|Friday, 16 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-06-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 4 June 2008 Issue No: 2910
 Karamanlis requests discussion on global economic situation at upcoming EU SummitGreek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday addressed a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso requesting the inclusion of the current international economic situation in the agenda of an upcoming Summit on June 19-20.
Moreover, the Greek premier recommends a more effective pan-European policy to deal with the repercussions of rising prices on European citizens, particularly.
"The international economy is facing a series of major and extended crises related to the price of oil, basic goods and foodstuffs. According to IMF estimates, real international prices for foodstuffs have increased by 47.3 percent during the past two years. The increase in prices for minerals and oil has reached 39.7 percent and 46.8 percent, respectively. These external repercussions are common for all our economies and threaten the stability of prices, growth and progress in the sectors of employment and social cohesion," Karamanlis' letter states.
The Greek prime minister also emphasized that spiraling prices disproportionately harm lower-income levels of society, while European leaders must focus on what measures they will take to relieve the negative consequences from the current crisis.
Karamanlis called for further improvement in the level of competition and efficiency in the European Union's markets, along with targeted social benefits to sensitive segments of the population and improved global coordination with the Union's trade partners to combat the root causes behind the rise in international inflation pressures.
"Our citizens rightly expect from us to arrive at an effective answer during this difficult juncture. I hope that the next European Council will provide the opportunity for us to agree on the general principles that comprise such an answer."
 Inner cabinet discusses higher education, postgrad coursesHigher education and a bill for post-graduate courses were the main topics discussed on Tuesday by the inner cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
In statements after the meeting, Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said the meeting had focused on the second phase of higher education reforms and noted that the completion of election process at most higher educational institutes throughout the country marked the conclusion of the first phase of the government's reforms.
"The main characteristic [of the bill] is that it boosts the extroversion of Greece's state institutes of higher education and, after assessment, allows the creation of postgraduate departments in both universities and Technical Educational Institutes (TEI), encouraging their cooperation with foreign universities and giving them the capability of launching post-graduate studies abroad as well," the minister said regarding the postgraduate studies bill.
According to Stylianidis, such as move would discourage foreign universities from collaborating with free studies centres while at the same time boosting their cooperation with approved Greek state universities.
The minister said that this would usher Greece into a new "era of quality" in which the government would invest in and improve post-graduate studies courses throughout the country and provide more opportunities to the younger generation.
Asked whether the bill also allowed the participation of the private sector in such post-grad studies programmes, Stylianidis clarified that the bill would allow three forms of funding: European funds, state funds and fees.
It was up to individual institutes whether they chose to use all three forms of funding or not, he added.
At the same time, he clarified that sponsorship would be accepted and that they would help boost cooperation between educational institutes and the job market.
Commenting on the reactions to the new election process for the administration of universities, which allows the entire student body to vote, Stylianidis reported that this was now complete in the majority of universities and TEI and that "democracy has been imposed in practice".
Specifically, he said that 13.5 of the 14 TEI in the country now had elected administrations, while the process had been completed successfully in two out of three universities in spite of the various acts of disruption and vandalism.
"I believe that the framework law [for education] is now being implemented in practice and this will continue in the period to come," he added.
 FM refers to 'democratic deficit' in recent FYROM electionGreece's position vis-ā-vis the violence-marred election on Sunday in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was again reiterated on Tuesday, this time by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who spoke on the sidelines of a Women Leaders Working Group conference in an Athens seaside resort.
"... Greece is observing, with great concern, the democratic deficit recorded during the election in FYROM. We will await the election process to conclude, before carefully examining all of the reports by election observer. We sincerely regret the way this election was conducted. We will await final results and then state our position," Bakoyannis emphasised.
 FYROM authorities block Greek KFOR convoyCustom authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) prevented a Greek KFOR military contingent from entering the country on Tuesday on its way to Kosovo, the Greek Army General Staff announced the same day.
The announcement stated that a Greek military convoy of 50 vehicles and 140 soldiers, a replacement force for another Greek peacekeeping unit stationed in Kosovo, was prevented from entering FYROM's territory on the grounds that the Greek officers and NCOs did not possess passports.
KFOR command as well as the Greek foreign minister were briefed on the problem before the convoy was ordered to return to its base in Polykastro, Kilkis prefecture.
The Greek Army General Staff added that the transit of Greek military personnel and equipment through landlocked FYROM continued normally up until Monday, while FYROM authorities had never raised an issue of civilian passports.
 Foreign ministry spokesman, PASOK on Greek Kosovo Force eventForeign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, replying to a question by the press on the blocking Tuesday of a Greek KFOR military contingent by Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) authorities, said that "today's prohibition by FYROM's authorities of the passing of a detachment of the Greek Kosovo Force from the borders of FYROM with Kosovo as its destination, where it is contributing to the fulfillment of the Alliance's mission that is important for regional security and stability, took place in violation of the agreed procedure that has been followed for eight years."
The Greek contingent was prevented from entering FYROM's territory on the grounds that the Greek officers and NCOs did not possess passports.
The spokesman added that "pretexts and groundless excuses were used. Following instructions by the foreign minister, the head of the Greek Diplomatic Mission in Skopje will be taking necessary action at the foreign ministry of the neighbouring country, while Greece's Permanent Delegation at NATO will be briefing the Alliance on this counterproductive stance by FYROM's authorities."
Referring to the same issue, main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that, first of all, he was not aware of the specific event but stressed that relations between Greece and FYROM are going through a difficult period.
He also mentioned that the event is moving in the wake of Greece's veto in Bucharest and it is at the end of the election period, that the neighboring country is experiencing, since pending issues still exist in electoral constituencies.
Papaconstantinou also expressed the wish that it will be an isolated event that will have no continuation.
 PASOK on high cost of living, PPC, portsMain opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday referred to the high cost of living in Greece, noting that poverty in the country is a phenomenon which is intensifying, citing as examples social groups, which, he said, seek a second job, either economize on food or find it difficult to pay off credit cards and loans.
Papaconstatinou said that "there is no policy to tackle these phenomena."
He added that even the Fund against poverty "is not operating".
He called on the government to give a briefing on the exact situation of the country and whether there was a case of Greece again entering EU supervision.
On the Public Power Corporation (PPC), Papaconstantinou said that the corporation lacks orientation and a sustained course.
He stressed that the PPC many times has called for an increase in the price of electricity, "as it is used to dump all the cost on the consumer".
Papaconstantinou described the "selling off to private interests of local ports and airports as a world prototype."
 KKE leader on PASOK-SYRIZA cooperation scenariosCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, commenting on Tuesday on scenarios concerning cooperation between the main opposition PASOK party and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), said that "from the time that a programme convergence exists between the two parties, it is natural for a discussion to be taking place."
Papariga added that what the people need today is a "radical alliance that will schedule a different path of development for Greek society and for working people and not an alliance that will secure that the other leg of two-party rule will become firmer."
Referring to the issue of high prices, she said that "after increasing prices sky high, after making incalculable profits, they are now deceiving the people by removing few cents."
Lastly, Papariga noted that "the problem of high prices begins from production, which is monopolised and from trade which is also dominated by the monopolies."
 PM to meet SAE board on WednesdayPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet the board of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Wednesday at 12:30, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
At 18:30 on the same day, the premier is scheduled to attend an event organised by the national defence ministry and the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos" at the War Museum, he added.
 Papoulias briefed by DMPresident Karolos Papoulias was briefed on Tuesday by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis at the presidential mansion.
Meimarakis briefed Papoulias on NATO matters and other ministry's issues during the nearly hour-long meeting. Answering press questions afterwards, Meimarakis expressed optimism over the possibility of finding a mutually accepted solution to the FYROM "name issue" in the coming period.
 Women Leaders' conference ends in LagonissiWomen participating in a conference for female entrepreneurs in North Africa and the Middle East, held in Athens in the framework of the Women Leaders' Working Group, ended a two-day meeting on Tuesday with a decision to set up a fund to promote local and regional entrepreneurship in North Africa and the Middle East.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who took the initiative to organise the conference, said that a committee will be set up to draw up an organisational structure for the Fund, adding that this would "guarantee the participation of women-representatives from the Middle East and North Africa".
She said the Fund's agenda would be to organise funding efforts and initiatives in the region that were currently running concurrently and often counter-productively, with the main focus on initiatives to provide vocational education and training to women in the area.
Other decisions adopted by the meeting were establishing a prize for female entrepreneurship to be awarded every two years to important business initiatives by women in the Middle East and North Africa, whose cost will be undertaken by Greece, and positions offering on-the-job training for women outside the region, starting with two such positions in Greece.
Bakoyannis also stressed the increasingly important role of local and regional business activity by women in overcoming problems faced by societies that had suffered conflict and violence.
The Athens conference was attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, who co-hosted the third meeting of the Women Leaders Working Group. She expressed satisfaction with the way the initiative was unfolding, saying that "we are all learning, trying to develop a form of encouragement for those whose voice cannot be heard."
"What is being attempted is the stabilisation of societies, which is essentially part of the peace-making process," she added.
The international conference entitled "Next Generation Initiative: Local Business for Global Rights - Middle East Regional Forum of Local And Regional Women Entrepreneurs" was held on June 2-3 2008 at the seaside resort of Lagonissi, under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.
 Transport minister meets Cyprus counterpartTransport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Tuesday received visiting Cyprus Communications and Works Minister Nicos Nicolaides, who is on a visit to Athens. They discussed cooperation between Greece and Cyprus in transport and communications issues, particularly civil aviation.
Hatzidakis said that they talked about extending cooperation in managing airspace that already existed between Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus to also include Egypt, Tunisia and Albania, within the framework of the European Union's Single European Sky policy.
A second issue covered during the meeting was cooperation in satellite communications, through Cyprus' cooperation with the Greek telecommunications satellite HELLAS SAT.
Nicolaidis also invited Hatzidakis to visit Cyprus in order to attend the inauguration of a new passenger station at Paphos.
 Council of Europe calls for protection for Greeks on Imbros, TenedosBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The Council of Europe is calling on Turkey, according to an announcement issued on Tuesday, to take measures to protect the Greek minority on the islands of Imbros and Tenedos.
The Council of Europe's Justice and Human Rights Committee issued a resolution on Tuesday which calls on Turkey to adopt a "positive stance" towards the Greeks of Imbros and Tenedos.
The committee hails certain "positive gestures" that have taken place, but appeals for "a fairer settlement of educational and ownership issues for the two islands' inhabitants of Greek origin." It also calls for the remedying of damage caused to the natural and cultural heritage of Imbros and Tenedos.
The Council of Europe's resolution will be brought before the Plenum for a vote on June 27.
 Deputy DM Plakiotakis attends NATO exercise in CreteDeputy Defence Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis attended the conclusion of the NATO exercise codenamed "Gordian Bond 2008", at the Firing Range at Hania, on the island of Crete, at noon on Tuesday.
Plakiotakis, accompanied by National Defense General Staff chief Dimitris Grapsas and other senior armed forces officers, watched the final phase of the exercise, while many officials from NATO member-states were also present.
A total of 1,628 people, officers and servicemen from 19 countries participated in the exercise. The evaluation group was composed of 23 senior officials from NATO member-states.
Plakiotakis congratulated all who participated in the exercise and stressed that "its implementation reflects the excellent level of training of the participating forces from NATO member-states."
 Doukas says Greece seeking mutually beneficial business cooperation in RussiaMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas indicated that "a strong and extroversive Greece" is seeking mutually beneficial business partnerships in Russia and not only for the two markets but for third countries as well, in the meeting he had here on Tuesday with Yevgeny Primakov, President of the Russian Federation's Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the presence of businessmen's institutional representatives and Greek deputies.
The Greek delegation listened to Primakov, who leads the country's 171 regional chambers and has served as prime minister, say that Russia's relations with Greece are "special" and are characterised by "mutual trust." He noted that Greek investments in Russia are very small in relation to the Turkish ones and that more would be welcome.
He further stressed that "we must speed up" the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline because other competitive pipelines are being planned and pointed out that the Greek-Russian business forum that took place on Monday signals "very good prospects" in a "favorable political situation."
Doukas mentioned that Greece belongs to the European Union's hard core, it has the biggest merchant fleet in the world and has a consolidated presence and networks in a market of 250 million in southeastern Europe and is ready to share the know-how that it obtained with the holding of the Olympic Games with Russian businessmen for joint ventures in Greece and Russia or for third markets.
He underlined the possibilities presenting themselves in the countries of the Black Sea, the eastern Mediterranean and North and Central Africa, noting that the Chinese have already made strategic moves on the Black Continent.
The deputy foreign minister called for easier access for fresh Greek products to the Russian market and also for the restriction of checks by the Russian customs authorities, reassuring that strict controls are in effect inside the country for pesticide residues that concern "plant health" documents.
In the framework of strengthening economic and trade relations, increasing the number of airline flights is also being considered, as this has been requested by the Greek Olympic Airlines, Aegean and Hellas Jet companies.
A turn from products to services with emphasis on tourism, investments in real estate, banks, construction and energy, as well as the parallel promotion of the already consolidated sectors of furs, farm products and food was the focus of the business contacts taking place on Monday, on the sidelines of the Greek-Russian business forum.
A total of 650 meetings were held between Greek and Russian businessmen on the promotion of products, while for services - tourism, real estate, construction, consultant companies and banks - five working groups were created in which 60 Greek businesses met with representatives of 200 Russian ones.
Greece is a very attractive destination for Russian tourists, the number of whom approached 400,000 people in 2007. The Greek consulates, responding to the appeal for the speedy issuing of visas, have curbed time to 48 hours, one of the speediest in the EU, and the foreign ministry is examining the possibility of benefits for Russians desiring to make purchases in Greece.
Greek positions on foreign policy were presented by Doukas to Alternate Foreign Minister Denisov and Deputy Foreign Minister Titov. The Russian side expressed the wish for a mutually acceptable solution to be found to the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and reiterated the position that it will adopt the new mutually acceptable name.
The deputy minister visited, together with the eight deputies accompanying the delegation, the two Houses of the Russian Parliament, underlining the possibilities of Parliamentary diplomacy as well.
 4.305 billion bid for Piraeus container terminal, cabinet toldBidding companies have offered up to 4.305 billion euros for a concession to take over management of the Piraeus Port container terminal. This was announced on Tuesday by Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis, after briefing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the inner cabinet on the results of the tender.
Voulgarakis said that the bids had been opened and that the price offered was seven times greater than the current value of the Piraeus Port Authority on the stock exchange, while in terms of annual yield it was 17 times greater than the PPA's annual profits.
The minister added that the process for selecting a "interim concession holder" will be completed over the next days, and the tender for the Thessaloniki container terminal will begin next month.
He also stressed that the results of the tender had vindicated the government's policy and that an important step toward making Greece a strategic hub for southeastern Europe had been taken.
Questioned on soaring ferry fares for the Greek islands, the minister said that the ministry's appeal to ship owners and a public debate had yielded results since important ferry lines had announced that they would not go ahead with planned fare increases but freeze prices instead.
According to an announcement issued later on Tuesday by the PPA, the two sealed bids submitted for a 35-year concession of Piers II & III of the Piraeus port container terminal were opened on Tuesday in the presence of representatives of the two candidate-companies.
The total sums offered, including down-payments and rents were: 4.305 billion euros by Cosco Pacific Ltd, with 79 percent of the sum guaranteed in addition to investments of 620 million euros; 4.063 billion euros by the consortium Hutchinson Port Holdings Ltd, Hutchinson Ports Investments S.A.R.L., Alapis Group and Lyd S.A., of which 75 percent was guaranteed in addition to investments of 354 million euros.
The announcement said that the Tender Commission would now convene to examine the bids more closely and would submit its conclusions to the PPA's board, which would then make a decision on proclaiming an "interim concession holder". The process would be completed within the original time frame for the tender and in accordance to statements made by Voulgarakis, within the current month, the PPA announcement added.
 Greek enterprises report increased sales, profits in 2007, surveyGreek enterprises recorded an 8.45-percent increase in sales and a 12.1-percent rise in pre-tax profits last year, a survey by Stat Bank said on Tuesday.
The survey, based on financial reports by 2,500 listed and non-listed enterprises with an annual turnover of more than 1.0 million euros, showed that 2007 sales totalled 81.4 billion euros from 75.14 billion in 2006, while pre-tax profits totalled 4.35 billion euros from 3.88 billion over the same period, respectively. Average net profit margin was 5.34 percent.
Both the commerce and manufacturing sectors enjoyed a more rapid growth rate in profits than in sales. Commerce enterprises' turnover totalled 41.9 billion euros, up 10.24 pct form 2006, while net pre-tax profits rose 17.21 pct to 1.77 billion euros. Manufacturing enterprises' revenues totalled 39.5 billion euros, up 6.6 pct, while pre-tax profits rose by 8.85 pct to 2.57 billion euros.
A sample of 215 hotel enterprises with a turnover of more than 1.0 million euros, recorded a 9.08 pct increase in 2007 turnover to 887 million euros, and a 64.63 pct jump in pre-tax profits to 51.3 million euros.
The oil product sectors topped the survey with a turnover of 8.85 billion euros (up 4.46 pct) with pre-tax profits of 113.1 million euros, followed by supermarkets with a turnover of 6.7 billion euros in 2007 and pre-tax profits of 151.8 million euros.
The car sector recorded a turnover of 5.0 billion euros last year, up 16.84 pct from 2006, with profits of 161 million euros. The pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector recorded a 12 pct increase in turnover to 3.87 billion euros and a 15.26 pct rise in profits to 169.5 million euros.
 ECOFIN agrees on measures to combat high inflationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
A Eurogroup and an ECOFIN council meeting, on Monday and Tuesday, highlighted high uncertainties over the global and European economies, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after an ECOFIN meeting in Luxembourg, the Greek minister stressed that the European economy was feeling the impact of global developments, such as a credit crisis and higher prices in raw materials, food and oil, developments with great impact on the EU inflation.
Alogoskoufis said Europe had three options in dealing with higher inflationary pressures: first, intensifying efforts to boost competition in the food market, consumer goods and oil, second, government actions to support low income households within limitation of fiscal goals. Particularly, for Greece, Alogoskoufis said the set up of a fund to combat poverty preceded the current crisis and will help social policy in the country. He stressed that the fund was scheduled to begin operating in the second half of 2008 but current developments called for more rapid start. Third, Europe should use all its weight in international for and in consultations with its international trade partners to promote interventions aimed to boost production and for a more efficient management of raw material markets.
The ECOFIN meeting decided to end procedures against the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia over their excessive fiscal deficits in the past.
The European Investment Bank approved the appointment of Plutarhos Sakellaris as vice-president of the Bank, from August 1st with a four-year term.
 Black Sea Bank offers 12-mln-US dollar loan to AzerbaijanThe Black Sea Bank for Commerce and Development on Tuesday announced it has approved a 12-million-US dollar loan to Kapital Bank of Azerbaijan.
The six-year loan is aimed to offer subsidies to mortgage loans to Azeri citizens and improving the country's living standards.
Kapital Bank is the largest bank in the country, based on its branch network, and enjoys credit rating by Fitch and Moody's.
The Black Sea Bank is based in Thessaloniki. It was founded by Greece, Russia, Turkey, Albania, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Romania.
 Investment Bank tops list of securities firms in MayInvestment Bank maintained its top position among securities firms in the Greek stock markets, measured by the volume of turnover, both in May and in the January-May period, with market shares of 37.80 pct and 24.52 pct, respectively.
Investment Bank was followed in May by National-P&K (11.14 pct), Piraeus Securities (10.33 pct), Eurobank (9.94 pct), Proton Bank (4.70 pct), Alpha Finance (4.58 pct), Euroxx (3.98 pct) and Kappa Securities (3.78 pct), while Eurobank (15.88 pct), National-P&K (14.90 pct), Piraeus (7.93 pct), Alpha Finance (6.15 pct), Euroxx (5.36 pct) and Kappa Securities (4.68 pct) followed in the five-month period.
 Greek economy grew by 3.6 pct in Q1The Greek economy grew by 3.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, compared with the corresponding period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said investments fell by 0.8 percent in the January-March period, compared with the same period in 2007, a development that slowed the growth of final demand by 1.4 percentage points.
Greek exports grew 4.1 pct in the first three months of the year, while imports fell by 7.8 percent over the same period. Final demand grew by 2.3 pct in the first quarter.
 New Stomana Industry steel processing plant inaugurated in PernikSOFIA (B.Borisov)
The new modern steel processing plant belonging to the Stomana Industry company, a subsidiary of the Sidenor group, was inaugurated in Pernik, Bulgaria, by the country's President Georgi Parvanov on Tuesday.
Parvanov said that the specific plant will provide employment for over 2,000 of Pernik's inhabitants and will contribute to the region's economic growth, as well as to that of the entire country.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Greek Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathansiou, who told the ANA-MPA that "the transformation of a very problematic plant into one of the most modern steel works in Europe is a very impressive and an extremely positive fact."
Papathanasiou further said that the achievements of Sidenor in Bulgaria are an example for Greek companies, that are achieving increasingly better results in the markets of Europe.
On his part, Stomana Industry board president Athanasios Athanasopoulos told the ANA-MPA that the new plant in Pernik will lead to the doubling of the company's production.
 Entersoft debuts on Alternative MarketÅntersoft, a Greece-based software company, on Tuesday made its debut on the Alternative Market of the Athens Stock Exchange, after completing successfully a private placement of 366,000 shares at a price of 2.52 euros per share on May 15-16.
The company' s capitalisation totals 11.23 million euros.
Bank of Cyprus acted as consultant to the listing.
Addressing a special event on the occasion of Entersoft's listing in the Alternative Market, Spyros Kapralos, president of the Athens Stock Exchange, said it was landmark day for the company.
Pantelis Nikolopoulos, Entersoft's chairman, said the Alternative Market was a significant institution for the development of dynamic new enterprises in the country.
 Greek stocks end 0.58 pct upGreek stocks moved cautiously higher on Tuesday. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange rose 0.58 pct to end at 4,177.18 points with turnover a low 258.7 million euros.
Most sectors moved higher with the Telecommunications (2.99 pct), Industrial Products (2.60 pct) and Technology (2.54 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Food/Beverage (1.60 pct), Financial Services (1.10 pct) and Healthcare (0.01 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.58 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.73 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index jumped 1.97 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 179 to 75 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.24%
Personal & Household: +0.12%
Raw Materials: +1.71%
Travel & Leisure: +0.01%
Food & Beverages: -1.60%
Financial Services: -1.10%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE , Bank of Cyprus and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.68
Public Power Corp (PPC): 24.60
HBC Coca Cola: 28.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.30
National Bank of Greece: 35.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 18.80
Piraeus Bank: 21.60
Bank of Cyprus: 8.92
Marfin Popular Bank: 5.66
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices saw their discount shrink significantly in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 99.050 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.20 pct and the June contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.61 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 7,201 contracts, worth 79.306 million euros, with 32,668 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 87 contracts worth 2.158 million euros with 213 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,906 contracts worth 10.541 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (2,255), followed by Eurobank (470), OTE (1,327), National Bank (548), Alpha Bank (644), Intracom (417), Hellenic Postbank (388) and ATEbank (247).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.433 billion euros, of which 910 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 523 million euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 640 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds rose to 0.58 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.98 pct and the German Bund 4.40 pct.
In the interbank market, interest rates rose further. The 12-month Euribor rate rose to 5.09 pct from 5.06 pct, the six-month rate was 4.92 pct, the three-month rate 4.86 pct and the one-month rate 4.46 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.571
Pound sterling 0.797
Danish kroner 7.518
Swedish kroner 9.415
Japanese yen 164.3
Swiss franc 1.623
Norwegian kroner 8.025
Canadian dollar 1.574
Australian dollar 1.640
 Isle mayor ignores High Court prosecutor's warning, issues same-sex marriage licenseThe first-ever same-sex marriage ceremony in Greece reportedly took place on the small Dodecanese island of Tilos on Tuesday, sparking a firestorm of controversy and a stern legal rebuke by the country's top prosecutor.
The ceremony was presided over by the island's mayor only days after Supreme Court chief prosecutor George Sanidas issued a written warning outlining the unconstitutionality of such an act and legal repercussions for public officials facilitating marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Sanidas issued a second and urgent circular towards first instance court prosecutors around the country hours after the civil ceremony on Tilos, stating that such unions between individuals of the same sex are not foreseen by the constitution or civil law, while calling for the prosecution of mayors that officiate at such ceremonies and registrars who record any such union on municipality rolls.
"The difference in gender ... comprises a basic and self-evident condition for the valid establishment of a marriage. A marriage between individuals of the same sex is unfounded," Sanidas' circular reads.
He also ordered local prosecutors to file charges against mayors that accept petitions for marriage licenses submitted by a same-sex couple and to remind registrars not to record such licenses.
The back-to-back ceremonies, reportedly one involving a gay couple and the other a lesbian couple, took place at 7 a.m. on tiny Tilos, which lies northwest of the major holiday island of Rhodes.
In defending his actions, Tilos Mayor Anastassios Aliferis cited an opinion issued by the remote municipality's legal counsel, Fotis Kostopoulos, who opined that the procedure is valid.
According to earlier reports, Rhodes prosecutor George Economou ordered an immediate and preliminary investigation on whether Aliferis overstepped his authority and should face charges. The island mayor was also summoned to Rhodes to provide a statement.
On Friday, Sanidas warned the mayors of municipalities and communities around the country that issuing a marriage license for a same-sex couple by a local government entity would not only be void and but also illegal. He had released a copy of a letter he sent to the head of the first instance prosecutor's office on Rhodes, following a batch of press reports last week claiming that Aliferis had agreed to preside over a civil marriage for a same-sex couple.
The island of Tilos comes under the judicial jurisdiction of nearby Rhodes.
In a later press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, a main opposition PASOK spokesman referred to personal rights and respect for individuals' "differentness", as well as to a co-habitation pact for same-sex couples.
Spokesman George Papakonstantinou also said that PASOK leader George Papandreou had spoken with the mayor of Tilos by phone in order to convey his solidarity against the "pre-emptive prosecution", the spokesman said, by Sanidas.
Conversely, Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) chairman and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis stressed that the "role of mayors is not to create laws but to unswervingly implement the laws of the state. The state is, therefore, obliged to clarify the situation either in terms of the institution or the interpretation; agitation benefits no one."
 More 'green' transport promotedThe government on Tuesday announced a handful of initiatives aimed to reduce vehicle emissions, with Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis speaking on the issue during a conference on "Green transport", organized ahead of the International Enviroment Day.
The main points of a draft law include extension of an "emission card" on a nationwide basis for all vehicles, including motorcycles; promoting alternative fuels in petrol stations as well as allowing all taxis to use natural gas as fuel.
 National Metsovio Polytechnic event on 'Road Safety'The National Metsovio Polytechnic held an event at the Old Parliament building on Tuesday on the theme "Road Safety".
The event was held under the auspices of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The data presented at the event showed that Greece is firmly in last position in road safety among the 15 older members of the European Union and among the last positions in the EU of the "27".
It was revealed that about 150 people are killed per one million inhabitants on the roads annually in Greece, at the time when the best countries in road safety have about 50 dead annually per one million inhabitants.
Over the past few years, the number of people killed in traffic accidents in Greece amount to more than 1,600 annually.
 Delegation of Pakistani lawyers visits Athens Bar AssociationA delegation of Pakistani lawyers on Tuesday visited the Athens Bar Association (DSA).
The delegation is currently in Greece to brief citizens and lawyers regarding the struggle of the people, judges and their colleagues in Pakistan for the restoration of democracy and constitutional order in their country.
Welcoming his Pakistani colleagues, DSA president Dimitris Paxinos noted that "the Association supports their struggle for freedom and is ready to help with any way it is asked to, even with an on the spot presence, if necessary."
According to a DSA announcement, "the head of the mission of Pakistani lawyers, Hamid Khan, member of the administration of the Union of Pakistan Lawyers and lawyer of the dismissed and imprisoned president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry, referred to the struggle of the people and lawyers of Pakistan for freedom, justice and democracy."
 Charity dinner for refugees at German Ambassador's residenceThe German Ambassador to Greece Dr. Wolfgang Schultheiss and the Greek Council for Refugees have organised a charity dinner of exclusively German foods and drinks that will take place in the garden of the German ambassador's residence in Athens (52 Ethnikis Antistasseos Street, Halandri) on Wednesday at 20:30.
The dinner is being held to mark World Refugee Day on June 20 and will raise funds to support refugees in Greece.
 Cypriot President to pay official visit to the UKNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, departs for London on Wednesday, on his first official visit to the United Kingdom, for a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
President Christofias will have a separate meeting with Foreign Secretary David Miliband and he is also scheduled to meet the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma.
The Cypriot president will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou and Government Spokesman, Stephanos Stephanou.
The Cypriot president and the British prime minister are expected to discuss, inter alia, issues concerning the bilateral relationship of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus, European Union issues and the Cyprus problem. They are scheduled to meet on Thursday, 5th June 2008 and are expected to address the media after their meeting at 10 Downing Street, at approximately 10.10 a.m. (London time).
President Christofias will be hosting a press conference at the Cyprus High Commission between 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. The president will later on meet with the Foreign Secretary. At 16:00 p.m. President Christofias will meet with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
An official statement said the visit is taking place at a time of a renewed effort to finding a lasting and functional solution to the Cyprus problem, following the election of President Christofias and his meeting with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat. The meeting on 21st March 2008 resulted in an agreement to set in motion the efforts of the bicommunal working groups and technical committees on the island, aimed at preparing the ground for fully fledged negotiations.
During his stay, President Christofias will also inaugurate the new Cypriot High Commission building on Wednesday afternoon.
 Britain has no specific proposals on CyprusBritain is not interfering with the process underway for a Cyprus settlement, nor has it any specific proposals, said here Tuesday British High Commissioner Peter Millett.
"We are not interfering in the process; we do not have any specific proposals which we are promoting," the High Commissioner said.
Millett said that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary David Miliband "are looking forward to the meeting" with President Christofias, Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou and the Cypriot team and "are looking to build on the meting they had in the past".
He also said it will be a "very good opportunity to rebuild links and to express support to the 21st March process".
 Government prepares measures for Turkish CypriotsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government intends to prepare a package of measures for the Turkish Cypriot Community, Government Spokesman, Stephanos Stephanou announced here Tuesday, clarifying that these measures are independent from a package of confidence-building measures discussed by experts from the island's two communities.
He pointed out however that confidence-building measures cannot solve the Cyprus issue.
Commenting on the work done so far by working groups and technical committees, engaged in talks to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations, Stephanou said that "as long as the work goes on, we should let it move on."
The spokesman said that the top advisors to the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, will review the work done so far in a few days.
He said that Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader, Mehmet Ali Talat will meet during the second half of June in an attempt to assess and review the work done in total, especially in the working groups which deal with issues of substance,= such as property, territory, guarantees and governance.
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