|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-04-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 6 April 2011 Issue No: 3760
 President Papoulias begins visit to AzerbaijanBAKU (ANA-MPA/M. Mihail)
President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and the ministerial delegation accompanying him held talks on Tuesday with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and the country's government in Baku, focuisng on the already existing close cooperation in the sector of energy and the further considerable ground for its development between Greece and Azerbaijan.
President Papoulias and the Greek delegation were officially received at the Presidential Mansion on the Caspian coast by Aliyev. The very good level of bilateral relations was stressed during the talks between the two presidents and shortly afterwards in the widened talks between the two delegations as well as the need for them to be developed further.
"We ascertained however that our bilateral relations can and must develop further, particularly in the trade and economic sector," the President of the Republic said.
President Papoulias and Aliyev also discussed developments in Libya and the wider Middle East, while the one briefed the other on the Cyprus issue and the question of Nagorno Karabakh and expressed support for the implementation of international law and the UN Security Council's resolutions.
Three agreements were signed durging the talks. Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas with his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov on the development of cultural relations, Marine Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis with Mamadiarov on cooperation and facilities in marine transport and Deputy Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis with the Environmentg Minister of Azerbaijan Hussein Bakirov on the protection of the environment. A memorandum of understanding was also signed for the continuation of cooperation between DEPA and the corresponding Azeri natural gas company SOCAR.
The President of the Republic toured at noon the preserved old city of Baku, while in the afternoon he met with the country's prime minister Artur Rasizade and attended an official dinner hosted in his honour by Ilham Aliyev.
Speaking during the official dinner, President Papoulias referred to the high level of friendly and economic relations between Greece and Azerbaijan, with emphasis on the energy sector.
"Tomorrow we shall jointly inaugurate the 4th Greek-Azeri Business conference which aims at the development of bilateral economic and trade relations. Many important businesses from the two countries are participating. The targert is a joint one and I believe that it deserves support so that we can achieve the best possible results."
"I am ascertaining the progress noted in the discussions taking place that include the entire spectrum of energy cooperation, particularly the implementation of the natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy, through Turkey and Greece," he added.
President Papoulias pointed out to Alyev that "the foreign policy of Greece is based on respect for international law and adherrence to the principles of good neighbourliness."
The Greek president assured his Azeri counterpart that Greece supports efforts for an association agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU, while referring to the issue of Cyprus stressed that it is "an international issue of offence of international legality. The resolutions of the UN's Security Council must not be implemented selectively. Greece supports the negotiations that are taking place under the auspices of the UN secretary general, negotiations that must reach a viable and workable solution. The recent demonstrations by the Turkish Cypriots constitute tangible proof that while Turkey declares that it protects them, in reality it is functioning as an occupation force."
On the occasion of the crisis in Libya, he said that "the developments in the Middle East are considerable with unpredictable, for the time being, geopolitical, as well as economic consequences. The crisis may have local characteristics but it is not unrelated to the international economic crisis. Generally speaking, the political leaderships not only in Asia and in Africa, but in the West as well must see again the way with which governance is exercised."
On Wednesday, President Papoulias and Aliyev will inaugurate the business forum. Before leaving for Athens late in the afternoon, the Greek president will visit the Parliament of Azerbaijan and meet with representatives of the Greek community in Baku, while he will also be proclaimed an honourary lecturer of the Slavic University.
 Gov't on Soros-Papandreou meeting, debt restructuringGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday categorically ruled out the possibility that Greece might restructure its debt, in reply to questions concerning Monday's meeting between Prime Minister George Papandreou and financier George Soros.
"We have a specific position, we have explained abroad that restructuring is not only outside our goals but also our strong conviction that any kind of restructuring will be very harmful and damaging to the Greek economy but also on a European level," Petalotis said.
He stressed that the government's opposition to restructuring Greek debt was clear and had been repeatedly stressed by both the prime minister and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou. The spokesman also underlined that Greece had now managed to reach a "positive point" where the possibility of bankruptcy or default was now very distant, so that rumours along those lines were no longer justifiable.
He criticised the political parties that insisted on reproducing such doomsday scenarios, accusing them of hampering the government's efforts and "looking to the future of the party instead of the future of the country".
Concerning Papandreou's meeting with Soros, the spokesman said that default had not been among the issues under discussion and noted that Soros had expressed very favourable views about Greece during his lecture at the Museum of Cycladic Art.
 Samaras visits Nea Ionia commercial center, discusses problems with residents and shopownersMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday toured the commercial center in the Athens suburb of Nea Ionia, where he was briefed by shopowners and local residents on the problems they face, and heard the business owners' complaints over the reduction of consumers' buying power and subsequently their shops' turnover.
Samaras called on the government to "finally comprehend the problems that exist" and to proceed with a change of policy.
Consumers, he said, have stopped going to the shops. "The situation has reached the point of no return, and I wonder what needs to happen for the government to realise this and change its heartless economic policy, which is creating this deficit in social cohesion".
"The Greek society has been deeply wounded," Samaras said, and urged the people to support their local societies and local markets.
He called on consumers, given the upcoming Easter, to shop in their neighborhood stores in order to boost the local markets, and to manifest unanimity, humanity, love and solidarity for the people in need -- the ill, the poor and the elderly.
"Let us all stand by them, each and every one of us knows what we can do," the ND leader said.
Samaras plans to make similar visits both inside and outside Attica prefecture.
 Four EU ministers voice concerns over impact of illegal migration on public healthVIENNA (ANA-MPA - D. Dimitrakoudis)
Four European Union ministers - among them Greek Health Minister Andreas Loverdos - on Tuesday asked the European Commission to take the necessary action to safeguard public health from the dangers posed by illegal migrants.
The issue was raised by the health ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Italy at an informal meeting of EU health ministers held in Budapest.
Noting the links between public health and illegal migration, the minister expressed concern about the repercussions of uncontrolled migration on public health due to the "very different epidemiological profile" of the populations arriving to those of the EU.
They call for measures to assist countries receiving large numbers of illegal migrants, in collaboration with the European Centre for the Prevention and Control of Diseases and the European bureau of the World Health Organisation.
The four ministers also note that a meeting in Rome on April 13 on this issue will be useful for launching such cooperation.
 Health minister on dangers for public health by illegal immigrationGreek Health and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos, in statements made Tuesday in Budapest where he participated in the European Union's Informal Council of Health Ministers in the framework of the Hungarian presidency of the EU in the first half of 2011, warned of the dangers entailed for public health by illegal immigration since, as he stressed, among the illegal immigrants there are many contagious illnesses such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, malaria and AIDS.
Describing the phenomenon of illegal immigration facing Greece, Loverdos said that Greece has been receiving increasing waves of illegal immigration in past years and these people, claiming that they are coming from countries with political conflicts and social and national uprisings are requesting political asylum.
The minister added that this phenomenon has taken on the characteristics of the mass movement of people to the countries of the European Union.
 WHO delegation in Evros regionA delegation of the World Health Organisatiopn (WHO), which is in the Evros region, will examine problems related to the health of immigrants and the hygiene of detention centres.
According to the delegation's head, the visit is taking place mainly to record hygiene conditions and the health of immigrants hosted at the detention centres and does not concern the issue of illegal immigration.
The delegation's reports and their ascertainments on Evros will be discussed next week at a meeting to be held in Rome.
 Parliament president at Conference of Speakers of EU ParliamentsParliament President Philippos Petsalnikos represented the Greek Parliament at the Conference of the Speakers of the EU parliaments held on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels. The topic of the meeting was on the "Financial crisis and the 'European Semester'".
In statements, Petsalnikos underlined the need for democratic transparency and Parliamentary control over decisions taken for the economy, calling for closer cooperation between national parliaments and the European Parliament when drawing up national budgets and medium-term economic convergence programmes.
Petsalnikos said national parliaments should be briefed in detail on the planning of national budgets before these were approved by Community agencies so that there were no surprises when decisions were made by national and European institutions.
 Ragoussis rules out permanent jobs for municipal contract workersInterior, Decentralisation and e-Government Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Tuesday underlined that the government will not back down even one iota to demands to convert contract workers' temporary jobs in municipalities to permanent positions.
He made the statement after a meeting with the head of the local authority workers union POE-OTA Themis Balasopoulos at the ministry.
Municipal workers have announced a 24-hour strike on Wednesday over this issue and a 10:00 a.m. gathering of local authority staff outside the Athens City Hall in Kotzia Square.
 Environment ministry posts first proposed forest mapsThe process of ratifying the new forest maps will begin in three areas of Attica - Marathonas, Nea Penteli and Palea Penteli - the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministry announced on Tuesday.
The areas in question concern an expanse of 9,500 hectares in Marathonas, of which 5,300 hectares are considered forest, 341.3 hectares in Nea Penteli of which 312.1 hectares are defined as forest and 2,391.4 hectares in Palea Penteli in which 2,220.4 are proposed as forest.
The ratification process will by carried out by the environment ministry and Ktimatologio S.A.
The forest maps proposed have been posted on the internet on the sites of the environment ministry, the Attica Decentralised Authority and Ktimatologio S.A. as well as the forestry authorities of Penteli and Kapandriti and in the municipal authorities of the above areas.
Environment Minister Tina Birbili said in a press conference on Tuesday that the maps were prepared through the collaboration of the ministry with the Eastern Attica Forests Directorate, the Decentralised Attica Authority and Ktimatologio S.A.
Owners of properties in the area have 45 days in which to raise any objections to the maps or 65 days if they live abroad. All objections will be confined to the designation of the type of land shown on the map as forest or not and will not address ownership issues.
An application to raise objections carries a non-refundable stamp duty ranging from 50 euros to 4,000 euros, depending on the size of the property involved, and there is no provision for the return of the sum even if the owner is vindicated.
The objections raised will be examined within four months.
 Message by gov't spokesman towards Greek pupils of CairoCAIRO (ANA-MPA / N. Katsikas)
"Pupils and teachers, supported by the Greek communities abroad and the Orthodox Church, play a major role in protecting the Greek heritage and Hellenism in general," according to a written message by Deputy Interior Minister and government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, read out during an event at Ambetios School here in honor of the top students for their achievements.
Petalotis was scheduled to visit the Greek schools in Cairo during his stay in Egypt, before he was forced to cut his visit short and return to Athens.
 Submarines investigation to Parliament; questions about TsohatzopoulosSupreme Court deputy prosecutor Athanasios Katsirodis on Tuesday sent the files on the investigation concerning the purchase of sub-standard German-made submarines by the Greek Navy to Parliament, asking MPs to look into the actions of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and other members of the government of that time.
Katsirodis asked Parliament to investigate whether there is any culpability on the part of Tsohatzopoulos and other members of the government that decided to directly award the contract for the building of the four 214-type submarines to the German company HDW/Ferrostaal without holding a tender.
The prosecutor also asked Parliament to look into the contract awarded directly to the same company for the building of three 'Poseidon' submarines, as well as the signature of an agreement for offset benefits linked to the same contract.
The two investigations concern the periods 1998-2002 and 2002-2009.
Katsirodis has also asked Parliament to look into whether the subsequent governments that dealt with issues concerning the execution of the above contracts and therefore had an opportunity to renegotiate the contracts and activate penalty clauses.
 Turkish education ministry releases several Greek minority school buildingsISTANBUL (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)
A leading member of the ethnic Greek community here on Tuesday praised a recent decision by the Turkish education ministry to to formally register long-closed primary and secondary minority schools.
"Another demand of the Greek community here is being met following a Turkish education ministry decision to formally register the ceasing of operation of minority schools, ones closed for decades," Lakis Vigas said.
The ministry is withdrawing its supervision from more than 15 school buildings, were headmasters were appointed by the ministry despite the fact that the schools were not in operation. "The school buildings in question can now be repaired and utilised to host cultural events or meet other ethnic Greek minority needs," Vigas stressed.
The Turkish government had maintained, up until recently, that the administrative recording of the real status of the buildings was banned by the Treaty of Lausanne.
Among the school buildings released are those in the districts of Tataoula and Arnavutkoy, as well as the Ioakimion Lyceum in the Balat district.
 President Papoulias to attend Ruppel anniversary eventsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will travel to the city of Serres on Sunday April 10 to attend events marking the 70th anniversary of the battle of the Ruppel Strongholds.
After the memorial events, President Papoulias will be given a guided tour of the Strongholds' museum and then he will be going to the Timios Prodromos monastery to attend a dinnner given in his honour by the Metropolitan of Sidirokastro Makarios.
 FinMin on mid-term deficit reduction programmeFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday expressed the government's intent to implement a medium-term fiscal adjustment programme, "in an attempt to bring deficit down to 1 pct of the GDP in 2015".
Addressing a Parliamentary standing committee on economic affairs, Papaconstantinou underlined that "state-owned real property will be utilised and not be sold out."
Moreover, he rejected the opposition's criticism concerning the "government policy mix" and the adoption of "new anti-popular measures", as being "easy and costless".
Responding to the leftist criticism made on the new 30-billion-euro bailout offered to the Greek banks, Papaconstantinou stressed that "we do not give money, but we provide with guarantees that will allow the banks to receive cash from the European Central Bank (ECB) and continue assisting the Greek enterprises. We have to do everything possible to boost Greek exports allowing the faint growth observed to turn into positive growth rates and real recovery after 2012."
Papaconstantinou stressed that "the Greek banks have offered a lot but they have made mistakes as well, by not supporting the production sectors of the economy as much as they should have. However, the Greek banking system did not commit the crimes observed in other countries. It did not invest in toxic bonds and the state was not forced to save the banks from catastrophe. The banking system is met with closed doors because of the public sector. The state has an obligation to support the banks so that in turn they will support the Greek economy."
 Meeting on Fiscal Adjustment FrameworkEconomic issues and the Medium-Term Fiscal Adjustment Framework were discussed during an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by prime minister George Papandreou at his office in parliament on Monday evening, according to sources.
The sources said that the meeting was attended by finance minister George Papaconstantinou, interior, decentralisation and e-governance minister Yiannis Ragoussis, government spokesman George Petalotis, and culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos, as well as ruling PASOK's parliamentary spokesmen Petros Efthymiou and Christos Protopapas.
 FinMin: Gov't steadfast on fiscal adjustment programThe Greek government will continue the materialisation of its fiscal adjustment program with consistency and determination, finance minister George Papaconstantinou told an international venture capital forum that opened in Athens on Tuesday.
Papaconstantinou told the opening session of the two-day 11th International Venture Capital and Private Equity Forum that the Greek government will continue its fiscal adjustment program, reducing the mistakes and missed targets that are inevitable in such an effort.
The finance minister also spoke of the "doom-sayers" that do not correctly interpret and do not give solutions to the problems, warning that all other paths proposed lead only to bankruptcy and impasses.
Greece, he said, is at a turning point in which recovery has begun, exports were posting a significant increase, and a recovery was also observed in business confidence.
The Greek society is not disposed to listening to easy solutions, he added.
Papaconstantinou described the entire effort as a "marathon", adding that the structures of the state and business community and mentality need to be changed. "We all need to change," he stressed.
The minister further underlined the "painful effort and sacrifices" being made even by people "who are not to blame" for the economy's ills.
He also said that the government's new initiatives in the framework of the economic adjustment program will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Forum brings together representatives from the international business and financial industries. Businesspeople, researchers, policy makers and Venture Capital & Private Equity firms are attending the event, and will present their business ideas and discuss equity financing opportunities in one-on-one private meetings.
The Forum is co-organised by the Hellenic Venture Capital Association (HVCA) <http://www.hvca.gr/>, Invest in Greece Agency <http://www.investingreece.gov.gr/> and PRAXI/HELP-FORWARD Network <http://www.help-forward.gr/en/index/index.php>, coordinator of the Enterprise Europe Network - Hellas <http://www.enterprise-hellas.gr/>, and stands out in the Southeastern European region with a track record of ten years in supporting ambitious and dynamic entrepreneurs, business oriented researchers and new technology-based firms.
The aim of the Forum is to stir up stimulating conversations among the participants of the Venture Capital and Private Equity industries: entrepreneurs and executives seeking liquidity to finance their investment plans; fund managers and investors who seek investment opportunities that seem promising of generating returns; and the State, which sets the regulatory framework and takes measures in order to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and financiers.
 One-stop shops for founding new companies a reality, gov't saysGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday stressed that the government had fulfilled pledges to create a "one-stop-shop" service for founding new companies, which was a real and substantive innovation and not just a "paper exercise".
"The government has the will and is bringing about substantive, robust and human-centred growth through overall planning," he said, pointing out that 24 new businesses had been founded using the new service during its first two days of operation.
Petalotis said this would bring important benefits for the public sector but also the general public and the competitiveness of the economy, where the problem of bureaucracy was a major factor hampering growth.
"It is a work that demands constant supervision but shows the directions of the Greek public sector," he added, calling the new service a "vehicle of innovation and progress" that would reduce the factors impeding every business effort.
 PPC shortlisted for major hydropower plants project in FYROMGreece's Public Power Corporation (PPC) has been shortlisted in a pre-qualification international tender for the construction of two major Hydroelectric Power Plants (HPP) in FYROM, it was announced on Tuesday
The investor to be selected will participate in a consortium with FYROM's state electricity corporation ELEM for materialisation of the estimated 540 million euros Cebren and Galiste hydroelectric plants project along the Crna River in the southern part of FYROM. Of the 540 million euros initially budgeted for the two plants, 340 million euros are anticipated for the Cebren HPP and 200 million euros for the Galiste HPP.
Greece's PPC is one of 10 candidates, from a total 16, that have been shortlisted for the second stage of the Cebren-Galiste project, the single largest energy project in FYROM.
The combined capacity of the two HPPs will be 526 MW, equaling FYROM's current total hydropower capacity and nearly half of the overall generation capacity of 1,302 MW.
The winner of the tender will build the plants in a public-private partnership with ELEM, with an estimated time of completion of seven years, and operate the HPPS under a concession.
The other nine companies shortlisted are CE Electric from the UK, Edison from Italy, EnergoPro from the Czech Republic, EVN from Austria, Schrabak from Austria, and the consortiums "CVE-CTG-PC" from China, "Lanco India, Komito Korea and KHMP Korea", "Kosek Korea and Dailing Industrial Korea", and "Por Austria and Landsvirkjun Iceland".
 Consumer's confidence index up for third consecutive month in MarchGreek consumer confidence index recovered for the third consecutive month in March to -66.2 points, from -67.3 points in February, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
IOBE, in a monthly economic outlook report, said positive results of an EU Summit in March 11 which erased fears of a Greek bankruptcy, helped in the improvement of consumer sentiment in the country. Greek consumers, however, remained the most pessimistic in Europe for a period of more than one year, followed by Romanians, Portuguese, Bulgarians and Maltese consumers.
Greek consumers were less pessimistic over their households' finances in the next 12 months, with the expectations balance falling to the lowest level in the last seven month. A 69 pct of Greek consumers said their finances would worsen slightly in the next 12 months, while a 7.0 pct said they expected a slightly or markedly improvement.
Greek households' expectations over the country's finances in the next 12 months also improved in March, for the third consecutive month at -65 points -the best performance in the last six months. Their intention to save money in the next 12 months, however, fell further to -60.2 points in March from -58.9 in February, with four in five Greek consumers saying they did not expect to save money.
Consumers' expectations over unemployment in the next 12 months continue to be very negative, while their intention to make significant purchases in the next 12 months (furniture, electrical appliances, etc) improved in March, recovering for the second consecutive month.
Their expectations over inflation in the next 12 months have stabilized in March to 33-34 points, with 15 pct of consumers saying prices will remain unchanged, and 61 pct saying prices will rise more rapidly.
 New Chinese embassy economic counselor meets with Greek-Chinese chamber repsThe new economic and trade counselor at the Chinese embassy in Greece, Sun Liwei, met on Tuesday with representatives of the Greek-Chinese Chamber of Commerce's board members.
Both sides agreed that the goal in the coming period is to widen cooperation between the Greek-Chinese Chamber and the PRC embassy in Greece.
Both outgoing counselor Liang Shuhe and Sun Liwei noted that they consider the chamber an important partner for the further development of Sino-Greek business and trade relations.
 Federation of Hellenic Enterprises criticises new tax lawWage-earners and pensioners account for 76 pct of total income of individuals, while self-employed account for 4.0 pct, the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises announced on Tuesday.
In an announcement to the press, the federation criticised the government for its provisions in new tax legislation.
The federation said that 55 pct of Greek households reported incomes below the tax-free level paying no taxes, another 15 pct of taxpayers paid around 80 pct of total income taxes of individuals, while 1,660 enterprises in a total of 221,000 enterprises in the country paid around 70 pct of corporate taxes.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the federation, presenting the federation's views on new tax legislation to a general assembly, stressed provisions included in a new tax law were in great distance from pledges made by the government and lagged behind efforts to modernize the tax system and becoming competitive with European Union standards.
"The efficiency of a tax system depends on its stability, its simplicity, the clarity of its goals and its objectivity. The tax regime in Greece does not satisfy any of these globally basic accepted criteria. These observations cover the latest tax bill ratified in Parliament. It is the 10th revision of our tax system in a period of 18 months," Daskalopoulos said.
The Federation noted that corporate taxes were raising hurdles in growth putting Greek groups' subsidiaries to a disadvantage against foreign groups' subsidiaries. It also stressed that strict sanctions could not efficiently combat tax evasion, but often was leading to power abuse and illegal transactions.
 SEEPE: Tanker sector remains closedThe privately owned fuel trucks sector remains closed four months after a high-profile law opening the road freight market was passed in Parliament, and considering that the issuance of a relevant joint ministerial decision is still pending, a statement by Hellenic Petroleum Marketing Companies Association (SEEPE) charged on Tuesday.
SEEPE underlined that the general secretariat for transports had given assurances that a joint ministerial decision would be issued no later than two months after the publication of the relevant law.
The association also referred to the irrevocable decision issued by the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court, in favour of the abolition of any restrictions in the acquisition of licenses for privately owned fuel trucks.
The European Commission had taken Greece to the European Court of Justice on the same issue in October 2009, while the opening of road freight market is included in the memorandum as well, the statement underlined.
 Car registrations down 54.4 pct in Q1Car registrations dropped 54.3 pct in March this year, compared with the same month in 2010, for a decline of 54.4 pct in the first quarter of 2011, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. The statistics service, in a report, said passenger car sales dropped 55.2 pct in March for a decline of 55.8 pct in the January-March period.
Car registrations totaled 34.145 in the first three months of the year, after an increase of 16 pct in the corresponding period in 2010.
New motorcycle registrations totaled 9,373 in the first quarter, down 21.4 pct from the same period in 2010, after a decline of 6.8 pct in the corresponding period last year.
The domestic car market shows no signs of recovery despite the fact that the government is implementing a program offering incentives to withdraw old technology cars from the market.
 Report: Greek banks to suffer more outflows in saving deposits this yearThe Greek banking system suffered a 14-pct decline in its saving deposits portfolio last year, with savings in Greek banks falling by 40 billion euros in 2010, a report by National Bank revealed on Tuesday.
The report, by the bank's strategic and economic analysis department, said Greece and Ireland suffered the heaviest losses in savings among Eurozone members, while it also stressed that this trend was expected to continue this year, although at a significantly slower pace and predicted that saving deposits would recover gradually by the end of 2012.
The report said Greek banks suffered a capital outflow totaling 34 billion euros in the period January-July 2010, with pressure easing after the beginning of an Economic Stabilisation Programme. National Bank's analysts said non-residents withdrew 10.2 billion euros to foreign banks last year, particularly in the January-July period, while capital outflows in the remaining period August-December 2010 were around 1.0 billion euros.
Greek residents withdrew 8.0 billion euros from banks and channeled this money, mainly to banks in the UK and Cyprus, with two-thirds of the outflow occurring during the first half of 2010. Around 3.5 billion euros were invested in other assets, such as treasury notes and gold.
Greek households and enterprises, hit by a deep economic crisis, were forced to make use of their reserves to fund their operations. Private consumption in nominal terms fell around 1.2 pct last year, while available income dropped around 7.0 pct. The private sector suffered a negative funding gap of 13 billion euros, or 62 pct of capital outflows from Greek banks last year.
The report expects Greek banks to suffer a 19-bln-euro decline in saving deposits portfolio this year. It also stressed that this trend was adding to liquidity problems facing the Greek banking system.
National Bank said that Greek residents' saving deposits at Greek banks grew 132 billion euros in the 2000-2009 period, for a growth rate of 24 percentage points of GDP, sharply up compared with a 15 pct rate in the Eurozone over the same period. This trend mainly reflected an 85 billion euros increase in time deposits (from 28 pct to 60 pct of GDP), while option and saving deposits grew by 47 billion euros but remained stable at 40 pct of GDP.
Non-residents' deposits grew by 40 billion euros, or 14 pct of GDP in the 2003-2009 period.
 Business briefs...
 Stocks end slightly lowerStocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange, extending their decline for the seventh consecutive session on Tuesday. The composite index of the market eased 0.20 pct to end at 1,489.46 points with turnover shrinking to 79.899 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.14 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.60 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 0.66 pct. Cyprus
Bank (3.28 pct), OTE (1.32 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (1.18 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (2.29 pct), Titan (1.73 pct) and National Bank (1.0 pct) were major losers. The Chemicals (4.37 pct) and Telecommunications (1.32 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (4.94 pct) and Health (3.24 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 82 to 69 with another 53 issues unchanged. Vivere (27.4 pct), Altec (16.67 pct), AEGEK (11.11 pct) and Thrace Plastics (9.62 pct) were top gainers, while Edrasi (14.29 pct), Imperio (13.33 pct) and Unibios (12.5 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.51%
Personal & Household: -1.22%
Raw Materials: +0.57%
Travel & Leisure: -0.80%
Food & Beverages: -0.45%
Financial Services: -0.60%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.35
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.61
HBC Coca Cola: 19.16
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.26
National Bank of Greece: 5.94
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.06
Bank of Piraeus: 1.28
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 926 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 922 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.63 pct and the German Bund 3.37 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 16 million euros, of which 11 million were sell orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were buy orders. The three-month Treasury bill issue was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 7.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher again. The 12-month rate was 2.02 pct, the six-month rate 1.56 pct, the three-month 1.26 pct and the one-month rate 1.01 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.30 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to a low 23.477 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,489 contracts worth 18.533 million euros, with 26,016 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,442 contracts worth 4.944 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,220), followed by Eurobank (422), OTE (826), PPC (460), OPAP (402), Piraeus Bank (1,214), Alpha Bank (861), Marfin Popular Bank (531), Ellaktor (223) and Hellenic Postbank (478).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.427
Pound sterling 0.879
Danish kroner 7.517
Swedish kroner 9.061
Japanese yen 120.36
Swiss franc 1.319
Norwegian kroner 7.853
Canadian dollar 1.378
Australian dollar 1.384
 Manolis Glezos hospitalisedVeteran leftist politician Manolis Glezos was rushed to Patras University Hospital on Tuesday morning where he is undergoing medical examinations.
According to reports, he suffered an ischaemic episode and is being examined by cardiologists to be determined if he will remain hospitalised.
Glezos was scheduled to address an event later this afternoon hosted by the local Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) committee.
 Prosecutor calls for guilty verdicts in Kenteris-Thanou caseThe prosecutor in the trial of the two one-time athletics stars, Olympic medal sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, on Tuesday recommended the conviction of all the defendants in a case involving the alleged staging of a road accident just before the opening of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens to avoid an anti-doping test.
Addressing an Athens court, the prosecutor said the two primary defendants' plea that the accident actually happened is "baseless", stressing that traffic police called to the scene found no supporting evidence on the road surface, "no fragments, no liquids or anything else", as he said.
As regards their coach, Christos Tzekos, the prosecutor stressed that no extenuating circumstances should be taken into account, pointing out that banned substances were found in a warehouse he owns.
The prosecutor also called for the conviction of the two "eyewitnesses" of the traffic accident, charging that their testimonies were replete with inconsistencies.
A court ruling will be issued within the next few days.
 "Maria Callas and La Scala" exhibition at MegaronAn exhibition of rare costumes worn by world-renowned Greek opera diva Maria Callas and her historical appearances at the La Scala opera house in Milan is on display in the ground-floor foyer of the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall.
Titled "Maria Callas and La Scala", the exhibition features 20 unforgettable costumes worn by Callas at her La Scala appearances, which are being exhibited outside Italy for the first time, as well as photographs and audiovisual material, including original recordings, from Callas' performances at La Scala.
The exhibition, which will run through May 8, is open to the public from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.
 Foreign nationals arrested for forged Swiss residence permitsFour Serb nationals were arrested in the port city of Igoumenitsa on Tuesday after forged Swiss residence permits were found in their possession.
The detainees told authorities that they had purchased the forged permits from another Serb national for 2,000 euros.
The detainees will be taken before a local prosecutor, while the Igoumenitsa security police are conducting a preliminary investigation.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 20C. Cloudy with possible showers in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 18C. Rainy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 15C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe economy and prime minister George Papandreou's meeting on Monday with global financier George Soros, who purportedly urged a restructure of Greeece's debt, were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Athens a city of dilapidated neighborhoods".
AVGHI: "They're dividing the pupils into category A and B".
AVRIANI: "They're taking us off life support, speeding up the bankruptcy".
DIMOKRATIA: "Public sector - Storm on the horizon over new cuts government is preparing to announce".
ELEFTHEROS: "Conviction that Greece is heading towards bankruptcy cemented abroad".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Soros bomb on debt restructure".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "3 messages from George Soros".
ESTIA: "The citizens seeking hope".
ETHNOS: "New working hours in 8 public sector services".
IMERISSIA: "Double recommendation from George Soros".
KATHIMERINI: "Strauss-Kahn (IMF chief): Our target is to avert bankruptcy".
LOGOS: "Establishment of business in one day".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The increase in interest rates (planned by the European Central Bank) a new threat for the market".
NIKI: "Tell the entire truth to the people"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Harsh sacrifices from the people to the benefit of capital, with the new measures".
TA NEA: " 'Withdrawal' of (old) hospitals, but founding of new ones too".
VRADYNI: "They're devastating the households".
 EU-Turkey relations should be reassessed, French Senator saysNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Chairman of the France-Cyprus Inter-parliamentary Group of Friendship in the French Senate has reiterated the firm position of France on the Cyprus problem, noting that EU-Turkey relations should be reassessed on the basis of the progress Turkey will make on the Cyprus issue, the implementation of the Ankara Protocol and its EU accession course.
According to an official announcement, Cyprus House President Marios Garoyian met on Tuesday with the Chairman of the France-Cyprus Inter-parliamentary Group of Friendship Marc Massion and the two Vice Chairmen of the Group Jean-Patrick Courtois and Simon Sutour.
Garoyian has briefed the French Senators on the latest developments in the ongoing direct negotiation process between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
The House President expressed his gratitude to the members of the Group and his appreciation for the firm position of principle that France adopts on the Cyprus problem and on the solution effort, as a permanent members of the UN Security Council and a European power.
Garoyian expressed disappointment on the lack of progress on the peace process, due to the fact that Turkey submits proposals outside the agreed framework for a solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. He added that Turkey's proposals refer to a confederal solution.
In addition, Garoyian stressed the continuing efforts of the Greek Cypriot side to find a just and viable solution, based on UN resolutions and EU values and principles.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Peace talks between the island's two communities are underway to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country.
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