|Wednesday, 19 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 19 October 2010 Issue No: 3622
 Greek PM George Papandreou calls Med Initiative "Unprecedented in its Ambition"Prime Ministers, Ministers, and policymakers from around the Mediterranean are set to gather this Friday, October 22, 2010 in Athens to take joint action against the growing risks to the region posed by climate change. At an all-day event in the Astir Palace hotel (Vouliagmeni), regional leaders will sign a political declaration and officially launch the Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative (MCCI). This initiative, proposed by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, aims to strengthen environmental collaboration between the governments of Mediterranean countries and to promote and facilitate investment in low carbon development projects throughout the region.
The Mediterranean has been identified by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as being especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Many of these impacts (increased risk of drought, longer fire season, reduction in crop productivity) are common across the region, yet few Mediterranean countries have robust adaptation plans. Through the MCCI, regional leaders hope that a unified Mediterranean voice can advance climate change discussions on a global level, protect the fragile Mediterranean ecosystem, and promote a 'green economic boost' through the sharing of best practices in low carbon development.
"This initiative is unprecedented in its ambition," said Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou ahead of the event. "Mediterranean leaders have shown the collective will and capacity to take a lead in the global climate change debate.
It is time we come together with a common voice to address our common challenge." On the economic benefits from the initiative, Papandreou noted, "Green development will provide tremendous growth opportunities and has the potential to create much-needed jobs and new areas of competitive advantage for our region."
Papandreou will be joined by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi of Malta, and Prime Minister Salam Fayad of the Palestinian Authority. The Prime Ministers will take part in a keynote debate alongside President Philippe Maystadt of the European Investment Bank. The panel will be hosted by Columbia University Professor and Director of the Earth Institute, Jeffrey Sachs. The day will also feature a roundtable discussion with ministerial level officials responsible for environmental policy from more than nine countries.
The event will be hosted by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Climate Change. Sponsorship has been provided by TT Hellenic Postbank.
The event will be followed on Saturday, October 23, by the first Mediterranean Green Development Investors Forum (Med GDIF), organised by the European Investment Bank and the Institute for Climate and Energy Security (i4cense) and held under the auspices of the Office of the Greek Prime Minister. The subject of the forum is "Financing profitable green initiatives and investments across the Mediterranean." The Greek Prime Minister will provide a keynote address.
For more information, please visit www.medclimatechangeinitiative.org
For media inquiries, please contact email@example.com
 PM Papandreou chairs cabinet meetingPrime Minister George Papandreou chaired a cabinet meeting on Monday, stressing that 2011 and 2012 will be the two most important years of the four-year period.
Addressing the meeting, Papandreou said that according to the government's assessment 2011 will be the lest year of recession, so that in 2012 Greece will return to growth and in 2013 developments to be scheduled for the country's final exit from the crisis and its economic dependence.
However, the prime minister pointed out that this path will be long and the country must win, as he said, daily struggles. He added that the alert is not yet over since the government is still obliged to clear up serious problems of the past.
In one year of governance, Papandreou aso said, the government succeeded in avoiding bankruptcy, it saved the country with sacrifices by the people, but is building a different Greece with credibility, step-by-step.
The prime minister said that it is now crucial for the government to do all that it promised and for which it committed itself before the elections, those changes that tackle the causes of the crisis.
Referring to next month's local administration elections, the prime minister said that they are not petty political elections nor an opportunity for some to protest, but are an opportunity and a great possibility for change for the country as well.
The dilemma of the elections for the country, Papandreou further said, is whether the task of its salvation and reshaping will be continued or whether we shall go to the decline of viciousness, the looting of public wealth and of clientele extravagance.
The cabinet meeting focused on a discussion on several bills that included the developmentof cinema art, course and installation in the framework of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, the incorporation of a European Union directive on refuse, the incorporation of a directive on equal opportunities and equal handling for men and women on labour and employment issues and the harmonisation of Greek legislation on the control, sale and possession of weapons in Greece.
Papandreou also announced that he will convene a wide meeting with all the social partners on Tuesday for the issue of employment and unemployment to be discussed. He added that a wide arsenal of measures that the government has planned will be discussed and mutual commitments will be taken so that the social repercussions of this great crisis will be curbed, as much as possible.
 FM Droutsas meets with Israeli state leadershipJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/Chr. Poulidou)
Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met here on Monday with the state leadership of Israel.
In the meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they agreed on a joint ministerial, the composition of which will depend on the bilateral cooperation under discussion.
In the contacts he had with PM Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni (leader of Kadima party) they discussed the Middle East issue and the prospects of the peace process.
The talks with his counterpart focused on the upgrading of bilateral relations and the Middle East issue. They also signed an agreement that opens the charter flight market from and to Israel and Greece.
They agreed to promote journalist exchange missions and diplomatic academy cooperation.
As regards the Middle East issue, Droutsas stated that "we are not here to impose a solution on anyone" and discussed with his counterpart the web of relations that is being woven between Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Israel and Turkey.
He also briefed the Israeli foreign minister on the fYRoM name issue and discussed the problem of illegal migration with which both Greece and Israel are faced.
 FM Droutsas meets Israeli President PeresJERUSALEM (ANA-MPA/Chr. Poulidou)
Visiting Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met here on Monday with the President of Israel Shimon Peres.
The Israeli president told Droutsas that when he was prime minister his government was obliged to take "draconian measures" to handle high inflation, "and each time we took harsh decisions our popularity increased, because citizens understood."
Droutsas responded that the Greek government was trying to solve difficult problems by implementing harsh measures. "But we are on the right track and Greece will finally exit from the crisis much stronger," he added.
Droutsas also met Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
 FM Droutsas visits RamalaRAMALA (ANA-MPA/Ch. Poulidou)
An agreement on the conversion of the debt amounting to 12.8 million dollars of the Palestinian Authority to Greece into development aid and the decision by Athens to upgrade the diplomatic level of the Palestinian Authority were the main events in the visit to Ramala by Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.
Droutsas met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with Prime Minister Salam Fayad, with whom he signed the bilateral agreement that facilitates the Palestinian side.
The Greek foreign minister then met his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al Malki with whom (as they stated later) they examined the current situation regarding the Middle East question and the role of the European Union. Droutsas also invited his Palestinian counterpart to visit Athens.
 Droutsas interview with 'Jerusalem Post'A front-page interview of Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas was published in The Jerusalem Post on Monday under the headline "Region only gains from blooming bilateral ties" and subheading "Dimitris Droutsas to 'Post': We are writing new pages in the history of Greek-Israeli relations; arrives for one-day visit".
In his introductory comments journalist Herb Keinon mentioned that "Israeli-Greek ties have improved over the past few months at about the same pace as Israeli- Turkish ties have deteriorated, but Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas believes the two sets of relationships are unrelated".
Droutsas told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive e-mail interview just before his arrival on Sunday night that the recent bloom in Jerusalem's relations with Athens "categorically" has no connection to the Israeli-Turkish crisis.
Droutsas stated that "international relations are not a competitive game," adding that "we don't see any competitive dimension between the relationship we are developing with Israel and our relationship with Turkey. This is because each of these relationships has its own dynamic and its own historical background. What we are doing is writing new pages in the history of Greek- Israeli relations."
Droutsas arrived in Israel on Sunday night as part of a regional trip that will also take him to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Lebanon.
The newspaper mentioned that his visit "comes about a year after George Papandreou's center-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) came into power. Initially, there were concerns in Jerusalem about this government, since Jerusalem generally prefers more conservative governments in Europe, and since Papandreou's father, Andreas, was known for pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel leanings when he was Greece's prime minister from 1981-1989 and from 1993-1996.
But those concerns evaporated as the younger Papandreou altered his country's relationship with Israel for the better," it was underlined.
The Jerusalem Post also said that "for many years, visits by Greek ministers were few and far between, but since the visit by Papandreou in July, his tourism minister, minister of state, deputy foreign minister and now foreign minister have all visited.
Israeli officials have also been visiting Athens with greater frequency: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went to Greece in August, and Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-military bureau, earlier this month. Last week the Israeli and Greek air forces carried out a joint exercise.
In addition, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, acknowledging the change in the tone from Athens, named as its new ambassador to Greece one of its senior diplomats, Aryeh Mekel, who served in the past as foreign policy adviser to Yitzhak Shamir, director- general of the Israel Broadcast Authority, and consul-general in Atlanta and New York.
Mekel has, in only a short time, been able to establish a close working relationship with the high echelons in the Greek government," according to diplomatic officials cited by the newspaper.
 Israel's 'Yedioth Aharonoth' paper runs interview with Greek foreign ministerThe Israeli newspaper "Yedioth Ahronoth" featured an interview with Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas by journalist Itamar Eichner in the latest edition of its supplement "24 hours", advertised by a large banner on the first page.
The two-page interview bears the headline "Greek Love Affair" and the general gist points to a rekindling of relations between Greece and Israel as Greece's relations with Turkey take a turn for the worse, speaking of a "honeymoon" between Athens and Jerusalem.
During the interview, Droutsas is quoted as saying that there was a "misunderstanding" that relations between Greece and Israel were "cool" and stressed that this had never been the case.
"Quite the opposite: there has never been a moment of conflict in our long history and cohabitation between our two peoples, both in the region and in Greece itself, has always been harmonious," he stressed.
Droutsas underlined that the Greek government was now determined to ensure that bilateral cooperation on the level of governments was developed so as to reflect the true level of relations between the two peoples, admitting that there had been a deficit in this area on a political level.
"We are determined to enhance and deepen our relations at rapid pace. We coincide with the Israeli government in this, as was apparent during the meetings of the two prime ministers in the summer and I am certain that tangible results will not be long in appearing," he said.
The minister stressed in response to questions that the closer Greek-Israeli cooperation did not target Turkey or any other country and that one of its basic parameters was to boost security and stability in the broader region. He pointed out that the Middle East was an area of vital interest to Greece, which wanted conditions of peace and good neighbourly relations that were a basis for growth and prosperity for the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Greek foreign minister said that relations between Greece and Israel were now being built up on all levels, including military cooperation, and that Athens sought to upgrade this bilateral cooperation into a strategic partnership.
Among possible areas of cooperation, he cited advanced technology where Israel was a leading country and renewable energy sources. While not ruling out cooperation to build natural gas pipelines, he said it was premature to be discussing specific projects of this kind.
Another point stressed by the minister were the very worthwhile investment opportunities that were now emerging in Greece as it gradually recovered from its economic crisis, such as in tourism or energy. He said that the government was making every effort to create a favourable environment for attracting foreign investment and had already largely succeeded in doing this.
Asked if Greece was concerned by the closer ties between Turkey and Iran and whether it considered these a dangerous regional development, Droutsas pointed out that Greek foreign policy was committed to formulating a common policy in the European Union, in order to enhance the EU's role on the international stage, and that Turkey's stance toward Iran was not in line with EU positions.
Of more concern to Greece, however, was the lack of any tangible progress in efforts to settle the issue peacefully, he added, stressing that peace itself at stake.
Questioned about the flotillas with humanitarian aid for Gaza, Droutsas expressed understanding for Israeli security concerns but noted that Athens also perceived the humanitarian repercussions of the Gaza blockade. Israel's decision to relax the measures was in the right direction but the poor humanitarian situation in Gaza was not contributing to efforts to promote the peace process, he added.
 ND spokesman on economy, unemploymentThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party criticised the government over the economy following a poll by PULSE published in the "Eleftheros Typos tis Kyriakis" newspaper.
ND spokesman Paanos Panayiotopoulos said that the survey shows that the great majority of public opinion rejects the policy of the memorandum:"because it realises the dramatic deadlocks to which it has led the country."
Also referring to unemployment, Panayiotopoulos said that whatever programmes of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) the government and the prime minister announce they will not be able to check the new upsurge in unemployment, "because it is the deep and prolonged recession that fuels it and gives it gigantic proportions."
The spokesman further said that the only way to exit as soon as possible from "the vicious circle of recession" is with substantive measures to boost economic activity and growth, such as those proposed by the main opposition party.
 Main opposition leader cancels visit to Chios due to bad weatherMonday's heavy rains and bad weather forced main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras to cancel a planned two-day visit to the Greek island of Chios, returning to Athens after his plane made two unsuccessful attempts to land at the island's airport. As the bad weather is forecast to continue on Tuesday, Samaras postponed his tour of the island until some time in the future.
 KKE leader visits Hellenic Petroleum installationsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Monday visited the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) installations, where she spoke with workers on the problems they faced.
She called on voters to support the KKE-backed candidates in the upcoming November 7 local administration elections.
For the KKE, she said, the crucial matter is for the people to punish those who are responsible for the present situation.
 Tsipras tours PeloponneseCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader and parliamentary group leader of the SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) Alexis Tsipras on Monday wound up a tour of Corinth on Monday with a visit to the local Labor Center, where he was briefed on the problems faced by the prefecture.
Labor Center president Costas Malendrenis told Tsipras that the problems chiefly stem from the lack of an industrial zone in the prefecture, high unemployment, and the de-industrialisation of the area.
Local union representatives also briefed Tsipras on the problems faced with the regional Social Security Foundation (IKA) branches, with immense waiting lines for the insured to see IKA doctors and the shortage of staff at the local Labor Inspectorate.
Tsipras promised to bring the problems up in parliament, and called on the citizens to send a message against the Memorandum at the upcoming local administration elections on November 7 by supporting the SYN-backed candidates.
 SYN leader tours TripolisCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alexis Tsipras on Monday visited the city of Tripolis in the Peloponnese and toured its central shopping streets, accompanied by the candidate for the Peloponnese regional authority Thanassis Petrakos. He also visited the campaign office of SYN's candidate for Tripolis mayor, Vassilis Yiokaris.
There followed a visit to the Arcadia Labour Centre where he urged voters to support SYN in the upcoming local government elections. He noted that these gave voters a chance to express their displeasure with the government's policies.
 FM spokesman on threat against Greek embassiesForeign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Monday confirmed that the foreign ministry has received threats against Greek diplomatic missions abroad.
Delavekouras said that an unidentified caller belonging to an Iranian organisation contacted the Greek General Consulate in Los Angeles on October 13 and threatened attacks against the personnel and buildings of Greek embassies and consulates abroad unless political asylum was granted to Iranians in Greece who have made such a request.
The spokesman said that the local U.S. authorities were immediately alerted and had taken heightened security measures to protect the Greek missions in the United States.
At the same time, foreign ministry General Secretary Ambassador Ioannis-Alexios Zepos briefed the citizen's protection ministry and ordered the issue of a circular to all embassies and consulates, urging them to take all necessary protection measures, in consultation with authorities in the host country, and to be in a state of alert.
The issue is being monitored by the appropriate authorities, Delavekouras said.
 Munich Prosecutor requests postponement of arrival of Greek MPsThe Prosecutor's Office in Munich, Germany, citing procedural issues, has requested that the arrival of the delegation of Greek MPs, members of the parliamentary investigation committee on the Siemens bribery scandal, be postponed briefly for a few days.
The delegation was scheduled to be in Munich on Wednesday.
A statement issued by the parliamentary committee mentioned that Court of Appeals Prosecutor Georgios Christodoulou is as of this morning in the Prosecutor's Office in Munich within the framework of the judicial assistance requested by the committee for a comprehensive investigation of the Siemens case.
 Greece and Morocco sign bilateral agreements on tax, industry issuesVisiting Moroccan Foreign Trade Minister Abdellatif Mazouz on Monday signed four cooperation agreements between Morocco and Greece with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis in Athens. They included a bilateral agreement on customs issues, an exchange of documents for avoidance of double taxation and preventing tax evasion, a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in industry and an MoU between the Greek Standards Organisation and its Moroccan counterpart
"We believe in Greece's ability for growth, we believe in its business people and its investors in spite of the economic crisis," Mazouz said in statements afterward. The best way to celebrate a half-century of excellent diplomatic relations was to raise economic relations to the same level, the Moroccan minister added.
Kouvelis noted that the agreements signed open the way for broader economic cooperation in this period of crisis.
The two agreements were the result of the 7th Mixed Ministerial Committee co-chaired by Mazouz and Kouvelis in Athens on Monday, during which the two sides identified many potential areas of cooperation in renewable energy sources, high-quality farm products, Mediterranean diet, fish farming and tourism, especially the Mediterranean cruise market.
Mazouz announced the launch of a new business council at the start of 2011 with the participation of Greek and Moroccan business people and promised that the two governments "will constantly strengthen the legal framework".
Earlier, Mazouz held a meeting with Greek Environment, Energy and Climate Change Tina Birbili and discussed ways to further develop cooperation on energy, with emphasis on renewable energy sources and energy conservation. The two sides are now working on a draft MoU that will define the framework of cooperation on these issues.
As members of the Union of the Mediterranean, the two countries agreed on the need to create a unified and interconnected energy market in the general region of the European Union and all Mediterranean countries. In this framework they are promoting a 'Solar Plan Initiative'. They also planned their cooperation at the upcoming Greek-Moroccan forum to be held at the start of 2011 with a focus on the energy sector.
The two ministers both expressed the opinion that the negative repercussions of climate change can be dealt with through the use of RES and green development in general, adding that this is a strategic energy policy priority for both countries.
 Regional development minister addresses Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry's board meetingRegional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, addressing the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry's board meeting on Monday, said that laws exist to be observed and that Greece will cease to be a country for profiteering games without consequences.
Chryssohoidis also stressed that phenomena such as those appearing in the market with prices of products being higher than those in other European countries will stop.
The minister underlined in his address that "we were obliged to take difficult decisions and bold measures to enable us to exit from the crisis", adding that what society must do is for all to try to forge ahead together without contrasts.
 Clamp-down on tax evasion, not new taxesThe difference resulting in the deficit from its anticipated upward revision by Eurostat will be covered through a clamp-down on tax evasion and not by new tax measures, finance ministry secretary general Dimitris Georgakopoulos assured on Monday.
Speaking on a private radio station, Georgakopoulos stressed: "I don't believe that new taxes will be imposed, and more taxes cannot be imposed because then the market will be suffocated even more, beyond the difficulty today, and the result will not be the anticipated one." He explained that when very many taxes are imposed, "then we have the so-called tax fatigue on the one hand, while on the other hand consumption declines, which creates the opposite result of that targeted".
"In other words, if you raise VAT by 20 percent and consumption falls by 20 percent, you have no result," he added.
On the upward revision of the deficit, Georgakopoulos blamed the preceding New Democracy (ND) government of prime minister Costas Karamanlis: "These are the accomplishments of the government of Mr. Karamanlis and Mr. Alogoskoufis (finance minister in the ND government), who up until September (2009) were saying that the deficit was 6 percent (of GDP), while the deficit was actually at 16 percent".
 Deputy FinMin on economyDeputy Finance Minister Dimitris Kouselas, addressing the conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on the theme of "Black money laundering" on Monday, reassured that the government is continuing steadfastly the effort it has started to rid the state, the economy and business practices from untransparency, grey zones, illegality and black money.
"We are determined to upgrade, step-by-step, the credibility of our country. To crack down on corruption mercilessly, that costs to all, the citizens, the State and businesses, serious losses in fame, credibility, in resources and to healthy business conditions and practices," Kouselas said.
 Agriculture minister promises 31.2 million for four prefecturesAgricultural Development and Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis on Monday announced that 31.2 million euros will be made available for projects in a number of prefectures from the Leader Regional Agricultural Development programme for 2007-2013.
The minister signed contracts with local bodies in the prefectures of Thessaloniki, Aitoloakarnania, Evritania, Lefkada, Pieria, Arta and Preveza. The projects will involved action to highlight the individual identity of each region or promote sustainable development, protection of the enviroment and production of high-quality agricultural products and agrotourism.
 Environment ministry unveils new waste management frameworkEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Monday unveiled a draft framework law on waste management in Greece, which she said was designed to achieve the maximum level of protection of human health and incorporate EU directives.
Among others the new legislation sets new targets for recycling by the year 2020, calling for a 50 percent recycling rate for domestic and related refuse and 70 percent for refuse from construction and demolition. Greece also undertakes the obligation to develop a national programme to prevent waste production by 2013.
The bill hopes to promote prevention of the generation of wastes as the first choice in waste management strategy, followed by reuse, recycling and other forms of reclaiming wastes (such as burning for energy).
The legislation is drawn up along the principle of "the polluter pays" by making the original generator of the waste responsible for the cost of management.
 Draft law on land expropriations for Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipelineThe draft law defining the procedure for land expropriations and compensation due to real estate owners in the regions where the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline will pass, was presented to the cabinet on Monday, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The premier stated that this was an "important project", adding that the draft law is proof of the fact that Greece sincerely wants it to be implemented. He also underlined that cooperation with the Russian side was close.
 Eurobank raises 300 mln euros from interbank marketsEurobank EFG on Monday announced the successful completion of the first state bond financing transaction from interbank markets. The bank said it has borrowed 300 million euros for two-years from a non-Greek investment bank using government bonds as collateral, at very competitive terms: an interbank interest rate (Euribor) plus a spread of less than 200 basis points.
Eurobank has reached several refinancing deals using international bonds as collateral, raising more than 500 million euros from international interbank markets.
The bank said this transaction was the first in interbank markets since the outburst of the fiscal crisis and Greece's entry into an IMF/EU support mechanism. It also said that its successful completion reflected both progress in the country's fiscal condition and Eurobank's strong capital base.
 Oil production slightly up in Jan-AugProduction of oil products is up slightly so far this year, after recording a 0.1 pct decline in 2009, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The figures reflect a decline in domestic demand for fuel and a significant increase in demand from abroad. Greek refineries' executives said domestic demand for fuel was significantly down. Production of oil products in the January-August period was up 0.3 pct compared with the corresponding period in 2009, standing 10.8 pct higher compared with the same period in 2005.
Production was down 4.0 pct in the first four months of the year, to recover in the next three months (6.3 pct in May, 15.9 pct in June and 2.6 pct in July), declining again in August (5.2 pct). Production of unleaded petrol was up 3.85 pct, lubricants were up 0.95 pct, diesel oil was down 2.6 pct and kerosene fell 6.3 pct.
Oil products production accounted for 11.3 pct of total manufacturing production in Greece, based on 2005 figures.
 Cardico announced debt rescheduling dealCardico on Monday announced it has reached an agreement with its creditor banks over a restructuring of the company's debt, totaling 69.9 million euros. Under the agreement, creditor banks will capitalize debt worth 9.8 million euros, restructure Cardico's existing debt and offer additional funds worth 8.0 million euros. The agreement is subject to approval by Cardico's general shareholders' meeting.
 Sprider Stores open new store in RomaniaSprider Stores on Monday announced the launch of a new store in the city of Braila, Romania, raising its total network in the country to 15. The group said the new store was the fifth new unit launched in Romania this year.
The Sprider Store Braila covers an area of around 950 sq.m. and was designed based on the Group's new concept, offering the full scale of Sprider Stores' product collections, including Sprider Home.
 Stocks 0.47 pct upGreek stocks moved moderately higher in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. The composite index rose 0.47 pct to end at 1,557.21 points, with turnover a low 81.195 million euros.
Ellaktor (7.38 pct), Mytilineos (4.0 pct), PPC (2.04 pct) and Cocal-Cola (1.44 pct) were top gainers among blue chips, while Apha Bank (1.17 pct), Eurobank (1.26 pct) and Cyprus (0.25 pct) were top losers.
The Big Cap index rose 0.27 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.42 pct higher and the Small Cap index fell 0.63 pct. The Commerce (2.61 pct) and Raw Materials (2.62 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (2.18 pct) and Insurance (1.54 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 80 to 67 with another 56 issues unchanged. Varvaressos (16.67 pct), FHL Kyriakidis (10 pct) and Vivere (8.89 pct) were top gainers, while Druckfarben (19.12 pct), Ridenco (11.11 pct) and Ikona-Ihos (11.11 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.89%
Personal & Household: -0.56%
Raw Materials: +2.62%
Travel & Leisure: +0.33%
Food & Beverages: +1.33%
Financial Services: +0.76%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Coca Cola and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.08
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.51
HBC Coca Cola: 18.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.78
National Bank of Greece: 8.10
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.72
Bank of Piraeus: 3.98
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 651 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.88 bps and the German Bund 2.37 pct. Turnover in the market shrank to 37 million euros, of which 24 million were buy orders and the remaining 13 million euros were sell orders. The six-month Treasury bill was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 5 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.49 pct, the six-month rate 1.22 pct, the three-month 1.0 pct and the one-month rate 0.78 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.56 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 26.225 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,179 contracts worth 19.379 million euros, with 28,914 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,936 contracts worth 6.845 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,005), followed by Eurobank (877), OTE (1,063), PPC (457), Piraeus Bank (467), Alpha Bank (1,276), Ellaktor (278), Mytilineos (292) and Cyprus Bank (592).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.400
Pound sterling 0.881
Danish kroner 7.517
Swedish kroner 9.361
Japanese yen 113.9
Swiss franc 1.346
Norwegian kroner 8.215
Canadian dollar 1.430
Australian dollar 1.42
 Chestnut season celebrated with annual festivals throughout GreeceThe chestnut season is celebrated every October in many regions across Greece with special events organized to promote the chestnut's nutritional value.
In antiquity, the chestnut tree was regarded in Greece as the tree of Zeus. Mount Olympus, home of the gods of the ancient Greeks, was said to have had an abundance of chestnut trees producing this sweet, edible nut.
Once peeled of their hard, dark brown outer shells and bitter inner skin, chestnuts can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, roasted, boiled, mashed, preserved and candied. A special type of coffee with calming effects is produced from dried chestnuts, while the chestnut tree leaves are used for their therapeutic properties in lung diseases and rheumatism.
An annual "Chestnut Festival" will take place during the weekend of October 30-31 in the mountainous village of Kastanitsa, Arcadia prefecture.
The 27th annual festival is one of the most important agricultural and cultural events of the region.
Similar celebrations are also held in Paleochori in Kavala prefecture, Damaskinia in the prefecture of Kozani, Agiasos on the island of Lesvos, Karitsa in the prefecture of Larissa and in Arna in the prefecture of Laconia.
The sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), originally native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, was introduced into Europe from Sardis in Asia Minor; the fruit was then called the 'Sardian Nut'. It has been a staple food in Southern Europe, Turkey and southwestern and eastern Asia for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas
Alexander the Great and the Romans planted Chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. The Greek army is said to have survived their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. thanks to their stores of chestnuts. Ancient Greeks like the physician, pharmacologist and botanist Dioscorides and Romans such as Galen, the prominent physician and philosopher of Greek origin, wrote of chestnuts to comment on their medicinal properties. To the early Christians chestnuts symbolized chastity. Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates. In some parts of Italy a cake made of chestnuts is used as a substitute for potatoes.
 Restaurants defy smoking ban, bring back ashtraysAshtrays were "reinstated" in restaurants and other related establishments on Monday, following a sector decision to defy the ban on smoking in enclosed spaces.
A Federation of Restaurant and Related Professions board took the decision during a general assembly of the sector, citing serious financial impact of the smoking ban on the Federation's member establishments.
The Federation, as well as the General Confederation of Light Industry and Commerce of Greece (GSEBEE), have called for a transition period for the implementation of the legislation.
The two federations stress in announcements that they are not contesting the substance of the law, but consider a transition period to be of urgent necessity, as the viability of dining and recreation establishments is threatened given the economic crisis, which has already had negative repercussions for the branch.
According to figures unveiled by the two federations, dining establishments have suffered a 30 percent slump in turnover in recent months.
Meanwhile, Health deputy minister Michalis Timosidis stressed that the smoking ban law will be applied.
"The law, which has been passed by parliament, changes perceptions and attitudes. It must be applied for the public health, the public good, for our children," Timosidis said.
He added that the ministry is stepping up its effort through informational campaigns, while a meeting is pending with GSEBEE to discus ways to reinforce those who are hard hit by the law, "but not the implementation of the law itself".
Health Minister Andreas Loverdos was also adamant that the law must be applied in statements to 'Skai' radio on Monday, saying it was not right and smacked of the third world if a law was changed before it had a chance to be implemented or show its weaknesses in practice.
He also noted that municipalities had been reluctant to carry out inspections due to the local government elections that are around the corner and that a first assessment of the results of the new ban will be made in December.
 Protesting culture ministry contract employees stage blockade of ministry entranceProtesting culture and tourism ministry contract employees and extraordinary personnel continued their mobilisations on Monday, moving on from last week's blocking of the Acropolis to a sit-in at the ministry entrance in Athens.
Ministry contract employees' union leader Nikos Hasomeris charged that the minister and deputy ministers, although having called the union to dialogue, "are absent, and we are being referred to an administrative employee, who is asking us what our demands are, although they have been made known for several days".
"We will discuss only with the ministry leadership," Hasomeris said, adding that the contract employees will carry on with their mobilisations.
"We have shown our good will, but from here on they will be on the receiving end," he added.
The contract employees are demanding payment of 22 months in back pay, extension of their close-ended contracts and filling in organic vacancies at the ministry with tenured personnel.
They also called on contract workers to take part in the 24-hour strike called by the Association of Greek Archaeologists on Thursday.
 Archaeologists in Greece call 24-hour nationwide strike for Oct. 21The union of archaeologists on Monday called a 24-hour nationwide strike for October 21 and invited the country's intellectual community to declare its opposition to last Thursday's police intervention during the ministry of culture and tourism contract workers' mobilizations at the Acropolis. They also called on the Greek people to join the effort to protect the cultural heritage that belongs to everybody.
The statement issued underlined that the Archaeological Service is being systematically undermined by being understaffed and underfinanced.
 Athens Dialogues Conference to inaugurate the Onassis Cultural Centre on Nov. 24The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation will inaugurate the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens on Nov. 24 with an ambitious international conference on Greek culture entitled The Athens Dialogues.
Leading intellectuals, scientists, researchers and artists from all over the world will discuss the question "Has the past a future?" and investigate to what degree the legacy of Greece and Greek thought, as it was developed through the centuries, can offer solutions to current problems.
The Athens Dialogues is being organized with the co-operation of the Academia dei Lincei, Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, Oxford University, the German Archaeolo-gical Institute, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Institut de France, Stanford University and the Academy of Athens.
 Police data on illegal immigrantsImpressive figures regarding the entry of illegal immigrants into the country appear from arrests over the nine-month period of 2010, whose processing has been completed by the Greek Police Headquarters and posted on the Police's website.
According to this data, a spectacular increase appears in arrests of illegal immigrants from the land borders with Turkey at Evros, while there is a decrease from the sea borders.
This is due to the fact that measures to protect sea borders have also been boosted with the assistance of FRONTEX, something that makes dangerous for traffickers to bring people from this side and all the weight has fallen on Evros. The increase of arrests of illegal immigrants coming in from Evros amounts to 371.94 percent.
More specifically, from January to September this year, police have arrested on the land borders with Turkey 31,219 illegal immigrants, while over the corresponding period last year the figure was 6,615.
In all, over the nine-month period in 2010, 96,398 illegal immigrants entering the country were recorded, compared to 96,085 over the corresponding period in 2009.
 Five dead, including 2 children, in road accident on CreteFive people were killed, including two children, in a road accident shortly after midnight outside Sisses on the Rethymno-Heraklion stretch of the national highway on the island of Crete.
The accident occurred when a private car veered off course into the opposite lane and crashed head-on with an oncoming tanker truck.
Police tentatively attributed the incident to slippery roads caused by heavy rainfall.
The fire brigade pulled out from the wreckage the bodies of the 34-year-old driver (a man from Katerini), a 57-year old woman, her 35-year-old daughter and her two grandchildren -- a 10-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, all Russian residents.
All five passengers of the car were pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.
The truck driver was well in health.
Rethymno traffic police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.
According to early reports, the car was a rental.
 Former basketball player gets 10 years for weapons stockpileA Thessaloniki Criminal Appeals Court on Monday handed down a sentence of ten years and eight months to 46-year-old former pro basketball player Mihalis Misounov for illegal weapons possession. The former player had been caught in possession of a rocket and two RPG anti-tank rocket launchers.
In statements to the court, Misounov repeated his assertion that the arsenal had been given to him to keep by a friend that had passed away and had been involved in nightclub protection rackets. The court had not suspended the sentence pending trial.
Also on trial alongside the former athlete was his 50-year-old accountant, who had been found in possession of two guns, bullets and stamps of various public services, authorities and companies. He was sentenced to 3.5 years with the possibility to buy off his sentence.
 Civil funeral takes place for Yiannis DalianidisPersonalities from the sectors of art, culture and politics bid farewell to film director Yiannis Dalianidis at the Athens First Cemetery on Monday afternoon where, at his request, his civil funeral took place.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 5-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 27C. Cloudy and showery in Athens, with southwesterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 24C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 19C.
 The Monday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceEurostat's upward revision of the deficit and measures to halt rising unemployment mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Non-productive public services will close ".
APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras 'They are fighting us with lies and we are fighting back with the truth".
AVRIANI: "New looting of salaries and pensions immediately after (November's) local government elections".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Memorandum has brought unbelievable changes to the quality of living in Attica prefecture!".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Current Piraeus prefect and candidate for Piraeus mayor Yannis Michas 'makes provocative political favours' to collect votes".
ESTIA: "Radical proposal to MPs".
ETHNOS: "One in three consumers not paying the electricity bill".
IMERISSIA: " 'Red line' on pre-elections benefits".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Eurostat revision throws deficit off track".
TA NEA: "Measures as 'trench' against unemployment".
VRADYNI: "George Papandreou: 'Memorandum a shield' - Samaras: 'No (vote) to Memorandum'."
 Representatives to continue discussion on property, says DownerNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The property issue was at the centre of Monday's discussions between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, in the framework of UN-led direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem.
Monday's meeting was held at the official residence of the UNFICYP Chief of Mission in the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA) Lisa Buttenheim, in Nicosia and lasted two and a half hours.
In statements after the meeting, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser Alexander Downer said the leaders "devoted most of the discussion to the ongoing issue of property", noting that their representatives will now take up the discussions for a while and they will be meeting again on Thursday. George Iacovou and Kudret Ozersay will have further meetings through the course of the following week as well, Downer added.
He also said the leaders will meet again on the 1st of November to review the work of the Representatives and the process will continue from there.
Asked if there is any reason why the leaders are handing over most of the work to the representatives, Downer replied "I wouldn't put it as you have put it. The representatives work on the technical details, the leaders give them guidance, and, of course, the leaders are the people who make the decisions, not the representatives".
He explained that "there's a lot to the property issue, there are a lot of aspects to it" and that it is "a fairly complex issue. And I think bearing that all in mind I think it's important that that work be done at the representatives' level. When they report to the leaders, the leaders give them instructions and guidance. That's how the process works", he explained.
To a remark whether it would have been better if it was a simultaneous process, if there are more frequent meetings of the leaders at the same time, Downer replied "I'm not sure of the logic of that. I think the leaders don't need to review every couple of days, or every four days or three days the work of the representatives. But at certain points, at certain junctures, they need to. So I think that's probably the right way to handle it".
Asked if they have achieved any kind of progress today, Downer said "they are continuing to work away at it. It's a big and a complex area, the property question. So, they're working at it", he concluded.
Peace talks to reunite Cyprus began in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Eroglu, who succeeded Talat in April this year.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
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