|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-07-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 12 July 2011 Issue No: 3835
 PM Papandreou addresses letter to Eurogroup presidentGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou in a letter he sent to Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday and in light of the Eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, on Monday afternoon, asked from the Eurogroup to send a strong message that "there is a strong political will to support Greece's ambitious program of change, provide the necessary liquidity for the new program, and decisively deal with the issue of debt sustainability in a manner that does not negatively affect the greek economy, banking system and future access to markets."
The full text of the letter follows:
"Dear Jean Claude,
Let me again express my appreciation for your continued enga-gement and help in dealing with our crisis. You have stood by Greece in these difficult moments.
At the same time we have all become aware that this crisis has become a crisis of our shared European home.
It has highlighted deep problems in the architecture of our currency, our governance structures, and our financial system.
And no one member state can alone effectively deal with these questions.
Again in seeking to solve problems in the Eurozone, you have tabled important and visionary proposals on behalf of Europe. Such as for example the idea of the eurobond.
Fourteen months after commencing our reform program, Greece has achieved an impressive fiscal consolidation and launched numerous far-reaching structural reforms.
In recent months, our government and the members of the Troika have worked tirelessly to produce a credible medium-term fiscal strategy, including an ambitious privatization plan, that will continue to drive our reform process and stimulate growth.
We have also pinpointed key impediments to reform, particularly our difficulties in stopping tax evasion and in building the capacity of our civil service to implement change. We have initiated a process whereby implementation deficits of the past are being remedied.
Furthermore the President of the Commission, Jose Manuel Baroso has strongly supported a program that will insure transfer of know-how and technical assistance for best practices from other member states to assist us in the implementation of major reforms in our country. This we welcome as this is our government's basic agenda.
Had major reforms been implemented years ago we would have avoided the current crisis.
The Commission has also been forthcoming on proposals and help to stimulate growth and job creation through community funds.
These remain priorities for our government and preconditions to reach a viable economy.
From our side, as you know, the Greek Parliament has approved the country's promised medium-term financial strategy and implementing legislation-approvals that were required for release of the fifth disbursement of the initial program and for approval of additional funding until 2014.
Our recent Parliamentary votes signal a renewed bold effort and strong political will to reach our goals.
Yet in no sense is our crisis over. Indeed, we together stand today at a fateful juncture in Greece's and Europe's ongoing economic adjustment program.
The markets and rating agencies have not responded as we had all expected. They continue to doubt (and therefore punish) our shared Greek and European reform program, and in so doing, are threatening Greece's and Europe's common recovery from the recession that began three years ago.
I am now convinced, after fourteen months, that no matter what Greece does-and we have proven ready to live up to our responsibilities-if Europe does not make the right, collective, forceful decisions now, we risk new, and possibly global, market calamities due to a contagion of doubt that will could engulf our common union. Strong and visionary European leadership is needed.
I say this to you because now there is a greater need to avoid mistakes of the past. "Crunch time" has arrived and there is no room for indecisiveness and errors such as: taking decisions that in the end prove 'too little, too late' to convince the markets we are serious; making compromises that satisfy our internal political 'red lines' that in the end substitute tactical politics for sound management of the crisis (although I do recognize the problems some governments have and the democratic demand for a greater say of Parliaments in trying to deal with this crisis); failing to use in-depth technical analysis and consultation before decisions are made; allowing a cacophony of voices and views to substitute for a shared agenda, thereby creating more panic than security; and I would add more global issues such as doing nothing substantive about the destabilizing role of the rating agencies, credit default swaps, tax havens or about plausible new revenues such as a financial transaction tax.
The above have in one way or another had profound effects on my country and others facing similar challenges.
As for Greece specifically, the attempt over the past ten days to structure private participation in our recovery program, for example, has led to public warnings that the rating agencies would declare a selective default.
While we are not against PSI in principle the proposal that was tabled seems to be flawed. It could prove to be too expensive, too little and too dangerous.
Too expensive for Greece and too little or inadequate to effectively deal with the management of Greek debt. And with these meager results one may still not avoid a selective default.
We all also know that, because there is still a deep distrust about the financial health of the banking system in Europe, that the new "stress test" results to be announced in a few days may fuel yet more market insecurity.
All these debates-around the new Greek program, private sector involvement, the amount of funding necessary, the talk of 'selective default'-- and the continued cacophony in the media only make the problems in front of us more difficult to solve.
Going from crisis to crisis at such a weak stage of recovery, with such a cacophonous press and frightened public, is not any longer an option Greece can sustain.
Greece is responsible for her past inaction. However over the past year Greece has taken the pain, made unprecedented decisions, and yet we have paid for too much experimentation and confusion.
The climate of uncertainty and distrust from markets and analysts is a climate that has undermined and will continue to block the efforts and sacrifices of the greek people towards a sustainable economy.
Concerning Greece, it is necessary that this time we reach an effective solution to ensure three basic goals: debt sustainability, access to markets and means to restart growth of the Greek economy.
Liquidity provided by the new program is essential but it may only serve as relief and not as a cure.
I thus believe it is time now to address our fundamental problems head-on-and produce a comprehensive package of solutions that clearly signals our determination not to see the European project further damaged or destroyed.
I believe that we must begin, as soon as possible, convening a series of closed working meetings-of leaders, advisors, and technical experts-that can offer up effective, possibly even far-reaching solutions in place of one-off and ad hoc responses.
The purpose of this letter is not to get into details of possible solutions as many ideas have already been put on the table: rollovers, reprofiling, buybacks, bond exchanges, eurobonds, extension of maturities, lower interest rates, EFSF flexibility, etc.
What I do believe is that we need a comprehensive and new assessment of both the problems ahead of us, and careful weighing-first and foremost, on a sophisticated technical level-of our options.
This technical assessment will in turn be the basis on which we will all have a better, solid understanding of the impact of the political decisions we collectively and soon must take.
At the same time today's Eurogroup meeting needs to send a strong message that there is a strong political will to support Greece's ambitious program of change, provide the necessary liquidity for the new program, and decisively deal with the issue of debt sustainability in a manner that does not negatively affect the greek economy, banking system and future access to markets.
Dear Jean Claude,
Europe's and the world's economies are fragile at best, and could quite easily now begin the sort of "second recession" that would add years to our recovery.
The developments ahead will also be crucial for the fate of our nation and the greek people.
Whatever decisions are made need to be taken in close cooperation which I look forward to.
My Finance Minister Vangelis Venizelos and I will be in close contact with you to help ensure our common success.
George A. Papandreou"
 Greek FinMin calls for new support program by end of AugustGreek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos called European finance ministers to complete all technical details of a new support program for Greece by the end of August and before the release of a sixth tranche of a 110-bln-euro loan agreement, during a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday.
According to sources, the Greek minister urged his Eurogroup counterparts to send to markets a clear message of stability in the Eurozone as the implementation of a lending program was a precondition for the sustainability of the public debt and the sustainability of the public debt was the basis of the program.
Eurogroup sources said the Greek minister acknowledged the difficulty facing several governments to participate in a new lending program to Greece without the participation of the private sector, while he stressed that he also acknowledged the European Central Bank's role in securing liquidity for Greece and the Greek economy in general.
"Greece is now a laboratory in which Eurozone's resistance is tested, while the protection of Greece is the self-protection of the Eurozone," the Greek minister said.
Venizelos reassured of the government's will to timely implement a program agreed with the troika and briefed the Eurogroup council over the appointment -in cooperation with other political parties- of a board council in newly set-up Privatization Fund.
He also underlined the significance of securing technical assistance from the European Commission and other Eurozone member-states on crucial issues, such as the battle against tax evasion and drafting a new National Tax System.
 Rehn, Venizelos confer ahead of Eurogroup meetingBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos met here on Monday with EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, for talks on the progress in the implementation of a Greek programme and preparation for the Eurogroup meeting later in the day, at which private sector involvement in any new aid package to Greece will be discussed.
Venizelos and Rehn also discussed the technical assistance to Greece to be forthcoming from the Commission and EU member states for implementation of its fiscal consolidation programme.
Venizelos placed priority on the technical assistance for greater absorption of the National Strategic Reference Framework and EU structural funds in a more beneficial and speedier manner aiming at enhancing the clampdown on tax evasion and preparation of the new tax system that will encompass a new developmental model for Greece, and consequently will have a developmental and social dimension in addition to the taxation and fiscal dimensions.
The two men further discussed ways in which other Commission services can facilitate the smooth and speedy development of the Greek government's privatisations programme.
Meanwhile, hours later, Venizelos signed a treaty authorising the creation of the so-called European Stability Mechanism, on behalf of the Greek government. Finance ministers from other Eurozone countries signed the document before a relevant meeting.
 Government calls for EU solidarity in handling public debt issuesGreek government spokesman Ilias Mosialos on Monday stressed that Greece will meet its obligations and called on Greece's EU partners to ensure that Europe was "strong, united and had solidarity".
He underlined the need for the EU to establish a new relationship with markets and develop stable mechanisms for handling public debt in its member-states, mechanisms capable of defending against pressure from speculators, promoting conditions of economic growth and allowing an exit from the crisis.
"There is no longer any margin for delays. It is a time for decisions," he emphasised, pointing to difficult and painful changes made by Greece in order to address its fiscal problems, including the envisaged changes to tertiary education, hospitals, town planning, tax collection and the ambitious privatisation programme.
 Greece sends condolences to Cyprus over naval base blastPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, in a telephone conversation Monday with Cyprus President Demetris
Christofias, expressed his profound grief over the deadly explosion at the "Evangelos Florakis" naval base in Cyprus.
President Papoulias requested from President Christofias to convey to the families of the victims and of the injured sincere condolences and feelings of sympathy on behalf of the Greek people and himself personally.
Prime Minister George Papandreou has sent a letter of condolences to President Christofias. In his letter, Papandreou expresses his shock over the extent of the tragedy and notes that ''for the rescue of possible trapped persons and the medical care of the injured, and for any other issue concerning the incident, we are ready to assist, in any way deemed necessary, the services of Cyprus.''
He assures that Greece will support and help Cyprus to overcome the consequences and heal the wounds opened by the explosion.
"The island republic has the forces, the ability and the will to overcome the consequences of the disaster," the prime minister said, adding that "in this task you will find us undivided supporters, both to overcome the consequences and for the efforts to heal the wounds that opened so tragically and unexpectedly this morning."
Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos addressed a letter of condolences to the House of Representatives Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, expressing his profound grief over the unexpected loss of the lives of many of our fellow men.
"The tragedy, that additionally caused injuries and material damages, constitutes yet another grave blow in a series of the country's disasters," Petsalnikos said, adding that "the Parliament of the Greeks, participating wholeheartedly in the profound mourning of the Cypriot people, expresses the warm condolences of the Greek people to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery for the injured."
Defense and foreign ministers Panos Beglitis and Stavros Lambrinidis expressed grief over the tragedy and Greece's readiness to extend all help needed, in telephone contacts with their Cypriot counterparts later on Monday.
"On the part of the Greek government and Prime Minister, I wish first of all to express our deepest condolences, solidarity and support to the Cypriot Hellenism, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, the government and all the political forces over this tragic event that has shocked Cyprus and Greece and has resulted in the death of Cypriot citizens. To the families of the dead, I express our deep grief and most heartfelt condolences," Greek defence minister Panos Beglitis said.
Beglitis said he has already spoken with his Cypriot counterpart, defence minister Costas Papacostas, to whom he conveyed Greek prime minister George Papandreou's condolences and solidarity, as well as Greece's and the Greek defence ministry's "readiness to provide every assistance necessary".
The minister said he and the Greek National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) chief were in constant contact with Cyprus National Guard chief Lt.-Gen. Petros Tsalikides, who was keeping them abreast on the tragic event.
A foreign ministry statement issued in Athens said Lambrinidis expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy in a morning telephone conversation with Cyprus foreign minister Markos Kyprianou.
Lambrinidis expressed Greece's support for Cyprus and his condolences to the families of the victims, as well as wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured people.
The Greek embassy in Nicosia, meanwhile, informed the Cypriot government of Greece's readiness to provide any help needed.
 Democratic Alliance leader expresses condolences for fatal Cyprus blastDemocratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis on Monday expressed her condolences to the families of those killed during a fatal blast at a National Guard naval station on Cyprus, as well as to the Cypriot people and the country's political leadership.
After being briefed on the course of an investigation into the causes of the accident, Bakoyannis noted that "the Cypriot people know that the Greek people stand beside them in the good times but especially in the bad times".
 C-27 plane to Cyprus' aid with specialist personnelA C-27 military transport aircraft carrying specialised armed forces and security forces personnel departed from Elefsina airport in Attica for Cyprus on Monday. The personnel on board will assist Cypriot authorities in determining the causes of the accident at the Evangelos Florakis base on the island.
They were sent at the request of the Cyprus Republic's defence ministry.
In the meantime, Greek hospitals were on standby to assist with the treatment of those injured in the extremely powerful blast that rocked the island country with a force some compared with that of a severe earthquake.
"I have contacted Mr. Christos Patsalidis, the health minister of the Cyprus Republic, and told him that all hospital facilities in Greece are at his disposal," Greek Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told reporters.
According to Loverdos, Patsalidis replied that the force of the blast was so great that the dead outnumbered the injured.
Earlier, Loverdos had a meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou and informed him that the health ministry will soon announce the merger of hospital units, the new list of approved pharmaceuticals and the pricing of medical actions.
 President Papoulias in Israel: Comprehensive solution for MidEast problemTel Aviv (ANA-MPA/F. Karavviti)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias called for a viable and comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem that would be founded on the creation of an independent and democratic Palestinian state coexisting peacefully with Israel, after a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Papoulias, who on Sunday began a three-day state visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, stressed after talks with Peres that "for Greece, Israel's security is an essential and required parameter of a solution", and noted that the upgraded relations between Greece and Israel could bring multiple benefits to the two peoples and also to the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean.
The Greek President further noted the developments in the Arab world, speaking of "the beginning of a change that run through the geopolitical status quo in the wider region" and which, however, "should not draw our attention away from the need to resolve the Middle East issue".
On the economic crisis in Greece, Papoulias said it was an unprecedented situation in the country's modern history, but added that "we are facing a systemic crisis of the euro, which cannot be dealt with with of-the-cuff last-minute solutions".
Papoulias stressed the need for the EU leaders to manifest the political volition and "reach immediately a comprehensive strategy that will deal with the inherent inconsistencies of the monetary union".
The President expressed satisfaction with the new momentum in Greece-Israel relations which, he said, "have as their firm foundations the common historic experiences and challenges that our two peoples have faced and continue to face in their ages-long history".
He further noted the joint decision to institute the Intergovern-mental Cooperation Council, the first meeting of which is due to take place in the coming months.
Papoulias also stressed the prospects of bilateral commercial and economic relations and the attraction of investments.
 President Papoulias attends official dinner hosted by Israeli counterpartTEL AVIV (ANA-MPA)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias, speaking during the official dinner hosted in his honour by Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday evening, highlighted as an exit to the Middle East issue the solution of two states with "Israel in safe borders next to an independent and democratic Palestine."
President Papoulias also referred to the possibility of processing and implementing an overall strategy on the new geoeconomic and geopolitical framework that is being created in the wider region, following the determining of an Exclusive Economic Zone between Israel and the Republic of Cyprus, the discovery of deposits of natural gas, as well as with the propect of carrying Cypriot natural gas to Europe via Greece.
He reiterated the need for a viable, workable and European solution to be found for the issue of Cyprus and called on Ankara to recognise the Republic of Cyprus which, as he stressed, "being a member-state of the European Union, jointly decides on the European prospect of Turkey."
Referring to the current economic crisis, President Papoulias stressed the need for "joint economic governance and bold steps towards political unification" in the framework of the Eurozone.
 Peres thanks Greece for preventing Gaza flotilla sailingTEL AVIV (ANA-MPA)
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday thanked his visiting Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias for Athens' sailing ban on an international flotilla that wanted to symbolically break an Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Peres expressed thanks to Papoulias, who is carrying out an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on Greece's decision "to fulfill the instructions of the UN Secretary General so as not to permit people wishing to misbehave, to come without control and without supervision."
Peres underlined the "importance of Greece's participation in the camp that is struggling against terrorism and in favour of peace."
The Israeli President also spoke of the "careful and legal" managing of the issue by Athens and pointed out that "Greece showed the UN that it is on its side, while offering a great deal to the people of Gaza and to peace."
He added that "you yourself had a private involvement in this. The combination of respect for the decisions of the UN with the real rapprochement against terrorism creates the respect" and also thanked his Greek counterpart for the assistance offered by Greece to the effort to extinguish the fire on Mount Karmel last summer.
 PM Papandreou sends message of condolences to Russian counterpart over Volga accidentPrime Minister George Papandreou, in a message he sent to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, expresses his profound condolences and those of the Greek government to the families of the victims of the tragic accident on the Volga river, expressing at the same time the hope that the efforts of the rescue teams will produce results.
"In these difficult moments for so many families, our thoughts are with those who were harmed by this unexpected disaster," the prime minister's message to his Russian counterpart concluded.
 PM Papandreou to chair cabinet meeting on TuesdayPrime Minister George Papandreou will chair a cabinet meeting at 12 noon on Tuesday.
The issues to be examined during the cabinet meeting are the filling of posts of judicial functionaries, the draft law on the adjudication of acts of corruption of politicians and state functionaries and the draft law on higher education organising.
 Joint patrols by Greek and Bulgarian police in tourist regions in northern GreeceGreek and Bulgarian police are carrying out joint patrols in tourist regions in the prefectures of Thessaloniki and Kavala as of Sunday, extending to Greek territory the corresponding action that began last January in the Bulgarian tourist resort of Bansko.
In the framework of this new initiative, ELAS chief lieutenant general Lefteris Economou and the Bulgarian secretary general of the Interior ministry and police chief of the neighbouring country, Kalin Georgiev, signed in Thessaloniki the relevant document and the creation of joint patrols.
As is anticipated by the cooperation, the joint patrols will include six Bulgarian policemen knowing the Greek language, who will be carrying out patrols until August 21 on the beaches of Nea Peramos and Kavala, as well as Asprovalta and Stavros in Thessaloniki. The choice of the specific regions took place after a proposal by the Greek authorities, since they gather a considerable number of Bulgarian tourists.
"The Bulgarian police who will be in our country, will not carry weapons, they will not have operational and executive responsibility," Economou clarified, stressing that the specific action is being implemented in the framework of a wider agreement, that has been signed by the relevant ministers of the EU member-states.
In addition, he praised the cooperation of Greek security authorities with the corresponding Bulgarian ones, stressing that it constitutes a model for the wider cooperation of all the countries of the region of the Balkans. "United in our struggle against organised crime and terrorism, we are becoming much more powerful," the ELAS chief said.
Statements by the Bulgarian secretary general of the Interior ministry were made in the same spirit. He said that "only united are we strong" and added "when there are no borders for crime, they do not exist for joint actions as well."
 Annual July 4th celebration held Thur. at US envoy's residenceThe annual commemoration at the US ambassador's residence of the July 4th independence day celebration took place on Thursday afternoon, with several ministers and representatives of Greece's political, business and ecclesiastical leaders present.
In a brief address during the reception, US ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith first congratulated the Greek side for the recent successful hosting of the Special Olympics 2011 Summer Games, stressing that an "effort to ensure equality for all is something we continue to strive for today."
Smith added that during "difficult times" it is important not only to remember our shared ideals and values, but also the "close partnership and alliance that Greece and the United States continue to enjoy."
 Several top Serbian officials pick Greece for holidaysGreece is apparently amongst the most popular summer destinations for Serbian politicians, with Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac and Finance Minister Nebojsa Ciric currently in Greece with their families for a holiday near Athens.
Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and his wife will pass their holidays in verdant Halkidiki, northern Greece, in the first week of August
According to reports, Sports & Youth Minister Snezana Samardzic-Markovic will be on Corfu with her family in August; whereas Vice-President Verica Kalanovic and Human & Minorities Rights Minister Milan Markovic will also pass their summer vacations in Greece.
 Budget deficit widened to 12.781 billion euros in H1Greece's state budget deficit totaled 12.781 billion euros in the first half of the year, surpassing a budget target for a deficit of 10.374 billion euros and up from 9.997 billion euros in the same period last year, the Finance ministry said on Monday. In a report, the ministry attributed this negative development to a significant shortfall in budget revenues of more than 3.0 billion euros.
Budget revenues missed budget targets by 3.051 billion euros, while total spending was lower by 644 million euros in the January-June period. Net regular budget revenues totaled 21.814 billion euros, down 8.3 pct compared with the same period last year. The Finance ministry attributed the lower budget revenue figures to a deep recession, lower revenues from withholding tax revenue, lower incomes and higher tax returns.
The Public Investment Program's revenues were 79.6 pct higher in the January-June period.
The Finance ministry expects the problem with lower revenues to improve in the second half, boosted by the performance of tax measures included in the Mid-term Fiscal Strategy Program for 2011-2015.
Budget spending grew 8.8 pct, reflecting higher payments for state hospitals' existing debt and higher interest payments (1.277 billion euros). Primary spending grew 4.5 pct reflecting higher payments on social insurance funds. The Public Investment Program's spending dropped 42.3 pct in the first half of the year.
 Central government deficit widens in H1Greece's central government cash deficit widened to 13.152 billion euros in the first six months of 2011, from 11.450 billion euros in the corresponding period of 2010, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said ordinary budget revenue fell to 22.032 billion euros in the January-June period, from 23.203 billion euros in the same period last year. Ordinary budget expenditure increased to 33.420 billion euros from 30.145 billion euros in January-June 2010, the central bank said in the report.
 Exports up 14.7% in MayGreek exports continued rising in May, while imports shrank further due to weak domestic demand, the Hellenic Statistical Authority annnounced on Monday.
The statistical service, in a report, said the value of export-deliveries - excluding petroleum products - totaled 1.331 billion euros in May this year, up from 1.161 billion euros in the same month in 2010, an increase of 14.7 pct.
The value of import-arrivals, excluding petroleum products, totaled 2.696 billion euros, down from 2.926 billion euros over the same periods, respectively, for a decline of 7.9 pct.
The statistical service said that including oil products, the value of exports soared 54.9 pct to 2.019 billion euros, while the value of imports fell to 3.2 billion euros from 3.9 billion euros in May 2010.
 Greek textile sector production volume down 19.1 % in Jan-MayThe Greek textile industry suffered a 19.1-pct decline in its production volume in the first five months of 2011, after a 17.5-pct drop in the same period last year, a report said on Monday.
The textile index suffered significant losses last year, hit by an economic crisis and a significant increase in the price of cotton, while production fell 20.4 pct in 2010 from 2009.
Production volume fell 22 pct in May this year despite a decline in cotton prices, and were 65.1 pct lower compared with 2005 levels.
The report, based on Hellenic Statistical Authority's data and an analysis of balance sheets of the 56 largest enterprises in the sector, showed that net results for 2010 was a loss of 47.4 million euros, although EBITDA showed an improvement.
The 31 most profitable textile enterprises (56.4 pct of total) reported net profits of 21.9 million euros, while the 24 loss-making (43.6 pct) reported losses of 66.3 million euros, for a net loss of 44.4 million euros in 2010, after net losses of 44.8 million euros in the same period in 2009.
The analysis concludes that the sector failed to benefit from a sharp increase of cotton prices to record highs last year. Revenues rose 3.0 pct, gross earnings rose 27 pct and EBITDA jumped 71 pct.
 Development minister holds talks with Chinese deputy trade ministerDevelopment, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis and the Deputy Trade Minister of the People's Republic of China Gao Hucheng on Monday discussed economic relations between Greece and China and prospects for developing cooperation in trade, shipping and investments, as well as competitiveness issues.
The Chinese deputy minister said that the Chinese government encourages Chinese businesses to develop investing activity in Greece, highlighting the incentives and the opportunities provided by Greece.
Referring to bilateral economic relations, Chryssohoidis underlined Greece's successes in the trade sector lately, a characteristic example being the increase in exports to China by 56 percent in 2010, adding that there is ground for an even greater increase, as well as for the widening of China's presence in Greece through direct investments.
 KKE pledges to oppose 'Ellinikos Chrysos' mining investment in HalkidikiThe local branch of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in Halkidiki on Monday said the party was determined to actively participate in mounting a coordinated front of local residents against the "Ellinikos Chrysos" investment in the Cassandra peninsula mines.
In its announcement, KKE claimed that the government had approved the environmental impact of the investment, in spite of strong opposition from residents and the warnings of the scientific community, caring only about boosting the profits of business groups during the crisis.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks came under strong pressure in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by a negative climate in other European markets. The composite index of the market dropped 2.58 pct to end at 1,218.88 points, with turnover soaring to 473.913 million euros, boosted by the transfer of a 10 pct equity stake of OTE to Deutsche Telekom. The Greek state transferred 49,015,038 OTE shares to the German group at a price of 7.99 euros per share.
The Big Cap index dropped 3.48 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 2.62 pct and the Small Cap index ended 3.77 pct lower. Hellenic Petroleum (0.79 pct), Viohalco (0.47 pct) and Coca-Cola 3E (0.16 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Cyprus Bank (8.33 pct), Eurobank (7.91 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (6.90 pct) and National Bank (5.56 pct) suffered losses.
The Oil (0.32 pct) and Food (0.05 pct) sectors were the only ones to score gains, while Banks (5.84 pct), Health (5.65 pct) and Technology (5.16 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 105 to 39 with another 48 issues unchanged. Sanyo Hellas (14.29 pct), Mouzakis (12.5 pct) and VIS (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Euromedica (14.29 pct), Vovos (13.64 pct) and Progressive (11.76 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.32%
Personal & Household: -1.12%
Raw Materials: -2.63%
Travel & Leisure: -3.20%
Food & Beverages: +0.05%
Financial Services: -3.64%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.20
HBC Coca Cola: 18.53
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.40
National Bank of Greece: 4.42
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.91
Bank of Piraeus: 0.94
 Greek bond market closing reportMarket concern that a Greek debt crisis could expand to Italy negatively affected sentiment in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widening further to 14.05 percent. The Greek bond yielded 16.61 pct and the German Bund 2.66 pct. There was no turnover in the market for the second consecutive session.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate was 2.19 pct, the six-month rate 1.81 pct, the three-month rate was 1.60 pct and the one-month rate 1.43 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 26.272 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,329 contracts worth 19.651 million euros, with 29,459 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,513 contracts worth 6.620 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,730), followed by Eurobank (2,830), Piraeus Bank (2,867), Alpha Bank (2,237), ATEbank (3,073), OTE (723), OPAP (530), Cyprus Bank (568) and MIG (523).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.426
Pound sterling 0.893
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 9.309
Japanese yen 114.86
Swiss franc 1.189
Norwegian kroner 7.860
Canadian dollar 1.383
Australian dollar 1.336
 Nine killed in car crash near Komotini; vehicle loaded with illegal migrantsNine people, including three minors, were killed and four more were injured early Monday when a car laden with 13 people -- identified as illegal migrants and a trafficker -- veered off course and crashed into a protective railing on the Egnatia motorway near the northeastern town of Komotini.
The accident occurred at roughly 8 a.m. The victims were described as of Middle Eastern origin.
The car was cut in two sections and totally destroyed from the impact of the crash.
Police believe the accident may have been caused by excessive speed or a malfunction of the vehicle due to the excessive weight it was carrying.
 New indictment in 'fixed' football games caseA prosecutor has prepared a new indictment into the "fixed" football games case, in the wake of wiretapped phone discussions concerning people controlled by the owner of the second division Ilioupolis football club, who is currently in custody pending trial.
The new indictment has already been forwarded to an investigator assigned the entire case file.
Although the content of conversations is unknown, the period concerns a period from March 2011 -- as the January-March period is missing -- and conversations by Giorgos Tsakoyiannis, the head of the Ilioupolis club.
New charges concern three groups of individuals and offences and the prosecuting authority issued an order again on the publication of the names of defendants who are included in this file of proceedings as well.
Charges in the first group concern the offences of establishing a criminal organisation, managing a criminal organisation, criminal fraud, bribery for the alteration of the result of a game and illegal internet betting.
Prosecution against the second group deals with charges of inciting and facilitating an organised group to carry out the offence of violence on the occasion of sports events (misdemeanor) with the defendants being G. Tsakoyiannis, Ioannis Papadopoulos, Olympiacos Piraeus president Evangelos Marinakis and other unknown perpetrators.
The case concerns the understanding reached for organized supporters of Olympiacos' "Gate 7" hooligans to be dispatched during a Korinthos-Panachaiki game last March, to create incidents so the team from Patras, owned by controversial attorney and football executive Alexis Kouyias, would be punished.
 Scuffles at protest over higher education reformsScuffles broke out between protesting students and police on Monday, at a demonstration outside the education ministry against a draft bill for reforming higher education in Greece.
Riot police stationed outside the entrance of the ministry engaged with students that passed over the barrier at the entrance and attempted to break through their line in order to enter the ministry. In this effort, the students tried to use a hose attached to a fire hydrant in the ministry forecourt to keep the riot police at bay and the latter responded by using tear gas. The police finally prevailed and managed to push the students away from the ministry's entrance.
Shortly before, university rectors had finished a three-hour meeting with Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, during which they had a in-depth discussion on the proposed reforms. The rectors insist that the role of a new university council envisaged by the draft bill should not be administrative but restricted only to oversight. They also disagree with a provision that rectors should be elected by members of the council only, suggesting instead that all faculty members have a vote in the election of the university's rector.
The minister, on her part, stressed that the draft bill's aim was to make radical changes throughout the tertiary education system and that this was demanded by society, while describing her talk with the rectors as having "special significance".
"After a discussion article-by-article on many important points, I expect after my own consultations their written proposals on all the articles on which we have a different approach," she added.
 Protest motorcade from Tripolis to central AthensThe local 'Indignant Citizens Movement' of the Peloponnese on Monday announced plans for a protest motorcade from the city of Tripolis in the centre of the peninsula to Syntagma Square in Athens this coming weekend.
Protestors will set off from Tripolis in cars, on motorbikes and even on bicycles in support of the right to freely protest using peaceful means and in order to express their displeasure and concern over the events in Syntagma Square on June 28-29.
They intend to leave on Saturday and arrive on Sunday, July 17, travelling at an average speed of 11.5 kilometres an hour. The motorcade will progress along the old national highway until Corinth, with intermediate stops at Mylous, Nafplio, Argos and Chiliomodi.
On Sunday, the motorcade will depart from Corinth and proceed to Syntagma Square in central Athens, with stops at Agious Theodorous, Kinetta, Megara, Nea Peramo, Elefsina and Aspropyrgos.
 Wildfire on ZakynthosA wildfire broke out on Monday morning on Zakynthos island.
The fire is burning a forested area between the villages of Volimes and Anahoritria, on the northern side of the island and, according to the Fire Brigade, residential areas are not endangered.
Eight fire engines with an 18-member crew as well as two water dropping airplanes and a helicopter are taking part in the operation.
Meanwhile, a fire that broke out on Evia island on Sunday has been partly contained.
Seventy five wildfires were reported throughout Greece in the last 24 hours. All of them were under control as of noon Monday.
 First summer heatwave aheadThe first heatwave of the summer is due to start on Monday. The National Meteorological Service said that the temperature will reach 39C and temperatures will remain high for several days.
Due to weather conditions and strong northerly winds the state mechanism will be on alert because of high risk of fires in many parts of the country.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 18C and 38C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 26C to 37C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 36C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's plan for the collection of overdue debts, the privatisations timetable and the slump in real estate, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "500 euros bonus to the 'productive' employees".
AVRIANI: "Indignants a strong majority wave, as ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy sink to 16-17 percent".
ETHNOS: "New arrangement for overdue debts".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: ?'Sheriffs' in tax bureau offices to track down thousands of debtors".
ESTIA: "How we will exit from the crisis".
IMERISSIA: "Real estate prices dive".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Five-month marathon with 23 privatisations".
TA NEA: "Red alert in Europe".
VRADYNI: "Business taxation reduced by 15 percent".
 Cabinet takes decisions after deadly Naval Base blastNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
The Government has declared three days of mourning for the deadly explosion Monday at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base in Mari, expressing sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims.
Speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said the dead from the tragedy have reached twelve and the wounded 62, including two seriously injured.
Furthermore, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has accepted the resignations of Minister of Defence Costas Papacostas and National Guard Chief of Staff Petros Tsalikides.
The Government has called on the people to cooperate in order to overcome the difficulties arising from the reduced supply of energy and water.
Stephanou said the cabinet decided to call in experts from abroad to assist investigations into the tragedy.
Replying to questions, Stephanou said a meeting had taken place last week regarding the explosives at the Naval Base and that decisions had been taken to protect the material, which had been confiscated in 2009 by the Republic of Cyprus from an Iranian ship in Cyprus' waters, destined for Syria.
Stephanou said the Republic of Cyprus had acted according to the provisions of a UN resolution, in communication with the UN, and that the safekeeping of the explosives had been assigned to the National Guard.
''From the powerful explosion, there were victims and huge destruction. There are twelve dead and 62 injured. Fifty wounded were given first aid and dismissed. Among the other twelve in hospital, two are very serious,'' he said.
Stephanou said that the Minister of Defence and the National Guard Chief of Staff, assuming the responsibility, had resigned and would remain at their posts until replaced.
The state services have been mobilised to tackle the situation, record and restore the damage, and take further action.
The Council of Ministers was also briefed on the situation regarding the power station at Vassiliko and decided on measures to address the demand in electricity.
''The Government calls on all the people to cooperation to tackle all these difficulties,'' he said.
He also expressed sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims, adding that the Government has declared three days of mourning, from Monday until Wednesday. During this time, all flags on state buildings are flying half mast, and all public events are postponed. The funerals of the victims will be held at state expense.
Asked why the explosives had remained there since 2009, Stephanou said that already the area is being examined by the Police with the cooperation of the National Guard, and experts have been summoned from abroad.
''We are certain that a full and detailed investigation of all issues arising regarding the safekeeping of the material and how we reached this tragedy will be carried out,'' he said.
Asked if there had been any warnings regarding the dangerousness of the material, Stephanou said that last week a meeting had been held at the Ministry of Defence and that there had been an examination on site the next day, and decisions had been taken regarding the protection of the explosives, which ''unfortunately were not implemented due to lack of time.''
Regarding the problems in the power and water supply, Stephanou said the Council of Ministers has made a first evaluation of the situation and decisions have been taken.
Asked about persons who are still missing since the explosion, Stephanou did not elaborate, noting that these were delicate issues.
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