|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 9 October 2010 Issue No: 3614
 PM: We will succeed if we have faith in our abilitiesPrime minister George Papandreou stressed that Greece will succeed provided everyone has "faith in our abilities and self-confidence for our country", during a visit to the island of Limnos on Friday.
In Limnos to attend celebrations marking the 98th anniversary of the island's liberation during the Balkan Wars in 1912-13, Papandreou said that every part of Greece has its beauty "but also a huge productive and human potential that has not been utilised and projected".
This potential, he added, needs to be liberated from the mistakes of the past and focus on the timeless values and traditions of the Greek society for the country's development, founded on its comparative advantages.
That, he said, is what his PASOK government is doing.
 PM attends 'digital school' presentation on LimnosPrime Minister George Papandreou on Friday addressed pupils of the newly opened high school in the port of Moundros, on the eastern Aegean island of Limnos, where he underlined that the "digital school goal, which was set a year ago, has become a reality".
Papandreou underlined the major role information technology can play in people's daily lives and stressed that Greece can be a pioneer in the "e-book" sector. He pointed out that school will not be the source of passive consumption of knowledge anymore, and that the students will be able to produce knowledge and share it electronically with other fellow students in the form of an audiovisual material.
He also stated that digitization will allow the Greeks living abroad to have access to school courses otherwise unattainable.
Papandreou mentioned the environmental benefits that will stem from the reduced demand for printing paper and made a special reference to the life-long learning attitude which is necessary considering the speedy technological developments.
Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou stressed that the digital dimension changes the old practices in education and presented the prime minister with the first "e-book" to be available to all schoolchildren in the near future.
Diamantopoulou stressed that 97 pct of the schools in Greece have internet access and in the next three years all educators will be adequately trained for the digital dimension of the new school.
 Samaras in Tripolis: Tax storm aheadMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras predicted that a new "tax storm" was on the horizon in the new year, that will cause low salary earners and pensioners to hurt even more, during a visit to Tripolis on Friday.
Throughout Greece, he said, "I see people who seek hope, who are being bombarded by new taxes" and that is the crux of the political showdown in next month's local government elections.
The Kallikratis plan for the reform of local administration was being carried out without resources and was a "partisan piecemeal" concoction, he said, and spoke of a "mutant" PASOK.
The problem, in ND's view, is the Memorandum, whereas "I am thinking of the everyday people, the businessmen", Samaras said, stressing that "the people need hope, not fear".
 ND leader Samaras visits SpartiMain opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras, speaking during a visit to the city of Sparti in the Peloponnese on Friday, called on the citizens of the prefecture of Laconia to vote against the "policy" of the memorandum in the elections.
Samaras, who accused the government of a "tax raid", met on Friday evening with Laconia prefect Costas Fourkas, accompanied by the candidate regional governor of the Peloponnese, party members and the deputies of the prefecture.
He said that the Laconians are the fighters of the party and termed them the most valuable capital of the ND party and toured the market in Sparti, while he was also due to visit the city's town hall.
 LAOS leader repeats call for 'ecumenical' governmentThe country's biggest problem was not the economic crisis as such, but a lack of people with the skills to manage this crisis, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis asserted on Friday. He once again repeated his call for an 'ecumenical' government that was able to restore the country "morally, socially and economically".
"They may have good intentions but unfortunately they are constantly making mistakes that do not solve our problem but make it worse," he said in statements to Alter television station.
LAOS's leader said that Greece had now reached its nadir and that 2011 would act as a catalyst for events both at home and in foreign policy issues.
"It is inconceivable and unforgivable that while we are in the 'eye of the cyclone' the leaders of the two largest parties are engaged in 'sparring' and sterile, ridiculous controversies," he added.
 Droutsas meets new ambassadors of Japan, Germany and U.S. in AthensForeign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Friday received the new U.S. Ambassador in Athens Daniel Bennett Smith for a customary first meeting that focused mainly on bilateral relations, the prospect for investments in Greece, the economy and developments in the Balkans and Middle East.
In addition to the U.S. envoy, Droutsas met the new ambassador of Japan Hiroshi Toda and the new German Ambassador in Athens Roland Michael Wegener.
The foreign minister began a round of contacts with foreign diplomats in Athens on Thursday, when he met Cyprus' Ambassador to Greece Joseph Joseph.
 DM receives new US ambassadorBilateral relations and cooperation between Greece and the United States, within the framework of international organisations, dominated a one-hour meeting Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos held on Friday with new US ambassador to Athens Daniel Bennett Smith.
The new envoy paid a courtesy visit to the Greek minister.
 Leftist leader meets with Iranian ambassadorOpposition Coalition of the Left (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras met on Friday with Iranian ambassador to Athens Mahdi Honardoost, for talks on Greek-Iranian relations and developments in the wider region.
Tsipras stressed that there should be no new war "in the sorely tried Middle East" and opposed war scenarios concerning Iran.
He also stated that peaceful solutions should be reached to all problems in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean through dialogue and in compliance with International Law. He also raised the issue of the respect of human rights in Iran, stressing that "human rights constitute universal and non-negotiable principle."
The Iranian ambassador stated that his country does not seek to possess nuclear weapons and supports the further development of Greek-Iranian relations in the economic, cultural and other sectors.
 Damanaki meets Ecumenical Patriarch VartholomeosISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Greek EU Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki met at the Phanar on Friday with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
"We came to brief him on the initiatives we take at the European Commission in relation to the issues of the environment, particularly with the issues of marine environment, on our initiatives for the Black Sea and the Danube, where the Patriarchate is working systematically and we had also cooperated in the past," the Greek commissioner said after the meeting.
The Greek commissioner concluded her three-day official visit that took place at the invitation of the Turkish government.
 Turkish officials address ELIAMEP conference in AthensThe conclusion that Greek-Turkish problems will not be overcome unless the two countries share a common vision was reached by the deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Omer Celik, and the Turkish prime minister's international affairs counselor, Ibrahim Kalin, speaking on Friday at a Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)-sponsored conference in Athens.
The Turkish officials also sided with the "zero problems" with neighbours mantra expressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
They maintained that a common vision could include a regional cooperation spanning from eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East to the Caucasus and the Balkans.
Referring to the exploratory contacts, the 47th round of which is taking place in Bodrum, Turkey, the AKP deputy chairman stated that they move along very well, and as regards the inflammatory casus belli issue, he said "the stance adopted is very open".
Kalin, summing up Greek-Turkish problems, referred to the "Aegean, Cyprus and minorities", underlining the existence of "leaderships that are determined to solve them within the framework of a vision."
The visit of Prime Minister George Papandreou to Turkey immediately after taking office was described by both as a show of will for rapprochement while on Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Athens on Oct. 22 they underlined that it will signal a second phase of high-level contacts following his visit to the Greek capital in May and the signing of 23 agreements.
On Turkey's European aspirations, they stated that Ankara seeks the country's full accession and that the EU should keep its pledges. They also said that bilateral issues should not block Turkey's accession course and used the example of EU member-states Spain and Portugal that continue to have differences between them.
On the role of the armed forces in Turkey, they stated that it is advisory on security issues both domestic and foreign.
 Swingeing cuts in compensation for election staffA cross-party committee on Friday decided to cut the compensation paid to those assisting in the holding and organisation of elections by 20 percent, to 2,100 euros gross, as well as reducing the number of those eligible for such compensation by 40 percent, in a bid to significantly reduce the costs of holding an election.
Election compensation was previously at 2,600 euros gross and paid to some 160,000 individuals, many of them local government employees, driving the total cost of recent elections to roughly 149 million euros.
The cost-cutting drive was prompted by the realisation that at least 1,000 local government employees were receiving election compensation without being involved in the electoral process in any way.
Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis is expected to sign a decision within the day that will stipulate which classes of employees are to receive election compensation and which not. Local authority staff are not envisaged to receive the benefit, however, since the interior ministry believes they already receive compensation in the form of a travel expenses benefit.
The decision has met with opposition from the local authority staff union federation POE-OTA, whose president Themis Balasopoulos announced that his members would refuse any kind of work related to preparation for the municipal and regional elections from Monday.
"Municipal employees are not merely decorative in elections. They carry sacks, telegrams and assist in the smooth running of election processes," he stressed.
 FinMin upbeat on economy in US media interviewsNEW YORK (ANA-MPA)
Finance minister George Papaconstantinou was upbeat on the Greek economy, stressing the progress that has been achieved in recent months and noting a "substantial increase" in investment interest, in interviews in New York on Thursday with the television station CNBC and the financial newspaper Wall Street Journal.
Papaconstantinou spoke of "great interest" in investment in Greece by countries both inside and outside Europe, by China and Qatar, noting also that at least one major postal service in Europe has exhibited "explicit interest" in the Hellenic Posts (ELTA).
He said that Greece is on a good track for achieving the targets, although the shortfall in revenues collection remains a "source of concern".
Papaconstantinou also noted the support of the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressing that Greece needs to "rediscover itself" and build on its traditional forces, creating new comparative advantages such as in high technology and green energy.
The finance minister expressed confidence that recovery will return in 2011, noting the "sweeping structural reforms" and fiscal streamlining, and the changes in the money and credit markets. He also said that the investments and changes taking place will create new jobs.
Regarding investments and the facilitation being introduced for investors, Papaconstantinou referred specifically to the sectors of infrastructures, real estate, tourism and shipping.
To a relevant question, Papaconstantinou said that "if you look at where we were three months ago, very few believed that we would be where we are today", adding: "We are a country that took control of its destiny into its own hands, going ahead with short-term and long-term changes, with positive consequences for its citizens".
Papaconstantinou had meetings on Thursday with international investors, while on Friday he heads to Washington for similar talks and to attend the 2010 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
While in the US, Papaconstantinou is scheduled to have meetings with his US and Russian counterparts, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and finance minister Alexei Kudrin respectively, and with China's vice minister of finance minister Zhu Guangyao.
On Sunday, Papaconstantinou will meet with IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
 Greece avoided bankruptcy, FinMin Papaconstantinou saysWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/A. Lidorikis)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, addressing a conference organised by the BBC in the framework of the holding of the conference of the International Bank and the IMF, praised the Greek government for its effort in the sector of fiscal restructuring.
He said that the Greek government has done a fine job, stressing that the Greek economy will be completely different when it emerges from the crisis as a result of the implementation of the restructuring programme.
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, participating in the same panel, emphasised the effort to gain the country's international credibility, stressing his steadfast position that this will be avhieved through the successful implementation of the programme which is being carried out.
The Greek minister also said that Greece avoided bankruptcy and denied the disaster talk that had been developed. He placed emphasis on China's decision to purchase Greek bonds when the country goes out into the international markets again and the relevant agreements announced in Athens last week and concern China's decision to make the port of Piraeus an entrance to the European market.
Referring to the banking system, Papaconstantinou said that contrary to the rest of the world the local banking system was a victim of the crisis and did not cause the crisis.
The Finance minister will also be meeting his counterparts from the U.S. and Russia, he will be speaking at an event of the International Institute of Finance and on Sunday he will be meeting the IMF director.
 Deputy FM letter to Qatari energy minister on Astakos investmentDeputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis has sent a letter to Qatari Minister of state for Energy and Industry Affairs Dr. Mohamed Saleh Al-Sada regarding progress in the investment in Astakos, according to a foreign ministry statement.
Specifically, Kouvelis noted the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) for strategic cooperation in the investments sector between the governments of Greece And Qatar that was signed in the presence of Prime Ministers Papandreou and Al Thani.
The MOC, Kouvelis noted in his letter, came as a follow-up to the first Memorandum of Cooperation regarding the construction of the Astakos energy centre that was signed Kouvelis and Al-Sada in the presence of the Greek and Qatari Prime Ministers in May 2010, in Athens, during Al Thani's visit, the statement said.
Kouvelis also underscored his particular pleasure at Qatar's having become a strategic partner of Greece during the latter's efforts to promote a dynamic development process through activities that will give Greece an important regional role in Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean.
Kouvelis stressed that for this cooperation to become a success story, both sides will have to comply with the Memoranda of Cooperation, following a specific timeframe for the meeting of their agreed obligations - as set down in the MoCs - with the aim of implementing the specific projects, according to the statement.
In this spirit, Kouvelis noted to Dr. Al-Sada the steps taken by the Greek government following the signing of the MoC on the creation of the Astakos energy center to honor in a timely manner and effectively its commitment to the immediate promotion of its cooperation with the Qatari government, securing the basic requirements for the construction of the energy center. Specifically, Mr. Kouvelis set out the three basic requirements that the Greek government met immediately to ensure the fastest possible implementation of the project: a. A positive opinion from the Prefectural Council on the Environmental Impact Study b. Unanimous approval from the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) as of last May c. Signing of a joint ministerial decision by the Ministers of Energy, Environment and Climate Change; Transport, Infrastructure and Networks; Economy; Development; and Culture
Noting the significant progress that has been made by the Greek side in the preparations for the Astakos project, Kouvelis requested corresponding information regarding the preparations of the Qatari government and Qatar Petroleum International for implementation of the project. He concluded by requesting a meeting with the Qatari Minister at the soonest possible time, for the purpose of discussing the aforementioned matters and moving ahead to the necessary steps for initiation of the construction phase of the project, the foriegn ministry statement concluded.
 Gov't on state of economy, electricity rate hikesGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Friday stressed the importance of the work done in the past year and the sacrifices of the Greek people, noting that this was not just about meeting the country's financial obligations but about changing Greece and finally eradicating pathogenic practices of the past.
He appeared cautiously optimistc about the state of the country's economy but stressed that the alert was not over and that 2011 would be a crucial year.
Commenting on the statements by IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn about yet another upward revision of Greece's deficit for 2009, Petalotis said that the IMF was displeased with the tampered figures presented by the previous New Democracy government but acknowledged the efforts of the present government and the fact that it was ahead of targets.
He again ruled out the prospect of further austerity measures, regardless of the outcome of the revision.
Regarding the new electricity rates announced by the Public Power Corporations, including a 13.7 percent increase in the lower consumption range, Petalotis pointed out that there would also be reductions of up to 20 percent for some 1.2 million domestic customers through the 'social' price rates - even though overall rates would increase by 2 percent - and that one million small businesses would see reductions between 5-18 percent.
Regarding the 13.7 percent rate hike for low consumption, he noted that these bills were mostly those for holiday or uninhabited homes that were only used a few weeks a year.
On a reference by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou to a European company interested in the Greek Post Offices (ELTA), Petalotis said the finance minister was merely using this to illustrate the economic situation in the country, not announcing a government decision.
"This issue is not yet ready to be evaluated," he added.
 Katseli on health care for unemployedSpeaking at the conference "The Future of Insurance in Greece," organised by the Financial Times, Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Louka Katseli addressed an open invitation for dialogue and cooperation on a series of issues to social insurance companies.
Katseli proposed cooperation between public and private insurance agencies for providing first stage health care for unemployed.
"The cost for every unemployed person is 3.5 to 5 euros a month and we could create a security net with a little money for those in need of it most," she said.
 Greece to auction 6-month T-Bill issue on TuesdayGreece will auction a six-month Treasury bills issue on Tuesday, Oct. 12, seeking to raise 900 million euros from the market. The auction will be held with the participation of primary dealers of Greek state securities, with a settlement date set for Friday, Oct. 15.
The Public Debt Management Organisation, in an announcement, said the Treasury bills issue will be also offered to private savers tax-free on the precondition of holding the securities until their maturity.
 Agriculture minister promises radical changes for farm sectorAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis on Friday said he was determined to make great changes and adjustments in the agricultural sector so as to make Greek agriculture strong, competitive and export-oriented.
"It is inconceivable that in 2009 [Greece] paid 6.5 billion euros to import agricultural products," he stressed during a press conference held in Thessaloniki after a meeting with farmer representatives at a central Thessaloniki hotel.
Among the envisaged changes he singled out the system of farming cooperatives, saying that "everything will be done over from the beginning". Noting that there were currently 6,500 farmer cooperatives and 117 unions of cooperatives - many of which were little more than a logo and stamp - he promised to bring legislation in the first quarter of 2011 that outlined the terms and conditions for creating a cooperative.
He said the government's goal was that groups of producers and professional organisations negotiate directly with the markets for the sale of the produce, bypassing middlemen.
The minister also announced the merger of state agricultural research and training bodies, such as ETHIAGE and 'Demetra', and the closure of some of the ministry's 154 regional services.
Questioned about the likelihood of protests and road blocks by farmers in the coming winter, Skandalidis said that he was not a policeman for the farmers but their "ally" and that they were free to mobilise.
 BSEC energy ministers' meeting in Nafplion on TuesdayThe energy ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Organisation member countries will hold a conference on "Green Development" in Nafplion on Tuesday, organised by the Greek BSEC chairmanship.
The conference, organised by Greece's Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, will examine ways to encourage investments and innovation om green development and the creation of regional cooperation networks among the administrative authorities and relevant agencies responsible for green development in the member countries.
The conference will culminate with a discussion of a proposal by the Greek Chairmanship for the adoption of a Joint Declaration on Green Development in the Black Sea region.
The theme of Greece's chairmanship-in-office of the 12 nation group is "Black Sea turns Green".
 Tina Birbili at GENOP-DEH conferenceEnvironment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili provided assurances at the GENOP-DEH conference on Friday night that 51 percent of the shares of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) will be maintained by the public sector, stressing that this issue constitutes a red line for the government.
Birbili also said that the sale of electric power production units is not a government option and that the corporation will continue to be of strategic importance for the country.
"Today, we are being called on to solve in very tight time limits problems that were accumulated over the past years," the minister pointed out.
 IOBE report: Greek food/beverage prices stabilisePrices in the food and beverage sector stabilised in the first months of 2010, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) stated on Friday.
The report said this development followed a period of significant price hikes, a result of inflationary pressures before the crisis that erupted in 2008. Strong demand for agricultural raw materials and minerals from emerging and developing economies sparked a series of price hikes that rolled over to global economies.
IOBE said that since then food prices have stabilised, although certain products remain more expensive compared with previous years. This stabilisation of prices is recorded both in 2009 and in early 2010, reflecting the adjustment of demand-offer to an environment of economic crisis.
Despite this stabilisation, however, significant challenges remained globally which could intensify inflationary pressures on food prices. These challenges are the result of higher food needs, new nutrition habits -of western type- in emerging economies, climate changes which negatively affect crops, lowering food inventories. As a result, the domestic food/beverage sector is expected to face additional pressures, beyond tax burden, with prices expected to rise further.
The report said that the producer's price and consumer's price indexes in the food/beverage sector in Greece fluctuated more mildly compared with the manufacturing sector as a whole. In 2009, a small rise in the general price index (1.2 pct) compared with food prices (1.9 pct) reflected a 3.0pct decline in housing and a 2.5 pct decline in transport prices because of the economic crisis. In the first five months of 2010, the consumer price index in food and beverage fell 1.4 pct, while the general price index was up 3.9 pct, compared with the same period in 2009.
IOBE said Greek food products were cheaper than other European products on average, particularly bread, wheat, meat, fruit and vegetables.
 Greek budget deficit falls to 18.5 bln euros in Jan-SepGreece's central government deficit shrank to 18.504 billion euros in the January-September period this year, down from 25.603 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2009, the Bank of Greece announced on Friday.
The central bank, in a report, said the regular budget's revenues grew to 36.175 billion euros, up from 34.947 billion euros in 2009, while spending fell to 48.898 billion euros in the nine-month period, from 54.159 billion euros last year.
 Greek households cut consumption in 2008Households cut consumption spending in 2008 despite a significant improvement in living standards in the country, a report by Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Friday.
The report, based on family budgets in 2008, showed a change in the consumption model used by citizens, with a transfer of spending towards housing, transportation, education, hotel accommodations and dining.
The average monthly consumer spending by Greek households totaled 2,117.67 euros (up 18.2 pct compared with 2004), with average monthly consumption by poorer households accounting for 27.3 pct of spending by non-poor households.
Poor households spent 30.4 pct of their family budget on food, while non-food households' spending on food was 15.5 pct. Healthcare spending accounted for 8.3 pct of the family budget for poor households and 6.6 pct for non-poor households.
Some 19 pct of the population faced the risk of EU-benchmarked poverty in 2008, based on consumption spending.
The report showed a clear improvement in living standards in the 2004-2008 period, with a significant increase of households owning a computer (from 34 pct to 42 pct) and at least one mobile telephone (+16.6 pct).
 Stocks end 1.63% lowerStocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, as investors took profits after a four-day rally in the market. The composite index fell 1.63 pct to end at 1,528.48 points, although it ended 4.08 pct higher in the week. Turnover was a low 75.268 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 2.08 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.66 pct and the Small Cap index fell 1.39 pct. Ellaktor (0.97 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (0.52 pct) and Viohalco (3.89 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Eurobank (4.65 pct), MIG (3.19 pct) and National Bank (3.13 pct) were among losers.
The Commerce (1.24 pct) and Industrial Products (0.22 pct) were the only sectors to score gains, while Media (3.70 pct) and Raw Materials (3.12 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 120 to 45 with another 47 issues unchanged. Avenir (20 pct), Trastor (10 pct) and Mouzakis (9.68 pct) were top gainers, while Electronic Athens (18.75 pct), Ikona-Ihos (16.67 pct) and Medicon (13.17 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.18%
Personal & Household: -0.88%
Raw Materials: -3.12%
Travel & Leisure: -1.10%
Food & Beverages: -0.36%
Financial Services: -2.40%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, OTE, Coca Cola and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.15
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.85
HBC Coca Cola: 18.64
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.83
National Bank of Greece: 7.75
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.92
Bank of Piraeus: 3.99
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.82 pct. Turnover in the market shrank to 33 million euros, of which 19 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 14 million were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 8.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.47 pct, the six-month rate 1.20 pct, the three-month 0.97 pct and the one-month rate 0.74 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.34 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 36.608 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,264 contracts worth 30.605 million euros, with 28,591 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,098 contracts worth 6.003 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,268), followed by Eurobank (810), OTE (307), Piraeus Bank (768), Alpha Bank (859), Cyprus Bank (299) and ATEbank (136).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.398
Pound sterling 0.882
Danish kroner 7.515
Swedish kroner 9.391
Japanese yen 115.12
Swiss franc 1.352
Norwegian kroner 8.164
Canadian dollar 1.428
Australian dollar 1.436
 Culture minister inaugurates Arta Archaeological MuseumCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos inaugurated the Archaeological Museum in the city of Arta, western Greece, on Friday evening.
"The museum that we inaugurated today is a jewel for the city of Arta. It is extremely important because this project has been completed and is now being delivered to the city and the people of Arta. We hope that this museum will be embraced so that it will succeed in becoming a source of wealth in the entire region," the minister said after the inauguration.
 Exhibition on 'Lost World of Old Europe' opens in AthensThe "forgotten civilisations" of Neolithic Europe and their ties to ancient Greece are the subject of a temporary exhibition that opened its doors to the public on Thursday at the Cycladic Art Museum in central Athens.
The exhibition, entitled "The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC" was inaugurated by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Wednesday evening, in the presence of Romanian Deputy Culture Minister Irina Cajal.
Kouvelis met with the Romanian official on Wednesday afternoon, within the framework of a promotion of cultural diplomacy issues.
The exhibition is taking place under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry as part of its presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation, and will run until Jan. 10, 2011.
 Honey and Beekeeping Festival opens in ThessalonikiA honey and beehive products festival opened Friday at the Pedion tou Areos Park in Thessaloniki, with producers and bee-keepers displaying the various kinds of honey produced in Greece and other honey and beehive products, such as pollen, royal jelly, beeswax and propline, while bee hives with live bees will also be on display.
Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about beehive products and their nutritional and health properties by experts from the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and by beekeepers and honey producers.
Short films will also be screened on bees and their contribution to the ecosystem and to the human diet and health.
Several booths will also be set up where visitors can sample the wide range of Greek honey.
One of the oldest foods known to man, honey is pure and healthy and contains important vitamins and minerals.
Honey is first mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Judges 14:8 which is believed to have been written about 1050-1000 B.C. In Spain 7,000 year-old cave paintings depict beekeeping, while it is also known that the ancient Egyptians kept bees over 4,000 years ago, using the honey for sweetening and for its healing power.
The ancient Olympic competitors used honey and figs to enhance their performance; honey can help to maintain energy levels and help muscle recovery time.
Honey is a good source of riboflavin and vitamin B6 and also contains iron and manganese. It has an abundance of glucose (also known as dextrose) which is a great source of readily available carbohydrates that give a healthy pick-up, and also boosts the immune system
Combined with green tea, it is an excellent source of energy, while honey and lemon in a cup of hot water soothes a sore throat.
Honey is also important for its antioxidant properties - the darker the honey the better.
Further, honey helps to maintain healthy hair and skin, and is a great ingredient for home-made skin preparations. It's also used by cosmetic companies for moisturizers, soaps and shampoos. It has been used since ancient times as an antiseptic for burns, ulcers and it has wound healing properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
 High percentage of Greek young adults still live with parents, Eurostat reportsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
More than one in two Greek men between the ages of 25 and 34, or 55.7 percent, and roughly one in three women in the same age group (35.9 percent) were still living with one of their parents in 2008, according to figures published by Eurostat on Friday. In the 27 EU member-states, the equivalent percentages were 32 percent for men and 19.6 percent for women.
In the 18-24 age group, 84.4 percent of men (compared with 81.5 percent in the EU27) and 67.7 percent of women (71 percent in the EU27) continue to live with their parents.
 Int'l child porn probe leads to dozens of arrests locallyDozens of suspects have been charged with dissemination of hardcore child pornography over the internet based on incriminating evidence collected by the electronic crime squad in Athens and Thessaloniki, during a major investigation that lasted months.
Arrests were made in 42 municipalities across Greece following electronic crime squad investigations and raids on suspects' homes, conducted in the presence of prosecutors. Charges were filed against 177 people nationwide. Eighteen of them, 16 locals and two foreign nationals, will be tried based on an emergency court procedure, while another two suspects are wanted.
A total of 72 home searches were conducted in the greater Athens region alone during a single day under the supervision of chief prosecutor Eleni Raikou.
Authorities said on Friday that the operation was launched based on evidence gathered amid an international investigation over a total of 144,285 electronic traces of internet users in 170 countries. A total of 361 electronic traces corresponding to 177 internet users involved in the dissemination of child porn were identified in Greece.
The child porn material reportedly showed infants and children, from roughly eight months to nine years old, being raped and tortured by adults.
Among those accused for trafficking and possession of such material was a retired senior army officer from Peloponnese, a teacher, businessmen, a film director, a cartoonist, amongst others.
Police confiscated 308 hard discs, 39 laptops, and a huge number of CDs and DVDs.
The investigation showed that some of the alleged child porn traffickers had activated Peer to Peer (P2P) File Sharing Programmes to automatically download child porn material from other pedophiles in different parts of the world.
 Father-son team arrested for drug offences on RhodesA 47-year-old man and his 22-year-old son, both residents of the island of Rhodes, were arrested by drugs squad officers on Friday for possession of heroin and cannabis.
In a raid on their home in the old town of Rhodes, police found 357 grammes of heroin and 2 grammes of cannabis. Also found were two replicas of fire-arms, an antique pistol, brass knuckles and a large quantity of watches, cameras and cell phones that police believe to be acquired through theft or transactions involving drugs.
The two have been arrested and will be led before a public prosecutor on Saturday.
 102 kilos cannabis seizedA man was arrested by narcotics squad police in Sagiada, Thesprotia prefecture on Friday and 102 kilos of hashish were seized.
The 47-year-old man was arrested after 86 packets of cannabis weighing a total 102 kilos were found in his car's trunk and passenger seats.
The detainee will appear before a local prosecutor.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 23C. Cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 20C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe planned hikes in Public Power Corporation (PPC) electricity rates, taxes and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Electric shock from Public Power Corporation (PPC) - 13.7 percent increase in rates for lower and medium income households!".
APOGEVMATINI: "They built legally (with licences), but risk facing fines - Insecurity for thousands of residents of residential communities".
AVGHI: "Electrified rates".
AVRIANI: "New package of harsh measures intimated at by Strauss-Kahn (IMF managing director) after the revision of the deficit..."
ELEFTHERI ORA: "According to new Turkish map, Thrace, Eastern Macedonia, the islands of Samos, Rhodes and Crete, and Cyprus belong to...the neighbors".
ELEFTHEROS: "A prime minister who does not know what's going on, and plays the part of fireman when he is permanently the fire-starter".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Strauss-Kahn belies Papandreou (prime minister) - Mr. INF leaves open the prospect of new measures".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "It was run over by the train -- Hellenic Rail Organisation (OSE) being shrunk, itineraries and jobs being abolished".
ESTIA: "Taxes increasing, (state) revenues declining - Petrol (state revenues from VAT and fuel taxes) saved the 2010 Budget".
ETHNOS: " 'Burning' rate increases from PPC for millions of consumers".
IMERISSIA: "Flexible settlement for overdue debts".
KATHIMERINI: "Clear message from Troika for new measures - Strauss-Kahn: Greece is on the right path".
LOGOS: "'Burning' increases in PPC rates - GENOP-DEH (PPC employees' union): More increases to come".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Facilitation for settlement of overdue debts".
NIKI: "PPC rates 'on fire' once again".
RIZOSPASTIS: "PASOK-ND must lose (in November's local government elections), and the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) backed candidates must be backed".
TA NEA: "Public sector: 25 years of work (by the end of 2010) the 'key' to retirement with a pension not greatly affected by the new social security provisions".
TO VIMA: "50,000 civil servants 'lost in the...transfers' - Kallikratis local government reform plan, mergers and abolition of services".
 President asks for further EU engagement in Cyprus , spokesman saysNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Friday that the historic visit Thursday of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev in Cyprus has been concluded successfully.
Speaking after the session of the Ministerial Council, Stephanou said that the goals set have been fully attained and that this visit opens up new perspectives for promoting further the excellent relations between Cyprus and Russia.
He added that, as a result of the visit, the political and financial advantages for the Republic of Cyprus are great.
Concerning the Russian proposal for a New European Security Treaty and Cyprus' position on it, Stephanou noted that Russia is asking for a dialogue with the EU and the member states, in order to discuss the prospects of shaping this new security architecture, as described by the Russian President, during a press conference with President Christofias on Thursday.
The spokesman added that the Republic of Cyprus has reconfirmed, through the President of the Republic, its positive stance vis-a-vis the proposal and underlined the common position with the Russian President for a constructive, equally-footed cooperation with other European partners, within the framework of a credible and accessible-to-all system of comprehensive security in the Euro Atlantic area.
As a result, Stephanou said that Cyprus' approach is not in conflict with the EU, as some have implied. The proposal is on the table, he went on, adding that European leaders have many times described it as interesting and they said their ready to discuss it.
Concerning the Cypriot-owned process for the solution of the Cyprus problem, the spokesman said that some people confront it in an absolute way, adding that this does not include the President of the Republic or the Government.
Explaining the meaning of this process, Stephanou said that the two communities of Cyprus are set to come to an agreement through dialogue on the domestic aspects of the Cyprus problem, in order to arrive to a mutually acceptable solution that will be put to referendum.
Moreover, he said that the President's policy does not exclude, but encourages the involvement of the international community in the effort to reach a solution.
"We seek the EU's involvement in the effort to solve the Cyprus problem, especially vis-a-vis Turkey's accession negotiations, so that the EU approaches Turkey and persuades her to alter her stance on Cyprus, opening thus the way to a solution", Stephanou mentioned.
The president's proposals are made in this spirit, the government spokesman said, so as to engage the EU further and oblige Turkey to assume its responsibilities.
It is not right to say that President Christofias is excluding all other players by adhering to the Cypriot-owned negotiation process, Stephanou concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, under a federal roof.
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