|Tuesday, 12 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 15 October 2010 Issue No: 3619
 PM: Gov't determined to combat bureaucracy, support business activityPrime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday reiterated his government's determination to combat bureaucracy, excessive legisla-tion and outdated perceptions, which he said have transformed public services into fiefdoms, "ones operating as sources of corruption."
Addressing an open discussion meeting between Regional Develop-ment and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis and Greek exporters, the Greek premier paid a surprise visit to the meeting and, in his address, noted that exporters - despite bureaucratic hurdles - have managed to become what Greek entrepreneurs should be: creative, bold and efficient.
"We are determined to establish clear and simple rules in the relation between businessmen and the state because we know that excessive legislation and complex framework are the source of corruption," Papandreou said.
He asked for the help of the business world to change perceptions throughout all levels of the society and pledged that the government will take action for a fair tax framework. "We respect the operation of each one of you and we believe that inspections should be transparent," he noted.
Exporters asked the premier to take action to supporting young people in their business activities.
Earlier, Minister Chryssohoidis presented the four priorities of his policy towards boosting export activity, supporting innovation, liquidity and market inspection.
He said that a new development law would be put for consultation in the next two weeks and noted that a new law would include special measures to support export businesses, young businessmen and innovation. Chryssohoidis said he was determined to create a young businessmen movement in Greece. He announced that a draft legislation aimed at transforming TEMPME - a fund to supporting small - and medium-sized enterprises- into a Hellenic Business and Development Fund with the addition of 2.0 billion euros in capital from a 4th Community Support Framework, was at its last stage of preparations and noted that the fund was expected to mobilise bank capital worth three billion euros.
Chryssohoidis said Greek banks were expected to offer written commitments to boost liquidity in domestic markets by using 30 pct of state guarantees offered by the state. He repeated his call to multinational enterprises operating in Greece to cut their prices, saying that there evidence that products were overprices by up to 30 pt in Greece compared with other European countries.
 Government on discussion about extending loan repayment for GreeceGreece was meeting its targets and would not go to new terms or measures under the EU-IMF loan mechanism, government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Thursday.
"Our exclusive concern at this phase is to stringently observe our goals for exiting the crisis that we entered entirely unprotected as a country," he said.
While noting that a public debate on extending the repayment period for the loans to Greece had begun, he said that this was unofficial and Greece was not participating in it.
"If there is an issue, there is no chance that we will not participate in this discussion," he added.
 FM Droutsas to tour Middle EastGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will be carrying out a tour in the Middle East, according to a foreign ministry announcement issued on Thursday, "in a crucial conjuncture for the future of the Peacekeeping Process in the Middle East."
Droutsas will convey Greece's support for the efforts being made by the international community for the achievement of a viable peace, while the basic parameter of his tour will be the upgrading of bilateral relations with Greece.
"Our country, a basic factor in the sector of the Eastern Mediterranean, is promoting with consistency the consolidation of a climate of stability and security in the region. For this reason, in all the meetings he will be having, the minister will have the opportunity to convey to his interlocutors our country's support for the efforts being made by the international community for the achievement of a viable peace. Greece is contributing with all means to these efforts, utilising the credibility reserve that has been created by the consistent exercising of a foreign policy based on principles and values," the announcement said.
Droutsas will be departing on October 17 and returning on the 20th, with stopovers in Jordan, on the 17th, Israel and the Palestinian Territory, on the 18th, Egypt, on the 19th, and Lebanon, on the 20th.
 NATO foreign and defence ministers conferenceA joint announcement by the Foreign and Defence ministries, following the conference of the Alliance's foreign and defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday, in which Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos participated, said that "Greece has assessed in principle positively the present plan of the new strategic doctrine presented to the member-states by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, while the new administration structure model, that was prepared by a committee of senior officers, will constitute an item of further processing."
It was added that "as was observed by the Foreign and Defence ministers, in the present phase of the process, the plans of the above texts that are under processing respond to the options made by our country."
Thursday's conference took place in the framework of preparation for the NATO summit, that will take place in Lisbon in November and it it examined the entire spectrum of the major issues preoccupying NATO.
More specifically, the Alliance's Foreign and Defence ministers, according to the same announcement, "discussed the new strategic doctrine, with the new structure of forces, the issue of anti-missile security, the reforming of the Alliance's organisations, NATO-EU relations, the procedures for the saving of resources and all relevant issues that will be finalised at the conference of NATO heads of state and government."
 Government slams 'unjustifiable' attempt to close Athens AcropolisGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Thursday strongly criticised a group of culture ministry contract workers that attempted to block access to the Athens Acropolis as a way of pressing their demands in a labour dispute, calling their actions "unjustifiable".
"We must protect the monument of the Acropolis as a state and as a society. We cannot see 30 employees padlock the gate and keep it shut in order to achieve some labour-related demands that are to a large extent unjustified," Petalotis stressed.
The spokesman stressed that the group attempted the protest in an effort to have their temporary contracts converted to a permanent position, pointing out that "this is no longer done in the public sector and there can be no exceptions".
Concerning their demand to be paid for time worked, Petalotis said a measure had already been passed for payment by the culture ministry to begin, provided the necessary documentation was supplied.
He blamed the previous New Democracy administration of the culture ministry for the current mess, saying it had created a situation where the ministry was making a loss by hiring people undiscriminately and without restrictions.
 ND on the mobilizations at the Acropolis, loss-making utility companiesMain opposition New Democracy (ND) blamed the government on Thursday for the problem that emerged with the culture ministry contract employees, who proceeded to block access to the Acropolis, but kept its distance from them.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos said that the party is "firmly against actions such as the sit-in at the Acropolis held by the contract employees but, at the same time, the government should realize that the problems of the various social groups are not solved by bringing in the riot police".
He referred to the issue of loss-making public utility companies, stressing that responsibility for phenomena like unreasonable spending of the taxpayers' money and mismanagement, lies with the PASOK governments and underlined that many of the ruling party cadres had emerged from PASOK-affiliated trade unions formed in public utility companies.
Panagiotopoulos also stated that the government should apologize for everything promised and not carried out instead of engaging in criticism.
 GSEE on incidents on AcropolisThe General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) in an announcement on Thursday condemned the use of police force on the premises of the Acropolis, against 'working people claiming the right to work".
"The huge social and labour problems are not handled with force and arbitrariness, even more so when it is directed at young people, who are in a longstanding way victims of a clientele and favouritist state," GSEE stressed, adding that "the global symbolism of the monument of the Acropolis imposes on all and the government and the state in particular, absolute respect for the monument, as well as the social and democratic rights of working people."
 Gov't spokesman slams opposition's 'anti-memorandum' campaignGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Thursday warned the electorate to guard against the "false dilemma" of a pro- and anti-Memorandum vote during the upcoming local government elections, stressing that this was not the real issue. He was scathing in his criticism of the anti-memorandum tactics adopted by opposition parties, especially main opposition New Democracy, in their election campaigns.
Petalotis said that the government was not worried about the election result but anxious to protect the "great revolution" introduced by the new local government structure in the Kallikratis plan.
He emphasised that ND's rejection of the memorandum and the party's claim that there was a "magic" policy mix that could make the deficit vanish without sacrifices failed to convince even its own party members and was the "greatest attempt to deceive the electorate's intelligence".
 Samaras "ND the party of growth"Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras once again sternly attacked the government during a tour in Western Attica on Thursday.
Samaras said that the government has chosen to take the path of economic suffocation and that "it is incomprehensible that today, when the people are suffering, some government plans remain forgotten in ministers' drawers".
He stressed that "breaths of development", adding that ND is the "party of growth".
He also stated that unemployment, crime and the environment are among the most crucial problems, and acknowledged that mistakes have been made not only in the last year but also in the past.
"This government can't be negative on everything," noted Samaras, adding that "it is not possible that no-cost measures are not being taken".
Referring to November's upcoming local government elections, he warned that if citizens choose to abstain or vote for PASOK-backed candidates, new, harsher measures will result because the government will consider it approval of what it has done to date.
 KKE accuses main parties of causing public utility debtsRuling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy and the Maastricht treaty were responsible for the current situation of Greek public utilities and state enterprises, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Thursday.
Th party urged voters to give a "resounding slap" to the main parties during the upcoming local government elections because they had "placed the public utilities at the service of big business groups" and were "now inventing reasons to privatise the salaries of employees that are supposedly responsible for the high costs and deficits".
The government and ND were concealing the fact that the complete privatisation of the public utilities was dictated by the Maastricht Treaty and sought to boost the profits of monopolies while workers suffered under "galley-slave conditions, flexible labour relations and starvation wages", the announcement added.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras visits Piraeus, addresses parliamentary groupRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras visited the port city of Piraeus on Thursday and met with the mayoral candidate backed by the party in view of the imminent local government elections on Nov. 7. He also met with municipal employees and toured the local commercial centre.
Speaking before the SYRIZA parliamentary group, Tsipras referred to rapid developments in the mass media sector, focusing on labour relations and the quality of information reaching the people.
Tsipras stated that the sector's problem was threefold - namely, the business crisis in the mass media, labour problems and the trivialization of information and journalism, stressing that the key point is the close relation between the publishers and the political system.
The SYRIZA parliamentary group president also commented on the government's stance as regards state enterprises. He accused all past governments of being responsible for the current economic state of the public utility companies, stressing that they engaged in looting through procurements and public projects.
He underlined that these companies were of strategic importance for the Greek economy, referring to the Hellenic Railways (OSE) and the Public Power Corporation (PPC).
 Healthcare for non-legals costs couuntry more than 150 million euros annuallyFree healthcare for non-legal migrants in Greece costs the country more than 150 million euros annually, according to ministry estimates, health minister Andreas Loverdos told parliament on Thursday, and most likely is part of an "unidentified" 400 million euros deficit.
Replying in parliament to a timely question tabled by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) MP Adonis Georgiadis, Loverdos said that state hospital expenditures were expected to reach 2.6 billion euros in 2010, of which 400 million were of "unknown origin".
The government will succeed in reforming the system, the minister said, adding that "this means a 300-400 million euros benefit for the people and the patients, because we waste a lot of money not on the patients and the people, but for other reasons".
 Greek-Israeli search and rescue military exerciseA search and rescue military exercise held in the framework of the Greek-Israeli military cooperation programme was completed on Thursday.
The exercise was conducted on Oct. 11-14 in the north, west and central Peloponnese, in southern Greece, and in the Ionian Sea region under the direction of the Greek Air Force and with the support of the 117 Combat Wing.
The participating aircraft and helicopters used the Andravida military airport.
 Losses of 11 major state utilities, enterprises up by 31% in 2007-9‘he finance ministry on Thursday released eyebrow-raising figures showing that total losses for the 11 biggest money-losing state-owned enterprises and utilities in Greece increased by 31 percent between 2007 and 2009, whereas their total revenues dropped 6.8 percent in 2009 compared with 2008.
Moreover, the 11 state enterprises cited showed increased lending by up to eight times higher than annual revenues.
In announcing the figures, the ministry is believed to be readying a plan for restructuring the loss-making enterprises, namely, wage cuts, mergers, and personnel transfers to other areas of the public sector and exploitation of enterprises' property and assets.
The latest losses accumulated by Greece's numerous state-run utilities and enterprises was reportedly one of the main reasons for last week's revision by Eurostat of the state budget deficit for 2009, which now stands at more than 15 percent of GDP.
The 11 top loss-making utilities and enterprises are Hellenic Rail (OSE), OSE's affiliated national management company for rail infrastructure (EDISY S.A.), another OSE affiliated subsidiary, Trainose S.A., the Athens-Piraeus electric rail line (ISAP S.A.), the Athens-Piraeus electric trolley company (IL.PAP S.A.), another Athens-area mass transit provider (Eth.EL), the Hellenic Defence Systems A.B.E.E., the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI S.A.), the Hellenic Tourism (real estate) Development S.A., the company exploiting and managing Greek highways (TEO S.A.), the horseracing operator, ODIE S.A.
Total revenues of the aforementioned public enterprises and utilities in 2009 exceeded 1.500 billion euros, falling from 1.609 billion euros in 2008.
The total amount paid for wages, bonuses etc. for the 11 companies reached 1.168 billion euros in 2009, whereas 78 percent of revenues went towards wages, social security contributions and other benefits allocated to the workforce.
 Petalotis on state enterprises: 'fair' working rights will not be lostThe government has made no firm decisions concerning the overhaul of loss-making state enterprises, spokesman George Petalotis said on Thursday. The statement was made following the release of finance ministry figures for 11 of the country's most loss-making state enterprises. Among others, these showed that they were working up huge deficits and debts while their employees receiving up to four times the minimum wage on average.
Petalotis said that any decisions taken concerning these companies would be on the same basis as for Hellenic Railways (OSE) that topped the list of 11.
Ordinary employee did not have anything to fear and the most important thing was that they keep their jobs, the spokesman noted, pointing out that for OSE there was the process of transfers to other positions. He stressed that "fair" working rights with reasonable salaries - unlike those that existed today - would not be lost by employees.
Regarding staff at OSE and train operators TRAINOSE, he said that there would not be any lay-offs and that regular salaries would remain at current levels but without the secondary benefits that boosted the overall earnings of these employees.
Concerning the doubts expressed by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) about the accuracy of the figures released, Petalotis said the figures were reliable and anyone that had figures showing something different should make them public.
 Greek unemployment rose to 12 pct in JulyGreek unemployment rate rose to 12 pct in July this year, from 9.6 pct in the same month in 2009, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday. The statistics agency said the number of unemployed people totaled 607,035 in July, up 130,328 from July 2009 and higher by 24,671 compared with June 2010.
The financially non-active population in the country totaled 4,261,458, while the number of employed people totaled 4,429,296 in July, with the latter number down by 52,866 people compared with July 2009 and up 9,473 compared with June 2010.
The government's 2011 draft budget plan envisages that the unemployment rate would total 11.6 pct this year, up from 9.5 pct in 2009, rising further to 14.5 pct in 2011 and 15 pct in 2012 and easing to 14.6 pct in 2013.
The unemployment rate among women was 15.7 pct in July, up from 9.4 pct among men, while the 15-24 age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (32.6 pct), followed by the 25-34 age group (15.8 pct).
Central Greece (14.3 pct), eastern Macedonia-Thrace (13.4 pct), western Macedonia (13.3 pct) and Epirus (13 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates among the country's regions, while south Aegean (5.9 pct), north Aegean (6.2 pct), Ionian Islands (6.6 pct) and Crete (9.1 pct) recorded the lowest unemployment rates.
 GSEE announces 24-hour strike on December 15A 24-hour general strike and a rally at the Pedio tou Areos Park will be held on December 15, according to a decision by the plenum of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) board.
The situation that has been shaped by the implementation of the Troika's measures and government policy was discussed analytically during the meeting.
According to a relevant announcement, a memorandum of social and labour protection of the rights of working people is among the Confederation's demands and a reply to the memorandum.
GSEE, according to the announcement, rejects categorically every thought of new austerity measures and tax raiding against salaried people and pensioners with the new 2011 budget and demands that "those who have and possess" should pay.
 NBG seeks to revive domestic interbank marketOpening up the interbank market is a challenge than can be achieved in the medium term and within the year following National Bank's recent successful a share capital increase, Apostolos Tamvakakis, the bank's chief executive officers, said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, the NBG CEO said opening up finance lines between banks (interbank market) would allow National Bank and the domestic banking system, in general, to offer necessary liquidity to the real economy, a hoped for jump-start for economic growth. The interbank market has shut down since the crisis began, a development that combined with the outflow of saving deposits abroad - this trend was halted in August - created a liquidity squeeze in the domestic banking system.
Limited liquidity in the system, combined with a sharp decline in demand of capital by the private sector, pushed financing growth for the private sector to a further slowdown in August (1.5 pct on an annual basis from 2.3 pct in July and 4.1 pct in December 2009).
Credit expansion to enterprises slowed to 2.3 pct annually in August, from 3.4 pct in July and 5.0 pct in December 2009, while new lending to households slowed to 0.6 pct in August, from 1.6 pct in June and 3.1 pct in December 2009.
This situation is projected to gradually change after the successful completion of National Bank's capital boost program, ranking the bank top among European banks on capital adequacy, and the full implementation of a three-year economic stability program by the government, which would pave the way for the country to return to international capital markets.
National Bank aims to approving dividend payment to its shareholders and to gradually become independent from European Central Bank's funding lines (the bank has borrowed 22 billion euros from ECB from a total of 96 billion euros borrowed by the domestic banking system). The successful capital increase plan also allowed National Bank to achieve another goal, that of becoming a regional leader and further strengthening its growth in SE Europe. Commenting on whether National Bank will participate in an anticipated merger and takeover activity in the domestic banking system, Tamvakakis was adamant:
National Bank will not use the money from the capital increase plan to seek a merger or takeover in cash".
 Greek bond spreads fall to 645 bps on ThursdayGreek state bond yield spreads continued falling in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, supported by market relief after China said it planned to buy Greek state securities and the International Monetary Fund's announcement supporting an extension of repayment period for a 110-billion-euro support package for Greece. The 10-year Greek benchmark bond yielded 8.77 pct in midday trade, down from 9.11 pct on Wednesday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds falling to 645 basis points. Lower bond yields are contributing to the decline of losses recorded by Greek banks' bond portfolions.
 32nd int'l Boat Show in Athens this monthThe 32nd Athens International Boat Show will be inaugurated on Oct. 16 by Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis.
Under the main motto of "Affordable getaways for all", the exhibition will focus on sailboats and cruisers, boat renting, inflatable boats, powerboats, fishing boats, outboard motors, accessories, equipment, electronic systems, servicing products and also diving gear, fishing equipment and aqua sporting items.
The 32nd Athens International Boat Show will be held at Metropolitan Expo and run until Oct. 24.
 Air traffic controllers' strike declared illegalAn Athens court on Thursday ruled illegal a 24-hour strike scheduled for Sunday October 17 by air traffic controllers.
The appeal against the strike was filed by the Civil Aviation Service.
 Pizza Fun to expand to TurkeyPizza Fun on Thursday announced plans to expand to Turkey, with the opening of its first shop in Istanbul.
The first Pizza Fun shop, currently at its last stage of construction, is located at the Sisli region, one of the oldest parts in the European side of the city and will offer a menu adjusted to Turkey's food tradition.
Pizza Fun plans to gradually expand its network throughout Turkey. The company was founded in 1996 and it is the largest pizza delivery chain in Greece, with a network of 54 branches in the country.
 Car sales slump causes lay-offs, business closingsLay-offs in retail car sector are expected to reach 25,000 in the period from 2008 until the end of 2010, as a result of the closure of 2,500 enterprises out of a total of 6,000 firms in the recession-hit sector, Ap. Petmezas, the president of the Federation of Car Importers and Dealers, said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, Petmezas said car sales are down 65.3 pct in the period from the summer of 2008 until today, while turnover was down 60 pct and unemployment has reached 10 pct in the sector.
He stressed that the car sales market was expected to fall by 36 pct this year, translating into 160,000 new vehicles sold, with a danger of dipping below 90,000 in 2011 unless corrective moves were made.
The federation called for a reduction in car registration duties, reinstating incentives to replacing old-technology cars and cheaper car and business loans from banks.
Car dealers also called for the abolishment of a luxury tax on cars and the abolition of decades-old ban -- unique for Europe -- on diesel-engine cars in Athens and Thessaloniki.
 Stocks end significantly lowerStocks came under strong selling pressure to end significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as investors took profits after a recent rally in the market. The composite index fell 2.52 pct to end at 1,541.79 points, with turnover an improved 151.126 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 3.17 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.06 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.73 pct.
National Bank's shares fell 6.41 pct, Alpha Bank lost 6.14 pct, Eurobank 5.44 pct and Hellenic Postbank fell 4.33 pct. The Banks (4.61 pct) and Commerce (3.08 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Chemicals (1.80 pct) and Personal Products (0.12 pct) scored gains.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 114 to 54 with another 47 issues unchanged. Edrasi (16.67 pct), Alpha Grissin (16.36 pct) and Cardico (15.79 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (19.48 pct), Avenir (16.67 pct) and Kyriakoulis (14.81 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.86%
Personal & Household: +0.12%
Raw Materials: -0.36%
Travel & Leisure: -1.22%
Food & Beverages: -1.15%
Financial Services: -1.82%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Coca Cola and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.20
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.85
HBC Coca Cola: 17.99
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.70
National Bank of Greece: 8.03
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.87
Bank of Piraeus: 3.97
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 74 million euros on Thursday, of which 19 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 55 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 18 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 8.88 pct and the German Bund 8.77 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.48 pct, the six-month rate 1.21 pct, the three-month 0.99 pct and the one-month rate 0.77 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.71 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 49.215 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,601 contracts worth 36.593 million euros, with 30,527 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,033 contracts worth 12.622 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8.418), followed by Eurobank (1,611), OTE (640), Piraeus Bank (1,980), Alpha Bank (1,231), Mytilineos (499), Cyprus Bank (3,111) and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (397).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.421
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.307
Japanese yen 115.35
Swiss franc 1.349
Norwegian kroner 8.134
Canadian dollar 1.420
Australian dollar 1.425
 Acropolis closed by protesting contract workers, clash with policeRiot police on Thursday used teargas to disperse protesting culture ministry contract employees, as the latter had chained-locked the entrance to the Acropolis archaeological site since dawn on Wednesday in demand of permanent status and 22 months in back pay.
The archaeological site remained closed to visitors throughout the day, while police also remained in place.
Police launched an operation early Wednesday to reopen the site after a lawsuit was filed by the local police precinct chief with an Athens prosecutor, who gave the go-ahead for the operation.
Protesting contract workers locked the gates leading to the Acropolis with chains, keeping out hundreds of tourists seeking to visit Greece's best-known and most frequented archaeolo-gical site.
Before the teargas, scuffles broke out between police and protestors, who say they are covering permanent needs of the ministry.
Alternate Culture and Tourism Minister Telemachos Hytiris, speaking on a private television station earlier, called on protestors to send a group of representatives to the ministry so as to find a solution, but the call was rejected.
"The archaeological site of the Acropolis is a world cultural heritage monument and cannot be used by any group of employees regardless of how much we respect their right to defend their rights," Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis stressed on Thursday.
"In the case of the culture ministry contract employees, as regards the back pay, the ministry has stated that they will be paid to the last penny if those eligible present the necessary documents requested," he said.
"However, no one has the right to change the locks at the Acropolis and remain in the archaeological site throughout the night because this unique monument belongs to humanity and not to any single group of people," he pointed out.
Speaking in parliament in response to a current question by a Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP, the deputy minister stated that "no one approves of the use of violence but the Acropolis is a world heritage monument and no one has the right to keep it closed when thousands of people travel across the world just to visit the site".
The antiquities bureau director had testified that the mobilization obstructed the operation of the archaeological site leading to the police intervention this morning to restore order.
Hytiris stated that contract employees will have to realize that their contracts will not be renewed again and when they end they will have to leave their posts.
He described as "unthinkable" the stance of the protesters who warned that they will keep the archaeological site of the Acropolis closed for a month and repeated that the back pay will be received by those eligible as soon as they present the necessary documents requested.
Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stood by the protesters and condemned the police intervention maintaining that "the mobilizations will cause no damage to the monument".
Speaking in Thessaloniki, within the framework of her tour in northern Greece in view of the local government elections on Nov. 7, Papariga called on the people to vote for her party's candidates.
The civil servants union, ADEDY, strongly condemned the intervention of the riot police at the Acropolis and expressed support to the protesting contract employees who demand permanent status and 22 months in back pay.
The civil servants union also condemned what it called a "criminalisation" of the mobilisations called by the local authority staff union federation, POE-OTA, stressing that "the government has opted for intransigence and confrontation instead of providing solutions to the problems of the workers..."
 Exhibition on ancient Macedonian kings in OxfordAn exhibition on the ancient Macedonian royal lineage of Alexander the Great that presents evidence that his family and kingdom were firmly rooted in the culture and civilisation of ancient Greece is to open its doors in Oxford this coming April.
Entitled "From Hercules to Alexander: the legend of Macedonia," the exhibition will run from April 7 until August 29 and features exhibits currently held at the Aigai Museum in northern Greece that have never before been allowed out of the country.
According to archaeologist Angeliki Kotaridis, who worked on the digs at the palace in Aigai, it contains a "series of finds which prove that Alexander the Great did not just spring out of nowhere to take over the whole world. He was a scion of the Temenides dynasty that ruled the Macedonian kingdom for three and half centuries and who were 'descendants' of Hercules and Zeus."
The exhibition narrative will start from the genealogical tree claimed by the ancient Macedonian kings, starting with Zeus and Hercules and reaching up to Alexander the Great's son, Alexander IV. It will not be academic in nature but use all types of audiovisual media (video, photomosaics, 3-D digital reconstructions etc).
The five sections of the exhibition are the following: the Temenides dynasty; War and hunting; Princesses, Queens and High Priestesses, the role of women in the Macedonian Court; the Symposium, a central event in the life of Macedonians; Aigai, the building plan of Philip II and the Palace.
Among the exhibits will be a marble bust of Alexander from Pella (the only find that does not originate from Aigai) and portraits of Philip and Alexander from the gold-and-ivory mortuary couch found in the royal tombs at Vergina.
 Carpe Diem graffiti artists in pioneer public mural project with City of Athens"Imagine a city where waiting at a bus stop is not boring..."
This is the theme of a pilot public art, or graffiti, program for aesthetic intervention on buildings in Athens.
"Public Mural Art - Revamping of Psyrri" is a pilot project of the City of Athens and the Carpe Diem association.
Carpe Diem, Greece's first "graffiti crew", made its appearance in 1991, and in 2002 became a legally recognised association. Comprised of artists, the group's aim is to promote murals as a form of public art to aesthetically upgrade the dull monotony of public buildings, in projects carried out in close cooperation with municipal authorities and communities.
Carpe Diem has carried out mural projects at school buildings in a number of municipalities throughout the country, took part in the International Mural Exhibition held throughout August at the Dafen Museum of Art in Shenzhen, China, and is currently involved in a pioneering collaboration with the City of Athens. The pilot program, titled Prosopsi (Facade) initially involved the painting of murals on three buildings in Psyrri, Athens, with the approval of the building owners, and has recently been extended to the entire city with the project "Carpe Diem Public Murals - Prosopsi".
Another ongoing project, in collaboration with the Secretariat General for Youth, involves the painting of murals on school buildings throughout the country in the city of Larissa and on the island of Ikaria, with the participation of the local municipal authorities and permission of the school boards.
 Nana Mouschouri awarded Parliament Foundation silver medalParliament President Philippos Petsalnikos on Thursday presented the Parliament Foundation silver medal and an honorary diploma to internationally renowned Greek singer Nana Mouschouri. The award was given for her contribution to Greek culture through music, her lengthy and successful international career and for promoting Greece abroad.
 Man missing, 42 illegal migrants rescued, after being abandoned on islet in Evros riverOne illegal immigrant was missing and 42 others, including three children, were rescued by Orestiada police on Thursday morning after becoming stranded on an islet in the Evros River -- where they were disembarked by Turkish migrant-smugglers -- and in danger of being swept away by torrential waters.
The migrants, including 11 women and three children, told police that they had been transported to and abandoned on the islet by Turkish migrant-smugglers. They said one man from the group had been swept away by the rushing waters and was missing.
Police, alerted by locals, rushed to the islet where they found the migrants clinging onto the trees they had climbed to escape the rising water. The migrants were taken by boat to shore, where they were given first aid treatment.
A search and rescue operation is ongoing for the missing man.
 Preliminary inquiry into steel plant explosionA public prosecutor on Thursday ordered the start of a preliminary inquiry to discover the cause of an explosion on Wednesday at the "Elliniki Halyvourgia" steel plant that resulted in the injury of four plant employees.
The prosecutor also released the plant's safety officer and the foreman in charge of the plant machinery as they were not the legal representatives of the company, whose arrest the prosecutor had ordered the day before.
The inquiry will include an expert fact-finding report to determine the causes and those responsible for the accident.
 Climate change, renewable energy inspired artwork exhibitionAn exhibition of works by seven artists inspired by climate change and renewable energy sources opened Thursday at the Artis Causa Gallery in Thessaloniki.
The exhibition is part of this year's DE-FORUM program carried out under the Goethe Institute.
Participating artists are Ingo Dunnebier, Bernhard Quade, Ruud Matthes, Geiorgos Tsakiris, Aris Georgiou, Manolis Yiannadakis and Alexandra Marati.
The exhibition, curated by Maria Kenanidou, will run through November 27.
 Black market warehouse uncovered in VotanikosThe City of Athens and Greek Police (ELAS) on Wednesday uncovered a massive black market warehouse containing thousands of counterfeit brand name items.
Athens Municipal Police and ELAS, in collaboration with the Special Investigation Service and in the presence of a public prosecutor, located a new black market warehouse on Dimarakis St, near the Votanikos area, just days after discovering a similar warehouse on Kolonou St.
Double the amount of counterfeit items were discovered in the warehouse on Dimarakis St.
Handbags, purses, sunglasses, clothes, hats and watches, all of which were knock-off brands, were found stored in cardboard boxes on the ground floor and first floor of the warehouse.
Deputy Mayor for Commercial Establishments and City Safety Andreas Papadakis said that "we could not believe it when we saw the quantities of counterfeit items in the warehouse...There were thousands of items, which were destined to be channelled through the streets of Athens and sold illegally".
He said that Wednesday's operation was yet another major step in combating illegal trade, and, by order of Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, "the effort will continue so as to improve the lives of all the citizens of Athens".
The knock-off brand items will be documented by the Special Investigation Service in collaboration with agencies involved and then destroyed in accordance with the law.
 Four foreigners arrested in Piraeus for possession of weaponsFour foreigners of Albanian origin were arrested in Piraeus on Thursday afternoon after being found in possession of two "Kalashnikov" automatic weapons, two pistols and two grenades.
Piraeus police are investigating the affair while more information has not been provided.
 Wildfire on Crete under partial controlA wildfire that erupted on Wednesday night in the region of Kalo Chorio, near Irakleio, Crete, destroyed roughly 30 hectares of brush and grassland before being partially extinguished on Thursday morning. An investigation is underway on the causes of the blaze.
 Woman arrested for possession of child pornA local woman was arrested in the greater Athens region and charged with child pornography trafficking over the Internet, police said on Thursday.
The suspect was traced during an investigation conducted within the framework of a police operation.
Five hard discs found at her home were confiscated and are being examined to be determined if the suspect was collaborating with other Internet users to exchange and disseminate child porn material.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 26C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with westerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 24C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 18C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe dire economic situation in 11 loss-making public utilities and enterprises (DEKOs), a drop in the spread of Greek state bonds and speculation over new deals in the domestic sector, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "11 public enterprises add losses of 12 billion euros per year to state budget".
APOGEVMATINI: "Lost in the translation of their 'creative accountancy'."
AVGHI: "Government gives final stroke to DEKOs that they've already looted".
ESTIA: "According to percentage of real GNP, deficit is smaller".
ETHNOS: "Imposition of price ceilings for pharmaceuticals, surgeries".
IMERISSIA: "New bank deals in December".
KATHIMERINI: "DEKO employees unaffected by economic crisis".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Closing of outstanding tax obligations for the wealthy".
LOGOS: "State budget drowning - PM George Papandreou on Wednesday sounded optimistic".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Markets positive over repayment extension scenario".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government gives up people's rights in Aegean Sea".
TA NEA: "Banks and consumers renounce credit cards - 1 million credit cards less within a six-month period".
TO VIMA: "We are reborn! Chile mineworkers' dramatic stories".
VRADYNI: "Employers' contribution funding".
 President hopes opening of Limnitis crossing point will strengthen cooperationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Thursday expressed hope that the opening of the Kato Pyrgos-Limnitis crossing point will give impetus to the further strengthening of the cooperation between the organized groups and ordinary people of the region who have played a significant role in the efforts to make the opening possible.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the Kato Pyrgos-Limnitis crossing point, Christofias stressed at the same time that ''our primary aim was and remains reaching a comprehensive solution which will completely normalize the situation and create such conditions that will enable Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to move freely in every corner of their common homeland, the united Federal Cyprus.''
''A solution that will make Cypriots the real masters of this land,'' he noted and reassured of his unwavering commitment to this vision ''which is, for me, a life target.''
Christofias noted that a difficult - and at times arduous - effort comes today to a successful end. ''This day is very important primarily for the people of Kato Pyrgos and Limnitis but also for the people of the wider region. The distance and therefore the time needed to and from Nicosia is significantly shortened. The benefits will become more and more visible for all, primarily for the communities located on the road from Polis Chrysochous to Morfou and to Nicosia,'' he noted.
He said that ''the reconstruction of the road will also help in the speediest crossing of ambulances and fire trucks within the framework of the measure we have decided and which is being implemented for the past few months. I am aware that a lot remains to be done. We shall continue our efforts. This moment, let us appreciate what has been achieved,'' Christofias added.
Christofias warmly greeted and thanked the people of Pyrgos and Limnitis, the local authorities and the organized groups for the warm welcome and at the same time congratulate them for their contribution. ''I also wish to encourage them to further strengthen their joint effort,'' he said.
He noted that since 2003, when the first crossing points were opened, "we saw the collapse of the propaganda of the well-known nationalist circles that the mixing of the two communities is impossible. It was proven beyond doubt that ordinary Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can and want to live together peacefully in a common homeland," Christofias said.
He made a special reference to the late Goksel Kabaran, former president of the community of Limnitis, who was one of the protagonists in the efforts to open this crossing point and expressed regret that he is not among us today to celebrate the success of this effort.
He also thanked the United Nations, the European Union as well as the Member States and Commissioner Fule personally, ''for his presence here today, as well as the Government of the United States of America which, together with the Republic of Cyprus, contributed financially and thus made possible the completion of this project.''
''I also wish to warmly thank all the anonymous protagonists of this effort, technicians, workers and all the personnel who carried out the construction works despite the difficulties and the obstacles,'' Christofias said and wished the best to the people of the area.
''I call upon them to continue on the same path of common struggle until the time we can all celebrate together the reunification of our homeland and of our people,'' he concluded.
For the past 45 years, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis, on the northwest, have to travel to Pafos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia. The opening of the crossing will cut this journey down to under an hour.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The leaders of the two communities have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island.
 UN Secretary General welcomes opening of Limnitis checkpointUNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UN Secretary-General has welcomed Thursday's opening of the crossing point at Limnitis in Cyprus, which he believes would lead to increased interaction and cooperation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, spokesperson of the Secretary General stated here Thursday.
The spokesperson said that Ban Ki-moon congratulates both communities and their leadership on this important achievement.
"The Secretary-General hopes that this will help strengthen the climate of trust and goodwill necessary for the UN-supported negotiations to achieve a mutually-acceptable and lasting settlement as soon as possible", he added.
The crossing point opened today in the presence of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The leaders of the two communities have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunify the island.
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