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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-09-14

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

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

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 Issue No: 3592

CONTENTS

  • [01] Fighting tax evasion key to exiting crisis, PM says in Oslo
  • [02] Papandreou: Social state is not the problem
  • [03] PM meets with IMF chief in Oslo
  • [04] PM congratulates Erdogan on Turkish referendum result
  • [05] Government has plan for the future, Petalotis underlines
  • [06] Droutsas welcomes Turkish referendum result
  • [07] Droutsas: EU must show clear support for Serbia's EU prospects
  • [08] Infrastructure projects for Lesvos, northern Aegean cited
  • [09] Candidates by PASOK, ND for Ionian isles, Piraeus
  • [10] Papariga meets with KEDKE delegation
  • [11] New US envoy arrives in Greece
  • [12] FinMin embarks on road shows in European capitals
  • [13] Rehn: Structural reforms imperative for EU countries with low competitiveness
  • [14] Greek gov't examines all plans to boost budget revenues
  • [15] Ceilings on fuel prices
  • [16] Truckers' plans to protest in downtown Athens thwarted
  • [17] Infrastructures ministry on EU's decision on Olympic
  • [18] Minister meets with hi-tech federation's president
  • [19] Eurobank to expand presence in Turkey
  • [20] Central gov't deficit down 30pect in Jan-Aug 2010
  • [21] Railway workers call 24h strike
  • [22] Industrial import price index up 6.0% in July
  • [23] Construction production index off 18.3% in Q2
  • [24] Stocks end flat on Monday
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [28] Back to school for 1.3 million pupils
  • [29] Three cultural projects inaugurated in Nisyros
  • [30] Noted cultural projects on Nisyros isle
  • [31] Two killed in accident on train track in Patras
  • [32] Rainy on Tuesday
  • [33] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [34] President assures imposed solution will not be accepted Politics

  • [01] Fighting tax evasion key to exiting crisis, PM says in Oslo

    OSLO (ANA-MPA - G. Milionis)

    "If Greece stamps out tax evasion it will no longer need new loans and will speed up the course of its exit from the crisis," Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed here on Monday.

    The Greek premier made the statement during a press conference after the end of the 13th ILO-IMF Conference on Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion held in Oslo, along with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, International Monetary Fund Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Liberian Prime Minister Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, International Labour Organisation (ILO) General Director Juan Somavia and French Economic Affairs Minister Christine Lagarde.

    Papandreou announced that the Greek government will be represented by one of its members at a conference in Bergen, Norway organised by Transparency International on international tax evasion and the existence of tax havens.

    Asked about the funds leaving Greece, Papandreou did not refer to a specific sum but stressed that this money belonged to society.

    Concerning the changes taking place in Greece, the prime minister said that the government had to work with trade unions on both the changes envisaged and to protect worker rights.

    In a later discussion with Greek journalists only, Papandreou said that the decision taken on Monday in Oslo for cooperation between the IMF and ILO was exceptionally positive so that there would be a new approach to tackling unemployment that "centres on people rather than indicators."

    Commenting on Greece's competitiveness and the social state, Papandreou said praised the model adopted by Scandinavian and northern countries, which combined both.

    "Competitiveness increases when the citizen feels secure. Marginalised citizens don't perform well, inequality causes problems for growth. Conversely, the countries that given their citizens equal rights and opportunities develop," the prime minister said.

    Regarding his meeting with Stoltenberg, Papandreou noted that both Norway and Greece were naval countries with large margins for cooperation in shipping issues, both internationally and bilaterally. He also noted a shared interest in developing green technologies.

    The prime minister further unveiled plans for cooperation with Norway that would make use of the country's experience in handling unemployment, noting that Greece's Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) was largely antiquated with the exception of a few departments.

    He added that the purchase of Greek bonds by Norwegian oil and pension funds was a "vote of confidence" and said it "was based on objective criteria".

    Papandreou invited his Norwegian counterpart to visit Greece and had a meeting with the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store that focused on peace in the Middle East.

    Concerning his meeting with Strauss-Kahn, the prime minister said that they had made a very positive assessment of the course of the Greek economy and that the shortfall in revenue did not change the targets for the current year.

    The two men agreed on the need to stamp out tax evasion and to expand the tax base in a way that was socially just.

    In talks with Somavia, the prime minister discussed youth enterprise and ways of using the experiences of the ILO in this area. He said that Labour Minister Louka Katseli will be visiting the ILO's offices in Geneva in the near future.

    Papandreou also had a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Juan Luis Zapatero, during which they discussed growth in Europe and fighting unemployment.

    The Greek prime minister concluded his visit to Oslo by granting an interview to the Norwegian television network NAK.

    [02] Papandreou: Social state is not the problem

    OSLO (ANA-MPA / G. Milionis)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking during a discussion here on Monday at the 15th Oslo Conference, reiterated that the problem of the current economic crisis is not the social state.

    This year's high-end conference focused on the theme of "The challenges of growth, employment and social cohesion", organised by the International Labour Organization and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    The Greek prime minister emphasised that democracies can handle challenges and pointed out that "oxygen must be given to institutions" through the combating of a lack of transparency and corruption, while on the question of deficits and debts, he said that their handling constitutes responsibility, but at the same time there should be growth and an increase in employment.

    Papandreou said the tackling of climate change through the turn of the production model to a "green" economy will bring about growth and jobs and noted that Greece is an "ideal place" for the development of "green" investments.

    He also referred to the measures taken by the government, saying that they have the citizens' support, despite the fact that there were cutbacks in salaries and pensions.

    Outlining his proposals, Papandreou underlined the need for "training the citizens in the new economy."

    The prime minister reiterated his proposal on the funding of "green" growth through "economic tools", such as the "green" bonds, the Tobin tax and the coal tax.

    Giving examples of the possibilities that are created with the turn to the "green" economy, Papandreou said that the improvement of buildings' energy performance gives jobs and, referring to photovoltaic systems, he said that they are becoming more and more popular "since we are taxing heating oil."

    The Greek prime minister further said that even huge regions such as the Sahara, if utilised through the "green" economy, could, for example, provide Europe regarding energy.

    On the question of the younger generations in Greece, as well as the trend being noted of abandoning the country, Papandreou said that in Greece "there is a highly specialised (professionally and scientifically) youth, there are also those who leave" and underlined that "pessimism must be dealt a blow and we must tell young people 'take the country in your hands and change it'."

    The Greek prime minister mentioned that new methods of governance are required, as well as a change in a series of life models, such as of the consumer one, adding that "young people realise these and are prepared."

    Papandreou concluded by saying that "we must teach young people to use knowledge as a tool to add value to all that they do and we must support their initiatives."

    [03] PM meets with IMF chief in Oslo

    Prime minister George Papandreou met briefly on Monday with International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in Oslo on the sidelines of the 13th joint IMF-ILO (International Labor Organisation) conference.

    According to sources, Strauss-Kahn assessed as positive the course of the Greek economy.

    It was also assessed that the execution of the Greek government's program is progressing as planned, the same sources said, adding that the issue of combating tax evasion and a fairer distribution of the tax burdens were also discussed.

    [04] PM congratulates Erdogan on Turkish referendum result

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, currently on a visit to Oslo, on Monday called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the telephone and congratulated him on the results of a national referendum held in neighbouring country to approve a swathe of democratic reforms. He also invited Erdogan to a conference on climate change in the eastern Mediterranean that will take place in Athens on October 22.

    [05] Government has plan for the future, Petalotis underlines

    Government spokesman George Petalotis underlined in an interview with ANT-1 radio station on Monday that the government has a specific programme for tackling the crisis until 2012 while he echoed Prime Minister George Papandreou in stressing that the country was still on high alert.

    "Of course there is a plan for the future. We must not forget that we avoided default," Petalotis said, adding that the governance of the previous New Democracy government was to blame if economic indicators were not as they should be.

    "Of course, we mustn't have the illusion that we can press a button and the crisis will be overcome or that we will press a button and growth will come," he stressed.

    Petalotis expressed the belief that people were not frightened but had made a mature realisation that the "party" and the excesses of the previous decades could not continue.

    He also emphasised that the government was doing its utmost to ensure that the financially weaker members of society had the benefits and assistance that would make their lives easier.

    On the issue of attracting investments, the spokesman said that making a country attractive to investors was not achieved through a single bill or a few incentives but "requires a series of actions that create a stable tax environment, a stable fiscal environment, a stable labour environment with clear-cut labour relations, less bureaucracy and a different public administration."

    On an abandoned plan to impose the same tax rate on diesel and the currently low-tax oil used for heating purposes, Petalotis said that this measure could not yet be enforced because there was no mechanism in place for rebates to low and middle income households. He said the government was trying to find solutions so that there will be a mechanism in order to avoid a mass increase of VAT on consumer goods.

    [06] Droutsas welcomes Turkish referendum result

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday welcomed the result of a referendum held in Turkey, saying that the decision of the Turkish people confirmed the country's commitment to a European perspective.

    The people of Turkey have made a clear choice and sent a strong message that they support the programme of reforms set in motion by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, Droutsas stressed in statements as he was about to enter the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels.

    The foreign minister said that the referendum result would allow Erdogan's government to make faster and bolder steps in its programme of reforms and build a society based on full respect for human rights, minority rights and good neighbour relations.

    According to Droutsas, it would also make a decisive contribution to solving the Cyprus issue.

    The foreign minister said that Greece would like to see Turkey have stability and strong democratic institutions, while repeating Athens' full support for Turkey's European course.

    It would now be a timely moment for the EU to once again send a clear message to Turkey that confirmed its European perspective and that the goal was full accession, provided Turkey met all the criteria and terms required for EU membership.

    [07] Droutsas: EU must show clear support for Serbia's EU prospects

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    "The stance of Serb President Boris Tadic vis--vis the constitution proves once again that Serbia is committed to its European prospect; an important fact for the European prospect of the western Balkans in general," Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said here on Monday.

    Entering the EU General Affairs Council meeting, Droutsas stated that the EU member-states will have to immediately send a clear message of support for Serbia's European course.

    He also pointed out that the European Commission should be requested to issue a quick decision concerning the opening of accession negotiations with Belgrade, adding: "hopefully, such a decision could be made as early as today."

    The issue of the request for a European Council decision was discussed in Monday's Council meeting and following an intervention by the Greek foreign minister it was decided that it will be further examined in the next General Affairs Council meeting to take place in Luxembourg in October.

    [08] Infrastructure projects for Lesvos, northern Aegean cited

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, heading a government delegation, visited the capital of Mytilene on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Monday.

    After meeting with local authorities, the delegation inspected the Larssos-Kalloni motorway currently under construction and visited the area where the Kalloni-Sigri motorway is scheduled to be constructed.

    Reppas stated that the projects undertaken by the ministry of infrastructure, transport and networks on the island of Lesvos include three motorways and the new Mytilene airport, while on the island of Hios the projects under construction concern the main seaport at the city of Hios and the seaport of Mesta.

    The projects under construction on the island of Samos include two motorways and the restoration of an ancient monument.

    [09] Candidates by PASOK, ND for Ionian isles, Piraeus

    Ruling PASOK party announced on Monday that it will support the candidacy of university professor Ilias Beriatos, a former PASOK state deputy, who will run for the office of the Ionian Islands regional authority in the Nov. 7 local government elections.

    Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy (ND) announced that party MP Vassilis Mihaloliakos will be its mayoral candidate in the port city of Piraeus.

    [10] Papariga meets with KEDKE delegation

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga met on Monday with a delegation of Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE), headed by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    Papariga was briefed on the union's positions as regards the impact "Kallikratis" local government merger programme and the memorandum signed with the "troika" will have on the country's municipalities.

    [11] New US envoy arrives in Greece

    New US ambassador to Greece Daniel Bennett Smith arrived in Athens this week to assume his duties as the new envoy to Greece.

    Smith is expected to present his credentials to the president of the republic later this month. His previous overseas service includes tours in Switzerland, Turkey, Canada and Sweden.

    Financial News

    [12] FinMin embarks on road shows in European capitals

    Finance minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday begins a series of road shows in European capitals, in cooperation with troika officials, to highlight Greece's implementation of the necessary reforms and in a bid to attract foreign investments to the country.

    Papaconstantinou, accompanied by ministry and Public Debt Management Organisation officials and the three heads of the 'troika' delegations will be in London on Tuesday, Paris on Wednesday and Frankfurt on Thursday to meet with foreign investors, while the minister will also present the developments in the Greek economy, including reforms and denationalisa-tions, and progress in the Memorandum's materialisation.

    Meanwhile, a team of troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) low-level officials was in Athens on Monday for meetings with ministry staff in the context of the drafting of the 2011 state budget.

    Discussions are expected to focus on the big shortfall in budget revenues and expenditure in the wider public sector.

    [13] Rehn: Structural reforms imperative for EU countries with low competitiveness

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)

    EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn underlined here on Monday the need for structural reforms in Greece and all EU countries with reduced economic competitiveness.

    Rehn appeared optimistic as regards the course of the European economy pointing out, however, that there is a global atmosphere of instability. Asked to comment on the situation in Greece he underlined that the major problems that existed have been tackled thanks to the effective measures taken by the government.

    He stressed that it is extremely important for Greece to continue the implementation of structural reforms as mentioned in the EU and IMF programme.

    [14] Greek gov't examines all plans to boost budget revenues

    The Greek government is examining all plans in an effort to boost budget revenues after the government withdrew a plan to equalize heating and petrol oil prices, Finance Deputy Minister Filippos Sahinidis said on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, Sahinidis said there were other recommendations as well and noted that the government has presented to EU authorities, in detail, its plans to boost state revenues and said that among other recommendations, one was not to raise a VAT rate from 11 pct to 23 pct for 30 pct of consumer products.

    Sahinidis said that the government cannot implement a plan to equalize heating and petrol oil prices until the necessary mechanism was created to support the measure.

    The deputy minister was the main speaker in a event organized by Eurobank on: "The Greek economy and the stability program".

    Eurobank's deputy chief executive, Nikos Karamouzis, said in his speech that economic growth was necessary for exiting the crisis and stressed that the state's responsibility was to creating favourable conditions and the necessary environment to speed up economic growth.

    [15] Ceilings on fuel prices

    The government on Monday morning announced ceilings on the prices of fuel, applicable by geographical zones, by virtue of a joint ministerial decision of the ministries of Finance, of Regional Development and Competitiveness, and of Energy and Climate Change.

    The maximum price for unleaded was put at 1.473 euros per liter for the prefectures of Attica and Thessalonica prefectures, while the ceiling prices for LERP gas is 1.561 euros per liter, for super unleaded 1.701 euros per liter, and diesel at 1.282 euros per liter.

    The ceiling prices are valid for 7 days, at which time the expediency of extending the ceilings will be re-examined.

    [16] Truckers' plans to protest in downtown Athens thwarted

    Protesting truck owners, including public-use fuel tankers supplying petrol stations with fuel, did not finally go through with a plan to drive their vehicles into downtown Athens on Monday as a show of protest - a form of protest that police had been instructed to prevent. Truck owners are protesting against a government-sponsored draft law that "opens" their profession and allows new licenses for freight trucks to be issued.

    Hundreds of trucks, in the presence of a strong police force, are still lined up along the exits of the two major national motorways leading to the Greek capital.

    The protesters are not on strike since a civil mobilization order issued by the government during the previous truck owners' strike in July is still effective.

    No fuel shortage problems are recorded in petrol stations nationwide.

    [17] Infrastructures ministry on EU's decision on Olympic

    The Infrastructures, Transport and Networks ministry hailed on Monday a decision by the EU's General Court, to reduce the amount of illegal state aid that Olympic Airlines and its failed predecessor, state-run carrier Olympic Airways, must return to Greek state coffers.

    An announcement by the Greek ministry stressed that "today's decision by the EU's General Court, that partially annuls a previous decision by the European Commission concerning state subsidies to Olympic Airways and Olympic Airlines fully vindicates our policy of us waging a battle at every opportunity."

    The announcement also said "today's decision constitutes a moral vindication alone, proving, at the same time, that the previous government did not wage the battles, that it should have, with the necessary determination."

    A European second instance court on Monday slashed the amount of illegal state aid that Olympic Airlines and its failed predecessor, state-run carrier Olympic Airways, must return to Greek state coffers.

    The European Commission ruled the airlines had received approximately 530 million euros in illegal subsidies before and after the restructuring of debt-ridden Olympic Airways.

    The EU General Court ruled that not all of the assistance received by the airlines was illegal. Some 400 million euros must be returned, however.

    [18] Minister meets with hi-tech federation's president

    Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Tina Birbili met on Monday with Federation of Hellenic Information Technology & Communications Enterprises (SEPE) President Pantelis Tzortzakis.

    Talks reportedly focused on cooperation prospects in the development of IT systems that will serve environmental protection purposes.

    [19] Eurobank to expand presence in Turkey

    Eurobank Group on Tuesday announced an expansion of its presence in neighbouring Turkey through its subsidiary Eurobank Tefken - in which the Athens-based bank owns a 70-pct share.

    Eurobank Tefken said the bank's branch network would be increased from the current 50 branches to 80 in 2011; 110 in 2012; 140 in 2013 and 200 in 2014, with a strategic aim to reach 250 to 300 branches by the end of the decade in order to achieve full geographical coverage of the large country.

    Yiannis Kalogeropoulos, a Eurobank consultant, said Turkey was a market of strategic importance, both because of its size and its very positive growth prospects in the banking sector, with credit expansion growth running at around 40 pct.

    Eurobank Tefken will focus on services to small-to-medium-sized enterprises and in retail banking services. Moreover, the Turkish bank has invested 15 million euros on upgrading its information systems.

    Eurobank owns 70 pct of the bank's equity capital, with Tefken Group owning the remaining 30 pct. Eurobank has an established presence in seven countries in southeastern Europe (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and Poland) with a network exceeding 1,100 branches.

    [20] Central gov't deficit down 30pect in Jan-Aug 2010

    The central government deficit fell by 30 percent in the eight-month period January to August this year compared with the corresponding period in 2009, according to figures released on Monday by the Bank of Greece.

    More specifically, the cash deficit in the Jan-Aug. 2010 period fell to 15.7 billion euros from 21.8 billion in the same period last year.

    Regular budget revenues increased by 3.4 percent to 32.8 billion euros in the same period from 31.6 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, while expenditures fell by 10.2 percent to 43.5 billion euros from 47.9 billion euros in the same period last year.

    [21] Railway workers call 24h strike

    Hellenic Railway Organisation (OSE) employees announced a 24-hour strike beginning midnight Monday in protest of measures announced by the Transport, Infrastructures and Networks Minister measures that are contained in a draft law on the streamlining and development of OSE that was unveiled over the weekend at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and will soon be tabled in parliament.

    [22] Industrial import price index up 6.0% in July

    The import price index in the industrial sector rose 6.0 pct in July this year, compared with July 2009, after a decline of 6.4 pct recorded in the corresponding period in 2009-2008, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed the 6.0 pct imported inflation to an 1.3 pct rise in the Eurozone index and a 10.9 pct increase in the other countries' index.

    The import price index fell 0.7 pct in July, after a decline of 0.5 pct in July 2009.

    [23] Construction production index off 18.3% in Q2

    Production index in the construction sector fell 18.3 pct in the second quarter of 2010, compared with the same period last year, after a decline of 13.9 pct recorded in the 2009-2009 period, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Monday.

    The statistical agency, in a report, said the production index in the construction sector rose 30.2 pct in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of 2010, after an increase of 25.3 pct in the corresponding period last year.

    [24] Stocks end flat on Monday

    Greek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market easing 0.04 pct to end at 1,587.66 points, after rising as much as 1.0 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 57.548 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.17 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.57 pct lower and the Small Cap index dropped 1.35 pct. The Telecoms (1.17 pct) and Utilities (1.15 pct) sectors scored gains, while Insurance (2.89 pct), Technology (2.02 pct) and Health (1.50 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 106 to 57 with another 39 issues unchanged. Karamolegos (9.52 pct), Tzirakian (9.30 pct) and Rilken (8.90 pct) were top gainers, while Technical Publications (18.42 pct), Elbisco (17.54 pct) and Elfico (9.26 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.89%

    Industrials: +0.50%

    Commercial: -0.27%

    Construction: -1.92%

    Media: +0.08%

    Oil & Gas: -0.41%

    Personal & Household: -1.00%

    Raw Materials: -0.86%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.22%

    Technology: -2.02%

    Telecoms: +1.17%

    Banks: -0.46%

    Food & Beverages: +0.86%

    Health: -1.50%

    Utilities: +1.15%

    Chemicals: +0.90%

    Financial Services: -0.02%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Coca Cola.

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.36

    ATEbank: 1.04

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.90

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.27

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.96

    National Bank of Greece: 9.45

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.14

    OPAP: 12.04

    OTE: 6.05

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.00

    Titan: 14.57

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low76 million euros on Monday, of which 47 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 29 million were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 14 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 896 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 11.38 pct and the German Bund 2.42 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.41 pct, the six-month rate 1.13 pct, the three-month 0.88 pct and the one-month rate 0.62 pct.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover at 65.619 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,478 contracts worth 51.778 million euros, with 27,941 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 30,945 contracts worth 13.842 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Ellaktor's contracts (6,367), followed by Eurobank (1,211), MIG (4,299), OTE (1,860), National Bank (3,850), Alpha Bank (3,220), Intracom (1,192), GEK (1,797), Hellenic Postbank (853) and ATEbank (759).

    [27] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.290

    Pound sterling 0.837

    Danish kroner 7.506

    Swedish kroner 9.257

    Japanese yen 108.55

    Swiss franc 1.309

    Norwegian kroner 7.914

    Canadian dollar 1.329

    Australian dollar 1.384

    General News

    [28] Back to school for 1.3 million pupils

    The new school year opened in Greece on Monday, with more than 1.3 million primary and secondary school pupils throughout the country putting down their toys and once again taking up their bookbags.

    The academic year began in the country's 15,500 schools with the traditional blessing in the courtyards, followed by the first acquaintance between the pupils and their teachers (160,000 in total) and the distribution of the text books for the year.

    As per tradition, the President of the Republic and political party leaders attended the opening ceremonies at various schools.

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias visited the 26th public primary school in Nikaia for the blessing ceremony.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras attended the traditional blessing at the 28th junior high school in the Pangrati district of Athens, where he told the pupils said that "your parents and the country expect of you to do what must be done...the country is counting on you for a better future", and wished them well and to always excel.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga attended the opening of the school year at the 20th junior high school in Peristeri, while Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader attended the blessing at the 1st junior high school in Paleo Faliro, which he had attended as a pupil.

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras attended the blessing at the Thessaloniki Intercultural Education high school ( Lyceum), where, in a statement, he said that "our education system is being led to bankruptcy" and warned that "a society with a bankrupt educational system is doomed to sink".

    [29] Three cultural projects inaugurated in Nisyros

    The inaugiration of a museum and of two cultural projects by Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis and the ministry's secretary general L. Mendoni on the Dodecanese island of Nisyros on Monday met with local authorities over the promotion of the island's cultural values.

    "I feel special emotion today, as deputy minister, for being called on to inaugurate the most splendid cultural achievement that we have to present in Nisyros. An archaeological museum that highlights with its wonderful exhibits the history, Culture and Greek nature of the island," Nikitiadis said.

    "Every visitor to this exhibition, that is structured in parts, that cover all the historic course of Nisyros from prehistory up to the postbyzantime period will be dazzled by the beautiful, the great and the real that he will discover in its halls," he added.

    [30] Noted cultural projects on Nisyros isle

    The island's course in history, from the prehistoric to the Byzantine era, is being presented in the new museum through the archaeological findings on display. Most of the findings were recovered during excavations that took place before 1947, when the Dodecanese islands were under Italian rule.

    Tourists will also have the opportunity to visit the recently restored fortified citadel of the island located over the community of Mandraki. The project was financed by the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF). Black volcanic stones were used to build the citadel walls which are regarded as the best preserved in the Aegean Sea region. The citadel of Paleokastro was first visited and described in 1841.

    Regarded as one of the most elegant churches on the Dodecanese Islands, the restored Panagia Faneromeni Church is dated back to the early 12th century AD. The restoration works were completed in 2009.

    [31] Two killed in accident on train track in Patras

    Two people were killed on the Agias region of Patras, western Greece, on Monday after they were hit by a train while walking along the train tracks.

    The train driver hit the brakes as soon as he spotted the two men on the tracks, who apparently did not hear the train approaching, but the train could not stop in time.

    The two men were pronounced dead on arrival at the local university hospital where they were rushed.

    Police were investigating the accident.

    Weather Forecast

    [32] Rainy on Tuesday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 30C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 27C.

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

    Prime Minister George Papandreou's address and press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) over the weekend dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Papandreou's speech in TIF 'a basket full of ...words'."

    APOGEVMATINI: "Shush, do not speak about ....the measures to come - Prime Minister via contradictions and vagueness confirmed that worse days will come".

    AVRIANI: The newspaper announced the opening of its television station named "KONTRA" (clash).

    CHORA: "George (PM Papandreou) lulls and the troika infuriates - He pledged that we will exit from the memorandum ahead of 2013 general elections."

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papandreou was playing the role of Pinocchio and Aladdin in his speech and his statements at the TIF".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Recital of vagueness and new extra taxes on the horizon - The Prime Minister ignored the low incomes and defended the Memorandum".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Prime Minister postponed the painful measures to after November".

    ESTIA: "Nothing positive for the economy - Reductions in taxation meager".

    ETHNOS: "The regulations foreseen in the Finance Ministry's plan".

    IMERISSIA: "Tax amnesty via express procedures".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Attempt to reverse the economic climate - Reduction in tax rates".

    TA NEA: "Papandreou sends four messages and makes a promise at the TIF".

    VRADYNI: "Prime Minister's preannouncement at TIF: Tax amnesty for unaudited cases, in a state of panic".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [34] President assures imposed solution will not be accepted

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias assured Monday that the Greek Cypriot side will not accept solutions to the Cyprus problem that are imposed by third parties.

    In a speech at a special session of the Church of Cyprus Holy Synod, President Christofias said that at the ongoing peace talks he defends ''the principles concerning the existence and survival of the country'', noting that this also calls for flexibility.

    ''I believe it is necessary to show this flexibility in our efforts for a peaceful solution of the problem,'' he said and reiterated that ''we are dealing with a difficult invader.''

    President Christofias assured that the state would support the Church in the joint struggle for the reunification of Cyprus and pointed out the need for dialogue that would lead to understanding.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias is engaged in talks with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, in a bid to find a negotiated settlement to reunite the country.

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