|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 6 July 2010 Issue No: 3534
 FinMin cautiously optimistic over economic developmentsFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Monday expressed what he called his "cautious optimistic" over economic developments in the country, saying the economy was on the "right track" with visible first results sending a significant message to the society and markets.
Presenting the ministry's report for the first half of the year, the minister said "news is generally good" over the execution of the state budget, while he sounded optimistic that economic recession in the second quarter would be around -3.0 pct (after a -2.5-pct decline in the first quarter), and stressed that a forecast for a 4.0-pct decline in GDP this year (as envisaged in the memorandum) was excessively pessimistic. He was adamant that the government would not introduce any new austerity measures and urged citizens to remain calm and confident over economic developments.
Papaconstantinou said the government will allow social partners to conclude a round of negotiations over signing a new collective agreement in the private sector, although he stressed that the government supported measures to contain wages, while he announced "corrections and improvements" in a ministry plan to offer incentives for presenting receipts from retail and services transactions. Moreover, he said the ministry would announce a list of retail shops to be closed because of breaching tax legislation.
The Greek minister said the government would present a package of social and development counter-measures, such as a better network for the care of working mothers, or actions to facilitate investments. Papaconstantinou said merger negotiations between banks would not be pre-announced and that draft legislation of lottery and gaming services would be tabled for consultation in July, although no specific number of permits would be set.
The minister announced a government decision to raise VAT rates from 11 pct to 23 pct from 2011 and expressed an optimism that Greece would return to capital markets for borrowing next year.
Papaconstantinou, however, said there still dangers in the execution of the state budget, such as delays in implementing structural measures as well as achieving all-important targets (VAT revenues, government spending in state-controlled enterprises' deficits).
 PM: Government not distracted from its work by criticism, new partiesPrime minister George Papandreou said his government's attention on its targets was not distracted by the criticism his government was facing or the preparations for the founding of new political parties, in the second part of an interview with Eleftherotypia daily appearing on Monday.
The first part of the interview was published in the newspaper's Sunday edition.
He said he considered it an unprecedented feat for a parliamentary group to shoulder such immense responsibilities and to decide on such difficult matters, and also to ignore the temporary benefit and look instead to the collective interest, far removed from petty party expediencies.
Papandreou sharply criticised main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, noting that the Memorandum signed with the EU and IMF was that of the policy followed by the preceding ND government.
The wager, the premier stressed, is for Greece to turn page, "and I don't see ND willing to help".
He also criticised ND former prime minister Costas Karamanlis of indifference to the international image of the country and the economy during his five years in office.
The premier charged that those who conduct "easy criticism" on television programs and "salons" have not realised what Greece has gone through and how difficult its position is.
On the other hand, "I considered it my patriotic duty to save the country and not to accept default without a fight", Papandreou said in reply to criticism from the Left that he is a "prime minister of limited liability".
Papandreou further criticised the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) positions as being counter to the interests of the working people, the Greek society and the country itself.
"Those who wish to be called Leftists must reject dogmatism and maintain a position of responsibility," he added.
Reiterating that his predecessor in office, Karamanlis, never presented a clear picture of the reality, and charged that even two days before the last general elections the government had issued an official document that the deficit was only 6 percentage points of GDP instead of the actual 14 percent, which "he knew very well".
On the formation of new political parties, Papandreou opined that it was only natural at a time when the country was going through such a big crisis, and particularly when the positions of the existing parties were not clear-cut or responsible and were "fishing in muddy waters".
 Papoulias briefed by gov't spokesman; pension reforms statementPresident Karolos Papoulias on Monday received government spokesman George Petalotis, who briefed the former on issues under his authority.
Petalotis commented afterwards that they discussed mass media issues and exchanged views focusing on improved information for Greek citizens.
Asked to comment if there will be an issue of "towing of the party line" for the ruling PASOK MPs when a much-anticipated social insurance draft law is voted on by Parliament, Petalotis stressed that "MPs express the concerns, views and beliefs of their constituencies, but beyond that the social insurance draft law is a major reform."
He also underlined that "all PASOK MPs are fully aware of this major change and their own share of responsibility."
Responding to a question on whether changes made so far have the support of all government ministers, Petalotis stressed that the major changes sponsored by the government are collective decisions.
 ND leader appoints party vice-presidentsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday appointed former ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos and Stavros Dimas to the two new posts of ND vice-presidents.
Samaras appointed Avramopoulos, a career diplomat, as vice-president responsible for foreign and defence policy, public administration, culture, tourism, citizens' protection, education, justice and policy strategy.
He appointed Dimas, a former EU Commissioner, as vice-president responsible for the economy, growth, competi-tiveness, energy, the environment, infrastructures and transports, health, social policy and government platform.
 ND leader on immigration policyMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras pledged on Monday evening that his party would abolish a ruling PASOK law granting Greek nationality to immigrants and accused the government of introducing "dissolving phenomena in Greek society".
Addressing an event organised by ND's section on immigration, Samaras said that his party was obliged to change the government's legislation. "We are obliged to change this law, when New Democracy comes into office. And we are now committing ourselves to do it."
Referring to his party's proposal on dealing with the issue, Samaras said: "The children of legal immigrants that are born here, they will be granted nationality at the age of eighteen. But in order to exercise this right they must first chose among Greek nationality and the nationality of the country of origin of their parents and, secondly, they must have completed a nine-year education that is obligatory for Greek children. They will be given the right at the moment of their birth, but they will exercise it at the age of eighteen. With minimum proconditions."
With the above regulation, Samaras added, "Greece does not become a magnet for immigrants."
Criticising the PASOK government, the main opposition leader further said: "All those who really see the danger of racism, all those who really want to resist racism, fully understand the importance of a gradual incorporation (of immigrants) through Education and Culture. All those who want mass naturalization of all through 'automatic procedures' and without safety valves, do not want incorporation. They simply attract even more illegal immigrants. And they are thus setting off tensions and dissolving phenomena within the Greek society."
 Dep. FM receives visiting S. Korean counterpartDeputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis met on Monday in Athens with his South Korean counterpart responsible for political affairs, Lee Yong-joon.
Kouvelis stressed afterwards that the meeting "ushers in a new era in bilateral economic and political cooperation".
He stated that bilateral cooperation is based on a long tradition of cultural relations, pointing out that it has been 60 years since the Korean War in which Greek servicemen participated in the UN alliance. Kouvelis underlined that 50 years of bilateral diplomatic relations will be celebrated in a year, while a few days ago a bilateral economic cooperation agreement was ratified by the Greek Parliament.
He also underlined that the first Greek-Korean Joint Interministerial Committee meeting will be held in Seoul by the end of the year, adding that "we wish to reinforce economic cooperation to even up the trade balance and raise prote-ctionism issues ensuring that the Greek products will have better access to the South Korean market."
The Greek side also wishes to broaden cooperation in sectors such as new technologies, the environment, energy, tourism and culture, while the establishment of a direct air route linking the two countries is being considered.
Referring to political cooperation issues, Kouvelis thanked the Republic of Korea for its support as regards the fYRoM name issue and Cyprus, adding that Greece categorically condemns the attack on a South Korean warship last March.
He pointed out that Greece awaits with heightened interest the imminent South Korean Presidency of the "G20". He also referred to the letter addressed by Greek PM George Papandreou to the "G20" leaders in his capacity as the Socialist International (SI) President and Greek premier, who proposed a levy of financial transactions in an effort to generate funds that can be used to exit the crisis and to adopt socially and environmentally oriented measures.
On his part, the visiting Korean government official underlined that his country "does not forget Greece's assistance in its struggle for independence 60 years ago when 186 Greek soldiers sacrificed their lives fighting in Korea."
Greece received an invitation by Seoul to participate in EXPO 2012.
 Major Works Committee to convene WednesdayThe newly-established Committee on Major Works will hold its first meeting on Wednesday morning, it was announced on Monday.
The Committee was set up by the government to coordinate the promotion of the major public works and infrastructures.
The Committee comprises infrastructures, transports and networks minister Dimitris Reppas, interior, decentralisation and e-governance minister Yiannis Ragoussis, finance minister George Papaconstantinou, economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli, environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili and minister of state Haris Pamboukis.
 Droutsas receives activistsAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday afternoon received a delegation of Gaza humanitarian aid activists.
Members of the group briefed Droutsas on their attempt to transport aid to the blockaded Palestinian strip and the Israeli raid on a flotilla on May 31.
They also requested the Greek foreign ministry's help to retrieve the two ships still held by Israeli authorities.
 SYRIZA event on social security billThe Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) organised an informational event on the new social security reform bill, ahead of its debate and voting in parliament.
SYRIZA parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras said that the purpose of the event, held in parliament, was to enable trade union organisations and federations to brief the MPs on their problems.
He said that labor and social security were major issues for society and could not be faced alone by the political parties and citizens, but a rallying of all the social and political forces was needed.
Tsipras charged the government of "purposely forgetting", in the public dialogue on the bill, the reasons for the existence of the social security system, "which was created for the protection of the social forces", adding that the issue is not a fiscal but a social one.
 Papoulias proclaimed Protector of European AcademyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday was proclaimed an Honorary Protector of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
The Austrian President of the Academy, Felix Unger, accompanied by academicians and members of the Academy Sotiris Raptis and Dimitris Kremastinos, as well as Austrian ambassador to Greece Michael Linhart, awarded Papoulias the distinction at the presidential mansion.
 Commission dismisses press claims of additional measures for GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Commission on Monday categorically dismissed press reports claiming that EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn was expected to visit Greece by the end of this month to demand additional austerity measures by the Greek government this year.
Speaking to reporters, Amadeo Altafaj, a spokesman for Rehn, emphasised that "the Commissioner is not intending to visit Greece at this stage or to ask for additional measures."
Altafaj said Greece was satisfactory implementing a fiscal consolidation programme and stressed that the Commission has no intention to ask for alterations to this programme.
 BoG: Budget deficit down substantial 41 pct in first-half 2010Greece's budget deficit marked a substantial 41 percent decline in the first half of 2010, according to figures released by the Bank of Greece on Monday.
According to the central bank, the central government fell to 11.5 billion euros in the first half of the year from 19.7 percent in the first half of 2009.
Budget revenues in the same period rose to 23.2 billion euros from 21.7 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, while expenditures dropped to 30.2 billion euros from 35.6 billion euros in the first half of 2009.
 Gov't: No privatisation of public transports in AthensInfrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki on Monday, flatly rejected the likelihood of a privatisation of public transport buses in Athens, pointing out however, that "a reform programme is necessary."
Moreover, he also announced that a coordinating group has been set up to re-evaluate long-delayed infrastructure projects in Thessaloniki and the greater region, adding that it will focus on the collection, assessment and processing of relevant proposals to be used in the adoption of prioritised actions and projects to be completed within a decade.
 Katseli to brief FPAEconomy, competititiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli will hold a press conference for foreign correspondents on Tuesday at an event in her honor.
The event, organised by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) of Greece, is being held at the request of the minister, who wants to brief the international public opinion on the new legislative and administrative measures concerning her area of authority.
The event will take place at noon on Tuesday at the FPA headquarters on 23 Academias street in downtown Athens.
 General strike on ThursdayThe country's two largest labor federations, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) have called a nationwide labor strike for Thursday, the day parliament is due to complete debate and vote on the government's new social security reforms bill.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME labor movement has also called a strike the same day.
Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) and the Federation of local government employees (POE-OTA) on Monday said they will be participating in Thursday's general strike.
 Public Group takes over Fnac's business in GreecePublic, a Greek retailer group, on Monday announced it was taking over Fnac's two shops in Athens, a move signaling the French retailer's exit from the Greek market. Public said it was taking over Fnac's two shops (one in The Mall Athens -one of the most successful shopping malls in Greece- and the other in Glyfada, a southern suburb).
Public has recently opened a new shop in Piraeus totaling nine shops in Greece and Cyprus.
Robie Bourlas, Public's managing director said the deal will expand the geographical coverage of Attica and announced that Public will open its flagship shop in the centre of Thessaloniki in September.
 Summer sales begin July 15The annual summer sales in Attica prefecture will begin on Thursday, July 15, and will run through Tuesday, August 31, the National Confederation of Greek Merchants (ESEE) announced on Monday.
 New car registrations down 39.3% in JuneNew car registrations fell 45.7 pct in June to total 14,790 vehicles, down from an average total of 27,237 vehicles in the same months in the period 2004-2009, while car registrations were down 39.3 pct compared with June 2009, the Association of Motor Vehicle Importers Representatives announced on Monday.
The Association said the decline in the domestic car sales market covered all vehicle categories and said the unprecedented decline has led to a shrinking of the market, with more than 30,000 enterprises and around 90,000 employees around the country. The Association said employment in the sector fell 9.0 pct in the period from November 2008 to March 2010.
The Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a report, said car registrations (both new and used ones) fell 14.6 pct in the first half of 2010, compared with the corresponding period last year, totaling 124,275 units. Registrations of new motorcycles fell 9.9 pct to 33,280 units in the same period.
 Stocks at lowest turnoverStocks eased slightly in the Athens Stock Exchange with the market recording a new record-low turnover for the year.
The composite index eased 0.07 pct to end at 1,450.06 points, with turnover at 38.161 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.19 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.42 pct and the Small Cap index fell 1.45 pct. The Media (3.13 pct) and Utilities (2.99 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Chemicals (2.96 pct) and Constructions (2.08 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 79 to 63 with another 45 issues unchanged. Haidemenos (13.48 pct), Mohlos (10 pct) and ELVE (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Vell Group (19.81 pct), NEL (11.11 pct) and Nafpaktos Spinn Mills (9.68 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.62%
Personal & Household: +0.43%
Raw Materials: -0.91%
Travel & Leisure: +0.28%
Food & Beverages: -0.98%
Financial Services: -1.42%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, DEH and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.13
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.29
HBC Coca Cola: 17.63
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.85
National Bank of Greece: 8.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.98
Bank of Piraeus: 3.60
Greek bond market closing report
Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to a record low of 15 million euros on Monday, of which 13 million were sell orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were buy orders. The three-year benchmark bond (March 20, 2011) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 778 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 10.32 pct and the German Bund 2.54 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates changed direction and moved lower. The 12-month rate was 1.32 pct, the six-month rate 1.06 pct, the three-month 0.79 pct and the one-month rate 0.51 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.55 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover falling to a low 14.414 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,668 contracts worth 12.419 million euros with 23,632 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 3,519 contracts worth 1.994 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (985), followed by Eurobank (200), MIG (175), Piraeus Bank (383), Hellenic Exchanges (261), Alpha Bank (243) and ATEbank (256).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.263
Pound sterling 0.834
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 9.676
Japanese yen 110.81
Swiss franc 1.343
Norwegian kroner 8.123
Canadian dollar 1.345
Australian dollar 1.503
 Cafe owner kills three in settlement of financial differencesThree people were shot to death on Monday in Eretria when a cafeteria owner opened fire for financial differences.
The 50-year-old cafeteria owner shot and killed the three people, including a lawyer, with whom he had an appointment to settle financial differences.
According to early reports, three people, accompaned by the lawyer, left Athens Monday morning for Eretria to meet with the cafe owner at a coastal taverna. When the cafe owner arrived at the rendezvous point he opened fire with a pistol, killing two of the three people and the lawyer, while the fourth person was a short distance away speaking on his cell phone and escaped unharmed.
The perpetrator fled the scene, but Halkida police contacted him on his phone and convinced him to turn himself in, and was arrested.
 Clashes between migrants in PatrasClashes between migrants took place in two areas of the western port city of Patras on Sunday night.
Migrants from African countries clashed with a group of Balkan migrants shortly after 10:00 p.m. in Akti Dymaion, with several migrants taking refuge in the church of Aghios Andreas while a wedding was in progress. Fires also broke out in makeshift huts on the coastal zone, which were extinguished by the Fire Department, while a strong police force rushed to the scene to restore order.
In a second incident, migrants clashed at about 11:30 p.m. in the area of Aghios Dionyssios, near the northern entrance to the port, where a strong police team arrived.
 Forest fires on Zakynthos under controlThree forest fires that broke out Sunday in the Volimes, Maries and Marathia areas of the island of Zakynthos have been placed under control, the Fire Brigade said Monday.
According to initial estimates, the blazes have burned some 30 stremma of forestland.
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe prime minister's interview in a Sunday newspaper, social security, and European Commission and IMF officials' statements on the Memorandum were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Record crime rate in Greece - Criminals applying new methods".
APOGEVMATINI: "Traps in consecutive insurance, too".
AVRIANI: "Total collapse of the political scene and Constitutional complications with the provisions of the Memorandum".
CHORA: "The 'junta' of the Memorandum above the Constitution - Olli Rehn: The Constitution is your issue".
ELEFTHEROS: "Criticism for the cutbacks in salaries by the IMF chief".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New surcharge on illegally enclosed semi-balconies".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "IMF wedge on salary cutbacks".
ESTIA: "Opportunity for major structural changes in Greece".
ETHNOS: "Wave of exodus from private schools - Economic crisis sending pupils to public education".
IMERISSIA: "Operation Optimism - Papandreou preparing intervention".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Increases in VAT and objective real estate prices coming in 2011".
TA NEA: "Purchase of plasmatic time expensive".
VRADYNI: "Development the only solution - International officials speak of need for immediate taking of developmental measures".
 House President: Turkish proposals lead to a confederationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
The Turkish side's proposals submitted in the framework of the direct negotiations currently under way with the aim to solve the Cyprus problem are not compliant with the parameters of the UN resolutions and the EU principles and values House President Marios Garoyian said. He furthermore stressed that these proposals lead to a confederation and two states and not to a settlement providing for a federation.
Speaking during a meeting he had on Monday with a delegation of the All-China Journalists Association (ACJA) which is paying a visit to Cyprus, at the invitation of the Union of Cyprus Journalists, Garoyian said that the results of the talks held between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglou, as well as the latter's predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat are poor due to the intransigent stance of the Turkish side.
Garoyian said that the Greek Cypriot side wants a settlement of a bizonal, bicommunal federation the soonest possible, without arbitration and tight deadlines, a settlement that will be functional and viable and will safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all the people of Cyprus.
He thanked China for its support to the struggle of the people of Cyprus for their homeland's reunification, on the basis of the international law and the relevant UN decisions.
He also praised the excellent level of bilateral relations between the two countries, which as he said, are based on common principles and values and the international law and assured the Chinese delegation that Cyprus will continue to support China's positions at international forums and especially the EU.
Head of the Chinese delegation Guanxi, Zhou Wenli underlined that the delegation will convey to the people of China and its leadership its experiences in Cyprus and particularly the problems that emerge from the division of the island.
He added that Chinese media maintain the same position of principles towards Cyprus and its people as the government of the country.
Negotiations aiming to solve the problem of Cyprus divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory, began in September 2008.
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