|Wednesday, 14 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 16 April 2008 Issue No: 2870
 Greece submits CO2 inventory for 2006The Greek environment ministry on Tuesday announced that it has completed the national greenhouse gas emissions inventory in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol and submitted this and the required data to the United Nations on April 7 and April 14.
According to the announcement, total greenhouse gas emission in Greece during 2006 came to 133.11 Mt equivalent to carbon dioxide. These emissions are equivalent to a 24.6 percent increase relative to the base year (1990) and are less than the levels Greece is obliged to meet and which constitute the country's target, which calls for an increase in emissions of 25 percent relative to the base year during 2008-2012.
"Given that a comprehensive programme implemented by the environment ministry in order to deal with climate change is underway, our country will be consistent with the Kyoto Protocol targets," the announcement added.
Countries that are signatories of the Kyoto Protocol are required to compile and submit a national greenhouse gases inventory each year to the UN Secretariat for climate change. This report refers to the year that is two years prior to the year in which it is submitted.
The ministry also noted that it had upgraded the national system for assessing greenhouse gas emissions and that this now fulfilled all the provisions required under the Kyoto Protocol.
 President Papoulias on visit to UkraineKIEV (ANA-MPA - S. Fesopoulou)
Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias arrived in Kiev on Tuesday, beginning a three-day official visit to the Ukraine. Shortly after his arrival, he was received by Ukraine's President Viktor Yuschenko for a meeting followed by a dinner at the presidential mansion.
Talks between the two men focused on Ukraine's prospects of joining EuroAtlantic structures and on boosting bilateral economic cooperation between Greece and Ukraine.
On Tuesday afternoon, Papoulias and his entourage visited the historic town of Nizhyn, where the Greek president attended a trisagion service and laid a wreath at the family vault of the Zosimades brothers, a family originally from the Greek region of Epirus that are considered major national benefactors, in the town's Greek cemetery.
He then visited a museum of Old Manuscripts in Nizhyn and toured the town, which is one of the historic centres of the Greek minority in the Ukraine.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, the Greek president will set off for Mariupol, a coastal city that is also one of the oldest Greek centres on the Azov Sea. Here, Papoulias will be received by local government officials and will also meet the rector of Mariupol's university with its historic Modern Greek Studies chair.
During his visit, he will be made an honorary citizen of Mariupol, as well as professor emeritus of the university.
 Inner Cabinet approves draft law on police personnel issuesA draft law regulating Police personnel issues was unanimously approved at an Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Commenting after the meeting, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed that the draft law, expected to be voted in parliament before June, concerns the unification of the police force, considering that serving in the Greek Police are police officers, special guards and border guards. The draft law also settles hierarchy issues.
Pavlopoulos stressed that the goal is to guarantee public safety, particularly in downgraded regions, pointing out that the changed attitude and the measures taken are leading to results.
He stated characteristically that during the last three months crime rates have improved in terms of solved cases and arrests, while fatal car accidents declined by 16 percent.
Referring to the high market prices, Development Minister Christos Folias reiterated that 13 of the 41 measures announced, aimed at tackling the problem, are already being implemented.
 Papandreou addresses OTE telecoms employeesMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou described the way the government was handling the public wealth as a "scandal" and a "modern-day tragedy", addressing OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) employees at the telecom's administration building on Tuesday morning.
He said that "we are here to halt the development of a modern-day tragedy", adding that the way the government was handling the public wealth and OTE "is a tragdy".
"Only a Third World country would sell off the public wealth, thus benefiting a private businessman rather than the State," he said, adding that his visit is a display of support and joint struggle with the OTE employees. "We will wage this fight together, and we will win," he said.
Papandreou stated that OTE should not be sold for three reasons.
First, because it constitutes a fundamental tool of national planning, and with its sale Greece would lose the right of being able to plan for the economy and the people in the telecoms sector.
Second, because it is a telecoms company with a strong presence in the wider Balkan region as well.
Third, because OTE has developed substantive knowhow, which Greece should not lose.
Government reply to Papandreou over OTE
Replying to criticism voiced by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday regarding the sale of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) shares to Deutsche Telekom, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that Papandreou's statements contained inaccuracies. In particular, he stressed that the state was in no way involved in the sale.
"As you know, the seller of a share of nearly 20 percent is not the state but a private company, which has acquired this share on the free market," Roussopoulos pointed out.
The spokesman further accused PASOK of hypocrisy and inconsistency in its policies, pointing out that the privatisation of OTE shares had begun under PASOK governments.
"I would like all to remember, because we do not forget everything in this country, that it was PASOK that in 1992-1993 (when in the opposition) had said that there OTE would only have one share - a 'golden' share as then PASOK President Andreas Papandreou had called it - and that this would not be divided or sold. Over the course of the years, it was PASOK that put 62 percent of OTE out on the free market. This so we know the lack of correlation between the words and deeds of a party that was for many years in government. What it says when in the opposition. What it does when it is in government," Roussopoulos said.
Regarding OTE's management, the spokesman said that the appropriate ministerial committee had not yet concluded deliberation on this issue.
 PASOK leader attends protest event on sale of portsMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou attended a protest event held in Piraeus on Tuesday on the issue of the sale of ports and accused the government of "selling for a meagre price anything that yields revenues".
Papandreou further said that the government's policy "does not serve the people and the reaction is universal," while stressing that there can be cooperation with the private sector and a development basis, but in no way should the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki be awarded.
The PASOK leader went on to term the policy of the New Democracy party government "unacceptable, irresponsible and opportunist, which helps a few profiteers."
The event, including a concert with singer Manolis Mitsias, was organised by the Piraeus Labour Centre, trade union agencies of the port employees and the municipality and prefecture of Piraeus.
 PASOK Political Council discusses organisational issuesMain opposition PASOK's Political Council met on Tuesday, chaired by party leader George Papandreou, to discuss a series of proposals pertaining to organisational issues, as well as to review the results of actions taken so far.
Party spokesman George Papaconstantinou reported satisfaction with the results of visits and tours by members of the party throughout the country, to meet with grass-roots supporters.
He also noted that the results of opinion polls were viewed as the least important issue at this time, while welcoming an apparent recovery reflected in these as a positive sign.
During the meeting, Papandreou outlined the new duties and responsibilities of the Council's members, assigning each a sector falling under their supervision, and referred to its new position and role in the party.
He said that each representative would be responsible for monitoring the actions of the government minister in charge of their sector and exercising the appropriate opposition, while adding that the Political Council would remain the supreme guiding body of the party and will be responsible for planning, deciding its priorities while in the opposition, tactical decisions in response to the government and other parties and other issues of this kind.
Papandreou also referred to the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), stressing that PASOK was utterly against allowing the negotiations to "slip into a bilateral framework" and noting that the role of the US had not been "the best possible".
 Exclusive interview with PASOK press officer PapaconstantinouThe main opposition PASOK party was witnessing a dynamic come-back, based on recent opinion polls, and taking over first place was feasible, PASOK press officer George Papa-constantinou said in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA released on Tuesday.
On the FYROM name issue, he said that the problem must be resolved as soon as possible, "exclusively in the framework of the UN", adding that "outside assistance" could be accepted only from the European Union, and charged that US activities to date have been "negative", as they only served to foment Skopje's intransigence, which boomeranged against FYROM.
Asked if he believed that PASOK had now left behind it a long period of introversion that eventually cost it the last general elections, Papaconstantinou said that the post-elections period had commenced with difficulties for PASOK, given an unprecedented internal party clash, which marred the party's public image. What was important, however, was that everyone decided to turn to a new page, after the recent PASOK Congress, and were now all working together, within a mutually agreed framework of unity, renewal and meritocracy.
Society's problem, he said, was not PASOK, but the increasing difficulties faced by the Greeks in their day-to-day lives, adding that from now on the party would occupy the people with solutions, views and proposals, and not with internal party problems. "And we have every reason to believe that, if we remain steadfast in this direction, the appeal of our positions will increase daily. In fact, this is already occuring," he added.
Turning to the FYROM name issue, and asked whether he believed that the negotiations should be resumed now or that it would be more appropriate to wait to after the US presidential elections, Papaconstantinou said it was necessary that the name issue is solved as soon as possible. "We don't believe that time, in the mid-term, is our ally. Think about the momentum that could develop, the prospects that can be created for stabilisation and cooperation in the wider region if our relations with Skopje are fully normalised," he said.
In PASOK's view, this outstanding issue must be solved within the framework of the multilateral organisations, namely the UN, with the assistance of the EU. "We don't connect the issue with the action of the US, which has been negative up to now, and is unforeseeable in the future. The present conjuncture of the inability of the outgoing Bush government is a good opportunity," he said.
Asked whether he believed new involvement by the US or a NATO mediation would offer something positive, Papaconstantinou said that PASOK's position was clear: "the difference must be resolved strictly within the framework of the UN".
"The services offered so far by the US cannot be assessed as positive. They incited the intransigence of Skopje and, in a sense, worked against FYROM. Our northern neighbors must realise that they belong, geographically, to the European continent, and that it is in this area that the must foremost build relations of cooperation and good neighborhood. They cannot, nor will, become the 51st state of the United States of America," Papaconstantinou stressed.
 5th annual conference on 'Defense and Security in the 21st Century'The sessions of the 5th Annual Conference on "Defence and Security in the 21st Century - Southeast Europe-Balkans" ended in Athens on Tuesday.
The conference was organised by the "Diplomacy" magazine.
The sessions of the conference were addressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Deputy National Defence Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis, main opposition PASOK deputy responsible for national defence matters Vasso Papandreou, and expert on international affairs and member of the Central Committee of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos), Panos Trigazis.
Taking part in the conference were ambassadors from countries of the European Union, NATO and the Balkan Peninsula, while also attending were New Democracy (ND) and PASOK deputies as well as Eurodeputies of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS).
Also attending the conference's sessions were academics and officers of the Armed Forces.
 PM to meet Mitsotakis, Parliament presidentPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have successive meetings on Wednesday with former premier Constantine Mitsotakis and Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, the government announced.
 KKE leader Papariga meets Fire Brigade Officers UnionCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga met on Tuesday with the Fire Brigade Officers Union and the Panhellenic Federation of Fire Brigade Staff Unions and underlined the need for forest protection in view of the coming summer.
"We want to send an SOS," she said, "that forests have not been defined, firefighters have not been hired, the institution of seasonal staff remains, there are great shortages, 40 percent shortages in the Fire Brigade, forest employees have not been hired and, consequently, we are very close to the danger of new fires and due to the climate conditions as well which, however, can in no way be justified for the serious, criminal shortcomings of government policy."
Papariga criticised the government because "all that they had promised after the tragic wildfires last year were not implemented. They were not implemented and we are now in the month of April. When will they be implemented?".
Replying to a question on the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Papariga said "we do not choose the good and the bad buyer. As far as we are concerned, the entire telecommunications sector, and not only OTE, must become a unified agency that will belong to the public and will be at the service of the people. We do not enter the logic of placing it on the 'counter' of the market and selecting who will offer the best price."
 Synaspismos's Tsipras gives press conference in PatrasCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday gave a press conference in Patras, western Peloponnese, expressing his satisfaction over the latest opinion polls which give his party high percentages.
"We are satisfied, as in every case a tripling of our forces is reflected. It is obvious for us to be judged over a period of time," he said.
Commenting on what Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis announced from Patras on Monday regarding the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) for 2008-2013, Tsipras said "we must not talk about ficticious indexes, but about reality in the most downgraded region of the country with the great deficiencies in basic infrastructures."
 U.S.'s Rice refers to Theological School of HalkiWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday appealed to Ankara to reopen the Theological School of Halki.
She was speaking at the annual Turkish-American conference in Washington.
Rice, who referred to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, also described a solution to the Cyprus issue as "a key" for Turkey's accession to the European Union.
She further underlined the importance of the natural gas pipeline which links Turkey with Greece and in the future will be extended to Italy.
Rice stressed that the United States "continues to encourage Turkey to recognise and protect the political rights of all the religions and national groups," noting that this would happen "with the reopening of the Theological School of Halki of the Ecumenical Patriarchate."
 Development Minister Folias holds talks with Russian ambassadorDevelopment Minister Christos Folias held talks on Tuesday with Russian Ambassador Andrey Vdovin and the director of the Russian foreign ministry's 4th European Department, who is responsible for issues concerning Southeastern Europe, Alexandr N. Alexeev, in light of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' upcoming visit to Moscow.
 Russian official on Kosovo independenceThe Russian foreign ministry's 4th Department director, Alexandr Alexeev, addressed an event organised by the Pantios University's International Relations Foundation on Tuesday, sharply criticising the decision on the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo's independence and its recognition by a number of powers.
Alexeev said that it is the first time after World War 2 that the division of a country is being attempted, adding that Kosovo is not ready to develop into an independent state and lacks the necessary economic and social conditions.
The Russian diplomat further said that the situation in Kosovo has not become more stable since this decision and underlined Russia's special ties with Greece and Serbia, stressing that Moscow is greatly interested in what is happening in the Balkans and what takes place in the Balkans has repercussions on Russia's domestic policy.
Alexeev noted that Russia has never desired to become Serbia's advocate, but it is interested in the observance of international law and the protection of the European security system.
He further expressed concern over the situation in Bosnia, underlining that Russia does not support the secession of the "Serb Republic", but the protection of the structure anticipated by the Dayton Agreement.
The Russian diplomat expressed surprise because powers supporting the secession of Kosovo desire a revision of the Dayton structure "in a more unifying manner", while pointing out that the solution in the case of the Balkans is the return to international law.
Lastly, replying to a relevant question, he expressed concern over the risk of military conflicts in Kosovo, that could also spread to other regions in the Balkans.
 Bank of Greece Governor Garganas on state of economyBank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas briefed the Parliament's Economic Committee on Tuesday on economic and monetary policy covering the 2007-2008 period, appearing optimistic that the repercussions from the ongoing, and probably intensifying, world crisis with the possible stagnation of the American economy will not have an impact on the Greek economy.
According to Garganas, the repercussions for the Greek banking system from the international fiscal crisis, if any, will be small since the growth rate has not slowed down.
He also ruled out the possibility of phenomena such as those of the United States appearing, but stressed that in the long run the repercussions might be more considerable, to the degree that the growth rate slows down even further.
Garganas placed emphasis on efforts being made to curb inflation which is showing, as he said, a more permanent character in the eurozone and being over 3 percent, while it is expected to remain at high levels in the coming months.
He further stressed the need for the continuation of the Stability Programme and the boosting of deposits.
"The goal of the Bank of Greece is backing business loans and restraining household loaning," Garganas said, adding that commercial banks have been requested to apply more stringent criteria in granting loans.
 Greece to receive 26 mln euros from EU budget surplus redistributionBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
The European Commission on Tuesday announced it was returning 26 million euros to Greece, as part of the implementation of the 2007 budget which showed a surplus of 1.5 billion euros and will be redistributed to the EU's 27 member states.
According to community rules, the EU budget must be balanced. Germany will receive the biggest money return (300 million euros), followed by the UK (258 mln) and France (234 mln), while Malta (1.0 million euros), Estonia and Cyprus (2.0 million euros) will receive the lowest money returns.
 Deputy merchant marine minister on Small Islands NetworkBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Deputy Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Panos Kamenos participated here on Tuesday in meetings held between the Greek Small Islands Network and the relevant European Commission's Department responsible for island policy issues.
Kamenos also attended an event taking place at the European Parliament by the Greek Small Islands Network, during which personalities who assisted the Newtwork's creation were given awards.
The deputy minister said that "the merchant marine, Aegean and island policy ministry is placing special importance on the possibilities of developing small islands, and for this reason we are present here today at the meetings with the Small Islands Network. Meetings were held with several agencies of the European Commission, with the delegations of countries and with Greek Commissioner Mr. (Stavros) Dimas."
The event was attended by mayors and representatives from 28 island-members of the Greek Small Islands Network.
 Deputy FM Doukas meets Syrian gov't officialsDeputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas met on Tuesday with visting Syrian Deputy Finance and Commerce Ministers Khaled Mahmoud Salloutah and Ghassan Wadea Al-Eed, with talks focusing on bilateral economic relations.
According to a ministry announcement, possibilities of cooperation and progress in trade with the support of Greek shipping companies, especially in the sectors of energy and the transport of goods, cooperation in the sectors of energy and renewable sources of energy as well as the activation of Greek companies in the oil extracting field in Syria, were discussed.
 Corporate Responsibility Institute presents CR IndexThe newly-established Corporate Responsibility Institute (CRI) in Greece on Tuesday held a special event to mark its foundation and present the Corporate Responsibility Index, which is the first index measuring a company's performance in the area of corporate social responsibility.
The CRI is a civil society, non-profit organisation that in collaboration with Business in the Community (BITC) has undertaken the exclusive representation of the CR index in Greece.
The aim is to provide Greek businesses and organisations with a recognised evaluation tool and benchmark that can give them credit for their performance in terms of corporate social responsibility that is based on international criteria.
BITC is a UK-based movement of over 800 companies whose president is the Prince of Wales that is considered one of the top non-profit organisations active in the area of CSR in the past 25 years, providing support to organisations and businesses seeking to incorporate good practices in their operations.
One of the key tools it has developed is the CR index, which is considered the national index and a leading benchmark for responsible business practices in the UK and in Europe. It focuses particularly on four areas: employees, environment, society and market.
The foundation of the CRI and the CR index in Greece was welcomed by a number of groups and organisations involved with corporate responsibility issues in the country.
 Roussopoulos on high pricesQuestioned about the persistent problem of high prices that seemed to resist the government's 41 measures against price hikes, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the measures were taken a month ago and were now being implemented.
He also stated that high prices were a reality and an existing problem, adding that the measures and stricter controls would start to yield results in the long term.
"We hope as soon as possible," he stressed.
Regarding the sharp increase in ferry fares after deregulation, he pointed out that the government reserved the right to retract the deregulation if it found that the freedom was being abused and to refer the company in question to the competition committee.
 Eurobank begins activities in Cyprus, RussiaEurobank EFG Group on Tuesday announced it has won an official license to set up and begin operations of a subsidiary bank in Cyprus under the name Eurobank EFG Cyprus Ltd. The new company will become the base of promoting Eurobank Group's business plan in Cyprus.
The Greek bank also announced it was opening a representation office in Moscow.
 Number of Australian tourists to Greece expected to riseMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)
The number of Australian tourists visiting Greece this year is expected to rise by 7 to 10 percent, according to the director of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) office in Sydney.
Greece is gradually becoming a popular destination for Australian tourists and, based on all indications, the upward trend will continue, according to the GNTO head, speaking on the occasion of the Travel Expo tourist exhibition held in Melbourne.
Fewer than 100,000 Australian tourists visit Greece annually, and the increased interest currently recorded is attributed to the country's promotion abroad through the successfully held 2004 Olympic Games and the tourism promotion campaigns launched in various parts of the world.
 Credit expansion slowed in December, reportMortgage loans growth slowed while consumer loans remained flat in December 2007, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. In its report, the central bank noted, however, that Greek enterprises raised their borrowing through securitization and Greek banks wrote off consumer and mortgage loans worth 730 million euros in the last month of 2007.
The Bank of Greece said households' debt rose by 18.3 billion euros last year, while corporate loans rose by 17.7 billion euros. Securitization of debt totaled 12.7 billion euros in December, sharply up from a 8.5 billion euros figure in December 2006.
Credit expansion to the private sector of the economy was 20.9 pct in December, from 21.6 pct in November 2007 and 21.1 pct in October. Total debt by Greek enterprises and households was 215.405 billion euros, or 93 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product, of which 104.116 billion euros were households debt and the remaining 111.289 billion euros were corporate debt.
The central bank said households' mortgage debt growth slowed to 21.4 pct in December, from 22.6 pct in November and 23.4 pct in October 2007 to 31.942 billion euros, while credit card debt was 7.676 billion euros and other consumer loans' debt was 19.867 billion euros.
Greek entetrprises' debt grew by 18.9 pct in December 2007, compared with the same month in 2006, with outstanding corporate loans value at 18.928 billion euros, up 34.7 pct.
 Public transport strikes on ThursdayCommuters will face another difficult day this coming Thursday due to strike action and work stoppages planned by staff in public transport networks to support two colleagues fired by TRAM SA.
The Athens trams will be on strike between 8:00 in the morning until noon, the city's buses between the start of the shift until 7:00 in the morning and from 10:00 until the end of their shift, while the Athens Metro and the electric railway ILPAP will not operate between 11:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon.
Trolley buses will be working normally, while no decision had been made by staff at the Proastiako suburban railway regarding possible strike action by Tuesday afternoon.
 Credit conditions improved in MarchBouncing cheques declined significantly, both in volume and in value, in March 2008, compared with the same month last year, official figures showed on Tuesday.
The value of bouncing cheques totaled 77 million euros in March, a figure down 22.38 percent from the corresponding month in 2007, with unpaid bills totaled 6,910 in March, worth 9.1 million euros, down 48.78 pct over the same period.
 Greek stocks end flat on TuesdayGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, recovering earlier losses after a positive opening in Wall Street. The composite index rose 0.09 pct to end at 3,941.45 points, after falling below the 3,900 level during the session. Turnover was a low 267.38 million euros, of which 24.59 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Travel (2.42 pct), Media (2.14 pct) and Insurance (1.91 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (3.81 pct), Healthcare (1.67 pct) and Telecommunications (0.98 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.32 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 0.07 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.56 pct higher. ANEK (21.33 pct), Viosol (13.33 pct) and Boutaris (12.50 pct) were top gainers, while Varagis (9.94 pct), Epsilon Net (9.09 pct) and Progressive (9.09 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 141 to 98 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.01%
Personal & Household: +0.61%
Raw Materials: +0.63%
Travel & Leisure: +2.42%
Food & Beverages: +0.81%
Financial Services: +0.39%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 20.04
Public Power Corp (PPC): 26.82
HBC Coca Cola: 29.92
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.80
National Bank of Greece: 32.20
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.20
Bank of Cyprus: 7.58
Hellenic Post Bank: 12.16
Piraeus Bank: 18.96
Titan Cement Company: 27.38
Marfin Popular Bank: 4.90
Marfin Investment Group (MIG): 4.90%
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their high discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 117.027 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.71 pct, while the April contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.60 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 8,982 contracts worth 88.848 million euros, with 28,861 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 174 contracts worth 4.087 million euros, with 311 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13.314 contracts worth 19.045 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Postbank's contracts (4,794), followed by Eurobank (547), Marfin Investment Group (952), OTE (1,562), OPAP (581), National Bank (1,258), Alpha Bank (712), Marfin Popular Bank (558) and GEK (315).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 990 million euros on Tuesday, of which 390 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 600 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 235 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.53 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.51 pct and the German Bund 3.98 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved lower. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.70 pct from 4.03 pct on Monday, the two-day rate was 4.05 pct, the one-month rate 4.39 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.80 pct from 4.77 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.595
Pound sterling 0.811
Danish kroner 7.519
Swedish kroner 9.494
Japanese yen 161.15
Swiss franc 1.594
Norwegian kroner 7.973
Canadian dollar 1.629
Australian dollar 1.725
 Transport ministry presents 'social responsibility programme'The transport and communications minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Tuesday presented his ministry's "social responsibility" programme, designed in accordance with EU standards and aimed at providing improved services to the public.
The programme is based on the triptych, development, viability and social cohesion, focusing on the improvement of the quality of life, the utilization of EU funds and the protection of human rights in the sector of transport and communications.
It includes actions directed to vulnerable social groups, children, the environment and society in general.
The ministry encourages the use of PCs by people with disabilities focusing on their better access to new technologies, programmes for the visually impaired and PC-based education for autistic children.
PC recycling, the donation of used PCs to foundations and NGOs, as well as the supply of environmentally-friendly software and the adoption energy saving practices are among the environment protection measures promoted.
 Metropolitan Ignatios survives air crash in CongoCAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)
Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Central Africa Ignatios survived an air crash which occurred in the Congo on Tuesday.
This was stated by representatives of the Alexandria Church which communicated in the evening with diplomatic services in the Congo.
According to the same sources, on the part of the Greek Embassy, the Metropolitan was among 60 to 80 passengers, most of whom were killed in the crash.
 Italian artists at 20th PhotoBiennale in ThessalonikiThe Italian Education Institute of Thessaloniki, in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Photography Museum, the Macedonian Studies Society and the Fotografia Italiana Arte Contemporanea has organised the Italian participation in the PhotoBiennale: 20th Photography Meeting that will take place at the Gallery of the Macedonian Studies Society in Thessaloniki on April 18-May 30.
The artists taking part are 10 of the best known creators of contemporary Italian art and photography, representing three generations of Italian artists. From the older generation are Mimmo Jodice, Antonio Biasucci, Mario Cresci and Guido Guidi. The next group is comprised of Silvio Wolf, Alessandra Spranzi and Marina Ballo Charmet and the younger group is represented by Martina Della Valle, Claudia Pozzoli and Marco Campanini.
 Three victims in love tragedyThree people lost their lives in a love tragedy that unfolded Monday evening in downtown Heraklio, on the southern Aegean island of Crete.
A 36-year-old Romanian national shot and killed his former fiance, also a Romanian, and the 33-year-old driver of the luxury car she was riding, while also injuring his Greek rival before committing suicide.
The assailant, who was stalking his former fiance, saw her getting in the car after leaving the house she was working in as a maid.
He opened fire on the car and its passengers, killing the driver and the young Romanian woman, while the 34-year-old Greek fled in panic in spite of his injuries.
A few minutes later the gunman turned the Russian-made hand pistol he used on himself and committed suicide.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew congratulates Hellenic SocietyEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed a congratulatory letter to the Athens-based Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage on the occasion of its 35th anniversary.
The message to the organization's board members underlines the innovative efforts made in the protection of the environment, a sector of great interest for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
 Mostly fair on WednesdayMostly fair weather with westerly, northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 7-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 21C. Mostly fair in Athens, with westerly, northwesterly 5-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 20C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C.
 Cyprus President receives British envoyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Britain believes that Cypriots must agree on a political settlement for their country, on the basis of a bizonal bicommunal federation, in a reunited Cyprus, London's special representative for Cyprus Joan Ryan said on Tuesday.
She also said that Britain is willing to accept its responsibility as a guarantor power of Cyprus' independence and territorial integrity and noted that the current atmosphere on the island is "significantly different" to what it was in October last year.
Speaking after a meeting with Ryan here, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said he expects Britain to be consistent with the principles of a settlement.
"I hope there will be consistency from all parties, our side, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Turkey," he added.
Asked about his meeting with Ryan, he said "we expect that Britain will play the positive role which we want it to play."
Replying to questions, he said that he has known Ryan, a Labour party deputy, for a long time and has met her on different occasions.
"It seems that personal relations do play a role," he said, commenting on Ryan's assertion that the current climate is very different to the one she experienced in October last year when she last visited Cyprus.
In her remarks, Ryan said she had a "very positive and constructive meeting" with the President and his Commissioner George Iacovou. "I think the atmosphere here is significantly different to the last time I was here as a special representative which was October. There is a much more positive feel," she added.
She congratulated Christofias on his election last February to the presidency and on his "very positive approach, peace talking and the work he is doing with the leader of Turkish Cypriot community to seek reunification of this island."
On the purpose of her visit, she said she is here to meet with the whole range of the interlocutors to review the situation in Cyprus and the process that it is on the way and the future progress of that process.
"I am also here to discuss what the UK can do as a guarantor power to support and encourage this process. And we are very willing to do all that we can, accepting our responsibilities as a guarantor power, to help support and encourage this process, because like the people of Cyprus we want to see a reunited Cyprus on the basis of a bizonal-bicommunal federation based on political equality," she said after Tuesday's meeting.
Britain, she continued, is committed to working with all those here in Cyprus and further afield who want to achieve that reunification for and within Cyprus.
"This is a solution that must be found and negotiated by Cypriots, for Cypriots. But we understand our responsibilities as a guarantor power and we are very willing to accept that responsibility," she concluded.
Ryan will also meet Talat during her visit here.
Her visit to Cyprus takes place as representatives of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities are getting ready to meet to discuss substantive issues and day to day concerns, in a bid to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the leaders of the two communities.
 Kyprianou discusses Cyprus problem with Commissioner RehnBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and Turkey's EU accession course, during a meeting in Brussels on Monday.
In a written statement after the meeting, Rehn says that he was ''encouraged by the strong commitment shown by the new Cypriot government to begin serious negotiations under UN auspices on solving the Cyprus issue.''
He said they had a very friendly and constructive meeting and welcomed ''the recent positive developments, such as the meeting between the two leaders of the two communities on the island and their agreement to take full responsibility for the future conduct of the negotiations.''
''The Commission will firmly stand behind a renewed UN process and will fully support both communities on the island to reach a solution,'' he added.
Kyprianou said they discussed in detail Rehn's recent visit to Turkey and the meetings he had with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who assured the Commissioner that they would support the process agreed on during a meeting between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on March 21.
On Turkey's EU accession course, Kyprianou said the Republic of Cyprus supports Turkey's membership, noting however that the opening of every chapter would be decided on its own merits.
The Commission has proposed the opening of chapters 6 and 7 concerning company law and copyright. Kyprianou said there were no particular problems in opening these two chapters.
Replying to questions, Kyprianou said they didn't discuss the appeal of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Court against the Commission on implementing the regulation regarding assistance to the Turkish Cypriots.
He said the Commission was aware of the Cypriot positions, ''we do not have any objection to the implementation of this regulation, we want to move forward, but our concerns are well known and we have no reason to insist on court procedures if our concerns are overcome.''
Kyprianou agreed with Rehn that any loose ends between the Commission and the Republic of Cyprus would be examined by their associates and, if necessary, by themselves. ''The aim is not to have any problems in the future. We want smooth cooperation in this and we will work with open channels of communication,'' he added.
They also discussed Serbia's EU course and Rehn briefed Kyprianou on the meetings he had with Serbian officials.
On Tuesday, Kyprianou was due to meet with President of the European Parliament Hans Gert Poettering, President of the Socialist Group Martin Schulz and the leadership of the Group of the Greens-European Free Alliance.
He was also to meet with Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner to discuss the potential participation in community programmes of Cypriots living in the British Bases area.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Government questions Talat's reaction to President's statementsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said that ''we cannot comprehend the reaction of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to the longstanding positions of President of the Republic Demetris Christofias in an interview with daily newspaper 'Simerini' regarding the basis and the framework of a Cyprus settlement.''
''What did the President say? He stated that he remains consistent to a bizonal, bicommunal federation solution, which both communities have accepted with the high level agreements of 1977 and 1979,'' Stephanou added.
He noted that in the same way the president ''supports the UN resolutions on Cyprus and the principles of international and European law.''
Stephanou pointed out that ''on this basis and within this context, the President is aiming at a solution that will reunite the state, the people, the institutions and the economy, a solution that will guarantee the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people, a solution that will demilitarise the Republic of Cyprus and will be to the benefit of the Cypriots,'' and wondered what President Christofias should have said to satisfy Talat.
''We underline that showing political will for a settlement, which the President of the Republic has proven he has, does not mean abandoning principles which are in any case contained in UN Security Council resolutions,'' he added.
Stephanou said that ''if Mr. Talat is truly concerned about statements that poison the atmosphere, maybe he should look at his own statements again and examine whether they help the good climate.''
 UN to announce start of work at committee levelNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN are expected to announce on Wednesday the date on which joint Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working groups and technical committees will begin to work, to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations.
Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou made the announcement after a meeting with UN Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar and Ozdil Nami, adviser to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat.
He said organisational matters, administrative concerns and other related issues were on the agenda of Tuesday's meeting, adding that everybody hopes that the work of the technical committees and the working groups will begin this week.
"We are talking about 13 technical committees and working groups, comprising 150 persons in total from both communities and the UN, who will be meeting regularly. We have to sort out certain organisational issues," he told the press.
Asked about problems that have to be dealt with, he said people working for hours have to have access to drinking water, coffee and other facilities such as printers, computers, secretarial staff.
Iacovou ruled out the possibility that the two community leaders will be present at the launch of the work of the working groups and technical committees, which were set up following an agreement last month between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
The Presidential Commissioner said that the first meeting will probably be a joint meeting of all the members of the committees and the groups.
The working groups are likely to meet in the mornings and the technical committees in the afternoon.
Iacovou and Nami agreed Monday on the agenda of 13 working groups and technical committees, during a meeting in the presence of Elizabeth Spehar.
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