|Saturday, 16 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 2 June 2011 Issue No: 3802
 PM: 'Investments in RESs will create 100,000 jobs by 2020'Tackling climate change and investing in Renewable Energy Sources (RES) is the answer to recession and unemployment, Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday, speaking during an event hosted by the Bank of Greece (BoG) to present a report on the "environmental, economic and social impacts of climate change in Greece".
In his address, Papandreou made a special reference to the movement of the "Indignados", stressing that "those who protest in city squares are appealing to national democratic systems, which are weak and hostage to a global power".
He also added that "democratic and informed global governance is necessary, as well as a radical reform of democracy on national and regional level."
Referring to the RES, he said that investments in the specific sector will produce 100,000 job positions in Greece by the year 2020.
"Greece's production model has started to change," Papandreou said, stressing that investments in RES will reach 16.4 billion euros within the next decade, while the energy link of the islands with the mainland is estimated to 4-5 billion euros.
"Already 22 foreign and Greek companies have expressed interest in the huge 200MW photovoltaic park in Kozani, NW Greece," he pointed out.
Papandreou underlined that "the environmental protection issue is directly linked with the kind of economy we are building". He added that developed countries should proceed with drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions to avoid catastrophic consequences and underlined that while the planet's young generation has the potential and tools to ensure prosperity, at the same time, is experiencing the paradox of widespread inequality and of an "elite" controlled power.
The study, unveiled in the special BoG event, is the outcome of 26 months of research and has produced climate projections for Greece in a detailed geographic breakdown up to the year 2100.
 Climate change action can help economy's problems, BoG governor claimsIn spite of Greece's current economic difficulties, action on climate change will prove beneficial for its economy in the long-term, Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos stressed on Wednesday. He was speaking at an event to present the central bank's report on "The environmental, economic and social repercussions of climate change on Greece" held at the Athens concert hall.
"The adoption of policies to mitigate the repercussions of climate change on Greece and policies for adapting to these changes, while appearing to be obstructed by today's acute economic problem, can truly contribute to its solution," he stressed.
According to the report prepared by a team set up by Provopoulos in 2009, a programme to drastically reduce greenhouse gases will greatly reduce the negative impact of climate change on the Greek economy by the end of the century.
Specifically, he said a programme with an estimated cost of 113 billion euro up to 2050 and 142 billion euro up to 2100 would restrict the cost of climate change to 294 billion euro by the end of the century. If no action were taken, by contrast, the estimated cost of climate change would be 60 percent higher at nearly 701 billion euro. In addition, no action to reduce human-generated greenhouse gases would lead to a 2 percent reduction of GDP by 2050 and a 6 percent reduction of GDP by 2100.
Provopoulos said the report presented on Wednesday was just the "first step" in an ongoing effort by the central bank that would be extended into more areas.
Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said the report would act as a reference point in European dialogue on climate change issues, noting that the discussion in Europe had never been linked with a transition to another model for growth based on a green economy.
The minister stressed the usefulness of the report, both in terms of its road map for energy until 2050 and other targets. This envisaged that almost 100 percent of electricity production will be covered by renewable energy sources by 2050, whose total power output would be increased to 40 gigaWatts from 15 gigaWatts in 2020.
It also called for a 60 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century and use of energy conservation measures to keep energy consumption at current levels.
Among others, it envisaged a switch to fixed-track means of transport for the bulk of transport needs and an energy-efficiency upgrade for buildings throughout the country. It also called for increased use of biomass and improvement of networks, energy storage facilities, dams and use electrically-powered cars.
Presenting the report, the committee coordinator Christos Zerefos warned that the predicted repercussions on the national economy examined were "negative and in some cases, extremely negative". Among others, he indicated a forecast for an additional 20 days of drought in the eastern mainland and Crete and up to 40 additional days of drought in 2071-2100.
This included an increase in the days with high fire risk by 40 days in 2071-2100 for eastern Greece, leading to severe repercussions for tourism due to changes in arrival dates.
 PM Papandreou to meet Juncker on FridayPrime Minister George Papandreou will be meeting Eurogroup's head Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday.
According to an announcement by the prime minister's press office, the meeting between the two men will be taking place at 3 at noon, local time, in Luxembourg in light of the Eurogroup's meeting next week, where the agreement with the EC/ECB/IMF troika is expected to be discussed.
 Medium-Term strategy to be finalised with hours, gov't saysGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Wednesday said that the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy is expected to be finalised within the next few hours, after some technical issues had been examined.
The spokesman said that the process to have it approved by government bodies and passed by Parliament would be announced immediately afterward.
According to Petalotis, the government had no information corroborating reports in the German media that the International Monetary Fund had refused to release the 5th tranche of loans to Greece.
Regarding an announcement by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis that he intends to pull his party out of Parliament in a bid to force elections, Petalotis said that it was "up to Mr. Karatzaferis to take the steps he thinks necessary for dealing with the crisis".
The spokesman said that the government was not concerned by the political moves of the parties at the moment but entirely focused on finalising the medium-term programme and carrying out the rapid changes needed to bring about an economic recovery.
Petalotis also condemned incidents outside Parliament on Tuesday night, saying that these reflected badly on the efforts of those demonstrating peacefully.
He stressed that the popular mandate was given in a specific way and "implemented in a different way from that seen last night", stressing that protests had to take place within a democratic framework.
 Troika-government agree three changes to wages and labor relations for Medium-Term Program on the economyThree changes to wages and labor relations were agreed late Tuesday during a meeting at the Greek finance ministry between an EU-IMF 'troika' team in Athens, labor and social security minister Louka Katseli and finance ministry senior officials.
The agreement reached Monday night settled the final issues that were outstanding ahead of the finalisation of the terms of the Medium-Term Program on the economy.
According to sources, the two sides agreed that the salary of young people (18-25) entering the job market for the first time may be up to 20 percent lower than the National Collective Labor Agreement.
Second, the time period for the period of work during which a combination of increased and reduced work without payment of overtime may be applied is extended from the initial four months to six months.
Third, the specific-time work contracts are extended, with the two-year contracts eligible for renewal of up to two times, as foreseen under Presidential Decree 180 of 2004, are converted into three-year contracts.
 Commission sees satisfactory progress in Greek talksBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
The European Commission on Wednesday reiterated there was "satisfactory progress" in talks currently taking place between Greek authorities and an EU-IMF 'troika' delegation visiting Athens.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, stressed that there were no significant hurdles in the talks, which were expected to be completed in the next few days.
Altafaj acknowledged, however, that there was still work to be done, with consultations focusing mainly on measures needed to fulfil fiscal targets set for 2011, privatizations and structural reforms.
 Finance ministry on Moody's firmThe Greek Finance ministry on Wednesday termed the decision taken by the Moody's firm to downgrade Greece's credit rating as being affected "by the intense rumours in the printed and electronic press," adding that "it is overlooking the government's commitments to achieve the fiscal target for 2011, as well as to speed up the privatisations programme."
"It is noteworthy that the firm recognises the country's efforts, but at the same time it procceeds with downgrading, waiting for the implementation of these commitments to proceed with upgrading," a ministry announcement said.
The Finance ministry also said that "the government has already achieved considerable fiscal targets and in the coming days it will be tabling the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy Programme in Parliament with which it will be undertaking even more specific commitments."
 Government announces abolition/merger and restructuring of 75 public-sector agenciesGovernment vice-president Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday announced that 75 public-sector agencies and organisations are to be abolished, merged or restructured in order to cut back on public spending.
Pangalos said that this "will lead to savings of 650 million euro, while 2.7 billion euro in subsidies each year will not be given, which will be added to the 2012 budget".
He said that there were 7,000 employees currently working at these organisations and that none of them would be fired but used in other positions after undergoing an assessment by the public-sector staff selection council ASEP.
Among the bodies to be merged or abolished the government included the state broadcasting organisation ERT, Themis Kataskevastiki, The Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation, Hellenic Tourist Properties S.A., the Organisation for the Management of Public Materials, the School Buildings Organisation, the Public Company for the Erection of Hospital Units (DEPANOM), the Hellenic Organisation for Small and Medium Enterprises and Handicraft (EOMMEX), the National Youth Foundation, the National Agricultural Research Foundation (NAGREF) and others.
 ND leader Samaras continues tour of CreteMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Wednesday spoke in the Cretan town of Mylopotamos, in the popular holiday island's mountainous interior, where he repeated that the "(EC-ECB-IMF) memorandum is not a solution".
On the second day of his three-day tour of Crete, Samaras said new farmers should be supported, as well as all those who choose to live in the provinces and not in the larger cities.
He stressed that the stock-breeding sector has been abandoned and that the "Kallikratis" local administration reform "lacks harmony".
Samaras underlined that the specific sector will be completely destroyed in case a VAT increase is imposed.
The ND leader was briefed by the Mylopotamos city council and the local farmers' cooperative on the problems they face and he pointed out that "no production creates the preconditions for imports".
Samaras also visited the town of Anogia. Next stop of his tour will be the city of Iraklio.
Earlier in the day, Samaras met with local authorities in the city of Rethymno.
Accompanied by ND vice-president Dimitris Avramopoulos and several party MPs, he met with Metropolitan Evgenios of Rethymno, as talks focused on the welfare work that is being performed by the Church.
The ND leader also toured the old town quarter of Rethymno and the city's commercial centre.
 ND leader makes address in IraklioMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras stressed in Iraklio, Crete, on Wednesday evening that "if they (the government) decide elections, they shall be welcome. They must know, however, if elections are held, they will be held because they cannot rule, because they cannot ratify the new measures," adding that "I shall not give consensus for the mistake. I am not entitled to give. And I cannot give."
Speaking to ND officials and supporters at a hotel in Ammoudara, Samaras criticised the government and sent messages to the prime minister as well as to the president of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party.
After saying that he is aware of how a Greek family is currently passing, he said he knows what it means for them to ascertain every day, not only that "they cannot cope, not only that they are chipping away at their income, but also that they are trying to take their dignity as well. I know all this. And that's why I am here, I am before you and I am telling you looking at you in the eyes: No, I am not countersigning the mistake," he said.
Samaras further said that last year they were presenting him as being "unyielding" because he said no. Today, he added, they are trying to present him as being "the same" as the others, with those who said yes to the memorandum. "However, no matter what they do, we are not all the same," he added.
Samaras then referred to the memorandum, saying that it is leading nowhere, "we saw that it is making the problem bigger it is not solving it, we ascertained that it is a 'medicine' which is worse than the illness."
 Karatzaferis mulling withdrawal of LAOS MPs' from parliament, seeks meeting with President PapouliasPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said Wednesday that he is seriously considering withdrawing his party's MPs from parliament, in a move that could potentially force early general elections.
Speaking on private Antenna television station on Wednesday morning, Karatzaferis said he was seriously contemplating withdrawing his party from parliament, of "all of us resigning so as to set the process in motion".
LAOS holds 15 seats in the 300-seat unicameral parliament.
Karatzaferis sought a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias later on Wednesday, but the President is currently outside Athens and the LAOS leader was told a meeting would be set up upon the President's return to Athens.
The LAOS leader also had a brief discussion with parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos, but declined comment to reporters after the meeting, saying only he would seek an audience with the President.
In his television comments, Karatzaferis said that such an action on the party of his party aimed to function as a "slap to an unconscious system in which, unfortunately, government and main opposition party are hustling and bustling about various things at a time of crisis and when the enemy is not just 'ante portas' (at the gates) but already inside".
"They must realise that this cannot go on," he added.
Karatzaferis said that this June will be the toughest June in the last decades, charging that "some are pretending that they don't understand".
"Some still have the luxury of disagreement", and a disposition of "why should we all go inside and see if we can save the political system, if we can save society, if we still have room to save Greece", he said, adding that "because all these things are fluid and torment my mind daily, I am very seriously thinking of pulling LAOS out of parliament".
Such a move, he said, could potentially oblige the two mainstream parties (ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy) to come to terms, to acknowledge their mistakes", because PASOK and ND, who brought things to the point of "not only economic but also social depression", must "put their shoulder to the wheel" to save the country.
Karatzaferis further spoke of inertia on the part of the government, charging that he sees "a prime minister who is at a loss" and a "main opposition party that is afraid of getting into the game in order to save the country", and also a "Left that is in its own world and is banking, perhaps, on chaos".
"This frightens me," the LAOS leader said.
 Pangalos rules out general election if LAOS leaves ParliamentGovernment vice-president Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday ruled out the prospect of general elections in the case that the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) carried out its threat to resign from Parliament as a party.
According to Pangalos, this would only lead to elections being held on a local level in the constituencies affected and only if there was a resignation of all LAOS MPs and their replacements.
He expressed grave doubts about whether LAOS leader George Karatzaferis would actually go through with this action, however, pointing out that it would not help anything.
Pangalos used this opportunity to criticise the actions of demonstrators on Tuesday night, who prevented MPs from leaving Parliament and forced them to go out of a side exit into the National Gardens, saying that what would help would be the unobstructed arrival and departure of MPs in Parliament.
 FM Droutsas meets House of Commons SpeakerGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met on Wednesday with visiting Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom John Bercow. Their talks focused on Greece's economic crisis and issues regarding South East Europe.
Droutsas underlined the government's determination to promote economic reforms, expressing his conviction that the programme will finally succeed.
Bercow, on his part, referred to the strong links between Greece and the United Kingdom and noted London's support to Greek efforts on the economic front.
 DM briefs political leaders on new NATO command structureDefence Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday launched a round of contacts with political party leaders to brief them on the government's positions as regards the new NATO command structure, ahead of the alliance's DMs summit in Brussels on June 7-8.
Venizelos had a telephone communication with Coalition of the Left (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras, defence ministry sources said, adding that his contacts will be completed by Friday.
On Thursday, Venizelos will appear before the parliamentary standing committee on defence to unveil the new structure of the armed forces in terms of personnel and means.
 Papoutsis: Greece will not become Europe's 'warehouse' for illegal migrantsGreece will not become Europe's "warehouse" for illegal migrants, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis stressed Wednesday on the island of Corfu, where a regular meeting of the Council of Europe's (CoE) parliamentary assembly (PACE) Committee on migration, refugees and population is taking place.
"Only those migrants who have the right to international protection or right to asylum, and those who have legal work and residency permits, will remain in Greece. No one else," Papoutsis said during the first day of the two-day meeting.
"All others should receive the clear message: they will leave Greece, either through voluntary repatriation or obligatory expulsion. We are absolutely determined in that direction," Papoutsis warned, and called on the EU to back its member states situated on the EU's external borders, instead of "punishing them".
"Greece supports every proposal that reinforces the Schengen agreement, and at the same time rejects every thought that overturns the acquis communautaire. The Schengen acquis provides for enhancement of the controls at the EU's external borders, and consequently that is where the focus must be placed for dealing with possible deficiencies, and not 'punishment' of the member states that are on the (EU's) external borders," the minister stressed.
He reiterated Greece's firm position for amendment of the Dublin II Regulation and endorsed the creation of a binding system of a proportional distribution or refugees or vulnerable groups based on specific criteria such as financial ability and population.
On the migration waves from the countries of Northern Africa, due to the current developments, he outlined policies for progress, peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean.
"The Greek government is discussing with particular interest the European Commission's proposal for a spherical approach to migration as a particularly useful tool in the EU's relations with third countries. And, indeed, we can go ahead with a revision of the geographical priorities following the change in the landscape in N. Africa," he said.
Papoutsis said Greece warmly supports substantive dialogue with the countries of the southern Mediterranean, while he also said the time has come to bring to the forefront a European policy for the development of the entire Mediterranean.
The PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population and its Sub-committee on Migration will wind up discussions on Thursday.
Later in the afternoon, Papoutsis and local authorities in the northwest port city of Igoumenitsa held a two-hour meeting on Wednesday, focusing on the problems in the area as a result of the scores of illegal migrants that have gathered in the region in a bid to board Italy-bound ferryboats.
Papoutsis pledged that all necessary measures will be taken to solve the problem, adding that the government is considering building an illegal migrant reception centre in an area that will have the approval of local residents and authorities.
 Health ministry, prosecutor discuss hospital procurementsThe head of the first-instance public prosecutors' office Eleni Raikou on Wednesday had a meeting with Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, who was accompanied by Deputy Health Minister Mihalis Timosidis and the government of the 1st Attica Health District.
The health ministry's leadership met with Raikou in order to discuss issues linked to a major investigation being carried out by three public prosecutors concerning allegations that many hospitals in the country were getting supplies at grossly inflated prices.
Loverdos said that he promised the prosecutors any assistance they need in their investigation. He also agreed to devote more staff to assist them in collecting evidence when Raikou pointed out that only two health inspectors had been made available to assist them so far.
Emerging from the meeting, the ministers said that it had been "symbolic but also completely practical in nature" and Loverdos stressed that the ministry's aim was to send a message to those who "did not appreciate the extent of the country's struggle or their own responsibility".
 Indignants block parliament entrance, police called in to escort MPs out of parliamentA strong police contingent was mobilised late Tuesday night to enable Greek MPs and parliament employees to leave the parliament building, which was blocked off by protestors of the Indignants movement in downtown Athens in their seventh day of peaceful protests.
The entrance to the parliament building was blocked for several hours by protestors who are converging in central Syntagma Square in growing numbers to demonstrate against harsh austerity measures.
 Parliament president deplores Tuesday incidents outside ParliamentParliament President Philippos Petsalnikos on Wednesday expressed concern about Tuesday's incidents outside Parliament and attempts made by demonstrators to blockade MPs, underlining the "dangers that such phenomena harbour for Democracy itself".
According to Petsalnikos, this wholesale lack of respect for institutions and persons undermined Parliamentary democracy, which was a guarantee "won by the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people".
"History has shown that a generalised climate of rejection of Parliamentary Democracy, whenever this arose, had tragic consequences for the people," he added.
 'Indignados' continue protest in Syntagma SquareThe "Indignados" of Athens once again honoured their rendez-vous at Syntagma Square in Athens at 6 on Wednesday evening in a protest gathering against economic policies.
The new aspect in the event was the appearance of over 300 motorcyclists who drove from Lycabettus round the square and stopped in front of the House of Parliament. With flags and the incessant honking of horns they joined their vioices with the rest austerity measures.
 Members of Greek mission in Benghazi in good health, following explosion near their hotelGreek Foreign Ministry officials, as well as members of the Greek medical group, are staying at the Tibesti hotel in Benghazi, near which an explosion occurred on Wednesday afternoon.
The Foreign ministry's Central Service communicated imme-diately with the head of the mission, who said that all the members of the Greek mission and of the medical group are in good health.
 Greece to activate option to sell 10 pct of OTE to Deutsche TelekomThe Greek government will activate an option contained in an existing contract between the Greek state and Deutsche Telekom to sell an additional 10 pct equity stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) to the German group, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told a Deutsche Telekom delegation during a meeting on Wednesday in Athens.
Under an agreement reached in 2008, the German telecoms group is obliged -if the Greek state requests it - to buy an additional 10 pct equity stake in OTE at a pre-agreed price.
This price will be 15 pct higher than the average share price of the last 20 session on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).
 'South Corridor' should begin with ITGI, Greek minister saysIn a meeting with a high-ranking BP executive on Wednesday, Greece's Environment Tina Birbili asserted that the southern corridor natgas supply from the Caspian Sea to Europe should begin via the ITGI (Interconnection Turkey-Greece-Italy) pipeline, with other pipelines added when additional quantities of natural gas were available.
Birbili and Deputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis supported this position during their meeting with Alasdair Cook, BP Vice President for the Shah Deniz II Development in Azerbaijan.
Currently, consortiums for the ITGI, Nabucco and Trans-Adriatic (TAP) pipelines are all competing for the output of the Shah Deniz gas field. The Greek government's position is that the ITGI has precedence because it is the most mature and advanced project on the southern corridor and the most competitive.
Cook referred to BP's commitment to open the southern corridor and develop the Shah Deniz II field, while thanking the Greek government for its support.
Participating in the consortium for the Shah Deniz field are Socar (10 percent), BP (25.5 percent), Statoil (25.5 percent), Total (10 percent), Lukoil (10 percent), Nico (10 percent) and TPAO (9 percent).
 Environment ministry 'Building the Future' programme in JuneThe environment ministry on Wednesday announced that its "Building the Future" programme, through which companies selling construction materials and related goods can voluntarily offer discounts to property owners carrying out energy-efficiency upgrades of the homes and business premises, will be proclaimed within June.
The ministry is also pressing ahead with procedures for implementing greater tax relief for this form of investment, through certificates issued by the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources that will submitted along with one's tax statement.
The announcement was made during a seminar at the Greek-German chamber on "Energy Conservation in Buildings" held at the Evgenidio Foundation.
Under the programme, there will be incentives given for seven categories of home improvement for residences and five in other types of buildings. Among these are:
Replacement of windows and doors with higher-specification types in 20,000 residences.
Replacement of single- with double-glazing in 25,000 residences.
Installment of 5,000 solar panels.
Installment of 'cool' roofs on 20,000 residences
Insulation of roofs for 20,000 residences
Insulation of facades on 20,000 residences
Replacement of 20,000 conventional heating systems with new high-efficiency systems.
Envisaged works on commercial and other buildings include:
Installment of integrated facades (windows, double-glazing, shading systems) on 3,000 commercial buildings.
External insulation on 5,000 buildings
Installation of high-efficiency cooling-heating-ventilation systems on 5,000 commercial buildings.
Replacement of artificial lighting systems in 10,000 commercial buildings
Installation of advanced energy monitoring systems in 1,000 commercial buildings.
Based on the planning of the programme, it will not be based on income criteria but in order of priority. The incentives are the discounts that suppliers will offer voluntarily, tax discounts and the reduction in utility bills for those taking part in the programme.
A law increasing the tax discount for this class of investment has already been passed, raising the amount discounted to 20 percent of spending up to 3,000 euro and 10 percent from 3,001 to 6,000 euro.
 Nobel winner Pissarides: Greece must focus on structural reformsGreece must emphasise on the need to accelerate structural reforms, Nobel Prize-winning Prof. Christofore Pissarides told a news conference in Athens on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters within the framework of a conference organised by KPMG, the noted UK-based economist said Greece will not avoid bankruptcy if it did not promote structural reforms along with privatisations, and stressed the privatisations programme alone cannot led to a decline in the country's borrowing cost.
The Cyprus-born professor underlined the need to proceed with a large shrinking of the public sector in Greece. The Greek state must not maintain almost any participation in public sector enterprises and urged the government to sell all state-owned enterprises with the exception of enterprises related with defence and social welfare.
Pissarides noted that taxes are currently at high levels, but stressed it was not the right period to proceed with moves to lower tax rates.
He also said he was "puzzled" by the Greek state's failure to collect taxes.
Commenting on a memorandum signed between Greek authorities and the EC-ECB-IMF troika, he said this was not the time to go back and renegotiate it.
"We must take the new support offered and after we implement all necessary measures then we could possibly negotiate some kind of a new memorandum," Pissarides said.
He estimated that unemployment would continue rising for the next two years, while he noted that early elections would not help the country and opposed the idea of using technocrats in governments. The professor also said he was against a restructuring the Greek debt and noted that Europe reacted with a delay to the Greek problem saying the debt crisis could have large implications in the Eurozone.
 Meeting between PM, National Bank managing directorNational Bank managing director Apostolos Tamvakakis briefed on Wednesday Prime Minister George Papandreou on the National Bank's positive course and prospects.
Reports said the meeting also took place on the occasion of the group's quarterly results that amounted to 157 million euros (net profits).
The National Bank, first among all European banks, planned and is completing its capital support programme, achieving in this way to open lines with the international markets amounting to 5 billion euros with Hellenic Republic titles as a guarantee, decreasing its dependence on liquidity provided by the European Central Bank.
In statements last week on the occasion of the announcement of the quarterly results, Tamvakakis had stressed that the National Bank is planning to undertake new initiatives for the strengthening of the Greek credit system and the handling of the economic crisis.
 CCPIT-Shanghai delegation to renew Memorandum of Cooperatino with Greek-Chinese ChamberA high-ranking delegation of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai Sub-Council (CCPIT Shanghai Sub-Council), headed by vice-chairman Li Zhigang, will visit the Greek-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry headquarters in central Athens to renew a 2006 Memorandum of Cooperation between the Chamber and the CCPIT Shanghai, in the context of an active and targeted promotion of business relations between Greece and China.
The CCPIT Shanghai Sub-Council delegation is accompanied by the Shanghai Luwan District Commercial Commission and the Jingan District Commercial Commission, which are governmental administrative divisions in the sectors of foods, drinks and tourism in the districts of Luwan and Jingan.
The CCPIT Shanghai Sub-Council is a Chinese state organisation with the role of coordinator of the local organisations, and its mission is to attract commercial enterprises to Shanghai.
Its main targets are to promote trade, attract investments, and the development of economic and business relations throughout the world.
CCPIT Shanghai Sub-Council provides services to its members chiefly on legal matters, international relations, organisation of exhibitions, and systematic information on economic and commercial practices. Its main mission is to evolve Shanghai into the largest international trade, economic and shipping center.
 Gov't has earmarked more than 2.0 bln euros for agricultural projects in 2011The Greek government has earmarked more than 2.0 billion euros to support the country's agricultural economy through the financing thousands of projects around Greece, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis announced on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference, Skandalidis said the ministry has managed to achieve a 39.1 pct absorption rate of EU funds by simplifying procedures and obtaining all necessary approvals.
The Greek minister said that projects budgeted at 758 million euros would be launched by the end of July, and additional projects -budgeted at another 320 million euros- would be launched by the end of 2011, such as a dam at Asopos river, a dam in Nestorio and the water networks of Axios River.
 Regional Development minister on professional activities licensing billRegional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis presented on Wednesday the bill on the licensing of professional activities and business parks to the Parliamentary plenum as part of wider reformist planning on the shaping of a business environment that will be friendly for businesses.
The minister reminded of the initiative on the "one stop shop" with which, as he said, "over 700 businesses have been established until now, while the total registrations with the General Trade Register have exceeded 3000."
The change in Bankruptcy Law will follow in a few days, he said, adding "a real second opportunity to businesses to survive, saving valuable jobs" and following is the bill on "business friendly Greece", that will be acquiring a legal form soon.
The bill under discussion on the licensing of professional activities "constitutes a mini fast track for the real economy" and simplifies procedures that until today "also constitute the big obstacle in the creation of a business friendly Greece," the minister added.
 Panhellenic Exporters Federation predicts 8-10% increase in Greek exports in 2011The National Exporters Federation anticipates an increase in Greek exports by 8-10 percent for 2011, as was announced in the account of activities presented at the federation's annual general assembly, by board president Christina Sakellaridi.
She reminded that the more than doubling of the participation of Greek exports in the country's GDP has been set as a target, so that at the end of 2014 it will amount to 16 percent of GDP.
Sakellaridi noted that the EU/ECB/IMF troika's representatives agreed with the need of eliminating the counterincentives that the federation presented to them and are the same that it has also indicated to the government.
Regarding the course of exports she said that "March may have interrupted the series of 5 upward months since October 2010, but the increase rates of exports are still extremely positive. In the first quarter of 2011, Greek exports are 12.5 percent higher compared to last year."
"If these rates continue, we shall come even closer to the target of 16 percent and we might also exceed the record of 17.4 billion euros of 2008. Much will depend on the course of the European economies and mainly of our basic customers Germany, Italy, Cyprus, the euro parity with the dollar, the normalisation or not of the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, the prices of oil," Sakellaridi added.
 BoG chief: Eurozone exit speculations 'ludicrous'Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos on Wednesday rejected speculation of Greece's leaving the eurozone as "ludicrous".
Speaking at an event on climate change, the central bank chief noted that all calculations on cost-benefit for the next 50 years have been made in the euro currency.
 International Congress Organisators offer vote of confidence to GreeceThe members of the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organisers (HAPCO) HELD a series of meetings with the representatives of congress organisers from the international market during the international Congress and Professional Tourism exhibition IMEX held recently in Frankfurt, Germany, contributing to Greece's efforts to attract a large number of congresses.
Despite Greece's adverse economic condition, a large number of representatives gave a 'vote of confidence' to Greek congress destinations, which poses optimistic for the future of the Greek congress market.
Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis outlined the incentives offered and infrastructures being created for choosing Greece as a congress destination.
 American-Hellenic Chamber hosts Corporate Social Responsibility con'fThe reduction of cost through corporate social responsibility in all production stages, from the supply of raw materials to the final product distribution, was among the issues discussed in the 9th annual Corporate Social Responsibility conference held on Wednesday by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee.
The conference on "Building Responsible Companies - Maximizing Benefits through a Sustainable Supply Chain" focused on the demanding relationships that all companies face in their supply chains and how improving supply chain interactions can lead to a more complementary, productive and sustainable business environment.
Addressing the conference, American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce President Yanos Gramatidis referred to the deep economic crisis the country is in underlining that "the circumstances can create an opportunity for the Greek entrepreneurship to prove that it is an integral part of society, a force of development and social prosperity." He also added that the public sector, being the largest user and buyer in the supply chain, should focus on maximizing the corporate social responsibility benefits.
 Greek PMI falls to 44.5 points in MayGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 44.5 points in May, from 46.8 in April, reflecting the worsening conditions in the country's manufacturing sector in the last three months. Production by Greek manufacturers fell for the 20th consecutive month, while the rate of decline was the highest in the last three months in May, reflecting lower new orders and weakening domestic demand.
New export orders received from abroad rose slightly in May, for the first time since August 2010, while Greek manufacturers cut their workforce and inventories at an increasing rate. Pending works fell at the fastest rate in four months, while Greek enterprises were forced to cut their prices for the third consecutive month.
Buying activity fell strongly in May, along with inventories.
The purchasing managers' index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Business Briefs-- Foreign currency receipts from the shipping industry totaled more than 140 billion euros in the decade 2000-2010, of which around 50 pct was rerouted abroad as shipping companies are paying for services offered by other countries while the Greek state failed to take the necessary measures to keep a larger part of this money within its borders, an annual report by the Association of Hellenic Shipowners said on Wednesday.
-- Culture & Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Wednesday expressed his satisfaction over tourism trends so far this year. Speaking to the ANA-MPA, the Greek minister stressed that all significant markets for Greek tourism are moving higher, such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, China and Turkey.
-- The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) lost 7.4 pct of its value in the January-May period this year, although specific shares managed to record gains of up to 200 pct in the same period.
 Stocks end 1.49% lowerStocks resumed their downward trend at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as investors took early profits following Tuesday's sharp advance of prices.
The composite index of the market fell 1.49 pct to end at 1,289.99 points, after rising as much as 1.16 pct during the session. Turnover remained a heavy 127.037 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.52 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.24 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.70 pct.
MIG (3.57 pct), PPC (3.15 pct), Ellaktor (1.94 pct) and OTE (1.13 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Cyprus Bank (5.65 pct), OPAP (4.31 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (3.31 pct) and Eurobank (2.83 pct) were top losers. The Financial Services (2.68 pct), Health (2.48 pct) and Insurance (2.04 pct) sectors scored gains, while Travel (4.20 pct), Food (3.23 pct) and Banks (1.97 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 75 to 56 with another 49 issues unchanged. NEL (12 pct), Aegean Airlines (11.76 pct), Fieratex (9.09 pct) and AXON Holdings (8.20 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (14.81 pct), Kyriakoulis (8.51 pct), Nafpaktos Spinn Mills (8.33 pct) and ELBE (7.55 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.90%
Personal & Household: -0.03%
Raw Materials: -0.40%
Travel & Leisure: -4.20%
Food & Beverages: -3.23%
Financial Services: -0.20%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Eurobank and Coca Cola 3E.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.12
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.50
HBC Coca Cola: 17.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.64
National Bank of Greece: 4.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.09
Bank of Piraeus: 1.02
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 13.31 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 13.25 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.31 pct and the German Bund yielding 2.99 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 41 million euros, of which 25 million were sell orders and the remaining 16 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 14 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.13 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.22 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover at 52.564 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,912 contracts worth 40.563 million euros, with 34,231 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 30,287 contracts worth 12.001 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (11,843), followed by Eurobank (1,950), MIG (992), OTE (1,572), PPC (929), Piraeus Bank (3,874), GEK (1,318), Alpha Bank (3,705), Marfin Popular Bank (1,325), Mytilineos (601) and Hellenic Postbank (477).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.462
Pound sterling 0.890
Danish kroner 7.566
Swedish kroner 9.022
Japanese yen 118.87
Swiss franc 1.236
Norwegian kroner 7.847
Canadian dollar 1.415
Australian dollar 1.361
 President Papoulias on World Environment DayPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias stressed, in his message on World Environment Day (June 5) that "our relation with the environment cannot only be a social or cultural issue which is handled circumstantially, it is primarily a political issue."
President Papoulias pointed out that it is necessary that the protection of the environment be mentioned continuously, defining the sectors where emphasis should be placed for it not to be destroyed.
"Now, more than ever, that climatic change is threatening the already delicate balances of the planet, the importance of the 'World Environment Day' must be mentioned every day," he stressed and called for sensitisation at national and international level so that it will not be too late.
 World Environment Day eventA special bicycle ride will take place in Athens on Sunday, June 5, to mark World Environment Day.
The starting point of the cycling route will be at Eleftherias Park near the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) and will terminate in the southern coastal district of Faliro.
The event, sponsored by two relevant ministries and the Athens Metro, will be launched by the National Cycling Team.
 Chilean miners visit Acropolis MuseumTwenty-five out of the 33 celebrated Chilean miners that arrived in Greece this week visited the New Acropolis Museum on Wednesday, where they were greeted by Tourism & Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos at the state-of-the-art facility, which faces the Acropolis in downtown Athens.
"On the days that our Chilean colleagues were trapped in the mine, we sent a letter of solidarity, inviting them to Greece after the end of their ordeal," said Lymberis Polychronopoulos, the vice president of the Greece-based mining group EL.MIN, which invited the 32 Chilean miners and one Bolivian colleague to Greece.
The 33 miners and their families arrived in the east Mediterranean country on Tuesday. Earlier on Wednesday, they were received by Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the presidential mansion.
The group will depart for Hania, Crete on Thursday.
 Football hooligans cut down trees during protestFootball hooligans in Thessaloniki angered over their team's relegation cut down several trees along a major boulevard late Tuesday evening, using a chain saw, no less, to slice-off tree trunks for use in makeshift roadblocks.
Riot police used teargas to disperse the hooligans, allowing municipal crews the opportunity to remove the roadblocks. No arrests were made.
The hoodlums were reportedly angered over the relegation of the Iraklis Thessaloniki FC because its management allegedly supplied forged financial documents to the relevant football federation.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 30C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's negotiations with the Troika (EC, ECB, IMF) and the changes in labour relations, the tax measures and privatisations as well as a new support package, mostly dominated the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "EU discusses 65 billion euros loan to Greece!"
AVGHI: "Firesale for 30 pieces of silver".
AVRIANI: "Russian 'swoop' on Piraeus Bank".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government cuts 'Indignants Generation' salaries".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The package closes with harsh taxes".
ESTIA: "The government is inert".
ETHNOS: "Siege and extremities at entrance to parliament".
IMERISSIA: "First signs of hope - New loan after the agreement with the troika".
KATHIMERINI: "Towards overall agreement with Troika".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "German 'yes' to support changes the markets' climate".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Primary Healthcare sacrificed on the altar of profit".
TA NEA: "Rescue waltz".
VRADYNI: "They (Troika and government) cut 20 percent of the salaries and abolished the benefits".
 President seeks convergences ahead of Geneva meeting with UNSGNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias said he wants to go to next month's meeting in Geneva with the UN Secretary General with as many convergences between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides as possible.
Speaking after Wednesday's meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Christofias also said he wants to continue in the most constructive way possible efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
As regards the UN Secretary General's report on the renewal of UNFICYP's mandate, the president said that this is not based on purely political criteria and does not refer to the Secretary's role and mandate.
"I guess", he added, "all these will be included in a new report after the meeting on July 7," between UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, President Christofias and Eroglu.
He noted that on Wednesday they discussed the issue of the Police, adding that "under certain circumstances, we are not particularly far from achieving absolute convergence."
"But I want to be reserved and wait for the next meeting of our advisors. I have made a suggestion on the issue of international treaties and the competencies of the central government and the administrations of the constituent states on the issues of signing and implementing international treaties. There will be a response on the part of Eroglu and our advisors will discuss the details," he added.
The president was invited to comment on the fact that Ban notes in his report that a European club basketball match ''in south Nicosia between a visiting Turkish team and a Greek Cypriot team was marred by acts of hooliganism by Greek Cypriot fans against the Turkish team players'' and that "Turkish Cypriot police interrupted a Christmas service for the Greek Cypriot residents in the Karpas Panninsula'', in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus.
Christofias said that these are two incidents which have taken place, adding that Ban also commends the role of the Cypriot Police in tackling the situation during the basketball match.
President Christofias stressed that such incidences must be avoided as they create tension and harm the trust between the two sides.
Asked if the role of the UNSG could change, Christofias pointed out that only the Security Council can determine or change his role.
"We are in favour of maintaining the UN Secretary General's role as it has been defined by the Security Council," he stressed.
UN-backed direct negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem began in September 2008. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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