|Wednesday, 27 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 15 September 2011 Issue No: 3890
 Teleconference confirms joint will for full implementation of July 21 decisionsGreek Prime Minister George Papandreou held a 25-minute teleconference on Wednesday evening with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Government spokesman Ilias Mosialos made the following statement at the end of the teleconference:
"The full implementation of the decisions of July 21 constitutes the joint will of Prime Minister George Papandreou, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel.
"It was stressed by all, in the face of the widesread rumour-mongering of the past days, that Greece is an inseparable part of the eurozone.
"Greece is determined to respond to all the commitments towards its partners, securing, in this way, the full implementation of the support programme.
"The decisions taken by the ministerial council in the past days and the additional measures announced are leading to the achieving of the fiscal targets of 2011 and 2012 and the creation of first stage surpluses.
"Because this will fortify the Greek economy, it will intercept the swelling of the public debt and will strengthen the country's growth prospects."
 PM chairs gov't meeting ahead of teleconferenceA two-hour government meeting with senior ministers chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou ended early Wednesday evening.
According to reports, a review was made of the course of the implementation of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategic Programme and points were underlined where delays are reported.
Earlier, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos said that structural changes were also discussed with emphasis on the cutbacks in expenditures and the speeding up of labour issues.
On the issue of expenditures, in particular, an emphasis was placed on disability pensions, as well as a review of welfare bonuses with the exception of unemployment benefits.
The spokesman further said that the agenda of the Cabinet meeting that will convene next week will include unified salary scale in the wider public sector and the draft 2012 state budget.
A Cabinet meeting will also take place at noon on Thursday.
 FinMin Venizelos briefs cabinet meetingGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos briefed Prime Minister George Papandreou and the cabinet meeting, held on Wednesday, evening ahead of the prime minister's teleconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on current issues of the Finance ministry.
These issues were from the course of structural changes (such as the restructuring and merging of agencies) and the labour reserve (that is expected to concern the wider public sector) to contacts with the troika on the budget.
The issue of privatisations, however, did not appear to be included in Venizelos's agenda.
 PM to call Netanyahu after talks with Merkel, SarkozyFollowing a conference call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy about Greece's debt crisis on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister George Papandreou will make a telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Middle East problem.
This was announced by Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos, who clarified that no other Greek minister would be present during his talks with Merkel and Sarkozy, though he might call for the assistance of one of his own aides if necessary.
Mossialos said the prime minister will brief Merkel and Sarkozy on the decisions taken during the last two cabinet meetings and stress the Greek government's determination to carry out structural reforms and changes. He will also ask for immediate implementation of the July 21 decisions and raise the issue of EU growth in general.
 PM Papandreou holds telephone conversation with German SPD party presidentPrime Minister George Papandreou had a telephone conversation with the President of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) Sigmar Gabriel, according to the informal briefing by government spokesman Ilias Mosialos, on Wednesday.
Papandreou and Gabriel discussed their positions on the crisis, while the SPD president informed the Greek prime minister that the socialdemocrats will vote in favour of the decision taken on July 21.
Gabriel also told Papandreou that the German socialdemocrats are "open" to a discussion on the enactment of a eurobond as well as to a discussion that must be held immediate on Europe's growth prospects.
The spokesman also said that the Greek government's policy is not determined by various statements that take place but at the moment focuses on the implementation of the structural changes and reforms and the implementation of the decisions of July 21.
 EC task force chief: First report to be presented at end-OctoberThe European Commission's task force on Greece will present its first report on the strategy that the country needs to follow to emerge from the recession, as well as the progress made by the Greek government which "has not been acknowledged to the degree it should have by Europe? at the end of October, the task force's chief Horst Reichenbach said in Athens on Wednesday.
Addressing an event organised by three joint chambers (Greece-France, Greece-German and Greece-Italy chambers of commerce and industry" on the theme "Recovery now, a Herculean Task for Greece", Reichenbach said the task force will comprise approximately 30 people, of which 10 will be headquartered in Brussels and the remaining 20 will be staying in Greece.
He said the task force's aim is communication with the Greek government as well as the authorities of the European Union, the OECD and the European Central Bank to achieve acceleration of the absorption of funds from the EU's structural funds and provide technical assistance for advancement of the required package of reforms.
What the task force will not do is have the authority to check or substitute for the Greek authorities, Reichenbach stressed, adding that "it is the Greek government that sets the priorities and sets out the needs, and we will provide it with our technical support".
He expressed satisfaction with the preparedness of the relevant ministers he met and discussed with on Tuesday, the first day of his mission in Greece, adding that the task force needs to focus on the immense problem in access to funding, while there are still obstacles in business activity and boosting is needed of individual sectors of the economy such as tourism, energy and agriculture.
Reichenbach noted that the task force is in Greece following the request of the Greek prime minister to the EU and the interest in helping out manifested by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
 Pangalos meets head of EU Commission Task ForceGovernment vice-president Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday met the head of the European Commission Task Force for Greece, Horst Reichenbach. They discussed the implementation of the technical assistance that the task force will offer Greece.
The meeting was held at Pangalos' office and Reichenbach was accompanied by Panos Karvounis, the head of the European Commission representation in Greece, and Zorzetta Lali, a director at the European Commission.
It was also attended by George Glynos, an advisor to Prime Minister George Papandreou on European issues.
 Mosialos on Commission task forceGovernment spokesman Ilias Mosialos, speaking during an informal press briefing, said that Prime Minister George Papandreou met on Wednesday with EU Commission task force head Horst Reichenbach.
The task force and its head also met with government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, while earlier a meeting was also held with the other government vice president, Theodoros Pangalos.
Mossialos said the task force discussed with the prime minister the way of providing technical aid to Greece on tax issues, as well as issues concerning the monitoring of public expenditures, the absorption of ESPA funds, immigration and the implentation of major projects.
 Rehn: Greece's exit from eurozone disastrous for EuropeSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/N. Roussis)
European Commissioner for monetary and economic affairs Olli Rehn warned of the "dramatic repercussions" that will arise in the event of Greece's exit from the eurozone and expressed his full disagreement.
"I want to say a few words to those who maintain that the best for Greece is to exit the eurozone" Rehn stressed in a brief statement during a debate on the economic crisis in Europe and safeguarding the euro currency held at the Europarliament plenary on Wednesday in Strasbourg.
"I totally disagree with such a possibility. Whatever way one looks at it, a default on payments and Greece's exit from the eurozone would have dramatic repercussions not only for Greece but for all the eurozone member countries," said Rehn.
 Barroso: Further elaboration of proposals on Greece's rescueEuropean Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday called on the Europarliament plenary convening in Strasbourg, to further elaborate the proposals on Greece's rescue, underlining that Greece must complete its reforms and follow through with its programmes, but also that the EU on its part must proceed with the implementation of the July 21 package of decisions.
 IMF convenes on GreeceNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
No decision was taken during Wednesday's International Monetary Fund (IMF) session.
Following the briefing made by Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF's mission to Greece, an IMF spokesman said that the members of the Executive Council were briefed during the session on the latest developments in Greece.
As he pointed out, this was one of the Council's "regular informal briefings", "without a decision being taken at the meeting."
Lastly, he said that the members of the Council will continue their work together with the Greek authorities and their European partners, with the intention of having the fifth revision of the programme for the support of the Greek economy completed.
 Draft presidential decree for labour reserve, new pay scale in final stagesA draft presidential decree that will enact the recent measures announced by the government to downsize and reduce the cost of the public sector is near completion, sources at the administrative reform ministry revealed on Wednesday.
The decree, which introduces the uniform public-sector pay scale, the 'labour reserve' measure for the broader public sector and also extends this to over-indebted local authorities, has now been sent to the finance ministry for final processing in terms of its financial impact. The next step that the government is preparing is the 'shrinking' of the civil service.
In its present form, the decree envisages the abolition or merger of several public-sector organisations and agencies, the abolition of special secretariats and the overhaul of 1,000 ministry directorates and departments in order to restrict state spending.
According to Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Dinos Rovlias, it also aims for a rationalised use of public-sector staff, in order to avoid overlapping responsibilities and bureaucracy.
The staff at the bodies and organisations that are abolished or merged will either be transferred to other public-sector agencies or be placed in the 'labour reserve' pool if they have private-sector indefinite contracts. There will also be voluntary retirement programmes or the option of working fewer hours with a corresponding cut in pay.
The government is expected to unveil details concerning the new uniform pay scale within the next few days, which will contain two significant changes. These concern the 'mobility' of public-sector staff, who will also be able to occupy positions of responsibility throughout the public sector, an option previously restricted to managers. The second change involves a drastic reduction in the number of managerial positions in the public sector.
This will be combined with changes to the current system for salary increases, which was previously automatic and based on years of service. Under the new system, staff will undergo assessment every three years under the supervision of the ASEP Council for staff selection in order to acquire a new rank and receive a higher salary.
The new system will additionally envisage a productivity bonus that will go into effect from October 1, the details of which are not yet known.
 Protest by public-sector staff outside finance ministryStaff from the public-sector agencies and organisations facing merger or abolition on Wednesday held a protest outside the finance ministry against the planned changes.
The protest ended on Wednesday afternoon, after a meeting between Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and representatives of the union coordinating body that organised the rally. After the meeting, the union representatives said that nothing substantial had arisen and called on workers to continue to fight the proposed measures.
 Only 15 municipalities in 'serious trouble', minister reportsThe number of Greek municipalities in "serious financial difficulties" requiring a programme of fiscal reform was not more than 15, Deputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos announced on Wednesday after meeting the local authority staff union federation POE-OTA.
"The government has a specific policy for all the municipalities in the country. The municipalities must balance their budgets so that they do not burden the general government deficit and in the process we are ensuring that no municipality is over-indebted," he said.
The minister said that about 10 to 15 municipalities had surplus staff and that this would be dealt with through a process of staff transfers.
"Labour reserve is a measure that may follow if this effort fails," he added.
Replying to reporters' questions, Koukoulopoulos said that the one hiring to 10 departures rules should not create a problem for the transfers, noting that the government regarded local government, muncipalities and other legal entities as a "single system of independent general government".
On the municipalities that would subjected to the process, Koukoulopoulos said a precise picture will emerge once an audit is completed at the end of September, adding that the amount of a municipality's debts would not be the only factor but also whether it generated primary deficit or surpluses.
"We must look at the figures for all legal entities and see whether the total burden on each municipality is manageable," he said.
At present, however, the municipalities facing difficult problems were fewer than 15, he added.
 Greek leadership receives delegation of Jewish Federations of North AmericaPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received a delegation from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), whose representatives are currently on a visit to Greece. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Papoulias referred to the country's dire economic crisis, noting that this was "unprecedented in Greece's recent history". He stressed that dealing with the crisis demanded that all Greeks make harsh sacrifices in order for the country to soon regain the position it deserves within the Eurozone and international markets.
"We are determined and accustomed - those of us that are older, at least - to difficult times. We will fight this battle and win with unity and determination," Papoulias said.
The president also referred to Athens' desire for a just, viable and comprehensive resolution of the Middle East problem, based on two independent states that will co-exist in peace and security.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Papoulias said this was an issue of "invasion and occupation" and repeated Greece's position for a solution that was viable and functional, which implements the decisions of the UN Security Council and is in agreement with European rules and directives.
"The Cyprus Republic is a factor of stability in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean," he underlined.
The Greek president also repeated Greece's determination that atrocities such as the Holocaust should never happen again.
"Both as a State and society we are determined not to show the slightest tolerance for actions and statements of anti-Semitism, racial or religious fanaticism or other forms of bigotry," he stressed.
The delegation was accompanied by US ambassador Daniel Smith and Israel's ambassador to Greece Arie Mekel.
In a later meeting with Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, the latter referred to the historic bonds between Greeks and Jews and the strengthening of relations between the modern Greek state and the state of Israel, during his meeting with the group.
Lambrinidis praised the role of JFNA, underlining its humanitarian nature, while he emphasised that the Jewish community in Greece constitutes an important part of society.
 PM has meeting with President PapouliasPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday had a half-hour meeting in private with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The meeting was held after a visit of a delegation of the Jewish Federations of North America, for which the prime minister was present.
 Samaras to spend weekend in Thessaloniki, attend 76th TIFThe head of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Antonis Samaras is due to carry out a three-day visit to the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, from Friday until Sunday, in order to attend the 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
 Papariga press conference at TIFCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga called on the working classes to condemn the governmental-European salvation plan for Greece, calling it a "plan for bankruptcy of the people", during a press conference at the 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Wednesday.
"This plan must go bankrupt in the people's conscience. We must commence a systematically organised effort to obstruct the measures," she said, adding that all the measures could not be obstructed immediately, but many of them could.
Papariga charged that cutbacks were being made in schools, in programmes for the people with special needs, and questioned whether "when the funds for the schools for the blind are cut, is this a plan for the salvation of the people?"
"Whatever they take away, they will not give back," she warned, and opined that "the non-payment of surtaxes is legitimised today" by those who don't have the money to pay but also from those waging the battle at the formers' side.
"Bankruptcy of the people is not the same with partial bankruptcy of the big capital," she said, as "the capital reacts with mergers and collaborations".
Papariga also said that German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy "are not anti-Greeks, they are capitalists", warning that "we must not confuse the 'class element' with the 'emotional' element".
On reserve labor, she said that it means "unemployment for many".
 LA.O.S leader's press conference in ThessalonikiOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis on Wednesday stressed that bipartisanism should come to an end and that his party will present its own proposal for a government.
In a press conference within the framework of his visit to Thessaloniki's 76th International Trade Fair (TIF), Karatzaferis said he would back a government formed by the two major political parties of PASOK and New Democracy (ND).
However, he said that Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition ND leader Antonis Samaras are incompetent and accused the government of being unable to rise to the occasion.
Karatzaferis did not rule out the likelihood of snap elections as early as mid November saying that they will be the result of unexpected and unforeseeable events.
He maintained that "the Europeans see us as being already in default" and stressed that "the country is going from bad to worse".
Karatzaferis accused the Bank of Greece (BoG) of not proceeding with mergers of banking institutions when it should and characterized as "foolish" the special surtax imposed on real estate property.
Referring to the labour reserve measure, he said that it is concealed layoff and criticised the government for its policy on migration.
 State Department issues latest Int'l Religious Freedom ReportThe US State Department on Wednesday made public its latest International Religious Freedom Report covering the second half of 2010, in which it ascertains, in the country chapter on Greece, that the Greek constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom and that the government generally enforces these protections in practice.
The Greek government generally respected religious freedom in law and in practice, and there was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the government during the reporting period, the report added.
The International Religious Freedom report (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/) is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide.
 Professors' union in favour of fully open universitiesThe national federation of university lecturers (POSDEP) on Wednesday stated that universities in the country should be open and fully operating, a response to continuing "sit-ins" at higher education institutions by protesting students.
In a meeting that focused on the recently ratified institutional framework for tertiary education, the professors' union concluded that universities should be open, even though the union disagrees with the reforms.
 Greek energy minister holds talks in BerlinBERLIN (ANA-MPA / G. Pappas)
Environment, Energy & Climatic Change Minister George Papaconstantinou met here on Wednesday with German government officials as well as representatives of the country's industrial sector.
Papaconstantinou's meetings focused on the latest developments of the debt crisis in the Eurozone and the promotion of investments in Greece.
The Greek minister met with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, to whom he conveyed Athens' "unshakeable intention to proceed with fiscal adjustment and important structural reforms the country needs."
Speaking to reporters, Papaconstantinou said that during his meeting with Schauble the German side also confirmed "its will to support our country, to support the Euro" in the framework of the July 21 Eurozone Summit's decisions.
The Greek minister reminded that he had, in the past, discussed with the German Finance minister the need for Greece to follow a growth path and that he had referred to a proposal regarding Greek exports to Europe of clean energy.
Papaconstantinou also met with Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Minister Norbert Rottgen and deputy economic minister Jochen Homann.
Referring to his meeting with members of the Federation of German Industries' (BDI) board under its Director Markus Kerber, the Greek minister termed it "important". The meeting focused, as he said, on investments in the sector of energy, more particularly, electricity by utilising solar energy, the so-called "Project Helios".
"This project meets with great response on the part of the German government and German industry," Papaconstantinou said, adding that they agreed on forming a joint group to elaborate further on this project.
He added that during German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler's forthcoming visit to Athens early next month there will be special discussion on the financial and technical aspects of the project.
 FinMin Venizelos holds talks with Greek Bank Union directorateGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos met at the Finance ministry on Wednesday with the directorate of the Greek Bank Union. The discussion focused on the bill on the supervision of the Bank of Greece in the credit system, that has been tabled in Parliament, as well as taxation and technical issues related to the Greek bonds exchange programme.
 Four ag ministry agencies to merge into oneA merger plan for four organisations supervised by the agriculture ministry into a single agency, to be named Hellenic Agricultural Organisation 'Dimitra', will be presented at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday for a second reading, it was announced on Wednesday.
The entities that will be merged include the National Agricultural Research Foundation (EThIAGE), the Organisation of Agricultural Vocational Education Training and Employment (OGEEKA-Dimitra), the Agricultural Products Certification and Supervision Organisation-AGROCERT (OPEGEP) and Hellenic Milk and Meat Organisation (ELOGAK).
In order to ensure that the new agency will be established immediately, Agriculture Minister Costas Skandalidis has presented a draft joint ministerial decision that will be signed by him and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos. A temporary board of directors will be set up soon after the decision is published in the government gazette and personnel of the merged organisations will be transferred to the new agency.
The new entity will focus on the development of the agricultural economy and be responsible for drafting a strategic plan every three years aimed at shaping and implementing the country's overall and unified agricultural policy.
The new entity is projected to have 1,000 employees, compared with the 2,885 employees now employed in the four merged organisations.
Reacting to the "labour reserve" measure, unions representing employees warned of strike actions.
 Reichenbach attends event hosted by foreign chambersThe importance of mobilising production forces in Greece, within the framework of efforts exit the ongoing recession as soon as possible, was underlined on Wednesday by representatives of the German-Hellenic Chamber of Industry and Commerce ((DGIHK), the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Italian-Greek Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber presidents addressed an event in Athens attended by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) vice-president Horst Reichenbach, the head of a task force created by the European Commission to provide technical assistance to the Greek government.
 Athens hotels' occupancy rates substantially up in JulyAthens hotels' room occupancy rates rose substantially in July, boosted by a 10.1 pct increase in tourist arrivals in the country.
Yiannis Retsos, president of the Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation, speaking to ANA-MPA, said that occupancy rates in 4-star hotels jumped 20.5 pct in July, while in 5-star hotels it was up 5.8 pct in the same month. Occupancy rates rose to 78.6 pct for 4-star hotels, 64.4 pct for 5-star hotels, while occupancy rates fell 2.6 pct in 2-star hotels to 74.1 pct in July.
Retsos expressed his satisfaction over this positive development and noted that tourist trends in September were very positive while he stressed that talk over strike mobilizations was negatively affecting hotel reservations for Athens.
Commenting on developments in a Greek debt crisis, Retsos said it was imperative that business groups, the state and the society worked together towards the salvation of the country and said that at this particular time everyone must put aside its demand to the benefit of the country.
 OTE extends talks with unions on cutting costsThe management of Hellenic Telecommunications Organiza-tion (OTE) on Wednesday offered its workers' union a one-week extension in order to submit improved proposals towards cutting payroll costs at the telecoms provider.
OTE's management said the decision aims to find a compromise solution and to avoid unilateral actions.
The two sides held a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss all the issues related with the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement within the strict timetable presented by Deutsche Telekom, which seeks to cut spending by 300 million euros over the next three years.
Trade unions' proposals include a wage freeze for two years, cutting advertising spending, while management's proposals include cutting work hours and pay.
A final decision is expected next Wednesday, when the union representatives will present their proposals.
 Business Briefs-- ATEbank on Wednesday announced that six month losses widened to 905.1 million euros, up from losses of 109.9 million euros in the corresponding period last year, while excluding the impact of a bond swap programne, first half losses totaled 86.8 million euros, a figure improved compared with last year's figure.
-- Hellenic Postbank on Wednesday announced losses totaling 498.4 million euros in the first half of 2011, after losses of 55.1 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
-- Industrial production fell 2.9 pct in the Greece in July, compared with the same month last year, Eurostat said on Wednesday.
-- The domestic optical products market was hit by a deep economic recession in the country over 2009-2010, an ICAP Group survey showed on Wednesday. The survey said sunglasses and frames suffered more, while contact lenses showed signs of resistance.
 Stocks recover on WednesdayStocks recovered on Wednesday, ending a string of losing sessions on the market, as investors discounted positive developments coming from a teleconference between the Greek Prime Minister and the leaders of France and Germany later in the day.
The composite index rose 1.67 pct to end at 857.18 points, off the day's highs of 868.63 points. Turnover, however, remained a disappointing low 66.076 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 2.09 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.57 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.96 pct. OPAP (4.44 pct) and Ellaktor (0.62 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end lower, while PPC (6.67 pct), National Bank (6.42 pct), Cyprus Bank (4.20 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (3.0 pct) scored gains.
The Utilities (5.74 pct), Banks (4.35 pct) and Personal Products (2.22 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (3.92 pct), Chemicals (0.96 pct) and Financial Services (0.75 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 90 to 49 with another 42 issues unchanged. Mihaniki (16.67 pct), Fieratex (9.09 pct) and Pairis (8.57 pct) were top gainers, while Tzirakian (18.60 pct), Sanyo Hellas (16.67 pct) and Teletypos (15.57 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.99%
Personal & Household: +2.22%
Raw Materials: +1.53%
Travel & Leisure: -3.92%
Food & Beverages: +0.71%
Financial Services: -0.75%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola 3E and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.62
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.24
HBC Coca Cola: 12.88
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.84
National Bank of Greece: 3.15
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.15
Bank of Piraeus: 0.59
 Greek bond market closing reportThe Greek electronic secondary bond market remained inactive for one more day on Wednesday, while yield spreads remained unchanged at Tuesday's levels. According to data released by the Bank of Greece, the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 15.96 pct from 16 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 17.79 pct and the German Bund 1.83 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month rate was 2.05 pct, the six-month rate 1.73 pct, the three-month a 1.52 pct and the one-month rate 1.34.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.16 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 75.566 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 34,424 contracts worth 61.741 million euros, with 23,540 short positions. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 73,244 contracts worth 13.824 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (20,124), followed by Eurobank (2,136), MIG (9,314), OTE (1,745), PPC (1,119), OPAP (944), Piraeus Bank (9,713), GEK (2,466), Alpha Bank (4,054), Marfin Popular Bank (6,472), Intralot (3,978), Mytilineos (1,259), Cyprus Bank (2,697), Hellenic Postbank (3,573) and ATEbank (1,113).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.393
Pound sterling 0.882
Danish kroner 7.559
Swedish kroner 9.309
Japanese yen 107.06
Swiss franc 1.221
Norwegian kroner 7.862
Canadian dollar 1.378
Australian dollar 1.360
 Photo exhibition marks 100th anniversary of French School's archaeological excavations on ThassosThe French School at Athens' (EfA) archaeological excavations on the island of Thassos will be presented in a photography exhibition that opens on Friday in the new wing of the Archaeological Museum in Kavala, marking the 100 years of the EfA's excavations on Thassos.
The Ecole Francaise d'Athenes (EfA) is one of the 17 foreign archaeological institutes operating in Greece, and indeed the oldest, founded in 1846.
The exhibition, co-organised by the EfA and Greece's 18th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquity, will run for two months.
Founded in 1846, EfA is the oldest foreign institute in Athens and its early foundation -- which is still a source of considerable prestige -- is seen as culturally connected with French philhellenism and politically with the French East Mediterranean strategy of the time, shortly after the birth of the modern Greek state.
Its interest in the antiquities of Thassos was strong from early on, with study beginning in 1911 when Thassos was still under Ottoman rule, and has continued undisrupted from the island's liberation to the present.
The EfA operates an active programme of research in all fields of Greek studies, with the primary focus in archaeology, epigraphy and Classical Studies, while its library holds 80,000 volumes, 550,000 photographs and 35,000 maps.
The exhibition presents a plethora of archive photographs of great interest on the history of the archaeological exploration of the island.
The photographic and informational material is organised into thematic units, presenting the activity of the EfA and the important researchers who conducted studies of the island, as well as the literary work that emerged in the 100 years of excavations on the island.
The photographic display is further enriched with a relatively small but very important exhibition of ancient artifacts dug up in the EfA's excavations on Thassos, which are stored at the Archaeological Museum of Thassos, as well as precious documents from the Historical Archive of the EfA recording the first steps of the archaeological research on the island of Thassos.
Also, a film from the archives of the Archaeological Museum of Thassos will be screened throughout the exhibition, presenting the history of the island and the important role it played in antiquity.
In the 165 years since its foundation, the EfA has been involved in many important archaeological projects in Greece, including the excavations at Philippi, Dikili Tash, the Samothrace temple complex, Delphi, Argos, Delos, Malia and Itanos, apart from Thassos, as well as Amathus in Cyprus.
 Publisher donates archaeological finds to Greek stateNewspaper publisher Adonis Kyrou has donated 73 coins and a marble head, most likely the work of 4th century BC sculptor Scopas, to the Greek state, it was announced on Wednesday.
The coins are destined for the Numismatic Museum in Athens and the archaeological museums in Ioannina, Aegina, Agios Kirikos and Thassos.
The marble head will go to the Museum of Thassos, considering that based on information available to the collector, it came from the pediment of the Temple of Hercules on the north Aegean island.
Adonis Kyrou, an amateur archaeologist and the publisher of the respected Athens daily "Estia", was recently recognised as a collector by the Central Archaeological Council. A licensed private collector since 1971, he has made numerous donations to local museums.
 Fires reported in Amyntaios, Almyros farmlandA fire that began late on Wednesday at Filotas in the municipality of Amyntaios was under partial control, the fire brigade reported.
The fire had burned 5 hectares of crop residue and 2,000 square metres of farmland. Twelve firemen and six vehicles had been sent to put out the flames.
In the meantime, another fire broke out in Perdika, in the municipality of Almyros in Magnesia. The fire began due to the negligence of a local farmer that set out to burn a stand of canes and crop residue on his land. A force of 21 firemen and six vehicles was sent to put out the fire.
 4.5R quake in MessiniaA light earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale was recorded at dawn Wednesday in Messinia prefecture.
The trembler was recorded at 6:35 a.m. at a distance of 180 kilometers southwest of Athens, with its epicenter 10 kilometers south of Oichalia, Messinia, according to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute.
 Two killed, nine injured in traffic accident on Egnatia motorwayA minibus with Czech licence plates collided with a jeep on Wednesday, on the Egnatia Motorway in Northern Greece, resulting on two people being killed and another nine injured.
The fatalities were in the minibus, while according to initial information small children were also on board. The injured, including serious cases, were taken to hospitals in the cities of Grevena, Ioannina and Thessaloniki.
The accident occurred at about 5 in the afternoon at the Kalamitsi bridge, in the lane of the Egnatia motorway leading from Ioannina to Thessaloniki. The lane to Thessaloniki at this point remains closed. The causes of the accident are being probed.
 New, longer opening times for National Archaeological MuseumThe opening times of the National Archaeological Museum have been extended starting on Wednesday.
The museum will now be open from 1:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Monday, while from Tuesday until Sunday the opening times will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
The new extended timetable will continue until October 30.
 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 16C and 36C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 36C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 34C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceUS President Barack Obama's intervention to European leaders for solution of the crisis in the eurozone and the government's plan for reserve labour in the core public sector and municipalities, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Measures unconstitutional".
AVGHI: "New (Left) majority to exit from the crisis".
AVRIANI: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel's plan for 'orderly default' foresees 50 percent haircut in salaries and pensions".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government 'serves' layoffs in ministries and municipalities".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Thirty EU supervisors in ministries".
ESTIA: "Catastrophic mistakes over the last two years".
ETHNOS: "Reserve labour in municipalities, too".
IMERISSIA: " 'Red' Alert - EU, USA open line on Greece".
KATHIMERINI: "Alarm in Europe and USA".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Crucial deliberations over the 'last chance'."
RIZOSPASTIS: "Children in kindergartens eat lunches for the poor".
TA NEA: "Reserve labour in municipalities too".
VRADYNI: "Public sector in layoffs vortex".
 Buttenheim: Some convergences achieved during leaders' meetingNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A number of convergences has been identified in the issue of citizenship, as UN - led talks for a solution of the Cyprus problem continued on Wednesday.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, held Wednesday one more meeting to discuss the chapter of aliens, asylum, citizenship and immigration.
After the meeting, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus, Lisa Buttenheim, was asked if there have been any convergences in the citizenship issue. She replied that the leaders ''have identified a number of convergences, and some issues they are still apart on. But they had a good discussion''.
Asked why the meeting lasted only one and a half hours, compared to longer meetings in the past, she recalled that the representatives of the two leaders held a meeting in the morning which lasted around three hours.
''And then we came together with the representatives this afternoon, and the leaders joined at 15.30. It was a continuation of the discussion. In total it was about four or five hours of discussions'', she remarked.
Buttenheim added that on the basis of the views exchanged by their representatives Wednesday morning, the two leaders continued to discuss the citizenship issue with a view to achieving convergences.
''The atmosphere was warm and friendly'', she pointed out.
Asked whether she could say that the chapter on citizenship has now been closed, she noted that the two meetings devoted to this issue have taken place already (Monday and Wednesday), ''but I wouldn't call anything closed as such''.
The leaders will meet again on Friday September 16th, to discuss the economy.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The leaders of the two communities are currently engaged in UN-led talks, with an aim to reunify the island under a federal roof.
 Cyprus will not consent to the opening of Energy chapter on Turkey's EU courseNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Republic of Cyprus will not consent to the opening of the chapter of Energy in the framework of Turkey's EU negotiations for as long as the Turkish government continues to maintain the same provocative stance, imposing obstacles on Cyprus' actions in the field of energy, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Wednesday.
Invited to comment on an article, published by Turkish News Agency, that there is a recommendation from the European Commission to the
European Parliament and the member states for the opening of the Energy chapter, Stephanou said that the opening of the negotiation chapters falls in the European Council's jurisdiction.
"The Republic of Cyprus' position is the same", he stressed. It is the same, he explained, with the decision to freeze in 2009 six of Turkey's negotiation chapters due to the country's provocations.
"The Republic of Cyprus' position is the same, that Turkey should officially commit towards the EU that it will stop provoking the Republic of Cyprus and imposing obstacles to the Cyprus' efforts on the issue of energy", Stephanou concluded.
Recently, senior Turkish government officials have warned that Ankara will not hesitate to deploy warships in the Mediterranean, if the Republic of Cyprus proceeds with the exploitation of its natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Houston-based company "Noble Energy" is expected to begin drilling in Cyprus' EEZ late September. The company has a concession to look for hydrocarbons in an offshore field in Cyprus' EEZ, south of Cyprus, known as Block 12.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has said it will not talk to Nicosia, when it assumes the rotating six monthly EU Presidency in the second half of 2012.
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