|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 22 May 2007 Issue No: 2599
 PM Karamanlis winds up official visit to New Zealand, arrives in SydneyPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived in Sydney, Australia on Monday afternoon (local time) following his official and ground-breaking visit to New Zealand, as the premier began a week-long tour of the island continent.
Karamanlis started his visit in the Australian metropolis with a meeting with local ethnic Greek community leaders, whom he praised for their significant role in building bilateral relations between the two countries while at the same time retaining their identity, traditions and language.
Among others, the Greek prime minister - the recipient of numerous best wishes as Monday also marked his name day - referred to Greece' s role as a force of democracy, peace, stability and progress in the Balkans.
"Greece today is moving with foresight and responsible to promote our interests in Europe, our region and the world. We are working for a modern, effective state ... one that stands next to each Greek citizen wherever he or she lives," Karamanlis underlined, while also adding that an unremitting principle for Hellenism is unity and togetherness of all Greeks, no matter where they live.
New Zealand visit
Earlier on Monday, Karamanlis held talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the island nation's national cenotaph -- tomb of the unknown soldier-- on the first official visit by a Greek prime minister to the country.
Karamanlis, who will also visit Vietnam and who is accompa-nied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis, met with members of New Zealand's cabinet, as he cited the very strong historic background of the two countries' bilateral relations.
During his talks with Clark and the Cabinet, Karamanlis stressed that the celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of Crete, commemorated this week, and his presence in the country reflected in the most official and essential manner the excellent relations between Greece and New Zealand.
Karamanlis said common struggles during WWII have forged strong bonds between the two peoples, adding that this was a precious legacy for the coming generations.
In addition to the historic past, both Karamanlis and Clark referred to the active presence of the Greek community in New Zealand.
Talks focussed on the economic, commercial and educational sector, while issues concerning the EU, Kosovo, developments in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue were also discussed. Karamanlis further briefed his New Zealand counterpart on the FYROM "name issue".
Asked during a press conference whether Greece placed prior resolution of the name issue as a priority to FYROM's accession to NATO, Karamanlis replied that the Greek position was "crystal clear".
"Our aspiration is for a jointly acceptable solution to be found to the name issue under the UN-brokered process. We have proven our constructive stance. We have done that which we had to do. It is the government of FYROM that must abandon its intransigence, which belongs to the past, and turn towards a European future. It must abandon propagandistic actions, irredentist attitudes and rationales towards an EU and NATO member state. It must abandon practices and actions that do not respect the principle of good neighbourhood relations. That is the only safe way that can lead Skopje to a smooth Euro-Atlantic course," the Greek premier explained.
Clark, in turn, noted that New Zealand hoped for, and Greece backed, Turkey's accession to the European Union.
She also outlined the educational reform being advanced in her country, the reduction of unemployment, boosting of electricity production from renewable energy sources, noting that the target was to reach 100 percent electricity production from renewable energy sources from the present 74 percent.
Clark further called for joint events marking the Battle of Crete, and at the same time described as "important" Greece's decision to join the international whale protection treaty.
Karamanlis and the Greek delegation received a traditional Maori welcome later upon arrival at the New Zealand parliament.
To questions, Karamanlis said that the events that will mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, in 2011, will be more pronounced than those held to mark the 50th and 60th anniversaries while, later, at an event at the Monument to the Battle of Crete, the Greek premier decorated surviving New Zealand veterans of the Battle of Crete.
Addressing a reception for the local Greek community in Wellington, Karamanlis thanked them for their contribution to worldwide Hellenism, stressing that Greek history and culture were elements "that make us all proud".
He said that Orthodoxy was a fundamental element that determined Hellenism's course throughout the centuries.
On Greek foreign policy, he said that "we are following a strategy that is founded in the omnipotent meanings of peace, cooperation and development", stressing that "modern Greece is exercising a policy of prospects and open horizons, and was working systematically for the promotion of stability and growth in southeast Europe and the country's immediate neighbourhood.
He reiterated the Greek positions on the FYROM name issue, and also referred to Turkey's European prospect.
"We are following a strategy of good neighbourhood. We support Turkey's European adaptation, and have made clear our position that Turkey's absolute adherence to EU principles and requirements, as set out by the EU, will, for us, mean its full accession," Karamanlis said.
The Greek premier explained, at the same time, that it was up to Turkey itself to fulfil commitments it has undertaken vis-à-vis the EU if it truly wishes to proceed towards Europe, adding that "in every instance we insist on implementation of International Law and international treaties.
"This is the sure basis for good neighbourly relations. We want a Turkey that acts like a European country, without unilateral claims and disputes at the expense of its neighbours, and also without an occupation force on Cyprus," he said.
Karamanlis reiterated that Athens and Nicosia aspired to a functional and viable solution, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the principles and values of the EU, so that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike may enjoy, with security, the fruits of the Republic of Cyprus' participation in the European family.
Speaking at an official luncheon hosted by the New Zealand prime minister, Karamanlis stressed inter alia that the two countries shared views on a wide range of issues, and referred characteristically to the reforms in the UN, the multilateral management of global affairs, the fight against terrorism, the efforts for environmental protection and sustainable development, and a just state.
He also said the common hope was discussed for a lasting, comprehensive and peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians and future stability in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both Greece and New Zealand are participating in the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, he noted.
Karamanlis wound up his visit to New Zealand at noon (local time), after which he departed for Sydney, the first stop on his official visit to Australia.
 PM interview with Australian newpaper ahead of visitMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)
Contrary to Sydney, which suffered an economic crisis after hosting the Olympic Games in 2000, Greece, the host of the 2004 Games, continued to develop at a rapid pace, according to the newspaper The Australian, which featured an interview with Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis ahead of his arrival in Sydney for an official visit to the country later on Monday.
The article noted that the growth rate of the Greek economy was 3.7 percent in 2005, rising to 4.3 percent in 2006, adding a statement by Karamanlis that "it is an impressive rate for European standards".
Karamanlis explained that Greece was a credible and honest intermediary between Europe and the Middle East, and between western Europe and the Balkans.
According to the newpaper, Greece's foreign policy had many similarities with that of Australian diplomacy in Asia.
"We are at the crossroads of three continents. We are considered a credible and honest interlocutor, and we are a factor of stability, security and development," Karamanlis was cited as saying, noting as an example Greece's appeal to the Palestinians to back their President in order to negotiate with Israel, while at the same time calling on Israel to maintain the dialogue with the wider Arab world.
According to the article, Karamanlis defended Israel's right to provide security to its citizens and to protect them against terrorist actions.
"Security, however, is not only a matter of military superiority. It can be achieved only with a viable political solution," Karamanlis added.
 Papandreou: country needs major changesMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday stressed that the country needs major changes and reforms based on substantive social dialogue and consultation, after meeting with the board of the Economic and Social Council (ESC).
Papandreou stated that a government formed by his party will cooperate with the ESC board members to proceed with the implementation of major reforms the country needs.
New ESC president Christos Polyzogopoulos commented after the meeting that the council's objective is the country's economic and social development based on a joint effort by society and the production sector.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday commented on main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's statements after a meeting he had with the board of his party's economic and social policy council regarding "implementation of major reforms the country needs".
"The statements by the PASOK president in favour of 'a broad social consensus for the implementation of major reforms' show that PASOK, just as (ruling) New Democracy (ND), are planning, if they assume power, to adopt new harsher measures against working classes after the elections," a KKE announcement read.
According to KKE, "the ND and PASOK parties are concealing their real positions."
Roussopoulos: PASOK conference devoid of programme
Very little in the way of a programme actually emerged from PASOK's programme conference over the weekend, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos commented on Monday.
Regarding the speech made by main opposition leader George Papandreou, meanwhile, he described it as "consisting of slogans, a speech that does not give even the slightest hint that there is a programme."
"George Papandreou copied older speeches from past decades and used the same phrases and the same promises - in other words, all the things that PASOK said and never did in practice," the spokesman stressed.
Roussopoulos cited PASOK's economic performance as an example of such unfulfilled promises, where it had promised to deliver a social state and actually introduced more than 80 taxes in just the last decade.
He was also highly critical of Papandreou's admission that PASOK's ranks contained individuals that had been corrupted by their long stay in power, lost sight of the "greater picture" and who would be excluded from any future PASOK government.
According to Roussopoulos, Papandreou had "an obligation, if he means what he says, to name these 'corrupted individuals' and explain why he is still keeping them at his side."
He further accused Papandreou of "blatant inconsistency" in asking the citizens to place their trust in him and believe that he would carry out everything he promised, saying that this had been proved by his stance over revising the Constitution to allow private, non-profit universities.
"On the issue of education, all Greeks remember that within two months, Mr. Papandreou did a U-turn and changed his positions, dragged behind the extreme views expressed by members of his party and on the defensive toward those who he had - supposedly - sidelined in order to lead alone. Mr. Papandreou is a hostage of a PASOK system that rules his party, regardless of who happens to be its leader at any given time," Roussopoulos said.
 Roussopoulos on FYROM and PapandreouBoth as a ruling party and while in the opposition, New Democracy has approached major foreign policy issues with the appropriate seriousness, stated government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos during the regular press briefing on Monday.
He was replying to a question about a comment made by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, who said that the government should not play "election campaign games" with major foreign policy issues, in reference to the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter's name.
Roussopoulos commented that Papandreou was probably "judging by his own standards".
Asked about the likely developments in the FYROM name issue, Roussopoulos cited recent statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Zagreb.
He also denied as "fantasy" a report that he had personally leaked information to the press that early elections would be linked to possible developments over the FYROM name issue, saying any questions on this should be addressed to the authors of "this imaginative scenario".
To questions about possible post-election collaboration between ND and the nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, Roussopoulos replied that "New Democracy will win a major election victory and form an independent government".
PASOK party spokesman on FYROM issue
The main opposition PASOK party, in a statement by its spokesman Petros Efthymiou, on Monday accused the government of attempting to use the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the domestic political confrontation.
"It is absolutely clear that a new disorientation was attempted by government centres yesterday (Sunday), to attempt to make the issue of Skopje appear as a pretext for the elections," the spokesman said.
Referring to PASOK's position on the issue, Efthymiou recalled a statement made by PASOK leader George Papandreou in Parliament six months ago that "the government must declare in every case that the accession of FYROM to the European Union and NATO can only be concluded when there shall be a mutually satisfactory solution to the name issue."
He had also supported the "finding of a compromise solution that will secure the prestige and position of our country in a dignified way, in the framework of stability and security in the region."
 Increasing bilateral defence cooperation discussed by Greek, PRC defence ministersDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Monday received his visiting Chinese counterpart Gen. Cao Gangchuan for a meeting in Athens, a continuation of burgeoning Greek-Sino political relations coming on the heels of an official visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in January 2006.
Talks mostly focused on international issues and expanding current defence ties between the two countries.
Gen. Gangchuan briefed the Greek ministry's political leadership over a handful of crucial issues in China's vast region, including the thorny North Korea nuclear programme.
On his part, Meimarakis briefed the top Chinese military official over Greece's national issues, while he also cited Beijing's increased understanding of a series of international issues.
A set of bilateral agreements agreed to during the meeting include the establishment of a permanent joint bilateral committee to propose and promote an upgrading of current defence cooperation; cooperation between Athens' military studies and defence analysis institute with corresponding institutes and think tanks in China; exchanges of visits of top military brass; training of military personnel of both countries in peacekeeping missions as well as beginning Greek-language courses in Chinese military academies and Chinese-language courses in corresponding Greek academies.
Among others, Greek military officers were invited to observe a military exercise in China this year, while Gen. Gangchuan also extended an official invitation to Meimarakis to visit Beijing, with a date to be determined via diplomatic channels.
In an unrelated development, Gen. Gangchuan was asked about the placement of US anti-ballistic missile systems in east Europe, to which he replied that whatever decision is taken by any country must be based on the "region's interests, and in general, on international community's interests".
 PM sends congratulations to new French premier FillonPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday sent his congratulations to new French Premier François Fillon, wishing him the best of success in his position.
Karamanlis, who arrived in Australia on Monday to begin an official visit there, also expressed his certainty over the further development of Greek-French relations, both at the bilateral level and within the European Union framework.
 Alavanos criticises government for following US line in foreign affairsCoalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader on Monday criticised the government for following misguided United States policies in foreign affairs, accusing it of adopting a "policy of agreement or of silence in response to U.S. adventuring" that was counter to Greece's interests.
Alavanos added that NATO expansion in the Balkans led to a destabilising process, as had already become apparent in Kosovo, and that Greece must oppose this in every way in the case of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as long as the dispute with Greece over the republic's name was still unresolved.
"The issue of finding a solution to the name of our neighbouring FYROM can arise via the United Nations through bilateral negotiations. Otherwise, every effort to make the name issue a central issue of our domestic or foreign policy leads Greece to the past and not the future," he said.
 Israeli gov't requests delay in high court decision over Jerusalem Patriarch's motionJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/P. Haritos)
The Israeli state on Monday requested a three-month deferment from the Israeli high court on its pending ruling over a motion filed by Jerusalem Patriarch Theofilos III against it (the Israeli state).
The Israeli government refers to a recent decision by the Jordanian government to unilaterally lift its recognition of the Jerusalem Patriarch as the basis for the three-month deferment.
The Israeli high court is expected to rule on the request within 48 hours, whereas attorneys for Theofilos are expected to outline their opposition against the appeal.
 Finance ministry on issuing of bondsAn announcement by the finance and economy ministry on Monday said that "it is now clear to all that the finance ministry had no knowledge whatsover and, even more so, any paticipation in any kind of courses and understandings."
The announcement spoke of "deceitful methods by slanderers" in the case of the issuing of bonds, adding that "in no case in the history of the finance ministry, as well as the practice of the other countries of Europe that issue bonds, is the second stage bonds market checked or monitored."
It also said that the loaning through bonds that the ministry went ahead with took place with beneficial terms.
"At last, the slanderers and their sponsors, wherever they are, should be ashamed of their deceitful methods," the announcement concluded.
In another development, two appeals court prosecutors have issued an order to the Bank of Greece for the carrying out of checks at banks that are involved in the purchase and sale of bonds.
The two prosecutors probing the bonds case are calling for checks to be carried out in all bank transactions concerning the purchase and sale of bonds.
 North Asset Management official declines summons by Parliament com't over structured bondÁ representative of the North Asset Management company, Georgios Papamarkakis, on Monday declined a summons to testify before Parliament's standing committee for economic affairs over a transaction of a controversial structured bond issued by the Greek state and underwritten by JP Morgan.
Papamarkakis, in a letter to the committee, said he has already given statements over the matter and noted that although he wished to contribute to the committee's effort he was unable to accept the summons.
Papamarkakis has already provided statements to a relevant public prosecutor regarding the bond purchase by the state-run civil servants' supplementary fund, the act that ignited the ongoing political furor.
Political parties comment on North Asset Management official's refusal to testify before Parliamentary committee
The main opposition PASOK party and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party on Monday commented on the refusal by the North Asset Management company's representative, Georgios Papamarkakis, to testify before Parliament's standing committee for economic affairs over a transaction of a controversial structured bond, criticising the government and calling for the creation of a Factfinding Committee.
PASOK's economy and finance rapporteur Vasso Papandreou said that "Mr. Papamarkakis' refusal to appear before Parliament and the delaying effort by J.P. Morgan express disrespect for Parliament and an acceptance of their guilt. The truth will shine and responsibilities will be attributed no matter how high they may be."
Papandreou added that "the effort to cover up the huge bonds scandal by the government and its associates is continuing. Those involved are coordinated with the planning of the government, which is trying to gain time."
The Coalition party's Political Bureau member and economic and social policy rapporteur Panayiotis Lafazanis said on his part that Papamarkakis' refusal to testify "does not discredit even more himself but the government as well," adding that the creation of a Parliamentary Factfinding Committee, for which the Coalition of the Radical Left has submitted a relevant proposal, in light of the new developments, is becoming even more necessary.
 Economic Committee's meeting on structured bonds postponedThe Parliamentary Economic Committee's meeting on Tuesday, to which officials of JP Morgan and the representative of the North Asset Management company George Papamarkakis had been summoned for a briefing on the issue of the structured bond worth 280 million euros, has been postponed.
The Committee's President Theodoros Skrekas said that JP Morgan's legal adviser informed him that the company's officials who had been summoned to testify are unable to appear before the Committee on Tuesday and requested, if possible, that another meeting be scheduled between June 5-15.
"We cannot oblige anyone to come to the Committee if he does not want to and particularly when these persons belong to the banking sector where free competition functions," Skrekas said.
Skrekas also revealed that he received a letter late in the afternoon from the North Asset Management's managing director George Papamarkakis, who informed the Parliamentary Economic Committee that he is unable to come forward to brief it.
 EU Council of Competitiveness - political agreement on consumers' creditBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The EU Council of Competitiveness reached a political agreement in Brussels on Monday as to the harmonisation of the consumers' credit in all the member-states.
Greece was represented by Consumers' Secretary General G. Iconomou and Industry Secretary General Spyros D. Papadopoulos.
The "27" approved the EU directive which aims at harmonising the legislative, regulatory and administrative provisions which derive from the credit agreement with the consumers in all the member-states.
According to Iconomou, most of the points of the text satisfy the Greek positions, except the settlement regarding the compensation, in the event of premature paying back of the consumer loan (article 15).
 Public works minister publicises town plan framework for industryEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Monday publicised a special town planning framework for industry that aims at boosting the concentration of industrial units in organised locations and decentralising industry with the purpose of promoting regional development and protecting the environment.
Souflias said that it sets specific rules and processes that clarify the scene, facilitate investing activities and assist the avoidance of judicial complications.
The Joint Ministerial Decision plan presented on Monday for two-month consultations is composed of 16 articles.
 Turnover in Greek industrial sector up 4.4 pct in March, yr/yrThe turnover index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and foreign markets) rose 4.4 pct in March 2007 compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 18 percent in March 2006, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The statistics service said the March 4.4 pct increase reflected a 10.8 pct rise in the mining turnover index and a 4.3 pct increase in the manufacturing turnover index over the same period. The average index in the 12-month period from April 2006 to March 2007 was up 9.4 pct, after an increase of 11.9 pct in the same period last year.
The new orders index in the industrial sector was up 10.5 pct in March 2007, from the same month last year, after an increase of 15.1 pct in March 2006. The statistics service attributed the March increase to a 24.6 pct jump in new orders of intermediary goods, a 24.2 pct drop in new orders of capital goods, a 7.3 pct decline in new orders of durable goods and a 10.9 pct rise in new orders of non-durable goods.
 J&P Avax in 430-mln-euro project in JordanJ&P Avax SA, a Greek-listed engineering group, on Monday announced the signing of a 430-million-euro contract between the Aeroports De Paris consortium of companies with the government of Jordan for the operation, maintenance, expansion and modernizing of the Queen Alia International Airport.
The consortium is comprised of the companies J&P Overseas, J&P Avax SA, Abu Dhabi Investment Co., Noor Financial Investment Co., Edgo Investment Holdings Ltd and Aeroports De Paris.
The contract has a duration of 25 years.
The Queen Alia airport is located in the Zizya region, 32 km south of Amman, the capital of Jordan. Under the expansion plan, the airport is scheduled to be able to service nine million passengers annually by 2010.
 Finansbank achieves improvement of main economic indicatorsThe main economic indicators of the Turkish Finansbank have improved considerably in the first quarter of the current year, according to data publicised by the National Bank.
The bank's total loans increased by 47.4 percent on an annual basis and 9.2 percent on a three-month basis, nearing 13.5 billion Turkish pounds. Finansbank's market share increased in the first quarter of 2007 both in the retail one (+0.22 percent) and in the bank business one (+0.23 percent) reaching 6.74 percent and 5.62 percent respectively.
According to an announcement by the National Bank, Finansbank is continuing to invest at a speedy rate in the branch network, opening 19 new branch offices in the first quarter of 2007 (107 on an annual basis) and attracting new customers continuously.
The full analysis and presentation of Finansbank's balance sheet and results, according to International Accounting Norms, for the first quarter of 2007 will constitute part of the presentation of the National Bank Group's three-month results, that will be announced on May 30, 2007.
 Minoan Lines reports improved Q1 resultsMinoan Lies on Monday reported a 13.1-pct increase in first quarter turnover to 37.4 million euros, up from 33.1 million euros in the corresponding period last year despite the fact that the company's fleet was reduced by one vessel after the sale of the "Ariadne Palace".
Net results showed a loss of 2.6 million euros in the January-March period, after a loss of 5.3 million euros in the same period in 2006, while pre-tax interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) jumped 89.4 pct to 7.3 million euros form 3.8 million euros over the same period, respectively. EBITDA margin jumped 7.9 points to 19.5 percent from 11.6 pct.
Consolidated turnover totaled 37.5 million euros from 33.1 million euros last year, up 13.2 pct, while EBITDA soared 90.1 percent to 7.3 million euros.
Group losses shrank to 3.9 million euros in the first three months of 2007, from a loss of 7.7 million euros last year, reflecting improved results by the parent company and by Hellenic Seaways (in which Minoan Lines holds a 33.3 pct equity stake).
Hellenic Seaways reported a turnover of 20.7 million euros in the first quarter, up 39 pct from 2006, and a net loss of 4.0 million euros from a loss of 6.7 million euros over the same period.
 Building cost up 7.4 pct in April, yr/yrBuilding cost jumped 7.4 percent in April compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The statistics service said the building material cost index was up 4.5 pct in the same month in 2006 and rose by 0.9 pct in April 2007 from March 2007.
 Athens Stock Exchange president addresses int'l conferenceAthens Stock Exchange president Spyros Kapralos on Monday addressed an international Stock Exchanges conference of the American investment bank Fox-Pitt Kelton on the theme "Markets without borders - the globalisation of the capital markets and the repercussions to the Stock Exchanges".
Kapralos expounded on his vision for the creation of a unified emerging market in South-East Europe, which will have the possibility of attracting international investment capitals that are directed to the emerging markets.
Taking part in the conference were, among others, Robert Greifeld, President and Managing Director of NASDAQ, Nelson Chai, Executive Vice-Preident of NYSE - Euronext, Hellenic Stock Exchange S.A. (EXAE), Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the London Stock Exchange and the International Securities Exchange.
 ASE breaks 4,900-level on MondayGreek stocks ended at a new seven-year high on Monday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange above the 4,900-level. The index ended 0.38-pct higher at 4,905.46 points, with turnover a moderate 357.7 million euros.
Sector indices moved upwards, with the Media (4.50 pct), Personal/Home Products (2.20 pct) and Chemicals (1.97 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food/Beverage (1.22 pct), Commerce (0.58 pct) and Raw Materials (0.57 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap rose 0.05 pct, the Mid Cap ended 0.97 pct higher and the Small Cap ended 0.87 pct up.
Akritas (16.07 pct), Technical Olympic (12.14 pct) and Alpha Grissin (12.09 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (6.50 pct), Ippotour (6.25 pct) and Katselis (5.95 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 172 to 98 with another 34 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.30%
Personal & Household: +2.20%
Raw Materials: -0.57%
Travel & Leisure: +0.18%
Food & Beverages: -1.22%
Financial Services: +0.69%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.02
HBC Coca Cola: 33.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.48
Emporiki Bank: 21.16
National Bank of Greece: 42.98
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 27.98
Titan Cement Company: 42.00
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices saw their discount continuing during Monday's session in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover 127.211 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.65 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.02 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 6,721 contracts worth 87.533 million euros, with 36,686 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 1,077 contracts worth 33.318 million euros, with 1,257 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 3,714 contracts worth 6.359 million euros, with investment interest focusing on PPC (966) followed by ELPE (629), ATEbank (284), Eltech (224), National Bank (210), Post Office Savings Bank (163), Intracom (154), and Alpha Bank (154).
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.355
Pound sterling 0.688
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.292
Japanese yen 164.63
Swiss franc 1.669
Norwegian kroner 8.232
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.472
Australian dollar 1.653
 Arts Academy to open in September 2009, Voulgarakis saysThe process of founding an Academy of the Arts announced by the government was now entering its final stages and classes would probably begin in September 2009, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said on Monday.
Voulgarakis said that a bill for the foundation of the new academy prepared by a joint committee of the culture and education ministries will probably be passed by Parliament in its summer session this year.
The Academy, which will offer courses in dance, music, theatre and film-making, is to be supervised by the culture ministry.
The minister said that it would admit 120 talented students each year, 30 for each department, who would be chosen according to extremely strict criteria. These would be taught, in turn, by the very best teachers the country possessed in these four areas, he added.
The school would be classed as a "higher learning" institute offering three-year courses and applicants would have to be high-school graduates but would not be admitted via the nationwide university entrance exams. On graduation, they would receive a certificate of study but not a university degree, since their education would not be in theoretical matters but in "practical knowledge", Voulgarakis explained.
Under the draft bill, the arts academy is to be governed by a seven-member school board serving a three-year term, which will be appointed by the culture minister and will submit proposals to him regarding its running.
Regarding the fees, the minister said that these would be largely "symbolic" and that the ministry also intended to establish an extended system of scholarships for talented youngsters studying there.
The academy itself will be funded from the state budget, and will be able to earn revenue from sponsorships, endowments and by making use of its own assets, as well as through EU programmes.
 Contract signed for creation of International University of GreeceA contract on the creation of the International University of Greece, as well as the utilisation of real estate belonging to the municipality of Nea Mihaniona, near Thessaloniki, was signed on Monday by the municipality and the State Real Estate Company, in the presence of Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou.
The signing of the contract in essence paves the way for the beginning of the University's construction, since according to the State Real Estate Company's managing director Costas Gratsios, the first awarding of a study will begin at the end of 2007 and the first awarding of a project in the second half of 2008.
The first facilities are expected to operate in 2010 or 2011 and until then the University will be operating temporarily at the installations of the PASEGES confederation (as of early 2008).
 Tourism photo competition by gov't, tourism organisationThe tourism development ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) has announced the holding of a tourism photography competition as part of an ongoing campaign to promote Greece as a international holiday destination.
Themes include "tourism and culture", "tourism and vacation" as well as "tourism and large Greek cities". Additionally, a photo competition aimed at youth between 12 and 17 years old and design of a new tourism poster were announced.
For more information, visit the GNTO website at http://www.gnto.gr/
Interested parties must submit participation forms by 2 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday, June 5.
 Crops in northern Greece destroyed by hailstorms, heavy rainfallHailstorms and intense rainfall in the region of central Macedonia, northern Greece, caused serious damage to cherry tree, tobacco, grain and other crops. The biggest damage was reported in the prefectures of Chalkidiki, Pella, Pieria and Thessaloniki where farmer compensation procedures are already underway.
More specifically, over 4,000 stremma of apple, peach and cherry trees were damaged in the prefecture of Pella. In Pieria prefecture, 3,500 stremma of cherry trees were hit by hail, while damages have been reported in grain, green vegetable and corn crops in the prefecture of Thessaloniki.
In Chalkidiki, roughly 7,000 stremma of olive trees, grain, vegetables and apricot trees were destroyed by hail.
Damage recording procedures are underway and farmers will be compensated within three months at the latest.
 Rescue operation for Dutch hiker ends successfullyAn operation to rescue a 57-year-old Dutch hiker who was trapped in an inaccessible and remote region of the Lousios River gorge, close to the Philosophon Monastery and the town of Dimitsana, ended successfully on Monday.
Three fire engines from Tripolis and Vytina and nine fire fighters took part in the operation, assisted by police from Dimitsana and a local resident. After being pulled up out of the gorge, the rescued hiker was taken to the Dimitsana health centre in an ambulance.
 Detainee escapes from Police Station holding cellA 22-year-old Iraqi held on robbery charges at the Paleo Psihiko Police Station in Athens and awaiting deportation managed to escape at dawn on Monday when the detention cell door was left unlocked by a guard who escorted another detainee to the men's room.
The Iraqi managed to escape from the police station undetected by jumping out of a window.
An inquiry is underway to determine the circumstances under which the escape took place.
 IPA seminars against human-traffickingRepresentatives of police and court authorities from Serbia, Greece and other countries, members of non-governmental organizations and diplomats will attend the three seminars on combating human trafficking scheduled to take place in Serbia organized by the International Police Association, IPA, Greek National Department.
The first of the seminars held under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry takes place in Subotica on Monday followed by Nis on Wednesday and Belgrade on Friday.
 Crooked police station chief remanded in custodyThe Nea Ionia police station chief accused of accepting bribes was remanded in custody after appearing before an examining magistrate on Monday. The senior police officer was caught in the act of taking a marked check for 35,000 euros on behalf of a prisoner a few days earlier.
He is being charged with repeated counts of fraud, breaking the laws on mediating on behalf of prisoners and resisting arrest.
He was reported by a prisoner currently serving a seven-year sentence for fraud, who said the officer took the cheque in order to intervene on his behalf and ensure a favourable decision to his appeal to have his sentence suspended.
The appeal was to be considered on Monday and has now been postponed until July 4. The officer denies the charges and claims that the whole affair is a set-up organised by the prisoner.
 Failed attempt to torch Thessaloniki bankUnidentified individuals failed in their attempt to firebomb a Bank of Piraeus branch in Toumba, Thessaloniki, when the flammable liquid and petrol bombs they used did not ignite.
According to police, the assailants hurled two petrol bombs at the bank and dowsed its interior with flammable liquid after breaking its glass facade in the early morning hours on Monday.
 Athens Bar Association calls for humane prison conditionsA four-member delegation of the Athens Bar Association, headed by its Vice-President Michalis Zafiropoulos, on Monday met with Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras and discussed with him the grave state of the country's prisons.
The delegation expressed its strong concern about the over-population of prisons due to the excessively harsh sentences imposed by courts but the justice minister did not share their views. However, he promised that in the forthcoming reshaping of the Penal Code, the limit of penalties will be reduced.
The Association also noted the need to separate those who are being held in prison awaiting trial (25% of the total prison population) from the inmates.
 Immigration Centre to be inaugurated at EvrosThe Immigration Centre at the Evros border post in northern Greece will be officially inaugurated on Sunday, June 10, Evros Prefect Nikolaos Zabounidis said on Monday.
He stated this after a meeting he had at his office with the regional representative of the UN High Commission for Refugees, Walter Irwin, the head of the Office of Greece, George Tsarbopoulos and Evros border post head Panagiotis Papadimitriou.
The discussion centred on the manner with which economic immigrants and asylum seekers are faced when they reach the region and how the situation has improved at the new Immigration Centre which has been built at the border post.
 Tourist killed in fall from hotel balconyA British national, aged 26, was killed after accidentally falling from a hotel balcony on the island of Rhodes, at dawn on Monday.
The incident occurred at 5:30 a.m. in Rhodes' region of Kalathos and it seems that the Briton lost his balance while being at his room's balcony.
The unfortunate Briton was immediately transferred to Rhodes hospital where his death was ascertained.
The police department of Archangelos is investigating the incident.
 Largest Greek flag in the world at ZakynthosThe largest Greek flag in the world is flying at the community of Keri on the island of Zakynthos.
A special ceremony was held on Sunday to establish the actual dimension of the flag, which is expected to be registered in the Guinness Book of Records, in its category.
The flag was measured at 667.89 square metres and was hoisted at a permanent 50 metres-high poll.
The inspirer of the idea was architect Stamatis Liveris, who lives and works in Zakynthos.
 Paintings and antiques auction in ThessalonikiWorks by important Greek painters and antiques dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries featuring themes inspired mostly by Ancient Greece and the 1821 Revolution will be auctioned by Hellenic Auctions at Thessaloniki's Electra Palace Hotel on Thursday, May 24.
Part of the auction proceeds will be donated to the "Aghios Stylianos" Municipal Children's Home.
 City bus collides with truck; seven slightly injuredSeven people were slightly injured when a Thessaloniki city bus collided head-on with a FYROM license plate truck on the old Thessaloniki-Veria motorway near Thessaloniki's Diavata Prison facilities on Monday morning.
The six bus passengers and a truck passenger injured in the crash were taken to a Thessaloniki hospital.
Champions League final
 Traffic measures for Wednesday's Champions League finalTraffic police announced on Monday that measures will be taken in view of the Champions League soccer final between Liverpool FC (England) and AC Milan (Italy) which will be held at Athens' Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Traffic will be halted from 10 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Thursday in the following streets:
Anagenniseos from Omorfokklisias to Dermisiou Street, Aghiou Georgiou from Kapodistriou to Spyrou Loui.
From 4 p.m. on Wednesday, providing traffic conditions impose it, there will be a halt in the two lanes of Kapodistriou Street from Kymis to Kifisias and at Paleologou at Halandri from Ethnikis Antistaseos Street to Kifisias Avenue.
Parking of all vehicles, apart from buses, will be forbidden also at the centre at Vasillis Olgas Avenue from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Also closed will be the exit of Kymis of Attikis Street from 10 a.m. on Wednesday until Thursday morning, in both directions.
The traffic measures do not apply to buses which will run as normal.
 Extra buses, trains laid on for Champions League finalThe Athens public transport organisation OASA will increase the number of buses and trains serving the OAKA Athens Olympic Stadium on Wednesday so that fans attending the Champions League final between Liverpool and Milan can get to and from the stadium.
In an announcement on Monday, OASA said it would also modify bus routes for the lines A8 (Polytechnio - Nea Ionia - Maroussi), X40 Express (OAKA - Acharnai - Olympic Village) and X41 Express (OAKA - Acharnai - Olympic Village), which will now stop 700 metres before the OAKA stadium at the square between Artemidos and Dionysiou streets.
The X14 Express (Syntagma Square - OAKA) will run all through the night, while the X40 and X41 express buses will no longer go through Irene Station on the ISAP Piraeus-Kifissia train line. Instead, their new route will go through the Attiki Odos highway to Kifissias Avenue to the terminal and return the same way.
The ISAP line and lines 2 and 3 of the Metro will operate throughout the night, as will the Proastiako suburban railway line between the airport and Neratziotissa Station, without stops.
 Champions League ticket touts busted by policeA circuit re-selling tickets to the Champions League final in Athens on Wednesday at 10 times their normal price was busted by the Attica Police electronic crimes department. Police on Monday announced the arrest of one 30-year-old man and are seeking a 34-year-old accomplice on charges of profiteering.
Through an Internet site, the suspects were offering tickets to the final for prices ranging from 2,000-2,500 euros, instead of the regular price of 80, 140 and 200 euros. Interested parties logged onto the website and filled in a special form, where they gave their personal details and were required to pay 300 euros via credit-card in order to get onto a waiting list for a ticket.
The specific website also sold tickets to other sporting events taking place in Greece and abroad, always at inflated prices. It has operated since March 2006 and had large numbers of visitors, because in addition to tickets it also provided sports news.
The electronic crimes unit was able to track down the electronic signature and identity of the 34-year-old and then set up a meeting with a police officer posing as a potential buyer. The officer was met by the 30-year-old man placed under arrest, after the completion of a transaction in which he bought a 80-euro ticket to the game for 2,000 euros.
Interpol has also been alerted so that the ring can be fully dismantled, since the tickets were actually coming to Greece from Cyprus.
 Rain on TuesdayRainy and stormy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Tuesday. Temperatures will range between 9C to 26C. Winds southwesterly, northwesterly, light to moderate.
Rain in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 15C and 25C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 14C to 21C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe unbelievable black market prices for the tickets of the Champions League Final to take place at OAKA Stadium in Athens on Wednesday and the bonds affair were the main front-page items in Monday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The public sector bonuses under the microscope - Who were eligible among the 162,000 recipients".
APOGEVMATINI: "Invasion by 40,000 foreign soccer fans - Huge airlift with London and Milan to transport the Champions League spectators to Athens".
AVRIANI: "Radical changes in pensions on January 1, 2008 causing retirement exodus in public sector and (public utility companies) DEKO - Detailed lists calculating wages received in the past five years".
CHORA: "Before a prosecutor the green bond (the colour on the main opposition PASOK party emblem) that caused 2.3-billion-euro losses - Suggestions to bring the case to court".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "The government and the ruling party panic over the likelihood of unavoidable collaboration with George Karatzaferis' LAOS party".
ELEFTHEROS: "PASOK former PM Simitis and former minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos call for cooperation between PASOK and the Creative Left - Unexpected thorns in (PASOK leader) Papandreou's side in the most favourable period for him".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "6,000 euros paid for a single ticket - Black market and auctions for Champions League tickets".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "8.4-million-euro commission admitted by Papamarkakis (one of the bonds scandal protagonists) in his testimony before prosecutor Zorbas".
ESTIA: "Elections should be held before the summer holidays".
ETHNOS: "The issue with Skopje is used to cast out the bonds evil - (Government headquarters) Maximos Mansion fears Papamarkakis' revelations".
TA NEA: "The economic staff is exposed".
VRADYNI: "8,162 permanent employees hired in the public sector plus the 1,642 seasonal workers in public companies and organizations".
 Additional measures to boost bicommunal cooperation announcedNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government announced here Monday measures to further improve economic development and cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, something that could boost the local economy and help the reunification of the country.
The first project, approved by the Cabinet, concerns ways to help set up small ventures between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, in specific selected regions, for the period 2007-2013, with grants totaling seven million euros. A ceiling of 200,000 euro has been set for each selected small business.
The second project provides grants to businesses, in specific selected areas, to upgrade the technology of ventures between the two communities, develop trade and the manufacturing of agricultural products with grants amounting to 27 million euros, for the period of 2007-2013. A ceiling of 500,000 euro has been set for each selected business.
Finance Minister Michalis Sarris and Director of the President's Diplomatic Office Tasos Tzionis announced the measures at a press conference at the Finance Minstry and expressed hope that Turkish Cypriots will respond and benefit from these measures.
In his remarks, Tzionis rejected claims that Turkish Cypriots are "isolated" and that there is an economic war between the two communities, noting that Turkish Cypriots have fallen into a "self-isolation" due to the policy of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, adding that they must decide that they need to cooperate with Greek Cypriots.
"We urge the Turkish Cypriots to cooperate with Greek Cypriots to benefit the reunification of our economy, which eventually will help Cyprus' reunification", Tzionis added.
To implement the two projects, a Planning Committee will be set up, to be chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry, which will examine applications, while an advisory committee will be set up, comprising two members, to be appointed by the Planning Committee, preferably two Greek Cypriots and two Turkish Cypriots.
Applications must be submitted by 30 September 2008. Businesses seeking grants for investment will be examined and approved by the end of 2008.
Finance Minister Sarris assured that his ministry will examine the applications quickly and will be flexible, noting that these projects are an "effort to strengthen the economic and trade relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots through two generous programmes with serious incentives which we hope will promote joint ventures and will be the prelude to the economic and territorial reunification of Cyprus", Sarris added.
According to Tzionis, these measures are part of an overall package of measures which include the establishing of a fund to finance projects for civil society (i.e. cooperation between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot NGOs) with the amount of 2 million euros and will be presented by the Interior Minister. Two more regulations have been approved to allow for the trade of honey and fish among the products which can move from the occupied areas to the free areas of the Republic through the Green Line Regulation and to help set up a company to distribute Turkish Cypriot products.
"All these in response to the accusation that the Cyprus government is not interested in the Green Line regulation", said Tzionis.
Sarris noted that the government prepared the plans in the hope that there will be interest, adding that "if for political reasons Turkish Cypriots are not allowed to make use of them, then that is another issue".
He said "our position is that the infrastructure of the Republic of Cyprus is always at the disposal of the Turkish Cypriots. The economic development of the Turkish occupied areas is something which we pursue and we are interested in merging the two economies."
"We hope that the Turkish Cypriots will want to make use of these projects and we have reasons to believe that they will. We encourage economic activity between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots talk about isolation. Their self-isolation is the result of their own actions and policies", he added.
Answering questions, Tzionis said Turkish Cypriot leader advisor Rashid Pertev has rejected government measures, acting on the basis of some reports which were inaccurate.
Sarris said that trade through the Green Line regulation is a lot less than anticipated, around 400 thousand euros per month, with 300 thousand euros coming from Turkish Cypriot products and only 100 thousand from Greek Cypriot products.
"We estimate, on an annual basis, that the income in the occupied areas from the free areas comes to 100 million pounds per year, which amounts to 15% of the GDP of the occupied areas", he added.
Tzionis concluded by saying that the restrictions which were imposed by the Turkish occupation regime in the movement of goods from the free areas to the occupied north should be lifted.
Cyprus, which joined the EU on May 1, 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Spokesman says occupation regime razing houses in RizokarpasoNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said on Monday that the Turkish Cypriot occupation regime was razing derelict houses, in the occupied village of Rizokarpaso, in the Karpass peninsula.
Commenting on Turkish Cypriot press reports that an operation was underway to knock down some 60 houses in the Rizokarpaso area, Palmas said this was nothing new and that about a month ago the government had received similar information.
''Since they are razing them to the ground and may proceed with the exploitation of the plots that will remain after the demolition work, it is condemnable and unacceptable and falls within the general effort concerning the issue of properties,'' Palmas pointed out.
He clarified that the specific houses were uninhabited.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Archbishop Demetrios to visit CyprusNEW YORK (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Archbishop Demetrios, will visit Cyprus July 2-6, at the invitation of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos. During his visit he will inaugurate a vocational training seminar for 22 teachers at Greek schools overseas.
Demetrios will also attend a ceremony during which two veteran Greek American politicians, former Congressman John Bradimas and former senator Paul Sarbanes, will be decorated by President Papadopoulos.
He will also attend a concert at the Presidential Palace, to be given by the Metropolitan Archbishopric youth choir.
This is the second official visit of Archbishop Demetrios to Cyprus during a two-year period.
During his stay on the island, Demetrios will also meet among others with Archbishop of Cyprus Christostomos II, the members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus and Education Minister Akis Kleanthous.
The vocational training seminar, which will take place July 5-19, at the University of Cyprus, will be organized under the auspices of Archbishop of All America Demetrios and Cyprus Education Minister.
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