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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 2 July 2010 Issue No: 3531

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: Gov't waged battle to avoid certain bankruptcy
  • [02] Parliamentary committee approves social security reform bill
  • [03] ND on private-sector pay freeze, VAT increase
  • [04] KKE's Papariga on VAT increase, PAME mobilizations
  • [05] Karatzaferis: LA.OS will vote against social security bill
  • [06] GEN, FM spokesman on Turkish ocean research vessel "Cesme"
  • [07] Turkish foreign ministry on research vessel in N. Aegean
  • [08] FM spokesman on FYROM
  • [09] Fact-finding commission on structured bonds set up
  • [10] President Papoulias received Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto
  • [11] Draft bill on nat'l health system
  • [12] US ambassador hosts reception for Independence Day
  • [13] EIB signs 2.258-bln-euro loan agreement with Greece
  • [14] Cabinet approves bill relating to Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline
  • [15] Greece signs up for JESSICA initiative
  • [16] Deputy minister outlines Greek goals for tourism in Vienna
  • [17] OSE dominates talks between Greek, French transport ministers
  • [18] Citizen Protection Minister Chryssohoidis meets with UGS board
  • [19] Eurobank top securities firm in June
  • [20] Wind Hellas reaches new agreement with creditors
  • [21] Athens bus drivers stage snap strike after June salaries not paid
  • [22] Public transport bus workers end work stoppage
  • [23] Greek PMI slightly up in June
  • [24] Stocks end 1.25% higher
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [28] Address by Michael Llewellyn-Smith in Athens
  • [29] Attica beaches declared safe based on June tests
  • [30] Staff take over Thessaloniki restaurant to avoid redundancy
  • [31] Fernando Santos new nat'l football coach
  • [32] Cloudy on Friday
  • [33] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM: Gov't waged battle to avoid certain bankruptcy

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, stressed that "the targets we had set in our programme are valid in full."

    Nevertheless, the conceded that some of the issues, such as those concerning salaries, are being temporarily postponed due to the major fiscal and debt crisis that the country is experiencing.

    "The targets, principles, the starting point of the targets are those that remain," he stressed, and added that at the same time they are those that must be turned into practice. "All that we promised must be turned into practice because they are those that deal a blow at the problem at its root," he said.

    "The struggle is for us to avoid certain bankruptcy", he said, "which would have multiple disastrous consequences, not only for the economy and the country's reliability, but for all families, for all of the country's households ... The decisions were difficult," he stressed and added that they were necessary "so that the basic rights of the citizens could be protected, as an ultimate analysis."

    Referring to the first results of the implementation of such difficult decisions that the government undertook, Papandreou pointed out that they create an optimism and give strength "to the government to continue this patriotic duty."

    Papandreou termed the situation that the government inherited as "tragic".

    The prime minister also underlined that the first precondition was to safeguard salaries and pensions, because "the option was not if they would remain at the same levels or if pensions would be bigger, but if pensions would exist at all."

    [02] Parliamentary committee approves social security reform bill

    Parliament's standing committee on social affairs on Wednesday night approved the government's draft legislation on reforming the country's social security and pension system. The draft legislation was approved with the votes of all ruling PASOK party deputies.

    Speaking in Parliament, Employment and Social Security Minister Andreas Loverdos defended the ministry's legislation, and criticized opposition parties of being unable to present any counter-proposal on reforming a "failed system" and left the door open for improvements in implementing terms contained in a Memorandum signed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund if Greek courts rejected any specific parts of the draft law.

    Loverdos said that any recourse against the bill in Greek courts was not a threat to the government, but a welcome development if it was accompanied by a clear court decision.

    The Greek minister acknowledged, however, that the ministry has backed down from its initial commitments on specific issues. "Social contributions will not rise, general retirement ages will not rise - except for average ages - and this rise is necessary. We have designed a system cutting an average weighed 7.0 pct of pensions, while a decision over payment of the 13th and 14th pensions is still pending.," Loverdos said, while he added that the draft law also contains some positive elements, such as final settlement of consecutive pensions, separating pensions and healthcare services, etc.

    Christos Protopapas, a PASOK deputy, speaking in Parliament said the government must sustain expectations that any cuts in pension payments could be restored after the country successfully exit the current crisis and called for a transition period for working mothers with children.

    [03] ND on private-sector pay freeze, VAT increase

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos on Thursday referred to the pay freeze in the private sector, stressing that "imposing such a measure through a legislative act is not a solution."

    Panagiotopoulos stated that ND supports collective negotiations and encourages both employers and employees to agree on a new collective work contract.

    "We are confident that employers, employees and Greek society as a whole are mature enough and believe that the solution to such issues should be given by society," he said.

    Referring to the VAT increase on goods and services, Panagiotopoulos urged the government to protect consumers from the new price hikes, underlining that "consumers should not be left to the mercy of profiteers that prey on the Greek market."

    [04] KKE's Papariga on VAT increase, PAME mobilizations

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga underlined on Thursday that the income of wage earners and pensioners will be reduced 30 percent as a result of the price hikes in consumer goods stemming from the VAT increase imposed as of July 1.

    In a press conference in Thessaloniki, she accused the two major political parties, ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND), of abolishing labor and social insurance rights in cooperation with the employers.

    Referring to the mobilizations by the KKE affiliated PAME trade union faction and the situation created in the seaport of Piraeus, Papariga stressed that the tourism sector is controlled by major shipowners and hotel owners.

    Earlier on Thursday, Papariga met with Hellenic Railways (OSE) employees in the municipality of Menemeni, western Thessaloniki. In the afternoon she will meet with worker representatives in the municipality of Stavroupolis, also in western Thessaloniki, and afterwards she will address a political rally in the nearby district of Ilioupolis.

    [05] Karatzaferis: LA.OS will vote against social security bill

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis underlined, during a radio interview on Thursday, that his party will not vote in favor of the government-sponsored social insurance draft law, underlining that "this is yet another failed effort with a limited life span."

    Referring to the measures included in the memorandum (signed with the IMF, ECB, EU Commission) he said they are aimed at ensuring that the loans will be paid off.

    He also stressed that the current government cannot deal with the situation and should be replaced by a government of "personalities acceptable by all political parties".

    As regards the port blockades, he said that they prevent tourists from coming to Greece.

    Referring to the upcoming local administration elections, he said he has proposed to main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras to put together joint ballots with mutually acceptable candidates.

    [06] GEN, FM spokesman on Turkish ocean research vessel "Cesme"

    The Navy General Staff (GEN) announced on Thursday that as of 10:00 Wednesday night the Turkish oceanographic and hydrographic vessel "Cesme" has resumed research in the sea region between the Greek island of Samothrace and Thrace, northeastern Greece, in international waters.

    The "Cesme" was presently sailing 13 miles north of Samothrace and 10 miles off the coast of Thrace, the GEN said, adding that the vessel was being "discretely monitored" by the Greek gunboat "Polemistis".

    Replying to related questions during a regular press briefing later Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras clarified that the Cesme was outside the Greek continental shelf, adding that the foreign ministry had made a demarche via the Greek embassy in Ankara and the ministry's secretary general, to which the Turkish side had responded that the Cesme was not conducting seismic research but hydrographic research and that it was not anchoring.

    "What we should note here is the lack of trust between the two countries," Delavekouras said.

    "Notwithstanding the Turkish claims and indications that seismic research is not being conducted, Turkey was obliged to inform the Greek side so that Greece, as a coastal country, could appraise whether the Greek continental shelf is affected and, consequently whether Greek consent is required, in accordance with the Law of the Seas," Delavekouras said.

    "Improvement of relations with Turkey is our choice. We are investing in a future of cooperation and mutual respect," the spokesman explained, clarifying that "a fundamental component for rapprochement and normalisation of our relations is trust."

    "However, with actions such as this, Turkey is squandering the reserve of confidence that exists. If Turkey desires zero problems with its neighbors, as its leadership declares at every opportunity, then it must prove in practice," Delavekouras stressed.

    "But no one should doubt our resolve to defend our sovereign rights," he warned.

    Delavekouras said that the Cesme was being monitored from the first moment, in the context of safeguarding Greece's sovereign rights. He noted that on Tuesday afternoon, while the vessel was in international waters but within the Greek continental shelf, it had sent out signals indicating that it was carrying out research. This was followed by the Greek demarche, to which the Turkish side responded that seismic research was not being carried out, nor anchoring, but that hydrographic research was being conducted.

    [07] Turkish foreign ministry on research vessel in N. Aegean

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)

    The Turkish foreign ministry on Thursday termed as "groundless" reports of geological research in the northern Aegean by the vessel "Cesme", published in "certain Greek mass media", as it noted.

    A written statement issued in Ankara stated that "these reports constituted an issue for announcements by the Greek foreign ministry and certain high-level officials."

    The Turkish foreign ministry announcement further stated that "the TCG Cesme made hydrographic measurements in the Northern Aegean, within the framework of established activities that are aimed at updating nautical maps."

    Moreover, it said that "as it is known, in the Aegean Sea jurisdictions have not been determined beyond territorial waters ... for this reason regions beyond territorial waters in the Aegean are characterised as open sea."

    The announcement concluded by saying that "Turkey and Greece are committed with the Berne Treaty of 1976 not to conduct seismic (geological) research beyond their territorial waters in the Aegean, until the continental shelf is delineated," adding that "Turkey respects this agreement absolutely."

    [08] FM spokesman on FYROM

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday reiterated Greece's position that it desires a solution to the FYROM name issue as soon as possible and is maintaining a constructive stance.

    Responding during a regular press briefing to a question whether he shares recent optimism for a solution to be found, Delavekouras added that what is necessary is to have a corresponding attitude on the part of the FYROM side.

    He expressed hope that recent statements by the FYROM prime minister "will be translated into a constructive stance at the negotiations table".

    If such occurs, he added, "we could reach a solution, which would open up FYROM's Euro-Atlantic prospects".

    He reiterated the firm Greek stance that: "Greece wants to see the neighboring country become a member of the EU and NATO. We will be at the side of our neighboring country's people in the negotiation process. We have the knowhow and the influence in the EU to stand at FYROM's side, but we must have put the name issue behind us, and this means a mutually acceptable solution of a name with a geographical qualifier in use for all purposes (ergo omnes)".

    Asked to comment on possible names appearing recently in the press, Delavekouras replied that Greece is prepared to examine all serious proposals that fulfill the conditions that have been set, namely a geographical determinant and ergo omnes".

    [09] Fact-finding commission on structured bonds set up

    Parliament on Thursday set up a Fact-finding Commission to investigate the structured bonds case and its findings will be presented in Parliament no later than Oct. 4, 2010.

    The commission comprises 19 members representative of the political parties in Parliament, namely 10 ruling PASOK MPs and 5 from the main opposition New Democracy (ND), while the smaller opposition parties Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) are being represented by one MP each. The independent deputies in parliament are represented by MP Nikos Tsoukalis.

    [10] President Papoulias received Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto

    Republic President Karolos Papoulias received on Thursday visiting Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto, who was accompanied by graduates of the Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy and 80 Greek-Canadians from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.

    President Papoulias underlined that their visit during the economic crisis the country is going through has a great significance and expressed certainty that all hardships will be overcome and that the Greeks in Canada will support the homeland of their ancestors.

    Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios referred to the achievements of the notable 350,000-member-strong Greek-Canadian community and stressed that the delegation will visit Istanbul where they will meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and attend mass at the Theological School of Halki.

    He also referred to the recent resolution passed in the Parliament of Canada calling on Turkey to reopen the Theological School of Halki and respect human rights.

    [11] Draft bill on nat'l health system

    Terms for the extended operation of hospital wards and the closely watched ban on smoking in all public premises -- as of Sept. 1, 2010 -- are included in a health ministry's bill presented on Thursday by revelant minister Mariliza Xenoyiannako-poulou at a Cabinet meeting.

    According to the new draft bill, afternoon clinics will now operating in almost all of the capital's major hospitals, as well as university hospitals all over the country.

    According to figures presented by the minister, 18 million visits a year were recorded at health units, of which 12.5 million concerned the hospitals and 12 million of them at morning clinics.

    [12] US ambassador hosts reception for Independence Day

    US Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard, whose tenure is Greece is coming to an end in a few months' time, hosted his last reception at the US ambassador's official residence in Athens, on the occasion of the upcoming July 4 Independence Day celebration.

    Speaking in the gardens of the residence to hundreds of assembled guests, Speckhard said that "it is a special night for all of us since I and my family will be leaving Greece soon, where we will be returning frequently, however, to see our Greek friends."

    He also underlined that his country's founding fathers were inspired by the ancient Greek principles of democracy whereas the two countries have developed very close ties over the past two centuries.

    Financial News

    [13] EIB signs 2.258-bln-euro loan agreement with Greece

    The European Investment Bank on Thursday signed a 2.0-billion-euro loan with the Hellenic Republic to finance key investments in Greece for priority investments co-financed with EU funds in the period 2007-2013. This is the largest ever EIB loan in Greece.

    Its arrival is timely for the real economy. Through its multiplying effect, the loan will support the recovery and will accelerate transition to a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth path. It is targeted to the priority areas that Greece has identified as crucial for its long term development, and is in line with the European Union's strategy for Long Term growth known as EU2020. The strategy works with an emphasis on innovation, education, the digital society and the fight against unemployment.

    The loan was signed for Greece by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, and for the EIB by Mr. Plutarchos Sakellaris, Vice-President.

    EIB Vice-President Plutarchos Sakellaris said: "The 2 billion euro loan given to Greece fits with the broader EIB measures taken under the European Economic Recovery Package. The investments being financed will strengthen the competitiveness of the Greek economy and enhance the effective use of the EU grant funds allocated to the country. We are building on the excellent cooperation with the Greek authorities, and joining forces with the European Commission in the areas of research, innovation and entrepreneurship as well as on investments in sustainable infrastructure and human capital. I would like to assure you that the EIB will keep its product mix and expertise available and ready to use for the benefit of Greece in the coming years".

    This EIB loan will finance part of the national budget contribution to those investments. The facility will thus reduce the risk of postponing investments in key infrastructures and regional assets and is expected to assist the country's absorption rate of EU Structural Funds.

    The operation is structured as a framework loan and will be used by the Greek state for investments in priority areas identified in the National Strategic Reference Framework. The investments to be financed are grouped around selected priorities of 11 comprehensive Operational Programmes (OPs) of the Hellenic Republic. The schemes implemented within these OPs are expected to contribute primarily to the achievement of the objectives in the four thematic priorities for the Greek economy in line with EU2020 strategy: investments in the productive sector, knowledge society and innovation, employment and social cohesion, and attractiveness of Greece and the regions as places to invest, work and live. They include schemes in railway, environment, energy efficiency and renewable energy, water, waste, RDI, ICT and human capital sectors. The largest single scheme under these investments, for which EUR 1 billion will be allocated, concerns the PATHEP Railway Corridor. This TEN-T priority project includes a number of modernisation works along the rail line Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki-Idomeni/Promahonas, a railway node at Acharnes, a freight complex at Thriassio and its rail link to the Neo Ikonio Container Terminal of the Port of Piraeus.

    On this occasion the Katseli, and Sakellaris, also signed a 258 million euro agreement for the set up of a JESSICA Holding Fund. Also present were: Ms. Tina Birbili, Minister of Environment & Climate Change, Mr. Petros Geroulanos, Minister of Culture & Tourism, Mr. Stavros Arnaoutakis, Deputy Minister of Economy, Competitiveness & Shipping and the General Secretary of Investments, Mr. George Petrakos. The creation of such a holding fund will allow the deployment of EU Structural Funds in support of integrated and sustainable urban development projects. The Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) is an initiative of the European Commission and EIB, supported by the Council of Europe Development Bank. The initiative caters for the need for renewal and/or regeneration of certain urban areas and is based on a perceived market failure in the urban sector or, more specifically, on the lack of investment funds to finance integrated urban renewal and regeneration projects in pursuit of more sustainable urban communities. It allows EU member States and regions to make repayable investments in projects forming part of an integrated plan for sustainable urban development. These investments, which may take the form of equity, loans and/or guarantees, are delivered to projects via Urban Development Funds. The Ministry and EIB will be working together with Greek municipalities in identifying such projects.

    [14] Cabinet approves bill relating to Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline

    A draft bill regulating land issues related to the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline - whose fate is uncertain ever since Bulgaria announced its intention to withdraw from the project - was approved on Thursday by the cabinet. The bill deals with matters linked to expropriations of property and compensation due to owners where the pipeline will pass.

    An announcement by the Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry stressed that the government was still committed to the prospect of completing the pipeline as a project of national importance and public benefit and that it was continuing its efforts in this direction.

    The bill provides for compensation at 25 percent of the commercial value of property along the length of the pipeline's route as well as the restrictions on building and land use and the rights and obligations of owners of property that the pipeline passes through.

    It also includes articles allowing use of the beach, ports and seabed for works relating to the installation and operation of the pipeline.

    [15] Greece signs up for JESSICA initiative

    The government on Thursday signed a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for setting up an investment fund under the European Commission's initiative JESSICA - standing for Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas. This will use both public and private-sector funds as repayable investments in projects forming part of an integrated plan for sustainable urban development.

    The agreement signed by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli and European Investment Bank Vice-President Plutarchos Sakellaris pledged a starting capital of 258 million euros for a JESSICA Urban Development Fund, in which the EIB will have a 15 percent participation while the rest will come from unexploited EU grant funding, the so called structural funds, handled by the country's 13 regional authorities.

    Katseli said the Urban Development Fund will be set up by the end of this year, after a public invitation to private investors and especially banks to participate. The first proclamations for specific projects will take place in 2011.

    The minister noted that the regional authorities will also have the option of contributing unused property to boost the starting capital while she stressed that the aim of JESSICA was not to act as a mechanism for subsidising projects but a means of joint funding that would secure capital for completing mature small and medium-sized projects even after the end of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds.

    Environment Minister Tina Birbili said the environment ministry will initially contribute 10 million euros to the JESSICA fund, while Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos also promised a contribution from his own ministry.

    An environment ministry announcement on Thursday said that JESSICA will be used to fund actions for urban regeneration and handling of wastes, two sectors that require large amounts of funding resources and effort by several agencies to be carried out.

    Environment Minister Tina Birbili noted that JESSICA could be valuable tool for increasing the funds available by leveraging private capital and by carrying out repayable investments and thus setting up a revolving investment fund.

    "[Using it] increases the efficiency and return of NSRF funding, contributes significantly to the direct inflow of Community funds into the country and can act catalytically for the necessary cooperation of local authorities and private agents," she stressed.

    Sakellaris noted that the projects eligible for funding from the JESSICA fund are only those that form part of an "integrated plan for urban development" which guarantees there is a connection between the projects and their environmental quality. They can either be submitted by local authorities or be a form of Public-Private Partnership.

    EIB involvement in JESSICA is threefold: advising and assisting national, regional and local authorities in implementing JESSICA promoting the use of Urban Development Funds and best practice across Europe acting as a Holding Fund, when requested by Member States or Managing Authorities.

    [16] Deputy minister outlines Greek goals for tourism in Vienna

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece's goal is to ensure that there is no reduction in tourist arrivals relative to the previous year and that any reduction in revenue is modest, Greek Deputy Culture and Tourism George Nikitiadis said in statements here on Thursday.

    The deputy minister arrived in Vienna on Wednesday for talks with Austria's top tourism sector representatives, government officials, the media and the country's Greek expatriates.

    Nikitiadis also noted that the climate appeared to be changing, sometimes rapidly. As an example, he said that bookings in Germany were recently increasing "with geometric progress", while a promotional campaign in the United Kingdom had also been very successful.

    He expressed hope that a similar climate will also prevail in Austria and that combined they would lead to a good result, helping to fully reverse the negative climate toward Greece.

    Earlier, the minister held a press conference in Vienna attended by more than 30 Austrian journalists, where he answered dozens of questions regarding the government's new strategy for tourism and the current situation in Greece, especially recent strikes and protests in Athens.

    During this, Nikitiadis revealed that the Greek government was about to pass a law that will compensate tourists arriving in Greece for delays of up to three days that are the result of strikes or natural disasters.

    In statements to the ANA-MPA, Nikitiadis also expressed satisfaction with the results of his meeting earlier with Austrian state secretary for the Economy Christine Marek and high-ranking executives of Austria's top travel agencies and organisations.

    According to the Austrian Statistics Service, approximately 500,000 Austrians visited Greece in 2009, not including those that may have used the cheaper routes via Munich and Zurich airports in order to travel to the country. Greece also ranks first as the Austrians' most popular holiday destination for several years now and Austrians account for the highest number of tourist arrivals in Greece relative to their population (eight million).

    [17] OSE dominates talks between Greek, French transport ministers

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas met on Thursday with visiting French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau and discussed the issue of debt-ridden and state-run Hellenic Rail (OSE).

    Reppas afterwards praised the French National Railway Corp. (SNCF) for its quality of services, adding that his French counterpart expressed Paris' interest in establishing closer cooperation between the Greek and French railways in terms of infrastructure and network. A special reference was made on the utilisation of OSE train stations and property holdings.

    He also stressed that the OSE reforms plans will be announced soon, adding that France's SNCF can be an ideal associate and partner for OSE.

    The meeting also focused on urban transport and road safety.

    Reppas also briefed his counterpart on the OSE logistics centre in the Thriasio industrial zone and a corresponding one in Thessaloniki.

    On his part, Bussereau confirmed France's interest in establishing cooperation in the rail sector, airports and air traffic control modernisation, motorways, the metro and tram lines.

    [18] Citizen Protection Minister Chryssohoidis meets with UGS board

    Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis met on Thursday with the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) board focusing on the priorities and goals of the Greek shipping sector.

    After the meeting, the first held between Chryssohoidis and UGS following the assumption of his duties related with the shipping sector, the minister underlined that shipping plays a leading role in the country's economic and social development, while boosting its international prestige.

    Chryssohoidis stressed that "the goal is to increase the shipping business activities and the number of ships under Greek flag," underlining that "the target set is to have the majority of the roughly 3,000 Greek-owned ships under Greek flag for the benefit of the country and the Greek seamen."

    [19] Eurobank top securities firm in June

    Eurobank Securities ranked first among Greek securities firms in June, raising its market share to 14.76 pct of total turnover in the Athens Stock Exchange, up from 13.25 pct in May. Eurobank Securities was followed by National Securities (12.48 pct), Investment Bank (12.26 pct), Alpha Finance (6.69 pct), Piraeus Securities (6.68 pct), Euroxx (4.31 pct), Cheuvreux (3.87 pct), UBS (3.58 pct), HSBC (3.07 pct) and Beta Securities (2.36 pct).

    Eurobank topped the list of securities firms also in the first half of the year, with a market share of 14.32 pct, followed by Investment Bank (12.95 pct), National Securities (12.72 pct), Alpha Finance (6.6 pct), Piraeus Securities (6.16 pct), Euroxx (5.21 pct), Cheuvreux (4.84 pct), HSBC (3.7 pct), UBS (3.62 pct) and Merrill Lynch (2.76 pct).

    [20] Wind Hellas reaches new agreement with creditors

    Wind Hellas on Thursday announced it has reached a new agreement with its creditors aimed at resolving the company's liquidity problem, seven months after the mobile operator successfully completed a restructuring of its debt.

    In an announcement, Wind Hellas said the agreement would allow the company to essentially improve its liquidity and consolidate its capital structure during a process of finding alternatives for a long-term resolution of its capital structure. The deal was valid immediately and will last until November 5, 2010. The company attributed its bad financial situation to adverse macro-economic conditions prevailing in Greece, the government's austerity measures and an extremely competitive environment in the market.

    Wind Hellas also said it has called for investors interested in buying the company, or to invest in it combined with a debt restructuring. Morgan Stanley was hired as a financial advisor to the process.

    [21] Athens bus drivers stage snap strike after June salaries not paid

    Public transport bus drivers in Attica prefecture staged a snap strike on Thursday in demand of payment of their June salaries.

    The decision was taken after the salaries, which should have been deposited in the employees' bank accounts on Tuesday, were not deposited because, according to sources, the money was not disbursed in time by the General State Accounts Office.

    The Finance Ministry has assured that the disbursement will be made on Thursday, and called the labor action unjustified.

    The employees, on the other hand, have said they are determined that the buses will not leave the terminals if the money is not first deposited in their accounts.

    The action has also partially disrupted ISAP electric train routes, as sections of routes which have been closed for renovation works are currently serviced by buses.

    [22] Public transport bus workers end work stoppage

    A work stoppage by workers on Athens' public buses (ETHEL) ended shortly after 3:00 on Thursday, after the finance ministry arranged for the payment of their salaries.

    ETHEL staff had organised a last-minute strike earlier on Thursday to demand immediate payment of their monthly wages, which had been delayed, and creating havoc for hundreds of thousands of passengers who found themselves stranded.

    The finance ministry arranged for the release of the funds for the payroll from the General Accounting Office of State, where it had delayed because of last Tuesday's general strike.

    The buses are now back on the road, while staff expect to be paid later on Thursday or Friday.

    [23] Greek PMI slightly up in June

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) recovered slightly in June to 42.2 points, from 41.8 in May, but showed signs of a rapid worsening of business conditions in the manufacturing sector of the country.

    The index showed further steep falls in new projects, production and employment. New orders received by Greek manufacturers fell for the 20th consecutive month in June, with the fastest rate in the last 12 months. Both domestic and foreign demand fell in the month.

    The Greek PMI is compiled by Markit Economics. It records business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [24] Stocks end 1.25% higher

    Stocks recovered on Thursday after a seven-day decline, which pushed the market more than 10 pct down. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange rose 1.25 pct to end at 1,452.13 points, with turnover a low 93.430 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.48 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.60 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 2.48 pct up. The Insurance (3.53 pct) and Raw Materials (2.79 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (6.16 pct) and Personal Products (0.35 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 102 to 54 with another 44 issues unchanged.

    Centric (14.29 pct), Nereus (13.11 pct) and Galaxidi (10 pct) were top gainers, while Cardico (14.29 pct), Medicon (9.91 pct) and Mohlos (9.09 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +3.53%

    Industrials: +2.42%

    Commercial: +1.32%

    Construction: +1.53%

    Media: +0.59%

    Oil & Gas: +1.59%

    Personal & Household: -0.35%

    Raw Materials: +2.79%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.49%

    Technology: +2.67%

    Telecoms: +1.29%

    Banks: +2.00%

    Food & Beverages: +2.62%

    Health: +0.12%

    Utilities: -6.16%

    Chemicals: +1.90%

    Financial Services: +0.77%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, ELPE, OPAP and DEH.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.20

    ATEbank: 1.02

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.84

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.06

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.90

    National Bank of Greece: 8.95

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.88

    OPAP: 10.50

    OTE: 6.28

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.58

    Titan: 15.50

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 118 million euros on Thursday, of which 98 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 20 million were buy orders. The 12-month Treasury bill was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 80 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 775 basis points from 790 bps on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.34 pct and the German Bund 2.59 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 1.32 pct, the six-month rate 1.05 pct, the three-month rate 0.78 pct and the one-month rate 0.55 pct.

    [26] ADEX closing

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.86 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a low 44.577 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,285 contracts worth 37.820 million euros, with 24,588 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,429 contracts worth 6.757 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,765), followed by Eurobank (631), OTE (575), OPAP (620), Piraeus Bank (423), Alpha Bank (876) and ATEbank (126).

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.242

    Pound sterling 0.828

    Danish kroner 7.508

    Swedish kroner 9.678

    Japanese yen 109.01

    Swiss franc 1.328

    Norwegian kroner 8.109

    Canadian dollar 1.322

    Australian dollar 1.487

    General News

    [28] Address by Michael Llewellyn-Smith in Athens

    Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith, a former British ambassador to Greece, spoke on Wednesday at a Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy-sponsored lecture in central Athens, where amongst others, he defined what he called the characteristics distinguishing leaders.

    The speaker, a noted historian and a particularly well-versed scholar of modern Greek history, referred specifically to "the political leadership of Greece in times of crisis", focusing on three of the most important political personalities of modern Greece: Harilaos Trikoupis, Eleftherios Venizelos and Constantine Karamanlis.

    Referring to the trio, he stressed that all three had a vision, a specific plan, determination and all three "...lived in France", as he said.

    In referring to the ongoing fiscal and economic crisis in Greece, the retired British career diplomat stressed that "the process of transition to a new reality is a tough, laborious, continuous and systematic job."

    Citing the historic precedent of Venizelos, who was invited to Athens when the country was in a deadlock in the early 20th century, Sir Michael pointed to the Cretan statesman's clear vision and quick political decisions, which led to economic recovery as a precondition for the development of foreign policy. He added that Constantine Karamanlis also returned to Greece in a time of crisis and promoted constitutional reform, legalised the communist party of Greece and led Greece into the then EEC.

    Sir Michael is the author of four books on modern Greek history and culture, including the "The Great Island" about the history, culture and folklore of Crete; his magnum opus, "Ionian Vision: Greece in Asia Minor 1919-1922", about the Asia Minor Catastrophe; "Olympics in Athens 1896: the Invention of the Modern Olympic Games" and "Athens: a Cultural and Literary History", which showcases the life and culture of the city of Athens throughout the centuries up until the present day.

    [29] Attica beaches declared safe based on June tests

    All beaches in Attica are suitable and safe for swimming, the East Attica Prefecture department for health announced on Thursday after testing 112 samples of sea water taken from beaches all around the Greek capital in June 2010.

    The tests run by a certified laboratory confirmed found that all the beaches fully comply with minimum standards of sea water quality established in a 1986 joint ministerial decision.

    The test samples taken also included several very popular beaches near Athens, such as Voula (11 samples), Vouliagmeni (13 samples) and Varkiza (6 samples), beaches near well-populated seaside towns like Artemida, also known as Loutsa, and N. Makri and also near the ports of Lavrio (14 samples) and Rafina (five samples).

    The prefecture said the programme for checking water quality will continue with tests taken in July and August.

    [30] Staff take over Thessaloniki restaurant to avoid redundancy

    Staff at a restaurant 'Barčelonica' in Thessaloniki have taken over the failing business from its owners, undertaking to run it in order to ward off the prospect of closure and unemployment.

    They made the decision on June 7, after the owners announced that they were shutting it down for the three summer months and firing the staff, while the prospect of reopening was "uncertain" and any compensation due would be paid in October, if there was money available.

    "We decided to take matters into our own hands. We demanded and obtained from the owners a promise to pay some of our costs and our insurance, while we undertook to run the restaurant for the next two months (June and July) and to take our regular holiday in August. We are determined not to let the restaurant where we work shut down," workers said.

    During this period, the restaurant is being run by the staff through their general assembly and decisions are taken by majority vote. Whatever is left after the costs are paid will be shared equally among the staff and they are also offering a 30 percent discount to attract more customers.

    They called on all "working people" in Thessaloniki to support their experiment and their struggle to save their jobs, noting that the restaurant is opened all day from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. the following day, except Sundays.

    Soccer

    [31] Fernando Santos new nat'l football coach

    Noted Portuguese coach Fernando Santos on Thursday was tapped as the new manager of the Greek national football team, succeeding Otto Rehhagel.

    An announcement issued by the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) underlined that "Fernando Santos will be the new coach of the national team for the next two years, following a unanimous decision by the board. The official presentation of the Portuguese coach to the press will take place ... on Friday," the federation stated.

    Santos coached PAOK Thessaloniki last season, leading the team to second place and a Champion's League qualification round. He previous coached AEK Athens and Panathinaikos Athens, as well as Portugal's "Big 3" -- Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and Porto FC.

    Weather Forecast

    [32] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 33C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 31C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.

    [33] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The social security bill and the labour unions' reactions, the Finance Ministry's new bill referring to borrowers and overindebted households, the VAT increase and the salary freeze in the private sector, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "According to Court of Audit the main provisions of the new social security bill are unconstitutional".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Judges against new social security system - The basic provisions of the new bill are unconstitutional and callous".

    AVGHI: "Scenarios of 'government of the willing' belied".

    AVRIANI: "Mass layoffs in and shutdowns of pharmaceutical companies - 600 employees laid off in one week, while prominent companies have defaulted on payments".

    CHORA: "Court of Audit shows five 'red cards' on violations of the Constitution".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Turkish exploration for oil in Greek continental shelf, by the oceanographic vessel Cesme in Thrace".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Regulation 'aspirin' for overindebted households".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Life jacket for the 'drowned'."

    ESTIA: "Optimistic message on the economy from Alpha Bank analysts".

    ETHNOS: "Salary freeze in private sector brings 15 percent losses in workers' real income".

    IMERISSIA: "Ultimatum on salaries and collective labor agreements - Loverdos (employment and social security minister) puts ultimatum to GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece) and SEB (Federation of Greek Industries)".

    KATHIMERINI: "Public Utilities in economic suffocation - Public transports headed to collapse due to inability to borrow".

    LOGOS: "Storm of reactions...over the 3-year salary freeze".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Double safety net for Greek banks".

    NIKI: "Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos (a Constitutional expert) stated: The Constitution is above the Memorandum".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Government abolishing social security and freezing salaries".

    TA NEA: "The VAT increase brings sweeping hikes in prices".

    TO VIMA: "Magistrates Court order 'deletes' home, consumer and professional loans, on condition".

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