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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-04-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 13 April 2007 Issue No: 2568


  • [01] Gov't OKs CCTV cameras at first division soccer games in response to hooligan violence
  • [02] Karamanlis briefed by FM
  • [03] PASOK leader promises to 'entrench transparency'
  • [04] Public order minister to attend SEECP ministers' meeting
  • [05] Kefaloyiannis to brief MPs on 'Sea Diamond' accident
  • [06] SETE on the Sea Diamond accident
  • [07] Hotels Chamber of Greece on Sea Diamond sinking
  • [08] PASOK criticises government's health and welfare policy
  • [09] Funds for school repairs and maintenance
  • [10] Papoulias opens 10th roundtable meeting of Euro Ombudsmen
  • [11] Defence minister meets Archbishop of America
  • [12] Army General Staff chief visiting Egypt
  • [13] Health minister in Istanbul for 4th World Conference of Mayors
  • [14] Network of European Socialdemocrat Institutes on revised constitutional treaty
  • [15] Greek economy to grow by 4.0 pct in 1st quarter, FinMin says
  • [16] Greek economy grew 4.3 pct in fourth quarter 2006, yr/yr
  • [17] Finmin praises government's 'responsible' reaction to bonds issue
  • [18] Employment minister sets up committee to draft new pension fund investment laws
  • [19] Farm minister meets ECA president Weber
  • [20] Promotion of measures to organise and develop fisheries in country
  • [21] Inclusion of ships' public tax service in Taxis system
  • [22] Tourism minister on closure of Louis Corkyra Beach resort
  • [23] Poll ranks Greece as top vacation pick this summer for Serbian tourists
  • [24] Greek stocks end 0.47 pct down
  • [25] ADEX closing report
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday
  • [28] Trial of former DE.KA board members postponed for June 25
  • [29] Dukakis to address Thessaloniki event on Greek-US ties
  • [30] Pest populations boom in Trikala following warm winter
  • [31] 18 illegals discovered in truck near Kozani
  • [32] Almanac '2006 - Political events' issued in Braille
  • [33] Fair on Friday
  • [34] The Thursday editions of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] Cyprus National Council committed to July 8 agreement
  • [36] Cypriot FM: Russia supports implementation of July 8 Agreement
  • [37] Cyprus makes strong representations to Britain over Euro MPs arrest

  • [01] Gov't OKs CCTV cameras at first division soccer games in response to hooligan violence

    The long-considered measure of using CCTV cameras to monitor and videotape fans in the stands during Greek first division football matches was announced by the government on Thursday, following last month's unprecedented hooligan violence that left one man dead during a "rumble" between rival club supporters.

    Government spokesman and Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos made the announcement following a high-profile inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself.

    According to Roussopoulos, over the next two months the first venues to be equipped with a closed-circuit monitoring system will be the Athens Olympic Stadium (the home pitch of AEK Athens and Panathinaikos Athens), the Georgios Karaiskaki field (the home pitch of Olympiakos Piraeus) and a handful of other fields that host first division teams.

    Rival supporters of Olympiakos and Panathinaikos clashed in broad daylight last month along the main avenue running through small town of Peania, east of Athens proper, leaving behind the one victim, a 25-year-old Panathinaikos supporter, and several others seriously injured.

    CCTV systems will be installed at indoor facilities in the autumn to monitor fans during basketball games, Roussopoulos said. He added that electronic tickets listing the bearer's name will be instituted as well.

    Roussopoulos emphasised that the government has already made the legal framework to combat hooliganism much stricter, resulting, as he said, in 14 individuals being jailed on related felony charges over the past few months.

    Thursday's meeting at the premier's Maximos Mansion office was also attended by the ministers of justice, public order and the deputy culture minister responsible for sports.

    [02] Karamanlis briefed by FM

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis at his Maximos Mansion office here on Thursday for talks that focused squarely on foreign policy issues.

    After the meting, which lasted roughly one-and-a-half hours, Bakoyannis said issues dealing with the Middle East were also discussed, amid a pending visit to the Greek capital of the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

    [03] PASOK leader promises to 'entrench transparency'

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday pledged to "entrench transparency" in order to counter systems based on nepotism and cronyism favoured by the ruling party, stressing that this was a commitment for PASOK.

    He was speaking at a meeting of PASOK's Parliamentary Council, during which he accused ruling New Democracy (ND) of "daily demonstrating its views of the partisan-state as trophy" through examples such as the Greek pension fund investments and suspected kickbacks, the LARCO affair and the missing funds at the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

    He stressed that ND's views represented a "client politics" approach that looked after the interests of the traditional Right of the powers on its own side.

    According to Papandreou, this view was now linked to a new generation of top-flight party cadres with experiences from the stock markets and profit-making funds of the United States, as well as Enron-type stock market fraud.

    This "generation of greed" had become incorporated into ND and amounted to a combination that was disastrous for the country, he added.

    PASOK's president predicted that ND would attempt to handle the affair in two ways: first it would attempt to cultivate a climate where blame was transferred back, to the period when PASOK was in power, and down, to lower-ranking members of the government. Secondly, it would make overtures toward PASOK by trying to appoint individuals affiliated with the main opposition party in management positions, thus trying to establish an "alibi of consensus" after the fact.

    Papandreou stressed that this cannot be accepted by PASOK since it would mean the party's participation and shared guilt for ND's management, which had all the elements of corruption and appropriating state wealth.

    Regarding the issue that has arisen over the purchase of high-risk structured bonds by state pension funds, possibly also involving hefty kickbacks to fund managements, Papandreou said this was a scandal that was linked to the social insurance system and questioned whether ND could be trusted on any proposal concerning state insurance.

    Who to trust to handle the pension fund reform issue was a major political dilemma, which PASOK answered positively through its policies and programme, Papandreou added.

    Also present during the session was visiting Italian politician Piero Fassino, secretary of Italy's Democratic Party of the Left, who had earlier met Papandreou.

    PASOK's leader welcomed Fassino and referred to the effort underway in Italy to join all the parties of the centre-left into a single party - a plan that Fassino described as ambitious and of great interest, as much abroad as in Italy.

    The new party will be created through the union of the Socialist Party with the "Margarita" Party, as well as oother parties and powers of the centre-left, so that it can address a wider section of society.

    [04] Public order minister to attend SEECP ministers' meeting

    Greek Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras will attend a meeting of justice and interior ministers from countries in the Southeastern European Cooperation Process (SEECP) that will take place on Thursday and Friday in Zagreb, Croatia.

    The topic to be discussed at the meeting is "European Union standards and the rules of Law in Southeastern Europe" and will address important and specific issues concerning the enforcing the law and fighting corruption in these countries.

    [05] Kefaloyiannis to brief MPs on 'Sea Diamond' accident

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis will brief Parliament's Production and Trade Committee regarding the naval accident with the cruise liner "Sea Diamond" next Tuesday, it was announced.

    The committee was convened at the minister's request so that he could fill MPs in on the details of the rescue and salvage operations, as well as the action being taken to prevent pollution of the marine environment around the island of Santorini, one of the top tourist destinations in Greece.

    [06] SETE on the Sea Diamond accident

    The association of Greek tourism sector enterprises, SETE, on Thursday expressed its regret over the Sea Diamond cruiseship sinking in Santorini last week, extending its condolences to the family of the victims and its sympathy to passengers for any inconvenience.

    In a statement, the association stressed that, unfortunately, from time to time tragic events mark global tourism, in spite of the efforts to prevent such occurrences and to guarantee safety. "Experience has shown that the tourism economy is resilient even in cases of much greater losses, such as the tsunami in Thailand and terrorist attacks in other countries," SETE notes.

    [07] Hotels Chamber of Greece on Sea Diamond sinking

    The Hotels Chamber of Greece, in an announcement in the wake of the sinking of the cruise ship Sea Diamond off the island of Santorini last week, on Thursday stressed the need for the mobilisation of the state and of institutional and private agencies involved in tourism, for the taking of "brave measures aimed at boosting security and the modernisation of welcoming and management systems for visitors to Greece."

    "It is evident now that if we are seeking a secure and longterm development of the tourist sector, all existing grey zones that can create the need for managing small or bigger crises must be handled with public dialogue," the announcement said.

    Lastly, it pointed out that the leading organisations in the hotels sector, in cooperation with the relevant public and private agencies, are watching and pressuring in the direction of the full restoration of the marine environment in Santorini.

    [08] PASOK criticises government's health and welfare policy

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) head of the party's Health and Welfare Department, Christos Protopapas and the members of the department, former deputy ministers Manolis Skoulakis and Hector Nasiokas on Thursday criticised the government's work in "the welfare, social care and solidarity" sector.

    During a press conference, they presented points of PASOK's programme for health and welfare, noting that there was "a danger of the under-functioning and even closure" of Pyrgos hospital and those of Zakynthos, Cephallonia, Lamia, Sparta, Corinth and Amfissa, "due to delays in the pay of medical personnel."

    The PASOK officials further presented documents according to which "as of today the doctors at Pyrgos hospital are fully suspending the operation of the urgent cases department and the laboratories."

    Protopapas also said that "the same thing may happen in other medical foundations if the Health Ministry does not give an immediate solution to the problem."

    Health ministry responds to PASOK's Protopapas

    The Health and Social Solidarity Ministry in an announcement on Thursday evening responded to statements made earlier in the day by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) head of the party's Health and Welfare Department, Christos Protopapas, who criticised the government's health and welfare policy.

    The ministry accused him of "cultivating rumours and a climate of confusion," noting that "at the same time when colleagues of Mr. Protopapas, through their presence publicly praised and expressed their satisfaction over the complete operation of 'Attikon' Hospital, about which the sector head in statements from time to time, hypocritically though, 'cared about', he himself spread rumours and cultivated a climate of confusion simply and only to state party loyalty with old-type party methods."

    The announcement said that "fortunately, the truth is different," adding that "the hospitals operate and gradually all the problems which were accumulated over the past years are being solved."

    [09] Funds for school repairs and maintenance

    Deputy Interior Minister Athanasios Nakos signed a decision on Thursday by which the amount of 12,008,200 euros will be allocated to the country's municipalities and communities, from the Collective Local Administration Decision (SATA), for the repair and maintenance of school buildings.

    The beneficiaries will use the credits of SATA exclusively for the coverage of the current year's operational expenditures, primarily for the task of repairing and maintaining their school units.

    This allocation is taking place a month-and-a-half earlier than last year to enable municipalities to have time to schedule whatever work is necessary with the aim of having everything ready by the beginning of the next school period.

    [10] Papoulias opens 10th roundtable meeting of Euro Ombudsmen

    President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday opened the 10th Round Table with National Ombudsmen of Council of Europe member-states, an event held at Athens' in Zappeion Hall.

    In his keynote address, Papoulias referred to human rights.

    "The need to combat international terrorism and the new economic developments often create painful dilemmas between security and freedom, equality and growth," he stressed.

    "Europe has the privilege to owe its political entity to the enlightenment, and at the same time, it has the responsibility to show to the rest of the world that these principles are non-negotiable, being neither flexible nor coincidental," he said, adding: "Poverty and exclusion create hotbeds of social explosions, and this is the area that needs the most attention. We should agree that social and economic democracy go together with human rights and this should become the focus of the political effort made."

    [11] Defence minister meets Archbishop of America

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greece's National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Thursday met with Archbishop of America Demetrios and discussed with him issues concerning Greece and the Greek-American community.

    "A discussion with the Archbishop is always interesting, fruitful and creative and he always gives us his light and knowledge through the experiences he has," said Meimarakis after the meeting, noting that he is in New York on the occasion of the established Greek-American annual parade which will be held at Manhattan's 5th Avenue on Sunday in honour of the anniversary of Greece's National Independence Day, March 25.

    Archbishop Demetrios described his meeting with Meimarakis as "very creative and constructive."

    Present at the meeting were former deputy foreign minister Panagiotis Skandalakis and Greece's General Consul in New York, Ekaterini Boura.

    [12] Army General Staff chief visiting Egypt

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)

    Army General Staff chief Lieutenant General Dimitris Grapsas discussed issues concerning the promotion of military cooperation between Greece and Egypt, as well as issues of mutual concern in the wider region of the southeastern Mediterranean in formal bilateral talks held here over the past two days.

    Grapsas, who is in Egypt at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart, met with senior Egyptian armed forces officers. He was also the guest of honour at an official luncheon given by the Greek Ambassador Panayiotis Vlassopoulos on Wednesday. The Greek Army General Staff chief was also due to attend a reception given by the Egyptian military authorities on Thursday night.

    His official visit to Egypt will come to an end on Friday, when he will be returning to Athens.

    [13] Health minister in Istanbul for 4th World Conference of Mayors

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Greece's Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday visited Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    Avramopoulos is on a two-day visit to Istanbul as official guest of Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, to attend, in his capacity as President of the World Institute of Diplomacy and Cities, the sessions and to be one of the main speakers, of the 4th World Conference of Mayors which will be held in Istanbul from April 12-15.

    Avramopoulos was due to attend and speak at the opening ceremony of the meeting at the Ciragan Palace hotel in Istanbul.

    On Friday, Avramopoulos will participate in the sessions of the meeting and give a speech.

    [14] Network of European Socialdemocrat Institutes on revised constitutional treaty


    The Network of Socialdemocrat Institutes of Europe on Thursday proposed the adoption of a revised constitutional treaty before Euroelections take place in 2009. The proposal was made during a discussion it organised at the European Parliament in Brussels on the future of Europe.

    A total of 15 European socialdemocrat institutes that are members of the Network participated in the discussion, including the Greek Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME). ISTAME was represented by its President, Costas Kartalis, while main opposition PASOK party Eurodeputy Panos Beglitis took part in the discussion.

    Submitting its own proposals during the discussion, ISTAME stressed the need for a substantive public dialogue to begin at European level on a revised constitutional treaty.

    In general, ISTAME proposed the promotion of the deeper unification of Europe with the prticipatioon of those member-states that want to and can cooperate.

    Financial News

    [15] Greek economy to grow by 4.0 pct in 1st quarter, FinMin says

    The Greek economy has performed well in the first months of 2007, continuing its dynamic growth and fiscal adjustment, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told reporters on Thursday.

    The Greek minister said the fiscal deficit ended 2006 at 2.6 pct of GDP without the use of a revised GDP, while using revised GDP figures the deficit fell to 2.1 pct. Alogoskoufis said budget revenues rose by 7.5 pct in the first two months of the year, exceeding a budget target for an annual growth rate of 5.5 pct.

    Alogoskoufis forecast a growth rate of around 4.0 pct in the first quarter of 2007, as industrial production was up 3.2 pct, domestic demand remained strong and retail sales' volume was up. Investment activity was also strong and exports rose 12.7 pct in the first two months of the year. Unemployment was steadily falling, the consumer price index fell to 2.7 pct in the first quarter of 2007 (down from 3.2 pct in the same period last year).

    The minister, however, said there was no room for complacency.

    "We still need several reforms and a long way to go. We must continue efforts towards fiscal consolidation to achieve balanced, or slightly surplus budgets," he said.

    Alogoskoufis said Greece must achieve this goal by 2012, while talks were currently underway in the EU to achieve this goal earlier, by 2010. Greece has made enormous effort to achieve fiscal adjustment with minimum negative impact on living standard and employment in the country.

    [16] Greek economy grew 4.3 pct in fourth quarter 2006, yr/yr

    The Greek economy grew by 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006, compared with the same period in 2005, Eurostat said on Thursday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said economic growth in the Eurozone was 3.3 pct and in the EU-25 3.5 pct over the same period, while GDP growth in the US and Japan was 3.1 pct and 2.5 pct, respectively.

    Latvia (11.7 pct). Estonia (11.2 pct) recorded the biggest GDP growth rates, while Portugal (1.7 pct), France (2.5 pct) and Holland (2.7 pct) the lowest rates in the EU. Economic growth in Greece fell 0.4 pct in the fourth quarter 2006 from the third quarter of the year. GDP growth rose by 0.9 pct in the Eurozone, 0.6 pct in the US and 1.3 pct in Japan, over the same period.

    [17] Finmin praises government's 'responsible' reaction to bonds issue

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday praised the government's response to revelations that Greek state pension funds had invested in high-risk structured bonds, saying that it had behaved "absolutely responsibly".

    The minister stressed that the government had reacted immediately and that the employment ministry had referred the affair to justice, while claiming that main opposition PASOK had spread misinformation and clouded the issues.

    Alogoskoufis said the Greek state issued both simple and structured bonds. "It is a usual practice to buy structured bonds. Around 800 billion euros were invested in structured bonds last year," the minister said, adding that all bond issues carried some risk.

    The Greek minister stressed that pension funds would not lose any money, as happened in the 1999 and 2000 stock market bubble burst and noted that state bonds were bought by pension funds and institutional investors around the world. "There is no investment free of risks, even with fixed-rate bonds," he said.

    The Greek state has issued structured bonds worth 1.850 billion euros, less than 1.0 percent of total public debt, of which 777 million euros have been bought by pension funds and the rest by institutional investors.

    Alogoskoufis said the public debt directorate was responsible for bond issues and noted that bond issuance was made with purely technocratic criteria. He dismissed talk that the government has issues a "hidden" bond loan. The Greek minister stressed that pension funds have not lost money from investing in bonds and noted that pension funds' assets totaled 28.9 billion euros in 2005 to reach 31 billion euros in 2006.

    Pension funds operate autonomously and all investments have been made after unanimous approval by their boards. The government is not an investment consultant, he said.

    Alogoskoufis insisted it was the government and the Capital Markets Commission that unveiled the problem and underlined that the Employment minister immediately called for an audit control.

    A meeting between Economy and Finance Minister and Employment Minister on Wednesday agreed to change the way of selecting pension funds' boards while pension funds would be obliged to use computer systems and to publish annual balance reports.

    Government on bond issue

    "We expect everything to be brought into the light," stated government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos when asked to comment on the bonds affair.

    "Our position remains the same. We do not favor cover-ups. Justice is working and continuing its investigation, stressed Roussopoulos, adding that the government displays determination that nobody has disputed.

    PASOK party spokesman on structured bonds

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou spoke on Thursday of a "coverup" on the part of the government in the case of the investments of social insurance funds in complex structured bonds.

    Efthymiou said that the case "became known following a report to the Capital Market Committee and a relevant revelation in the press, while since then whatever is made known is due exclusively to the press, the mass media, working people and trade union agencies."

    The spokesman further said that "today, (Finance Minister George) Mr. Alogoskoufis, following his meeting with Mr. Karamanlis, evidently at the prime minister's order, gave, for the first time after a month-and-a-half, the position of the government's stance on the case. This position has one word:coverup."

    KKE parliamentary spokesman on the pension fund reserves

    The Communist Party of Greece, KKE, is willing to contribute to the parliamentary investigation as it did in similar instances in the past, stated KKE parliamentary spokesman Antonis Skyllakos referring to the pension fund reserves issue.

    Skyllakos clarified that the investigation cannot be limited only to apportioning blame in the case of the TEADY fund mismanagement and in other pension funds as well, but it should also focus on the continuous looting of pension fund reserves taking place with the tolerance of all New Democracy and PASOK governments.

    The KKE spokesman concluded that the entire system, operating as a hothouse for mismanagement scandals, should also be put under the microscope, stressing that the damage suffered by pension funds has to be restored.

    [18] Employment minister sets up committee to draft new pension fund investment laws

    A committee to draft a new laws governing the organisational and financial modernisation of Greek pension funds and a new legal framework on how they used their assets was created on Thursday by order of Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis.

    The committee is due to present its final proposals by June 30 this year.

    Political parties, labour confederation on social insurance funds institutional framework committee

    The main opposition PASOK party, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party and the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) commented on Thursday on the announcement made by Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis of the creation of a committee for managing an institutional framework on social insurance funds.

    PASOK's employment and social affairs rapporteur Maria Damanaki said that "Mr. Tsitouridis lacks the solvency to manage the issue of the future of social insurance funds. The government, which with the blue scandal has been led to the looting of the money of the insured, cannot undertake the task of determining the future of the social insurance funds and of the money of the insured."

    The Coalition party's Political Bureau member Dimitris Stratoulis said that "Mr. Alogoskoufis, once again today, attempted to cover and cover up the big scandal of the looting of the reserves of public social insurance with the 'structured' bonds."

    Referring to the same issue, GSEE said in an announcement that the confederation itself and social agencies are "being ignored provocatively by the committee that is composed in essence of the same government agencies that had the responsibility of monitoring and checking the reserves of the social insurance funds and which did not prevent the funds' loss-making investments."

    [19] Farm minister meets ECA president Weber

    Agriculture Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Bassiakos met in Athens on Thursday with European Court of Auditors President Hubert Weber.

    According to a ministry press release, the meeting was "constructive", while the Greek minister briefed his interlocutor in detail on progress over recent months in an integrated system of management and control (OSDE).

    "Our aim is the transparent management of community subsidies so as to avoid the high EU fines of the past," Bassiakos said. He added that until 2003, the fines imposed on Greece for anti-union practices and violations of EU legislation reached 800 million euros.

    [20] Promotion of measures to organise and develop fisheries in country

    The Agricultural Development and Food Ministry ws promoting a bill containing measures aimed at better organising and developing fisheries in the country, minister Evangelos Basiakos announced on Thursday during a meeting of the European Parliament's fisheries committee in Athens.

    The measures include the creation of regions of organised development for fisheries, institutional and economic backing for the sector, the creation of new jobs, the production of new fish species and the development of new innovative methods of feeding and reproduction.

    During the meeting of the Eurodeputies of the European Parliament's fisheries committee, as well as during a press conference that followed, it was revealed that the fisheries sector in Greece has been presenting impressive development rates in past years. Greece produces about 53 percent of the Mediterranean's production of open sea fish.

    About 340 units are currently functioning in the country, a large number of which is established in regions where no other investment could survive. Approximately 10,000 people are employed, either directly or indirectly, in the fisheries sector in regions where there are no other alternative employment solutions.

    Fisheries constitute the country's second exports sector, following olive oil, and turnover amounts to 460 million euros a year, according to data provided by the finance ministry and Hellastat.

    According to official data, 15 fisheries firms are ranked among the country's 100 top companies and among the biggest exports firms in the food sector.

    [21] Inclusion of ships' public tax service in Taxis system

    Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas said on Thursday that the inclusion of the ships' public tax service in the Taxis system strengthens transparency in receiving tax revenues from such a big source of income.

    Bezas further said that the contribution, for the inclusion of the ships' public tax service in the Taxis system, of the economy ministry's General Information Systems Secretariat was decisive, since 40 new computers and their network were installed.

    The deputy minister also stressed that safeguarding transparency and protecting public interest are non-negotiable goals for the government.

    [22] Tourism minister on closure of Louis Corkyra Beach resort

    The government will show zero tolerance for indifference, irresponsibility, disrespect for the law and corruption, Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia stressed on Thursday regarding her decision to close down the Louis Corkyra Beach resort on the island of Corfu.

    Petralia had ordered the hotel to be shut down on Wednesday after learning that it had opened over the Easter holiday even though its operating licence had been temporarily revoked.

    "If today I was not as strict as last year, then I would myself cancel a decision that, above all, had a special symbolism and sought to protect our country's image," Petralia said.

    She was referring to her decision last October to shut down the resort until the end of an investigation into a tragic accident in which two British children died of carbon monoxide poisoning inside the bungalow rented by their family.

    "Then as now, I faced the same dilemma. On the one hand, to listen to the various legal-sounding arguments put forward by the company and, on the other hand, to follow a clear-cut line. Choosing the second path, I decided to shut down the hotel. I could not and I cannot look the other way. My decision sought to protect tourism, the tourist sector, its entrepreneurs and employees, to protect Greece," Petralia underlined.

    She also stressed that irresponsible, careless and frivolous behaviour would not go unpunished.

    During the day, Petralia contacted Deputy Employment and Social Protection Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos and discussed ways to protect the hotel's staff and a formula so that they would not end up out of work.

    The two ministers are scheduled to have a meeting next Monday to finalise their decisions, which will be announced at that time. Also invited to attend the meeting are Corfu prefecture MPs, representatives of the Chamber of Hotels and the Labour Centre and the Corfu Prefect.

    [23] Poll ranks Greece as top vacation pick this summer for Serbian tourists

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA / N. Pelpas)

    Greece is expected to top Serbian tourists' preference this summer as a holiday destination, according to results of an ongoing poll conducted by YUTA, the association of Serbian tour operators.

    Based on responses of a sample of 1,668 people, who expect to spend their summer holidays abroad, 57 percent chose Greece, followed by 9 percent opting for Bulgaria; 8 percent to Turkey; 7 percent to Egypt; 5 percent to Montenegro and 4 percent to Tunisia.

    [24] Greek stocks end 0.47 pct down

    Greek stocks ended lower on Thursday as investors took profits after a recent rally of prices in the Athens Stock Exchange, The composite index fell 0.47 pct to end at 4,761.08 points with turnover a moderate 346.3 million euros.

    Sector indices lost ground with the Personal/Home Products (2.22 pct), Raw Materials (2.17 pct) and Industrial Products (1.95 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Technology (5.52 pct), Financial Services (1.18 pct) and Telecommunications (0.89 pct) scored gains.

    The Big Cap index eased 0.45 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.42 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 0.02 pct.

    Korres (94.72 pct), Parnassos (19.61 pct) and Intracom (9.85 pct) were top gainers, while Vivere (20 pct), Ideal (19.76 pct) and Lanacam (15.30 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 153 to 99 with another 51 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.55%

    Industrials: -1.95%

    Commercial: -0.66%

    Construction: -1.14%

    Media: +0.56%

    Oil & Gas: -1.92%

    Personal & Household: -2.22%

    Raw Materials: -2.17%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.87%

    Technology: +5.52%

    Telecoms: +0.89%

    Banks: -0.62%

    Food & Beverages: -1.18%

    Health: -1.13%

    Utilities: -0.20%

    Chemicals: -0.99%

    Financial Services: +1.18%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 23.58

    ATEbank: 3.80

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 17.92

    HBC Coca Cola: 31.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.00

    Emporiki Bank: 21.52

    National Bank of Greece: 41.72

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 31.56

    Intralot: 23.00

    Cosmote: 23.40

    OPAP: 27.80

    OTE: 21.22

    Titan Cement Company: 43.26

    [25] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices saw their discount rise in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday with turnover a moderate 143.029 million euros.

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.02 pct, while the April contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.87 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 6,387 contracts worth 79.764 million euros, with 28,288 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 584 contracts worth 17.404 million euros, with 1,338 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,321 contracts worth 4.302 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (2,183) followed by OTE (474), National Bank (926), Alpha Bank (269), ATEbank (380), Attica Bank (973), Intralot (482) and Motor Oil (247).

    Volume in stock repos was 5,841 contracts and in reverse stock repos 2,367 contracts.

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 3.479 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.065 billion were bid orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 601 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.22 percent. The Greek bond yielded 4.40 pct and the German Bund 4.18 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rate showed minor changes. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.83 pct, the two-day rate was 3.83 pct, the one-month rate 3.85 pct, and the 12-month rate rose to 4.25 pct from 4.23 pct on Wednesday.

    [27] Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.357

    Pound sterling 0.686

    Danish kroner 7.515

    Swedish kroner 9.332

    Japanese yen 161.9

    Swiss franc 1.653

    Norwegian kroner 8.153

    Cyprus pound 0.585

    Canadian dollar 1.545

    Australian dollar 1.643

    General News

    [28] Trial of former DE.KA board members postponed for June 25

    A three-member Athens appeals court on Thursday postponed the trial of seven former board members of the Public Securities Co. (DE.KA) until June 25.

    The defendants are accused of using DE.KA funds between March-April 2000 to purchase large blocs of blue-chip stocks of largely state-controlled enterprises in order to drive up the Athens Stock Exchange, thus incurring significant losses for DE.KA when share prices at the Greek bourse later slumped.

    The court reached the decision to postpone the trial after a statement of abstention submitted by defense attorneys citing an Athens Bar Association decision, according to which attorneys should abstain after two trial postponements. This was the third time that the commencement of the repeat trial, originally scheduled to begin in October 2006, has been postponed.

    An appeals court ruling a year ago acquitted the defendants after converting the original felony charges to misdemeanors, whereby the statute of limitations had expired. Last year's ruling was based on the grounds that DE.KA was a societe anonyme company with a legal autonomy from the state.

    That decision was later reversed, however, by the Supreme Court, which referred to a misinterpretation and wrongly applied statutes concerning embezzlement of state assets, as DE.KA's assets were simultaneously the assets of the Greek State.

    The initial indictment referred to losses of millions of euros in DE.KA assets due to transactions carried out ahead of the April 2000 elections. Then ruling PASOK narrowly defeated then main opposition New Democracy in the April 2000 elections.

    [29] Dukakis to address Thessaloniki event on Greek-US ties

    Former governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, will be the main speaker at an open debate on the theme "Greek-American Relations", which will be hosted on April 16 by Anatolia, the university department of the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT).

    The panel of speakers will include Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Greek-American author Nick Gage as well as the professor in the Academic Seat "Constantine Karamanlis" at Fletcher School of Tufts University, Dr. Dimitris Kairidis.

    The open debate is organised within the framework of the 10-day visit by Dukakis at Anatolia, under the auspices of the Academic Seat "Michael S. Dukakis", in the sector of Public Politics and Service at ACT, which was founded in 1999. Since then, more than 80 distinguished speakers have been hosted at the seat.

    During his stay, Dukakis will participate in a series of academic and social events, culminating with the official dinner which will be hosted in his honour by the Anatolia College, the American College of Thessaloniki and the Association of Graduates of the American Anatolia College, on April 23.

    [30] Pest populations boom in Trikala following warm winter

    Various areas in the prefecture of Trikala in central Greece were officially declared locust and rat infested by the Trikala Agricultural Development Directorate on Thursday, which said that the warm winter had brought about a boom in populations of insects and small mammals, including pests.

    Local officials said the region suffered problems with rats and locusts every year that led to significant crop losses, which this year were even greater.

    [31] 18 illegals discovered in truck near Kozani

    Police and border guards discovered 18 illegal immigrants from Albania hidden in a truck that was stopped for a routine check at a roadblock on the Ptolemaida - Anatoliko provincial road in Kozani prefecture, northwest Greece.

    The foreign nationals had crossed the border illegally, while the Greek truck driver had allegedly agreed to transport them for a fee.

    [32] Almanac '2006 - Political events' issued in Braille

    The publication in Braille of the Almanac "2006 - Political Events" has already been distributed to the interested agencies, it was announced on Thursday.

    The publication of the Braille Almanac is within the framework of commitments and initiatives undertaken by Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, as these were announced at the end of the sessions of the two-day event "People with Disability and Mass Media" (June 19-20, 2006).

    It concerns the annual publication of the General Secretariat of Communication-General Secretariat of Information (GGE-GGE), which for the first time is directed to citizens with problems with their vision.

    The 2nd International Conference "People with Disability and Mass Media" will take place at the Press Centre of the GGE-

    GGE from 18-19 June, 2007. Within this framework, in cooperation with the Greek Film Centre, the 1st International Documentary Festival on the theme of Disability, Emotion Pictures, will be held from June 16-18, 2007.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Fair on Friday

    Fair weather is forecast in all parts of the country on Friday. Winds northerly, northwesterly, light to strong. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 9C and 21C and in Thessaloniki from 7C to 21C.

    [34] The Thursday editions of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Government initiatives for the better institutional protection of pension fund reserves and opposition criticism over the cruiseship's sinking in Santorini are the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Pension funds' assets increased by 42.5 percent - Reserves will top 34 billion euros in 2007 compared to 21.8 billion euros under the Simitis government - Lies and slander launched by opposition overturned".

    APOGEVMATINI: "(Sea Diamond) Black box thriller - Officials and ship-owner point at the ship's VDR for answers on causes of accident".

    AVGHI: "Government postpones testimony on bonds affair - Finance minister will address Parliament next week".

    AVRIANI: "Greek state will pay up to 100 million USD for compensation to the Sea Diamond passengers - London insurers will not pay a dime because cruise ship was moved under port authorities' orders".

    CHORA: "(Finance Minister George) Alogoskoufis defends government in bonds affair - Answers to PASOK's accusations".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Prime minister did not take any measures as expected after the Easter holiday".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Alogoskoufis suggests removal of pension funds boards to Employment and Social Insurances Minister Savvas Tsitouridis - Alogoskoufis undertakes to reverse negative atmosphere".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Attempt to break free from bonds storm - Four-step counter-attack by Prime Minister Karamanlis".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The minister messed up - PASOK: (Merchant Marine Minister Manolis) Kefaloyannis did not follow the law".

    ESTIA: "This is Greece, the prime minister bursts out - PASOK has exceeded all limits in terms of impudence".

    ETHNOS: "Prosecutor investigates the LAEK fund transactions - Storm breaks out on arbitrary withdrawal of 160 million euros".

    KATHIMERINI: "Cover up attempt on who gave order to move cruise ship".

    LOGOS: "Alogoskoufis: the government has nothing to fear regarding bonds issue".

    NIKI: "The government at the mercy of vested interests - Big business above the law".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Shocking revelations on sinking of ship - Foreshown crime".

    TA NEA: "Five tricks to cover up bonds affair after Karamanlis-Alogoskoufis meeting".

    TO VIMA: "Prosecutor launches investigation into (General Mining and Metallurgical Company) LARCO, while the bonds affair brought before Parliament - Let the show begin".

    VRADYNI: "Answers to fabrications and inaccuracies - Alogoskoufis requests to appear before competent Parliament committee - Government launches counterattack on bonds issue".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] Cyprus National Council committed to July 8 agreement


    The National Council unanimously decided that the Greek Cypriot side insists in the implementation of the July 8 Agreement, announced here Thursday Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis.

    Speaking after the council meeting, Pashiardis said the members were informed on the contents of the letter of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to the UN Secretary-General containing the observations of the Turkish Cypriot side regarding the procedure stipulated in the July 8 agreement.

    Pashiardis said the Council members "are unanimous in the view that the procedure, as provided by the July 8 agreement and the Gambari letter, is the only course to get out of today's deadlock and to promote an agreed solution to the Cyprus issue".

    The spokesman further said the Greek Cypriot side "calls on all countries which are directly involved in the Cyprus problem, to contribute to the implementation of the July 8 agreement".

    "Our side remains completely consistent and committed to this procedure", the spokesman noted, adding that its implementation requires the cooperation of the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish side.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN official Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    [36] Cypriot FM: Russia supports implementation of July 8 Agreement


    Russia supports the implementation of the July 8 Agreement and believes there can be no return to old times or old plans and every effort should be made to achieve an agreed settlement of the Cyprus question that will satisfy both sides, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas said here Thursday.

    In statements at Larnaca airport, upon his return from Moscow, where he paid a three-day visit, Lillikas said that the government believes that the five permanent members of the Security Council must actively contribute to efforts for a Cyprus settlement.

    Invited to say if he discussed with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov the issue of the Turkish Cypriot side's back-out from the July 8 Agreement, Lillikas replied in the affirmative, adding that he briefed Lavrov in detail on recent developments on the issue.

    "We consider it particularly important that the five permanent members of the Security Council must be informed and be actively engaged in efforts to solve the Cyprus question," he noted, adding that this has been the long standing position of the Cyprus government.

    Lillikas expressed satisfaction with the views expressed by Lavrov, both during their private discussions and in public.

    The foreign minister described his visit to Russia as very productive, noting that Cyprus maintains very good relations with Russia, while at the same time it is an important financial partner of Russia.

    He added that Cyprus and Russia have common interests and that Russia's role in efforts for a Cyprus settlement is decisive and contributing.

    He said his talks with Lavrov were conducted "in a very friendly climate and that he had the opportunity to inform him on the latest developments as regards the implementation of the July 9 agreement as the only way to achieve progress in efforts for a Cyprus settlement."

    Lillikas noted that they also discussed about the two countries' bilateral relations and cooperation at international fora as well as about Euro-Russian relations, given the fact that Russia is one of the most important EU partners and there is a dialogue for signing an EU-Russian agreement for strategic cooperation.

    He also said that while in Moscow he addressed a briefing on the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits in the island's exclusive economic zone.

    As regards the two-day illegal visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to Cyprus' occupied areas, Lillikas said that such visits of Turkish officials to the occupied areas constitute a provocation to the Cyprus people's feeling of justice.

    Furthermore he noted that such visits are illegal and underline the ongoing Turkish occupation.

    "I consider that such visits do not contribute to the creation of a good climate and to the necessary preconditions for progress towards a Cyprus settlement, especially this moment that the visit is taking place I consider that its sends negative rather than positive messages," he said.

    Invited to comment on information that the Turkish Cypriot side will soon make gestures towards the opening of Ledra Street, Lillikas recalled the preconditions set out by the Cyprus government for the opening of Ledra Street, "that will help towards the creation of climate of trust, a climate of rapproachement without the presence of the Turkish army, in conditions of safety for the citizens, something which has to do with the issue of demining, and also without any absurd demands on behalf of the Turkish army within the buffer zones."

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN official Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    [37] Cyprus makes strong representations to Britain over Euro MPs arrest


    The Cypriot government demanded the immediate release of its Euro MP Marios Matsakis, who was arrested Thursday afternoon by the British Sovereign Bases Police in Cyprus.

    Matsakis and members of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament, were on their way to visit the Akrotiri British Base where gigantic antennas were erected by the Bases when their bus was halted by British Bases Police as it entered the Bases area.

    Matsakis was arrested on the spot as two arrest warrants against him were pending since last year, for causing willful damage and writing slogans on cars and walls within the British Bases area.

    He was taken to a court in the SBA areas which demanded that the MP pay a 500 Cyprus pound bail which he refused since, he said, he does not recognize the British Bases nor their Court or jurisdiction.

    Matsakis remains in custody at Episkopi. Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said the government "condemns the arrest of Euro MP Marios Matsakis by the Authorities of the British Bases at Akrotiri".

    "As soon as the government was informed on Matsakis' arrest, the Foreign Ministry made strong representations to the British High Commission demanding his immediate release", he added.

    Britain has retained two military bases in Cyprus after the country gained its independence in 1960 from British colonial rule.

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