|Wednesday, 27 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 16 September 2011 Issue No: 3891
 PM chairs cabinet meeting on ERT, public-sector disciplinary bodiesA meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday reached unanimous agreement on a plan for the reorganisation of the state broadcaster ERT and a draft bill on disciplinary rules for public-sector employees.
The meeting was preceded by a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence that discussed ministry and defence issues.
According to sources, one of the issues raised during the cabinet meeting was the fact that teachers were not subject to the same disciplinary proceedings as the other public-sector staff. Alternate Education Minister Fofi Gennimata explained that teachers had their own disciplinary bodies and that to include them in the new unified disciplinary body would delay the draft bill by at least a month, while making it impossible to find enough justices, as envisaged in the bill, to deal with the disciplinary issues of some 200,000 teachers.
Concerning the state broadcaster ERT, sources said that the meeting agreed to suspend operation of the National Audiovisual Archive and the Institute of Audiovisual Media via a joint ministerial decision and incorporate the staff of both organisations in ERT, where they would be subject to the processes and assessment for staff there.
The organisation of the broadcaster and abolition of the ET1 channel will be carried out via an amendment tabled in Parliament, while its analog frequency will be used by the digital channel Prisma, which will broadcast educational television and successful series made by private channels.
For staff at the state broadcaster, the cabinet decided that 10 percent will enter the labour reserve following an assessment. Temporary staff at the state broadcaster will be reduced by 50 percent, the same sources said.
 PM Papandreou addresses cabinet meetingPrime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Thursday, termed the current period crucial and stressed that the struggle being waged by the country over the same period is decisive.
Papandreou said that at this period the possibility cannot be ruled out of efforts being manifested by various sides to convey to Greece responsibilities that it does not have.
According to the prime minister, it is possible that Greece might be shown as a kind of scapegoat, "for problems and malfunctions, institutional or other, or for reasons of domestic political situations of other countries."
The prime minister further said that for this reason Greece must not give any pretense and must be absolutely consistent with the commitments it has undertaken.
Briefing the ministers on his discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday, the prime minister said "I had the possibility yesterday to speak with the President of France Mr. Sarkozy and the Chancellor of Germany Mrs. Merkel. I repeated our unshakeable decision of being absolutely consistent with our commitments, with all the commitments we have undertaken. With the completion of the positive evaluation by the three agencies of the troika, there is no question of Greece not being supported in accordance with the decisions of July. On the other hand, of course, they are also waiting for the evaluation, to see if indeed we have done what we had to do."
On the question of the public dialogue taking place on these issues, the prime minister said "it is good for us to talk but we must achieve the targets as soon as possible." And added that whatever result, small or big, must be promoted positively.
Lastly, referring to the country's targets, Papandreou said "we are not far from our targets, this is important. We are close to achieving a first stage surplus next year, for the first time after many years."
 Rehn: Greece has taken important steps to meet 2011 targetsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
It is essential that Greece take all the necessary decisions to fully cover a fiscal deviation for the current year, which resulted both from delays in implementing certain measures and to a worsening economic recession in the country, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn stated on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters during a presentation of the European Commission's interim forecasts for the seven largest economies in the EU - which account for 80 pct of community GDP -- Rehn stressed that the Greek government took very important decisions that go a long way to meeting the fiscal target for the year and noted that "the ball is in Greece's court".
The Commissioner noted that it was essential that Greek authorities remained on this path in order to convince their partners, thereby allowing a timely decision by the Euro area and the IMF before the next hurdles in the bailout financing emerge. He added that finalisation of a new programme should be completed by the end of September or early October.
Rehn said a Eurogroup meeting in Poland on Friday will discuss the Greek government's measures and noted that if the measures were found convincing then a review mission of the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika' team will return to Athens to complete its assessment by the end of September.
"All this revolves on the condition that Greece meets the conditions we have set to conclude the review," Rehn said.
The Finnish Commissioner said that fulfilling these obligations will pave the way for the release of a sixth tranche of the bailout package to Greece, and continuing work towards a new programme, which will include the involvement of the private sector.
Commenting on a teleconference between the leaders of Greece, France and Germany on Wednesday, Rehn said it was very important that the leaders of the two largest economies in the Eurozone reiterate their commitment to do what's necessary to ensure economic stability in the Eurozone, and that they clearly stated that Greece's future lies with the Eurozone.
The EU Commissioner added that the basic issue, in the medium-term, is for Greece to fulfil its fiscal targets and to promote structural reforms to boost economic growth and competitiveness.
 Greece: We expect Turkey to abide by International LawGreece said on Thursday that it expects Turkey to abide by International Law, during a regular press briefing by foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras.
The spokesman said that Greece is in constant contact and close cooperation "at all levels" with the Republic of Cyprus and with all its other EU partners "so that we may have a precise picture and absolute coordination", due to the deportment of Turkey "which is constantly trying to create tension", in reply to a question on whether there is cooperation between the Greek foreign and defence ministries with the Cypriot leadership in view of the imminent commencement of exploration drills in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and threats voiced by Turkey if Cyprus goes ahead with the exploration.
"Very good planning and analysis is needed on our side, so that we are prepared," Delavekouras said, adding that "we have a fundamental interest in there being calm in our region".
To another question on the latest Turkish threats, Delavekouras noted that the Republic of Cyprus, in agreement with its neighbors, has entered into agreements delineating its EEZ, adding that Cyprus was going ahead with its self-evident rights, which are consolidated by International Law, for exploration and exploitation of its natural resources.
"This cannot be disputed by anyone, and is reflected in the statements of all the international factors that have interest in the matter," Delavekouras said.
He added that Turkey, "precisely because it has no arguments, is attempting to aggravate the tones and is making rhetorical threats".
"We believe that Turkey needs to acknowledge the reality, which is set out by International Law, and act with clear-headedness and not contribute further to the creation of tension," the spokesman concluded.
 Foreign ministry spokesman, ND on TurkeyThe Greek Foreign ministry reacted strongly on Thursday to an announcement by the Turkish Foreign ministry revealing that the neighbouring country intends to make an "agreement" on the delineation of the continental shelf with the Turkish occupied territories in Cyprus.
"It is contrary to International Law" said Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Turkey's intention and warned that whatever such "agreement" will be null and void.
"In no way can it be linked with the exercising of the self-evident sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to proceed with the utilisation of its natural wealth," he added.
At the same time Turkey's intentions also drew the reaction of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party. The party's foreign policy official Panos Panayiotopoulos said that Turkey's new threats in its effort to prevent the starting of undersea research for hydrocarbonates in the Cypriot EEZ, expose Ankara even more.
He also said that Turkey's attitude undermines regional stability and security in the region and in addition it creates a wider problem of offending International Law and reversing International Legality.
 Athens urges FYROM to show 'real will' for name issue solutionThe political leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has to display a real will for a solution to the name dispute, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Thursday.
The spokesman was replying to a question on whether anything new had arisen during talks with Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis and UN special envoy for the name issue Matthew Nimetz in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Delavekouras said that Greece had made great strides toward a solution of the name issue since the process began, but emphasised that these had not been matched by the other side. The spokesman emphasised that this was recognised by the international community, which was waiting to the FYROM side to take these steps toward a solution.
Both the European Union and NATO had made it clear that a solution must be found, Delavekouras pointed out, adding that Greece support FYROM's EuroAtlantic course and will be its strongers ally in the process once a solution to the name dispute is found.
"However, this has to be based on strong foundations, on good neighbour relations," he said, adding that instead FYROM offered continuous provocation and were also acted divisively within the neighbouring country, such as the erecting of statues of Alexander the Great and other steps that "essentially create a climate that is not conducive to achieving progress."
He called on Skopje to change its stance and repeated Greece's position in favour of a solution with a geographic determinant for all purposes (erga omnes), noting that otherwise the present situation will be perpetuated and the decisions of the Security Council and the interim agreement between the two countries will continue to be violated.
"We cannot continue along these lines. We must arrive at a solution that allows us to truly develop the dynamic of our relations," he said.
 FM spokesman on Mideast situation"Greece is in close contact with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as with its EU partners, so that the UN General Assembly will serve as an opportunity to push forward with the resumption of the peace process," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday said.
Responding to a question on the mobility observed lately as regards the Middle East problem and Greece's position, he underlined that this is a period of a delicate negotiating process for the Middle East.
Delavekouras stressed that the European Union can play a major role and emphasised the importance of a "single voice".
However, he underlined that "we should wait for the Palestinian Authority's decisions before discussing with our European partners the way in which the EU will voice its position."
As regards Greece-Israel relations, Delavekouras stated that Greece's decision to strengthen its relations with Israel fills an unjustified void that existed between the two countries.
"Relations between Greece and Israel have a great potential," he said, adding that "from the first moment we clarified that this development will not aim against any third country".
Greece has clarified that "the reinforced relation of confidence and cooperation with Israel can contribute decisively to the proposals tabled for the solution of the Middle East issue," he said, adding that "Greece has all the characteristics that make it a catalyst in this effort considering that it shares traditional relations of friendship and trust with the Arab countries, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority in particular."
Delavekouras added that Greece "can also discuss openly with Israel and help in the efforts focusing on consensus and the resumption of the peace process."
 Foreign ministry spokesman on joint visit to Tirana by Greek, Italian FMsForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday termed as "very strong" the message conveyed to both the Albanian political leadership and Albanian public opinion, last Monday's joint visit to Tirana by the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Italy Stavros Lambrinidis and Franco Frattini.
The visit followed an intitiative by Athens.
Delavekouras said the message sent was positive and the two ministers stated with their presence both the support of their countries and of the European Union for Albania's European prospect, while in parallel they underlined the need for cooperation between the political forces of the neighbouring countrhy for a resumption of their European process.
 National Foreign Policy Council session endsThe meeting of the National Foreign Policy Council, held in camera under the chairmanship of the Foreign minister and without being followed by statements, was concluded late on Thursday afternoon.
According to a relevant announcement by the Foreign ministry the current developments in Libya, the peace process in the Middle East, the latest developments regarding Turkey and Cyprus, as well as the Western Balkans were in the agenda of the members' discussion.
Participating in the Council's session, that lasted over four hours, were: Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, the president of the Permanent Parliamentary National Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee Constantine Vrettos, PASOK party deputy Vassilios Toyias, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) State deputy Ioannis Korantis and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Theodoros Dritsas.
 Cyprus defence minister to visit GreeceNICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)
Cypriot Defence Minister Demetris Eliades is due in Athens on Friday for talks with his Greek counterpart Panos Beglitis, the Cyprus defence ministry announced.
The two ministers will discuss issues concerning defence cooperation and issues of common interest for the defence ministries of the two countries.
This is Eliades' first visit to Athens since he took over as defence minister.
 Draft presidential decree for labour reserve to Council of StateThe Administrative Reform Ministry on Thursday sent the draft presidential decree enacting the government's decisions for the 'labour reserve' measure to the Council of State for inspection, with a request that it be treated as urgent.
The decree outlines how broader state-sector organisations and companies are to compile their lists of 'surplus' staff, dividing them into charts based on category and job description so that they can later have the option of a transfer to other positions in the public sector or can be chosen for temporary or part-time jobs based on an order of priority.
Using these charts, ASEP will then draw up 'priority lists' of the individuals placed in the labour reserve based on their qualifications, experience, years of work at the present job, family situation and social criteria. Special priority will be given to people with disabilities, those caring for a husband or child with disabilities and cases where both spouses have been placed in the labour reserve.
The parties involved will have to provide proof of their qualifications, such as degrees etc, to the ASEP council for selecting public-sector staff.
These ASEP lists will then be combined, initially every three months and then every six months, and based on order of priority staff will qualify for transfers to 10 percent of public-sector permanent positions proclaimed each year, 30 percent of temporary positions and 100 percent of part-time positions.
Additional points will be received by employees with children, especially those with three-child families or four children or more (a right retained until children reach the age of 25).
 State broadcasting employees protest against planned cutsEmployees of Greece's national radio and television foundation (ERT) rallied outside parliament in central Athens on Thursday to protest government plans to shut down one of the three public TV channels, ET1, and reduce the number of employees through reserve labor.
One of the protestors was lightly injured in scuffles that broke out between the demonstrators and MAT riot police who attempted to disperse the demonstration.
Calm was quickly restored, and the demonstrators remained in place outside the parliament building.
ERT employees' federation POSPERT president Panagiotis Kalfagiannis told ANA-MPA that the employees will not allow the closure of the profitable ERT, adding that public television will not be sacrificed to the plans of the government and the EU-IMF troika.
The government's measures affect all public media, including ANA-MPA.
 Measures for over-indebted municipalities unveiledInterior Minister Haris Kastanidis on Thursday held a press conference to unveil a ministerial decree for reforms in over-indebted municipalities, clarifying that the 'labour reserve' measures would not apply to either local authorities or municipal enterprises. The measures formally apply from Thursday, when the ministerial decree was issued.
Kastanidis noted that municipalities are obliged to have balanced budgets from January 1, 2012 so that their debts do not burden the state deficit. He stressed that the budgets must be truly balanced, since previously municipalities had written on their books loans that had been asked for but not approved by banks, some of which were never approved.
Having a balanced budget will be a condition in order for a municipality to qualify for a loan from the Consignment Deposits and Loans Fund, provided this is approved by the committee set up by the ministry to monitor the programme.
A second measure concerns the ability of municipalities to settle overdue debts with private interests, which from 2012 can only write on their books the part of the debt that is settled and not the entire debt.
A third measure allows the payment of municipality debts in installments.
The minister explained that there were two versions of the overhaul programme, the first for muncipalities with serious debt problems and a second for municipalities with minor financial issues that can be settled using a loan from the Consignment Deposits and Loans Fund.
Municipalities in the first category may have to take additional measures, such as a freeze on new hiring, transfers of existing staff and spending cuts.
A total of 70 municipalities will enter the two programmes, while only 15 are considered to have serious debt problems requiring further measures and for them the programme is obligatory.
Staff transfers will be obligatory in municipalities that don't have balanced budgets but are also a possibility in municipalities without acute financial problems but a surfeit of staff. Transfers will be between neighbouring municipalities or within the limits of former prefectures.
The implementation of the programmes will be for five years, amounting one municipal or regional term.
 Administrative reform minister briefs EC task force chiefGreek administrative reform minister Dimitris Reppas briefed Horst Reichenbach, who heads a European Commission task force providing technical assistance to Greece, on the changes being advanced by the government for the reform and reorganization of the state, during a meeting on Wednesday night.
A ministry announcement said that the provision of knowhow and resources for itemisation of the relevant actions and monitoring of their progress in relation to the targets was discussed during the meeting, as well as the preciseness of the time and cost estimates of the actions that will be decided, and communication with the relevant institutional bodies of the support mechanism.
 Archbishop: Church has no objections to paying extraordinary surtax for its commercially-exploited propertiesArchbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece on Thursday said that the Church has no objections to paying the extraordinary surtax on real estate property recently announced by the government on its own properties that are commercially exploited.
"In order to avoid misunderstandings, I make it clear that the Church of Greece has never put forward an issue of being exempted from the surtax as regards its commercially exploited property, in a period that the Greek people are suffering," said Ieronymos in response to press queries.
Ieronymos noted that places of worship and charitable foundations are exempted from the surtax obligation, and stressed that "In these critical times for the country, the Church has intensified its efforts in carrying out its charitable and social mission -- and the commercial exploitation of its real estate property is to serve that purpose -- in order to heal the wounds that this unprecedented crisis has caused to vulnerable population groups".
 Bakoyannis in ThessalonikiDemocratic Alliance party president Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday called for snap elections, suggesting that they be held immediately after the state budget is ratified by Parliament.
In a press conference on the sidelines of her tour of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), she stressed that her newly formed party will run in the elections independently and added that she will not reject post-election cooperation, pointing out that one-party governments will be a thing of the past.
Bakoyannis lashed out at Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, saying that the first has failed and the other resorts to populism.
 Two armament programmes approvedThe Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) on Thursday approved two armament purchase programmes.
The first concerns the purchase of 3,000 projectiles from the US and 5,000 from the Netherlands for the "Leopard" tanks. A relevant parliamentary committee had approved the procurement last week.
KYSEA also approved of the supply of Israeli-made SPICE missile launchers to be used by the Hellenic Air Force.
 Disciplinary action against Court of Audit vice-presidentJustice Minister Miltiades Papaioannou on Thursday notified Council of State and Supreme Disciplinary Council president Panagiotis Pikramenos of the disciplinary action pending against Court of Audit vice-president Nikos Angelaras who is accused of unjustified delays in exercising his duties and unbecoming behavior.
Delays in Court of Audit rulings attributed to the specific official have allegedly contributed to the problem of textbook shortages in schools nationwide.
According to the justice minister, the decision for disciplinary action was based on evidence that came to his attention and added that it is up to the Supreme Disciplinary Council to rule on the case.
On his part, Angelaras underlined that there was no delay in the issuing of Court of Audit rulings and that responsible for the textbook shortage problem is an illegal tender and the negligence of the ministry of education.
 Gov't: University students missing 2 semesters will lose statusEducation Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Thursday clarified that university students who fail to enroll in two consecutive semesters will automatically lose their status and will be unenrolled.
Responding to a tabled question by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Litsa Amanatidou-Paschalidou on the implementation of a recent law on university institutions, Diamantopoulou stressed that "there will be sanctions if the laws are not implemented".
She also pointed out that "no one has the right to decide whether a law or a circular will be implemented," adding that "when somebody chooses, instead of observing the law, to follow the line suggested by a social group to which they belong - regardless of how important this group might be - should assume the responsibility" of their actions. The latter statement was in reference to repeated warning by opponents of the law, including professors and university administrators, that the law and foreseen reforms will not be implemented.
 State of former president Stephanopoulos's health no cause for concernThe state of the health of former president of the republic Constantine Stephanopoulos, who is being treated at the Evangelismos hospital in Athens since 14:00 on Thursday after feeling ill, is no cause for concern.
A medical report issued by the hospital said the necessary medical tests were carried out and a mild stroke was ascertained. He is in full contact and lucidity and is in a good physical state.
 Reichenbach: 'Greece a tremendous opportunity for investments'"Greece presents a tremendous opportunity for investments," said European Commission Task Force chief Horst Reichenbach during a press conference held at the Commission's offices in Athens on Thursday.
At the head of a team sent to provide Greece with technical assistance so that it can better absorb EU funds, Reichenbach stressed that the problem was not a lack of money but finding the right way to make use of the money that was available.
He repeated that the task force's role will be to assist in the speedy implementation of the reform programme for Greece and properly exploit EU funds by providing technical support for decisions made by the Greek government, not to supervise the government's actions.
The EU official noted that, in addition to an effort to increase Greece's absorption of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, the reforms that will be promoted within the country will chiefly concern the health sector and electronic governance, which he said would be "fundamentally revised".
Reichenbach also referred to the importance of having a good tax collection system in order to solve fiscal problems. He pointed out that the Greek government was already collaborating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in this direction and that, together with the Task Force, proposals would be put forward for overcoming current inflexibility and problems.
He took care to emphasise that the Commission's aim was not to impose additional taxes but to provide technical support to improve the functioning of tax collection mechanisms.
Ultimately, Reichenbach added, the goal was to return Greece to a growth trajectory in order to create jobs and boost its competitiveness. He noted that the situation in the country was a "bitter and difficult experience that other countries have not experienced" and insisted that the main aim was to lift Greece out of the recession.
On how this would be accomplished, the head of the Task Force said that the country had to make better use of money from structural funds, where huge sums were available and had to be used for targeted actions to improve infrastructure, energy, tourism and industry, particularly the food industry and training.
A basic priority according to Reichenbach was to make Greece more attractive for investments, while noting the problems created by the huge lack of liquidity in the banking sector. He could not offer any "magical solution" to solve this problem but noted that the EU and the European Investment Bank could activate funds in order to improve the situation.
Replying to a reporter's question, he said it would be difficult for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to undertake activity in Greece but that there are "other organisations that can intervene and create the necessary system of guarantees needed to overcome the insecurity and uncertainty."
Commenting on the lack of infrastructure projects, which he said would help power an escape from recession, the Task Force chief noted that the chief impediment was the lack of funding and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to get these off the ground.
Reichenbach stressed that getting infrastructure projects underway and creating jobs would be a priority issue for the Task Force. The government appeared to have the political will to go ahead with a "huge reform programme", he added, but the banking sector was the source of the problem, so the Task Force would work hard to get the government and all the parties involved in funding back to the negotiating table.
Asked about setting up Special Economic Zones in Greece, Reichenbach said that it was worth examining whether European experience could be transferred to Greece and that his team would be ready to assist if the Greek government made the decision. On the issue of privatisations, he said a meeting with the minister responsible was still pending.
Underlining the need for good cooperation "since the prime minister has to make difficult decisions," Reichenbach said the Task Force will be ready to present its proposals in a month's time. He repeated that the government was fully aware of the challenges ahead and fully prepared for the assistance it had asked from the Task Force.
 Greece to offer state guarantee on bank loans to enterprisesThe Greek government on Thursday announced that it would offer state guarantees on bank loans offered to Greek enterprises by December 31, 2011.
A circular issued by Finance Deputy Minister Filippos Sahinidis, said that the guarantee will cover 70 pct of loans offered by commercial banks in a move aimed at boosting liquidity in the domestic market.
All enterprises, set up by July 18, 2011, are eligible to receive state guarantees on loans to small- and medium sized enterprises, and large enterprises to finance investment plans or to boost working capital. The state guarantee will have a maximum duration of up to 10 years and repayment of the loan will be made every six months in equal tranches. The loan could not exceed the company's annual payroll cost for 2010.
 Eurostat: Greek inflation falls to 1.4pct in August, among three lowest in EUGreek inflation fell to 1.4 percent in August from 1.4 percent in July this year, according to figures released in Brussels on Thursday by the European Union's statistical service Eurostat, placing Greece among the three lowest inflation rates in the EU behind Ireland and Slovenia.
According to Eurostat, euro area annual inflation was 2.5% in August 20112, unchanged compared with July. A year earlier the rate was 1.6%. Monthly inflation was 0.2% in August 2011.
EU annual inflation was 2.9% in August 2011, unchanged compared with July. A year earlier the rate was 2.0%. Monthly inflation was 0.2% in August 2011.
 Inflation in EU member statesIn August 2011, the lowest annual rates were observed in Ireland (1.0%), Slovenia (1.2%) and Greece (1.4%), and the highest in Estonia (5.6%), Latvia (4.6%) and the United Kingdom (4.5%).
Compared with July 2011, annual inflation fell in thirteen Member States, remained stable in two and rose in twelve.
The lowest 12-month averages up to August 2011 were registered in Ireland (0.4%), Sweden (1.6%), the Czech Republic and Slovenia (both 1.9%), and the highest in Romania (7.3%) and Estonia (5.1%).
 GSEE reps meet with ILO representativesGeneral Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) board members will meet on Monday, Sept. 19 with representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
GSEE, the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector, underlined that the meeting will be held within the framework of the contacts ILO will have with social partners and the government following reports for violations of international contracts as a result of the implementation of measures included in the memorandums signed.
 Unemployment at 16.3pct in Q2Unemployment in Greece jumped to 16.3 percent in the second quarter of the year from 11.8 percent in the same quarter in 2010 and against 15.9 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
ELSTAT, in a Labor Force Survey, said that in the 2nd Quarter of 2011 the number of employed amounted to 4,156,336 persons while the number of unemployed amounted to 810,821. The unemployment rate was 16.3% compared with 15.9% in the previous quarter, and 11.8% in the corresponding quarter of 2010.
The number of employed persons decreased by 0.9% compared with the previous quarter, and by 6.1% compared with the 2nd Quarter of 2010. The number of unemployed persons increased by 2.3% compared with the previous quarter and by 36.5% compared with the 2nd Quarter of 2010.
 3 percent hike in food expenses for the average Greek householdThe cost of food and beverages for the average Greek household rose to 356.24 euros in August 2011, according to figures released by the Greek Consumers Centre ELKEKA on Thursday. Based on figures, this represents a 3 percent increase relative to August 2010, when the same basket of goods cost 347.43 euros.
The highest increases were in fish which posted hikes reaching 6 percent, and in oils and fats, also up 6 percent.
 Business Briefs-- Employment in the retail sector fell 5.0 pct in the second quarter of 2011, reflecting higher dismissals from retail stores, with the exception of food and fuel stores, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Thursday.
-- Credit conditions worsened in the first eight months of the year, as a deep economic recession intensified an already tight credit activity in the country.
-- Production of oil products is down significantly this year, after rising by 5.7 pct last year, helped by higher exports.
-- Elinoil SA, a fuel distribution and trading company, on Thursday announced a deal to issue a five-million-euro bond loan.
 Stocks resume downward trendStocks resumed their downward trend at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, unable to follow a strong rebound in other European markets, provoked by an ECB decision to resume market liquidity programmes in cooperation the largest central banks of the world.
The composite index fell 1.02 pct to end at 848.40 points, after rising as much as 2.15 pct during the day. Turnover jumped to 112.973 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 0.82 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.37 pct lower and the Small Cap index rose 0.77 pct. Eurobank (3.48 pct), Cyprus Bank (3.23 pct), OPAP (2.60 pct) and PPC (2.08 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (5.66 pct), Piraeus Bank (5.08 pct), Hellenic Postbank (4.59 pct) and OTE (3.76 pct) were top losers.
The Health (15.07 pct), Travel (2.48 pct) and Insurance (2.27 pct) sectors scored gains, while Personal Products (6.38 pct), Telecoms (3.76 pct) and Commerce (3.09 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 73 to 61 with another 45 issues unchanged. Health (28.13 pct), AXON Holdings (14.29 pct) and Euromedica (8.82 pct) were top gainers, while Lamda Development (14.63 pct), Fourlis (14.15 pct) and ATEbank (12.5 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.67%
Personal & Household: -6.38%
Raw Materials: -0.74%
Travel & Leisure: +2.48%
Food & Beverages: -0.55%
Financial Services: -2.55%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Coca Cola 3E and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.61
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.37
HBC Coca Cola: 12.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.68
National Bank of Greece: 3.10
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.19
Bank of Piraeus: 0.56
 Greek bond market closing reportThe Greek electronic secondary bond market remained idle for one more day on Thursday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remaining unchanged at Wednesday's levels. The yield spread eased slightly to 15.84 pct from 15.96 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 17.79 pct and the German Bund 1.95 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were moved slightly lower. The 12-month rate was 2.05 pct, the six-month rate 1.73 pct, the three-month rate 1.52 pct and the one-month rate 1.34 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.62 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 73.820 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 30,613 contracts, worth 55.248 million euros, with 27,896 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 94,255 contracts worth 18.572 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (20,169), followed by Eurobank (3,733), MIG (15,677), OTE (6,754), PPC (2,186), OPAP (1,229), Piraeus Bank (13,909), GEK (2,508), Alpha Bank (6,993), Marfin Popular Bank (2,309), Ellaktor (1,253), Mytilineos (2,345), Cyprus Bank (5,105), Hellenic Postbank (2,626) and ATEbank (4,044).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.400
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.559
Swedish kroner 9.331
Japanese yen 107.26
Swiss franc 1.224
Norwegian kroner 7.851
Canadian dollar 1.384
Australian dollar 1.361
 Rain unearths unknown Mycenaean cemetery near LeonidioA hitherto unknown Mycenaean cemetery was revealed in Soha, near Leonidio, by recent heavy rainfall, with the finds dating back to the 14th century BC, archaeologists said.
Five box-shaped multiple tombs were unearthed in Soha, near Vaskina village, some 10 kilometers northwest of Leonidio.
A recovery excavation was then conducted by the 38th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.
The most impressive of the funerary gifts found in the graves were several clay sympotic vases.
 Fugitive football exec Psomiadis arrestedFugitive football club owner Makis Psomiadis, who stands accused of match-fixing, extortion, fraud, bribery and illegal betting, was arrested in Sounio, southeast of Athens, on Thursday.
Psomiadis was reportedly under surveillance for days before it was established by police that he was staying at in a luxury holiday home near Sounio.
A raid on the residence was decided by authorities on Thursday afternoon after receiving a positive identification of the suspect.
Psomiadis is amongst the alleged protagonists in a "match-fixing" and illegal betting case that erupted over the summer. The case was uncovered after the European football federation UEFA said it detected irregular betting patterns involving first and second division Greek club matches.
 Man wanted for homicide appears before prosecutorA 22-year-old man wanted for the stabbing death of 21 year-old Yannis Roussakis during a rumble between opposing football team fans on Monday 5 September in Irakleio, Crete, appeared on Thursday before the Irakleio prosecutor accompanied by his lawyer.
The suspect faces charges of intentional homicide.
Another 24-year-old man has also been remanded in custody on the same charges.
 Death toll from N. Greece road accident rises to threeThe death toll from a road accident on the Egnatia Motorway in northern Greece rose to three on Thursday afternoon, after a 69-year-old victim of the Wednesday crash died of his injuries. The accident occurred when a car collided with a minibus filled with Czech tourists returning to Vrasna, Thessaloniki after a day-trip to the Meteora district.
Two women were fatally injured and died soon after the accident, while another nine people were injured, according to a late-night police announcement.
Police in Grevena, where the accident occurred, said that all the fatalities and injuries were among the passengers of the minibus, adding that the injured tourists were taken to hospitals in Grevena, Ioannina and Thessaloniki, some of them in critical condition.
The accident occurred at 5:00 in the afternoon on Kalamitsi bridge, near the Grevena turnoff, when a car rammed into the minibus causing the bus of the latter to lose control of the vehicle, which overturned.
Grevena traffic police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.
 Authorities appeal for information on 'hit-and-run' in Peristeri, AthensAuthorities on Thursday appealed for information concerning the driver responsible for a "hit-and-run" accident that took place on Kifissos Avenue in the west Athens district of Peristeri early on Wednesday morning.
The unidentified driver of a silver Fiat Bravo hit and seriously injured a man on a motorbike that he then drove off and abandoned.
The accident took place at 5:30 a.m. at the junction of three bridges, at the A. Papandreou slip road leading off Kifissos Avenue.
Anyone with information that might help police discover the identity of the unknown driver has been asked to contact the Peristeri traffic police at the numbers 210 578 8600 and 210 578 8601.
 Member of bogus travelers checks ring arrrestedA 31-year-old Nigerian national was arrested by Thessaloniki security police on Thursday charged with membership in a counterfeit travelers' checks ring active in European countries.
Police said 280 fake travelers checks totaling 140,000 euros were found in the detainee's possession.
An investigation reveleas that accomplices of the detainee sent the forged travelers checks by courier service from Lagos to Greece, from where they were to be sent on to Spain.
The investigation was continuing, while the Nigerian will face felony charges of setting up a gang and forgery.
 Foreign nationals arrested for break-insPolice arrested two Georgian nationals, aged 21 and 22, and charged them with nine break-ins in the greater Athens area within the past five months.
The two suspects and another Georgian, who is still wanted by police, targeted private homes, apartments, and warehouses in downtown Athens, Halandri, Agia Paraskevi and Petralona, and made off with jewelry and other valuables.
 Big rise in number of organ donersA huge increase in the number of the organ doners has been recorded in Greece in the past year, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos told parliament on Thursday, adding the figure is expected to further shoot up as a result of the of the ministry's relevant public awareness campaign currently underway.
According to Loverdos, the number of organ doners have reached 5,000 so far this year from 2,000 in 2010, posting a 33 percent hike, while 5,000 more citizens have submitted statements to become doners in the recent weeks.
 Opera night in the Nat'l Archaeological Museum garden on FridayThe National Opera House will present an event dedicated to the legendary Greek soprano Maria Callas on Friday in the gardens of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Noted Greece opera singers will perform excerpts from several famous operas.
Entrance is free to public and the event is being held in the context of the "Cultural Actions in Athens" programme.
 4.5R quake jolts CreteA light earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale jolted Crete just before noon on Thursday.
The quake was recorded at 11:42 a.m. at a distance of 297 kilometers southeast of Athens, with its epicenter 70 kilometers north of Aghios Nikolaos, Lassithi prefecture, between the islands of Crete and Santorini, and an epicentral depth of 32 kilometers, according to the Aristotle University Geophysics Laboratory and the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute.
The quake was felt in Iraklion, Aghios Nikolaos and the northeaster coast of Crete.
 Wildfire in farming region in CreteA wildfire broke out on Thursday afternoon in a farming region between the villages of Pompia and Alithini, on the island of Crete, threatening a large forested area nearby.
The fire is being tackled by firemen backed by five vehicles, three water trucks and two firefighting helicopters.
 Woman arrested for involvement in child pornElectronic crime police have arrested a 47-year-old woman involved in child porn in the form of cartoons, pirated CD-DVDs and illegal software in a shop she had in the Athens district of Exarchia and used for these activities.
A total of 2,147 digital visual discs (cds, dvds) containing illegal software programmes and games of known companies were found and confiscated in the shop and, according to police, the companies' total losses resulting from the illegal use of royalties in the specific case is estimated as running into hundreds of thousands of euros.
 Greece loses 64-56 from France in EurobasketKAUNAS (ANA-MPA)
The Greek national basketball team lost 64-56 from France in a quarter-final match played for the Eurobasket 2011 competition in Lithuania on Thursday evening and will now be contesting a position between 5-8. The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 14-17, 27-31, 40-43, 64-56.
 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 14C and 36C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 35C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 33C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime Minister George Papandreou's teleconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the surtax on real estate properties, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Europe opens support window".
AVGHI: "Government sacrificing civil servants and salaries in order to ingratiate the Troika (IMF,EC,ECB)".
AVRIANI: "25,000 illegal hirings in public sector".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The surtax on real estate is a fraud and unfeeling".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Surtax: The big looting".
ESTIA: "The Europeans want to help us".
ETHNOS: "The Merkel-Sarkozy life vest extremely expensive".
IMERISSIA: "Support message".
KATHIMERINI: "Support but with ultimatum".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "European leaders: Greece's future is in the eurozone".
RIZOSPASTIS: "We can stop the barbarous antipopular measures".
TA NEA: "Shock over the double surtax".
VRADYNI: "Flurry of civil servant retirements".
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