|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-11-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 19 November 2009 Issue No: 3353
 PM chairs cabinet meeting on budget, draft legislationThe draft budget unveiled by the government was the first and decisive step for rescuing the economy and bringing the country out of the crisis, Prime Minister George Papandreou told a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday.
The meeting, in addition to discussing the budget, also focused on plans to convert the Greek Statistics Service into an independent authority, a draft bill for forest protection and a draft bill on loans and borrowers.
The prime minister referred to the battle the government must give in order to change the state and carry out the 100-day programme announced by PASOK before the elections, adding that the government's work was now proceeding very rapidly.
Referring to the budget, Papandreou said that it would not 'magically' solve the country's problems but would strike a balance between the need to deal with the major problems inherited from the previous government and the need to redress glaring social injustices, inequality, poverty and lack of opportunities.
He also emphasised the need to "show respect to all those that need protection and are not responsible for the country's current state".
On the planned changes to the statistics service, the premier underlined the need to restore Greece's credibility in Europe and international markets by putting an end to the practice of each individual government 'cooking up' statistics at will.
Commenting on the burnt forests of Attica, meanwhile, he said the draft bill brought by the government sought to tackle the corruption and lawlessness that had resulted in the destruction of the environment for profit.
"This bill protects all areas damaged by fires but with it we also put a final end to unregulated building and encroachment, especially to the attitude that the State everywhere absent and that everyone can therefore do what they like, where they like," he stressed.
Papandreou also emphasised the bill for borrowers, saying that "we are now entering the heart of our plan for the first 100 days and with this proving our trustworthiness."
Outlining the state of the country in general, the prime minister was scathing about the policies of the previous New Democracy government, saying that these had been "catastrophic" and had "brought the economy to a state of emergency".
"As main opposition, hearing the assurances of ND's government about the key figures of the economy, we were always doubtful. But we could never have imagined the degree of their divergence from the reality," Papandreou underlined.
In spite of this, he added, the government's goals remained the same and it would keep all promises made before the elections.
The most serious problems of the economy and in drawing up the budget were not caused by the global economic crisis but the country's poor performance and the deep roots of the problem were the Greek State itself, its structure, its staff, its multiple laws, its bureaucracy, lack of transparency and corruption in relations with the citizens," the premier underlined.
The best intentions and policies would continue to stumble on the labyrinth of the state machinery unless this was brought under control and in this struggle the government was on the same side as the citizens, he stressed.
Turning to the future, Papandreou announced that 2010 would be the year when the government clashed with the problems in five fundamental areas, those of the state, the economic and developmental model, in education and innovation, in the welfare state and the country's image abroad.
He also announced the start of dialogue on social insurance reform in the next few days.
 Cabinet meeting, draft budgetDetails of the budget contained in the plan to be tabled in Parliament on Friday were finalised during Wednesday's cabinet meeting. The incomes policy will cover increases up to the level of inflation for incomes of up to 2,000 euros a month, while from that point on increases will "freeze."
In parallel, hirings in the public sector will be suspended in 2010 with the exception of the health, education and security sectors. In addition, as of 2011 the "five for one" ratio will apply for hirings in the public sector, meaning that for every five leaving one will be hired.
In this way and with other measures included in the budget, the government believes that the decrease in the deficit can move a little higher that what had been initially assessed and the deficit to be very close to 9 percent.
As regards debts owed by businesses and self-employed professionals, it was decided that all outstanding debts will be settled with a two-year period of grace for the amortisation of capital.
 President Papoulias addresses business forum in LjubljanaPresident Karolos Papoulias addressed a forum of Greek and Slovenian businessmen on Wednesday within the framework of his three-day formal visit to Ljubljana. He referred to investment prospects and business cooperation between Greece and Slovenia characterizing them as very positive and promising.
"The Greek economy is growing with a steady rate in recent years, while our participation in the Euro-zone, the improvement of infrastructure, the gradual reduction of taxation imposed on businesses and the new developmental law that offers significant incentives for new investments create an attractive destination for foreign capital," he stressed.
He also referred to the deregulation of the energy market in Greece which combined with Greece's new role as energy hub favour cooperation in the specific sector.
President Papoulias added that Greece is interested in developing further bilateral relations in the sector of tourism and referred to the modern infrastructure for conventional and alternative forms of tourism available.
Based on figures presented in the forum, the Greek exports to Slovenia reached 245 million euros in 2008 while the imports from Slovenia were 85.4 million euros.
 Statements by Alternate FM Droutsas on fYRoM issueLJUBLJANA (ANA-MPA/S. Tzimas)
Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who is accompanying President Karolos Papoulias on his visit in Slovenia, said here on Wednesday that the Greek government's intention is to develop contacts and relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), without distancing itself from the "red line" on the name issue.
Speaking to reporters, Droutsas underlined the adherrence of the Greek side to the process taking place under the auspices of the UN and said that the new Greek government is "bringing a new breeze" to foreign policy.
"It is our intention to develop our relations and contacts with Skopje (fYRoM). We do not want the people of the country to hear only what their government tells them. We want to remind of the support that we provided for them in the past including the economic sector," the minister said.
"We have the will to examine and find ways of approach. We shall not hesitate to do all that we can to find a solution on the issue of the name, stressing our clear position on the red line. This government is open-minded. everything is on the table," he added.
Lastly, Droutsas pointed out that the government's intention "to open again" relations with Skopje "does not mean a parallel process" on the issue of resolving the name problem and reiterated the Greek side's adherrence to the procedure under UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz.
 Alternate FM Droutsas holds talks with Serb FMBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas stressed here on Wednesday, on the first stop in his tour of the Western Balkans, the Greek government's will to return as a "dynamic protagonist in the Balkans", with the first aim being the promotion of the European course of the countries in the region.
The "Agenda 2014", as the proposal of the new Greek government to the European Union is now termed, on the European incorporation of the Western Balkans by 2014, was the main issue dicussed by Droutsas and Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic during his arrival here on Wednesday evening, as the two ministers stressed in their joint statements.
Asked about the course of negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in light of the December European Council, Droutsas replied that with the Agenda 2014 Greece is expressing its "sincere will to become the locomotive of the European course of the Western Balkans".
"It also has a sincere will towards Skopje (fYRoM) as well which it wants to join the EU, but on the clear precondition of the previous solution to the issue of the name," he said.
"A start to negotiations with Skopje without a previous solution to the issue of the name does not find us in agreement. We have stressed it clearly because we believe that we must speak with clear speech so that there will be no ground for misunderstandings or surprises," he added.
On the same question, Jeremic expressed the "full understanding of Serbia for the position of Greece on fYRoM" and added that Athens "can count on the support of Belgrade on this issue."
The Greek minister also met Serb President Boris Tadic and on Thursday he will be attending the funeral service for Serb Patriarch Pavle and then he will be leaving for Montenegro, while a few hours later he will be in Sarajevo.
 Greece wants western Balkans in EU by 2014, Droutsas repeatsBELGRADE (ANA-MPA - N. Pelpas)
Greece supports the accession of western Balkan countries to the European Union by 2014, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said on Wednesday in an interview with the Serb news agency Tanjug in view of his visit here.
"We have a strong conviction that the European prospects of the western Balkans need a new boost and, in this framework, Greece's new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou proposed - just a few days after taking over his duties last month - the design of a new specific road map for the countries in the region, a road map seeking to accelerate their forward progress," Droutsas underlined.
The minister noted that 2014 would mark the centenary since the declaration of World War I, adding that many of the problems plaguing the Balkans today could be traced back to that time.
Noting that the inclusion of the western Balkans into European structures would contribute to further establishing democracy and boosting peace, security and stability in Europe, he said that this would be in the interests of both the southeastern European neighbourhood but also the EU.
Droutsas also repeated Papandreou's promise to do whatever he could to assist Serbia in its course toward joining the EU, pointing out that the current Serb president Boris Tadic was a close, personal friend of Papandreou and a "reliable partner" in this effort.
On bilateral relations, Droutsas said that these were excellent on a political level and had satisfactory development on an economic level, with Greece at the top of the list of foreign investors in Serbia.
Greece's readiness to take a lead role in assisting the western Balkans and especially Serbia in their efforts to join the EU was also repeated by Droutsas in an interview with the Belgrade daily "Novosti".
After his visit to Belgrade, the Greek minister is due to visit other Balkan capitals, such as Podgorica in Montenegro, Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Albanian capital Tirana.
 Citizen Protection Minister Chysochoidis announces measures against illegal migrationCitizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis decided Wednesday to proceed with the modernization of the Coastguard to handle more effectively the waves of illegal immigrants that reach the coasts of the Aegean islands. He also decided to increase the number of personnel and update the means available in the Port Authorities of Lesvos, Samos, Leros and Patmos, while expressing concern about the daily arrival of illegal migrants on the Greek islands.
Following a meeting at the Coastguard headquarters, Chrysochoidis told reporters that a special strategy squad will be established that will monitor movement from and to the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa, taking into consideration the seriousness of the illegal migration problem. The minister clarified that the new authority will be headed by the citizen protection ministry general secretary and the chiefs of the Greek Police (ELAS) and Coastguard.
 Poll indicates Samaras lead in ND leadership raceA Metron Analysis opinion poll released on private Flash 96 radio station on Wednesday indicated that former culture minister Antonis Samaras was in the lead in the main opposition New Democracy (ND) leadership race over fellow candidate Dora Bakoyannis, a former foreign minister and Athens mayor, while the third candidate, Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis, was trailing.
To a question on which of the three candidates was the most suited for the ND presidency, 44 percent of the respondents preferred Samaras, against 28 percent who favored Bakoyannis and 14 percent who opted for Psomiadis.
When narrowed down to ND voters, 41.4 percent preferred Samaras against 40.8 percent for Bakoyannis and 9.5 percent for Psomiadis. Compared with the previous poll by Metron Analysis on the same subject, Samaras' popularity has declined by 2.4 percentage points.
To a question on who they would choose for ND leader, 44.6 percent of the total respondents preferred Samaras, against 27.8 percent for Bakoyannis and 17.8 percent for Psomiadis, while among the ND voters 42.6 percent of the respondents preferred Samaras against Bakoyannis with 39.7 percent and Psomiadis with 14.6 percent.
In the event of a second round (among the two top vote-getters if none of the candidates amasses a majority in the first round of the election, slated for November 29), Samaras was preferred by 49.0 percent of the ND voters among the respondents, against 46.4 percent for Bakoyannis. However, among the ND voters who stated that they will definitely vote in a second round, Bakoyannis led with 50 percent over Samaras with 49.2 percent.
The opinion poll was conducted by telephone on November 18-17 on a nationwide sampling of 1,204 people.
 Tsipras on STAGE employeesCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday met people employed in the public sector via project contracts and the STAGE work-experience programmes, who outlined their objections to a government decision that will leave them without any work or the small income they earn through such programmes.
They also briefed Tsipras about their planned strike on Thursday and Friday in protest.
Tsipras criticised both the current PASOK government and the previous New Democracy government for allowing uninsured and badly paid work through the STAGE programmes and disputed PASOK's claim that its decision to leave thousands now working in STAGE programmes jobless was a strike at client relations and nepotism.
"If PASOK really wanted to fight these it would not abolish STAGE in the public sector and transfer it to the private sector. All that it wants is to abolish STAGE in the public sector in order to tidy up public finances," he said.
Tsipras said that SYRIZA would fight to abolish uninsured and badly paid work in both the public and private sectors, demanding that those in STAGE programmes have their insurance rights paid afterwards and that they be given permanent jobs in the public sector, where tens of thousands of positions remained unfilled in health, education, welfare and environment protection.
 Bulgarian president to carry out official visit to GreeceGreece on Tuesday announced that Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov will carry out an official visit to Greece, accompanied by his spouse, on November 24-26. Parvanov is visiting at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.
 Theodorakis replies to accusationsComposer Mikis Theodorakis replied with an open letter to the attack launched against him by the groups "Conspiracy of the Nuclei of Fire" and "Rebel Terrorists Group", in the proclamation with which they assumed the responsibility for the bomb attack on the house of PASOK party deputy Mimis Androulakis.
The proclamation said that the composer "is siding with others together with the graverobbers of thought and intellect who dominate the circles of the people of culture."
Theodorakis responded by announcing the address of his home and calling on the creators of the proclamation to go and "burn him alive."
"My brave young men, I am proud of you. You are the continuators of (the heroes of the Greek War of Independence) Kolokotronis and Androutsos and of Aris in the modern version. And for this reason the last hope of our betrayed people. With your brave public denouncement of me you opened my eyes. I confess, even in a delayed manner, that I was a miserable and detestable traitor-associate of the junta and of the antipopular Right and repenting I now seek my just punishment," Theodorakis added in his ironic reply announcement.
 Economy minister: Four pillars for rekindling Greek economyThe rekindling of the Greek economy will be founded on four pillars, economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli announced on Wednesday, namely through promotion of investments, channeling liquidity to the market, support of the family budget and the advancement of institutional changes to boost transparency and efficiency.
Outlining the government's policy for rekindling the economy in Greece, Katseli said that 6.95 billion euros would be earmarked for 2010 in the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF 2007-2013) for promoting investments and for reinforcements aimed at developing and improving competitiveness.
As for funneling liquidity to the market, she said the arrangement of debts of business concerns and overindebted consumers, revision of the Tiresias (inter-bank list of bad debtors) provisions and European Investment Bank (EIB) programs were being advanced.
On supporting the family budget, the government is advancing a reform of taxation policy, measures to contain high prices, steps to boost competitiveness and consumer protection, monitoring and checks on the markets, and an extraordinary solidarity benefit, the minister continued.
Regarding the fourth pillar, which concerns institutional changes for transparency and better efficiency, measures include utilisation of the NSRF, simplification of the procedures for setting up, licensing and operation of a business, reform of the existing developmental law, enhancing the efficiency of policies aimed at the extroversion of the Greek economy and at attracting investments, and the developmental policy on state procurements, she added.
Katseli said that the PASOK government inherited a very low absorption rate of the NSRF 2007-2013 resources (approximately 800 million euros of the total 26.2 billion euros earmarked in the program), at about 3.07 percent of the total earmarked funds.
The minister stressed that changes will be made to the complex, bureaucratic and concentrative system of management of EU funds, noting that 140 joint ministerial decisions had been required for the materialisation of projects valued at just 800 million euros.
Katseli noted that 16 billion euros in NSRF funds are available for investments up to 2015, adding that 10.3 billion euros of that sum will be channeled via the public investments program in 2010, representing an 8.42 percent increase over 2009.
At the same time, she continued, expenditures for productive restructuring and new investments will be redistributed, with the focus on green development and competitiveness.
Further, the developmental law will be reformed in the immediate future, while the approximately 2,000 investment proposals currently hanging will be assessed.
Katseli also said that she will commence meetings and consultations with other ministers next week as well as with the peripheries for the formulation of the new policy priorities and redistribution of the available resources in the direction of green growth and entrepreneurship.
 Employers' union urges speedy negotiations on new collective labour deal‘he Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) - Greece's largely employers' union - on Wednesday formally invited trade unions to start a round of negotiations over a new national collective labour agreement for 2010.
In a letter of invitation, SEV president Dimitris Daskalopoulos said a two-year agreement was ending in Dec. 31, 2009 and that a new agreement should be reached before Christmas.
Daskalopoulos said 2010 was a crucial year for the country and noted that "in this environment, labour forces - employers and employees - are called to contribute to economic stability and returning to social security and economic growth conditions".
Daskalopoulos also noted that 2009 was a painful year for the Greek economy and society, with hundreds of enterprises closing, thousands of people left unemployed, the private economy was and is harshly hit, while the public economic was at the brink of collapse.
He noted that 2010 would be a more difficult year, with recession continuing, and public debt and deficits remaining at very high levels.
"Greek businesses will face a further reduction in demand, combined with stricter lending conditions and higher financial costs," he said adding that a new collective bargaining agreement was the first and significant tool of responsibility for both wage-earners and employers.
Daskalopoulos urged for a speedy procedure to reach a new agreement, saying any protracted negotiation could sharpen uncertainty and insecurity, with negative consequences to enterprises, workers and the economy in general.
 Current accounts deficit down 25.3% in Jan-SepGreece's current accounts deficit fell by 25.3 pct, or 6.21 billion euros, in the January-September period this year, totaling 18.332 billion euros, and in comparison with the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report, said this development reflected mainly a major decline in the trade deficit and to a lesser extent, a decline in the incomes deficit, while the services and current transfers deficits also recorded a significant fall.
The country's trade deficit fell by 11 billion euros in the nine-month period, reflecting a 5.712-billion-euro drop in the trade deficit of goods, a 3.968-billion-euros decline in fuel imports and an 1.320-billion-euros fall in net payments for the purchase of ships. Import payments fell 24.6 pct, while export receipts fell by 18.6 pct in the January-September period.
A decline in the services surplus by 3.965 billion euros in the nine-month period mainly reflected lower net proceeds from transport and travel services. Gross transport services' revenues (mainly commercial shipping) dropped 31.6 pct to 2.722 billion euros, while travel spending in Greece fell 11.6 pct and travel spending by Greeks abroad fell 6.4 pct to a decline of 1.072 billion euros. Net payments on other services grew by 121 million euros.
The incomes deficit shrank by 386 million euros compared with the same period in 2008, reflecting lower net payments in dividends, interest and earnings, while the current transfers surplus fell by 1.212 billion euros.
The current accounts deficit totaled 1.561 billion euros in September, significantly lower compared with the corresponding month in 2008, mainly because of a large fall in the trade deficit. The trade deficit fell by 1.540 billion euros, reflecting a decline in net payments on fuel imports by 792 million euros, 399 million euros in net payments for the purchase of ships and by a 349 million euros fall in the trade of goods (excluding fuel and ships).
The services surplus fell by 310 million euros, while net proceeds from travel services fell by 9.0 million euros in September and the incomes deficit fell by 53 million euros reflecting lower net payments on interest, dividends and earnings. The country's current transfers balance showed a deficit of 20 million euros in September from a surplus of 112 million euros in September 2008.
 Tourist arrivals at Greek airports record decline in 2009Tourist arrivals at Greek airports recorded a 7.8 pct decline in the period Jan.-Oct. 2009, according to figures released by the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP). The decline corresponds to 900,167 fewer tourists compared to the same period last year.
The institute expects that overall arrivals including the arrivals of tourists using other transportation means will be slightly reduced compared to the arrivals anticipated.
As regards the tourism revenues for the Jan.-Sept. period they showed a decline of 11.7pct with hotel sector revenues being considerably reduced (more than -18pct).
Specifically, arrivals in all the country's airports for the month of October with the exception of Athens were at last year's levels, while in Athens the decline was considerable (-16pct). The negative trends were worse for Chios (-26pct), Cephallonia (-21.4pct), Chania (-13.5pct) and Samos (-13pct). Other regions like Rhodes (-2.1pct), Mytilini (-3.7pct) and Skiathos (-4.1pct) managed to do better.
Tourist airport arrivals in competitor countries with the exception of Turkey were also negative. Italy and Croatia were at last year's levels while airport arrivals in Spain, Portugal and Cyprus recorded an even greater decline than Greece.
Tourism sector revenues for competitor countries were also down. A characteristic example is Turkey (-7pct) despite the fact that tourist arrivals were up (+1.5pct).
 Lamda Development reports improved results in Jan-SeptLamda Development on Wednesday reported a strong 54 pct increase in its consolidated repeated operating profits to 31.2 million euros in the January-September period, from 20.3 million euros in the corresponding period last year and said this positive development reflected a further improvement in operating profits by its shopping centers "The Mall Athens" and "Mediterranean Cosmos", the launch of "Golden Hall" and improving operating profits in Flisvos Marina.
The company said turnover by Golden Hall and The Mall Athens totaled 309.5 million euros, up 35 pct compared with The Mall Athens' turnover in the nine-month period last year.
Lamda Development said the number of visitors to The Mall Athens rose 13 pct, while shops' turnover fell 5.9 pct -significantly smaller compared with a 20 pct decline in consumption spending in the country. Mediterranean Cosmos said shops' turnover grew 1.1 pct in the January-September period. Golden Hall said turnover totaled 93.5 million euros, within the Group's initial forecasts, while Flisvos Marina said repeated earnings were up 12 pct.
Revenues from equity participations and dividends grew 1.7 million euros in the nine-month period, reflecting a higher dividend from Eurobank Properties, while operating expenses fell 14 pct.
After tax and minorities earnings totaled 1.5 million euros in January-September, from 30.6 million euros last year, reflecting changes in the valuation of assets in this year's balance sheet. Net Asset Value rose to 491.8 million euros from 486 million last year. The Net Loan to Value rate was 43 pct, down compared with a 46 pct rate in December 2008, while cash flow totaled 218 million euros.
 Working group to look into hospital debtsThe Greek government on Wednesday decided to set up a working group to check, certify and arrange settlements to pay off hospital debts, in an order signed by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Health Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou.
According to the finance ministry, the group's brief will be to check figures concerning hospital debts, certify their veracity, determine the precise amount of those debts and look into alternative methods of settling the ones that are confirmed. It is expected to complete this task in two months.
Among its members will be the finance ministry general secretary Ilias Plaskovitis, who will act as the group's coordinator, health ministry general secretary Nikolaos Polyzos, the head of the health ministry's procurements directorate Constantinos Robas and two officials from the General Accounting Office.
 Stocks end 1.07 pct higherGreek stocks recovered on Wednesday after a several-day decline in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the composite index of the market rising 1.07 pct to end at 2,528.95 points. Turnover was a strong 307.1 million euros, of which 13.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Oil/Gas (3.02 pct), Raw Materials (2.73 pct) and Banks (2.38 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (2.78 pct), Travel (1.56 pct) and Health (1.41 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.49 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.10 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.07 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 109 to 88 with another 58 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +3.02%
Personal & Household: -0.96%
Raw Materials: +2.73%
Travel & Leisure: -1.56%
Food & Beverages: -0.20%
Financial Services: +2.08%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Public Power Corp (PPC).
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 10.38
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.84
HBC Coca Cola: 17.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.19
National Bank of Greece: 24.04
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.13
Bank of Piraeus: 10.97
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.84 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 104.150 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 12,556 contracts worth 83.539 million euros, with 27,068 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,742 contracts worth 20.611 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (3,854), followed by OTE (1,164), GEK (1,125), Alpha Bank (2,683), National Bank (3,606), ATEbank (1,384) and Eurobank (860).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened again to 156 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with turnover at 1.952 billion euros of which 660 million were buy orders and the remaining 1.292 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.520 billion euros. The Greek bond yielded 4.87 pct and the German Bund 3.31 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 1.04 pct, the three-month rate 0.72 pct and the one-month rate 0.42 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.507
Pound sterling 0.896
Danish kroner 7.500
Swedish kroner 10.293
Japanese yen 134.46
Swiss franc 1.523
Norwegian kroner 8.418
Canadian dollar 1.578
Australian dollar 1.615
 Archbishop Ieronymos holds talks with Education ministerArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos and Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou held talks for over an hour at the Archdiocese on Wednesday. Issues examined, among others, included Ecclesiastical Education and lifelong teaching for clerics.
Diamantopoulou said that from the start the prime minister "pointed out and raised with great intensity the need for a sincere and in-depth dialogue with the Church."
Ieronymos and the minister expressed their satisfaction over the discussion that they had and for the climate in which all the issues were discussed.
 SAE president addresses Diaspora Hellenism Parliamentary CommitteeWorld Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis, addressing the 1st conference of the new Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee for Diaspora Hellenism on Wednesday, stressed that cooperatioin between SAE and the Diaspora Committee, the National Repre-sentation's relevant body for issues concerning overseas Greeks, has a neuralgic significance.
He attended the conference at the invitation of the Committee's President Elpida Tsouri.
Tamvakis also took the opportunity to congratulate, on behalf of SAE's directorate as well, Tsouri and the Committee's members on their election and the assumption of their new duties.
 Cinema is always necessary, says Thessaloniki Film Festival jury"People need stories either concerning the people next door or people living on the other side of the planet. That's why cinema is always necessary," according to Gyorgi Palfi, the youngest of the seven-member international jury in Thessaloniki's 50th International Film Festival that will judge films of the International Competition section.
Responding to the same question "Why cinema now?" which is this year's festival motto, the eldest jury member and chairman Theo Angelopoulos stressed "Cinema forever. For years I am not exercising a profession. Filmmaking is my life, my continuity."
Mexican production designer Eugenio Caballero, also a member of the jury, said in response that "news is coming to us via the internet. What's missing from this information is the perspective of an artist, that's why cinema is necessary."
Serbian actress Mirjana Karanovic known to Greek cinemagoers from her role in Emir Kusturica's "When father was away on business" (1985) stated that "now conditions are more democratic. Anyone can make a movie and present it with the help of technology, even small-budget film productions that are not commercial, and this trend will continue in the future."
American film director Amos Poe stressed referring to the American film industry that "the only exportable goods from the United States are 'rock n roll' and Hollywood. The latter will collapse with the cinema."
 'The origins of El Greco - The art of icon painting in Venetian Crete' exhibition in NYNEW YORK-ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
A special exhibition featuring exceptional works Domenikos Theotokopoulos, the prominent Cretan-born painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance who is better known as El Greco (The Greek), opened in New York at the Onassis Cultural Center on Tuesday.
The exhibition "The origins of El Greco - The art of icon painting in Venetian Crete" will run until Feb 27, 2010 and includes 47 works, among them, 6 rare icons, made by the artist. The formal inauguration will be made by Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Archbishop of Crete Erineos on December 8.
The icons on display come from the Municipal Museum of Heraklion, Crete, the Metropolis of Syros, the Benaki Museum, the National Gallery of Greece and the Queen's University, Kingston, in Ontario, Canada.
Eleven exquisite icons from the Collection of Ecclesiastical Art of Saint Catherine of the Sinaites in Heraklion, Crete, will be at the core of the exhibition.
According to Curator of the Byzantine Collection at the Benaki Museum and exhibition curator Dr. Anastasia Drandaki, "The icon painters in the workshops on Crete in the 15th and 16th centuries were renowned for their skill in painting impeccable panels not only in the traditional Byzantine manner but also in a style inspired by Western models."
 Japanese Week at Athens Concert HallThe Athens Concert Hall has organised a week dedicated to modern Japan and its culture, with a series of events beginning next Sunday and continuing until Saturday, November 28.
During "Japanese Week" - organised as part of the "Bridges" Series in collaboration with the Japanese Embassy in Athens and the Greek-Japanese Chamber of Commerce - visitors will have an opportunity to become acquainted with modern Japanese art, music, theatre, architecture and some of the country's delicacies.
The events kick off with a concert by the Tokyo Ensemble conducted by Joji Hattori on Sunday evening, while events during the week will include tributes to Japanese composers and music, a lecture on the western influences on the music of the Far East, a lecture on Japanese theatre and performance arts, a performance by the team Dumb Type on Wednesday and Thursday and traditional Japanese puppet theatre on Friday.
Throughout the week, there will be an exhibition on Japanese architecture entitled "Organic Architecture", an exhibition of sculptures by Japanese artist Osamu Kido, architecture and urban planning workshops run by Sou Fujimoto and Junya Ishigami beginning on Tuesday, a book fair, a virtual reality digital reconstruction of the Edo Japanese castle and an ikebana exhibition.
They will also feature a sake tasting event next week on Friday, a demonstration on making wagashi sweets next Wednesday and a presentation by the Student Association for International Affairs on Tuesday.
 Prosecutor files charges against troublemakers at Nov. 17 marchNine of the people arrested during disturbances that broke out after the annual November 17 march commemorating the 1973 Polytechnic students' uprising were led before a prosecutor on Wednesday. Three of them are minors and were handled by a Juveniles Court Prosecutor.
One of the six adults is charged with illegal weapons possession, while the remaining five charged with attempting to cause unprovoked serious bodily harm, causing unprovoked material damage and disturbance of the peace.
One of the five is facing charges falling under the legislative clause for assaults committed by individuals who have their faces covered by hoods.
The prosecutor also pressed felony charges against unidentified individuals, accusing them of arson and causing explosions.
 Authorities release terror suspect pending trialThe young woman charged with suspected participation in the terrorist group "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire - Faction of Nihilists" was released with conditions pending trial after appearing before the 32nd examining magistrate on Wednesday.
Antigone Helioti-Hatzidimitriou, aged 22, denied the charges against her and insisted that she had nothing to do with either the terror group's suspected safehouse in Halandri nor with any of the others accused in connection with the case.
She stressed that the fingerprint implicating her that was found by police in the house had been on a movable and not a fixed object. The examining magistrate and public prosecutor decided against remanding the 22-year-old into custody and have instead forbidden her to leave the country and ordered her to report to a police station twice a month.
 Double-murder suspect apprehendedA 35-year-old man suspected of killing his mother and sister in a small Laconia prefecture village, extreme southern Greece, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon.
According to reports, the man had a heated argument with his mother on Wednesday morning in a local farm cooperatives shop before he reportedly dragged her out of the store and fatally stabbed her in the middle of the street.
A short while later, police went to his home in the village of Stefania, where they found his sister's body.
 Breach of duty charges filed against NTUA rector, vice-rectorsThe Athens prosecutor's office filed misdemeanor charges of breach of duty against National Technical University of Athens-NTUA (National Metsovion Polytechnic) rector Constantine Moutzouris and vice rectors Ioannis Polyzos and Gerassimos Spathis, following the completion Monday of a preliminary investigation prompted by press reports on the use of the technological equipment at the Polytechnic.
The reports alleged that, with the tolerance of the Polytechnic's prytaneum, the technological equipment for internet access assigned to the university for educational purposes also serves the website of the so-called anti-authoritarian area.
More specifically the Polytechnic's web server is used also for the operation of the website Indymedia, where proclamations warning of imminent "hits" by anti-authoritarian organisations, according to the reports.
 Water supply to central Athens districts cut off on ThursdayThe Athens water utility EYDAP has announced that there will be a sharp drop in water pressure or even no water at all from 9:00 on Thursday morning until 5:00 in the evening in areas of southeast Athens due to necessary maintenance work on the network.
The areas without water will be in Nea Smyrni, Neos Kosmos and Kallithea, between Synggrou Avenue, Dimitrakopoulou, Dimosthenous, Harokopou, Thisseos and Kallirois Streets and the Filopappos Hill ring road.
 Deree College event in BostonThe Deree College of Athens on Wednesday launched its "US Friendship Tour" with a reception in Boston on Monday at the city's Museum of Science.
This was the first of several US Friendship Tour events scheduled in major cities around the United States.
The consul general of Greece in Boston, Konstantinos Orfanides, was present at the event.
 Greece in World Soccer Cup finalsGreece qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with a 1-0 victory against hosts Ukraine on Wednesday evening.
The second playoff game was played in Donetsk on Wednesday and the only goal was scored by Dimitris Salpingidis 31'. The first game played in Greece last Saturday had ended in a goalless draw.
The Greek national team qualifies for the second time in its history since 1994.
 President Papoulias congratulates Greek national soccer teamPresident Karolos Papoulias addressed a message of congratulations to the players of the Greek national soccer team, who beat Ukraine 1-0 in Donetsk on Wednesday evening and qualified for the 2010 South Africa World Soccer Cup finals.
"I express to you my warm congratulations for your qualifying for the finals of the top soccer tournament. With your effort you made all the Greeks proud. You are praiseworthy and I wish you continuous successes," President Papoulias said in his message.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 23C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 21C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 19C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe curtailment of expenditures and additional cutbacks in the State Budget following EU pressure, the dialogue on social security, the annual report on world transparency with Greece in the last place in Europe, a NOTAM by Turkey that disputes the Greek-Turkish sea borders, the new scenarios for changes in University entry exams and the prosecutor's investigation of MIG chairman and Olympic Air president Andreas Vgenopoulos' charges regarding remote routes tenders, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Greece in the last place in transparency in Europe - Corruption is prevalent".
APOGEVMATINI: "Banks halt the freezing of debts".
AVGHI: "Immediate compliance with the (EU) recommendations - Additional cutbacks in state expenditures, jobs and labor rights included in the draft State Budget that is slated for approval on Wednesday by the Inner Cabinet".
AVRIANI: "Prosecutor's intervention on remote islands routes".
CHORA: "Social security funds are collapsing - Storm of measures in social security sector".
ELEFTHEROS: "Ankara calls for new delimitation of borders in the Aegean Sea".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Maximos mansion (government headquarters) pulls the carpet out from under Ministers' feet - Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou was the first victim".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Polytechnic commemoration event: Large turnout and minor scuffles at the end of the march - 200 taken in for questioning".
ESTIA: "Papandreou's government loses its chance to give a new vision".
ETHNOS: "Cold shower from Brussels for salary earners - State Budget: Additional cutbacks of 700-800 million euros in expenditures".
IMERISSIA: "2.5 billion euros curtailment in expenditures - Additional cutbacks in State Budget".
KATHIMERINI: "ECB president Jean Claude Trichet's recommendation on Greece's credibility - State Budget to be discussed by Inner Cabinet".
LOGOS: "More citizens will be included in the list for the social solidarity benefit"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Banks hesitant on the 'freeze' on overdue corporate debts".
NIKI: "Dominion of corruption".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Council on Primary and Secondary Education's report".
TA NEA: "Three scenarios for University entry exams".
TO VIMA: "Taxes for all - Curtailment of expenditures and ceiling on large salaries".
VRADYNI: "Brussels-made State Budget - Government backs down under (European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs) Joaquin Almunia's pressure".
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