|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 8 September 2011 Issue No: 3884
 FM Lambrinidis says Serbia deserves status of EU candidateBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas) Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, speaking after his meeting here with his Serb counterpart Vuk Jeremic, said that Serbia has made great progress in its course towards Europe and is entitled to receive the status of a candidate country for accession.
Lambrinidis said that Greece within the European Union supports the position that by the end of the year Serbia must be given the status of an accession candidate country.
On the question of Kosovo, the Greek minister reiterated that Greece's position does not change, stressing that the dialogue between Belgrade and Prisitina is the best way for a solution to be found.
Lambrinidis congratulated Jeremic over the progress achieved in the last meeting between the two sides in Brussels.
Economic relations between Serbia and Greece were also examined during the meeting. The Greek Foreign minister reassured that, despite the crisis, Greece's economic interest in the wider region has not diminished and Greek business presence will not decrease.
He added that in October, in the framework of the Foreign ministry's programme "Go International", an important meeting will be taking place in Belgrade between Greek and Serb businessmen.
Lambrinidis stressed that Greece places great importance on economic relations with Serbia and indicative ot this, as he said, is the fact that Serbia will be the theme country at the Thessaloniki International Fair.
The Greek Foreign minister also met with the president of the Republic of Serbia Boris Tadic. Early in the afternoon he had a meeting with Greek businessmen who are active in Serbia.
On Thursday, he will be leaving for Pristina where he will be meeting the political leadership of Kosovo.
 FM gives interview to Serbian newspaperSerbia deserves to be given EU accession candidate status, Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis said in an interview with the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, appearing ahead of a visit to the Serbian capital on Wednesday, adding that Serbia has taken substantial steps in recent months.
Lambrinidis said that all the countries of SE Europe should gain membership to the EU, adding that the Greek 'Agenda 2014' initiative was aimed in that direction, adding that Greece's efforts contributed substantially to reversing the negative climate in the EU due to scepticism and a sense of 'fatigue' after the last Eu enlargement.
Asked whether Greece was being pressured to recognise Kosovo, Lambrinidis assure that "no pressure is being exerted", and "Greece remains devoted to its policy and has principals that aim at the consolidation of peace, stability and prosperity in the region".
He explained that its non-recognition of Kosovo does not hinder Greece from working for rapprochement between the two sides and supporting the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. "Dialogue should comprise the context for the resolution of all disputes, and unilateral actions should be avoided," the Greek minister noted, referring to the July incidents in northern Kosovo.
 FinMin holds telephone talks with EU's RehnGreek government vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos held on Wednesday a telephone conversation with EU Economic & Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.
The Greek minister briefed Rehn on the decisions taken by the cabinet on Tuesday regarding the acceleration of structural reforms in the country. Reports said that the Commissioner expressed to Venizelos his satisfaction on these decisions, which concern almost the entire public and private sectors of the Greek economy.
 Rehn confident of upcoming tranche to GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
EU Economic & Monetary affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn on Wednesday appeared confident that an upcoming tranche of an EC-ECB-IMF bailout for Greece, worth 8.0 billion euros, will be disbursed on schedule.
"I trust that Greece will take the necessary decisions in order to ensure that the sixth disbursement can be done and we can continue the economic reforms in Greece," the Union's top economic official told reporters at an event at the European Parliament.
Rehn spoke on the sidelines of an event hosted here by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), a political grouping in the Europarliament, entitled "Reset Greece: Rebuilding the Economy After the Crisis".
 Commission satisfied with Greek gov't announcementsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the measures announced by the Greek government on Tuesday.
Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn, speaking to reporters here, said the Greek government's decisions showed there was additional work to be done.
Altafaj noted that it was up to Greek authorities to inform when they would be ready to resume talks with EC-ECB-IMF 'troika' officials and stressed that the aim was for the talks to be resumed as soon as possible, so that an assessment of the Greek economy to be completed faster.
The EU spokesman said the troika delegation was ready to return to Athens as soon as the necessary reassurances were offered for the completion of the round of talks, particularly in the fiscal and structural measures, implementation of the Medium-Term programme and a drafting of next year's budget.
 ND bashes gov't on announced measuresMain opposition New Democracy (ND) accused the government of "communication ruses" and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos of "transferring the cost of the failure to the shoulders of the citizens", in a statement on announcements made Tuesday by the government.
In a statement, ND press officer Yiannis Michelakis said that instead of negotiating with its partners to change its failed recipe, the government was attempting to fool the Greek people and essentially transfer the cost of its failure once again to the backs of the Greek people, "but it no longer convinces anyone".
"This government is unfortunately managing the fate of the country at such a difficult time, with a prime minister that simply presides...Yesterday we watched the second, in just a few days, 'prime ministerial' announcement by the finance minister and government vice president (Evangelos Venizelos) in which it was resoundingly proved that Mr. Venizelos was lying last Wednesday when he assured the Greek people that the negotiations with the troika 'were not suspended' and that its abrupt departure from Athens was supposedly 'previously planned'," Michelakis said.
Also, "the government announced that it is proceeding quickly with those (steps) that up until yesterday it appeared to want to avoid, but which it had already signed", Michelakis said, adding: "If they (measures) were correct, then why was it avoiding them until now? And if they were wrong, why did it announce them yesterday, promising speedier rates that initially promised at that? And, finally, why did it co-sign them if it had a problem with them and why did it not co-sign them earlier if it did not have a problem with them?"
 ND leader Samaras on current eventsMain oppositioin New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, in the framework of his meeting with deputies and eurodeputies of his party on the occasion of the starting of the new political year, said on Wednesday that the citizens must not be trapped "in the game of social automation."
Exchanging views with the deputies on current events, he expressed disagreement with the way that the government is implementing labour reserves and supported the establishment of population criteria on the issue of taxis.
On the question of mobilisations, he reportedly said "we do not caress ears. We are not PASOK, that promised everything for everyone. We condemn and we condemned extreme attitudes repeatedly. We are calling for no one to be trapped in the game of 'social automation' that the government is playing, turning one social group against the other."
Samaras also commented on the question of labour reserves which is, as he said, a proposal by ND. "We do not combine the institution of labour reserves with dismissals. On the contrary, we proposed the specific institution for dismissals to be avoided. And we explained analytically why both the economy and society would benefit with its implementation. The government is doing exactly the opposite," he said.
 KKE leader slams gov't measures as 'modern Middle Ages'The latest measures announced by the government "literally cast our great-grandchildren into a modern Middle Ages," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday.
Papariga attacked government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos, saying that his announcements on Tuesday essentially amounted to one thing.
"In the name of eradicating salary inequalities or inequalities in pensions, the overwhelming majority of workers have to settle for a salary of 700 euro and a pension of 500 euro. This is what he said. And I consider unacceptable that he raise the dilemma that such measures protect our children," she stressed.
Papariga made the statements after a meeting with the workers' union at Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), at which she had again criticised the privatisations announced by the government, especially those linked to the sensitive area of natural gas and petroleum fuels. According to Papariga, these privatisations were "clearly not related to the debt".
"Chiefly now, in a period of crisis, the things decided in advance by the government and the European Union with the Maastricht Treaty are being implemented: these sectors of strategic importance will be handed over 100 percent to monopolies, in conditions of acute competition," she said.
She urged workers at ELPE and the Greek people to fight the planned privatisations, noting that "things will not go the way that the government has planned".
 SYRIZA head criticises gov't on labour reserve measureOpposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday lashed out at the government as regards the announced implementation of the labour reserve measure in the public sector and accused it of "placing all Greeks in a state of reserve," while "the entire country is being sold off."
Speaking after a meeting with civil servants union federation ADEDY representatives, Tsipras accused the government of "engaging in an unprecedented propaganda and misinformation campaign targeting the public sector and social state," adding that the attack launched on the public sector employees is used as leverage in an attack on society as a whole.
 GSEE leader: MTFS 'tramples' on labour rightsThe head of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) Yiannis Panagopoulos, president of the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation, on Wednesday stressed his opposition to the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy (MTFS) programme that he said 'trampled on labour rights'.
According to Panagopoulos, wage-earners, pensioners, unemployed and the poorer sections of the population were once more being asked to shoulder the bulk of the burden and pay for a crisis they had no part in causing.
 Task force for Greece entering accelerated ratesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/I. Karanasopoulou)
The so-called task force for Greece, created at the initiative of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou aiming at the better utilisation of EU funds so that they can contribute to the creation of growth, as well as the provision of know-how by the Commission and the member-states to Athens, is entering accelerated rates.
On Thursday morning, the prime minister's adviser and the person responsible on the Greek side for the task force, George Glynos will be starting two-day consultations with its head, Horst Reichenbach, in Brussels.
In the framework of these consultations, the two officials will also have discussions with the offices of the jointly responsible Commissioners, as well as with the representatives of the EU's member-states, at the level of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
Next week, Reichenbach will be visiting Greece and in the framework of his visit he will meet, accompanied by Glynos, the ministers whose portfolios are linked to growth and the Community Support Framework.
 PM Papandreou to address event on German industry day in Berlin on September 27Prime Minister George Papandreou will be addressing, in Berlin on September 27, an event on the day of German industry.
The event is being organised by the Federation of German Industries.
Papandreou's presence at the specific event has been scheduled since last month and there has been a relevant announcement by the press office since August 25.
 Parliament lifts immunity of three PASOK MPsParliament on Wednesday decided, via a secret ballot, to lift the parliamentary immunity of three ruling PASOK MPs, Alekos Athanassiadis, Pemi Zouni and Athanassios Economou.
Athanassiadis is facing perjury and slander charges. Of the 210 MPs present, 186 voted in favour, 17 against and seven voted "present".
The parliamentary immunity of Pemi Zouni, a noted singer, was lifted at her own request after a complaint filed against her by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AEPI), which has already been withdrawn. A total of 153 MPs voted in favour, 50 against and seven "present".
Athanassios Economou also requested that his Parliamentary immunity be lifted to appear in court and face charges concerning a health code violation, made within the framework of his private practice. In favour voted 186 MPs, 17 against and seven "present".
 Parliament approves draft law on legalisation of illegally built residences; provision on mosqueA draft law on the legalisation of thousands of illegally built constructions was passed in Parliament on Wednesday, with considerable changes as regards fines that will have to be paid by their owners. The draft law also includes regulations concerning the licensing of projects and activities taking under consideration the protection of the environment.
Meanwhile, article 29 on the construction of a mosque in the Eleonas district in downtown Athens was also passed with an extended majority vote. The nominal ballot took place at the request of opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S).
Present in the vote were 214 MPs, with 16 MPs (from the LA.O.S party) voting against, while in favour were a total of 198 MPs -- ruling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy (ND), the Communist Party (KKE), Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and independent MPs.
 Justice minister unveils draft law decriminalising drug useJustice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou on Wednesday unveiled new draft legislation that will seek to decriminalise drug use, treating it less as a criminal offence than a condition that the user must be helped to recover from.
The minister clarified, however, that the courts will always have the final word and that the law will remain tough on those that deal or cultivate drugs.
Papaioannou said the draft bill was approved by cabinet on Tuesday and would now be posted for a period of public dialogue, after which it would take its final form.
He noted that there were roughly 300 drug-related deaths in Greece each year, while there were currently 4,500 inmates in Greek prisons for violations of laws on drugs. This number was further augmented to about half the prison population if combined with those serving time for offences directly linked with the use and trade in drugs, such as thefts, rapes and other crimes.
The minister emphasised that the cost of implementing the bill would be minimal compared with the social benefits, adding that the ministry was making preparations so that prisons will soon be in a position to administer methadone as a drug substitute.
He noted that an overall plan of action for fighting drug use will be announced by the government soon.
 FinMin dismisses press claim involving PM's staffPrime Minister George Papandreou exchanges views with a considerable number of personalities, scientists and experts from around the world, including Ipek Cem, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos stated on Wednesday, in a document forwarded to Parliament.
The minister stressed that the daughter of the late former Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem "has no relation, whatsoever, with services under the prime minister."
The document by Venizelos was forwarded to Parliament in response to a question tabled by opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party MP Kyriakos Velopoulos, who cited news reports that Ipek Cem was hired as the prime minister's advisor on "green investments".
Venizelos stressed that personal relations and contacts of this kind should not be treated with suspicion.
 LA.O.S president meets with foreign officialsOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Wednesday met, separately, with foreign officials at the party's central offices in Athens.
A meeting with Palestinian envoy Samir Abu Ghazaleh focused on bilateral issues. In comments made afterwards, Karatzaferis said he was in favour of the recognition of a Palestinian state, stressing that such a development would contribute to efforts for peace in the region.
On his part, the Palestinian envoy briefed Karatzaferis on the Palestinian issue and developments in Arab countries.
The LA.O.S president also met with Danish MEP Morten Messerschmidt, the vice-chair for the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) Group.
The meeting reportedly focused on the problem of illegal migration into Europe.
 Former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri in GreeceFormer Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Greece this week for a holiday, with the Ionian island of Corfu reportedly the first stop on his vacation.
Hariri will reportedly vacation aboard his Greek-flagged yacht.
The current leader of the opposition, Saad Hariri is the son of assassinated Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
 Taxi strike on Thursday following unveiling of bill for 'opening' of the sectorTaxi owners have called a 24-hour 'warning strike' on Thursday, responding to a bill on the opening of their until now closed-shop profession that was unveiled in and approved by the Cabinet a day earlier.
The strike will run from 5:00 a.m. Thursday to 5:00 a.m. Friday.
Taxi owners' unions will hold a General Assembly in central Athens on Thursday to discuss the new status quo that will arise from the provisions of the bill and to take decisions on further action.
The strike initially affects Athens and Thessaloniki, but local taxi owners' unions from other parts of the country are also expected to state participation in the action.
The bill, unveiled during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting by transport minister Yiannis Ragoussis, provides for a return to exclusive state authority of the issue of taxi permits, the introduction of special 9-seat taxis and motorcycle-taxis, a hefty fee for acquiring a new taxi licence, and a reduction of taxi fares by 10-20 percent.
More specifically, the issue of a taxi Services Provision Permit returns to the state and may be issued only by the state for a fee of 15,000-40,000 euros, and a similar permit for motorcycle-taxis will cost 5,000-10,000 euros, although these will be put to deliberation. A supplementary fee will be paid for the acquisition of additional vehicles beyond the first taxicab.
The permit will have to be renewed every three years, and is not transferrable, in an effort to curtail the black market in permits, a measure that is expected to have a fiscal benefit for Greece running in the hundreds of millions of euros.
A new 'special charter' market will be introduced for taxis of up to 9-seat capacity with reservations by telephone and Internet and prohibition of searching for passengers on the streets, while the fare will be negotiated between the driver and the customer. Motorcycle taxis will be included in this category.
New taxicabs and special charter cabs must be of new anti-polluting technology and obligatorily provide access to the Internet and television, will have large illuminated signs and different-color band on the chassis from normal taxis so that they may be easily recognisable on the street.
Drivers and the legally responsible officials of the taxi service companies must attend, and have certification of, orientation seminars that include hotel-level English.
Some 28,000 operate legally today throughout Greece, 15,000 of which in Attica prefecture. Over the past decade it is estimated that 35,000 taxi permits have been transferred (privately from owner to owner) at prices ranging from 70,000 to 200,000 euros.
The draft law makes no provision for population criteria for the number of total permits per area, which is one of the fundamental demands of the taxi owners and had been contained in the provisions of the Presidential Decree that had been agreed between the owners and preceding transport minister Dimitris Reppas.
Ragoussis said on Thursday that the bill will be tabled in parliament in about a month, after being put to the Cabinet for approval in a second reading.
He also clarified that the Services Provision permit is unrelated with the vehicle's circulation licence, and that current holders of taxi permits will have three years to decide what they will do, namely if they will join a taxi services company.
The minister further said that tax audits will be made on older transfers of permits, warning that fines will be imposed on those who sold taxis (permits), collected the money from the sale but did not declare them (to the tax bureau).
 Health minister warns pharmacists to 'toe the line' on opening hoursHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday announced that the government has already handed out 800 licences for new pharmacies, following the liberalisation of the profession, while he warned that pharmacists that failed to open at the times required by the new law would have their licence revoked for at least a month.
The minister noted during a press conference that demand in some areas of the country, such as Thessaloniki, was lower than supply, with only 41 applications for 44 new pharmacy licences available. He also announced that 300 pharmacists had already formed companies and promised that a measure increasing the number of pharmacies near hospitals would soon be implemented.
He was adamant about the issue of the new opening times, stressing that 30 percent of pharmacies in the country will be open for business every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday afternoon as of November 1.
"The ministry's inspection mechanisms will be out on the streets to ensure that there is adherence to what was agreed," he warned, adding that if pharmacists refuse to comply with the new opening times, the ministry would fully deregulate opening times from December 1.
 48-hour strike 'only the start', doctors warn; health ministry adamantThe two-day strike by doctors throughout the country beginning on Thursday will only be the start and a foretaste of more militant action to come, the head of Greece's nationwide medical association warned on Wednesday.
He made the announcement just a few hours after a press conference in which Health Minister Andreas Loverdos had emphasised the government's determination to go ahead with planned reforms health care, in spite of doctors' objections.
Among others, he made it clear that no new doctors will be hired within the health service and that any new hiring allowed with the restrictions of the memorandum would be used to recruit more nurses, of which there was a real shortage.
Under the new system, 22,000 doctors belonging to the Unified Primary Healthcare Organisation (EOPY) will be permitted to offer their services once a week, from morning until night, at state hospitals where there was a shortage of doctors, based on a decision of the hospital's board.
The minister stressed that the government "will forge ahead along the road we have taken," in spite of doctors' objections, while accusing doctors of refusing to participate in dialogue.
According to Loverdos, the government was working on an entirely new way of running the country's national health system, especially emergency departments, with legislative measures that would be ready after October 15.
He said patients will be screened by an intern or team of doctors as they entered an emergency room, with priority treatment received based on the seriousness of their condition rather than 'clients' of specific doctors.
Replying to the minister's claim that doctors refused dialogue, the head of the national medical association said that the government had at no time sent any outline of its plans for the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY), adding that doctors had participated in dialogue for months but were never given specific details of the government's intentions.
Doctors also questioned the point of measures allowing private physicians that have contracts with EOPYY to provide their services at a state hospital once a week and were strongly critical of an announcement that the state will stop hiring new doctors, calling the measure 'indiscriminate cost cutting'.
They stressed that all hospitals, the surgeries of the Social Insurance Foundation and also health care units will work with a skeleton staff during their 48-hour strike, only emergency incidents will be treated and no scheduled appointments will be carried out.
 Tax officials, customs officers to strike next weekTax officials and customs officers throughout Greece on Wednesday announced a 48-hour strike on Monday and Tuesday next week.
The decision was announced by their staff federations, which said they had decided to hold a further meeting after the end of the strike to decide on whether to escalate labour mobilisations.
The strike was called in response to the government's announcement that the uniform civil service pay scale will apply to tax and customs staff.
 Public school teachers to strike on September 22The teachers' federation of Greece (DOE) on Wednesday called a 24-hour strike for September 22 due to problems in the country's schools and over the government's economic policy in general.
The public school teachers are demanding immediate abolition of the Memorandum and the government's Medium-Term Fiscal Programme, a uniform salary scale that will financially upgrade the teaching personnel and provide equal treatment of employees with equal qualifications, no salary reductions and rebate of the 13th and 14th salaries and the losses from the salary cuts in 2010, a minimum net salary of 1,400 euros for newly-appointed teachers, expenditure for education of 5 percent of GDP, funding of school committees directly from the state budget, and hiring of substitute teachers to fill the vacant positions in the schools.
 Air traffic controllers' union announce 'go-slow' strikeAir traffic controllers on Wednesday announced that they are determined to end overtime work and proceed with "strict implementation" of air traffic regulations, thus conducting the equivalent of a "go-slow" strike in protest to a new wage scale and changes in the management of revenues coming from special collected rates -- a portion of which return to air traffic controllers.
Problems are expected to be created in flights inside Greek airspace.
 Bankers offer mixed response to bank supervision legislationBank and securities firm officials on Wednesday offered a mixed reaction to a draft legislation over a stricter supervision of financial institutions in the country.
Addressing a hearing of the Parliament's Economic Commission, Ioannis Papadakis, deputy governor of the Bank of Greece, said the bank was fully positive towards the new legislation as it offered a supervisory and safety net for banks.
Vasilis Rapanos, president of the Hellenic Bank Association, supported the new legislation but noted that certain provisions were in contrast with European corporate legislation and could face resistance in the European Union. Rapanos reassured that the Greek banking system was healthy and credible and said that capital withdrawn from Greek banks so far totaled 48 billion euros. Non-performing loans reached 10 pct at the end of 2010 and predicted that this trend would continue this year, while on the other hand Greek banks have rescheduled loans worth 20 billion euros -out of a total 254 billion euros- and stressed that a negative growth rate in new credit (-1.2 pct in July) remained significantly lower compared with a decline in GDP (-5.0 pct). Rapanos announced that bank saving deposits grew by 1.5 billion euros in August, reversing a several month decline.
The president of the Members Association of the Athens Stock Exchange, Alexandros Moraitakis, addressing the hearing said that although the new legislation was moving towards the right direction, solving short-term and urgent problems, however it did not offer answers to the big issues of the financial sector.
 Event on Greek economy held in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), a political grouping in the European Parliament, held a one-day conference here on Wednesday entitled "Reset Greece: Rebuilding the Economy After the Crisis".
Participating in the event were Greek Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, Democratic Alliance party president Dora Bakoyannis and the leader of the Liberal and Democrat group in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt.
"We are struggling to radically transform Greece's growth model, to create an extroversive, competitive, productive economy and the first results are already appearing," Chryssohoidis said.
Bakoyannis presented her party's proposals to handle the crisis saying: "We are here to fight for growth so that Greece can exit from the vicious circle of recession."
 Inflation falls to 1.7pct in AugustGreek inflation fell to 1.7 percent in August on an annual basis from 5.5 percent in the corresponding month in 2010, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in August 2011 compared with August 2010, increased by 1.7%. In August 2010, the annual rate of change of the CPI was 5.5%).
The CPI in August 2011 compared with July 2011 decreased by 1.4%. In August 2010, the monthly rate of change of the CPI was -0.7%).
In the twelve-month period from September 2010 to August 2011 compared with the period from September 2009 to August 2010 the annual average rate of change of the CPI was 4.1%. The corresponding annual average rate of change of the CPI in the previous year (September 2009 to August 2010), was 3.5%.
Also, harmonised inflation fell to 1.4 percent in August from 5.6 percent in August 2010.
The Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) in August 2011 compared with August 2010, increased by 1.4%. In August 2010, the annual rate of change of the HICP was 5.6%.
The HICP in August 2011 compared with July 2011, decreased by 1.4%. In August 2010, the monthly rate of change of the HICP was -0.7%.
In the twelve-month period from September 2010 to August 2011 compared with the period from September 2009 to August 2010, the annual average rate of change of the HICP was 4.0%. The previous year, in the corresponding twelve - month period, the annual average rate of change of the HICP was 3.5%.
 Tourist arrivals increase 10.1 pc in country's 13 main airports over January-August 2011 periodThe eight-month January-August 2011 period closed for Greek tourism with a double-digit increase percentage in the country's 13 main airports, with August also placing its seal on one of the best tourist years for the country.
Tourists arriving at these airports in the country totalled 8,695,309, increasing by 10.1 percent compared to last year and the target of 16.5 million for 2011 has "locked" as tourist agencies believe.
According to data publicised every month by the Federation of Greek Tourist Enterprises, this year's August attracted 2,211,585 tourists, recording an increase of 9.30 percent compared to last year.
On the board of arrivals, Rhodes and Kos lead the increase, with the former recording an increase of 23.77 per cent in arrivals over the eight-month period and the latter having an increase of 23.88 per cent over the same period.
 Latemar Capital Ltd buys 15.2 pct of AlapisLatemar Capital Ltd. has acquired a 15.2056-pct equity stake in Alapis, or 7,455,317 common nominal shares of the listed company.
In an announcement to the press, Alapis said Mario Al-Jebouri transferred 15.2056 pct of his voting rights share of the company to Latemar Capital and no longer owns directly, or indirectly, shares or voting rights in Alapis.
 Business Briefs-- Greece's energy sector watchdog on Wednesday announced a 900,000-euro fine against Public Power Corp. (PPC) for breaching its obligations as a distribution network manager, with the former charging that PPC raised hurdles in competition in the domestic electricity market.
-- ATEbank on Wednesday announced a short-list of seven candidates in a tender to sell its majority equity stake in SEKAP SA.
-- Foreign investors barely raised their participation in the capitalisation of the Athens Stock Exchange in August to 50.2 pct, from 50.0 pct in July, while Greek investors slightly cut their exposure in the market to 48.5 pct from 48.6 pct over the same period, respectively, official figures showed on Wednesday.
-- Supermarket groups are boosting their assets worldwide even when they are reporting lower earnings, a trend which also prevailed in Greece in 2010, a report by Icap Group for ANA-MPA showed on Wednesday.
-- Greece's mobile telephony industry continued its downward trend in 2010, hit by an economic crisis, complex legislation regarding licensing and heavy tax burdens, a report by Icap in cooperation with the Athens Economics University, stated on Wednesday.
 Stocks skyrocket 7.98 pct on WednesdayStocks recovered spectacularly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with market sentiment encouraged by a government decision on Tuesday to speed up its privatisations and structural reforms plans, while a strong rise in other European markets was another boosting factor.
The composite index of the market surpassed the 900-mark to end at 929.45 points, with an increase of 7.98 pct. Bank shares rebounded spectacularly after suffering heavy losses in the previous sessions. National Bank jumped 22.66 pct, Alpha Bank rose 20.73 pct, Hellenic Postbank ended 18.27 pct higher, Piraeus Bank rose 14.81 pct, Eurobank ended 14.66 pct up and Marfin Popular Bank rose 13.33 pct.
Turnover was an improved 62.646 million euros. The Big Cap index soared 10.04 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 5.98 pct and the Small Cap index ended 5.56 pct up.
All sector indices moved higher, with Banks (17.31 pct), Raw Materials (10.98 pct) and Financial Services (8.27 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 135 to 25 with another 44 issues unchanged.
Xylemporia (8.89 pct), Akritas (8.62 pct), Lanacam (8.06 pct) and Hellenic Textiles (7.69 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +6.34%
Personal & Household: +6.20%
Raw Materials: +10.98%
Travel & Leisure: +5.52%
Food & Beverages: +5.11%
Financial Services: +8.27%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.98
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.95
HBC Coca Cola: 14.90
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.00
National Bank of Greece: 3.41
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.33
Bank of Piraeus: 0.62
 Greek state bond yields rise to record highThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to new record highs on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 20.18 pct, while the German Bund yielded 1.88 pct. The yield spread was set at 16.20 pct. Meanwhile, the two-year Greek bond yielded 53.2 pct, also a new record high.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 15.74 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 15.63 pct on Tuesday, with the market remaining inactive for one more day. The Greek bond yielded 17.66 pct and the German Bund yielded 1.92 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.06 pct, the six-month rate 1.73 pct, the three-month rate 1.53 pct and the one-month rate 1.33 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 39.463 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,212 contracts worth 28.544 million euros, with 23,803 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 46,938 contracts worth 10.919 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (18,443), followed by Eurobank (3,487), OTE (593), MIG (459), PPC (905), OPAP (534), Piraeus Bank (7,429), Alpha Bank (7,465), Intralot (680), Mytilineos (1,077), Cyprus Bank (1,643), Hellenic Postbank (1,527) and ATEbank (906).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.424
Pound sterling 0.891
Danish kroner 7.559
Swedish kroner 9.107
Japanese yen 110.01
Swiss franc 1.223
Norwegian kroner 7.655
Canadian dollar 1.408
Australian dollar 1.342
 Police seeking three on robbery-cum-murder chargesPolice in Livadia on Wednesday announced that they had tracked down the culprits for the cold-blooded murder of a 75-year-old man in Viotia earlier this year, who was killed by armed robbers that broke into his house last April. The suspects are a gang of Albanians that are also considered responsible for burgling 26 homes.
Charges have been drawn up against three Albanians, who have so far eluded capture and are now being sought. The three, along with an indeterminate number of accomplices, had set up a criminal group that broke into peoples' homes.
The killing occurred during one such break-in during the early hours of April 4, while the unlucky victim was asleep in the house with his wife and their 47-year-old son. The three men facing charges had immobilised the couple using the threat of a hunting rifle, as well as their son in the next room.
After searching all the rooms they took the sum of 800 euro and one of them shot the 75-year-old at point-blank range, causing his death. Another of the robbers hit the victim's 70-year-old wife on the head with a hammer, causing her minor injury. They then climbed into a car stolen from Kiato in Corinth and drove away.
The car was later found abandoned in an olive grove off the Athens-Lamia highway in Atalanti, while the gang had also been involved in a police pursuit on April 9 when they again got away by abandoning the vehicle.
The car, containing at least part of the loot taken by the robbers, was recovered and returned to their owners.
 Two foreign nationals arrested for drug trafficking, third wantedTwo Albanian nationals were arrested by Igoumenitsa police drug squad officers at dawn Wednesday in the Tsamanta region near the Greek border with Albania, and 94 kilos of hashish were seized, while a third Albanian was wanted.
The two detainees -- a man and a woman -- were arrested and their car was seized, while police were searching for the driver of a second car in which the narcotic was found.
The wanted man sped through a police blockade and abandoned his vehicle a short distance away, and fled on foot in the cover of the dark. A search of the car turned up the hashish in one-kilo packages stashed in travel satchels.
The man and women were arrested in another car serving as a look-out for the trafficker.
The detainees will be taken before a public prosecutor.
 Two escaped convicts sought for series of robberiesTwo Albanian convicts that escaped from the prisons of Alikarnassos and Grevena are being sought by police in connection with 14 armed robberies of supermarkets, petrol stations, shops and the theft of three motorbikes.
The robberies are all recent and were carried out with the aid of accomplices in the areas of Viotia, Attica and Evia.
The case was cracked during an investigation by police in Livadia and Thiva, who have drawn up charges against the two Albanians and have obtained warrants for their arrest.
 Family wants case on Tsalikidis death re-opened, insists on link to phone-tapping caseThe family of junior Vodafone executive Kostas Tsalikidis, who was found hanged days after a major phone-tapping scandal involving the company was discovered, on Wednesday announced that they will seek to have the case re-opened and linked to the renewed prosecution of the phone-tapping case.
The death, which coincided mysteriously with the discovery of the illegal software embedded in Vodafone systems that allowed its mobile phones to be tapped, was investigated and finally ruled a suicide.
The family rejects the suicide verdict, insisting that Tsalikidis' death on March 9, 2005 was "a bolt from the blue" and points out that he died the day after a meeting held at Vodafone following the discovery of the illegal software and shortly after Tsalikidis had made two calls to the company's headquarters in Kifissos.
 Arsakeio-Tositsia Schools benefit concert on Sept. 25The Herod Atticus Odeon, at the foot of the Acropolis in central Athens, will be the venue for a concert by noted Greek composer and performer Dionyssis Savvopoulos on Sept. 25, an event benefiting the scholarship fund of the distinguished Arsakeio-Tositsia School system.
The aforementioned academic institutions are part of the Athens-based Filekpaideftiki Society, founded in 1836 as a public non-profit benefit foundation (www.arsakeio.gr <http://www.arsakeio.gr>).
Linguist, literature professor and former University of Athens rector Giorgos Babiniotis, president of Filekpaideftiki Society for the past 25 years, spoke to ANA-MPA on the occasion of the concert.
Babiniotis underlined that cooperation with Savvopoulos was not random, stressing that it was a decision made based on its educational properties. He also said that Savvopoulos has worked on ancient Athenian playwright Aristophanes' comedies "Acharnenses" and "Plutus" and that the school's 200-member choir will also perform during the concert.
 Minoan Trail event hosted by Cretan municipalitiesThe 4th "Minoan Trail" will take place on Crete on Sunday, organised by the municipalities of Minoa, and Lassithi Plateau in cooperation with the cultural associations of Kastelli, Aski, Kastamonitsa, Lyttos and Psychros.
Trekkers will depart from the ancient Lyttos site at 7 a.m. and after a roughly four-hour hike will reach Diktaion Andron.
The purpose of the event is to promote the specific route known from the Greek mythology and history and revive local traditions.
 Wildfire breaks out in EloundaA wildfire broke out in Elounda, on the island of Crete, on Wednesday afternoon, but is not threatening residential areas. The blaze is being tackled by 20 firemen, backed by nine vehicles and a firefighting helicopter.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 32C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.
 The Wednesday issue of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe express measures the government will take to ensure the 6th tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan, salary cuts and layoffs in the public sector and the opening of closed professions were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "They're sweeping the public sector - Cuts in remuneration of up to 40 percent with the new uniform salary scale - Layoffs with extension of reserve labor to all the DEKO (public utilities and organisations) - Opening of all the closed professions".
AVGHI: "At war with the society - Government's supposed 'negotiation' with troika in a few days turned into head-on collision with the Greek society".
AVRIANI: "Shock and awe in the public sector - Violent opening of 'closed' professions".
DIMOKRATIA: "PAS(H)OK and awe with 150,000 layoffs and salary scale with cuts of up to 40 percent".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Shock and awe - Recipe of razing with summary procedures".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The (troika) ultimatum being carried out".
ESTIA: "Storm of announcements of measures".
ETHNOS: "Thunderbolts under the threat of the troika".
IMERISSIA: "Bold decisions - Storm of measures for the 6th tranche".
KATHIMERINI: "Storm of measures, admission of mistakes".
LOGOS: "Hurricane 'Beni' (Venizelos) hits Greece".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The structural changes at 'jump-start' pace".
NIKI: "10+1 cuts in personnel and exodus".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Organise-Counter-attack against the new all-front attack".
TA NEA: "Express measures with eyes on the 6th tranche".
VRADYNI: "New harsh measures deepen the recession".
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