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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 5 January 2011 Issue No: 3686
 FinMin: Greece will weather debt crisisFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday categorically rejected specu-lation over a debt restructuring with creditors, and said Greece would weather out the debt crisis, helped by privatization of state assets worth seven billion euros.
In an interview with Reuters, the Greek FinMin said the country has cut its debt and has met all obligations towards the IMF and the European Union in return for a 110-billion-euros bailout, and noted that the government was also promoting structural reforms.
He also denied reports that Greece was in talks with debt holders for extending the repayment period of the country's existing debt.
"There are no such talks," Papaconstantinou said, dismissing reports that Greece was in talks with creditor banks. "This would not help Greece, the Greek economy, Greek banks, Greek citizens or the European problem," he noted.
He stressed that Greece was making steady progress on cutting its fiscal deficit and was promoting unpopular reforms to ensure payment of the fourth tranche of a troika loan, worth 15 billion euros in March.
"We finished 2010 on target, with reforms meeting the time schedule," Papaconstantinou said, adding that there was no reason to doubt for the next tranche, or any other tranche of the loan, "as long as we did our job correctly".
He said privatisation proceeds were expected to total 1.0 billion euros this year, with an additional six billion euros expected in 2012-2013, including airports, public sector enterprises, real estate property and gaming. "We will use a very flexible methodology. We have a revenue target but was more important was to have the expertise and the dynamism that private investments would bring to these sectors. He reiterated that Greece would seek a return to capital markets this year, depending on market conditions, along with the issuance of a Diaspora bond loan to Greeks living abroad.
Papaconstantinou said talks with China over the purchase of Greek state bonds were progressing, but declined to say anything more specific over the amount or the time of the deal. He noted that Greece would like an extension of repaying its IMF/EU loans to cover not only outstanding tranches but those already paid. The European Commission was positive over this request but we have to wait for Eurogroup's final decisions, Papaconstantinou said.
Additionally, he sounded optimistic that the European Union would reach an agreement over joint issuance of euro bonds.
 Gov't: 'We're protecting our borders'Deputy Citizens' Protection Minister Manolis Othonas on Tuesday echoed high-profile statements by Minister Christos Papoutsis this past week on the need for a much tough stance against illegal immigration, with the emphasis now shifting to Greece's land border with Turkey on the Evros River.
Othonas directly referred to "hypocrisy" on the part of the European Commission, which criticised the Greek government's intention to build a fence along a stretch of its land border with Turkey in the Evros prefecture -- a "favourite" spot for mostly Third World migrants and migrant smugglers attempting to enter Greece and the European Union.
Speaking to Athens radio station, the deputy minister charged that "Greek society's breaking points aren't up for hypocrisies," while he reiterated that the issue of illegal immigration is a European-wide problem and not just a Greek problem, "and Europe should assume its responsibilities".
Regarding the fence, the deputy minister said it will be constructed as soon as possible and will bring about "dramatic results".
"We're not going to erect a wall to separate migrants from the (local) residents; we're protecting our borders," he emphasised.
The project, announced by Papoutsis on Friday in an interview with the ANA-MPA, envisions a 12.5-kilometre fence on a stretch of land belonging to Turkey west of the Evros River, near the Turkish city of Edirne. It will be modelled on a similar barrier around the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the North Africa coast of Morocco.
 Interior minister unveils e-governance draft lawInterior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Tuesday unveiled the draft law on e-governance and the citizen's card, an initiative aimed to further cut red tape and bureaucratic obstacles for citizens.
A public debate on the draft law will open within the next few days while a vote in parliament will be held in March.
Ragoussis stressed that the implementation of e-governance will be mandatory for all public sector services allowing for transactions that are less time consuming and less costly. The cost of transactions in the public sector is expected to be reduced 25 pct.
Referring to the citizen's card, Ragoussis stated that it will include the national cadastre number, the tax registration number, the social security number (AMKA) and the police ID, underlining that all personal data will be fully protected.
 ND assails gov't VP Pangalos' statementsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday called for the prime minister's intervention to put an end to what it called an "anthology of uncontrollable insults hurled by (government vice-president) Theodoros Pangalos ... which today was enriched by new 'episodes' that appeared in the press".
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos pointed out that "Mr. Pangalos' serious missteps are repetitive" and "the prime minister should take action".
 Former ND deputy joins Democratic Alliance partyIndependent MP Lefteris Avgenakis, who was expelled from main opposition New Democracy (ND) by ND leader Antonis Samaras in November 2010 after positively commenting on the founding of a new political party by ND former MP and former minister Dora Bakoyannis, on Tuesday announced that he has joined Bakoyannis' Democratic Alliance party.
 Mass transit strike cancelledUnions representing Athens public transport workers on Tuesday decided to suspend a 24-hour strike, with press reports pointing to a tougher stance adopted by the transport ministry, which notified company managements to file legal action against the industrial actions as "illegal and abusive".
A court ruling on the lawsuits filed by the metro, electric railway (ISAP) and tram managements is expected later in the afternoon on Tuesday.
ISAP electric rail workers decided to suspend a 24-hour strike announced for Wednesday and instead will hold a four-hour work stoppage between noon and 4 p.m. Buses will also participate in the work stoppage, while trolley buses and the Proastiakos suburban railway will run as scheduled.
In a later decision, train drivers for the all-important Athens metro have decided to hold a work stoppage between noon and 4 p.m.
 ND official on off-setting of VAT, debtsA top main opposition New Democracy party official on Tuesday, referring to the government's announcement on the off-setting of VAT returns with debts owed to the state by businesses, said that the individuals that for "six months were attacking the Samaras economic proposal in every way are copying it today, with a painful delay, only it's one part: that of the off=setting of VAT."
The official reminded that "New Democracy had called for the creation, for all private persons and legal entities, of a mechanism for the automatic off-setting of all debts from and to the public sector, so that liquidity will increase in the market."
 New price list for 2,000 pharmaceuticals in mid-Jan.The regional development & competitiveness ministry announced the prices of 341 pharmaceuticals that will circulated for first time in the market, while a new price list with of about 2,000 pharmaceuticals is expected by mid-January.
As regards the price list, the ministry said 75 are originals and the rest generic.
 Geniki Bank completes 45-mln-euro share capital increaseGeniki Bank on Tuesday announced the completion of a share capital increase worth 45 million euros, which was fully covered by Societe Generale Bank.
The plan envisages the issuance of 10,000,000 new preference and convertible nominal shares - with no voting rights - at an offering price of 9.0 euros each.
 ASE capitalisation shrinks by 141.4 bln euros in 3 yearsThe Athens Stock Exchange lost 141.455 billion euros from its capitalisation in the last three years, falling from 196.390 billion euros at the end of 2007 - on the eve of a global financial crisis - to 54.935 billion euros last year.
The Greek market's capitalisation shrank by 29.037 billion euros in 2010, falling to 54.935 billion euros on Dec. 31, 2010, down from 83.972 billion euros at the end of 2009.
The market's capitalisation is currently at record lows compared with the country's Gross Domestic Product, despite a significant decline in the GDP in the last two years. The capitalisation to GDP ratio has fallen to around 25 pct, down from 150 pct in 1999, although the Greek market did not seem to be undervalued in P/E terms because of a significant decline of listed companies' earnings.
Massive liquidations by foreign portfolios - worth around 2.0 billion euros - have also contributed to the decline in the market's capitalisation.
Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling was the biggest capitalisation stock in the market, followed by National Bank, while bank shares' capitalisation fell significantly to 18.472 billion euros.
ASE's capitalisation as a percentage of GDP
Year ASE European average 1998 54.9% 73.3% 1999 149.7% 105.2% 2000 85.3% 108.4% 2001 66.2% 74.6% 2002 42.0% 53.8% 2003 49.0% 59.0% 2004 49.7% 64.4% 2005 63.2% 79.1% 2006 75.2% 85.9% 2007 86.7% 93.3% 2008 28.9% 61.3% 2009 35.8% 62.8% 2010 25.8% 66.9%
 Stocks significantly lowerStocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,400 support level. Bank shares came under strong selling pressure, with Piraeus Bank losing 11.76 pct of its value. The index dropped 1.63 pct to end at 1,396.58 points, with turnover a low 73.270 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.06 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.08 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 1.18 pct. The Telecoms (2.76 pct) and Media (0.90 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (3.65 pct) and Financial Services (5.14 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 121 to 38 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Tzirakian (10 pct), Sidma (10 pct), Ideal (9.80 pct) were top gainers, while Altec (12.5 pct), Piraeus Bank (11.76 pct) and Viosol (11.11 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.07%
Personal & Household: -0.94%
Raw Materials: -1.17%
Travel & Leisure: -0.71%
Food & Beverages: -0.70%
Financial Services: -5.14%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OPAP and DEH.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.74
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.78
HBC Coca Cola: 19.27
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.86
National Bank of Greece: 6.08
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.55
Bank of Piraeus: 3.15
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.72 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 19.329 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,437 contracts, worth 14.001 million euros with 30,801 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,092 contracts worth 5.168 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,050), followed by Eurobank (1,043), OTE (1,059), PPC (455), Piraeus Bank (2,906), Alpha Bank (598), Intralot (398), Cyprus Bank (388) and ATEbank (173).
 Partial solar eclipse viewed in GreeceViewers throughout Greece took up positions to view Tuesday morning's partial solar eclipse, the first of the new year, although overcast skies prevented them from enjoying the phenomenon in all its glory.
The eclipse was partially visible in the greater Athens area and parents took their children to the Athens Planetarium where members of the Hellenic Astronomical Society and amateur astronomers had set up telescopes and were on hand to explain the phenomenon'
The partial solar eclipse commenced in Athens shortly before 9:00 a.m., peaked at around 10:20, and was completed at noon.
 'Black market' warehouses raided in AthensGreek Police (EL.AS) along with Athens municipal crews and financial crimes squad (SDOE) officers on Tuesday raided four "black market" warehouses reportedly containing thousands of counterfeit brand name items.
Three warehouses were located on Menandros Street and one on Platia Theatrou Street, in the "heart" of central Athens' downgraded "black market" district, an area that plagued over the recent period by petty crime, drug dealing and the presence of thousands of illegal migrants.
A total of 9,000 items, including handbags, wallets, belts, scarves, sunglasses, all knock-off brands, were found stored in the Menandros Street warehouses, while 7,000 fake brand name watches and bracelets were discovered in the Platia Theatrou Street warehouse.
 Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk in AthensNoted Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 Nobel Prize laureate in literature, will give a lecture at Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) on Jan. 11, within the framework of the Megaron Plus cultural programme.
According to Pamuk, "the modern world can conquer a deeper self-awareness through literature which serves as a mirror that reflects its contradictions, deceptions and dead ends".
The Nobel laureate's meeting with his fans in Greece was initially scheduled to take place last March but it was cancelled for personal reasons.
Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul in 1952. After graduating from Robert College in Istanbul, he studied architecture at Istanbul's Technical University. He also studied journalism. His first novel, entitled "Cevdet Bey and His Sons", was published in 1982.
 More than half of younger Greeks choose to live with parents due to financial reasonsThe economic crisis is cited as the main reason cited by 61 pct of the Greeks aged between 18 and 34 currently living with their parents, according to European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, who holds the for education, culture, multilingualism and youth portfolio.
Vassiliou responded to a question by main opposition New Democracy (ND) MEP Georgios Papanikolaou concerning young peoples' inability to achieve economic independence as a result of the ongoing economic crisis.
On the average, 46 pct of young adults in the EU, aged 18-34, live at least with one of their parents, while it appears that younger generation Greeks (61 pct), Hungarians (64 pct) and Portuguese (62 pct) tend to cite the lack of financial means more often than their piers in other member states.
 Essay contest on 'Jewish sites in Thessaloniki'The Balkan, Slavic and Oriental studies department at Thessa-loniki's Macedonia University in cooperation with the local Jewish community will hold an essay contest on the topic of "Jewish Sites in Thessaloniki". The contest will be open to undergraduate and postgraduate students in local universities and technical and educational institutes (TEI).
The essays can focus on the suggested topic from various perspectives, including historical, sociological, architectural etc., and the top three will receive monetary prizes.
The three best essays will be read out in public during a conference to be hosted by the university on Oct. 2011.
The essay contest is held under the auspices of the ministry of culture within the framework of the events entitled "Thessaloniki, Crossroads of Cultures".
 Illegal immigrants arrested in IgoumenitsaThirty-seven illegal immigrants were detected in a truck driven by a Turkish national, who was arrested by police at the entrance to the new port of Igoumenitsa. The truck was about to board a ship heading for Italy. The truckdriver and the illegal immigrants, who were also arrested, will be brought before a prosecutor, while the vehicle was confiscated.
 Escaped convict dead at homeEscaped convict Vangelis Selianakis was found dead in the garden of his home in the village Archontiki, Rethymno prefecture, on Tuesday after police entered his home.
The victim was found with a head wound while weapons and a grenade were by his side, while police said a shot had been heard from the residence earlier.
A medical examiner said the possibility of an accident has been ruled out and it is being probed with ballistic tests, along with the possibility of suicide to avoid arrest or being struck in an exchange of fire with police.
 Armed robbery at pharmacyAn armed robber took off with substantial amount of cash from a pharmacy in an Athens district, after holding a gun to the pharmacist's head.
The incident took place in the first hours of Tuesday at a pharmacy in the Acharnon district.
 Super League resultsPanathinaikos Athens beat Xanthi 2-0 away, Atromitos Athens downed Larissa 3-0 at home and Aris Thessaloniki edged Kavala 1-0 also at home in games played for the Super League on Tuesday.
The games between Asteras Tripoli-Ergotelis Crete, AEK Athens-Kerkyra, Olympiacos Volos-Panionios Athens, Olympiacos Piraeus-Iraklis Thessaloniki and Panseraikos Serres-PAOK Thessaloniki will be played on Wednesday January 5.
 Rainy on WednesdayCloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -4C and 15C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 11C. Cloudy with sleet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 5C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe reduced hiring in the public sector and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hiring, dismissals, wages".
AVRIANI: "We're heading to (early general) elections on April 3".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Islam: Blow up the churches of the Christians".
ELEFTHEROS: "What Simitis (PASOK former prime minister) fears and is threatening to set off a 'bomb' in the government".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pangalos' (government vice-president) abusive delirium".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "How hirings will (not) take place this year".
ESTIA: "The exit from the crisis".
ETHNOS: "New Tax Bureau rules for professionals".
IMERISSIA: "When the reduction of salaries is legal".
KATHIMERINI: "Tough policy line on the closed-shop professions".
LOGOS: "Fire in our pockets - New wave of price hikes in wide range of staple goods due to rise in 11 percent VAT to 13 percent".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Fewer loans to businesses, households".
NIKI: "Greek society collapsing - Pictures of destitution on the streets of Athens".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Tax privileges for capita, tax vise for the people".
TA NEA: "Imprisonment for non-payment to state of VAT collected".
VRADYNI: "Settlement of debts in court for those unable to pay".
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