|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 2 September 2011 Issue No: 3879
 PM Papandreou in Paris for international meeting on LibyaGreek prime minister George Papandreou will be in Paris on Thursday for the "Friends of Libya" conference that will bring together senior officials from some 60 countries and international organisations to discuss Libya's transition to democratic rule in the post-Gaddaffi era that is being convened by French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
The conference, to be co-hosted by Sarkozy and British prime minister David Cameron, seeks to secure financial and diplomatic support for the revolutionary regime in Libya, and is expected to be briefed by the head of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, on the NTC's immediate needs and plans.
Another key issue to be discussed in Paris will be a peacekeeping presence in Libya.
Addressing a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Papandreou said Greece supports the democratic transition of Libya and its stability and economic growth and boost its relations with Libya and with the other countries of North Africa and the Middle East.
 PM, President reiterate support for Cyprus solution effortsGreek President Karolos Papoulias and prime minister George Papandreou reiterated their full support to the ongoing efforts by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias for a solution to the Cyprus problem and wider efforts, in telephone calls to convey their best wishes to Christofias on his birthday, according to an official statement released in Nicosia on Thursday.
In their calls, both the Greek president and prime minister also reaffirmed that Greece and Cyprus will continue the very close cooperation and coordination between the two governments.
Christofias, in turn, expressed the gratitude of the Cyprus people and his government for Greece's support.
 PM holds phone contacts with Medvedev, Mahmoud AbbasGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou spoke on the phone Wednesday morning with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, with bilateral cooperation the issue of investments in the Greek economy reportedly the focus of the conversation.
Additionally, government sources in Athens said international issues were also discussed.
Papandreou subsequently spoke by phone by with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with the latest Middle East developments discussed, along with the course of peace talks and especially the situation in Libya and Syria.
Finally, the Greek premier spoke with the president of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, later in the afternoon, part of regular contacts between the two leaders.
 Five-hour talks between FinMin, 'troika' repsGovernment Vice-President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos completed a five-hour meeting with the visiting heads of an EC-ECB-IMF "troika" delegation on Thursday, with another meeting expected later in the evening.
The lengthy contacts are part of regular troika inspections of the Greek economy, all ahead of the disbursement of the sixth tranche of a loan to Greece, worth eight billion euros.
Finance ministry sources said the troika representatives insisted in strictly adhering to all agreements envisioned in the Medium-term Strategic Framework, including immediate privatisations, implementing a unified pay scale for civil servants, merging and abolishing several public sector organisations, curbing certain social benefits, liberalising labour relations law, reducing supplementing pensions, combating widespread tax evasion and fully opening up so-called "closed professions".
The minister has stated that there was no talk of additional tax measures during his discussions with the representatives, but only adhering to the agreed programme.
Venizelos said the government was expected to present, in the next few days, its decisions over a unified pay scale in the public sector, changes in labour relations, opening up professions and the abolition of certain public sector entities.
 FinMin warns against 'no pay' movement by restaurant ownersGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday warned entrepreneurs in the restaurant sector that they are liable for issuing proper receipts with the new 23-percent VAT rate, following a restaurant group's call for a payment stop of VAT remittances.
The minister that those who believe that violation of the law is the best method for the country to exit the crisis and recession are making a "provocative and deliberate mistake."
The main opposition New Democracy party on Thursday expressed its disagreement with the increase in VAT for restaurants, as well as with the announcement by businessmen in the sector that they will resort to the "I won't pay" movement.
On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis called for the immediate withdrawal of the measure raising the VAT rate to 23 percent, stressing that "the real economy and society cannot stand such irresponsibility," while accusing Venizelos of "deciding to punish thousands of businesspeople and working people because the government is incompetent and ineffective."
Regarding the "no pay" option favoured by the restaurateurs' association, Mihelakis said such a prospect "finds us opposed. Such practices not only do not solve the problems, but create bigger ones."
 Parliament office head resigns amid furor over debt, deficit reportThe head of a newly formed Parliament budget office resigned on Thursday evening amid an increasing political furor over a report it issued a day earlier, which amongst others, refers to the country's external debt as "out of control" and points to a continuing increase in the budget's primary deficit.
Stella Savva Balfousia submitted her resignation to the Parliament president hours after government Vice-President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos lambasted the report.
"Parliament's budget office obviously does not, as yet, have the knowledge, experience and the responsibility of relevant international organisations," was the first statement by Venizelos earlier on Thursday. He also charged that the report does not include credible data of similar international reports.
The development drew an immediate reaction from main opposition New Democracy (ND).
"The government has reached the point of forcing those that it has selected itself to resign..." ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis said, while rhetorically asking why the government accepted conclusions and assessments on the Greek economy from the same committee a month ago.
"What else must happen for the government to realise, at long last, that its policy on the economy is mistaken. This policy must change immediately and change drastically," Mihelakis added.
 Environment, Energy minister meets with 'troika' repsEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou met on Thursday afternoon with the representatives of the visiting EC-ECB-IMF 'troika'.
It was revealed that negotiations with the European Commission on the issue of access by third parties to the lignite-fired power production will be completed by Sept. 15.
Additionally, a privatisations programme in the energy sector is being promoted, which includes DE.PA, DES.FA and Larco for 2011 and Hellenic Petroleum and PPC in 2012.
 ND: Cost of elections smaller than cost of government remaining in officeMain opposition New Democracy (ND) on Thursday said that the cost of holding early elections would be smaller for Greece than the cost of the PASOK government remaining in office.
ND press officer Yiannis Michelakis, speaking on private Real FM radio, said that "the cost of elections would be smaller than the cost incurred to the country from the government's remaining in power".
Commenting on a report by the parliament's budget office on the divergences from the targets in containing Greece's deficits and debts, Michelakis noted that the results were such despite the unprecedented sacrifices of the Greek people, and asked "what must happen so that they will understand that the recipe must change, and it must change immediately?"
The party spokesman recalled ND leader Antonis Samaras' proposals for the economy, which include a reduction in tax rates, noting that "at that time they accused ND that this could not be done, but now they are discussing it".
He said that with the policy followed by the PASOK government the reduction in revenues was continuing, since society was not consuming, shops were closing, and businesses were relocating to other nearby countries with smaller tax rates.
Michelakis further said that ND does not hesitate to vote in favor when there are positive regulations, but this does not mean that it accepts wrong policies, noting that "just as we vote against bills that are in the wrong direction, we vote in favor of bills that are in the right direction", reiterating that the main opposition party will never say 'yes' to mistakes.
'Whoever is not able to govern dreams of co-governance," he said, adding that if the government feels that it cannot govern, it should come out and say so. "Everything else is a communi-cations ruse," Michelakis charged.
As for the matter of early general elections, he said that ND has approached this with great responsibility.
"At this time, whatever the cost of early elections would be, it is much smaller than the cost to the country from the continued stay of the government in office," the ND spokesman stressed, adding that "we called for elections from the moment we ascertained that this government cannot govern".
 Samaras visits OAED office in AlimosMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras visited the local state-run Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) office in Alimos on Thursday, where he was briefed on the major unemployment problem faced by Greece, and especially among young people.
Samaras said afterwards that in a period of harsh unemployment, OAED is called on to exhaust all its abilities to support the unemployed Greeks and especially the youths, as well as those who are faced with unemployment just a short time before retirement.
The demand on OAED is to produce measurable results and zero delays, Samaras said, adding that the unemployed were the hardest hit Greeks from the crisis.
 University students stage demonstration against new higher education reform law in downtown AthensAthens' downtown Panepistimiou was closed to traffic at noon Thursday as university students from all over the country rallied against reforms to higher education contained in a new framework law on tertiary education that went into effect on Thursday as the new academic year officially opened.
University students, joined at the Propylae by highschool students to protest against the new framework law that was passed the previous week in the Greek parliament with a broad consensus, will subsequently stage a march to parliament.
 Tourism to contribute more than 1.0% of GDP this yearGreek tourism will contribute more than 1.0 pct to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of a very good season this year, with tourist arrivals and tourism revenues reminiscent of 2007, when arrivals totaled 16.5 million and revenues totaled 11.3 billion euros, Andreas Andreadis, president of SETE said on Thursday.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, Andreadis said tourist arrivals were expected to reach 16.5 million euros and tourism revenues to grow more than 12 pct from last year.
Spyros Galiatsatos, the president of hoteliers on the island of Cephallonia, told the ANA-MPA that the local tourism has finally stopped its downward trend, while he expressed satisfaction over developments in tourism figures.
The islands of Rhodes and Kos in the Dodecanese continued leading a rise in tourist arrivals, with increases of 28.2 pct and 26.2 pct in the January-July period, respectively, followed by Irakleio, Crete (14.4 pct), Hania, Crete (8.52 pct) and Thessaloniki (11.77 pct).
 Moody's offers positive comments over Alpha-Eurobank mergerMoody's Investors Service on Thursday offered positive remarks over a planned merger between Alpha Bank and Eurobank, saying the merger will create the largest banking group in SE Europe with assets worth 150 billion euros and a branch network of 2,276 units in the region.
In a statement, the credit rating agency, said it will include the impact from the merger to its evaluation of the two banks in its next report.
Meanwhile, Alpha Bank analysts said a merger with Eurobank will add pressure for further corporate changes in the domestic banking sector. In a weekly bulletin, Alpha Bank, said a decision by Alpha Bank and Eurobank to merger, with the participation of foreign investment capital from Qatar, was a benchmark decision in determining financial developments in the country, as it was reached amid a climate of deep recession, fiscal crisis and a weak stock market. This move is restore confidence to the Greek economy, creating conditions for a return of savings to the domestic banking system and financing economic recovery, the bulletin stated.
The Moody report had a positive effect on the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market sharply higher, after a steep two-day decline.
 Sales turnover slumps 25 percentThe decline in shop turnover during the summer sales period this year, which ended on Wednesday, was the largest in the last three years, down an average 25 percent against 2010, while in some areas the drop reached 60 percent, the National Confederation of Greek Trade (ESEE) said on Thursday.
Turnover on the commercial market during the extended summer sales period is at least 25 percent lower than last year, despite hefty discounts, while last year's decline against 2009 was 15 percent.
Deeply hit by the economic crisis and deep recession, Greek shopowners had been looking to the sales to generate much-needed revenues, which have dropped sharply in recent months as a result of austerity measures that have caused shoppers to restrict purchases to the bare necessities, and are offering reductions as much as 70 percent off original prices.
The branches with the heaviest turnover declines compared with last year's summer sales period are: furniture, household goods and electrical appliances (-14 percent), cosmetics and pharmaceuticals (-13 percent), clothing and footwear (-10 percent) and books and stationery (-10 percent).
The above figures are the result of a survey by ESEE's survey institute in 84 merchant associations throughout the country on the 2011 summer sales.
ESEE said this was the biggest slump in the last three years, with eight out of 10 merchants citing turnover declines of up to 60 percent, and only two out of 10 citing turnover levels equal to last year's. ESEE said that the shops recording levels equal to 2010 were in holiday islands popular with foreign tourists.
 Allianz Greece reports 9.2 mln euro profit in H1Allianz Greece on Thursday reported after-tax profits of 9.2 million euros in the first half of 2011 and said premium production rose 2.0 pct in the January-June period, compared with the same period last year. Premium production totaled 120 million euros, with car insurance production up 14.3 pct, general insurance rising 9.1 pct and life insurance falling by 5.1 pct.
Petros Papanikolaou, chief executive of Allianz Greece, commenting on the results said that the state must offer permanent solution to chronic problems facing the insurance market, such as uninsured vehicles, excessive health services cost, a very high technical interest on life products, the absence of tax incentives for private pensions.
 Metro, electric rail unions call strike on Fri.Unions representing the Athens electric rail service (ISAP) announced a 24-hour strike on Friday, protesting what they claim is unfair treatment of employees due to transfers -- as anticipated by a bill restructuring state-controlled public transports.
According to union leaders, certain employees being transferred need only a few months for retirement.
Moreover, a union representing employees at the Athens Metro also announced a 24-hour strike on Friday, also in protest over the transfers' regime and the failure to sign a new collective bargaining agreement.
 ASE capitalization down 10.7 billion euros in AugustAugust was a disastrous month for the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) as the market lost 10.726 billion euros from its capitalization, while the composite index of the market plunged 23.9 pct. The banking sector was the weak link of the market, with the relative index losing 33.5 pct in the month, falling to levels seen in January 1993.
However, August recorded the highest daily percentage gain in ASE's history, with the composite index of the market jumping 14.37 pct on August 29, boosted by news of a merger deal between Eurobank and Alpha Bank, Greece's second and third largest banks respectively.
The index ended the month at 915.98 points, down 23.9 pct from the previous month, for a net loss of 35.22 pct so far this year. ASE's capitalization is down 16.778 billion euros in the January-August period. The Big Cap index fell 26.6 pct in August, while the Mid Cap index dropped 22.02 pct and the Small Cap index fell 22.6 pct.
 Stocks end 1.41 pct higherStocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, reversing a steep two-day decline that pushed the composite index of the market 9.0 pct down. The index rose 1.41 pct to end at 928.86 points, after falling as much as 3.42 pct in intra-day trading.
Turnover, however, remained a thin 66.365 million euros.
Buying activity focused on blue chip stocks, such as Hellenic Petroleum, OTE and OPAP, while Alpha Bank and Eurobank suffered significant losses.
Hellenic Petroleum (5.73 pct), OTE (4.19 pct), OPAP (3.65 pct) and MIG (3.23 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (4.42 pct), Eurobank (4.37 pct) and Piraeus Bank (3.08 pct) were top losers.
The Big Cap index rose 1.19 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.43 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.49 pct. The Health (16.98 pct), Insurance (7.69 pct) and Telecoms (4.19 pct) sectors scored gains, while Commerce and Chemicals suffered losses (2.26 pct and 1.07 pct, respectively).
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 92 to 53 with another 37 issues unchanged. Hygeia (29.63 pct), Hatzioannou (20 pct) and Iktinos (17.44 pct) were top gainers, while Sanyo Hellas (14.29 pct), Lambrakis Press (10 pct) and Mouzakis (9.52 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +3.81%
Personal & Household: +0.55%
Raw Materials: +1.35%
Travel & Leisure: +3.88%
Food & Beverages: +0.45%
Financial Services: +2.17%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank and DEH.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.99
HBC Coca Cola: 14.35
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.90
National Bank of Greece: 3.17
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.53
Bank of Piraeus: 0.63
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 15.01 pct in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 17.21 pct and the German Bund 2.20 pct. There was no trading in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.08 pct, the six-month rate 1.74 pct, the three-month 1.54 pct and the one-month rate 1.35 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.72 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 38.900 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,610 contracts worth 31.181 million euros, with 24,562 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 29,946 contracts worth 7.718 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (12,886), followed by Eurobank (3,620), MIG (466), OTE (663), PPC (616), OPAP (612), Piraeus Bank (2,126), Alpha Bank (4,064), Mytilineos (634), Hellenic Postbank (786) and ATEbank (333).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.449
Pound sterling 0.894
Danish kroner 7.561
Swedish kroner 9.232
Japanese yen 111.73
Swiss franc 1.158
Norwegian kroner 7.800
Canadian dollar 1.416
Australian dollar 1.354
 Stolen Rubens painting recovered in AthensA stolen Rubens painting, missing since a 2001 museum robbery in Belgium, was recovered on Thursday by Greek police in an Athens seaside suburb.
A 65-year-old former antique store owner and a 40-year woman were arrested after the painting, entitled "The Hung for the Caledonian Wild Boar" (28 X 52 cm) was found in the trunk of their vehicle.
Police said the pair was, by all accounts not involved in the original heist, with the investigation now centred on how the painting by the 17th century Flemish master came into their possession.
Undercover police officers posed as buyers offering up to six million euros for the painting. A final meeting was agreed to on Thursday for the transaction.
 Ukrainian embassy-sponsored art exhibition next weekThe Ukrainian embassy in Greece and the City of Athens' cultural centre are sponsoring an exhibition entitled "Golden Treasury of Ukraine" and "Orthodox Shrines", featuring holograms of religious art collections, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine.
The exhibition will be inaugurated on Tuesday at the municipality's cultural centre, on Acadimias Avenue in central Athens.
The exhibition will be open to the public until Sept. 15 (except on Monday) and after 2 p.m. on Sundays.
 Road accidents down 1.4pct in JuneRoad accidents involving death or injury declined by 1.4 percent throughout Greece in June against the same month last year, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
According to ELSTAT, road accidents involving death or injury fell to 1,345 in June 2011, marking a 4.1 percent decline against 1,364 in June 2010.
The number of deaths fell to 102, marking a 5.2 percent increase over 97 in June 2010, while the number of serious injuries rose to 155, marking a rise of 6.1 percent decline against 165 in June 2010, and the number of lighter injuries rose to 1,526 marking a 2.5 percent increase against 1,489 in June 2010.
 Three drug smugglers arrested in FiliatesPolice from the drug squad in the port town of Igoumenitsa arrested three men with nearly 400 kilos of hashish in the early hours of Thursday near Filiates.
The three men, all Greek nationals, raised the suspicion of police as they were driving two cars and a semi-truck on a road near the Greek border with Albania.
Police blocked the vehicles at about 4:00 a.m. and conducted a search, which turned up 13 travel satchels in the semi-truck containing a total of 380 kilos of hashish, which were confiscated.
The three drivers, during questioning, said the narcotic was destined for Athens.
They will appear before a local prosecutor later in the day.
 Heroin bust in ThessalonikiA 32-year-old woman was arrested by Thessaloniki security police on Thursday charged of dealing in large quantities of narcotic substances.
Police said a search of the woman's residence in the suburb of Triandria turned up 27.6 kilos of heroin and more than 21 kilos of cannabis, which were confiscated.
Authorities also found and confiscated a precision scale and two cell phones used for drug dealing.
 3 of foreign nat'ls charged with major opium smugglingPolice arrested three foreign nationals on charges of felony drug smuggling, mainly opium, from Turkey into Greece and subsequent transport to other European countries.
Authorities detected and arrested three Iranian nationals, aged 29, 33 and 33, in the central Athens district of Exarchia.
Three packages of opium with a total weight of about 2.5 kilos, a precision scale, 7,570 euros, three passports and four identity cards belonging to third parties were found in their possession and in an apartment they leased, police said.
 'Revenge' arsonist arrested on ThessosA 35-year-old man, a former volunteer firefighter, was arrested by police on Thassos and confessed to setting fires in four forest expanses on the island in an act of vengeance against the local municipality for not hiring him this year as a seasonal worker.
The man, in statements to the police, cited psychological problems and said he lit the fires earlier in the week for revenge against the municipality of Thassos for not hiring him as seasonal personnel.
The four blazes were spotted early by local firefighters who managed to quickly extinguish them despite strong winds.
Firefighters said the man used the same method in all four fires, first throwing dung in the forests and then setting fire.
The detainee had been a volunteer firefighter in the past.
 Wildfire in KozaniA wildfire broke out on Thursday in a wooded area near the Tetralofo site in NW Kozani prefecture. The blaze has so far burned four hectares of low-lying vegetation.
 Fires in Sparta, Arcadia, put under controlFirefighters fought two blazes throughout the night in Sparta and Arcadia, and managed to contain them by Thursday morning.
A fire at Kefala, near Sparta, was reported as having been fully contained on Thursday morning, while a second fire at Lykochia, Arcadia prefecture on Mt. Mainalos was partly contained.
Strong firefighting forces remained at both spots to completely extinguish the blazes.
 Greece beats Finland 81-61 in EurobasketThe Greek national basketball team beat Finland 81-61 on Thursday evening, remaining unbeaten in its first two games for the Eurobasket competition in Lithuania (Group C). The next game will be with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Saturday (18:00).
 Fair on FridayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 35C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 22C to 34C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 21C to 33C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe economy and the spiralling debt were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Tens of thousands of illegal migrants with illegal pensions".
AVGHI: "The last message of Leonidas Kyrkos (veteran left leader who died this past week): The people have no other solution".
AVRIANI: "Debt and deficits out of control, accelerate default".
DIMOKRATIA: "Full-speed ahead to iceberg".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Definitive failure for government and troika".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Debt out of control".
ESTIA: "They're destroying the economy".
ETHNOS: "New criteria for invalids' pensions".
IMERISSIA: "Market in nervous breakdown due to (increased 23 percent) VAT".
KATHIMERINI: "Government opening up new fronts with doctors and taxis".
LOGOS: "Debt out of control...with official seal".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Two in three listed companies with losses in first half of 2011".
NIKI: "Sun (solar energy) and gold (deposits in Evros) bring 15,000 new jobs".
RIZOSPASTIS: "No to all narcotic substances - Whole life, not in fixes - Government not focusing on tackling the problem through prevention, at same time as studies show that methadone also kills".
TA NEA: "Bill brings major upsets to National Health System (ESY)".
VRADYNI: "They're killing the households and the market with the (increased) VAT".
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