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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis heaps praise on Croatia's Euro-Atlantic progress, meets with PM Sanader
  • [02] PM Karamanlis on hand for Slovenia's commemoration of euro-zone accession
  • [03] PM: Uncompromising in fight against terrorism
  • [04] Terror strike investigation yields new clues, police say
  • [05] PASOK spokesman criticises gov't on handling of terrorism
  • [06] Papandreou in Naoussa; slams government policies at home and abroad
  • [07] Gov't raps main opposition
  • [08] Tourism, interior ministries set up joint committee
  • [09] Petralia on US embassy attack
  • [10] KKE leader holds press conference on education
  • [11] Former Syn party leader calls for formula allowing release of names implicated in illegal conscription exemptions
  • [12] Evgenia Tsoumani attends int'l forum in Jordan on the role of women in the economy
  • [13] FinMin praises statistical service upgraded, improved role
  • [14] FinMin to visit Australia in April
  • [15] Rise in business activity normal, industry says
  • [16] Greece's participation in Vienna's Int'l Tourism Exhibition leaves best impressions
  • [17] Daskalopoulos: '2007 a pre-election or even an election year'
  • [18] IOBE survey on Greek construction sector
  • [19] Intralot buys 50.1% of Argentina's Techno Accion
  • [20] Farm cooperatives need revitalisation
  • [21] Informer in share buyback
  • [22] Gov't finances olive investments
  • [23] Greek stocks end 0.5% higher on Monday
  • [24] Derivatives Market Close: ATEbank top in stock futures trade
  • [25] Foreign Exchange Rates
  • [26] Activities of the Organisation for the Projection of Greek Culture for 2007
  • [27] Culture ministry publication to fund scholarships
  • [28] Greek Cultural Week in Madrid
  • [29] Andreas Papandreou archives given to Greek Parliament library
  • [30] Helen Glygatzi-Arvehler proclaimed honourary professor of Thessaloniki University
  • [31] Greeks prefer Greece to any other EU member-state, Eurobarometre shows
  • [32] N17 arch-assassin Koufodinas makes closing statement in appeals trial
  • [33] Former Getty Museum curator True free on bail
  • [34] Turkish General Consul in Komotini visits Drama mayor
  • [35] Exhibition inaugurated on work of Technology and Research Foundation
  • [36] Exhibition of sculptures and lithographs by Dali at Byzantine Museum
  • [37] Over 360 drug trafficking-related arrests in Thessaloniki in 2006
  • [38] Drug arrests in Thessaloniki
  • [39] Turkish national, 84 illegals intercepted on Samos
  • [40] ATMs, tax office torched in Thessaloniki
  • [41] Weather Forecast: Fair on Tuesday
  • [42] The Athens dailies at a glance
  • [43] FM hopes efforts to open Ledra Street checkpoint will bear fruit

  • [01] Karamanlis heaps praise on Croatia's Euro-Atlantic progress, meets with PM Sanader

    ZAGREB (ANA-MPA / A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday reiterated Greece's support for Croatia's Euro-Atlantic course, after a meeting here with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

    Karamanlis, who arrived in Zagreb on Sunday night on the first leg of a visit to Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia, said bilateral political relations between Greece and Croatia were excellent, while calling for additional efforts so that bilateral trade ties reach the excellent level of political relations.

    Croatia, Karamanlis said, was ahead of western Balkan countries in the course towards incorporation into Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    Greece, he added, stood at the side of Croatia on its road to European Union accession, and considered "significant" the progress and reforms that Croatia has made in order to complete its accession negotiations.

    With respect to the membership criteria for joining NATO, Karamanlis said Croatia has made substantial progress, adding that Greece looks forward to the prospect of an invitation being extended to Croatia during the next NATO summit in 2008.

    He also said that he and Sanader discussed developments in the Balkans, with a particular emphasis on Kosovo, noting that Croatia's role was acquiring particular importance at this time, as it currently chaired the SE Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP).

    "Looking back on Croatia's 15-year course, from its establish-ment during the turbulent period of the break-up of Yugoslavia to the present, which finds Croatia on the threshold of the European Union, I cannot but express my admiration and congratulations for the progress accomplished," Karamanlis said.

    Sanader, in turn, said Greece was a firm supporter of Croatia's Euro-Atlantic prospects, and that premier Karamanlis had committed himself to backing Croatia for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

    Sanader also said he accepted an invitation by Karamanlis to visit Greece in the first half of 2008, stressing that he would be accompanied by entrepreneurs on that visit.

    Finally, the Croatian prime minister further stressed to Kara-manlis that his country will complete preparations for joining the EU and NATO by the end of 2008.

    Karamanlis later met with Croatian president Stjepe Mesic, while afterwards he addressed a panegyric meeting of the Croatian cabinet marking the 15th anniversary of the country's independence.

    [02] PM Karamanlis on hand for Slovenia's commemoration of euro-zone accession

    LJUBLJANA (ANA-MPA / A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived here early Monday afternoon -- following his official visit to neighbouring Croatia -- to attend celebratory events commemorating Slovenia's highly prized entrance into the euro-zone, as the one-time former Yugoslav republic on Jan. 1, 2007 became the 13th member-state to introduce the single European currency.

    Karamanlis joined European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- whose country currently holds the EU presidency -- and European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, among others, at a reception hosted by Slovenian Premier Janez Jansa. Slovenia's euro-zone membership also coincided with the 15th anniversary of the country's independence.

    "This development (Slovenia's euro-zone entry) sends a message that continuing European integration is more attractive than ever. It is a very significant message in the current junction vis-à-vis the blueprint for the European edifice, whereas it is also a positive message of confidence in the European economy and currency," he said in his address.

    The Greek PM also stressed that Slovenia serves as an example for all the countries aspiring to join the Union and wishing to "share with us the benefits of European integration".

    Karamanlis, in fact, indirectly touched on neighbouring Turkey's increasingly complicated EU course, as he noted that Slovenia's case is an "example that clearly demonstrates that our Union is open to all those that adopt its rules and fulfil all the conditions and criteria (for membership)."

    Finally, Karamanlis congratulated the Slovenian people and leadership over the country's historic membership in the euro-zone, reminding that Athens vigorously backed the country's accession as the 13th euro-zone member.

    The country of two million introduced the euro on Jan. 1, becoming the first of the 10 countries to join the bloc two years ago that satisfied economic criteria needed to join the euro zone.

    [03] PM: Uncompromising in fight against terrorism

    ZAGREB (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis, currently in Croatia, in reply to a press question on the rocket attack against the US embassy in Athens early Friday, which caused minor material damage but no injuries, stressed that "the fight against terrorism requires seriousness and a sense of responsibility, and above all unity".

    Karamanlis added that "we are uncompromising and merciless in this fight, just as every democrtically aware citizen".

    [04] Terror strike investigation yields new clues, police say

    Greek police on Monday began handing out flyers in the streets surrounding the United States Embassy in Athens, hoping to bring forward eye-witnesses that might help identify three shadowy figures recorded by embassy security cameras that may belong to the perpetrators of Friday's terrorist strike.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros confirmed that Greek law enforcement authorities, while in charge of the investigation, were collaborating with foreign agencies as they had done in the past.

    Echoing statements by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Zagreb, the spokesman underlined that Greek authorities would be "relentless in the struggle to combat terrorism" though no-ting that "similar, isolated events cannot be ruled out". He also pointed out that "it is the obligation of the Greek State to do all that it can to offer protection measures to foreign diplomatic missions".

    Regarding the use of possible clues recorded by cameras monitoring traffic flow, which is currently blocked by a ruling issued by the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, Antonaros said a decision by Greece's supreme administrative court was still pending, after an application filed by the govern-ment.

    Meanwhile, the Greek anti-terrorist squad announced that it was working closely with FBI agents in Athens, based on an action plan developed by Scotland Yard, to uncover clues concerning the rocket-propelled missile fired against the U.S. Embassy on Friday morning.

    Apart from the flyer, which urges potential witnesses to contact the police if they remember seeing something unusual in the days or weeks leading up to the attack, investigating officers have also interviewed more than 4,000 people living in the area around the embassy and examined approximately 10,000 vehicles.

    So far, none of the vehicles examined appears to have been used by the terrorists, who are suspected of reaching the site from which the missile was fired in a closed goods vehicle or van.

    Witness accounts also report that three men and a woman were seen moving away from the site where the missile was fired on Lampsakou street heading toward nearby Mihalakopoulou street, while avoiding Vassilis Sofias Avenue where the Embassy is located.

    Digital analysis of the three figures recorded by an embassy camera, meanwhile, indicates that they most likely belong to two men and a woman.

    Police say the recordings are very unclear, so that it is impossible to identify the features of the three figures, but digital analysis makes it possible to accurately identify their body type and certain biometric data. These can narrow down the number of possible suspects and possibly help solve the case through the use of databases of known criminals or the passport office. They pointed out, however, that this would only yield results if the individuals have criminal records or recently had a new passport issued.

    Other witness accounts of a couple seen frequenting the same site in days leading up to the attack are now being cross-checked with footage taken by embassy security cameras that U.S. authorities are gradually handing over to Greek investigators.

    The investigation is also following up possible leads to determine the origin of the anti-tank grenade-launcher used in the attack. Since this was a Chinese copy of the Russian RPG 7, investigators consider that it most likely came from Albania, which bought weapons from China in the '70s and had its military stores looted in 1997.

    So far, there has been no official announcement about whether any organisation had claimed responsibility for the attack through a proclamation but the anti-terrorist squad believe that the "Revolutionary Struggle" is responsible for the strike, as was claimed in an anonymous call to the security firm in charge of protecting the embassy shortly after the hit.

    [05] PASOK spokesman criticises gov't on handling of terrorism

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Petros Efthymiou accused the government of confusing the safeguarding of fundamental democratic liberties and the country's security.

    Addressing reporters Monday on the issue of terrorism, Efthymiou noted that "only for the New Democracy is there confusion between the safeguarding of fundamental and constitutional liberties and the security of the country."

    "With the existing institutional framework - as it is guaranteed by the Constitution, international conventions and the legislation - it is possible to fully safeguard fundamental rights and democratic and individual freedoms, and at the same time, in the case of a criminal act, have the possibility to process evidence, with the support of the judiciary naturally," Efthy-miou added.

    "Therefore, what counts is the effectiveness of state apparatuses for preventing and not only cracking down on criminal acts, including of course terrorism," he said.

    Responding to a quetion regarding the use of traffic cameras, the PASOK spokesman said that "our position is categorical: wherever cameras are installed for security reasons relating either to public or private agencies, like banks, these should be installed after permission of the Personal Data Pretection Authority and function under express guarantees that protect individual and collective rights."

    On her part, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, said in a press conference that her party was against the use of any camera for security reasons.

    [06] Papandreou in Naoussa; slams government policies at home and abroad

    Visiting the northern Greek city of Naousa in Imathia, central Macedonia on Monday, Greece's main opposition leader George Papandreou slammed the government's policies at home and abroad. According to the president of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), the government lacked a serious and carefully planned policy for foreign affairs, while its policies in other areas were dominated by cronyism and patronage.

    "The government has missed enormous opportunities in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. This is something that burdens our country's agenda abroad and, of course, this has repercussions on the economy, social policy and trade," he said.

    Regarding local concerns about the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over FYROM's use of the name 'Macedonia' - also shared with the geographical area spanning almost the entire breadth of northern Greece - Papandreou said concern over the government's views on the handling of foreign policy issues, especially the lack of initiatives, was shared by all of Greece.

    Noting that Greece had lost its former lead in the Balkan region, Papandreou stressed that this was more serious for Macedonia, which was adjacent to the new EU member-states, Bulgaria and Romania, whose borders had now opened and for which Greece should a carefully studied policy.

    This lack of planning also extended to domestic issues, where there was a lack of comprehensive and planned policies to promote development and benefit the citizens, he added.

    During his visit to the city, Papandreou met Naousa Mayor Tassos Karabatzos and other local officials, who outlined problems arising from the city's deindustrialisation and the resulting high unemployment, as well as problems faced by farmers, hoteliers and businesses.

    Challenged by local workers made redundant by the Klostiria Naousis textile plant over PASOK's failure to back a government bill introducing measures for the relief of those who lost their jobs, Papandreou said his party was against "charity" and wanted a comprehensive policy for the region.

    "Our own proposal is different from that implemented today by New Democracy. We believe in another way, which is a comprehensive approach for reconstruction of the region," he said.

    [07] Gov't raps main opposition

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Monday charged the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) over its regional policy.

    "(PASOK leader) George Papandreou and his party have been slow to remember problems in the Greek regions. It would be interesting if he explained in Naoussa why PASOK voted down a very important government initiative that gave respite to an area with problems dating back to a PASOK government," Tsitouridis said.

    He was referring to criticism of the government that Papandreou made in a visit to Naoussa.

    [08] Tourism, interior ministries set up joint committee

    Tourism development minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Monday announced that a flexible committee would be set up comprising representatives of the tourism development ministry and the interior ministry, during a press conference held after a meeting she had with interior, public administration and decentralisation minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    The purpose of the committee will be to tackle problems created by the overlapping authorities of the two ministries, the problems concerning local government, hotels, and the tourism sector in general, Petralia explained, adding that the role of the local governments was decisive for the country's tourism image, and consequently it was considered that the cooperation between the ministries needed to be constant and coordinated.

    Pavlopoulos, in turn, stressed the contribution of the tourism sector to the national economy, but also the country's projection abroad.

    He added that the committee, in addition to monitoring the problems and the progress in their solution, would also be able to submit proposals for the resolution.

    The joint effort with the tourism development ministry, Pavlo-poulos continued, aimed at normalising the economic relations of the local government with the hotel enterprises, so that they would know what their obligations were, and so that the local government organisations would be deprived of any of their revenues.

    Aimed at tackling the chronic problems, the institutional framework has changed on the basis of the new municipal and community code, and will be completed with the new prefectural government code that was due to be submited by June, Pavlopoulos added.

    [09] Petralia on US embassy attack

    Greece is a safe country, and proved this with the smooth organisation of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Petralia stressed, and expressed certainty that there would be no repercussions on tourism from the US to Greece due to last Friday's early-morning rocket attack at the US embassy in Athens, which caused minor material damage but no injuries.

    In fact, she said, the first tourism movement figures since October to the present indicated a very good number of reservations, particularly in the area of yachting.

    Replying to a question on whether a travel directive had been issued by the US concerning Greece, Petralia said that there was no travel directive by the US, but just a note.

    Petralia has spoken with US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries and US president George Bush's security advisor, as well as with representatives of travel agencies in the US.

    [10] KKE leader holds press conference on education

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday stressed her opposition to policies for education promoted by the European Union and Greece's two main parties, demanding the abolition of their "anti-educational" laws and free state education at all levels.

    Outlining her party's positions, Papariga proposed that all young people receive a general education up until age 18 with radical changes to the curriculum, the books and the way that schools operate.

    She demanded the withdrawal of the new books and programmes in primary and middle schools, describing them as "reactionary, anti-pedagogic and unscientific", while noting that they had been designed by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and completed by New Democracy.

    She also proposed that the operation of senior high-schools or lyceums be made independent of the university selection process so as to remove class barriers and the premature selection of students and called for the introduction of public and free vocational schools for students completing lyceum studies, which would issue certificates that allowed holders to exercise a profession without any additional training.

    Papariga called for economic and scientific upgrades for teaching staff and greater democracy in the education system, with the abolition of "autocratic measures that prevent collective procedures and cancel free thought and action".

    KKE's leader also stressed the party's complete opposition to the foundation of private universities, proposing steady work with full rights for all, measures to support unemployed students and a reduction in the minimum age of retirement.

    [11] Former Syn party leader calls for formula allowing release of names implicated in illegal conscription exemptions

    Deputy Defence Minister Ioannis Lambropoulos received former Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Monday, with the latter calling for Parliament's briefing on the issue of illegal military duty exemptions and deferments, which shot onto the national limelight earlier in the month with the arrest of a high-ranking army officer.

    Constantopoulos, in fact, called for a formula that will allow the release of the names of individuals that illegally obtained such exemptions over the past few years -- a development that has been blocked so far by the independent Hellenic Data Protection Authority -- while at the same time ensuring that rulings regarding personal data are observed.

    [12] Evgenia Tsoumani attends int'l forum in Jordan on the role of women in the economy

    Secretary General for the Equality of the Genders, Evgenia Tsoumani, met with Queen Rania of Jordan in Amman as well as with the country's government ministers in the context of her participation, following an invitation by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Suhair Al-Ali, at a high-level international forum on Women and the Economy.

    Tsoumani's participation is within the framework of Greece's economic cooperation with Jordan.

    The forum was organised in cooperation with the World Bank and was held under the presidency of Queen Rania, while Jordanian Prime Minister Maruf Bakhet also attended.

    Addressing the forum, Tsoumani noted that Jordan constitutes a priority in the context of Greece's National Programme for developmental cooperation, while she also referred to the measures which have been taken in Greece for the promotion of women's participation in the economy and the securing of equal opportunities in the labour market.

    Financial News

    [13] FinMin praises statistical service upgraded, improved role

    Greece's National Statistical Service (NSS) has been upgraded in order to offer a credible picture of the country's economic condition and outlook, as well as to assist the government in drafting economic policy, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.

    Addressing an event to celebrate the New Year, Alogoskoufis said over the last few years efforts were made to restore fiscal transparency, with significant efforts made to better measure economic data and help draft a more credible economic policy.

    'Credibility,' he said, 'is a vital element of economic policy and we will insist on this'.

    The Greek minister noted that the statistical service has managed to restore the country's fiscal credibility, but stressed there was still room for improvement.

    'There are things in the economy going well, but also weaknesses in the structure of the economy and society,' he said, citing tax-evasion, unfair practices and poverty.

    [14] FinMin to visit Australia in April

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday met with visiting Industrial, Development, Public Works and Enterprises Minister of Victoria's State government, Th. Theophanous, for talks revolving on bilateral relations between Greece and Australia.

    The Greek minister briefed Theophanous over his upcoming official visit to Australia in April, heading a business delegation, to promote bilateral economic ties.

    [15] Rise in business activity normal, industry says

    A recent rise in business activity is normal in an economy open to international competition and that possesses a modern capital market, the head of the Federation of Greek Industry, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, said on Monday.

    More developments were likely in all sectors of the economy involving higher capital stemming from greater inflows into the Athens bourse, coupled with inflows for mergers and acquisitions and across-the-board investment, Daskalopoulos noted.

    [16] Greece's participation in Vienna's Int'l Tourism Exhibition leaves best impressions

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece took part in the four-day International Tourism Exhibition of Vienna which ended on Sunday and its partici-pation was particularly successful.

    Greece's participation left a positive impression and Austria's tourist flow to Greece this year appears particulary favourable. It is foreseen that there will be a great demand and a significant increase, surpassing by far last year's 600,000 arrivals to Greece by Austrian tourists.

    Last Friday's terrorist attack at the U.S. Embassy in Athens left completely indifferent the Austrian public and entrepreneurs in the tourism sector.

    The large and impressive pavilion of the Greek National Tourist Organisation (GNTO) and of its co- exhibitors from various regions of Greece attracted more than 120,000 visitors who showed particular interest for holidays and relevant bookings in Greece, without making the slightest comment on the rocket attack last Friday against the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

    [17] Daskalopoulos: '2007 a pre-election or even an election year'

    The head of the employers' federation on Monday said 2007 would be a pre-election or even an election year, as he called for the political landscape to be "cleared in order to avoid entering a period of protracted inaction".

    Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Greek Industries, again criticized the country's Competition Authority for its handling of a probe into the fresh milk market, noting that there were legal gaps in a recommendation issued by the authority. The authority has ruled that a "cartel" is active in the sector.

    The Greek industry leader said he hoped all enterprises cited in the case would be wholly exonerated by an ongoing judicial investigation.

    [18] IOBE survey on Greek construction sector

    The outlook for the Greek construction sector will be deter-mined by the rate of absorption of community funds, trends in domestic building activity and a gradual imple-mentation of projects by public and private sector enterprises, a survey by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) stated on Monday.

    IOBE, in a survey, said prospects were positive based on expectations of high absorption rates of community funds by Greece, totalling 20.1 billion euros for the period 2007-2013.

    The survey said funds earmarked for infrastructure projects in the period 2007-2008 totalled 28.42 billion euros, while projecting an increase in absorption rates this year, although the institute warned of a risk of losing funds because delays still existed.

    Private building activity was the second most important factor for the sector's prospects. The survey said house prices soared by 134.02 percent in the period 1995-2004, for an average annual growth rate of 9.91 pct in urban areas around the country. It noted, however, that households' debt burden remain lower compared with Eurozone average rates. IOBE predicted a slight decline in demand for new homes, as well as for a consolidation in home purchase prices. The survey forecast that the construction sector would continue growing by 2013 on the condition that both the state and private sector would be able to effectively deal with all the afore-mentioned challenges.

    The construction sector grew on an average annual rate of 5.6 pct in the period 1995-2004 (in added value terms in fixed prices) raising the sector's participation in the country's GDP to 6.4 percent. Larger construction firms almost tripled their turnover in the 10-year period.

    The survey said the domestic construction sector did not show any signs of integration, with the five largest companies accounting for 7.8 pct of total turnover in the country. Exactly 77.96 pct of firms were personal companies, while 97.69 pct of all enterprises employed less than five workers and 92.31 pct reported a turnover of less than 150,000 euros.

    The public works sector, however, was largely integrated, with the five largest companies accounting for 32.9 pct of turnover. The sector accounted for 7.2 pct of total employment in the country.

    [19] Intralot buys 50.1% of Argentina's Techno Accion

    Intralot on Monday announced the purchase of a majority stake in Techno Accion of Argentina, a lottery company operating a network of 7,500 terminals in 10 states.

    The deal further strengthens Intralot's position in Latin America, as the company is already active in Chile, Peru and Colombia.

    Techno Accion offers integrated lottery and gaming systems solutions in Argentina and it is the second largest such company in the country.

    Intralot purchased a 50.1-pct stake in the company, with the remaining acquired by HAPSA, the operator of the horse racing concession in Buenos Aires and of the Casino Club.

    The deal values the company at 22 million US dollars. Techno Accion's net cash flow position is 3.5 million US dollars.

    Commenting on the deal, Constantinos Antonopoulos, Intralot's chief executive, said "Argentina's gaming and lottery market is very interesting, with very favourable growth prospects for the next years".

    Argentina's gaming and lottery market totals 3.7 billion US dollars, 30 US dollars per capita, or 0.2 pct of per capita GDP.

    [20] Farm cooperatives need revitalisation

    Deputy Agriculture and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos said on Monday that the country's farm cooperatives needed support and revitalisation.

    "Wherever cooperatives operate effectively, the differential between production and consumer prices is narrower," Kontos told a seminar in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    "Only viable and strong cooperatives can back the drive for growth and competitiveness in Greek agriculture and livestock breeding," Kontos noted.

    [21] Informer in share buyback

    Shareholders of Athens-quoted Informer SA on Monday approved a management proposal for a buyback of 2,300,000 shares through the Athens bourse.

    The buyback price range will be two-five euros per share, the company said in a statement.

    The deadline is January 14, 2008, the statement added.

    [22] Gov't finances olive investments

    The government will offer 144 million euros to help finance investments in olives and olive oil, and a total of 235 million euros will be spent, Agriculture and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Monday.

    Measures taken by the government and a publicity campaign had led to a major rise in olive oil for export, the minister noted.

    In January-August 2006, olive oil exports jumped by 47.7% against the same period a year earlier, he stated.

    [23] Greek stocks end 0.5% higher on Monday

    Greek stocks continued moving higher in the first trading session of the week at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 0.50 pct to end at 4,638.62 points, with turnover a strong 462.3 million euros.

    Sector indices ended higher with the Chemicals (4.08 pct), Financial Services (3.08 pct) and Oil (1.64 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Media (0.55 pct), Telecoms (0.51 pct) and Technology (0.33 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.50 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.09 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.75 pct. Hitech (20 pct), Hellenic Acquaculture (12.07 pct), Epilektos (9.88 pct) were top gainers, while Vis (19.55 pct), Tria Alpha (17.88 pct) and Varvaressos (9.32 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 150 to 107 with another 54 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.63%

    Industrials: +0.21%

    Commercial: +1.11%

    Construction: +0.28%

    Media: -0.55%

    Oil & Gas: +1.64%

    Personal & Household: +0.28%

    Raw Materials: +1.48%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.01%

    Technology: -0.33%

    Telecoms: -0.51%

    Banks: +0.89%

    Food & Beverages: -0.06%

    Health: +0.34%

    Utilities: -0.20%

    Chemicals: +4.08%

    Financial Services: +3.08%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Piraeus Bank, and Bank of Cyprus.

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

    Alpha Bank: 25.24

    ATEbank: 4.36

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.64

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.88

    Emporiki Bank: 22.98

    National Bank of Greece: 37.18

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 30.00

    Intralot: 27.48

    Cosmote: 23.34

    OPAP: 29.60

    OTE: 23.90

    Titan Cement Company: 42.10

    [24] Derivatives Market Close: ATEbank top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +0.50%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +1.09%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume):ATEbank (3371)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 264.6 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.32 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.32 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (635 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.7 bln euros

    [25] Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.304

    Pound sterling 0.663

    Danish kroner 7.511

    Swedish kroner 9.155

    Japanese yen 157.2

    Swiss franc 1.625

    Norwegian kroner 8.395

    Cyprus pound 0.583

    Canadian dollar 1.522

    Australian dollar 1.663

    General News

    [26] Activities of the Organisation for the Projection of Greek Culture for 2007

    The Organisation for the Projection of Greek Culture (OPEP), in the context of its activities for the promotion of modern Greek artistic creation abroad through its participation in the major international cultural networks, is continuing its course with new presentations and participations in 2007 as well.

    According to an announcement on Monday, the organisation's first participation for the new year will be held at the 59th congress of the cultural network International Society for Performing Arts Foundation (ISPA), from Tuesday until January 18 in New York titled "Fluidity".

    Also important is the organisation's participation in the annual congress of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), which is also being held in New York from January 19-23.

    On the sidelines of these two events, the organisation will participate in a special meeting on the founding of a new network, which concerns only the arts market, folllowing an invitation which OPEP received at "Cinars 2006", which was held in Canada. The organisation had been invited to participate as member of the new network in its capacity as organiser of the Balkan Performing Arts Martket.

    [27] Culture ministry publication to fund scholarships

    The quarterly edition of a volume with articles and essays, entitled "Culture Notebooks", was unveiled on Monday by Culture Minister George Voulgarakis during a press confe-rence.

    Works by contemporary Greek artists will grace its cover, while the originals will be on display at the culture ministry building, for subsequent sale at an annual auction.

    All auction proceeds will be used to fund the soon-to-be-established cultural scholarships for young Greek artists, researchers and scientists.

    Referring to the variety of themes, Voulgarakis said the objective is to offer a platform to distinguished academics and artists through open debates and dialogue, and to hold a public debate on important cultural issues.

    [28] Greek Cultural Week in Madrid

    "Greece is regarded as a reliable and respectable partner after achieving a high growth rate of 4.4 percent (among the highest in the EU and the Eurozone), an 8-percent increase in the tourist flow in 2006 and a 20-percent increase in exports," press ministry general secretary Panos Livadas said during the "Taste of Greece" cultural week events in Madrid.

    Livadas focused on the promotion of a new face of the "Wonderful Greece" campaign, stressing that Greece is a safe country that has achieved significant progress recently.

    [29] Andreas Papandreou archives given to Greek Parliament library

    The part of the archives of the late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou from the periods when he was Greece's prime minister was handed over to the Hellenic Parliament Library on Monday, to be followed soon by personal items linked to his time in office.

    The Hellenic Parliament Library will house the Andreas Papandreou archives, following an agreement reached between Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki and the late premier's widow, Dimitra Liani Papandreou, who had the archives in her possession.

    Papandreou was thrice elected prime minister of Greece during crucial periods in the country's history, including its transition into the then European Economic Community.

    [30] Helen Glygatzi-Arvehler proclaimed honourary professor of Thessaloniki University

    Helen Glygatzi-Arvehler was proclaimed honourary professor of the Journalism and Mass Media Department of Thessaloniki University during a ceremony on Monday evening.

    Rector Glygatzi-Arvehler, in her address, described journalists as "car-riers of live archive material of history in its making" and "historians of the immediate present."

    [31] Greeks prefer Greece to any other EU member-state, Eurobarometre shows

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    Greeks are the European citizens who show the greatest reservation to abandon their country to live in another European Union member-country so as to work or pass the years of their retirement.

    This conclusion was drawn from the results of a special edition of the Eurobarometre on the operation of the European domestic market in the EU member-states, which was made public here on Monday.

    According to the Eurobarometre, 83 per cent of Greeks declared that "they have never thought" of living and working in some other EU-member-state. It is the highest percentage in the EU.

    At the same time, 96 per cent of Greeks declared that they are reluctant in spending their retirement in another member-state.

    According to the Eurobarometre, 98 per cent of Greeks declared that they have not visited any other member-state these past twelve months with the primary objective the purchase of products and services. This is the highest percentage in the EU, whose average is 89 per cent.

    The EU opinion poll was conducted in the period February 20-March 24, 2006 in the EU's 25 member-states.

    [32] N17 arch-assassin Koufodinas makes closing statement in appeals trial

    The ongoing "November 17" appeals trial of nearly two dozen individuals convicted in the first instance of various terrorism-related crimes resumed on Monday with the first closing state-ment by a defendant, which in this case was none other that convicted N17 arch-assassin Dimitris Koufodinas.

    The self-described beekeeper first reiterated that he takes full responsibility for the terror gang's actions, while again charging that both the first instance convictions and ongoing appeals trial are based on testimony by numerous false witnesses -- ostensibly to incriminate all of the defendants.

    Among others, he said the ultra-leftist urban terrorist cell lacked a "leader" because of its "revolutionary" structure. Additionally, he said a "revolution" in the country appeared as a "closer reality" in 1975 -- when the group notched its first ambush-style assassination -- than in 2000, two years before a botched bombing resulted in its eradication.

    Koufodinas, identified in testimony with the code-name "Loukas" and who lived under an alias for more than two deca-des, said the group does not exist today. Moreover, he criticised the left in Greece today, while adding that he is not "ashamed or repentant" over his role in the terror group. "I am proud that I participated in this great struggle for the freedom of mankind," Koufodinas, who surrendered to authorities weeks after the fateful blast in Piraeus in June 2002, asserted.

    [33] Former Getty Museum curator True free on bail

    Former Getty Museum curator Marion True was released on a 15,000-euro bond on Monday after giving a deposition in Athens before an examining magistrate regarding her involvement in the high-profile Schinoussa antiquities smuggling affair.

    True, 56, was still a defendant in a trial in Italy last month on similar antiquities smuggling charges.

    According to Greek authorities, an unidentified number of undeclared antiquities were found in a residence True kept on the upscale Cyclades island of Paros.

    The Schinoussa case has centred on members of the Papadimitriou family. An Athens prosecutor in late November slapped felony charges against four family members -- a London-based heiress of a maritime shipping concern and her three adult children -- all allegedly linked to a large cache of undeclared antiquities discovered in a luxury villa on the tiny Cyclades isle of Schinoussa last April.

    Cooperation between the Greek and Italian authorities has resulted in the indictment of several people charged with dealing in the illicit trade of antiquities. In the wake of the affair, the Greek culture ministry concluded a reciprocal deal for the return of at least two artifacts from the Los Angeles-based Getty Museum, and is pressing for the return of two other ancient works of art.

    [34] Turkish General Consul in Komotini visits Drama mayor

    Turkish General Consul in Komotini north-eastern Greece, Ahmet Riza Demire, paid on Monday a courtesy visit to Drama Mayor Thomas Margaritis.

    Welcoming the consul, Margaritis said that "our aim should be the maintaining of contacts and good cooperation between the two peoples."

    Demire, who assumed his duties last September, said that he was conducting courtesy visits after the election of new mayoral and prefectural authorities in the region of his competence, wishing at the same time that "the bridge of com-munication between the two peoples be maintained".

    [35] Exhibition inaugurated on work of Technology and Research Foundation

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday inaugu-rated an exhibition on the activities of the Technology and Research Foundation (ITE) on the theme "Innovative imple-mentations of science and technology in contemporary economy and the service of society".

    Also present at the event, held at the development ministry, were the special secretary for Competitiveness, Spyros Efstathopoulos, ITE president Alkiviadis H. Pagiatakis, presidents of research centres and directors of institutes.

    The exhibition will last until February 2 and be open to the public on working days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    [36] Exhibition of sculptures and lithographs by Dali at Byzantine Museum

    Sculptures and lithographs of the most important representative of surrealism, Salvador Dali, will be on exhibition as of Tuesday at the Byzantine Museum in Athens.

    For the needs of the exhibition, 12 original sculptures by Dali have arrived at the Byzantine Museum as well as 12 multiple works, and 21 lithographs, mainly from collections of the QuArt House in Brussels.

    [37] Over 360 drug trafficking-related arrests in Thessaloniki in 2006

    Thessaloniki police arrested over 360 people on drug trafficking charges in 2006 and seized approximately 60 kilos of heroin as well as large amounts of drug trade money, according to figures released on Monday.

    According to official figures, a total of 1,352 people were arrested on drug-related charges, 367 of them for drug trafficking. Among others, police found in their possession 59 kilos and 342.5 grams of heroin, 5 kilos and 688.5 grams of cocaine, 227 kilos of cannabis, 328 cannabis plants, 22 firearms, 12 knives and a total of 271,783 euros of drug money.

    [38] Drug arrests in Thessaloniki

    A 29-year-old illegal migrant from Albania was arrested in Thessaloniki after police found 147 grams of cocaine in his car, which he was driving without a license. A search of his home uncovered 45 grams of a narcotic substance packaged in individual doses ready to be sold to drug addicts.

    In a separate incident, a 37-year-old woman was arrested in Dendropotamos, Thessaloniki, accused of heroin trafficking after police found approximately 38 grams of the drug in her home. Two drug addicts were also arrested, caught in the act of buying drugs from the 37-year-old.

    [39] Turkish national, 84 illegals intercepted on Samos

    A Turkish national was arrested and charged with migrant smuggling after his speedboat was intercepted by a Greek coast guard patrol boat off the eastern Aegean island of Samos early Monday morning.

    Additionally, a total of 45 illegals of various nationalities were rescued from the waters by coast guard officers, while 39 were detained on a Samos beach.

    [40] ATMs, tax office torched in Thessaloniki

    A tax office in Thessaloniki was the target of an arson attack by unidentified individuals in the early morning hours on Monday, who used homemade incendiary devices made up of three small propane canisters. The explosion caused only minor material damage.

    Twenty minutes later, the Bank of Cyprus and Millennium Bank were the targets of arson attacks with propane canisters. The banks' ATM machines were partially damaged by the explo-sions.

    [41] Weather Forecast: Fair on Tuesday

    Fair weather is forecast in all parts of the country, with high northerly winds in the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens from 5C to 15C; and in Thessaloniki between 1C and 14C.

    [42] The Athens dailies at a glance

    The aftermath of the rocket attack early Friday on the US embassy in Athens, which caused minor material damage but no injuries, mainly dominated the front pages of Monday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The secret lies in the Embassy's surveillance cameras - Orgy of rumours, information and anonymous phone calls".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Pensions increases of 4.0-4.2 percent in all main and auxiliary social insurance funds, as of January 1, 2007".

    AVRIANI: "The Americans 'grabbed' 500 million euros to organise of the country on the pretext of the (Athens 2004) Olympic Games - All these expensive, high-tech systems, which were paid for with the sweat of the Greek taxpayer, never worked, Mr. Polydoras (public order minister)?".

    CHORA: "Awaiting the proclamation, with fear of new strike - The data being process by the Americans".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The Americans 'holding' the trump card, while all are oriented towards domestic terrorism".

    ELEFTHEROS: "The Americans gave Polydoras a list with the names of 10 terrorists".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Big Brother at the demonstrations - Surveillance of cell phones, open cameras, sought by US".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The responsibility assumed by the US - The investigation into the rocket attack solely in the hands of the FBI".

    ESTIA: "Climate of looseness in public order - How the crime rate was reduced spectacularly in New York".

    ETHNOS: "The US calls for arrests".

    TA NEA: "FBI withholding the evidence from ELAS (Greek Police)".

    VRADYNI: "55,000 new positions in public sector and enterprises - All the OAED (state-run Manopower Employment Organisation) programmes for 2007".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [43] FM hopes efforts to open Ledra Street checkpoint will bear fruit


    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas has said that if communication tricks by Turkish Cypriots are accompanied by substantive moves that will allow the opening of the checkpoint at Ledra Street, then they are more than welcomed.

    He expressed hope that efforts being made by the UN Chief's Permanent Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller would bear fruit.

    As regards the EU regulation for direct trade with Turkish Cypriots, Lillikas said there is all the good will on the part of the Cyprus government, which has concrete suggestions and proposals for changes that need to be made to the regulation, and it is ready to have a discussion on these proposals.

    The Cypriot minister was speaking to the press after separate meetings he had with Greek Ambassador Demetris Rallis, new High Commissioner of India Lavania Prasad and new Ambassador of Israel Avraham Haddad.

    Lillikas said that he reviewed with the Greek ambassador latest developments and discussed the issue of Ledra Street, the implementation of the 8 July agreement and that informal meeting of the EU Mediterranean countries Foreign Ministers, to be held in Malta.

    To a remark that there might be more communication tricks by the Turkish side, apart from the dismantling of the footbridge at Ledra Street, Lillikas said "if the communication tricks are accompanied by substantive moves that will allow us to open the checkpoint at Ledra Street, they will be more than welco-med."

    "What is important is substance and from our part we have asked and we are expecting the UN to take initiatives, to call us for dialogue to be able to discuss concrete issues and the obstacles that hinder the opening of the checkpoint. I hope that initiatives and efforts by Mr. Moller will bear fruit," he added.

    Replying to a question, Lillikas said that "there are two aspects" as regards the dialogue, noting that "there are aspects that will be discussed between the representatives of the two com-munities and there are aspects concerning security, military matters which are discussed by UNFICYP at separate meetings with the Cyprus government and the Turkish army."

    Invited to say if there was any response to the message sent through the UN for dialogue on the opening of the Ledra street, Lillikas said "unfortunately we have not yet any positive response."

    "We know that the UN and Mr Moller hold contacts and discuss these issues with the Turkish Cypriots. We are expe-cting something from the UN and we hope to have some positive indications at least," he said.

    He added that "we have asked through a letter and during contacts with the UN to call us for dialogue and I expect that the UN will respond".

    Lillikas noted that the issues of the extension of the buffer zone and its violation by the Turks were raised "and surely what we demand is the respect of legality and its restoration."

    To a question on the issues of direct trade and the "isolation" of the Turkish Cypriots, the foreign minister announced "there will be a meeting at the level of technocrats this week."

    He said in December a certain text on this issue was agreed by the EU Foreign Ministers and is expected to be issued as a Conclusion by the General Affairs and External Relations Council due to convene on January 22.

    "The text says that efforts and works for the voting of the regulation for the trade of the areas of the Cyprus Republic which are not under the effective control of the government of the Cyprus Republic will continue without any delay the soonest," he added.

    "We have all the good will, we have concrete suggestions and proposals for the amendments that need to be made at the regulation, probably an amendment of the Green Line Regu-lation, and on these concrete proposals we are ready to have a discussion," the Cypriot official conluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

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