|Wednesday, 19 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 11 January 2011 Issue No: 3691
 FM: No secret diplomacy with TurkeyThe government on Monday strongly denied opposition accusations of secret diplo-macy with Turkey, or talks on "co-exploitation of the Aegean" between prime minister George Papandreou and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the latter's visit to the Turkish city of Erzurum on Friday.
Foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas, replying to questions on a private TV station on Monday morning, strongly denied that Papandreou and Erdogan discussed the "so-called issue of co-exploitation in the Aegean" during the Greek PM's visit to Erzurum to address the annual conference of Turkish ambassadors abroad, by special invitation.
He also denied that the PASOK government was engaging in secret diplomacy, stressing that "no Greek government exists that does not advance the interests of Greece and its long-standing goals", and appealed for "a stop to the hypocrisy that the given government at the time is the traitor and the given opposition at the time is the ultra-patriot".
"Stop this hypocrisy. For Greece's sake," Droutsas appealed.
Droutsas said that the two prime ministers mainly discussed the problem of illegal migration, on which "agreement was reached for close cooperation", as well as bilateral, regional and international affairs and also the economic crisis.
The foreign minister, who accompanied Papandreou to Erzurum, admitted that the prospect of canceling the visit had been examined, due to overflights by Turkish jetfighters, but stressed that the prime minister finally opted to go ahead with the visit and to speak clearly and sincerely to the important audience of Turkish ambassadors, and to continue the long and tedious effort for building confidence between the two countries.
On speculation that Greece has a wealth of hydrocarbon deposits (in the Aegean), Droutsas warned that illusions must not be cultivated, adding that "whatever can be exploited will be exploited by the government".
He also said that the process was continuing for delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean in the context of the exploratory contacts between the two countries, and appealed to the mass media to contribute to the correct information of the public and to not cultivate false scenarios and myths.
On opposition calls for briefing of the political parties, Droutsas said he has called a meeting of the National Council on Foreign Affairs for Tuesday, while next week he will brief parliament's standing committee on foreign affairs and defence, noting that he holds such briefings systematically.
To a relevant question, Droutsas elaborated that illegal migration was one of the main issues discussed by the two prime ministers in Erzurum.
He said that Turkey agrees with the fence decided by Greece at its border with Turkey on the Evros River, and expressed his conviction that the Turkish side will in the end also abide by the re-entry agreement aimed at stemming the flow of illegal migrants to Greece, noting that the agreement was renewed in the framework of the Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council meeting last May.
If the flow of illegal migrants entering Greece -- and from there to the rest of the European Union -- through Turkey is stemmed, then the EU will lift its reservations on issuing visas to Turkish citizens, which is greatly desired by Ankara and to which Greece also agrees, given that significant benefits in the tourism sector and closer cooperation would arise, Droutsas explained.
Asked if issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul and Thrace were discussed by the two prime ministers, Droutsas replied in the affirmative, reiterating that there is no issue of mutuality between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moslem minority in Thrace, to which the Greek state will provide all rights that insure equality before the law, as it does for each and every Greek citizen, based on the Constitution and on the international agreements and treaties.
 PM chairs meeting on energy, pipelinesPrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday chaired a government meeting focusing mainly on planned natural gas and oil pipelines passing through Greece, government sources revealed.
The meeting was held in Parliament and served as a first briefing on ahead of the upcoming European Union summit on February 4 to discuss energy issues.
Participating in the meeting were Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Minister of State for Investments Haris Pamboukis, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili and Deputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis.
The briefing concerned the supply, directions, branching and the economic and geopolitical interests pipelines running through Greece, including the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline or the Nabucco, Southstream and ITGI natural gas pipelines.
According to environment ministry sources, there was also a briefing by Birbili on developments concerning the Greek-Albania-Italy (TAP), the ITGI and Nabucco natgas pipelines. The minister presented programmes envisaging the withdrawal of older, polluting power plants and a shift in the energy mix in Greece to include 20 percent power from renewable energy sources.
A foreign ministry source revealed that energy issues are on the agenda during a visit to Greece by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday, as well as the margins for cooperation between Greece and Israel.
 Draft bills on biodiversity; civil aviation authorityAn omnibus bill by the Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry on the preservation and protection of biodiversity was tabled in Parliament and referred to a relevant Parliamentary committee.
Additionally, a bill by the Infrastructures, Transport and Networks ministry on the reorganising and upgrading of the Civil Aviation Authority and the utilisation and development of state-run airports was also tabled.
 Samaras announces new ND 'shadow cabinet'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday announced a new and radically different 'shadow cabinet' for his party that he said would make it an even more effective opposition to a "tottering government without vision, solutions or prospects".
Samaras, who predicted a high possibility of radical political developments in the near future, said the changes sought to allow more of his party officials and associates to acquire valuable experience by creating a more participatory structure for the Parliamentary group and a more functional structure for the party.
"The aim is not that all of us should do all things but that these are done in the most efficient way," he added.
According to sources, up-to-now director of Eleftheros Typos newspaper Yiannis Mihelakis will be appointed party spokesman, while current spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos will be named shadow foreign minister, with MP Costas Gioulekas taking over as alternate shadow foreign minister, and Margaritis Tzimas assuming the post of shadow defence minister.
Simos Kedikoglou is slated to undertake the new post of shadow minister for the media, while current party vice-presidents Dimitris Avramopoulos and Stavros Dimas will retain their posts.
Samaras, an economist, will himself hold the post of shadow economy minister, with Christos Staikouras, Notis Mitarakis and Yiannis Vroutsis as his alternates.
The shadow justice minister will be Costas Tzavaras, until now ND parliamentary representative, with Costas Karagounis as his alternate, while former shadow justice minister Nikos Dendias will take up one of the party's parliamentary spokespersons posts.
Thanassis Nakos will take up the post of shadow citizens' protection minister, and Aris Spiliotopoulos the post of shadow education minister.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis will retain his post of shadow environment minister, with Nicos Kanteres and Theodora Avgerinopoulou as his alternates, and Yiannis Plakiotakis will retain his post of shadow merchant marine minister.
Thanassis Yiannopoulos will assume the post of shadow health minister, with Gerassimos Yiakoumatos as his alternate, while Kostis Hatzidakis remains development shadow minister and Costas Tasoulas assumes the post of ND parliamentary group secretary, with Eliza Voizenberg as his alternate.
The sources said Samaras is attempting to maintain the internal party balances in the new shadow cabinet, appointing MPs who are rumored to have been in talks with former ND MP and foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and founder/leader of the new Democratic Alliance party, as well as cadres who had served as ministers under the former ND government of Costas Karamanlis who had not been given authorities in the shadow government.
 Gov't on structural changes; Greek-Turkish relations; Pangalos' commentsGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Monday referred to the major structural reforms in store for the country this year, rejected the "secret diplomacy" allegations made by opposition parties and commented on statements made by government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos.
"The year 2011 will definitely be a different year, it will be equally difficult and challenging as last year but the goals and priorities set will be different," he stressed, pointing out that this will be the year of major structural reforms that will liberate the forces of production and set the foundations for healthy and viable growth.
He also pointed out that the economic figures for 2010 were better than anticipated considering that the deficit dropped 36.5 pct, compared to the 33.2 pct predicted, while revenues increased 7 pct.
Petalotis stated that the new investment law will be passed before the end of the month, while the draft law on e-governance was placed under consultation on Monday. He also stated that the government will go ahead with the opening of the closed professions and the Kallikratis local government reform has become a reality.
Petalotis announced that Prime Minister George Papandreou will be received on Tuesday by Republic President Karolos Papoulias to brief him on all current issues.
On the "secret diplomacy" allegations by opposition parties, Petalotis stated that "we have proved and continue to prove that there is no element of secret diplomacy and everything said before domestic audiences, we dare to say on Turkish soil as well and in front of a specific audience".
He pointed out that "we want clear cut relations with the neighbouring country", adding that "we are defending our national interests, which are just, and that is why we do not suffer from any phobic syndromes".
Petalotis noted that the Foreign Policy Council will convene on Tuesday under Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and announced that before the end of the month the PM will brief the parliament on the national issues in an off-the-agenda discussion.
Referring to the comments made by government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos concerning civil servants, Petalotis stated that he "expressed personal views in his own distinct way".
 Alt. National Defence Min. Beglitis on Greek-Turkish relations, illegal migrants"There is no magic solution for Greek-Turkish issues. Perseverance is necessary in our foreign policy," Alternate National Defence Minister Panos Beglitis underlined on Monday.
Speaking to an Athens private radio station, Beglitis criticised the parties of the opposition for their stance vis-?-vis national issues, stressing that "big words are intended for domestic audiences only and are obsolete, whereas, the policy we have been following is the only one that can yield results."
On the issue of illegal migration, he stressed that Turkey also has a problem due to its extensive land borders. "Turkey is trying to unload its problem onto the EU. It is the responsibility of the EU to realize that the problem is European," he underlined.
Referring to the fence to be built along a stretch of Greece's land border with Turkey in Evros prefecture, he said that it is a "fundamental national sovereign right", stressing that the fence measure will be accompanied by additional measures in other regions of the country so that the illegal migration problem will not be moved to the Greek islands.
He also stressed that former army camps in Athens will be used as First Reception Centres for Illegal Migrants as well, without creating permanent residence conditions.
 FM spokesman on illegal migration, cooperation with TurkeyForeign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras, speaking in an interview with a local radio station on Monday, referred to the issue of illegal immigration as well as implementation, by Turkey, of a signed bilateral protocol regarding the repatriation of third country nationals illegally entering Greece from Turkey.
"We need much better cooperation with Turkey for a more effective management of its own borders, but at the same time, we need a greater involvement by the European Union as well."
Delavekouras reminded that "in May, when the Turkish prime minister came to our country, it was agreed, within the framework of 22 agreements, that Turkey will accept 1,000 appeals (by the Greek side) annually; that is a considerable improvement in the direction of the protocol's implementation."
"We are in discussions to enable the European Union to conclude a readmission protocol with Turkey," he added, clarifying that discussions are proceeding in this sector without a result reached until now.
"We believe that Turkey must also cooperate in terms of the readmission (protocol) and in terms of border control, because the pressure being sustained by both countries is undeniable ... so that they can jointly send a message to traffickers that this passage is closed," Delavekouras stressed.
 Government on holding Parliamentary probe into economic governanceThe government intends to go ahead with a planned Parliamentary inquiry into possible deliberate tampering with economic figures, government spokesman George Petalotis insisted on Monday in response to questions.
"We insist on an investigation on all fruitful levels," he told reporters when asked about the government's plans, in light of a statement made on Sunday by Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Pointing out that a request for such an investigation had already been submitted to Parliament and signed by PASOK's entire Parliamentary group, Petalotis noted that the best means to use "would be those that truly resolved any 'shadows' that exist."
He did not confirm whether such a Parliamentary probe might begin within 2011, however, saying that several inquiries were currently underway and that the outstanding fact-finding inquiries would be activated "when there is time and the technical means".
 Four new MPs sworn inFour new Parliamentary deputies were sworn on Monday afternoon, replacing a same-number of MPs elected to offices in last November's regional elections.
New MPs include Evangelia Kouroupaki (PASOK, from the Hania district) in the place of new Hania Mayor Manolis Skoulakis; Yiannis Miheloyiannakis (PASOK, from Iraklio) in the place of newly elected Crete regional governor Stavros Arnaoutakis; Maria Kyriakopoulou (PASOK, Achaia prefecture) in the place of newly elected western Greece regional governor Apostolos Katsifaras; and Giorgos Kassaras (PASOK, Dodecannese prefecture) in the place of new Rhodes Mayor Stathis Kousournas.
 Law suit over Goldman Sachs Greek swaps sent to ParliamentSupreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes on Monday forwarded to Parliament a law suit filed by an Austrian economist against international bankers Goldman Sachs for allegedly exposing the Eurozone to danger in 2000-2001 through swaps that allowed Greece to hide the full extent of its borrowing and misrepresent the true size of its public debt.
The law suit filed in the European Union concerns a period of time when former premier Costas Simitis was head of government in Greece and the swaps in question have been signed by Simitis. It claims that criminal acts of fraud were committed as a result of the deal.
It was sent to the first-instance public prosecutors office in Athens and from there to the Supreme Court, since the law suit made allegations against former members of the Simitis government.
Legal experts noted that, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the offences referred to in the law suit are irrevocably statute barred.
 High court prosecutor eyes speedier process for tax evasion, corruption casesSupreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes will convene the country's appeals court prosecutors in the coming days on the sole issue of accelerating judicial procedures and court cases involving tax evasion and corruption, according to an announcement on Monday.
 Gov't, attorneys fail to agree on liberalisation at first meetingThe justice ministry's leadership and bar association representatives from around the country on Monday reportedly failed to come to terms regarding the government's plan to liberalise the exercise of the legal profession in the country, part of the so-called opening up of "closed professions" requested by the EU-ECB-IMF "troika".
Monday's meeting was held at the justice ministry and a new one will follow on Thursday at the finance ministry with lawyers' representatives and with Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis as well.
The country's Bar Association plenum will conveve in Athens ahead of next week's expected tabling of the draft bill envisioning a partial deregulation of the legal profession in Greece.
 Former ND leader Evert hospitalised in ICUFormer New Democracy (ND) party president Miltiades Evert was hospitalised at Athens' Ippokratio Hospital's ICU unit on Monday, with his condition listed as very critical.
Evert, a veteran politician and former minister, was hospitalised on Friday with a respiratory system infection and kidney failure.
 Samaras visits Evert in hospitalMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday visited former party leader Miltiades Evert at the Ippokratio Hospital in Athens, where the latter is hospitalised in serious condition.
Evert, who has a history of heart problems, was hospitalised on Thursday, and on Tuesday was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after a deterioration of his condition.
Earlier, ND former prime minister Costas Karamanlis also visited Evert, with whom he has a long-standing friendship.
 Greek budget deficit down 36.5 pct in 2010Greece's state budget deficit was around 1.0 billion euros lower in the January-December 2010 period, compared with provisions included in the 2011 budget, falling to 19.603 billion euros from 30.871 billion euros in 2009, for a decline of 36.5 pct surpassing a budget target for a 33.2 pct decline in the year, the Finance ministry said on Monday.
The ministry, in an announcement, said that the 2010 budget performed better than expected, exceeding forecasts made in the 2011 budget report. The ministry attributed this favourable result to a 9.0 pct cut in regular budget spending last year, surpassing a budget target for a 7.5 pct decline, and a 12 pct drop in Public Investments Program spending, surpassing a budget target for a 11.3 pct decline in the year. Primary spending fell 10.7 pct in 2010, up from a budget target for a decline of 9.0 pct, while spending on interest rose by 7.3 pct, slightly down from a budget target of a 7.6 pct rise.
Regular budget revenues grew around 7.0 pct in 2010, with net revenues up 5.5 pct -short of a budget target for a 6.0 pct annual increase, while Public Investments Program revenues grew 50.2 pct, up from a budget target for a 41.7 pct growth. The figures covered only state budget execution and did not include general government figures.
 Public transport strikes to continueAthens public transport staff have announced more strike action from Tuesday until Thursday, including work stoppages and 24-hour strikes.
On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a work stoppage by buses from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and by trolley buses from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Both buses and trolley buses will hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday.
The ISAP electric railway will be on strike on Tuesday from noon until 4:00 p.m. and ISAP staff are also planning a 24-hour strike on Wednesday and another work stoppage from noon until 4:00 p.m. on Thursday. In addition, ISAP staff will not be selling or checking tickets from the beginning of their shift until 8:00 a.m.
The Athens metro will run normally on Tuesday and a decision is still pending on whether there will be strike action on Wednesday and Thursday. Apparently there is disagreement among metro trade unionists, with the SELMA staff association announcing after a General Assembly on Monday that it intends to take part in work stoppages and a 24-hour strike on Thursday.
SELMA has also sought a meeting with the Infrastructure, Transport and Networks ministry leadership and warned that, if this cannot take place, the union will be begin a series of rolling 24-hour strike from next Monday.
Strike action by public transport workers is likely to continue in the following week, with the managements of various transport organisations resorting to the courts to have the strikes declared abusive and illegal.
Transport minister Dimitris Reppas said that a draft bill on reorganising public transport will be discussed and approved at the next cabinet meeting while criticising public transport staff for continuing their strikes, noting that these mainly affected the less affluent members of the public.
He appeared opposed to the prospect of a civil mobilisation to force public transport staff back to work, saying that this was not a measure to be used "on a daily basis" and contrary to the policies that the government wished. He hinted, however, that the ministry had more than one back-up plan in the case that the strikes continued.
 Chamber president critical of tax changesAthens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Costas Mihalos, addressing a conference on Monday on the issue of new tax legislation, sharply criticised the government's intent to tax dividends on the basis of a unified scale now used for personal income tax rates.
Mihalos pointed out that "with the present tax status, we fear that revenue targets will not be achieved; rather, we'll be led to a further decrease in demand and consumption, to a degree that it will not only threaten our fiscal goals but will contribute, if it has not already done so, to a surge in unemployment and the closure of many viable enterprises."
 Gov't spokesman on tollgate hikesThe government spokesman on Monday was asked about recurrent and more-or-less grassroots mobilisations around the country recently against tollgate increases, as he merely referring to a contract in force since 2007 regarding such hikes, although he noted that the government is re-examining the increases.
Spokesman Giorgos Petalotis cited a proposal by the government to the companies with the toll contracts for a replacement of conventional fees with electronic tolls, allowing motorists to pay in accordance with the kilometres they have travelled.
"By March we will be ready to bring initiatives to Parliament," he said, adding that private concerns holding the toll concessions will have to show necessary responsibility.
 ESEE to discuss opening of shops 3-4 Sundays in the yearThe National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) was due to begin discussion on the proposed opening of merchant shops on specific Sundays throughout the year in its first board meeting of 2011.
According to reliable sources, the board will discuss allowing shops to open on Sundays 3-4 times a year, and the introduction of sales periods four times a year in conjunction with the Sundays.
ESEE president Vassilis Korkidis, in a statement ahead of the annual winter sales that begin on Saturday, January 15, said that the current market operation framework has become outdated and no longer serves anyone, and therefore needs to be carefully reviewed and redetermined in a way that will serve the present and future needs of the Greek consumers.
On what he called an attempted deregulation of shop hours and the unrestricted operation of shops even on Sundays, "we begin today, in the first meeting of the year, examination of all the proposals we have collected from all over the country, to agree with all the employer and worker organisations, so as to reach decisions that will be our decisions for ourselves, and not others' decisions for us," Korkidis explained.
At a time when the EU was recording constant deterioration of the economic climate in Greece and the Greeks as the most pessimistic Europeans, "the first opportunity of the new year is given to us to improve the psychology and alter the climate on the market, to increase the expectations of the businesses and to restore a smile on the consumers' faces," he said.
The ESEE board meeting comes amidst sharp reactions by merchants in the Cyclades prefecture against a decision by the local prefect giving shops the option of opening up on Sundays and holidays in the first quarter of 2011.
The Merchants' Militant Collaboration movement termed the move a "renewal of the effort that began in past years and in other regions of the country, aimed at fully abolishing the Sunday day-off".
It said that the small-scale merchants and the working people who are at the brink of bankruptcy due to salary and pension reductions, declines in turnover and the spread of departments stores, and from the 'tax attack', have nothing to gain from the opening of shops on Sundays and on holidays, adding that the only concerns to benefit -- at the expense of the thousands of small merchants -- are the department stores, supermarkets and large Greek and foreign chains.
 Culture minister on tourism policy for 2011Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Monday described Greece's national tourism organisation (GNTO) as a "deeply sick outfit", following the release of a report on the way the GNTO had functioned in the past three years that is now in the hands of justice.
In a meeting with reporters on Monday, Geroulanos stressed that GNTO had squandered money that should not have been wasted in this way.
He also outlined ministry initiatives that are now underway for 2011 and aim to bring Greece's tourism sector out of the crisis.
These include a draft bill that will simplify the process of tourism investments, including tourist housing not attached to hotel units and a promotional campaign that will once again pivot on use of the Internet.
Geroulanos said that GNTO will participate in 69 international tourism exhibitions during 2011 but with a budget that is 40 percent less than that spent in 2010.
 Minister: '2011 must become milestone for tourism'Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos inaugurated an event organised at a downtown hotel by the hotels chamber of commerce, expressing a hope that 2011 will serve a milestone year for Greek tourism.
"The year that passed was difficult but it left an important message behind it: That if we work together, with common goals, we can achieve whatever goal we set," the minister said and part of the new year's goals are the country's cleverer promotion, the upgrading of the quality of services as well as the better utilisation of property.
 Greek exports jumped 39.8 pct in NovGreek exports jumped in November last year, with the value of export-deliveries rising 39.8 pct to 1.625 billion euros from 1.163 billion euros in November 2009, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said the value of imports-arrivals totaled 3.321 billion euros in November, from 4.008 billion euros in November 2009, for a decline of 17.1 pct. Greek exports grew 6.3 pct in the December-November 12-month period period last year, compared with the same period in 2009, while imports dropped 20.7 pct over the same period.
 Industrial production down 7.6 pct in NovGreek industrial production fell 7.6 pct in November, compared with the same month in 2009, after falling by 5.2 pct in the previous 12-month period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed the 7.6 pct decline in the industrial production index to a 3.5 pct fall in mining production, a 6.5 pct decline in manufacturing production (reflecting a 38.3 pct drop in tobacco-leather-footwear, a 34.7 pct drop in transport equipment, an 11.9 pct fall in beverages, a 22.9 pct decline in textiles and a 17.9 pct fall in clothing), a 13.3 pct fall in electricity production and an 1.3 pct decline in water production.
The industrial production index was down 5.7 pct on average in the January-November period, compared with the same period in 2009.
 Licence of insurance company 'VDV LEBEN INTERNATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE S.A.' permanently withdrawnThe Bank of Greece (BoG) Credit and Insurance Committee on Monday decided to permanently withdraw the licence of the insurance company "VDV LEBEN INTERNATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE S.A." and to place it under insurance liquidation in accordance with the provisions of Legislative Decree 400/1970 effective immediately.
VDV LEBEN INTERNATIONAL S.A. is a small-sized Greek life insurance company conducting business mainly in Germany, through its branch, and, to a lesser extent, in Greece. Since September 2010, the company's operations were suspended and its assets were frozen. The Credit and Insurance Committee decision to withdraw its licence was made after taking into account the results of audits and the fact that in the meantime the company had not taken any corrective action to ensure its financial and organisational restructuring.
The Bank of Greece, in cooperation with BaFin, the relevant supervisory authority in Germany, has initiated all necessary procedures to protect the interests of policyholders both in Greece and in Germany.
As of Jan. 10, policyholders can contact the appointed Insurance Liquidation Supervisor Gerassimos Haliotis at 0030 210 61 09 287 between 10:00 and 14:00 on weekdays.
Last year, the regional development and competitiveness ministry had asked the public prosecutor's office to press charges against the board of the insurance company VDV Leben International for falsifying its financial figures. The ministry said that the board had concealed the company's true financial state and fiscal position, presenting 42.03 million euro of non-existent assets such as bonds and shares in its end-of-year report.
 Mytilineos Group to participate in Global X Aluminum ETFMytilineos Group was selected to participate in a Global X Aluminum ETF, an exchange traded fund to be traded in the New York Stock Exchange, as the owner of Aluminium SA one of the largest fully vertical aluminium groups in Europe.
The Global X Aluminum ETF is an open-end fund designed to focus on the performance of shares with significant activity in the aluminium industry worldwide. The list of companies participating in the ETF also includes Rio Tinto, Alcoa, Norsk Hydro, Aluminium Corporation of China, etc.
A Mytilineos Group announcement said the selection offered proof of strong investment interest in the commodities sector an in aluminium in particular and highlights the significant role of Aluminium SA in the global aluminium market.
 Foreign investors net sellers in ASE last yearForeign investors were net sellers in the Athens Stock Exchange last year, with capital outflows totaling 1.09 billion euros in the period from January 1 to December 31, 2010, while Greek investors were net buyers with capital inflows totaling 1.01 billion euros.
Foreign investors participation in the Greek market's capitalization was unchanged at 50.4 pct in December 2010, compared with the previous month, with Greek investors holding 48.2 pct of the market's capitalization. Foreign investors accounted for 46.5 pct of total transactions in December, down from 50.2 pct in November, with Greek investors accounting for 29.1 pct of transactions, up from 27.7 pct in November.
Turnover totaled 1.659 billion euros in December, down 24 pct from November, while the number of active investor codes fell to 34,994 from 45,638 over the same period.
The market's capitalization totaled 54,3 billion euros at the end of 2010, down 0.7 pct from a month earlier.
 Greek stocks plunge to 14-year lowGreek stocks came under strong pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by a negative climate prevailing in other European markets caused by worries over fiscal developments in the Eurozone and reports that Portugal would be forced to enter the EU/IMF support mechanism. The composite index of the market fell to the lowest levels since early 1997, breaking strong support levels. The index fell 2.60 pct to end at 1,345.63 points, with turnover at 96.931 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 3.50 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.93 pct lower and the Small Cap index ended 4.18 pct down. OPAP (3.09 pct) and OTE (0.74 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Eurobank (9.72 pct), Hellenic Postbank (8.09 pct), Alpha Bank (8.08 pct) and National Bank (6.62 pct) were major losers.
The Banks (6.56 pct), Health (5.48 pct) and Chemicals (5.42 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (2.60 pct) and Telecoms (0.74 pct) scored gains. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 126 to 31 with another 45 issues unchanged. Byte Computer (10 pct), Balkan Export (6.52 pct) and Elfico (6.45 pct) were top gainers, while Sato (20 pct), Allatini Ceramics (18.60 pct) and Centric Multimedia (15.38 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.29%
Personal & Household: -2.24%
Raw Materials: -4.08%
Travel & Leisure: +2.60%
Food & Beverages: -0.06%
Financial Services: -4.85%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, DEH and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.30
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.35
HBC Coca Cola: 20.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.60
National Bank of Greece: 5.64
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.25
Bank of Piraeus: 1.51
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds surpassed the 1,000 basis points level in intra-day trading in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, but fell to 948 bps late in the day after the European Central Bank reportedly bought Portuguese bonds. The Greek bond yielded 12.33 pct and the German Bund 2.85 pct. Turnover in the market was 66 million euros of which 65 million were buy orders and the remaining one million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 14 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.50 pct, the six-month rate 1.22 pct, the three-month 0.9 pct and the one-month rate 0.75 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.52 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover at 39.531 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,676 contracts, worth 32.738 million euros, with 35,346 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 18,741 contracts worth 6.792 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,911), followed by Eurobank (1,477), MIG (1,005), OTE (840), Piraeus Bank (4,270), Alpha Bank (2,567), Intralot (462), Cyprus Bank (826) and Marfin Popular Bank (447).
 Inspections intensify in Greece following German dioxin scareHellenic Food Authority (EFET) inspections already conducted in major warehouses and supermarket chains in Athens and Thessaloniki have confirmed that no imports from Germany were made during the period prior to the dioxin animal feed scare late last month.
However, inspections will intensify and spread throughout Greece to completely rule out the likelihood of contaminated German raw material imports, focusing mainly on pork, poultry and eggs.
EFET President Giorgos Nihas told ANA-MPA that inspections conducted so far had focused on import companies' and food stores' invoices.
He also underlined that based on figures coming from Germany the problem is not as big as originally feared since 70 pct of the production units initially under quarantine have already returned to their normal operation after being cleared of dioxin contamination.
In late December 2010, thousands of German farms were closed after large amounts of animal feed were found to be contaminated with dioxin, a poisonous chemical formed by industrial processes and waste burning, which has been shown to contribute to higher cancer rates and to affect pregnant women.
 Greek pupils top in OECD in extra-curricular readingAlthough not particularly studious, according to the OECD's recent PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) study, Greek pupils are, however, 'champions' in extra-curricular reading, according to the same report.
According to the survey, 82.5 percent of 15-year-old Greek pupils state that they read for pleasure, holding top place among the 35 OECD member countries, with Turkish pupils holding the second place spot in the 2009 report.
Indicatively, the proportion of Greek pupils who read for their own personal enjoyment presented a substantial increase of 4.5 percentage points against base year 2000, while the OECD average fell from 68.8 percent in 2000 to 63.8 percent in 2009.
PISA is an internationally standardised assessment that was jointly developed by participating economies and administered to 15-year-olds in schools.
Broken down by gender, girls appear to have a better relationship with extra-curricular reading than boys, with a 12 percentage point difference. A total of 86.4 percent of girls in Greece read for their own pleasure, against 74.4 percent of boys.
"The fact that a proportion of more than 80 percent of 15-year-old pupils read for their own enjoyment is definitely encouraging," Pavlos Haramis, a teacher and director of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers' (OLME) Center for Research and Documentation told ANA-MPA, but noted that questions arise regarding what and how much the youth read.
Indeed, in Greece as in the other OECD member countries, the 15-year-olds read mostly magazines in their free time, with 60.5 percent stating that they read magazines on their own initiative "several times" a month or week, followed by newspapers (42.8 percent), comics (24.7 percent), literature (21.5 percent) and dissertations (7.2 percent).
The OECD study also turned up interesting conclusions on the relationship between reading and the internet, with the survey indicating that, in all member countries, on-line reading is linked with higher performance in understanding of texts.
"Pupils who are acquainted with activities such as reading messages in e-mails, forum discussions, on-line news and on-line encyclopedias or seek out information on the web generally have a better reading and understanding ability," according to the report.
 Scientific research on cultivations using the smallest possible amount of waterA scientific experiment to develop cultivations that use the smallest possible amount of water will take place in the spring, conducted by the Larissa Technical Educational Institute (TEI) in Thessaly, central Greece, a vital agricultural region threatened by future desertification due to the lack of water resources.
Special greenhouses, two in Greece and two in Cyprus, will be built within the framework of the 2.5-million-euro "adapt2change" project part financed by the EU, which contributed 50 percent of funding.
The project is undertaken by the Larissa TEI in cooperation with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) in Cyprus, the Piraeus TEI and the Europliroforissi SA, vocational and training centre.
 Gang of armed robbers dismantled in AthensPolice announced on Monday that a criminal gang dismantled last Friday in Athens' Ilion district following a shootout and a police chase was behind a score of armed robberies.
Police arrested four Albanian nationals (two 24-year-olds, a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old) shortly after they had robbed a supermarket in the Athens' district of Petroupoli.
Following a police investigation it was revealed that the four, assisted by other two individuals still at large, had formed a criminal gang robbing shops, supermarkets, football pool betting agencies and homes. Eight armed robbery cases have already been solved.
Found in possession of the suspects at the time of their arrest were the Kalashnikov used to fire upon a patrol car prior to their arrest, as well as, a hand pistol, bullets, hoods, gloves and other objects they used in their robberies.
The 18-year-old suspect has a long criminal record, including an arrest last May for his involvement in a deadly armed robbery at a betting agency in Athens' Patissia district, for which he was released with restrictions in November pending trial. He is also accused of a number of robberies, attempted homicides and other crimes.
 Robbery in farm cooperative solvedA 26-year-old Albanian, temporarily residing in the region of Loggas, Messinia Prefecture in southern Greece, has been arrested on charges of robbing the local farm cooperative late last Saturday, police announced on Monday.
The suspect had made off with 7,000 euros after inflicting a slight knife injury on the cooperative's 56-year-old president, who tried to stop him.
 Court gives go-ahead for Keratea landfillThe Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, on Monday rejected a request by the Keratea municipality to stop construction of a landfill in the area, dismissing the municipality's arguments against the ministerial order for the 15.4-hectare landfill.
The municipality had argued that the construction of a landfill would irreversibly damage Keratea's natural and cultural environment and adversely affect the health of local residents while also raising questions about whether the procedure followed was constitutional and noting that the landfill fell within an area declared to be of archaeological interest.
All these arguments were rejected by the court, however, which found that they did not stand up to scrutiny nor outweigh the benefits as a result of building the landfill since Greece would be relieved of having to pay fines to the European Union for illegal dumps.
 Keratea residents protesting planned landfill clash with policeIncidents broke out yet again Sunday night in Keratea, eastern Attica, between riot police and residents in continuing protests against the construction of a landfill in their district.
The violence erupted when hundreds of protesting residents attacked the MAT riot police forces on Lavriou Avenue, where locals have set up a roadblock.
Riot police used teargas to disperse the protestors, while homemade firebombs and rocks were thrown against police.
Calm was restored shortly after midnight.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 18C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 2C to 10C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEconomic affairs and labor relations were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "8 million euros per day fine on Greece from European Commission for failure to meet its contractual obligation of closing all illegal dumps by end-2010".
AVRIANI: "Major construction companies folding".
DIMOKRATIA: "The country without a prime minister - Papandreou has become simple spectator of the developments".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Gift to the rich - That is how PASOK combats tax evasion".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New High School with 10 changes".
ESTIA: "Tax lessons of 100 years ago".
ETHNOS: "15 percent reduction in remuneration in public sector".
TA NEA: "Heavy and hazardous professions: 250,000 workers off the list".
VRADYNI: "Chaos with the corporate contracts".
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