|Tuesday, 22 May 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 20 June 2013 Issue No: 4386
 Coalition gov't party leaders to resume meeting on ERT on ThursdayA three-and-a-half-hour meeting on Wednesday evening between the three party leaders of the coalition government ended without any obvious outcome, as the meeting is to resume on Thursday evening at 20:30 to examine the issue relating to shutting down state broadcaster ERT, among other crucial matters relating to the government's operation.
The meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) president Fotis Kouvelis was also attended by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.
Government Spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told reporters later that "there was a complex, lengthy debate which will be concluded tomorrow (Thursday)".
"One of the issues discussed was the manner in which the public radio and television will operate, respecting the decisions taken by the Council of State," he added, noting that other issues, tabled by Samaras during a similar meeting last Monday, were also discussed.
Kedikoglou also announced that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will travel to Vienna on Thursday morning to attend a European People's Party (EPP) summit meeting and will return to Athens at 19:15 the same day.
 PASOK and DIM.AR party leaders on meeting with PM SamarasPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, speaking after Wednesday evening's meeting between the three party leaders supporting the government, called for an agreement at their third meeting on Thursday that will secure immediate compliance with the Council of State's decision and the immediate reopening of public television in all its frequencies, and at the same time will give a new impetus to the government with an updated programme agreement and with operataional rules that will be observed.
He said that he will present in greater detail "the phase in which we are" at Thursday's meeting of PASOK's Parliamentary Group with the participation of the members of the party's Political Council as well, at 17:00, so that he can return to Thursday's party leaders' meeting "also having heard the position of the Parliamentary Group as well".
"We must face, reliably, issues of respect for democratic order, justice and legality, we must face issues that concern an institution of great importance, such as public radio and television, the restoration of its operation," the PASOK leader stressed.
He added that "of course our discussion concerns the laying of the foundations again in a fair, reliable and effective way of the government's very existence".
Venizelos pointed out that "it is of great importance that there will be an agreement which will secure immediate compliance with the Council of State's decision and the immediate reopening of public television in all its frequencies and at the same time will give a new impetus to the government with an updated programme agreement and with rules of operation that will be observed, because this is imposed by democratic order and national necessity".
On his part, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party leader Fotis Kouvelis said that "I made every effort for a solution to be found, Public Radio and Television to operate with all its frequencies and a normal programme".
Kouvelis spoke of a laborious process and his party's insistence on securing the updating of the programme agreement of the three parties supporting the government and which does not only concern public radio and television but also functioning "as a three-party government that is supported by the three parties that are seeking common political ground".
He provided explicit assurances that DIM.AR will continue to move with responsibility, since the interest of the country and the people comes first, so that the country can proceed to the exit from the crisis. "DIM.AR's responsibility will be continuous to enable us to exit from the country's deadlocks".
Kouvelis also announced that before Thursday's meeting at the Maximos Mansion, the party's Parliamentary Group and Executive Committee will be convening jointly.
 PASOK-DIM.AR leaders hold meeting; Venizelos phone call to PMThe leaders of the two junior parties in Greece's coalition government, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, on Wednesday held a meeting in Kouvelis' office in Parliament, ahead of their 6:00 p.m. meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras over Greece's public broadcaster ERT the same day.
In statements afterward, Venizelos said that they had "been a consultation" and Kouvelis referred to an "exchange of views on all the possible outcomes that exist".
According to PASOK sources, meanwhile, Venizelos contacted Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on the telephone on Tuesday night to discuss a supreme court ruling concerning ERT and the various interpretations of this presented by different sides.
According to these anonymous sources, Venizelos insisted on the position that he has supported in public statements, considering that the Council of State ruling calls for the immediate resumption of ERT broadcasts and that extending the closure of the broadcaster violates this order and shows disrespect for the rule of law. They said Venizelos asked Samaras to present proposals executing the CoS order and immediately opening public radio and television in order to remove sources of friction in the coalition government.
 PASOK leader met media union representatives to discuss ERT, sources sayPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, whose party is a junior member of Greece's coalition government, on Wednesday received representatives of a coordinating body for press and media trade unions at his party's headquarters.
Sources within PASOK said that Venizelos had expressed the party's support for public radio and television as an institution and said that no proposal had yet "come to the table". He added that PASOK expected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to put forward "serious proposals" during his meeting with his coalition partners later on Wednesday.
According to the same sources, there was agreement on the issue of the public broadcaster ERT with the other smaller coalition party Democratic Left (DIM.AR), whereas reaching an understanding with the larger New Democracy party was "difficult".
 SYRIZA leader attends GSEE, ADEDY protest rally at ERTMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the government to "immediately comply with democratic legitimacy," in a statement made at the state broadcaster ERT facilities in the northeastern Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.
Tsipras participated in a rally organised by the country's largest unions, GSEE (private sector) and ADEDY (public sector), to protest the unresolved situation at public broadcaster ERT.
The SYRIZA president also called on PASOK and DIMAR parties, junior partners in the coalition government, to understand that "there are no compromises with the brutality of layoffs and black television screens of ERT."
He stressed that ERT will reopen and operate as it used to, and that "it is the people who will have the last word."
 SYRIZA leader says overthrowing government 'necessary and imperative'Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing an international conference at Kalyvia, in the Attica prefecture, on Wednesday on "combatting the austerity policies through the reconstruction of the trade union movement", stressed that overthrowing the government is "necessary and imperative".
Tsipras, referring to latest developments with the ERT broadcaster being the focus, said that the conference was taking place "in a period in which we had a crude, overt attack on the constitution and democracy."
Analysing the government's decision on ERT further, Tsipras said that seeking the deeper causes "we must not ignore the fact that these days the tender is also proceeding on the provision of the digital signal and therefore the private channel owners in the absence of ERT, public radio and television, will also be at the same time the providers of the public digital signal".
He added "it will be they who will determine what we shall be seeing, how we shall see it, if we shall see it on the television sets. It is a terrifying turnback, they are taking us back to dark eras."
Presenting his positions on the reforms that SYRIZA supports, Tsipras said that his party is fully aware that radical changes and reforms are necessary that will make the state of law a reality.
 Public sector associations protest outside finance ministry, ParliamentPublic sector federations and associations on Wednesday staged a rally outside the finance ministry building and a protest march to Parliament, in solidarity with the recently closed ERT public broadcaster employees and in a show of protest against planned layoffs and the abolition of organizations in the public sector.
A delegation of the protesters unsuccessfully attempted to deliver a petition outlining their positions to the finance ministry and the Parliament.
The petition, signed by the coordinating body of the public sector federations and associations, calls for "the immediate abolition of the Legislative Act that led to the shutdown of ERT and the immediate and full reopening of ERT with its entire staff". The petition also calls for an end to the downgrading and privatization of public sector organizations and rejects layoffs, wage and pension cuts and extraordinary surtaxes.
 Press union presidents file suit against Finance, Press ministersThe presidents of three press unions sued Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Press Minister Simos Kedikoglou on Wednesday for not applying a Council of State decision to temporarily reinstate the operation of public broadcaster ERT.
In their suit, Dimitris Trimis (Athens Journalists' Union, ESIEA), Themis Beredimas (Magazines and Web Journalists' Union, ESPIT) and Dimitris Kamarinopoulos (Union of Greek Radio and Television Technicians, ETER) said the delay in applying the ruling was a violation of the law and left the country without public radio and television.
The Council of State decision, calling for the official reopening of ERT under a temporary administrator until a new entity was formed, was made Monday night.
 Prime Minister Samaras to attend EPP summit in ViennaVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will arrive here on Thursday to attend a European People's Party (EPP) summit.
EU and non-EU heads of state and government and opposition leaders of the EPP, along with European Council and the European Commission presidents Herman van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, have been invited to participate in the enlarged party summit. On the agenda will be the preparation of the European Council scheduled for June 27 and 28.
Austrian Vice Chancellor and OVP Chairman Michael Spindelegger will host the EPP Summit, the results of which, will be announced on Thursday afternoon in a press conference by EPP President Wilfried Martens and the summit's host.
Among the EPP leaders attending will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
 President Papoulias wraps up official visit to BelgradeBELGRADE (ANA-MPA / N. Pelpas)
The reforms implemented in Greece create the conditions required for economic growth, Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias said on Wednesday, addressing a Greece-Serbia business forum.
President Papoulias, who arrived on Monday evening for a two-day official visit, underlined that "the decisions made and the policies implemented will define the future. It is vitally important to promote the work of restoring the Greek economy, ensuring that the upward course is not interrupted by some event leading to a setback."
He also noted the dynamic presence of Greek enterprises in Serbia, saying that there is still a lot of room to further improve bilateral economic cooperation.
Addressing a formal dinner given in his honor by Serb President Tomislav Nikolic on Tuesday evening, he repeated that Greece supports Serbia's European course, adding that a specific date should be given for the opening of the country's EU membership negotiations.
He made a special reference to Greece's relations with FYROM, pointing out that Greece has adopted a constructive stance. "Greek companies have made considerable investments in that country. They have created tens of thousands of jobs and contribute greatly to the economic stability of our northern neighbour," he said.
As regards the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he said that a solution should be found in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 817, through the adoption of a name for all uses that should include a geographic qualifier, noting that he expects Serbia's tangible support in the solution of this issue.
President Papoulias also referred to the Cyprus issue, noting that "Greece supports the negotiating process for a sustainable and functional solution in compliance with the EU acquis. A solution that will respect fundamental democratic principles, human rights and the principle of the rule of law. Without deviations. Without an occupation army. Without servitude and guarantor powers. We expect Turkey to make a positive contribution, recognize the Republic of Cyprus and implement the Ankara Agreement for the customs union that it has already signed. This would be a step that will turn words into deeds and contribute to the improvement of EU-Turkey relations."
Wrapping up his official visit to Belgrade, President Papoulias will visit the Patriarchate where he will meet with Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, Serbian Patriarch Irinej.
 Public order minister appeals for EU's help with illegal migration problemsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Greece's Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias on Wednesday appealed for the European Union's solidarity in dealing with the repercussions of illegal migration in Greece. Dendias was addressing the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
Dendias presented the updated action plan for asylum issues submitted by Greece last January, stressing that the country had met its obligations. He noted that Greece had undertaken to issue decisions on all asylum applications by the end of August and that all Community funds for migration issues had been absorbed.
The public order minister underlined that, due to migration flows to Greece, there was a funding gap due to factors beyond Greece's control. He said that 'gap' in funds exceeded 70 million euros and arose from Greece fulfilling commitments on asylum issues. He also called on the European Commission to undertake its own responsibilities, noting that the cost of illegal migration to Greece came to roughly 247 million euros a year, whereas the European contribution was just 187 million euros.
Dendias stressed that Greece cannot agree with the provisions of the current Dublin II treaty, in spite of the changes made, since responsibility for illegal migrants - for purposes of repatriation, asylum etc - still primarily burdened the country of first entry.
"Greece is responsible for the handling of a major percentage of migration flows toward the EU with regard to asylum issues and this is not fair," he stressed.
The minister also asked for the inclusion in the European migration agenda of considerations for the "redistribution" of illegal migrants within member-states, and the start of a discussion to create quantitative and quantitative criteria for redistributing migrants based on member-state GDP and population. According to Dendias, the proposal was positively accepted by many MEPs.
 Foreign Minister congratulates new president of IranForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday welcomed the election of Hassan Rohani as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and expressed the hope the event would open a new chapter in international cooperation.
"We welcome the election of Hassan Rohani to the position of President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and we hope that this development will mark a new page in Iran's cooperation with the international community," Avramopoulos said.
He added, "We wish the newly elected Iranian President every success in his work, to the benefit of the peace, stability and prosperity of the Iranian people, and of cooperation between our friendly peoples."
 Municipalities central union president meets with Germany's special envoy for GreeceCentral Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) President Costas Askounis on Wednesday met with Germany's special envoy for Greece, Deputy Labour Minister Hans Joachim Fuchtel.
The meeting focused on issues concerning the promotion of cooperation between Greece and Germany in the local administration sector.
 Troika puts Greek talks on 'pause' until end JuneBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The troika review mission representing Greece's creditors - the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) - on Wednesday issued a joint statement announcing a pause in policy discussion in Greece, saying these will resume at the end of June.
"A mission from the EC, ECB, and IMF that has been reviewing the government's economic programme has made important progress. To allow completion of technical work, policy discussions will pause, but are expected to resume by the end of the month," the announcement said.
 Troika and FinMin Stournaras head to Eurogroup meeting ThursdayThe troika of lenders to Greece will be returning to Greece at the end of the month to resume their review, after a break by both sides to attend the Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings in Luxembourg starting Thursday.
Representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund along with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will start a new round of talks at the end of June, possibly on June 29, to discuss a series of unresolved issues related to Greece's fiscal adjustment programme, according to Finance Ministry sources.
The review needs to be completed successfully by July 8, when the Eurogroup meets again, in order to prevent problems in the flow of loan tranches to Greece.
 Cosco Group President Capt. Wei Jiafu to attend inauguration of Pier III facilities in Neo IkonioThe inauguration of the Piraeus Container Terminal S.A. (PCT S.A.) - a subsidiary of Cosco Pacific Limited - Pier III facilities in Neo Ikonio, will be attended by Cosco Group President Captain Wei Jiafu on Wednesday, June 26.
The Pier III facilities feature five of the most modern cranes in the world, of the super-post panamax type, significantly upgrading the port's facilities and boosting its productivity. Another two such cranes are expected to be installed soon, allowing PCT S.A. to put Pier III in full operation as of July 1, much sooner than anticipated in the contractual obligations with the Greek state namely, in 2016.
The lifting ability of the cranes is 65-85 tons and they are able to service vessels up to 360 metres in length and to handle around 4,000 container boxes in 24 hours.
A total of 535,000 container boxes were handled in the first quarter of 2013. It is estimated that the handling of container boxes will total roughly 4.7 million TEU from 2,108,087 in 2012.
The Chinese company currently employs roughly 1,000 Greek workers in its facilities in Greece.
 DEPA, Gazprom negotiate natural gas pricesNegotiations, currently underway between DEPA and Gazprom aimed at reducing natural gas prices are developing in a good climate and progressing independently of developments in a privatisation tender of DEPA, DEPA's chairman and chief executive Haris Sahinis said on Wednesday.
DEPA, supported by the Greek government, began talks with Gazprom in March on a demand to lower natural gas prices. "Negotiations are developing in a good climate and independently of a privatization tender for DEPA. We remind that in 2011 Gazprom agreed to lower its natural gas prices, while another supplier also agreed to lower its prices in 2012. DEPA will continue its development, taking in mind the interest of Greek consumers and of the national economy in general," Sahinis said.
Earlier in the day, the Union of Industrial Energy Consumers requested the beginning of negotiations for a retrospective reduction of Russian natural gas import costs, alleging that natural gas prices for industrial use grew by 80 pct in the last four year, and that prices were 40 pct (pre-tax) higher from an average European price.
 Dev't minister and head of prefectures discuss improved absorption of EU fundsGreece will meet its targets in absorption of EU structural funds for 2013, the last year of the programme that began in 2007, according to Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Attica Prefecture director Yiannis Sgouros, who met on Wednesday.
After their meeting Hatzidakis said the proposals of the Greek government for the new National Strategic Reference Framework, as the programme is known, will be submitted to Brussels at the end of August.
Sgouros, who also presides over the union of Greek prefectures, said that they discussed ways of improving the way the funds are absorbed, by establishing a single entity to oversee the funds in each prefecture, rather than spreading them among many agencies, 'to avoid the problems we had with the 2007-2013 prgramme's absorption."
 Island arrivals by plane show sharp rise, SETEAirport arrivals to Greece increased by 6.05 percent for January-March this year, compared to last year, according to data from airports presented by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on Wednesday.
SETE said these amounted to 2,441,276 arrivals for those five months, over 2,302,107 arrivals the same time last year.
An increase was also recorded at specific airports in Greece, with the highest increase on Mykonos (up by 125.5 percent, over last year). A spike in arrivals was also seen at the airports of Zakynthos (33.2 percent), Kefallonia (29.5 percent), Hania on Crete (26.3 percent), Santorini (22.7 percent), Kerkyra/Corfu (23.9 percent), Kos (20.2 percent) and Skiathos (18.3 percent), among others.
Numbers at Athens' international airport however showed a drop of 5.5 percent for January-May compared to last year; sector representatives said they were optimistic the numbers would pick up.
 Increased tourist arrivals on the island of Rhodes in the first half of JuneHigher numbers of tourist arrivals on the southeast Aegean island of Rhodes confirm tourism sector forecasts suggesting a record year for the tourism industry in 2013, it was announced on Wednesday.
Tourist arrivals in the first half of June recorded an increase of 21.7 pct compared with the same period last year.
Specifically, tourist arrivals on chartered flights reached 140,870 compared with 123,065 in 2012.
As regards the number of passenger planes carrying foreign tourists, they increased 17.33 pct - namely, 1,774 arrivals compared to 1,512 last year.
Most of the foreign tourists are from Russia, followed by the UK and Germany.
 MIG Real Estate announces share capital increase planMIG Real Estate on Wednesday announced a share capital increase plan, worth 5,202,000 euros, through the issuance of 1,734,000 new, common nominal shares of a nominal price of 3.0 euros per share.
A general shareholders' meeting said that following the share capital increase plan, the company's equity capital would total 42,222,000 euros, or 14,074,000 common, nominal shares of a nominal value of 3.0 euros each. Trading in the new shares will begin on June 21, 2013.
 Citigroup owns 5.48 pct of voting rights in Alpha BankAlpha Bank on Wednesday announced that Citigroup Global Markets Ltd owned 74,969,497 voting rights in the bank, representing an equal number of nominal, voting shares (0.69 pct of total voting rights), along with a number of warrants representing 523,606,755 voting rights (4.79 pct of voting rights in the bank).
Alpha Bank said that Citigroup owned 5.48 pct of the bank's voting rights.
 Fairfax Financial Holdings to raise its stake in Eurobank PropertiesEurobank and Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd on Wednesday announced the strengthening of their cooperation as shareholders in Eurobank Properties.
The managements of the two companies agreed on the main terms of a proposed transaction aimed at creating the conditions for more funding which will allow Eurobank Properties to expand its role as a real estate manager in Greece and the wider region.
Under the terms of the transaction, Eurobank Properties will proceed with a share capital increase plan through a rights issue at an offer price of 4.80 euros per share, aiming to raise around 200 million euros. Fairfax will buy Eurobank's rights for around 20 million euros in cash, raising its equity participation in Eurobank Properties to around 42 pct, from 19 pct currently.
Fairfax will invest around 164 million euros in Eurobank Properties, while Eurobank will have a 33.5 pct equity participation in Eurobank Properties. Under the deal, Eurobank will keep control of Eurobank Properties' management until June 30, 2020.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is based in Toronto, Canada.
 Greek per capita GDP at 75 pct of EU average in 2012, EurostatGreece' s average per capita Gross Domestic Product totaled 75 pct of the average community GDP in 2012, Eurostat said on Wednesday.
The EU executive' s statistics agency, in a report published here, said per capita GDP in the EU ranged between 47 pct and 271 pct of the European average in 2012, with Luxembourg (271 pct) recording the highest per capita GDP in the EU, while Austria, Ireland, Holland and Sweden surpassed the EU average per capita GDP by 30 pct. Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Finland all surpassed the average EU GDP by 15-25 pct, while the UK and France surpassed the average EU GDP by 10 pct each. Italy (98 pct) and Spain (97 pct) were below the EU average, followed by Cyprus (91 pct), while Malta, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece and Portugal fell short between 75 pct and
85 pct. In Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary and Latvia, per capita GDP was 60-70 pct below the EU average, while Romania (49 pct) and Bulgaria (48 pct) recorded the lowest per capita GDP rates.
 Greek stocks end flatGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday with investors remaining on the sidelines awaiting the outcome of a crucial meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the leaders of the PASOK and DIMAR political parties participating in the government.
The composite index of the market fell 0.04 pct to end at 917.62 points, off the day's lows of 908.39 points. Turnover was a thin 37.87 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.68 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 4.82 pct higher.
Frigoglass (6.92 pct), Korinth Steel (3.77 pct), Viohalco (3.71 pct) and OPAP (3.41 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (4.40 pct), Coca Cola HBC (3.65 pct), Alpha Bank (1.19 pct) and Eurobank Properties (1.05 pct) were top losers.
Eurobank began trading its new shares, following a reverse split scheme, at an offer price of 1.54 euros per share. The share price jumped 29.68 pct to end at 2.01 euros.
The Travel (3.20 pct), Personal Products (2.88 pct) and Oil (1.96 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (4.40 pct), Food (3.59 pct) and Health (1.25 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers and decliners were equally distributed while another 32 issues remained unchanged. Eurobank (29.68 pct), Evrofarma (25.51 pct), Attica Holdings (15.89 pct) were top gainers, while Nakas (29.54 pct), Audiovisual (24.30 pct) and Marak (20 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.96%
Personal & Household: +2.88%
Raw Materials: +1.89%
Travel & Leisure: +3.20%
Food & Beverages: -3.59%
Financial Services: +0.34%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.415
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.410
HBC Coca Cola: 19.020
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.950
National Bank of Greece: 3.990
Eurobank Properties : 6.590
Piraeus Bank: 1.390
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 8.5 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 8.37 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 10.05 pct and the German Bund 1.55 pct. Turnover was a thin 4.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate was 0.50 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.42 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.32 pct, the three-month rate was 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising further to 95.745 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 48,303 contracts worth 75.037 million euros, with 49,548 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,867 contracts worth 20.708 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (38,155), followed by Eurobank (3,761), MIG (15,144), OTE (4,466), PPC (1,389), OPAP (3,769), Mytilineos (1,652), Hellenic Petroleum (2,361), Sidenor (1,254), Ellaktor (3,450), Hellenic Exchanges (610), Intralot (780), Titan (206), Metka (218), Frigoglass (314), Terna Energy (224), Titan (206) and Eurobank Properties (221).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.360
Pound sterling 0.868
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.703
Japanese yen 129.35
Swiss franc 1.251
Norwegian kroner 7.791
Canadian dollar 1.387
Australian dollar 1.431
 Chania named a '12 Star City' by Council of EuropeThe City of Chania, on the island of Crete, was awarded the Council of Europe (CoE) "12 Star City" distinction for the second consecutive year in recognition of its successful participation in last year's European Local Democracy Week, Europe-wide event coordinated by the Council's congress of local and regional authorities.
The municipality of Chania hosted a number of public events for the Local Democracy event of October 2012 that focused on "Human rights make for more inclusive communities". The distinction was also awarded to other 16 European cities, of the 130 participating in the event.
During the Week's programme, the people of Chania had the opportunity to be briefed on, participate in and attend events promoting human rights.
In awarding the city, the CoE took particular not of the city's implementation of new projects and actions that tangibly contribute to the promotion of social rights and gender equality while preventing social exclusion.
 Athens University offers guided tours of museums in AthensUniversity of Athens (UoA) professors and associates will offer guided tours of museums in the Greek capital, aspiring to introduce its cultural treasures to the people.
In the context of the initiative titled "Two museums in a day", the public will have the opportunity on Saturday, June 29 to enjoy a guided tour of the Athens University History Museum and the Pavlos & Alexandra Kanellopoulou Museum.
The Athens University History Museum is located in the heart of the City of Athens, in the district of Plaka, on the northern flank of the Acropolis. It is located in the historical Stamatios Cleanthis Residence, also known as "The Old University" where the first University of Greece operated in the period 1837-1841.
The prime exhibit of the museum is the building itself. Its collection includes rare editions of handwritten books, portraits of university professors, manuscripts, letters, diplomas, old scientific instruments used in medicine, physics, chemistry and pharmacology and medallions. Among the museum's most valued exhibits is the university flag designed by Nikolaos Gyzis in Munich on the occasion of the university's 50th anniversary in 1887.
The Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulou Museum was established in 1976 following the donation to the Greek state of the Kanellopoulou collection. It was originally housed in the neoclassical mansion of the Michaleas family in Plaka. It reopened in 2010 with the addition of a new wing donated by the late Alexandra Kanellopoulou. The Museum features objects dating from the Prehistoric to the Modern Era highlighting the timeless continuity of Greek art.
 National Archaeological Museum announces expanded summer hoursThe National Archaeological Museum has opened most of its exhibit halls with newly-hired personnel, while an additional 20 hirings will be held through an NGO shortly to handle its increased visitors flow in the summer, its deputy director, Georgios Kakavas said on Wednesday.
The museum, with 64 exhibit halls covering 9,000 square metres, needs 173 guards in order to be open with double shifts from early in the morning to late evening, Kakavas said. A recent hiring of 40 guards allowed it to expand its schedule and remain open all days.
Its summer schedule is currently formulated as follows:
 Police arrest 25 drug trafficking suspects after sweeps in five citiesTwenty-five people were arrested in five cities for alleged involvement in an international drug trafficking ring that includes people incarcerated in Greece, police said Wednesday.
In an announcement, the police said sweeps in the northern cities of Trikala, Thessaloniki, Kozani, Katerini and Kastoria resulted in the arrest of 25 people, 23 of whom they said were members of the drug ring. They were all taken to the Trikala prosecutor on Tuesday to testify.
Of the five gang leaders, the identity of three was established. They include a Greek national, 51, a Bulgarian national already in jail, 38, another Bulgarian being sought, and two more whose identity has not been established yet.
According to police assessments, the gang had trafficked at least 18 kg of heroin and made at least 2 million euros in sales. Various amounts of drugs and implements for their processing were confiscated in searches conducted at 20 homes.
In total, case files were drawn up for 55 men and 5 women, all on charges of being members of a criminal gang gang. Of these, 50 are Greek nationals, 5 Albanian, 4 Bulgarian and one Hungarian, while 13 of all are already in jail. Another 10 individuals are also charged with drug trafficking, but without being gang members.
Police also found evidence that profits from the sale of drugs ended up in Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia, while incoming checques came from Bulgaria, Italy, Russia, Turkey and the UK.
The Larisa police is handling the investigation into the gang's activity with countries abroad.
 Rescue operation for distressed Belgian sailing yacht completedGreek authorities on Wednesday announced that a rescue operation to tow a Belgian-flagged sailing yacht, which had run aground in waters around the small island of Dia, was completed successfully. Both passengers on board the vessel were safe and well.
The sailing yacht had to be towed to the port of Iraklio by the tug "Minotavros" after sustaining damage to its rudder.
 Foreign nationals arrested for attempting to exit Greece illegallyTwo Pakistani nationals, 33 and 37, were arrested at Kalamata Airport, southern Greece, facing forgery, false statement and illegal migration charges, it was announced on Wednesday.
They were arrested during passport checks before boarding a plane to Milan, Italy, when they presented fake Spanish identity cards which were seized, as well as two Pakistani passports.
 Wildfire in Tympaki, Crete, under controlA wildfire that broke out at noon on Wednesday in the region of Kokkinos Pirgos in Tympaki, in the prefecture of Iraklio on the island of Crete, was reported under control in the afternoon. The blaze destroyed about 10 greenhouses in the region of Makrymalliana as well as olive trees.
Firemen were assisted in their efforts by local inhabitants as strong winds hampered their struggle to place the wildfire under control.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 16C and 36C. Fair in Athens with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures between 22C and 35C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 22C and 35C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "New measures lurking behind (public broadcaster) ERT's blackout screens"
DIMOKRATIA: "Hot times for insurance funds"
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "A government in tatters"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Everything back to square one"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Junior ruling coalition partners "PASOK and DIM.AR lighting the fuse for elections"
ESTIA: "Things are getting complicated"
ETHNOS: "Playing with fire, about elections"
IMERISSIA: "Critical meeting" among coalition partners
KATHIMERINI: "Last-minute attempts at reconciliation"
LOGOS: "Unfortunately, we've failed"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika of lenders leaves with many unresolved issues"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Populace must not be trapped by old and new 'saviours'"
TA NEA: "Party leaders Lost in Translation"
VRADYNI: "Caught between ERT and elections"
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