|Sunday, 11 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 17 April 2008 Issue No: 2871
 Greek govt completes information campaign over 4th CSF programThe Greek government on Wednesday said it had completed an information campaign over the Fourth Community Support Framework program for the period 2007-2013.
In an even held in Athens, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the information campaign, which covered the whole Greek region, aimed at offering detailed information to local agencies and enterprises over the targets and actions of the program, and for new prospects offered particularly for regional Greece.
The Greek minister said local agencies, enterprises and citizens had the opportunity to express their views over a more efficient use of available EU funds. Alogoskoufis said 82 pct of the program, worth 39.4 billion euros, was earmarked for regional Greece. "The country is changing gear," Alogoskoufis said, noting that emphasis would be given to improving business activity, education, adopting new technologies, innovation, protecting the environment and completion of a wider network of infrastructure projects.
"With the completion of the program, the country would have made a giant step towards the future," Alogoskoufis said.
Yiannis Papathanasiou, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister, addressing the event, said the government's goal was not to offer money but to ensure that the country would be able to produce more national wealth and value for all citizens.
 PM meets with parliament president, Constitutional revision discussion to open after EasterThe Constitutional revision will be the first item to be introduced for discussion in parliament immediately after the Easter holiday, by decision of the government and the majority of parliament, the house president Dimitris Sioufas announced on Wednesday, speaking to reporters after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
Sioufas met with Karamanlis at noon to discuss the parliamentary work, and also briefed the premier on the 7th parliamentary assembly of the SEECP (Southeastern Europe Cooperation Process) member countries held early in the week in Sofia.
He said topics of parliamentary cooperation among the SEECP members' parliaments were discussed at the assembly, adding that the parliaments could contribute to strengthening bilateral and multi-lateral relations and to rendering SE Europe a region of peace, stability and cooperation.
Earlier, Karamanlis met with former prime minister and ruling New Democracy (ND) party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis.
Mitsotakis said afterwards that they had an exchange of views, and also wishes ahead of Orthodox Easter, noting that he would be leaving to spend the holiday on his home island of Crete.
Turning to the FYROM name issue, Mitsotakis opined that this was not the most appropriate time to move ahead, stressing that Greece was not the one in haste, and adding that both the US and FYROM must "make their decisions", as "Athens is in no hurry".
Mitsotakis said the outcome of the recent NATO summit in Bucharest had been a "success" for the Greek side, adding that Greece was ready at any moment for a solution to be found with a composite name for the neighboring country.
 Greece reiterates active interest in UN-mediated FYROM 'name issue' talksA Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday again fielded a bevy of press questions regarding the outstanding FYROM 'name issue', as the focus has again shifted back to eminently diplomatic efforts by a United Nations mediator to achieve a compromise between Athens and Skopje ahead of pending EU and NATO summits this year.
"Greece, both before and after Bucharest (the NATO summit), emphasised that it remains actively involved in the UN negotiating process. First off, it's very positive that this negotiating process is continuing with the upcoming visits to Athens and Skopje by the UN General Secretary's special envoy, Matthew Nimetz," spokesman George Koumoutsakos said, adding:
"At the same time, it is obvious that the fact the neighbouring country (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) is now in a pre-election period is also being taken into serious consideration."
Moreover, asked by reporters over various press reports regarding "name proposals", Koumoutsakos merely reiterated the Greek foreign ministry's standing position of engaging in speculation on the sensitive topic, stressing that Greece has already and repeatedly outlined the fundamental aspects that any proposal must meet in order to be considered a basis for negotiation.
Asked whether Athens considers the FYROM representative in UN talks, Amb. Nikola Dimitrov, as a credible negotiator, given his recent eye-brow-raising statements, Koumoutsakos said that, at this stage, discussions will take place within the framework of the UN mediator's mandate, meaning separate contacts in Skopje and Athens.
 President Papoulias visits Ukraine's MarioupolisMarioupolis, UKRAINE (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday visited Marioupolis where the Greeks of the Ukrainian city received him with traditional Sea of Azov songs and dances at their cultural centre.
"It is a very moving day with great messages for Hellenism," Papoulias, who is on the second day of his visit to Ukraine, told the expatriates at the headquarters of the Federation of Greek Associations of Ukraine.
Welcoming the president, who was surrounded by boys and girls with Greek costumes, as well as by the elderly of Azov, the President of the Greeks of Ukraine, Alexandra Protsenko stated that the expatriates "are not searching to migrate, but with the assistance of Greece, to continue to live there where they were born."
Papoulias called on the Greek universities to work more intensively "in order for there to be full registration not only of the language, but also all the other cultural elements of Hellenism of the Sea of Azov and of Crimea," and also on Greek companies and particularly banks to examine more specific steps, which could contribute to the development of the region.
Later, Papoulias inaugurated the mansion "Meotida", which will operate as a Cultural Centre of the Greek community of Marioupolis and constitutes a donation by the company "Michaniki", the founder of which is Prodromos Emfietzoglou, who was also present at the ceremony.
 PM Karamanlis gives interview to Austrian newspaperVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking in an interview published in Wednesday's edition of the Austrian mass-circulation newspaper "Kourrier", stressed Greece's desire for the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to be roslved in relevant negotiations and in a fair way and for this reason it accepted a complex name with a geographical qualifier that will apply to all.
Karamanlis pointed out at the same time that it is up to FYROM to show a compromising mood and to meet Greece halfway.
The prime minister further said that whatever irredentist designs, passions and hatred of the past will be abandoned with the complex name with a geographical qualifier that will be valid for all.
In relation to the issue of Cyprus, Karamanlis mentioned that the ultimate goal is the reunification of the island. Greece supports the resumption of intercommunal talks. The resolutions of the UN Security Council are the framework for the creation of a bizonal federal state with two ethnic entities.
The prime minister underlined the willingness of Athens for the full normalisation of relations with Turkey and added that the climate has already been improved over the past years, while in connection with Ankara's accession course he mentioned that it has proceeded with enthusiasm in the effort for its adjustment to European "standards", but this effort has lost its initial momentum.
Lastly, Karamanlis stressed that there are criteria that have to be fulfilled for Turkey to become a member of the European Union, something that is no easy undertaking.
The Greek prime minister's interview is accompanied by a reference to his political origin, and to his uncle Constantine Karamanlis, as well as by a curriculum vitae.
 Dep. FM on Lisbon Treaty ratificationDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Wednesday spoke before a special committee in Parliament convened to discuss ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, where he noted that "by participating in a Europe that moves ahead we are sending, at the same time, a message to our neighbours that the only road to the European Union comes via the practical adoption of European political culture's values and principles."
Valinakis told the committee's MP members that his was the message conveyed by the Greek delegation at the recent Bucharest summit, "and this is the message that we will repeat, if necessary, to ensure that the principle of good-neighborliness is respect".
 UN's Pascoe upbeat on Cyprus issue processNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe appeared sanguine about the prospects of progress surrounding the Cyprus issue while briefing of the UN Security Council on Tuesday evening regarding his recent contacts in Nicosia, Athens and Ankara.
In statements made after the closed UN Security Council meeting he stressed that the appointment of a special adviser on the Cyprus issue by UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon will depend on the conclusions reached by the technical committees and work teams during the next three months.
He also acknowledged that there are many difficult issues that have to be resolved, while expressing hope that the process will move on.
Commenting on whether the process will be affected by the political instability in Turkey, he expressed certainty that Ankara is very committed to settling the Cyprus issue.
Asked whether 2008 might be the year of the Cyprus issue, he commented that the entire world would have been happy to see negotiations move ahead.
Pascoe referred to the positive developments following the March 21 meeting and agreement between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, such as the reopening of the Ledra Street Crossing in Nicosia, the establishment of committees and the prospects for full negotiations aimed at settling the problem based on the existing agreements, the UN plans and resolutions.
 National Council of Foreign Policy to convene ThursdayThe National Council of Foreign Policy will convene on Thursday morning at the foreign ministry and will be chaired by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, a ministry announcement said on Wednesday.
The Council will examine developments in the Balkans, including the FYROM name issue, and the Cyprus problem.
 PASOK tables question in Parliament on 'structured bonds'Main opposition PASOK party on Wednesday tabled a Parliament question for the government regarding the investigation and political aspects of the "structured bonds" case, which erupted on the national scene roughly a year ago following charges that several state-controlled pension fund managements engaged in questionable investments, i.e. purchases of structured bonds.
In the tabled question, PASOK calls for the establishment of a fact-finding committee in Parliament, while charging that high-ranking government officials, "either directly or indirectly", participated in the affair, which it also called an "unprecedented scandal" aimed at siphoning off pension funds' assets.
PASOK leader George Papandreou's name was first on the list of MPs to sign the tabled question.
In a later response during a brief briefing, the alternate government spokesman reiterated the government's standing position on the establishment of such committees of inquiry in Parliament, namely, that it does not favor Parliamentary probes concurrent with independent judicial investigation of the same cases.
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros also dismissed charges of a "cover-up" and "scandal", saying merely that such allegations aim only to create impressions.
 Fire brigade unprepared for summer fires, Papariga claimsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday tabled a question to the prime minister in Parliament referring to "huge problems" faced by the Greek fire brigade as the summer fire season approached.
"We are very near the summer season and the danger of new major fires are obvious, for further destruction of forests, building infrastructre and perhaps again, human victims. In all these crucial issues of forest protection nothing has changed," Papariga stressed.
According to KKE's leader, the fire brigade suffered from shortages in staff and equipment and the government was refusing to give it adequate funds.
"From the budget and the special body for forests there is a provision for only 29 million euros, which if you deduct the debts from the previous year and the funds for other actions, leaves less than 10 million euros for funding the Forestry Service," she underlined.
 Synaspismos leader tours Ilia prefectureCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras toured the prefecture of Ilia, in the western Peloponnese, on Wednesday that had been ravaged by wildfires last summer, criticising the government for "only dealing with the problems and the sufferers on the days of the elections," as he said.
Tsipras added that problems in Ilia remain and that this great disaster cannot be handled with "aspirin," while the measures taken do not tackle this great disaster.
Speaking to technical college (TEI) students later, Tsipras said problems higher education remain acute, despite the fact that the students' struggles last year achieved a "great victory".
 Molyviatis briefs Parliament president on aid given to fire victimsFormer foreign minister and current president of the "Special Fund for Emergencies" Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday sent a letter to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, informing him how the fund had allocated the five million euros donated by Parliament to aid the victims of last summer's mega-fires.
Molyviatis said the state had already given 400 million euros to support and aid fire victims in the form of emergency financial relief and compensation to farmers.
He said that total donations to the fund came to 168.3 million euros on April 4 this year and that the remaining sum in the fund's account at the Bank of Greece was 149.3 million euros.
Molyviatis said the fund had so far spent 4 million euros on animal feed, 2.8 million euros on anti-erosion works at Ancient Olympia, 10 million euros to fund the repair and rebuilding of burnt homes via the environment ministry, and 2 million euros for anti-flooding works in Gortyna municipality.
He said that environment ministry inspections on homes and buildings found that 380 homes had been completely destroyed and 792 were repairable, 613 other buildings were destroyed and 790 were repairable.
Until now, the ministry had received 446 applications for rebuilding and repair of homes, of which 205 had been approved and 1.9 million euros given to the owners that qualified for aid, he added.
 MPs seek briefing on water management in ParliamentParliamentary deputies from all parties have asked Environment Minister George Souflias to brief Parliament on the major issue of water management and adequacy of supply in Greece, in an cross-party invitation sent by Parliament's Standing Committee for the Regions on Wednesday.
All parties in the Greek Parliament agreed that Greece was in a high-danger zone and seriously threatened by water shortages and drought. They also urged immediate measures to deal with the problem and careful use of water resources "before it was too late" for both the environment, quality of life and the Greek economy.
Ruling New Democracy (ND) deputy Iordanis Tzamtzis, in charge of agricultural development issues for the party in Parliament, stressed that studies and expert forecasts are extremely worrying regarding the repercussions of climate change on Greece.
"Today it is necessary to construct new small and large works to collect surface water resources, dams, tanks, reservoirs, diverting torrents, so that we have the required quantities of water and can boost the underground water table," Tzamtzis said.
He particularly stressed problems in the Attic basin, which in addition to not having adequate water supplies also lost up to 100,000 cubic metres of water a year through undetected problems in the water supply network, or up to 12-15 percent of the water supplied by the Athens water and sewage board EYDAP.
The points raised by Tzamtzis were largely echoed by speakers for the other parties, while other ND MPs stressed the need for immediate intervention by the appropriate ministers.
 Zorbas to testify before Parliament CommitteeThe head of Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee Apostolos Stavrou on Wednesday agreed to a request by opposition MPs to call the head of Greece's committee against money-laundering George Zorbas before it to testify.
The request was made by MPs from main opposition PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left.
 Education minister visits Athens Archbishop IeronymosEducation and Religion Minister Evripidis Stylianidis held two-hour talks on Wednesday evening with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, at the latter's residence in the town of Inofyta.
The Archbishop is recovering from a leg accident.
Speaking after the talks, Stylianidis said that they examined service issues and pending matters, while mentioning that the Archbishop conveyed general directions on the reforming of ecclesiastical education.
Stylianidis also said that the Archbishop "is in good health and that he will be with us soon."
 Greek FinMin, Bank of Greece governor discuss economic developmentsGreek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Bank of Greece's governor Nikos Garganas met on Wednesday and discussed the course of the Greek economy and international economic developments.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Garganas said "our views coincided on global economic developments" and noted that imported inflation was the biggest problem faced by the Greek economy.
 Public works minister submits National Town PlanEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias submitted the National Town Plan in Parliament on Wednesday.
The minister said that "following a systematic and laborious effort, as well as substantive consulting at many levels, the time has come at last for the country to acquire integrated town planning."
Souflias stressed that "the submission of the National Town Plan in Parliament constitutes part of an overall national programme on Town Planning, that also includes a number of Special Town Plans, that are essential for the environment and the country's development. Special Town Plans have already been prepared for renewable energy sources, tourism, industry and the coastal and mountain region."
The minister added that "the completion of national town planning constitutes one of the most important structural changes that have taken place in the country in the past decades. It is a great reform that will contribute decisively to the integrated and sustainable development of Greece."
Souflias explained that National Town Planning and the special plans are the most important "umbrella" for the protection of the environment and, from now on, one will be aware of what he can do and where and all the activities will obey rules that will be known in advance.
He further said that the goal of National Town Planning, having a 15-year span, is integrated space development and the sustainable organising of national space, that promotes balanced social and economic cohesion, the protection of the natural and cultural environment and competitiveness.
 EU agriculture commissioner arriving in Athens on ThursdayEuropean Union Agriculture and Agricultural Development Commissioner Marianne Fischer-Boel will arrive in Athens on Thursday, at the invitation of Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos.
The purpose of her visit is, among other things, to address the conference on the theme of "Different agriculture and young farmers in the framework of the 4th Programming Period," which is being organised by the agriculture ministry on Thursday at the press centre of the General Information and Communication Secretariat.
On Friday, Fischer-Boel will be holding talks with relevant government agencies of the agriculture ministry on issues concerning her duties.
Her programme will come to an end with a visit to the Acropolis.
 Compensation for farmers in wildfire-stricken regionsThe amount of 350 million euros will be provided as compensation for farmers in the wildfire-stricken regions of seven prefectures, through PSEA and following relevant approval by the European Union.
This was stated by Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos, who added that 45,000 entitled producers have already received compensation (in the form of advance payments) amounting to 36 million euros. A total of 8,780 million euros have been provided for animal feeding, of which 3,080 million euros in the prefecture of Ilia in the Peloponnese.
 Greek inflation eased to 4.4 pct in March, EurostatGreek annual inflation fell to 4.4 pct in March, from 4.5 pct in February, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 3.6 pct in March, from 3.3 pct in February and 1.9 pct in March 2007, while in the EU-27, the inflation rate rose to 3.8 pct from 3.5 pct in February and 2.3 pct in March 2007.
Holland (1.9 pct), UK (2.5 pct) and Portugal (3.1 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in March, while Latvia (16.6 pct), Bulgaria (13.2 pct) and Lithuania (11.4 pct) the highest rates. The inflationr ate rose in 18 member states, it remained unchanged in three and fell in six member states.
Commenting on the figures, Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, expressed the Commission's concern over inflation trends in the Eurozone and the EU, and noted that the inflation rate was moving at the highest levels in 10 years. She attributed the rising inflation to higher energy prices, food prices, tobacco prices and alcohol prices in March.
 PASOK spokesman on OTE, high pricesMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou referred on Wednesday to developments concerning the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), saying that "unfortunately, (government spokesman Theodoros) Mr. Roussopoulos is resorting again to the distortion of reality, since he referred again to OTE and the so-called backtracking of PASOK, which says one thing in government and something else in the opposition. It would be enough for one to tell him that OTE's economic results during the governance of PASOK speak for themselves."
Papaconstantinou further said that "what we are seeing is that the government's plan is to cede the public's right in these crucial infrastructures to private individuals and very often to foreign competitors as well."
PASOK's spokesman also commented on the issue of high prices, saying that "a simple ascertainment lies at the base of tomorrow's (Thursday) off-the-agenda discussion in Parliament: The Greek citizens are currently worse off than they were four years ago and this is due to the specific policies and economic options of this government."
Papaconstantinou added that the issue "is acquiring a more acute character in light of Easter", while noting that "the 4.4 inflation rate is the highest since November 1998. In other words, the policies of this government are turning the country 10 years back."
 Forthnet denies press reports over new acquisitionsForthnet on Wednesday categorically denied press reports that it was holding negotiations to acquire On Telecoms, a Greek telecommunications services provider. In a statement to the Athens Stock Exchange, Forthnet said the press reports did not reflect the reality. Forthnet on Monday announced it was acquiring digital platform NOVA for 490 million euros.
 Local gov't initiative for integrated tourism productA one-day conference focusing on a new marketing strategy for the promotion of Greek tourism was held by the tourism development ministry on Wednesday, aimed at briefing local administration officials on the importance of an integrated tourist promotion campaign.
The main idea behind the initiative is to emphasise Greece's advantages as a tourist destination, such as combining natural beauty and antiquities, for instance.
 Proastiakos trains not to join Thursday's strikeWorkers at the Proastiakos suburban railway have decided not to join Thursday's strike by other public transport organisations in Athens and will the service will run normally on that day, their union announced.
Taking part in the strike action, held in support of two Tram employees that were fired, are the Athens trams (between 8:00 in the morning until noon), the city's buses (from the start of the shift until 7:00 in the morning and from 10:00 until the end of their shift), the Athens Metro and the electric railway ILPAP (between 11:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon).
In an additional announcement on Wednesday, the Metro stressed that trains will start to be withdrawn from service about an hour before 11:00 due to the four-hour work stoppage and will not be fully back to normal until after 3:30 in the afternoon.
 EFG Securities begins operations in BulgariaEFG Securities Bulgaria, a member of Eurobank EFG Group, will focus its activities in the capital markets of Bulgaria, Antonis Hasiotis, the company's chief executive said on Wednesday.
Speaking reporters in Sofia, Hasiotis, who is also board member in Postbank, Eurobank's subsidiary in Bulgaria, said the company will offer new services of high quality to its Bulgarian customers, while the decision to set up EFG Securities Bulgaria confirmed -once more- the Group's long-term strategy and its will to contribute actively to the development of the Bulgarian market.
Postbank ranked first in 2007, among Bulgarian banks on the number of users of the COBOS system, while ranked second in the management of bond issues, with seven bond issues worth 35 million euros.
 PAME rallies in Athens, ThessalonikiStrikers with the Communist Party-affiliated PAME labour grouping held a protest in Athens on Wednesday outside the offices of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) as well as outside Parliament to demand higher pay hikes in a recently agreed to collective work contract.
Meanwhile, PAME activists held a symbolic half-hour sit-in at the Thessaloniki offices of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE).
 Attica Bank expects Q1 profits to doubleAttica Bank expects first quarter profits to almost double in comparison with the corresponding period in 2007, the bank's chairman, Tryfon Kollintzas, told a general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday, while he forecast that annual profits would total 35.6 million euros for the group and 34 million euros for the bank.
Kollintzas said Attica Bank will proceed with a securitization of mortgage loans and loans to small-and medium-sized enterprises, with the aim of raising its supervised capital above 500 million euros. He said the bank would continue expansion of its branch network to 81 units by the end of the year, up from 73 currently, and at least 90 by the end of 2009, covering all the regions in Greece.
Kollintzas also said Attica Bank would set up two new subsidiaries, AtticaBank Properties and Attica Pension Fund Managers. Commenting on an international credit crisis, he said the crisis raised local banks' operating costs.
 Emporiki Bank issues 300-mln-euro bond loanEmporiki Group Finance Plc, a subsidiary of Emporiki Bank Group, on Wednesday announced the issuance of a bond loan worth 300 million euros. The bond loan, carrying a coupon of Euribor plus 0.69 pct, is fully guaranteed by Emporiki Bank, with maturity date of April 15, 2010. The issue was offered to foreign institutional investors.
 Greek stocks end flat on Wed.Greek stocks ended flat at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, unable to benefit from a sharp rebound in other European markets. The composite index rose 0.06 pct to end at 3,943.87 points, with turnover a low 278.97 million euros, of which 35.9 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Commerce (2.63 pct), Chemicals (2.39 pct) and Insurance (2.22 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (1.44 pct), Travel (0.60 pct) and Telecommunications (0.55 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.03 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 1.41 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.84 pct higher. Hatzioannou (13.0 pct) and Lannet (10.0 pct) were top gainers, while Diekat (15.15 pct), Tzirakian (8.05 pct) and Petropoulos (7.56 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 167 to 69 with another 56 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.14%
Personal & Household: +1.68%
Raw Materials: +1.02%
Travel & Leisure: +0.60%
Food & Beverages: +0.31%
Financial Services: +0.56%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 20.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 26.32
HBC Coca Cola: 30.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.84
National Bank of Greece: 32.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.22
Bank of Cyprus: 7.66
Hellenic Post Bank: 12.66
Piraeus Bank: 19.18
Titan Cement Company: 27.44
Marfin Popular Bank: 4.88
Marfin Investment Group (MIG): 4.90%
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a slightly reduced discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover falling to 101.605 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.30 pct and the April contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.48 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 6,751 contracts worth 67.320 million euros, with 29,436 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 505 contracts worth 12.010 million euros with 318 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,324 contracts worth 9.698 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Postbank's contracts (1,956), followed by Marfin Investment Group (545), OTE (390), PPC (403), OPAP (400), National Bank (588) and Marfin Popular Bank (443).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 790 million euros on Wednesday, of which 331 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 459 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 305 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.53 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.53 pct and the German Bund 3.99 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate jumped to 4.05 pct from 3.70 pct on Tuesday, the two-day rate rose to 4.07 pct from 4.05 pct, the one-month rate was 4.39 pct and the 12-month rate 4.81 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.605
Pound sterling 0.812
Danish kroner 7.52
Swedish kroner 9.479
Japanese yen 162.7
Swiss franc 1.602
Norwegian kroner 7.961
Canadian dollar 1.620
Australian dollar 1.720
 Radiothon against child trafficking on ThursdayForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the head of the local branch of UNICEF Lambros Kanellopoulos and the president of the state broadcaster ERT Christos Panagopoulos on Wednesday presented a publicity campaign designed to raise public awareness and mobilise citizens to combat the problem of global trafficking in children. This will be launched on Thursday through a radiothon organised by ERT.
"It is a crime that does not recognise borders and this is why cooperation between states in essential," Bakoyannis stressed while addressing the event held at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens.
She said that the publicity campaign had been prepared jointly by the foreign ministry and UNICEF, in the framework of closer cooperation between the ministry and international organisations.
According to the minister, the main causes of the problem were a failure to eradicate poverty, the lack of developmental policies, armed conflict and civil wars, as well as violence and inequality between men and women.
She said that 1.8 million children throughout the world, mainly girls, were the victims of sexual exploitation and 1.2 million children were victims of illegal trafficking and trade each year.
"We want to be in a position to give them a second chance at life, we want the help of all of you to mobilise and sensitize the citizens, so there is a constant state of alertness and reminder in order to avoid new victims," Bakoyannis stressed.
Kanellopoulos pointed to legislative gaps and inadequacies in state policies throughout the world in this area, while praising Greece's "special position" through the cooperation agreement signed with the Albanian foreign ministry, saying it was a model of cooperation between countries since it also covered the welfare aspects of the issue, introducing measures and institutions.
Panagopoulos thanked all the private radio and TV stations and various celebrities that will contribute to Thursday's radiothon.
"Through this campaign we believe that the message will spread and elicit the response that is needed," he said.
The campaign will consist of three messages for TV and four messages for radio, features on seven true stories of children that fell victims to trafficking read out by well-known TV news anchormen and women, advertising posters at 120 busy locations like squares and roads from 15-20 April, printed fliers sent to 20,000 people throughout Greece and Thursday's radiothon.
The radio stations participating in the radiothon broadcast a common programme, starting with the news stations between 9:00-10:00, from 12:00-13:00 and from 18:00-19:00. Entertainment and sports stations will take over between 10:00-11:00 and 17:00-18:00 and the private stations and regional ERT stations will either broadcast part of the programme or make continual references to it within their own programmes.
 Centre for European Constitutional Law hosts two-day conferenceDecentralization through a long-awaited draft law and e-governance will combat the problems plaguing public administration, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed, addressing a two-day conference in Athens hosted by the Centre for European Constitutional Law (CECL).
The conference, which wound up on Tuesday evening, focused on dysfunctions and shortcomings in public administration.
Referring to the role of civil servants, Pavlopoulos stated that their attitude is what makes a State citizen-friendly, stressing that otherwise all structures are ineffective. "Apathy on the part of the citizens has its roots in politicians who are not regarded as being reliable," he pointed out.
Main opposition PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, assessing the conference conclusions, pointed out that the social State is being disputed, stressing that its protection is absolutely necessary. He also referred to the political party malignancies and the absence of debate on the problems and prospects of the political party system.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Achilleas Kantartzis stressed that the State is necessary for its interventions in significant production sectors such as energy, communications and transport.
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Fotis Kouvelis stated that the local government does not have the means to meet its obligations, stressing that centralization does not allow for actual regional decentralization.
 Orthodox bishop surviving Congo aircrash talks to ANA-MPAAn elderly and high-ranking cleric of the Orthodox Church, the Metropolitan of Central Africa Ignatius, was among the survivors of the plane that crashed when taking off from Goma airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"I had hardly finished my prayers when I heard a loud crash and I realised that the aircraft had fallen," said the 78-year-old metropolitan, whose rank is roughly equivalent to that of a Catholic bishop, as he recounted his harrowing experiences during the crash on April 15 to the ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
"Then I saw that a door in front of me had opened due to the impact and I crawled outside with another three people. I hardly had time to feel happy that I was saved though, because when I turned to look back the aircraft had burst into flames".
The DC-9 aircraft, carrying 79 passengers and six crew members on board, was forced to abort take-off due to poor weather conditions and ploughed into a market and residential area in the town of Goma. Dozens of people were killed and about 80 injured but it is unclear whether most of these were passengers or people on the ground.
The lucky cleric, who ministers to a vast area on the African continent and was returning to his base in Kinshasha after touring Rwanda and Burundi, was in a seat just behind the cockpit, one of the few sections of the aircraft that was relatively unscathed in the crash. As he told the ANA-MPA, however, he had been expecting something like that to happen for some time:
"To tell the truth, I expected that I would become the victim of a plane crash at some point because I have to use airplanes all the time to cover the area under my care, which is roughly 20 times as big as Greece in size," he said, explaining that he had carried out over 300 plane trips in the five years since he first took over the Central Africa bishopric.
"I have reconciled myself with the idea of an accident. Not that I am particularly brave, because each time I get into a plane I feel like someone doomed to die," he added.
He nevertheless declared himself determined to continue flying and was actually preparing for to fly back to Kinshasha by plane just hours after the crash.
"My students at the Theological School are waiting for me and I cannot refuse my mission," he said simply.
Ignatius was chosen to be Metropolitan of Central Africa on March 14, 2003 by the late Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Petros VI - himself the victim of a helicopter crash in Greece just a few months later - and his bishopric covers the African states of Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of the Congo.
 Public awareness event on the problem of refugeesAn event aimed at raising public and State awareness on the refugee problem was launched in Lavrio, wider Athens region, by the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in cooperation with the local municipality and the Greek Red Cross.
Addressing the event "Ghosts are around usare we afraid to look them in the eye? They are called refugees", Deputy Health Minister George Constantopoulos stated that, unfortunately, many treat refugees like ghosts, pointing out that they are real people and are a challenge to individual social responsibility.
The event also attended UN High Commission for Refugees goodwill ambassador Greek singer George Dalaras.
 SAE honorary president Andrew Athens visits GreeceHonorary president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens referred to the support of the Greek-American community to Greece and the Hellenicare Programme he established in 1997, speaking to ANA-MPA.
Andrew Athens also referred to his activities as the honorary president of the International Orthodox Christian Charities, IOCC, and the United Hellenic American Congress, UHAC.
He is currently in Greece to have contacts with government officials and visit the fire-ravaged regions in Peloponese, southern Greece. An IOCC humanitarian aid of 2,700 tons of animal feed and 60 tons of seeds has already been distributed to farmers in the prefectures of Ilia, Arcadia and Laconia.
Athens comes originally from the village of Kakovato, Ilia Prefecture, and has recently visited the regions of Pyrgos, Krestena and Zacharo destroyed by last summer's wildfires.
 EU Commissioner for Multilingualism begins two-day visit to Athens on ThursdayEU Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban, begins a two-day visit to Athens on Thursday.
On Thursday morning he will meet with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas, while earlier, he will address the members of the parliamentary groups of the special European affairs standing committee and of the standing cultural affairs committee.
Orban will also have meetings with ambassadors of European Union member-states. In the afternoon, he will meet with Education and Religious Affairs Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, while earlier, he will meet with former commissioner and main opposition PASOK deputy Anna Diamantopoulou.
On Friday morning, Orban will meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis at the foreign ministry. At noon he will visit the new Acropolis museum.
 Presentation of book on Armenian genocideTurkish intellectual and professor Taner Akcam uses many first stage sources in his book titled "A disgraceful act - the genocide of the Armenians and the issue of Turkish responsibility", which is published in Greece by Papazissis Publications and it was presented in the Old Parliament hall on Wednesday evening.
The book was commented on by Akcam himself, former minister and PASOK party deputy Evangelos Venizelos, Pantios University professor Marios Evryviadis and Armenian National Committee of Greece president Kaspar Garabetyan, while the discussion was coordinated by journalist Serapheim Fyntanidis.
Speaking in English, the writer said that peoples "are accustomed to remembering their sacrifices and not the acts of violence that they have done. Peoples, however, must remember both sacrifices and atrocities, so as to learn from history and not to repeat such acts." The policy of Turkey, he added, was to remove Christian populations in any way and all who were not Turks from the territory it possessed.
He added that there were many reasons why Turkey denies the genocide, saying that he will mention one: "Peoples need heroes and they have heroes. All those who participated in the genocide were considered and are considered heroes and it is difficult to reject their heroes. What Turkey needs today is its democratisation, that will pave many ways, even on the issue of the genocide."
 Book on 'The Greek Press of Istanbul' presentedMinister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and journalist Andreas Rompopoulos, on Wednesday presented the book of collector and researcher Stratis Tarinas "The Greek Press of Istanbul", at the General Communications Secretariat.
The book, which was published on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the publication of the newspaper "Icho" of Istanbul by its publisher Andreas Rompopoulos, is a result of 20 years of research by the author and includes 147 newspaper headlines.
 Balkan Routes CD to be released in Balkan marketThe "Balkan Routes Vol. 01: Nikola Tesla" CD is a collection of 15 songs with a contemporary Balkan sound, which is supported by the embassies of the participating countries and is going to be released in the Balkan market as well as the rest of the world.
The 1st CD of the series is dedicated to the Serb Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) who was a "Prometheus of electricity". He is credited with more than 700 inventions, some of which laid the foundations of the modern world as we know it.
Most of the songs are released for the first time in Greece while the songs: 1) "Nikola Tesla" of the Serb composer-singer Zeljko Joksimovic and 2) "Astro mou" (My star) of the Greek group ANEMOS are 1st time releases from Greece for the rest of the world.
 Police announce arrest of notorious fugitivePolice have announced the arrest on Tuesday night of a 43-year-old fugitive from the law, notorious for his association with convicted felon Mihalis Makrygiannis, who is currently serving time for a series of robberies and homicide.
The man was stopped and searched by police in Peristeri and placed under arrest when he was found to be carrying two pistols and three clips containing 36 bullets.
Police said there were nine outstanding warrants for his arrest on charges of armed robbery targeting banks, post office branches and supermarkets, as well as seven car thefts carried out with other members of his gang and one charge of attempted homicide during a gunfight with police in October 2007.
The arrested man was also found holding a fake driver's licence and a can of anaesthetising spray.
The suspect was led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday and police are investigating whether he may be involved in additional criminal actions.
 Arson attack on car dealershipSix cars were destroyed by arsonists who targeted a car dealership and a repair shop in the coastal Paleo Faliro district of Athens overnight on Wednesday. No one has claimed responsibility as yet.
 Government: Our expectation to solve Cyprus problemNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cyprus Government said on Wednesday that the Greek Cypriot side will participate in the procedure of Technical Committees and Working Groups, starting Friday, with all good will so as to achieve the results which will lead to the next phase of the new efforts to reach a settlement of the long standing political problem of the island.
Cyprus Technical Committees and Working Groups, agreed by the leaders of the two communities at their meeting in March, will begin work on Friday, the UN announced here on Wednesday.
"Our expectation as noted in the 21st March Agreement, is that the Technical Committees and Working Groups will produce results, prepare the ground so as to give the opportunity to the leaders of the two communities, after they evaluate the possible results to begin negotiations end of June, beginning of July", Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou told the press.
Responding to questions, Stephanou said that the possibility of a new meeting between the leaders, exists, noting that in their Agreement Christofias and Talat note that they can meet when they think is necessary.
The Cypriot spokesman said that the UN USG Lynn Pascoe in his briefing to the Security Council noted that in order to have full fledged negotiations, "we must have results in the procedure starting on Friday".
Otherwise, he noted, if this preparatory stage does not conclude in results, if there is no bridging of gaps, at least at some points, then the process can not move forward, "because even if we enter negotiations the most possible is that we will fail".
"We want this time the effort to succeed and conclude in a solution of the Cyprus problem, one which will end the division, bring the termination of illegal settlement by Turkish settlers and reunite Cyprus on the basis of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation, which is the form of solution agreed by the two communities since 1977 High Level agreement between Makarios and Denktash, reconfirmed two years later by Spyros Kyprianou and Denktash and also the 8th July Agreement of 2006".
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed in March this year to ask their respective advisers, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, to meet in order to set up a number of working groups and technical committees and establish their agendas in the most expeditious way possible.
Iacovou announced Monday he agreed with Ozdil Nami on the agenda of 13 working groups and technical committees.
The joint Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working groups and technical committees will begin to work, to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations with a view to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Best chance for a Cyprus solution now, says British envoyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Britain assumes its responsibility as a guarantor power and will do whatever it takes to encourage and support a new Cyprus process, British Special representative for Cyprus Joan Ryan said Wednesday, after a meeting with T/c leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the Turkish-occupied area of Nicosia.
In statements to the press, Ryan described the meeting as very positive and constructive, adding that "Talat is committed to finding a just and lasting solution of the Cyprus problem".
"I am encouraged by the meetings with both leaders. Now is the best opportunity for Cyprus problem to be solved and for the island to be reunified," she said.
Ryan also met with Republican Turkish Party (CTP) President Ferdi Sabit Soyer and the leader of Freedom and Reform Party (ODP) Turgay Avci.
Britain, a former colonial power in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey are the three guarantor powers of Cyprus' independence and territorial integrity, according to the 1960 treaties that established the Republic of Cyprus.
 Russian Deputy FM to visit CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov arrives in Cyprus Thursday for a series of contacts as part of Moscow's efforts to assist new attempts towards a Cyprus settlement that would reunite the country.
Titov begins his meetings on the island the same day with a meeting with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou at 16:00. Titov and Kyprianou will make statements to the press at 17:15.
Later on he will cross to the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus where he will have dinner with Ozdil Nami, aide of the Turkish Cypriot leader.
On Friday morning, Titov will meet with the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar and at 10:00 he will have a meeting with Admiral Mario Cesar Sanchez Debernardi, UNFICYP Force Commander, followed by a guided tour in the buffer zone.
At 10:30 Titov will be received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias.
He will also cross to the occupied areas to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Titov will attend a lunch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosted by the Cypriot FM Permanent Secretary Ambassador Alexandros Zenon.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and his entourage will live Cyprus at 14:00 Saturday.
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