|Monday, 11 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 23 November 2010 Issue No: 3652
 Gov't completes negotiations with EU-ECB-IMF 'troika'The Greek government does not intend to repeat the "extremely unpleasant" mea-sures it was forced to take in 2010, such as cutting salaries and pensions in the public sector, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou briefed President Karolos Papoulias on Monday.
The minister stressed that negotiations with the group of visiting "troika" experts was nearing completion and was focusing on "major structural issues", such as reforms of the public sector, public sector enterprises, the labour market as well as improvement of the country's competitiveness, while he reminded that an agreement has been reached on next year's budget.
Papaconstantinou said there were no problems in negotiations with the troika, but stressed that there were a series of difficult issues to be examined.
"Each time we are trying to safeguard the country's interests, the best way possible. In the past we managed to avoid a series of issues put forth by the troika, such as eliminating the 13th and 14th salaries in the private sector. Each time we negotiate towards the best possible results, taking into consideration that at the end of negotiations the next tranche of a support loan was at stake".
Papaconstantinou said that 2010 was an extremely difficult and crucial year for the economy, "during which we avoided the worst, which was bankruptcy, and managed something never achieved by another country, to reduce our fiscal deficit by six percentage points of GDP".
Papaconstantinou said the 2011 budget was a fiscal adjustment effort, "a one-way street to restore confidence in international markets and to restart economic growth in 2012".
Papaconstantinou will have a final meeting with the troika experts on Monday afternoon, before the EU-ECB-IMF officials present the results of their inspection on Tuesday.
 FinMin concludes Monday meeting with troika representativesA marathon meeting between the heads of the troika and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou was concluded at the ministry on Monday with an agreement between the two sides concerning the memorandum's updating in the sector of structural changes.
Given that the fiscal sector had "closed" with the new budget, the representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank had focused on changes in public utilities and the wider public sector, the labour market and the Greek economy's competitiveness.
The text of the updated memorandum is expected to be publicised in the next 15 days, while on Tuesday morning the troika will be presenting the conclusions from the recent check of the economy at a press conference.
 Gov't on negotiations with 'troika'; labour minister's commentsThe government's pledge of no more salary cuts in public utilities and enterprises -- as well as no lay-offs -- was reiterated by the government spokesman on Monday, who pointed out that the government is in negotiations with the EU-ECB-IMF "troika" representatives to reach a solution that will be the best serve the public interest.
Spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stressed that the government wants to preserve job positions, and that this will be possible through personnel transfers to other parts of Greece's cavernous public sector, while pointing out that this measure will protect the right to work. As regards the terms of the transfers, Petalotis qualified: "Being transferred does not equal being fired."
He also stressed that the prevalence of individual work contracts over the sector-wide contracts "is out of the question", underlining, however, that the option of "individual business work contracts will be implemented only for a limited period of time and in a limited manner". Moreover, he pointed out that "this is the government's position, one also shared by Labour Minister Louka Katseli."
"Individual business work contracts under specific terms and preconditions will safeguard job positions for a specific period of time; (job positions) that we do not have the luxury to lose in the particular period of time."
Responding to a press question concerning an article in a Sunday newspaper by Katseli, he underlined that all the government ministers have the prime minister's confidence, while he denied that the "troika" had complaints as regards cooperation with Katseli.
 Government rules out default, says third tranche secureGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Monday ruled out the prospect that Greece will default or that the third tranche of EU-IMF loans was in jeopardy.
"Until now we have proved that we are carrying out our targets and our determination is given so we are sure that in the same way we will receive the fourth installment [of the EU-IMF loans]," he added.
He noted that the negotiations for the third tranche were "tough" but not "dramatic", adding that the troika officials had themselves outlined the reasons for postponing the press conference on their conclusions after a week-long inspection tour of Greece until Tuesday.
Petalotis stressed that the present government had succeeded in persuading its EU partners to set up the financial support mechanism at a time when the country's credibility had hit an absolute low, creating a "cushion" that was now there to support the borrowing needs of countries that need not face the immense difficulties and shocks that Greece had undergone.
"As long as there is a stable mechanism, so will our own economic stability and security be protected," Petalotis added.
Asked if the government feared a public reaction similar to that seen in Ireland, the spokesman said that the government had raised the issue of its legitimacy during the first round of local government elections and that the result of the second Sunday had shown "complete legitimacy" of the government's policy for the country's salvation.
 Droutsas at EU Foreign Ministers CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
European Union Foreign Ministers examined here on Monday the course towards the simplified amendment of the Lisbon Treaty combined with the enactment of a permanent support mechanism for the eurozone, while preparing the December European Council. Greece was represented at the General and Foreign Affairs Councils by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou.
Droutsas termed the December summit "one of the most crucial European Councils of the past years" and added that in the coming days the delegations of the member-states will begin bilateral contacts with the office of the EU President Herman van Rompuy and with the European Commission.
In the framework of these meetings the Greek delegation will be tabling the Greek positions to the EU President in the next 10 days, Droutsas said. He further said that for this reason the Greek side has already begun the preparation and processing of the proposals that have been raised at the negotiating table, for divisive messages to be avoided in a crucial period.
Referring in particular to the permanent support mechanism, Droutsas said that the shape and characteristics of its functioning have not yet been specialised and added that Greece is expecting the form of the consultations, shortly before the December summit, remaining in close cooperation with the rest of the eurozone member-states.
"We support the creation of a permanent support mechanism with a European character and without divisive messages," Droutsas stressed.
The General Affairs Council dealt with the deadlock created with the approval of the EU budget for 2011.
Xenoyiannakopoulou said on her part that the crisis must be overcome and stressed that "there can be no procedure that will anticipate the discussion in relation to the fiscal prospects."
 FM proposes EU-Turkey summit in address to European Policy Center in BrusselsGreece's foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas proposed the holding of an EU-Turkey summit in end-June or in the autumn of 2011, after the elections in Turkey in early June, addressing the European Policy Center (EPC) on Monday in Brussels.
The purpose of the EU-Turkey summit should be to adopt a political declaration that sets out a "new roadmap" for Turkey's EU accession, "a 'New Helsinki' with clearly defined timeframes and target dates, designating precisely what Turkey's obligations are and the pace at which they must be met...And a specific date for Turkey's accession to the EU -- assuming, of course, the relevant ratifications are forthcoming from the member states and Turkey", Droutsas clarified.
Droutsas said he will brief his Hungarian counterpart of this proposal on Wednesday in Budapest, ahead of Hungary's assumption of the rotating EU presidency on January 1, 2011, while relevant discussions will also be held with Poland, which takes over the EU presidency in the second half of 2011.
The foreign minister warned that the "theatrical farce" on Turkey's part, regarding the Cyprus issue, must stop and Ankara, if it wishes to move forward in its accession course, must fulfill all its obligations, and warned that if the issues of implementation of the Protocol and its other obligations have not been resolved by June 2011, Turkey will be running the risk of seeing its accession course freezing until those situations are resolved.
"That is simply how it is, so there is no point in anyone hiding behind the Cyprus issue," Droutsas said, and expressed his disappointment that Turkey continues to repeat its position of two states and two peoples in Cyprus reunification process under the UN, which he added is fully aware of the problems and the prospects for a solution.
Droutsas stressed, however, that the reality of the invasion and occupation of a section of Cyprus and the threat of war against Greece cannot be forgotten for the sake of the good relations desired with Turkey, adding that the 'casus belli' was not in line with the principles and values of the EU.
On the accession course of the Western Balkan states, Droutsas said that the goal of Greece's EU presidency in 2014 is to convene an EU-Western Balkans Summit-'Thessaloniki II' for the purpose of adopting a political declaration that will clearly set out ambitious but realistic targets with the necessary steps of progress for completion of the EU accession process of those countries.
The three basic goals for Thessaloniki II are: the creation of "Group 2014" consisting of member states that will form "preparation alliances" with candidate countries and actively participate in the process; the development of close ties of cooperation among candidate countries at regional level, strengthening existing cooperation platforms and putting greater emphasis on interaction between these platforms; and, agreement on a target date for full accesssion, which will be the new catalyst for change and progress and an incentive for reforms and a basis for assessing governments in the region.
Replying to a question on the FYROM name issue, Droutsas reiterated Greece's firm position for a mutually acceptable solution with a geographical qualifier for every use (erga omnes), stressing that this is a sincere and objective approach, and adding that if a solution to the name issue is found, Greece will stand by FYROM's side in its European course.
 DM holds briefing on NATO Lisbon summitDefence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday referred to "intense negotiations" in the first half of 2011 as regards the new command structure and NATO's future anti-missile defence.
Speaking at a press conference on the outcome of NATO's summit meeting in Lisbon, Venizelos referred to a new command structure in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean, stressing that it should be simple, smart and functional, adding that criteria set should be the same with the rest regions under the operational responsibility of NATO.
As regards to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, Venizelos said NATO will be mainly limited to a political role after March 2014, emphasising negotiation and dialogue with groups that distance themselves from those defined by the alliance as hostile.
Referring to the anti-missile defence shield, he said the Summit meeting welcomed a US initiative as a national contribution to the existing NATO system, with which Russia will have a comprehensive operational cooperation.
Responding to a relevant question, Venizelos said no request has been made to store nuclear weapons in Greece, adding that the country is participating in all training programmes, including those related with the specific issue.
 ND leader holds first meeting with new mayors backed by NDMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Monday had his first meeting with the mayors elected in recent local government elections with ND's backing. Addressing the gathered mayors, he stressed that the current government, with policies like those of the Memorandum and the Kallikratis plan, had made the task ahead of them exceptionally difficult.
Concerning 'Kallikratis', Samaras stressed that the admini-strative reform had been carried out "in a very slapdash and irresponsible way, without securing the necessary funds that are needed for it to work nor the necessary structures".
Samaras urged the new mayors to pay particular attention to issues of welfare and social protection for those faced by poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, as well as to environmental issues and security issues. He also called for regular meetings between mayors and the party, noting that they were close to local communities and that he wanted their feedback on the daily concerns of the citizens.
At 14:30 on Wednesday, Samaras is to have a meeting with the regional authority chiefs and deputy chiefs supported by ND.
 Dora Bakoyannis received by presidentThe head of the newly-formed Democratic Alliance party Dora Bakoyannis on Monday had a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. Afterward, she stressed that achieving "national understanding" was her party's primary goal.
"The economy is not doing well. We must join forces in order to bring Greece out of the crisis. The goal of our party is to introduce new people and new proposals. Above all, to tell the Greek people the truth so that we can look them in the face tomorrow," she said.
Asked whether her party would strive for a governmental alliance with George Papandreou's PASOK party or with main opposition New Democracy's Antonis Samaras, Bakoyannis said her goal was not a governmental alliance but a national understanding.
"There is a major difference. Do not think positions and ministries. We must come to an understanding on what is obvious today in Greece. And all the political forces must have the courage to tell the Greek people the truth. Our movement is determined to do this. We will provoke a discussion on the existing, major issues that currently concern Greece in order to bring it out of the crisis," she explained.
 Papoulias receives army general staff chiefPresident Karolos Papoulias on Monday received the chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff, Lt. Gen. Frangoulis Frangos, where he stressed that "we owe a lot to the armed forces. We feel safe and can give the tough fight in the battlefield of the economy."
Referring to the message addressed by Papoulias on the occasion of Greece's Armed Forces Day celebrated on Sunday, Lt. Gen. Frangos stated that it made a strong impression, adding that "enjoying the President's appreciation is a vindication for members of the armed forces."
 KKE leader visits HAI, expresses support for workersCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday expressed her complete support for staff at the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) during a visit to meet the HAI workers' union.
Papariga said her party would undertake any initiative possible to ensure that HAI's staffing needs were immediately met.
HAI staff stressed that the state-run aircraft systems manufacturer, considered one of the basic enterprises in the Greek defence industry, currently has a number of unfinished projects.
KKE's leader criticised the policy of past governments in allowing the decline of HAI and the Greek defence industry as a whole, and said this was being done in support of plans for a single European defence industry based in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other leading EU powers.
 Tsipras on abolition of collective sector agreementsRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Pariamentary Group pre-sident Alexis Tsipras said on Monday that "the abolition of collective sector agreements means a return to the middle ages for the working people" and added that this also means ruin for small and medium-size enterprises due to illicit competition.
Tsipras further said that these developments mean more locks and greater unemployment, while stressing that "it is known to all that the collective agreements fall under national law and the troika and the memorandum have no jurisdiction. It is the government's absolute responsibility to decide on what a future it wants, what a future it is preparing for the country's working people."
Tsipras went on to say that for this reason "a wide front of political and social forces is necessary to avert this nightmarish prospect."
 Bill on improvement of application of penal justiceA bill titled "Rationalisation and improvement in the applica-tion of Penal Justice" was tabled in Parliament.
Among other things, it anticipates the new regulation of issues on the conversion of sentences on the restriction of freedom to financial ones, with the general rule that the restrictive sentence above two years that does not exceed three, will be converted from now on to a financial one on conditions, while the criteria on determining the amount of the conversion will be redetermined.
Moreoever, it is anticipated that for sentences that have not been converted, provided that one fifth of them has been served they will be converted into a financial sentence by the court and the release of the detainee will be ordered.
 Chryssohoidis on EU Cohesion PolicyRegional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis called at the informal meeting of relevant ministers on the European Union's Cohesion Policy, that is taking place in Liege, for the fair allocation of Political Cohesion support for local development and in this direction there should be closer cooperation between the Political Cohesion, the European Investments Bank and the European fiscal sector.
"The Union must take into serious consideration one real fact, that the economic crisis brought about a serious and substantive decrease in the income per capita, that might not appear in statistical data that will be used. The lowest selection limits could be amended slightly, so that they can respond to the structural repercussions of the curent crisis as well as of the European enlargement," the minister said.
"In our view the poorest regions of Europe (Target 1) must have the right to the due support, that keeps the grants for the transitional regions active," he added.
In parallel, he stressed that "the territorial approach must be used further in shaping the cohesion policies. Greece, being a country with many islands, mountainous regions and many tens of small isolated islets, supports every effort in this direction. At the same time, local, urban and agricultural development is a crucial issue, where special weight must be given."
 Greek fiscal deficit down 30.2 pct in Jan-OctGreece's state budget deficit fell 30.2 pct in the January-October period this year, short of a budget target of a decline of 33.2 pct for the year, the Finance ministry said on Monday.
In a report, the ministry said the country's fiscal deficit totaled 17.334 billion euros in the 10-month period from 24.833 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2009. The ministry attributed this significant decline of the deficit mainly to a large reduction of spending and to higher revenues. Regular budget spending fell 7.1 pct in the January-October period, with primary spending down 11.2 pct (exceeding a budget target for an annual decline of 9.0 pct), while interest payments rose 5.5 pct (down from a budget target for an annual rise of 7.6 pct). Primary spending cuts reflected lower spending in pension and health and lower payroll and pension costs.
Regular budget net revenues rose 3.7 pct, up from 3.6 pct in the January-September period, reflecting a 15 pct rise in VAT revenues in October with the government expecting a further significant improvement of tax revenues in the last two months of the year.
The Public Investment Program reported a decline of 24.5 pct in spending while revenues were down 3.3 pct.
 Greek central gov't debt at 336.8 bln euros on Sept. 30Greece's central government's debt totaled 336.807 billion euros at the end of September, up from 316.954 billion euros at the end of June, the General Accounting Office annnounced on Monday.
The office said the Greek state's cash reserves totaled 11.176 billion euros on Sept. 30.
 Black Sea Business Forum in ThessalonikiA Black Sea Business Forum entitled "The new era of green entrepreneurship" will be held in Thessaloniki on Nov. 26, hosted by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE).
The goal of the forum is to highlight opportunities for business cooperation in the markets of the Western Balkans, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea region.
The event will attend roughly 80 foreign businessmen and 70 executives of companies in northern Greece.
The forum will be held under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) and will take place in parallel with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Foreign Ministers' Summit within the framework of the Greek Chairmanship for the second half of 2010.
 Environment minister meets Dutch ambassadorEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Monday received the Netherlands Ambassador in Athens Cornelis Van Rij and discussed cooperation between Greece and the Netherlands in energy issues and waste management.
The ambassador presented Dutch expertise in the area of recycling wastes and energy efficiency and they also discussed issues that will occupy the upcoming EU energy ministers' council in December.
 Central Union of Chambers of Commerce on budgetThe Central Union of Chambers of Commerce (KEE), in an announcement on Monday commenting on the government's draft budget which was tabled last week, stressed that "with the prevailing economic and social climate, government optimism is worth wondering" and noted that the increase in VAT from 11 percent to 13 percent was a great mistake.
KEE pointed out that "at a time when consumption has been reduced dramatically (a decrease in turnover of up to 50 percent), when the average income is not only being decreased due to wage cutbacks as well as to an increase in direct taxes (it is estimated by the government that the revenues from the taxation of private individuals will increase 6 percent) one wonders where will VAT be received from to be handed over by businesses."
It further said that the government's option "is judged for its logical cohesion since the government itself admits that the revenues from the tax on businesses will decrease by 16 percent, a fact that is attributed to the repercussions of the economic crisis."
Lastly, it says that growth "is probably an unknown concept for the 2011 budget. The GDP decrease in 2010 amounts to 4.2 percent (beyond the 4 percent prediction) and 3 percent in 2011."
 Deputy Tourism Minister invites Israelis to visit GreeceDeputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis invited Israelis to visit tourist destinations in Greece in a meeting he had on Monday with a delegation of journalists from Israeli newspapers and TV channels.
During the meeting, Nikitiadis briefed them on the new tourism policy and the comparative advantages offered by Greece and the potential for holidays throughout the year.
Responding to an Israeli reporter's question on why Israeli tourists should come to Greece, George Nikitiadis noted that Greece's tourist product is unique and cannot be compared with others, while having the best price to quality ratio in terms of its tourist product, a fact that may enhance the tourist stream in the following years.
 42nd Xenia tourism Exhibition to open on Friday?he 42nd XENIA exhibition will take place between 26-29 November at the Metropolitan Expo Center at Athens' 'Eleftherios Venizelos' International Airport.
The exhibition aims to promote and highlight the qualitative upgrading of Greek tourism.
An event in the framework of the exhibition will be held on Wednesday during which personalities that contributed to the promotion of Greek tourism abroad will be awarded. This year painter Costas Tsoklis and theatrical director Spyros Evangelatos will be honored.
 Award for Grande Bretagne hotel in Athens?he Grande Bretagne Hotel has been listed for another year in the Conde Nast Traveler magazine, which includes the best hotels worldwide according to its readers.
Conde Nast Traveler named the Grande Bretagne as the most luxurious and historical hotel of Athens, among the best hotels not only in Greece but internationally.
The 23rd Readers Choice Awards include 1,060 winners selected by 25,916 readers who answered a questionnaire to select the top tourist cities, islands, hotels and public transport throughout the world.
 High-ranking Greek-Albanian business forum in TiranaThe fourth forum of the Greek-Albanian economic relations, entitled "Challenges & Perspectives 2010", will take place this week in Tirana, with Albanian Deputy PM and Minister of Economy, Trade & Energy Ilir Meta giving the keynote address on Wednesday.
The forum will be inaugurated on Tuesday and continues until Thursday, with several Albanian ministers as well as Albanian and Greek entrepreneurs scheduled to participate.
 MPB finances energy projects with 620 million eurosMarfin Popular Bank (MPB) on Monday said it has expressed interest and was evaluating investments in renewable energy sources, of a total power of 470 MW, budgeted at 620 million euros, Efthimios Bouloutas, the bank's chief executive told a MPB conference in Athens on "Commodities Markets, Environment and Climate Change" with Al Gore, former US vice-president, as the main speaker.
MPB has already financed photovoltaic park projects of a total power of 1.6 MW in 2008 and was financing construction of a wind park and six more photovoltaic parks of a total power of 18.2 MW, Bouloutas said. The Greek banker noted that Marfin Popular Bank is the first and only bank in Greece and Cyprus to offer CO2 certificates through its Treasury & Capital Markets department.
 Piraeus Bank launches payroll cost-cutting planPiraeus Bank announced a plan to cut its payroll cost by implementing a cost-cutting programme, offering its employees the option of taking a long-term leave - with a duration of one to three years - and ensuring return to their posts afterwards.
The programme is addressed to 5,094 bank employees and to 1,611 employees in Piraeus Bank subsidiaries in Greece, with the aim to expand the programme to the group's subsidiaries abroad (total workforce of 6,757 employees). The bank's employees have a deadline of responding by Dec. 15.
Bank's officials said the plan could save up to 20 million euros a year even if only 5.0 pct of its employees accepted the option.
Under the terms of the programme, an employee taking a leave would be paid 40 pct of an annual gross salary (one year leave), 45 pct for two years and 50 pct for three years, while Piraeus Bank will pay all employers' contributions to pension funds.
 Revised plan for Elaionas stadium unveiledThe environment ministry on Monday unveiled a revised plan for the Panathinaikos stadium and shopping mall project in Elaionas, reducing the size of the shopping mall that the construction firm Babis Vovos would be allowed to build from 70,000 square metres to 52,000 square metres.
The new plan also requires Babis Vovos to finance the construction of a 7,500 sq. metre amateur sports field and to cede 3,000 square metres of shop space to the Panathinaikos club.
The revised plan has been posted on the Internet for a period of public discussion until December 6, while the company is to renegotiate its loans from banks that have funded the stages of the project completed so far in December.
The new stadium and shopping mall is expected to create some 3,000 permanent new jobs in the region.
 Olympic Air awarded best pavilion nod at Philoxenia expoThe best pavilion prize at the 26th Philoxenia International Tourism Exhibition, held in Thessaloniki last week, went to Olympic Air.
Olympic Air was the only airline company that received an award amongst the 320 exhibitors participating in the 26th Philoxenia, held under the auspices of the ministry of culture and tourism.
 Aegean Airlines reports losses in Jan-SepAegean Airlines on Monday said sales totaled 466.2 million euros in the first nine months of 2010, down 3.0 pct from the same period last year while it reported a pre-tax loss of 1.9 million euros and after-tax losses of 8.4 million euros, burdened by an extra tax charge of 6.6 million euros.
The listed airline said passenger traffic fell 3.0 pct to 4.9 million passengers, with traffic on international routes rose 12 pct to 2.4 million passengers. Domestic traffic fell 15 pct to 2.5 million passengers.
Aegean said aircraft occupancy rates rose to 69 pct in the January-September period from 66.2 pct last year.
Dimitris Gerogiannis, Aegean Airlines' chief executive, said the company was still affected by a deep economic recession in the country while a decision to invest in foreign markets offered results and supported the country's tourism industry.
He predicted that the fourth quarter of the year, traditionally a weaker period for passenger traffic, will end with losses, keeping the entire year in red.
 OPAP reports lower profits in Jan-SeptOPAP, Greece's lottery and football pools monopoly, on Monday reported a 17.7-pct decline in net profits to 413.1 million euros in the January-September period this year, compared with 501.7 million euros in the corresponding period in 2009, although excluding a one-time extra tax charge on profits, net profits were up 1.1 pct in the period.
The organisation said income fell 2.4 pct to 3.88 billion euros in the nine-month period, from 3.97 billion euros last year, while EBITDA rose 0.4 pct.
"Despite an adverse economic environment, we continue to present very positive financial results creating added value to our shareholders," Ioannis Spanoudakis, chief executive of OPAP said, adding that the organisation would continue enhancing its operations and cutting spending.
He expressed his confidence that OPAP's leading position in the domestic gaming market will be strengthened further in a regulated market environment, because of the organisation's know-how and strong brand name.
Turnover fell 6.2 pct in the third quarter of 2010, compared with the same period in2 009, while net profits jumped 23.6 pct reflecting lower expenses and a decline in betting pay outs (64.9 pct from 74.2 pct last year). OPAP's board announced a decision to pay a net pre-dividend of 0.46 euros per share, or 146.74 million euros.
 Home building cost up 3.1pct in Oct.The new home building materials' price index rose 3.1 pct in October this year, compared with the same month in 2009, after a decline of 0.7 pct recorded in October 2009, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said petrol-diesel oil (36.1 pct), steel pipes (17.7 pct), iron (13.3 pct) and plastic pipes (12.5 pct) recorded the biggest percentage increases in the month, while only brick prices fell 2.9 pct in October.
The index was up 0.2 pct in October from September
 Bank workers to join GSEE strike and rally on ThursdayThe bank workers' union OTOE on Monday announced that its members will join in the three-hour strike and rally being held in Attica next Thursday by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) umbrella trade union group.
The strike will be held between noon and 15:15, with a rally taking place at Klafthmonos Square at 13:00.
OTOE said its rally was a reaction to new measures introduced by the 2011 state budget and it demanded that jobs be preserved, measures to lower unemployment and protection of the institution of collective labour agreements, including a sector agreement for the banking sector.
 Power company union to participate in Nov. 25 work stoppageA union representing Public Power Corp. (PPC) employees announced on Monday its participation in the General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) three-hour work stoppage in the Attica prefecture on Thursday between 12-3 p.m.
 Garbage strike launched by unionThe local government workers' union POE-OTA has called two 24-hour nationwide strikes, starting on Monday, while on Tuesday members will hold a rally outside the ministry of finance in Athens.
In a meeting to be held on Tuesday, the union will decide its future stance.
Union demands include the signing of a collective work contract and the hiring of 500 workers through ASEP (state agency responsible for public employment) -- a process that froze due to the signed EU-ECB-IMF memorandum.
Meanwhile, tons of garbage is pilling up on the streets in all major cities across Greece as a result of the strike, launched last Friday.
Municipal rubbish collectors, also participating in the strike, will be picking up only refuse of hospitals and open-air produce markets.
 Stocks end significantly lowerStocks suffered heavy losses at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by a negative climate in regional European markets following Ireland's decision to seek financial support from the European Union and the IMF. Uncertainties over the conclusion of negotiations between the Greek government and troika officials also burdened sentiment in the market. The composite index dropped 2.17 pct to end at 1,460.33 points, with turnover at 91.827 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.45 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.97 pct down and the Small Cap index plunged 3.70 pct.
Motor Oil (1.46 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while Hellenic Postbank (6.03 pct), National Bank (4.10 pct) and Viohalco (3.75 pct) suffered heavy losses.
The Insurance (1.66 pct) and Commerce (0.27 pct) sectors scored gains, while Technology (3.91 pct) and Media (3.62 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 138 to 32 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Altec (20 pct), Crown Hellas (9.86 pct) and Elbsico (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Vivere (18.75 pct), Ilida (12.5 pct) and Levenderis (11.11 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.41%
Personal & Household: -1.94%
Raw Materials: -2.24%
Travel & Leisure: -2.94%
Food & Beverages: -1.36%
Financial Services: -2.51%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.54
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.06
HBC Coca Cola: 19.40
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.50
National Bank of Greece: 6.79
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.95
Bank of Piraeus: 3.14
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened sharply to 926 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 893 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.91 pct and the German bund 2.65 pct. Turnover in the market was a thin 23 million euros, all of them sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 5.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month rate 1.265 pct, the three-month 1.03 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 32.148 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,755 contracts worth 22.946 million euros, with 35,076 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,568 contracts, worth 9.201 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,789), followed by Eurobank (612), MIG (2,842), OTE (1,863), Piraeus Bank (1,831), Alpha Bank (1,275), Marfin Popular Bank (1,157), Mytilineos (419), Cyprus Bank (600, Hellenic Postbank (478) and ATEbank (342).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.375
Pound sterling 0.861
Danish kroner 7.515
Swedish kroner 9.460
Japanese yen 114.88
Swiss franc 1.361
Norwegian kroner 8.272
Canadian dollar 1.397
Australian dollar 1.392
 Al Gore addresses 'green' business con'f in Athens"The survival of our culture, the survival of Greece as a culture, depends on clear thinking and bold decisions" when it comes to climate change, former US vice-president Al Gore emphasised in Athens on Monday during an address at an international conference.
Gore, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize together with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was the keynote speaker at the conference, where he referred to the dynamic relation between the global economic development and climate change. He also encouraged the business community to include the environmental aspects in its strategic planning taking under consideration the economic, social and political dimensions.
Gore referred to the catastrophic wildfires in Greece over recent years, stressing that "there was no adequate public dialogue linking them with climate change ... you have shared the same experience with Australia, Russia and the United States."
As regards the risk of desertification, he said that the phenomenon is spreading north of the Sahara, and approaching Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.
He pointed out that many Greek islands use electrical energy produced from lignite, when wind energy is abundant, stressing that speedier procedures should be implemented for the installation of photovoltaic and wind turbine generators. He also underlined that what Europe needs is a high demand in photovoltaic systems to ignite sector research and development leading to lower cost.
The former US vice-president also suggested the imposition of a carbon tax or the adoption of an international emissions' monitoring system in order to be able to observe the consequences of the current development model on a daily basis.
Moreover, he said he is "depressed" with the prospects of the UN Climate Change Conference to be launched in a few days in Cancun, and noted that the challenge set is "to prove that political will is a renewable energy source".
The conference, entitled "Merchandise Markers, Environment, and Climate Change", was hosted on Monday by Marfin Popular Bank and its subsidiary Marfin Egnatia Bank in Athens.
 Athena of Arezzo at Museum of Cycladic ArtUndismayed by the economic crisis and the difficulties of the times, the Museum of Cycladic Art is continuing its ambitious exhibition programme. After a major exhibition on the Neolithic era Balkans, it is now following up with two more strong proposals - an exhibition of work by 20th century engraver Vasso Katraki that opened on November 4 and now "An Unexpected Visitor: The Athens from Arezzo in Athens".
According to museum director Nikos Stampolidis, Athens was missing its "good luck charm" and what could be better than its own ancient deity.
The bronze statue, a rare loan from Italy, has undergone an extensive restoration that lasted eight years and led archaeologists to revise their original estimates concerning its age. Details on the statue indicate that it was actually cast in one of the great workshops of the 3rd century B.C. and was not a Roman copy made in the 1st century A.D. as previously believed.
It was first discovered in 1541 in the Italian city of Arezzo, 80 kilometres south of Florence, by workers digging a well. The pieces of the statue were recovered and the 1.5 metre statue became part of the Duke of Medici collection kept in the Palazzo Vecchio. At the time it was missing its right hand and a large portion of the lower back.
In 1676 it was transferred to the Uffizi gallery where it underwent a number of restoration attempts, including the addition of a new right arm in 1785. The statue remained in this form for another 200 years until the year 2000, when an in-depth study and restoration attempt was begun.
This showed that several of the previous interventions, including the wooden support placed in the interior and the nails that had been added, had caused damage but also given the statue a completely different stance to the original.
Its original flexibility restored, it is now on show at the Museum of Cycladic Art alongside a copy that showed its condition before the conservation work was carried out. This is the statue's second foray outside of Italy after being loaned to Japan.
The statue will remain at the Museum of Cycladic Art until the end of January 2011.
 Seventeen Greek painters present their works in Grand Palais in ParisSeventeen Greek painters will be presenting their works at the historic Grand Palais des Beaux Arts, in the Champs Elysees in Paris.
The exhibition, titled "Artistes Independants", will open on November 23 and run through November 2.
The "Artistes Independentes" exhibition is a very old institution in France in which famous painters such as Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Georges Braque and others have presented their works.
 Corinth Canal temporarily shut for repair worksThe Corinth Canal in southern Greece -- linking the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf -- is closed to ships due to falling rocks along its steep banks.
Repair works are currently underway, and according to a statement by the company operating the canal, the isthmus will be opened at 10 p.m. on Monday and be closed again at 6 a.m. on Tuesday to allow restoration works to continue until late in the evening.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 23C. Rainy in Athens, with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 22C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 18C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe troika's recommendations for a freeze in public sector hiring and for lay-offs and salary cuts, speculation on cutbacks in private sector salaries and the foundation of the 'Democratic Alliance' party, mostly dominated the head-lines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Independent MP and former New Democracy (ND) Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis founded the new 'Democratic Alliance' party".
AVRIANI: "Send away the troika loansharks immediately and proceed with a restructure of the state's debt".
ELEFTHEROS: "Bakoyannis' party sounds red alert in ND".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "16-40 percent cuts in salaries in private sector".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Troika's bomb on employees' transfers in public sector".
ESTIA: "Severe danger of bankruptcy".
ETHNOS: "Troika's 90 days 'directive'."
IMERISSIA: "Thriller with the Memorandum - Troika is adamant and calls for immediate measures".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Bargaining with the troika for new painful changes".
TA NEA: "Battle for salaries in private sector".
VRADYNI: "Consent or complicity?".
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