economy of Greece is characterized by high growth rates (4.4 percent on average), with the increase in labour productivity clearly exceeding the European average for 2006. Moreover, the GDP per capita was 83 percent of the European average in 2006.
After having a high public deficit for many years, Greece is expected to decrease the deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP in 2006. However, the public debt remains one of the highest in the European Union, amounting to 104.8 percent of GDP.
The Commission's report also points to Greece's progress in the macroeconomic sector and to the reforms in the employment sector.
 FinMin on official visit to India, February 7-11Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday announced he would lead a multi-party business delegation on an official visit to India, February 7-11, 2007.
The date of the official visit was confirmed during a meeting with India's ambassador to Greece Mr. Bhaskar Balakrishnan.
The visit aims to boost bilateral economic relations as part of a Greek government policy to promote external relations.
 Employment minister gives assurances on auditing apparatuses activationEmployment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Monday gave assurances on the activation of the ministry's auditing apparatuses to secure the implementation of the new sector labor agreement to the president and secretary general of the Bank Employee Unions Federation (OTOE) S. Koukos and A. Mylonopoulos.
Speaking after his meeting with the trade unionists, Tsitouridis congratulated OTOE for the responsibility it showed, reaching a collective labour agreement that is beneficial for the sector.
The new OTOE president called on the minister to have the auditing apparatuses of the Labor Inspection Corps make a move for the activation of the arrangement on the new contract for special timetables and special bank services, reminding of laborious negotiations that had lasted for about 11 months.
Asked about the date for the commencement of bank branches operating in afternoons and on Saturdays, Koukos replied that, according to the contract, this issue is exclusively up to banks to decide.
 Tsitouridis on early retirementEmployment and Social Solidarity Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, replying to a question on information provided by the Panhellenic Labor Federation at social security funds regarding a wave of early retirements, said on Monday that "those who have not fulfilled conditions for a main pension must remain at their work."
On the question of measures to combat unemployment, the minister added that the arrangement on the creation of a Solidarity Fund will be discussed on Tuesday during an inner cabinet meeting.
 Increase in tourist arrivals and revenues expected in 2007Developments in the tourist sector are expected to be positive in 2007, both as regards arrivals and revenues, on condition that no unexpected situations will occur that will affect the domestic and international tourist environment.
This was indicated by Hotel Chamber of Greece President Gerasimos Fokas in the framework of the Chamber's annual reception to welcome the New Year.
The year 2006, both at the level of arrivals and revenues, showed considerable tourist indicators for the sector in its entirety, as well as for hotel businesses, for the second consecutive year.
Fokas said that the Chamber proposes for the three-year period until 2010 the implementation of a firm and specialised policy of creating new units with special measures and policies both for the touristically developed regions and destinations due to be developed.
"The Chamber intends, through specific initiatives, to become actively involved in the shaping of a new business environment for the firms it represents, proposing in parallel positions and motions for the creation of a more modern and competitive environment for Greek tourism," he further said.
 Tourism minister addresses Greek Tourist Vessel receptionTourist Development Minister Fanny Palli Petralia addressed the annual New Year reception of the Union of Greek Tourist Vessels Owners on Monday, stressing that marine tourism and yachting is a very important part of Greek tourism and pointing out that it is a sector requiring necessary attention by all.
The minister offered assurances that "a strong will and a positive mood exist on the part of the government and the ministry in particular for all possibilities in this sector to be promoted." She also emphasized that marine tourism constitutes a priority for Greece and plays a leading role in the country's tourist policy.
Lastly, Petralia said that a main concern of the ministry is the improvement of infrastructures and of services provided in the marine tourism sector and noted that her cooperation with Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyannis was very close.
 Seven major road networks to open to traffic in Central Macedonia in 2007-2008Seven major road projects, budgeted at over 200 million euros, are being implemented by the Central Macedonia Region and are expected to open to traffic in the two-year-period 2007-2008.
According to data presented at a press conference given on Monday by the Region's Secretary General, George Tsiotras, completed in 2007 will be the widening of the Langada road to Thessaloniki, the detour Peleas Horas of the new Halkidona-Edessa national highway and the Axios river bridge with access to Idomeni and Evzones.
In 2008, put into service will be the road networks Thessaloniki-Kilkis-Doirani, Veria-Naousa-Skythra, Thessalo-niki-Edessa (Paralimni section) and the Edessa Southern Detour.
At the same time in 2007, 10 studies will be tendered for an equal number of projects in Central Macedonia, the budget of which will exceed 160 million euros.
 Athens Chamber of Light Industry holds its annual receptionThe Athens Chamber of Light Industry held its annual reception on Monday evening at which main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou made an address.
"The changes in society and the economy must be made together with the citizens and the entrepreneurs. There must be trust in the Greek entrepreneur and for the policy of punishment of business risk to stop," Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader added that "the policy which the government is following does not serve the majority of entrepreneurship, while measures it is taking such as the reduction of pensions of the Fund for Craftsmen and Small Traders (TEBE) and other measures with retrogressive validity, create insecurity and harm the Greek economy and society."
At the same event, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said that "the obligation of all is for us to support Greek industry," adding that 650,000 light industry businesses and 1,500,000 working people live and develop in an environment which faces problems.
The Chamber's president, P. Ravanis, said in his address that the environment for Greek light industry is becoming grim.
Also present at the annual reception were Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and PASOK deputy Christos Papoutsis.
 Financing of 1,250 projects in the Dodecanese and Cycladic islandsThe Secretary General of the South Aegean Region, Haralamblos Kokkinos, in a press conference he gave in Rhodes on Monday said that 1,250 projects have been financed in the Dodecanese and Cycladic islands.
In his review of 2006, Kokkinos said that 603 of these projects were financed by the Regional Operation Program with a total budget of 566 million euros, while 566 projects are financed by the Thiseas program.
 National Bank begins tender to buy remaining stake in FinansbankNational Bank of Greece on Monday began a tender to buy minority shares in Finansbank.
The Greek bank has completed the purchase of 46 percent of shares in the Turkish bank in August 18, 2006. National Bank said the tender would be completed in January 29 and will last 22 days, according to a decision by Turkeyās Capital Markets Board.
 Attica enterprises demand early beginning of winter sales seasonCommerce enterprises in the Attica region on Monday said they would begin the season's retail sales offers from January 10, ten days before the official opening of the winter sales season.
Panagis Karelas, the president of the Commerce Club of Athens, speaking to reporters said enterprises would begin offering discounts on the counter in an effort to prevent the implementation of abusive promotion sales methods by certain enterprises.
Presenting a survey on 1,044 commerce enterprises in the Attica region, Sotiris Antoniou vice-president of the Club, said 79.89 percent of them supported an early opening of the sales season in January 10, sharply up from a 56 pct rate in last year's survey.
 The winter sales season officially begins on January 22.Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, com-menting on a demand by the Association of Retail Enterprises of Greece to abolish and amend an existing legislation on retail sales and offers, said the government was determined to implement existing laws and noted that the government policy has significantly contributed in improving business climate in the country during 2006, when retail sales turnover rose by 7.7 pct in the first 10 months of the year.
 No public transport fare hikes, minister saysTransport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday urged the heads of 24 public transportation organizations to focus on improving services for commuters and to solve daily problems more rapidly.
The minister also underlined that there would be no increases in public transport fares.
Liapis unveiled the ministry's main goals and priorities, and urged for speedier implementation of projects, such as implementing legislation on the restructuring of public sector enterprises and reducing deficits. The minister urged the heads of the 24 organisations to prepare timely preparations of projects to be included in the upcoming 4th Community Support Framework (CSF).
 Commission requests Greece to end discrimination against non-Greek partnershipsThe European Commission on Monday sent a formal request to Greece to amend its legislation concerning the tax rules according to which non-resident partnerships in Greece are taxed more heavily than those residents in Greece.
The Commission, in an announcement on its official site, said it was of the view that these rules were discriminatory and incompatible with the EC Treaty, which guarantees the freedom of establishment. The request is in the form of a āreasoned opinionā under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If Greece does not reply satisfactorily to the reasoned opinion within two months the Commission may refer the matter to the Court.
According to Greek tax legislation, non-resident partnerships in Greece are taxed more heavily than those residents in Greece. Partnerships having their statutory or real seat in Greece are subject to a lower tax rate than partnerships having their statutory or real seat in other Member States.
Greece acknowledges that there is a minor difference between the tax rates for domestic partnerships and foreign partnerships but they argue that this difference is justified due to the fact that a proportion of the profits of a domestic partnership is taxed in the hands of the individual partners. The Commission considers that this situation does not necessarily entail higher taxation. On the contrary, it may in some circumstances entail an even lower effective rate of tax.
 Contract signed for construction of new cultural centre in AthensJ&P-ABAX SA has proceeded in the signing of a contract for the building of the project "New Cultural Centre of the Michalis Kakoyiannis Foundation" on 206, Piraeus Street, at a total budget of 9.67 million euros.
The contract was signed by the Michalis Kakoyiannis Public Benefit Foundation and the company PROET SA, which is 100 per cent subsidiary company of J&P-ABAX SA.
The foundation's cultural centre, at Attica's Tavros Municipality, will have an expanse of 6,810 square meters, with four floors and two basements.
The deadline of the project is 550 days from the signing of the contract.
 Housing loans for GypsiesA total of 1,730 loans for the housing of Gypsies have been issued after the signing of relevant decisions by Deputy Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Athanasios Nakos.
These decisions concern 1,730 loans and for the issuing of which, taken into consideration were the available guarantees of the Greek state, the housing restoration programs, the number of applications which were submitted to the local government organisations and the utlisation of public expanse.
 ASE turnover jumped 62.2 pct in 2006Turnover in the Athens Stock Exchange totalled 85.339 billion euros in 2006, up 62.2 percent from 52.6 billion euros in 2005, official figures showed on Monday.
Hellenic Exchanges SA, in a monthly report published on Monday, said average daily turnover totaled 342.73 million euros last year from 210.42 million euros in 2005.
December turnover reached 6.666 billion euros with average daily turnover at 350.85 million euros, while active codes totaled 93,496.
Inflows of foreign investment capital in the Greek stock market reached 884.21 million euros in December to a total of 5.521 billion euros in the year, up 6.0 percent from 2005 (5.224 billion euros), while outflows of investment capital totalled 5.653 billion euros in 2006.
The Greek stock market opened 56,667 new codes in 2006 from 30,812 in 2005. The market's capitalization totaled 158 billion euros in December, up 3.7 pct from November (152.35 billion euros).
Foreign investors' participation in the Greek market totaled 46.64 percent in December (49.55 pct in Big Cap stocks and 13.21 pct in Mid and Small Cap stocks).
 ASE breaks 4,600-point barrier on MondayGreek stocks on Monday jumped to their highest closing levels since September 2000, with the composite index breaking the 4,600-barrier to end at 4,602.33 points, up 0.93 percent. Turnover at the Athens Stock Exchange was a robust 429 million euros.
Sector indices, however, ended mixed, with Food-Beverage (2.92 pct), Telecoms (2.21 pct) and Travel (1.57 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Healthcare (1.61 pct), Oil (1.12 pct) and Technology (1.01 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses.
The Big Cap index jumped 1.02 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.03 pct and the Small Cap index dropped 1.13 pct.
Hitech (20 pct), Varvaressos (20 pct) and Klonatex (20 pct) were top gainers, while Desmos (12.5 pct), Attica Publications (9.34 pct) and Yalco (7.33 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 161 to 90 with another 56 issues unchanged.
ADEX closing report
Futures contract prices ended mixed Mondayās session in the Athens Derivatives Exchange with turnover at 158.95 million euros.
The January contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.38 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.17 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index total 7,972 contracts worth 98.895 million euros with 14,474 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 335 contracts worth 8.825 million euros with 1,273 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 6,724 contracts worth 15.5 million euros with investorsā interest focusing on National Bankās contracts (1,673), followed by Eurobank (486), OTE (261), PPC (692), OPAP (315), Piraeus Bank (158), Alpha Bank (124), Intracom (715) and Intralot (176).
Volume in stock repos totalled 39 contracts and in reverse stock repos totalled 5,335 contracts.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.12%
Personal & Household: -1.00%
Raw Materials: -0.45%
Travel & Leisure: +1.57%
Food & Beverages: +2.92%
Financial Services: -0.14%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP, Marfin Laiki and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.64
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.84
HBC Coca Cola: 31.28
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.00
Emporiki Bank: 23.30
National Bank of Greece: 37.08
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 29.44
Titan Cement Company: 42.80
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totalled 2.825 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.585 billion euros were bid orders and 1.240 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2016) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.355 billion euros followed by the 10-year bond (July 20, 2015) with a turnover of 395 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.26 percent.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bankās overnight rate eased to 3.59 pct from 3.61 pct on Friday, the two-day rate was unchanged at 3.62 pct, the one-month rate at 3.62 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.05 pct from 4.02 pct on Friday.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.311
Pound sterling 0.678
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.133
Japanese yen 155.66
Swiss franc 1.622
Norwegian kroner 8.330
Cyprus pound 0.583
Canadian dollar 1.540
Australian dollar 1.680
 Need for entry of provincial newspapers to the new digital eraMinister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas gave a joint press conference in Athens on Monday on the theme:"The strengthening of the provincial Press for its electronic and digital operation".
Roussopoulos said that of the 240 operational plans which were submitted, 234 were approved, at a total cost of 3.5 million euros.
The minister of state referred to the need for the modernization of the provincial press, with the ultimate target "the strengthening of the quality of democracy in the regions."
On his part, Development Minister Sioufas noted that the priority of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and of himself is the strengthening of the provincial press, within the framework of the priority which the government gives for the Greek regions.
"The aim is to facilitate the entry of the regions' newspapers to the new digital era," Sioufas said.
 Founder of EMPROS theatre, Tasos Bantis, dies SundayThe founder and driving force of the EMPROS theatre, Tasos Bantis, died on Sunday at the age of 56.
He worked with the National Theatre in Northern Greece as an actor, while in the early 90s he founded the EMPROS theatre āMorfes theatrical sceneā, directing plays that became major hits.
Among his roles in the cinema was the grandfather of the leading man in the acclaimed film Politiki Kouzina.
His funeral will be held in Vironas, Athens on Tuesday.
 New findings from excavations by the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified ForestNew impressive findings have come to light by the continuous excavations which are being carried out by the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest.
The new findings are already on show at the museum's exhibition halls, at Sigri, while they will be announced at the 11th International Conference of the Greek Geological Society in Athens in May.
 Prespa Lake short-horn cow threatened with extinctionThe short-horn pygmy cow found in the region of Prespa Lake, in northwestern Greece, is threatened with extinction, with just 10-12 remaining animals in the region of Psarades.
The SAVE (Safeguard for Agricultural Varieties in Europe) foundation undertook to register the remaining animals in the region and according to scientists only through monitored reproduction can the species be saved.
Short-horn cows can be seen elsewhere in Greece, but the Prespa cow is characteristic for its short trunk. The specific cow species is 1-1.15 meters tall and weighs 180-200 kilos.
 Alleged child molester to give additional testimonyA gas station owner in Edessa, northwest Greece, accused of sexually abusing several underage boys will again be led before a local magistrate to give additional testimony after another two juveniles, 11 and 16, came forth last week to claim they were molested by him.
Both juveniles reportedly told police they were molested by the 47-year-old suspect in return for money, the latest twist in a case that has shaken public opinion in the east Mediterranean country.
In the meantime, an ongoing police investigation aims to determine if more juveniles who previously work at the manās gas station were also molested.
The suspect, who allegedly abused three Albanian boys aged between 9 and 13 and subsequently paid off their fathers keep the matter concealed from authorities, was arrested last Wednesday. He remains in police custody, along with the father of one of the alleged victims.
 Illegal migrant arrests in Thessaloniki, SamosA 43-year-old man was arrested for transporting five illegal migrants following a car chase in the greater Thessaloniki area. A police investigation is underway to establish if the alleged trafficker is a member of a migrant smuggling ring.
Meanwhile, a total of 16 African illegal migrants were found on the boat of a Turk national intercepted by the coastguard off the eastern Aegean island of Samos earlier on Monday.
Another 10 illegal immigrants spotted in the Karlovasi site on Samos were arrested by authorities.
 Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy on TuesdayPartly cloudy weather is forecast in all parts of the country on Tuesday, with scattered showers in the west and south of the mainland. Rise in temperatures. Winds southerly, south-west-erly, light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens from 4C to 17C; and in Thessaloniki between 2C and 13C.
 Papadopoulos: Demolition of illegal footbridge not a gesture of goodwillNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Turkish side ought to lift the illegality of the construction of the footbridge at Ledra Street and cannot ask exchange from the Greek Cypriot side and present the lifting of its own illegality as a sign of good will, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said here Monday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a gathering of retired civil servants in Nicosia, the president also commented the cancellation of a meeting between Director of the Religious Affairs of the Turkish Cypriot community Ahmet Yunluer with Archbishop Chrysostomos ĪĪ, noting that all these developments were the result of the same cause, that the Turkish army is deciding for all moves in the occupied north of Cyprus.
Yunluer cancelled Monday's visit to Archbishop Chrysostomos II citing "the climate is not favourable".
Invited to evaluate the situation surrounding Ledra Street and the Turkish reactions to the demolition of the footbridge, President Papadopoulos said that "developments sadden us because our interlocutor's credibility is being damaged".
"I think that it is difficult to maintain expectations that Mr. (Mehmet Ali) Talat is in a position to decide on issues which concern the solution of the Cyprus problem", President Papadopoulos said.
"Regarding the footbridge, we should be careful so that the obligation which the Turkish side had to lift the illegality of the construction of the bridge is not presented to us as a concession and wanting something in exchange for it", the president underlined.
"We should be clear on this issue", the president said "so that the whole issue is not turned from an issue of validity of the pseudostate's administration, to an issue of competition of so called goodwill".
The Cypriot president said that the construction of the foot-bridge was an "illegality, we complained at the time it was taking place, we made our suggestion to open Ledra Street, it was our proposal and we have no new element to add to that".
He said that the proposal is the one submitted in December 2005 and later in writing to UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari. Therefore, he said, "the Turkish side, since it must lift the illegality, cannot ask for something in exchange from us, by presenting the lifting of its own illegality as a gesture of good will", President Papado-poulos concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
 Yunluer cancells meeting with Archbishop ChrysostomosNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Director of Religious Affairs of the Turkish Cypriot community Ahmet Yunluer cancelled the meeting that was scheduled to take place Monday with the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, at the Holy Archbishopric, the government-controlled part of the divided capital Nicosia.
"The Director of Religious Affairs of the Turkish Cypriot community Ahmet Yunluer cancelled today's visit to HE the Archbishop of Cyprus because, according to his view, 'the climate is not favourable'", a press release issued by the Archbi-shopric says.
In statements to CNA, the Director of the office of the Archbishop Frixos Kleanthous said that Chrysostomos II is ready to meet with Yunluer anytime.
"Whenever Yunluer considers the climate to be favourable, Archbishop Chrysostomos II is ready to meet him", Kleanthous said.
He also expressed the view that their second meeting scheduled for 22 January in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus would most probably not take place either.
"The Archbishop can not reciprocate a visit that never took place", Kleanthous concluded.
Monday's meeting would have taken place at the Holy Archbishopric in Nicosia, and would have been attended by three senior Greek Orthodox clergy and another three aides to Yunluer.
The Archbishop was to host a lunch for his guest and after that they would both visit the mosque of Hala Sultan in Larnaca, on the southern coast, an important religious shrine in the Moslem world.
On January 22, the Archbishop was to cross into the northern Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus to meet Yunluer, who would also host a lunch for his guest and accompany him to the monastery of the founder of the Church of Cyprus, Saint Barnabas, near the eastern occupied town of Famagusta.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.