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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-29

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 29 March 2011 Issue No: 3753


  • [01] Interministerial meeting concludes that 'growth has begun to appear'
  • [02] Gov't spokesman on summit results, revenue slump
  • [03] ND: No disagreement with economic stabilisation targets but with government's policy mix
  • [04] Schulz critical of austerity policies, supports call for Tobin tax
  • [05] FM interview with Turkish newspaper
  • [06] Justice minister counters ND accusations over sub probe
  • [07] Health minister meets pharmacists associations, promises swift payment of OPAD debts
  • [08] DM briefs LA.O.S leader on Libya operations
  • [09] SYRIZA head tables question on SDOE findings concerning political figures
  • [10] Skopje TV station: Vergina Sun used on fYRoM university's diplomas
  • [11] SYRIZA MEP tables question on classification of ANA-MPA as a public utility
  • [12] ANA-MPA work stoppages
  • [13] Greece, India sign protocol for investment cooperation
  • [14] Peloponnese region to sign MoC with China's Shaanxi province
  • [15] Informal summit of EU tourism ministers on Rhodes
  • [16] Employers federation: Strict adherence to reform programme
  • [17] PPC eyes power rate deregulation in early 2012
  • [18] Trade deficit down 33.3pct in Jan.
  • [19] Stocks end moderately lower
  • [20] Greek bond market closing report
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [23] "Journey in Greece" by Unesco-Greece
  • [24] Swiss-Greek viniculture initiative
  • [25] Action Plan for technological development
  • [26] Rainy on Tuesday
  • [27] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] Pope to exert pressure on Turkey with regard to Cyprus, Archbishop says
  • [29] Cyprus protests to UN Turkish violations of its national airspace Politics

  • [01] Interministerial meeting concludes that 'growth has begun to appear'

    Speaking to reporters after an interministerial session chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday on the planning of the government's work, a senior minister stressed that "growth has begun to appear."

    According to the same source, apart from the fiscal framework, the discussion focused on the government's growth initiatives, while conveying the "spirit" in which the government is moving, he said that it concerns "how we secure in the fiscal planning growth priorities in each sector and ministry" and additionally how "we shall unblock growth procedures."

    According to reports, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou presented during the meeting macroeconomic data by which growth has begun to appear and recession is becoming "shallower." Some of the data concern the increase in exports in which exports of farm and industrial products have played an important role, as well as a recovery, however with a small percentage of businesses' confidence.

    Replying to a relevant question, the same government member said that equating taxes on heating oil and diesel oil remains a government intention, adding that "alternative" solutions are also being examined.

    Moreover, he termed "absolutely manageable" the lag in revenues, adding that the government is already "ahead" regarding the deficit.

    On the question of privatisations and the utilisation of public property which, according to reports, was discussed during the meeting, its final form must be approved by the cabinet council by April 15, while according to the same reports an "unofficial" discussion will be taking place at the end of the month with the representatives of the troika on the basis of what has already been scheduled.

    The same minister noted that Monday's statemengt by Environment Minbister Tina Birbili does not constitute differentiastion, adding that how there shall be public control in businesses "is a different matter."

    Furthermore, according to reports, Papaconstantinou is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday to send letters to the banks with which he will request a report on what they have done with the money that they have already received. In a second stage, according to the same reports, a "framework on securing the chanelling of fluidity to the real economy" will be raised.

    He also mentioned that the discussion on curbing expenditures at ministries is continuing.

    [02] Gov't spokesman on summit results, revenue slump

    Commenting on the results of the recent European Union summit, government spokesman George Petalotis on Monday stressed that the decisions concerning Greece fully vindicated the government's strategy and ensured a smoother course toward exiting the crisis.

    These decisions would renew the country's prospects and forward momentum, significantly lightening the load so that the government could make vital changes that were not obvious and easy to accomplish.

    He also promised that there would not be a new round of cuts to wages and pensions this year, stressing that the government was aware that other methods would have to be sought in order to protect growth and liquidity.

    Pointing out that the government had been expecting a deep recession in this half of 2011, he said these alternative methods to raise revenues would be decided during the discussion of the medium-term fiscal adjustment programme.

    Asked to comment on objections voiced by environment minister Tina Birbili to the prospect of privatising strategic utilities, such as the Public Power Corporation or the Athens water and sewage company EYDAP, Petalotis said the minister had not departed from the government line on this issue.

    "She spoke about public control of the specific enterprises and not, of course, management," he said, adding that public control could be achieved through a variety of methods. He refused to elaborate further, however, noting that the discussion on the issue was "premature" since no firm decision had yet been made.

    Stressing that the government had a "single position" on these issues, he also urged reporters to stop speculating about the possibility of a reshuffle, saying there was no such issue.

    "We are interesting in meeting our targets, doing our jobs and when we do this we get results," he emphasised.

    Commenting on the shortfall in revenues and what the government intends to do, Petalotis noted that there were "many parameters" to the issue, including the fact that growth in conditions of crisis was not possible, but that this "has nothing to do with a reshuffle".

    Questioned about a protest against road tolls held on Sunday, during which activists allowed drivers to go through the tolls without paying, Petalotis said the government was opposed to this form of protest "which does not help correct the distortions that exist at the road tolls".

    [03] ND: No disagreement with economic stabilisation targets but with government's policy mix

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras does not disagree with the targets of stabilisation and streamlining of the Greek economy, but with the policy mix being applied by the government, party press spokesman Yiannis Michelakis said on Monday, commenting on the outcome of the recent EU summit.

    The policy applied by the government is ineffective, and is trapping the Greek economy in high recession and excessive debt cycles, while it also leads to increasingly harsh and ineffective measures, the ND spokesman warned, adding that this was proved by the fact that the country has fallen short of all the forecasts.

    He further noted the reservations voiced by Samaras over the participation of private concerns in the matter of the state bond risks, and his warning that this would increase the cost of borrowing for countries such as Greece.

    Michelakis noted that ND has asked for the European Parliament's assistance in the backing of Greece under the EU structural funds and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), among others, and reiterated that the main opposition party believes that nothing can be accomplished without growth.

    He also anticipated that the PASOK government will take new, harsh measures, adding that ND was not convinced by assurances of the opposite by prime minister George Papandreou in Brussels.

    ND believes that the 'package' decided at the summit will also have a cost, Michelakis said, and warned that the Memorandum policy was leading to bigger recession, which in turn will force the government to take more harsh measures.

    Michelakis also announced that Samaras will chair a meeting of the ND executive secretariat at noon on Tuesday.

    [04] Schulz critical of austerity policies, supports call for Tobin tax

    With strong criticism against Europe's conservative governments, the head of the Socialists in the European Parliament Martin Schulz on Monday said that the Greek prime minister was being forced to adopt policy of fiscal austerity - as opposed to essential reforms - dictated to him by these conservative powers.

    Schulz was speaking to reporters at the Hilton Hotel in Athens, where he will take part in a three-day meeting of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament that begins here on Monday and ends on Wednesday. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will address the meeting on Tuesday.

    Noting that austerity hampered growth and did not solve problems, the German MEP stressed that Europe is not moving in the right direction and criticised the policies being followed, noting that 21 of the 27 European governments were conservative. He also accused big banks and financial institutions of creating the crisis that they were now benefiting from, underlining that they have an obligation to support EU cohesion policies.

    He was particularly critical of the system that allowed banks to borrow from the European Central Bank at an interest of 1 percent and then demand that countries with problems pay interest rates as high as 10 percent. Stressing that ordinary people could not "withstand more cuts," he strongly supported Papandreou's call for a tax on financial transactions.

    [05] FM interview with Turkish newspaper

    There must be a solution in the exploratory talks between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries, or recourse must be taken in the International Court of Justice at The Hague over the Aegean continental shelf, following the general elections in Turkey, Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said on Monday, and called on Turkey to sign the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Droutsas said that the exploratory talks need to produce a result, adding that, from the contacts and statements that have been made, it is perceived that the conditions have ripened for Turkey to sign the Law of the Sea Convention.

    "They tell us that Turkey is following a policy of zero problems with its neighbors, that it has changed, that it respects international law, that it wants to be a protagonist in the region and does not desire tension," Droutsas said, adding that: "On a daily basis, however, we face many issues that cause tension -- Turkish war planes fly constantly over islands inhabited by the Greek people. Turkish fleet vessels constantly sail very close to our territorial waters".

    Droutsas stressed that Greece has the right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, under international law of the seas, but Turkey has called the use of this Greek right a 'casus belli', a cause for war. "That, however, is an open violation of the UN convention, which is the sacred text of the Law of the Sea. And I ask, is this how Turkey will develop the dogma of zero problems?" he added.

    [06] Justice minister counters ND accusations over sub probe

    Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Monday said that main opposition New Democracy appeared to be "either misinformed or ignorant of Parliamentary procedure" in response to the main opposition's accusations that the government "did not dare" investigate a scandal over the purchase of faulty submarines.

    The file on the case was still at the office of the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor, who was presently studying it in preparation for sending to Parliament, Kastanidis pointed out, adding that it had not even reached his own office yet so that he could forward it to Parliament.

    "It is clear that neither the government nor PASOK's Parliamentary group can undertake any initiative before the file is officially transferred to the Greek Parliament. When this happens, the government and Parliamentary group will take all necessary initiatives to further investigate the case," he stressed.

    [07] Health minister meets pharmacists associations, promises swift payment of OPAD debts

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and the heads of pharmacists' associations throughout the country held an unscheduled meeting on Monday, to discuss the pharmacists' decision to stop supplying prescription medication on credit to those insured by OPAD, the civil servants' social insurance fund.

    The minister provided assurances that the fund had now received the money needed to pay its outstanding debts to pharmacies and that the delays in payment were now purely bureaucratic. This seemed to satisfy the heads of most pharmacists' associations, with the notable exception of Constantinos Lourantos, chairman of the Attica Pharmacists' Association, who apparently walked out after a heated exchange with the minister.

    Lourantos had been instrumental in arranging the meeting when he called in to the television programme "Kalimera Ellada" on Monday morning while the minister was being interviewed and claiming that pharmacists had ended up punishing the public in their attempt to punish the government for the delays.

    Sources said that Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis also participated in the meeting over the telephone, assuring representatives of pharmacists that OPAD received 250 million euro last Thursday in order to pay its debts.

    Loverdos had earlier said that pharmacists would receive payment for 2010 by April. He told pharmacists that it was wrong to keep OPAD insured 'hostage' and that there was no reason to continue this tactic.

    [08] DM briefs LA.O.S leader on Libya operations

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday briefed Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party leader George Karatzaferis over the latest developments in NATO regarding operations in Libya, in light of Tuesday's Parliamentary foreign and defence affairs committee meeting on the same issue.

    [09] SYRIZA head tables question on SDOE findings concerning political figures

    Opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras on Monday tabled a question addressed to the ministers of finance and justice requesting that financial crime squad SDOE findings concerning bank accounts that belong to political figures - former government ministers in particular - be presented to parliament.

    Tsipras queried whether SDOE or other authorities have discovered such evidence in Greek or foreign banks that contradict the "source of wealth" statements submitted by the political figures involved.

    He also queries whether SDOE or other authorities have traced offshore companies whose beneficiaries are political figures - former government ministers in particular - and if legal proceedings have been launched.

    [10] Skopje TV station: Vergina Sun used on fYRoM university's diplomas

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA / N. Frangopoulos)

    The Vergina Sun -- alternately known as the Star of Vergina -- is reportedly depicted on university diplomas awarded by a state-run university in the small city of ?tip, in north-central part of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), according to a news report carried by a private television station here.

    The symbol appears on the fours corners of the diploma issued by a university, which was established in 2007, according to the Skopje broadcaster "A1".

    The eyebrow-raising news comes a week after the International Court of Justice at The Hague (ICJ) opened proceedings in a lawsuit filed by fYRoM against Greece.

    The former alleges that Greece violated a provision in a bilateral 1995 "interim agreement" not to block fYRoM's membership in international organisations under its provisional name, i.e. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece has vigorously countered that it did not veto fYRoM's entry into NATO (April 2008), rather a unanimous Alliance decision blocked the accession, while at the same time charging that the Skopje government has violated the interim agreement via a series of provocations, namely, by using Hellenic symbols and historical figures as part of a thinly veiled policy of irredentism vis-?-vis Greece.

    The Vergina Sun, now prominently associated with the ancient kingdom of Macedon after excavations in northern Greece turned up significant artifacts emblazoned with the symbol, was brazenly featured on fYRoM's flag between 1992 and 1995.

    One of the most significant provisions in the "interim agreement", in fact, was that the symbol be removed from the neophyte country's flag.

    Asked about the issue, fYRoM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said he was not aware of the matter, while in any case, the depiction of the Vergina Sun on university-issued degrees is not a government decision, but a university decision.

    Finally, a spokesman for the university said the school's administration decided to use the symbol -- named Vergina in honor of the northern Greek village adjacent to where it was discovered in the late 1970s -- on the degrees, while also claiming that the ancient symbol is found together with a depiction of the Virgin Mary in a local church.

    [11] SYRIZA MEP tables question on classification of ANA-MPA as a public utility

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MEP Nikos Hountis on Monday tabled a question on a Greek government decision to apply the public utilities and organisations remuneration status on Athens News Agency - Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) staff.

    Hountis called on the European Commission to comment on the government decision after taking under consideration the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 28, on "the right to bargaining and collective actions".

    He also pointed out that Presidential Decree 191, dated Dec. 9, 2008, "clearly states that ANA-MPA S.A. is exempt from being a DEKO (public utilities and organisations)," while as regards the salaries of the ANA-MPA staff "are defined by the collective work contracts signed between the Union of Athens Journalists (ESIEA) and the Athens Daily Newspaper Publishers' Association (EIHEA)".

    [12] ANA-MPA work stoppages

    Work stoppages have been called at the ANA-MPA from Thursday through Monday by the Union of Athens Journalists (ESIEA) and the Union of Athens Media Employees (EPIEA).

    The three daily work stoppages are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, 2:00-5:00 p.m., and from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Monday.

    The work stoppages are in protest of a second 10 percent salary cut decided for ANA-MPA staff, and attempts to classify the national news agency as a "DEKO" (public utilities and organisations).

    Financial News

    [13] Greece, India sign protocol for investment cooperation

    Greece and India on Monday signed a protocol for strengthening bilateral cooperation in investments, wrapping up the 6th Joint Greek-Indian Ministerial Committee held in Athens. The two sides also agreed that Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis should visit New Delhi at the head of a business delegation in the near future.

    "We want to build up strategic economic cooperation with a dynamically growing economy and this is very significant for Greece, which is in the midst of an effort for outward-looking growth," Kouvelis said after the end of the committee meeting.

    The agreement covers a number of sectors, including renewable energy sources and green technologies; tourism; port development; air and sea transport; science and technology; agriculture; and construction and infrastructure - all areas that are currently growing strongly in India.

    Cooperation between the two sides will be based on the complementarity of economic sectors in two countries and the very good political relations between them, Kouvelis said.

    According to Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia, who co-chaired the meeting with Kouvelis, afterward spoke of "great potential" for promoting trade transactions and investments. He referred to long-standing ties between the two countries since antiquity and invited Kouvelis to visit India.

    India is a member of the G-20 and is one of the developing 'giants' in the BRIC group (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

    [14] Peloponnese region to sign MoC with China's Shaanxi province

    A government and congress delegation from Shaanxi province, in central China, currently on a visit to southern Greece, will sign a memorandum of cooperation with the regional authority of Peloponnese, focusing on the sectors of culture, tourism and agriculture.

    Shaanxi province Congress president Zhao Leji and a five-member delegation toured the ancient sites of Mycenae and Epidaurus before visiting the city of Tripolis, where the memorandum will be signed on Monday.

    The municipality of Kalamata, in the extreme southwest of the Peloponnese, will participate in the 2011 World Horticultural Exposition to be held in its twin city of Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, on April 28-Oct. 22, 2011.

    [15] Informal summit of EU tourism ministers on Rhodes

    Deputy Culture & Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis on Monday briefed his Hungarian counterpart Endre Horvath on the informal summit of EU tourism ministers to take place on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes, chaired by Greece.

    Nikitiadis is on a visit to Budapest for the informal summit of the ministers of culture.

    Nikitiadis briefed his counterpart on the contacts he had on the issue with EU Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

    The Rhodes informal summit will most likely take place at the end of June, focusing on visa issuance and the obstacles with which thousands of tourists from non-Schengen countries, wishing to visit Europe, are faced.

    Hungary, currently holding the EU presidency, will undertake to issue the invitations to the EU ministers of tourism as soon as the informal meeting's agenda and date are finalised.

    [16] Employers federation: Strict adherence to reform programme

    Greece must strictly adhere to a tight schedule of targets and measures if it wanted to remain in the Eurozone, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises - Greece's largest employers' federation - said on Monday.

    Commenting on the results of an EU Summit last week, Daskalopoulos said "a positive overlay of a European Council decisions for Greece should not lead to any illusions. A provision, for the first time, of a debt restructuring procedure for a member-state if its course was proved non viable, shows that Europe does not exclude a failure in a reforms effort in Greece and prepares itself offering us a last chance to dismiss negative predictions".

    He underlined that the country did not have any more time for "half talk and half work", and stressed that the government must prove it is determined to promote necessary reforms, or else "a much more hard reality lies ahead".

    [17] PPC eyes power rate deregulation in early 2012

    Public Power Corp. (PPC) president and managing director A. Zervos on Monday announced the utility's results for 2010, referring to a full deregulation of power rates as of early 2012 for major customers -- but excluding households and small businesses.

    Last year, according to the figures announced, PPC's market share in the domestic market totaled 77.3 percent of total demand (down from 85.6 percent in 2009) since new power suppliers have emerged in the power market, while several major industrial consumers have turned to direct imports.

    For 2011, PPC also expects adverse conditions, thereby quadrupling its risk factor for unpaid bills.

    According to results, pre-tax profits for 2010 reached 740.7 million euros, as against 993.1 million in 2009 (-25.4 percent), while the post-tax profits amounted to 557.9 million euros, as against 693.3 million (-19.5 percent).

    [18] Trade deficit down 33.3pct in Jan.

    Greece's trade balance deficit posted a further decline of 33.3 percent n January this year, according to provisional figures released on Monday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

    The decline in the deficit was attributed to a continuing increase in the value of exports and a decline in the value of exports.

    According to a provisional report on the country's commercial transactions, the deficit of the trade balance, excluding oil products, in January 2011 recorded a drop of 33.3%. More specifically, it decreased from 1859.1 million euros (2637.4 million dollars) in January 2010 to 1240.5 million euros (1643.2 million dollars) in January 2011.

    The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, in January 2011 amounted to 2381.5 million euros (3171.9 million dollars) in comparison with 2774.5 million euros (3947.7 million dollars) in January 2010, recording a drop of 14.2%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, in January 2011 amounted to 1140.9 million euros (1528.7 million dollars) in comparison with 915.4 million euros (1310.4 million dollars) in January 2010, recording an increase of 24.6%.

    [19] Stocks end moderately lower

    Stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as investors found few new incentives to open new positions in the market. The composite index fell 0.66 pct to end at 1,611.51 points, with turnover a low 95.020 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.85 pct, the Mid Cap index dropped 1.33 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.24 pct higher. Titan (3.09 pct), OTE (2.79 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (2.20 pct) and OPAP (0.84 pct) were major gainers among blue chip stocks, while PPC (5.29 pct), ATEbank (3.70 pct), National Bank (3.60 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (3.55 pct) were major losers.

    The Insurance (3.17 pct), Telecoms (2.79 pct) and Food (2.18 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains, while Utilities (4.38 pct), Commerce (4.67 pct) and Banks (2.11 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 85 to 68 with another 51 issues unchanged.

    AXON Holdings (18.75 pct), Edrasi (16.67 pct) and Spider (11.11 pct) were top gainers, while Creta Farm (14.98 pct), Xylemporia (14.81 pct) and Unibios (11.11 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +3.17%

    Industrials: -0.51%

    Commercial: -4.67%

    Construction: +1.49%

    Media: +1.66%

    Oil & Gas: -1.89%

    Personal & Household: -0.26%

    Raw Materials: -0.29%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.53%

    Technology: +1.41%

    Telecoms: +2.79%

    Banks: -2.11%

    Food & Beverages: +2.18%

    Health: +1.72%

    Utilities: -4.38%

    Chemicals: +0.39%

    Financial Services: -1.35%

    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: 5.03

    ATEbank: 0.78

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.04

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.46

    National Bank of Greece: 6.69

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.84

    OPAP: 16.72

    OTE: 8.48

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.56

    Titan: 17.70

    [20] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 932 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 928 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.615 pct and the German Bund 3.29 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 6.0 million euros of which 4.0 million were sell orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 1.96 pct, the six-month rate 1.51 pct, the three-month rate 1.20 pct and the one-month rate 0.91 pct.

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.88 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 26.992 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,896 contracts worth 21.984 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,467 contracts worth 5.008 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,649), followed by Eurobank (457), OTE (1,220), PPC (899), Piraeus Bank (203), Alpha Bank (677), Mytilineos (642), Cyprus Bank (358), Hellenic Postbank (225).

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.414

    Pound sterling 0.885

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.044

    Japanese yen 115.51

    Swiss franc 1.301

    Norwegian kroner 7.937

    Canadian dollar 1.384

    Australian dollar 1.378

    General News

    [23] "Journey in Greece" by Unesco-Greece

    On the occasion of the 2011 edition of the Melina Merkouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of cultural landscapes (by Unesco-Greece), the Ambassador of Greece to Unesco Theodoros Passas, is organising the performance "Journey in Greece" on Tuesday March 29 2011 at 18:30 (Maison de l'Unesco, 125 de Suffren av., 75007 Paris).

    "Journey in Greece" is a cultural event that represents a visual, musical and poetic journey to reveal Greek landscapes through the lens of Dimitris Talianis and the poetry of Giorgios Seferis and Odysseas Elytis both Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature.

    The performance consists of 4 music pictures set by Dimitris Talianis; the first one is "Orientations", poetry of Odysseas Elytis, music by Ilias Andriopoulos and vocals by Alkisti Protopsalti; the second one, "Meteors -third day" music by Stamatis Spanoudakis and vocals by Manolis Mitsias; the third one, "Corfu -Ionian light" music by Zbigniew Preisner and Antonio Vivaldi, narration Grigoris Valtinos; and the fourth one "Rust and Brine" poetry of Giorgios Seferis, music by Eleni Karaindrou and narration by Christos Tsangas.

    [24] Swiss-Greek viniculture initiative

    An ambitious agro-ecological project is being implemented on the eastern Aegean island of Patmos by Greek expatriate Josef Zisyadis, a member of the Swiss National Council (Lower House of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland), who has also served in the cantonal government of Vaud (Conseil d' Etat).

    The "Patoinos" project was launched in Petra, Patmos on March 26 and will be completed on Tuesday.

    In a three-hectare stretch of land, Zisyadis together with other Swiss nationals, plan to create a vineyard with local vine varieties, an oil press, a wine-making school and a vine seed bank.

    The 500,000-euro investment aspires to promote agriculture on the island. "This is not only about a vineyard and a winery," he told ANA-MPA, "our future goals include the creation of an olive oil press, a seed bank, a wine-making school, the cultivation of different varieties of tomatoes, figs and pomegranates."

    The people participating in the project will be able to rent a grapevine for ten years for just 150 euros and each year they will receive a bottle of wine with their name on. Already 500 Swiss have joined the endeavour.

    Zisyadis was born in Istanbul to a Greek father and Jewish mother. The family lived in Athens for a few years and when he was six they moved to Switzerland. Since 1986 he has spent almost all his summers on the island of Patmos.

    [25] Action Plan for technological development

    The National Council for Research and Technology (ESET) plenary will be in session until March 30, chaired by Professor Stamatis Krimizis, to discuss an action plan for enhancing research in technological development and innovation.

    The Council will also discuss the organisation and function of Scientific Councils by sector, and draft a recommendation for the establishment of ad-hoc committees for evaluation of the candidates to head the country's research institutes.

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Rainy on Tuesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 5C and 21C. Cloudy with possible showers in Athens, with southerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 19C. Cloudy and rainy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 16C.

    [27] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The effects for Greece from the EU summit, and economic issues were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Despite the government's evasions on the EU Summit?The pros and cons for Greece?"

    AVRIANI: "Who are the politicians who grabbed 33 million euros in kickbacks in the submarines affair".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Public sector salares - The changes that will be effected in two months".

    ELEFTHEROS: "New barbarous anti-popular measures and bickering among ministers".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The final regulations for purchase of plasmatic years (towards retirement)".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Third cut in DEKO (public utilities and organizations) salaries".

    ESTIA: "Recipe for devastation".

    ETHNOS: "Reshuffle with three new faces in key ministries".

    IMERISSIA: "Tax Bureau begins seizures (of companies with overdue debts to state) - Blockade on 300 suppliers of supermarkets".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Recourse to EU Stability Fund from 2012".

    TA NEA: "The new nationwide university entry exams - Six fundamental changes to high school".

    VRADYNI: "They're legalizing the encroached state lands".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] Pope to exert pressure on Turkey with regard to Cyprus, Archbishop says


    Pope Benedict XVI has assured the primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II that he will help in any way possible to reverse a Turkish Cypriot demand for an admission fee to enter a Greek Orthodox monastery, in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus.

    The illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, which no country except Turkey recognises, imposes an admission fee on pilgrims who visit the Apostle Andreas' Monastery in Turkish occupied Karpass peninsula.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos met the Pope on Monday in the Vatican and they also discussed the restoration of religious monuments and sites in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    "I have asked the Pope to work along with the powerful nations of Europe - Germany, Italy, France and Poland - who are also Catholic, in order to exert pressure on Turkey to terminate the pillage of our religious monuments in the occupied areas", Archbishop noted, adding that "I was very impressed because the Pope was aware of the situation in occupied Cyprus and knew all the details regarding Apostle Andreas."

    The Archbishop also met the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone with whom he agreed to coordinate action between the representatives of the Vatican and the Cyprus Church in Brussels.

    Earlier on Monday the Archbishop met Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Archbishop returns to Cyprus on Wednesday.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led peace talks are currently underway between the leaders of the island's two communities, in an effort to find a negotiated settlement that will unite the country under a federal roof.

    Since 1974 hundreds of valuable artifacts have been stolen from the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island and found their way into the black market overseas. More than 500 churches have been pillaged, destroyed or turned into museum, inns or silos. Many archaeological sites and other places belonging to the country's 9,000 year old cultural heritage have been abandoned to the elements.

    The Church of Cyprus has, at different times, managed to secure the return of stolen religious artifacts, illegally stolen and sold on the black market abroad.

    [29] Cyprus protests to UN Turkish violations of its national airspace


    The Republic of Cyprus has protested to the UN ongoing violations of the international air traffic regulations and its national airspace by Turkish military aircraft.

    In a letter dated 15 March 2011 and addressed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Minas Hadjimichael, protested the ongoing violations of the international air traffic regulations and the national airspace of the Republic of Cyprus by military aircraft of the Turkish Air Force, recorded from 1 December 2010 to 28 February 2011.

    "On behalf of my Government, I strongly protest the aforementioned continued abuses by Turkey and call for their immediate cessation", he underlines.

    Hadjimichael notes that these continuing violations by Turkey of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus undermine the peace and security of the entire region.

    "They are especially counterproductive in the current period of ongoing negotiations between the two communities in Cyprus, under the good offices mission of the Secretary-General, aimed at finding a just, lasting and peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem", he points out.

    In his letter to the UNSG, Hadjimichael adds that the Government of Turkey should heed the call of the international community, abide by the Charter of the United Nations and respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.

    "Its actions should be directed towards the creation of the necessary conditions for reaching a viable solution to the Cyprus problem, in accordance with the agreed basis for such a solution, endorsed by numerous Security Council resolutions", he underscores.

    The letter was circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda item 43, and of the Security Council.

    UN-led direct negotiations have been underway since September 2008, with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    The Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004. Turkey is the only country in the world which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

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