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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-04-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 14 April 2011 Issue No: 3764


  • [01] FM Droutsas participates in first meeting of 'Libya Contact Group'
  • [02] Cabinet meeting on national plan for exit from crisis on Friday
  • [03] PM Papandreou gives interview to Polish magazine
  • [04] ND on new economic measures; election scenarios
  • [05] Papariga: Greece's bankruptcy has already begun
  • [06] Tsipras slams draft bill on slot machines; said gov't was 'finished' along with the Memorandum
  • [07] Gov't calls for explanations by Siemens
  • [08] President receives AHEPA delegation
  • [09] Former minister gets suspended jail sentence
  • [10] Gov't launches new investment law
  • [11] Parliament passes bill on protecting free competition
  • [12] FinMin Papaconstantinou: 'no horizontal cuts in wages, pensions'
  • [13] Greek banks' analysts categorically oppose debt restructuring talk
  • [14] Debt restructuring a catastrophy, National Insurance head says
  • [15] MasterCard survey shows tighter budgeting among Greek consumers
  • [16] Greek import price index up 7.6 pct in Feb
  • [17] ADEDY holds rally in Athens
  • [18] Civil Aviation employees' open-ended strike ruled illegal by court
  • [19] Municipality contract workers stage motor-protest in central Athens
  • [20] Business briefs...
  • [21] Stocks end 1.65% higher
  • [22] Turnover up, prices down in Greek bond market in March
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [26] Greek scientist receives Solar Innovation 2010 prize
  • [27] Cretan museum showcases history of typography
  • [28] Two police officers arrested for migrant trafficking
  • [29] Unmarked police vehicle attacked by unidentified individuals
  • [30] Greece to deport 59 illegal migrants to Nigeria
  • [31] Freighter loaded with contraband cigarettes intercepted
  • [32] Bicycles on Metro programme extended
  • [33] Rainy on Thursday
  • [34] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] European Council President hopes for a united Cyprus Politics

  • [01] FM Droutsas participates in first meeting of 'Libya Contact Group'

    The "Contact Group on Libya" held its first meeting in Doha, Qatar, in the presence of the UN secretary general and with the participation of Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who termed an imperative need the finding of a political solution to the Libyan crisis and expressed support for an increased coordinating role by the UN in this process.

    Droutsas met on the sidelines of the meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with whom he discussed, apart from the Libyan issue, the Cyprus question and the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM). The Greek minister also had contacts with counterparts of his, the representative of the "National Transitional Council of Libya" (rebels) M. Djibrill and the UN 's special emissary Hatib.

    Droutsas said in his address that Greece's position had been from the beginning that the military action undertaken for the implementation of the resolutions 1970 and 1973 for Libya, although necessary for the protection of civilians, are not enough for the finding of a permanent solution. He added that the element of time is crucial and that the diplomatic efforts that are being made by various sides must be intensified, stressiung that the UN must and can have a leading and coordinating role in this.

    As regards the issue of humanitarian aid, the foreign minister stressed that Crete can constitute an ideal hub for passing through this humanitarian aid, due to its proximity and the existence of suitable infrastructures.

    In statements after the meeting, Droutsas said "with the invitation to Greece for participation in the Contact Group for Libya, the considerable role of our country in developments in the region is recognised. Today's meeting proved the unity of the international community. We are continuing to convey with a unified voice the message for an immediate ceasefire, for the immediate end of violence against the Libyan people. Greece, from the very beginning has stressed the need for the finding of a political solution and the efforts of the international community in this direction are taking place in an increasingly coordinated way. Greece has submitted some time ago its own thoughts and proposals and I can say with satisfaction that they are reflected fully and even constitute the basis for the thoughts expressed in this meeting today."

    [02] Cabinet meeting on national plan for exit from crisis on Friday

    Prime minister George Papandreou will chair a Cabinet meeting on Friday for approval on the national plan for exiting the crisis, according to government sources.

    The Cabinet session will be followed by meetings of the ruling PASOK parliamentary group and the PASOK political council later the same day.

    [03] PM Papandreou gives interview to Polish magazine

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking in an interview with the Polish magazine "POLITYKA", last Thursday during his visit to Warsaw, stressed that "the markets function like a herd. They graze peacefully, like cows in a grazing field, they grow, they swell like bubbles and afterwards, suddenly, they break out in a panic and then it is no longer easy for one to calm them."

    Papandreou stressed that in each one of the three countries that have resorted to support from the European mechanism, something different went wrong. More specifically, Greece had no problems with the banks, but with the debt of the state and the crisis of confidence in it.

    [04] ND on new economic measures; election scenarios

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Wednesday lashed out at the government in view of the adoption of new economic measures.

    Referring to the postponement until early June of the vote on the adoption of new measures that was announced by the government, ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stated that this decision will only help the ruling PASOK MPs to visit their electoral districts for the Easter holidays without fearing the reactions of their voters.

    Mihelakis strongly criticised the government for not taking measures when it should have and for moving "in slow motion" when implementing structural changes. "The government turns into a fast moving rabbit when adopting painful measures but when it comes to reforms it turns into a slow moving turtle," he stressed.

    Mihelakis underlined that ND will not change the date for the presentation of its economic programme and stressed that it is ready for elections anytime.

    [05] Papariga: Greece's bankruptcy has already begun

    "Greece's bankruptcy has already begun, but it is not yet completed," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga warned during a press conference on Wednesday, noting that a part of the capital has already been devaluated, while state bonds have also depreciated, the social security funds have losses of up to 30 percent, payments have been suspended, and the state property has also depreciated.

    She opined that Europe was divided on whether the restructure of the Greek debt should be done now or later, and was waiting to see what will happen with Spain before deciding.

    In that light, with regard to the sale of state property, the pressure will increase and its value will decline further, given that the candidate buyers will wait until the last minute in order to profit more, Papariga added.

    At political level, Papariga said a huge effort was being made to salvage the political system under various guises, charging that the "big interests" wanted a PASOK-ND collaboration.

    However, all these comprise a historic opportunity for the people to reject that guise and back the KKE, Papariga continued, charging that the argument between the two mainstream parties (ruling PASOK and main opposition ND) in which they mutually cast the blame on each other is disorienting and a dangerous antagonism as to which party will have the helm of the government in its hands".

    [06] Tsipras slams draft bill on slot machines; said gov't was 'finished' along with the Memorandum

    "The Memorandum is finished and finished with it are those that imposed it upon the Greek people," Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday.

    No matter how hard the government tries to dress up the situation and convince its MPs it can no longer convince Greek society, he added.

    Tsipras said the new measures were nothing more than an admission that the government's policy had failed and he stressed that the country had to change course.

    He said that a "new coalition power that will extricate the country from the disastrous memorandum, proceed with a redistribution of wealth and an aggressive renegotiation of the debt in which a large part of it will be written off, can provide a solution and prospects of hope in this country".

    Tsipras made the statements after meeting with a Committee of the Citizens Movement for restricting games of chance, who object to government plans to lift current restrictions on slot machines.

    He noted that the government, during conditions of unprecedented crisis and in spite of strong reactions, was preparing to pass a bill that would essentially turn the country into a giant casino on the pretext of bringing in additional tax revenue, overlooking the social problems this would cause.

    In reality, the only revenues that would increase would be those of the big businesses that wanted to make money out of unrestricted gambling, Tsipras asserted.

    He warned that the move would have serious repercussions on Greek society, with families exposed to the dangers of gambling addiction and cast into debt at a time when jobs were being lost and gambling as a form of release would be a major temptation.

    Tsipras urged the government to withdraw the proposed bill for slot machines and abolish illegal gambling.

    [07] Gov't calls for explanations by Siemens

    Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis on Wednesday announced that the Greek state will impose fines on German multinational Siemens before the end of May for violation of laws against money laundering.

    Kastanidis made the announcement while addressing Parliament on the amended ministerial liability law, while he clarified that on Monday he will send a letter to Siemens' management, demanding explanations within the next 15 days.

    "The German side has an obligation to compensate the Greek side regardless of the court ruling that will be issued in the Siemens bribery case. The usually judgmental Germans will stand accused, because their own companies are champions of corruption worldwide," Kastanidis said.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) Parliamentary spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos also lashed out at German justice, underlining that the Greek justice system should not take the entire blame for procrastination when, essentially, it was the German justice system that covered up the cases in question.

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis characterised the draft law under discussion as "declaration of remorse delayed by 10 years". He also accused the two major political parties of being responsible for the fact that "nobody was sent to jail and nobody will be". He also stated that former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos should not be the only one to appear before a parliamentary preliminary examination committee.

    In response, the ND parliamentary spokesman stated that the payments made by ND ministers were in accordance with contracts signed under the Simitis government.

    [08] President receives AHEPA delegation

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received a delegation of the Hellenic American Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA), headed by AHEPA supreme president Nicholas Karacostas.

    Papoulias expressed the motherland's pride and gratitude to the "dynamic and very significant" Greeks abroad, who mirror the dynamism of Hellenism in the countries in which they live.

    On the economic crisis, Papoulias noted that the grandfathers of today's overseas Greeks had once faced a major crisis, but "they overcame it precisely because they had this dynamism of the Greeks", adjusted, worked hard, created and earned the acknowledgement of the countries in which they lived and worked.

    The Hellenes abroad, he continued, "give so much to both their countries".

    "As things turned out, you have two homelands. But because Greece is smaller and poorer, I believe that you love it more," Papoulias added.

    Karacostas, in turn, pledged that AHEPA will make every possible effort to help Greece and Cyprus, noting that he had given the assurance to prime minister George Papandreou in their meeting earlier in the day.

    [09] Former minister gets suspended jail sentence

    An Athens court on Wednesday sentenced former minister Tassos Mantelis to a three-year suspended sentence for failing to submit a sources of income declaration for the years 2006 and 2007.

    The defendant did not appear in court, while a similar charge for preceding years was written off due to a statute of limitation law.

    Mantelis has been implicated in the Siemens kickbacks furor, related to his tenure as a transport and communications minister in the late 1990s.

    Financial News

    [10] Gov't launches new investment law

    The Greek government on Wednesday officially launched the operation of a new investment law in the country seeking to restart business activity in the country by offering tax incentives worth 2.2 billion euros and financial support worth 800 million euros.

    Presenting the new investment law, Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis said candidate investors must submit their investment plans by the end of May and announced that the selection and approval procedures will be completed within six months. Chryssohoidis also announced the launch of a new National Fund for Business and Development (ETEAN) which it is expected to contribute in supporting enterprises, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises, export activity and innovative companies.

    This combination will allow investors to promote their business plan, with incentives such as tax breaks, subsidies, supporting leasing expenses and favourable bank financing.

    The Greek minister said the aim is to offer time to candidate investors to prepare their plans and to submit their applications electronically by May 31, while the operation of Investor Service Offices was expected to begin next week. He also announced that the ministry will launch a tender, in the next few days, for the selection of banks which will co-invest with ETEAN for the creation of six Lending Funds. Theses funds will lend enterprises with very favourable terms. ETEAN will invest 400 million euros in the project, while banks will be required to invest double that figure.

    All small, very small and medium-sized enterprises -legally operating in Greece- are eligible in participating in the program, along with all enterprises which have met their tax and social insurance obligations.

    "It is my belief that we are now taking a crucial turn for the great change. A change of rules, but mostly of mentality which will liberate the country's creative forces to invest and particularly the new generation to spearhead a new growth miracle," Chryssohoidis said.

    [11] Parliament passes bill on protecting free competition

    Parliament on Tuesday passed a draft bill on "Protection of Free Competition" tabled by the regional development and competitiveness ministry.

    The new laws mainly concern the operation of the Competition Commission and introduce changes to the requirements on companies to inform the Commission about mergers and concentrations.

    Specifically, it abolishes the obligation to alert the Competition Commission about collaborations and 'small-scale' concentrations unless the companies involved have a turnover greater than the 150 million euro globally and at least two of them have a turnover of 15 million euro each on the Greek market. They also establish a shorter deadline for the processing of complaints not falling into the Committee's area of authority.

    The bill also dictates that clearly unfounded complaints be put on file within the space of nine months from when they are submitted and introduces much tougher legal penalties.

    It reduces the number of members on the Commission from nine to eight and changes the methods of their appointment, they are obliged to declare any positions they have held in the last five years and any position or collaboration accepted while on the Commission. It also introduces a conflict of interest clause that prevents members of handling any case involving a company with which they had or have professional collaboration.

    [12] FinMin Papaconstantinou: 'no horizontal cuts in wages, pensions'

    "There will be no horizontal cuts in wages and pensions neither horizontal increases of tax indices," Finance Minister George Papaconstantionou on Wednesday stressed while addressing the Financial Times conference in Athens.

    "However, the medium-term fiscal adjustment programme cannot be implemented without reducing wage cost in the public sector, curbing the deficits of the public utility companies and introducing well-targeted social benefits," he stressed.

    He pointed out that the medium-term fiscal adjustment programme interventions scheduled for 2012-2015 will reach 23 billion euros.

    Referring to the programme for the utilization of public property, the finance minister put an emphasis on the sectors of infrastructures such as, seaports, as well as, on energy and legal gambling where the state participation can be reduced without selling out public interest and strategic participations.

    As regards the overall course of the Greek economy, Papaconstantinou stated that "we are in the middle of deep recession" and that "the last three months of 2010 were the worst," adding that growth rates will be positive in the third and fourth quarter of 2011.

    "This conclusion is not simply wishful thinking coming from a minister of finance but is drawn based on early indexes of the Greek economy, such as, the very large increase in exports and the simultaneous recovery of trust in the Greek economy," Papaconstantinou said.

    Referring to the issue of debt restructuring and the different views heard, he underlined that "the government is not siding with the debt restructuring solution. The goals set are the creation of large primary surpluses and high growth rates that will result from the implementation of structural reforms. This is the only way to a strong economy. Greece will emerge from the crisis stronger and the Greeks will be more confident. The path we are following will not be changed."

    [13] Greek banks' analysts categorically oppose debt restructuring talk

    Greek banks' analysts on Wednesday said they were categorically opposed to a possibility of restructuring Greek debt. The head analysts of the country's three largest banks, speaking during a conference organized by the Financial Times in Athens, expressed their strong opposition to this scenario.

    Mihalis Masourakis, head analyst in Alpha Bank, said a restructuring of the debt was not only a way out but would have no practical benefit, even the current talk could lead to negative results. "Law firms in London and international investment bankers speculating on the restructuring of our debt will be disappointed," Masourakis said, adding that since the government was implementing an economic consolidation program "we have all is needed to creating primary surpluses that will consolidate our debt".

    Pavlos Mylonas, National Bank's head analyst, said Greece must fully implement a memorandum signed with the troika. This program must achieve all its quarterly goals so that there would be no disbelief and stressed that very significant steps have been made so far. "Even our own creditors do not want some kind of voluntary restructuring in case the country failed to meet its obligations envisaged in the memorandum," he said.

    Eurobank's head analyst, Gkikas-Hardouvelis, said it was not in our interest to say "I won't pay". "The cost will be huge. If it did not happen in the turmoil of 2010 we cannot do it now, we should not talk of restructuring," he said.

    [14] Debt restructuring a catastrophy, National Insurance head says

    A debt restructuring solution would be catastrophic, as it would create big problems to pension funds, insurance companies and banks, while at the same time it would block the country's ability to accessing international markets indefinitely, Leonidas Theoklitos, president of National Insurance told reporters on Wednesday. He noted that even talking about a restructuring of the debt was not benefting.

    Theoklitos announced that National Insurance intends to proceed with a share capital increase plan immediately, without offering details of the sum, in order to meet increased demands by Solvency II. He said that the specific directive would add to pressures to insurance companies to forge strong groups, while other companies will cease to exist.

    National Insurance has no intention to seek takeovers and mergers as it was the leader in the market, with a great distance from the second player in the market, while National Bank (the parent company) has also not intention of selling its insurance arm.

    Theoklitos said the main goal for 2011 was to significantly raise operating profits.

    [15] MasterCard survey shows tighter budgeting among Greek consumers

    Eight in 10 Greeks are controlling their spending much more tightly than before, while there has been a swing back to "traditional values" concerning life's priorities, such as good health and family, according to a MasterCard Barometer survey conducted by Mastercard and Focus Bari between December 2010 and March 2011.

    The majority of Greek consumers now places much more importance on health (64 percent) and family (59 percent), putting these at the top of the list of life's main priorities. Work and career follows at a distance (36 percent) and are seen more as a means of survival and earning income than a means of self-validation. Next in line are friends/social life (15 percent) and the environment (9 percent).

    There is a distinct differentiation of priorities based on age and gender, especially in terms of work and career and family.

    While both sexes consider health a top priority, men are more likely to consider professional advancement a priority while women put greater emphasis on starting and supporting a family.

    In terms of age, health is a top priority for those aged 55-plus, while the 45-54 age group put greater emphasis on family and those aged 25-44 place greater weight on work as a means of earning a living. The 18-24 age group placed more emphasis on friends and having fun and saw career as a means of self-validation.

    According to the poll, the importance that Greeks attach to recreation and entertainment is 37 percent less than in the past, while acquiring goods and having a career as a means of achieving recognition also carry less weight than in the past.

    A further 25 percent does not report any change in the parameters of their life they consider important.

    In terms of monitoring their spending, 59 percent adopt the method of systematically adhering to a specific budget for every purchase. Another 41 percent adopt the method of using cash only, so they cannot spend more than they have and a further 38 percent ensure that they do not make unplanned purchases.

    Women declare themselves more disciplined in their approach to spending money, saying that they ensure each purchase stays within their initial budget. Older age groups avoid making unplanned purchases.

    The survey was carried out using a sample of 1,960 individuals aged 18-70 that were permanent residents of Attica, Thessaloniki, mainland Greece and Crete. The estimated size of the population covered by the survey was 6,119,000.

    [16] Greek import price index up 7.6 pct in Feb

    Greece's import price composite index grew 7.6 pct in February, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 7.9 pct recorded in February 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed the increase of the so-called "imported inflation" to higher fuel and raw materials prices. The import price index from Eurozone countries grew 2.0 pct in February, while from non-Eurozone countries the index jumped 13.1 pct. The index was up 1.9 pct in February from January 2011.

    [17] ADEDY holds rally in Athens

    The Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) held a rally in Korai Square, central Athens, on Wednesday afternoon on the latest economic developments and a march to Parliament followed.

    In a statement to the ANA, ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros said "today's rally is a preparation for the escalation of mobilisations that will take place in the first fortnight in May. We are potesting and we are reacting to the fiscal-reformist programme that anticipates cuts in labour and social rights of the civil servants, as well as for the new salary scale which as it appears will become a vehicle for new cutbacks."

    [18] Civil Aviation employees' open-ended strike ruled illegal by court

    An Athens court on Wednesday ruled as illegal an open-ended strike called by the Federation of Civil Aviation Employees' Unions (SYPA) beginning on April 15.

    The Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) took recourse to court against the strike.

    [19] Municipality contract workers stage motor-protest in central Athens

    Athens municipality contract workers pressing for permanent jobs staged a motorcade protest in central Athens on Wednesday, blocking traffic as they drove around the city's main roads in a convoy of more than 100 motorbikes and mopeds.

    For more than two hours they drove around the city, blocking major roads, in an organised protest against the government's decision to deny them permanent work positions at the municipality.

    A representative of the workers said their protest on Tuesday had been spontaneous but that Wednesday's had been organised as a means of exerting pressure in support of their demands.

    They are to meet again on Thursday outside the Supreme Court, where their case for their conversion of the contracts into indefinite work contracts will be heard.

    [20] Business briefs...

    -- Alapis Group on Wednesday announced the signing of a non-binding agreement with CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Limited, one of China's largest pharmaceutical companies. Under the agreement, the two companies will examine ways of cooperation in the fields of raw material supplies, such as APIs, taking advantage of know-how and research and development infrastructure to jointly develop new pharmaceutical products and commercial promotion of CSPC's products in the Greek market and other markets where Alapis has established activities.

    [21] Stocks end 1.65% higher

    Stocks ended higher for the second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday reflecting investors' hopes over the government's privatisation programme, due to be announced in the next few days. The composite index of the market rose 1.65 pct to end at 1,531.04 points, with turnover a low 73.980 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 1.95 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.46 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.64 pct.

    Alpha Bank (0.44 pct) and Jumbo (0.20 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end lower, while OPAP (3.60 pct), National Bank (3.19 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.03 pct) and Cyprus Bank (2.85 pct) were top gainers. The Travel (3.15 pct), Banks (2.34 pct) and Oil (1.46 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (3.23 pct) and Insurance (1.66 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 90 to 56 with another 53 issues unchanged. Altec (20 pct), AEGEK (11.76 pct) and Boutaris (11.11 pct) were top gainers, while Axon Holdings (19.61 pct), Pairis (19.57 pct) and Ridenco (16.67 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.66%

    Industrials: +0.76%

    Commercial: -0.39%

    Construction: +1.08%

    Media: -0.66%

    Oil & Gas: +1.46%

    Personal & Household: +0.75%

    Raw Materials: +0.57%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.15%

    Technology: +1.38%

    Telecoms: +0.64%

    Banks: +2.34%

    Food & Beverages: +1.42%

    Health: -3.22%

    Utilities: +1.14%

    Chemicals: -0.37%

    Financial Services: +0.08%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 4.51

    ATEbank: 0.56

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.85

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.78

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.31

    National Bank of Greece: 6.15

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.20

    OPAP: 15.54

    OTE: 7.83

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.36

    Titan: 17.85

    [22] Turnover up, prices down in Greek bond market in March

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market recovered in March, with prices however continuing their fall further widening a gap between German bonds, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. The central bank, in a report, said that turnover in the market totaled 974 million euros in March, from 847 million in the previous month and 34.6 million euros in March 2010. Bond prices fell significantly in the month, with yields rising further, adding additional burden to the country's borrowing cost. The five-year benchmark bond yield rose 2.14 pct to 16.15 pct at the end of March, while the three-year bond yield rose 83 basis points to 15.11 pct. The 10-year benchmark bond yield rose 108 basis points to 12.88 pct and the 30-year benchmark bond rose to 9.06 pct.

    The three-year bond price eased to 81.90 points at the end of March from 82.56 a month earlier and the 10-year bond price fell to 65.28 from 69.52 points over the same period.

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 939 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 944 bps on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.84 pct and the German Bund 3.45 pct. However, the Greek bond yield reached a record-high of 12.93 pct during the day.

    Turnover in the market was an improved 75 million euros, of which 60 million were sell orders and the remaining 15 million euros were buy orders. The five-year 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 2.09 pct, the six-month rate was 1.62 pct, the three-month rate was 1.32 pct and the one-month rate 1.14 pct.

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.34 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 30.631 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,874 contracts worth 23.938 million euros, with 28,186 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,710 contracts worth 6.692 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,983), followed by Eurobank (321), OTE (2,820), Piraeus Bank (913), GEK (1,366), Alpha Bank (647), Motor Oil (202), ATEbank (241) and Cyprus Bank (403).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.460

    Pound sterling 0.896

    Danish kroner 7.518

    Swedish kroner 9.102

    Japanese yen 122.81

    Swiss franc 1.309

    Norwegian kroner 7.924

    Canadian dollar 1.405

    Australian dollar 1.392

    General News

    [26] Greek scientist receives Solar Innovation 2010 prize

    Greek scientist Nikos Pelekanos was among three European scientists that received the Solar Innovation 2010 prize for his proposal "III-V nanowires for next generation photovoltaics".

    The prize is awarded by the French Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique), after an Open Call and selection among dozens of proposals, and includes funding and technical support to carry out research proposals for three years.

    He shares the prize, which includes funding and technical support for the research proposal for three years, with scientists Tamzin Lafford at the European Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory and Vincent Renard at the Neel Institute at Grenoble.

    Pelekanos received a PhD from Brown University in the United States and worked as a researcher in France for roughly 10 years (at CNET laboratories and the French Atomic Energy Commission) and at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. In 2001 he was appointed to a professorship at the University of Crete and the FORTH Institute at Heraklion, Crete.

    [27] Cretan museum showcases history of typography

    The history of the art of typography, from its infant steps in the era of pioneer printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg, is encapsulated in a museum set up by a local Cretan newspaper publisher containing rare items and documents from around the world.

    Yiannis Garedakis, publisher of the local Haniotika Nea (Chania News) newspaper, and his wife Eleni have collected an impressive collection of artifacts over the years, which are on display in the museum that is tentatively hosted in a bookshop until more suitable premises are found.

    The museum's collection contains many rare and elaborate printing presses dating back to the 19th century, as well as more modern, automatic presses used throughout the 20th century, a host of typography tools, typesetting benches, replaceable/moveable wooden and metal letters, book-binding machines, a linotype machine, hand-operated presses, a foot-operated Heidelberg printing press (1920-1970) from Germany, an Albert Frakenhal automated press from Germany, and a plethora of other related tools and objects.

    Most of the 30 large pieces of the collection have been purchased from Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

    The museum further contains rare books dating back to the 16th century, original copies of Cretan newspapers from 1890 on, maps, paper currency and stamps from that era.

    In a message on the museum's internet page (, Garedakis notes that this venture was a life-long dream and goal from the days when he making his first steps in a basement printshop producing the newspaper 'Paratiritis' (Observer) in Chania, a dream that finally began materialising more than 30 years later. It was a long, painful and expensive, but also fascinating journey according to Garedakis.

    The museum, and its library of rare Cretan books, which are financed exclusively by Haniotika Nea, are a constant attraction to schoolchildren from not only Crte but all over Greece and also many parts of the world on educational trips, who are treated to a magical journey into the world of typography from past to present, and to a time when publications were veritable works of art.

    "UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Properties of Visegrad Group countries and Greece" photo exhibition at foreign ministry

    A photo exhibition titled "UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Properties of Visegrad Group countries and Greece" is running at the Foreign Ministry building in downtown Athens.

    The exhibition, which was inaugurated on Tuesday evening by deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis, aims to contribute toward greater understanding of the importance of world heritage and encourage countries to make a more coordinated effort to protect their properties.

    The exhibition is organised by the Greek National Committee for UNESCO, in collaboration with the embassies of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the framework of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Visegrad Group and on the occasion of the April 18 International Monuments and Sites Day, more commonly known as World Heritage Day.

    The International Day for Monuments and Sites, which was created on April 18, 1982 by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and approved at the 22nd UNESCO General Conference the following year, aims to raise public awareness on the diversity of the world's heritage and efforts required to protect and conserve it.

    The theme for the 2011 Day is "The Cultural Heritage of Water".

    The Visegrad Group, or Visegrad Four (VF), is an alliance of four Central European States -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- for the purpose of cooperation and furthering their European integration. The Group, originally the Visegrad Triangle, originated at a summit meeting of the heads of state or government of then Czechoslovakia (the Group became four members after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the formation of the two states of Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993) held in the Hungarian castle town of Visegrad in 1991. All four members of the Visegrad Group formally joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

    The exhibition includes photographs of monuments from the Visegrad Group countries and Greece that have been included in UNESCO's World Cultural and Natural Heritage list, which currently numbers 911 cultural and natural sites, of which 17 are Greek monuments, 8 are Hungarian monuments and natural sites, 13 are in Poland, 7 in Slovakia, and 12 in the Czech Republic.

    The treaty for protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by the UNESCO general assembly on November 16, 1972, and signed by Greece in 1981.

    The exhibition, at the Foreign Ministry building on 1 Akademias street, will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. weekdays through April 21.

    [28] Two police officers arrested for migrant trafficking

    Police authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of two police officers on charges of assisting the entry of illegal migrants into Greece at the Krystallopigi border crossing in Florina, northern Greece.

    The two police officers, aged 21 and 20 years old, are stationed with a police department in Attica and were immediately suspended from duty following their arrest.

    They are accused on picking up an illegal migrant at the Greek-Albanian border and taking him to Athens in a private car for the sum of 450 euro.

    The service revolvers, cell phones and car of the two officers were confiscated and they will be led before a Kastoria public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    [29] Unmarked police vehicle attacked by unidentified individuals

    An unmarked police car was attacked on Wednesday morning by a group of unidentified individuals who fled the scene after overturning it. Earlier, the three police officers on board were forced to abandon the vehicle. No injuries were reported.

    The incident took place in Piraeus' Perama district not far from the local shipyards.

    [30] Greece to deport 59 illegal migrants to Nigeria

    Fifty-nine Nigerian nationals illegally resident in Greece are to be deported on a special charter flight from Athens international airport at midnight on Wednesday, Greek authorities announced.

    The Nigerians are now being held at the Attica Aliens Directorate and are to be accompanied back to their own country under police guard.

    [31] Freighter loaded with contraband cigarettes intercepted

    A Ukraine-flagged freighter loaded with contraband cigarettes was seized in sea region south of the island of Kasos, the coast guard announced on Wednesday.

    Eight crewmembers aboard are expected to be brought before a relevant prosecutor on Crete, while the counting of the contraband cigarettes is underway.

    The ship, identified as the "Snezhura", is reportedly related to a smuggling case last week in Argolida prefecture.

    The vessel's skipper initially refused to obey an order to be boarded, instead heading for international waters. The vessel had sailed from a port in Turkey with Montenegro as its alleged destination.

    [32] Bicycles on Metro programme extended

    Deputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Spyros Vougias on Wednesday announced that the "bicycles on Metro" programme will be in effect on three weekdays instead of one following the positive response with which it was met by passengers and riders alike in the first month of its implementation.

    As of May 1, up to four bicycles, instead of two, will be allowed in the last train cabin on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 18:00 p.m. until the end of the metro service, while on Sundays and holidays the measure will be in effect on a 24-hour basis.

    Vougias said the measure was successful both in terms of cyclist participation and metro service safety, adding that "no problem was reported in the first 45 days of the pilot programme and based on this fact, we have decided to expand the measure and if all goes well it will become permanent in September."

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Rainy on Thursday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 20C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 19C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 15C.

    [34] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The state of the economy and speculation of new, harsh measures on the horizon were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The new regulation a 'gravestone' for the contract employees".

    AVGHI: "After Easter...the crucifixion".

    AVRIANI: "President Papoulias compromised with the Memorandum, for violation of the Constitution".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Gift to the MPs 'through the window'."

    ELEFTHEROS: "Government methodizing big 'exodus' of 200,000 civil servants".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government paving the Golgotha of the 32 billion euros".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Fukushima a new Chernobyl".

    ESTIA: "The return of the statists".

    ETHNOS: "Take measures against fraud and tax evasion".

    IMERISSIA: "Taxisnet on verge of collapse - Submission of income tax statements strewn with 'hurdles' (glitches)".

    KATHIMERINI: "Government moving at snail's pace".

    LOGOS: "European Council president (Herman van Rompuy) rejected debt restructure".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The 'new Memorandum' leads to painful adjustment".

    NIKI: "Cry of agony".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Ruthless government beat up protesting workers in Shipbuilding and Repair Zone".

    TA NEA: "Private work in public sector, too".

    VRADYNI: "2.2 billion euros in subsidies via the investment law".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] European Council President hopes for a united Cyprus


    President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy expressed on Wednesday the hope Cyprus would be a united island when it takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council next year.

    He also called on the leaders of both communities "to act in a spirit of compromise to find common ground on the remaining issues" discussed at the UN-led direct talks aiming at reaching a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias noted that "Turkey's intransigence is aimed at convincing the international public opinion of the need for implementation of strict timetables and arbitration, if a solution to the Cyprus problem is to be found".

    The Cyprus President said that in the framework of the direct talks with the Turkish Cypriot leader, he has submitted specific, constructive proposals that could give a boost to the process, if Turkey really wants to, stressing the need for putting pressure on Turkey in order to change its stance and allow for progress in the negotiations.

    President Christofias and European Council President were speaking to the press after a working breakfast they had on Wednesday at the Presidential Palace, here.

    In his statements, President Christofias said they had the opportunity to exchange views on the issues of the economic crisis, the crisis in the region and the Cyprus problem.

    Referring to the recent summit of the Heads of States/Governments of the Eurozone, in Brussels last month, he noted that the Republic of Cyprus "agrees with the strengthening of economic governance, in the framework of the efforts to overcome the economic crisis and to prevent a repetition of its effects".

    "It is necessary though", he noted, "to take into account the particularities of small member states", adding that he reiterated to the President of the EC "our position in relation to the issue of a common consolidated corporate tax base and specifically the need to respect the comparative competitive advantage of member states".

    "I also informed Mr. Van Rompuy of the progress made in cooperation and coordination with our partners in the Trio- Presidency, Poland and Denmark, towards the organization the 18-month presidency of the European Council," President Christofias said.

    Moreover, he said they had the opportunity to exchange views on the latest developments in North Africa and the Middle East.

    "The democratic uprisings have resulted in dramatic changes in our neighbouring countries. Our position remains that the decisions for the future of these peoples should be taken by them through peaceful and democratic means", he added.

    He went on to say that "the reform and transition process is a sovereign issue of these peoples and there should be no foreign intervention. Possible involvement of the Union should be limited to instances where such a request is put forward by the said countries. Should such a request be put forward though, the EU should fully support the process towards democratic reform".

    Until now, he said, "Cyprus has not been affected by the instability in northern Africa. We follow the increasing tension in the Middle East though, with great concern. And that relates to the fact that the countries of the region are traditionally the countries of origin or transit of the majority of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers".

    The president said that Cyprus supports the declared position and welcomes the measures adopted at EU level for the support of the Mediterranean EU member states that are affected by the situation in northern Africa.

    "We consider that solidarity between member states is essential. We also consider essential the cooperation between the EU and its southern neighbours, as well the advancement of bilateral cooperation between the EU and countries of origin of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants", he said, adding that "moreover, and equally important, is the need for enhancing the capacity of FRONTEX in order for it to be able to undertake action in the said area".

    President Christofias also said that the Republic of Cyprus "considers that there is a need for better coordination and cooperation between EU member states. We are concerned, specifically, by the adoption of decisions on the European level in a rush and without having cross checked information, regarding the situation on the ground".

    In addition, he expressed the conviction that Mediterranean EU member states, like the Republic of Cyprus, "could pass on messages from the EU to third countries of the region much easier than anyone else. This ease stems from a number of factors, including our geographical proximity, as well as the traditional close and friendly ties with the countries of our region".

    In that respect, he added, "Cyprus could provide an 'added value' in the promotion of the EU goals, in relation to the current crises in the southern coast of the Mediterranean".

    "We also consider that it is important for the EU to promote cooperation and coordination with the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Union, with a view to dealing with and reducing the impact of the crises in the region," he noted.

    President Christofias also briefed the President of the European Council on his recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as on the government's policy in relation to the process of exploitation of the natural resources in our Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Additionally, he informed President Rompuy on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem, noting that "Turkey's intransigence is aimed at convincing the international public opinion of the need for implementation of strict timetables and arbitration, if a solution to the Cyprus problem is to be found".

    "As we have repeatedly underlined though, such a possibility is completely unacceptable. Cypriots have bitter experiences regarding the implementation of strict timetables and arbitration, which they have judged to be completely subjective," he added.

    He went on to say that "we cannot and should not forget that Turkey is continuing its illegal occupation of Cyprus, violating the relevant United Nations Resolutions and at the same time is a candidate country for accession to the EU which has undertaken certain obligations against the Union, including the Republic of Cyprus that it persistently refuses to implement."

    President Christofias stressed that in the framework of the direct talks with the Turkish Cypriot leader, he has submitted specific, constructive proposals that could give a boost to the process, if Turkey really wants to.

    Finally, he stressed the need for putting pressure on Turkey in order to change its stance and allow for progress in the negotiations.

    On his part, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said that during their meeting they talked in particular about the recent economic measures approved by the European Council.

    He stressed, "Our political commitment is to make sure that our economies are competitive enough to create jobs and to sustain the welfare of our citizens. That is what our work is about", adding that "the economic package approved on 25 March will help us to recover from the crisis".

    "Of course the problems of some countries are not over yet. But we have the instruments to deal with them. Those problems are the remainders of the past, in which there were no instruments and no political will to tackle the imbalances", he added.

    In addition, he said that they talked in particular about the Euro Plus Pact, "which comes on top of all the other measures in the package to improve Member States' economic performance", noting that "President Christofias informed me that his Government was already preparing the Reform and Stability Program of Cyprus".

    In preparation for the next European Council on 24 June, Van Rompuy said that they also spoke about challenges in the area of migration, asylum and border management, adding that "the EU is fully aware that the present situation in the Southern Neighbourhood region could add to the migratory pressures which Cyprus already faces".

    "I therefore affirmed to President Christofias that the EU will continue to show solidarity with Cyprus as well as with other Member States directly affected by large scale migratory movements", as he said.

    He said for Cyprus, "the measures already include financial assistance as well as practical support through the activities of FRONTEX and the newly established European Asylum Support Office".

    Moreover, he said that both President Christofias and he agree that "we need to develop new or improved partnerships with the countries in the Southern Mediterranean. Such cooperation should include building capacities in the area of border management and to cooperate in combating irregular migration and trafficking inhuman beings as well as on return and readmission".

    Herman Van Rompuy said that he knows that Cyprus attaches particular importance to the conclusion of an EU level agreement on readmission with Turkey, adding that "this would indeed help to manage migration flows and to combat irregular immigration".

    He assured EU will continue "to push for the swift conclusion and entry into force of the agreement".

    "President Christofias and I are convinced that these initiatives are already paving the way for more modern EU policies in the areas of migration, asylum and border control. We will both continue our efforts and we will work closely together in the preparation of our next European Council in June", he said.

    He said they also agreed that "while the EU needs to tackle migration and border controls more robustly, we should not forget the positive developments in our Southern Neighbourhood. The EU will support all steps towards democratic transformation. In the June Council we will further discuss this issue."

    Additionally, he said that President Christofias briefed him on the Cyprus issue, stressing that "the EU continues to fully support the efforts of the leaders of both communities in Cyprus and the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible".

    "I shared my hope with President Christofias: when Cyprus takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council next year, we would like Cyprus to be a united island", he noted.

    In conclusion, he said that "I encourage the leaders of both communities to act in a spirit of compromise to find common ground on the remaining issues".

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory

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