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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-10-11

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 Issue No: 3911

CONTENTS

  • [01] FinMin: Greece is and will always be equal, active Eurozone member
  • [02] FinMin-troika meeting completed
  • [03] EU, Eurozone summit postponed until Oct. 23
  • [04] PM, van Rompuy meeting on Thurs.
  • [05] PM Papandreou to meet US Vice President Joe Biden on December 5
  • [06] FM Lambrinidis attends EU FMs session in Luxembourg
  • [07] Gov't spokesman: Any solution must be adequate and not harm Greece's rights in EU core
  • [08] Gov't rules out party leaders' council
  • [09] ND leader Samaras: Snap elections now
  • [10] LA.O.S to challenge constitutionality of gov't decisions
  • [11] Minister presents 53 proposals for reforming justice, announces omnibus bill
  • [12] Siemens case to close soon, justice minister indicates
  • [13] Minister: Procedures on line for Evros fence
  • [14] Ecumenical Patriarch attends events for 20th anniversary of enthronement
  • [15] Finmin: 'No one will nationalise banks'
  • [16] Proton Bank under state control
  • [17] Meeting on exploiting state-owned real property on Wednesday
  • [18] Development minister to visit Paris
  • [19] Tourism minister's contacts in Paris
  • [20] Unions point to 'troika' demand for abolition of collective labour agreements
  • [21] GSEE, ADEDY on new measures
  • [22] Unions to decide on further public transport strikes on Tuesday
  • [23] Bank workers' union calls two-day strike on Oct. 18-19
  • [24] Customs officers, tax officials announce strike action from Oct. 17
  • [25] State hospital employees work stoppage
  • [26] Greek exports account for more than 10% of GDP, report
  • [27] Greek exports up 0.9 pct in August
  • [28] Industrial production down 11.7 pct in August
  • [29] Building activity down 36.7 pct in June
  • [30] Business Briefs
  • [31] Foreign investors raise participation in ASE's cap in Sept
  • [32] Stocks end off lows on Monday
  • [33] Greek bond market closing report
  • [34] ADEX closing report
  • [35] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [36] Gale-force winds cancel ship sailings
  • [37] Flight delays in Athens due to weather, 'work-to-rule' strike
  • [38] Noted war photographer Balafas dies at 91
  • [39] Spectacular competition on the roofs of Santorini
  • [40] Armed robbery of bank money delivery
  • [41] Three detained for armed break-ins, attacks on women
  • [42] Police shootout with drug smugglers on Greek-Albanian frontier
  • [43] Foreign nat'l, reputed armed robbery gang leader arrested
  • [44] Migrant smuggling arrests in Igoumenitsa
  • [45] Rainy on Tuesday
  • [46] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] FinMin: Greece is and will always be equal, active Eurozone member

    Greece, despite its fiscal problems and the need for the support of its institutional partners "is and will always be an equal and active member in the Eurozone that participates in shaping developments particularly those that concern it," government vice-president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday underlined.

    Venizelos made the comment in response to questions by members of the media on whether developments in the Eurozone that concern Greece are being shaped in its absence.

    He underlined that "Greece has the complete picture of the situation and the capacity to intervene with its own proposals and ideas." Venizelos stressed that it is not a coincidence the fact that the process of the implementation of the July 21 decisions (that form and will continue to form the basis of developments) is organized having Athens as a centre and always in cooperation with the institutional partners and Eurozone members.

    He used as an example the role of the Public Debt Management Agency and the exploratory letter he addressed to 57 of his counterparts acting in consultation with the Eurozone and essentially, on its behalf.

    Venizelos said that another example is the successful handling of the issue of the guarantees requested by Finland within the framework of the Eurogroup directives and decisions and with the approval of Eurogroup and the EFSF.

    [02] FinMin-troika meeting completed

    A morning meeting between Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos and the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' chiefs was wound about at about 2:00 on Monday.

    The talks focused on the 2013 and 2014 budgets and its provisions which, according to the troika, should bring in revenues to the state of at least 6 billion euros, in order for the Greek deficit to be contained below 3 percent of GDP.

    Discussion of outstanding issues concerning the 2011-2012 budgets was completed between the two sides during a meeting on Sunday.

    Venizelos later announced the completion of the circle of meetings with the troika to parliament's standing economics committee, which is currently discussing the 2012 state budget.

    He noted, however, that some details remained to be finalised by Tuesday and, if necessary, he would handle those personally so that political solutions may be given, but added that he did not think that will be necessary.

    Venizelos said it is very unpleasant for a country to need to take recourse in an international organisation in order to deal with its debt problem, avoid default and safeguard its citizens' standard of living.

    The finance minister said that by the end of 2012 recession would be running at 15 percent, bringing the country back to the 2004 levels.

    "We are obliged to make the necessary correction in order for the country to be placed on a firm foundation. If we don't break the bubble now, the illusion that has been created for many years now, we will not be able to move ahead to the future, because the situation is hazardous and uncertain," Venizelos said.

    The minister further reiterated that deposits, both those of the state and the citizens, are absolutely secure, adding that the government will take all necessary actions in that direction.

    [03] EU, Eurozone summit postponed until Oct. 23

    BRUSSELS (AMNA - A. Aroni)

    The European Council and Eurozone leaders' summit have been postponed until October 23 so that the EU "can complete its overall strategy for the debt crisis in the eurozone" according to an announcement issued on Monday by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. The summit meetings were originally scheduled for October 17 and 18.

    The announcement said that additional information was required in order to examine some of the issues, such as the state of the Greek economy, recapitalisation of banks and the effectiveness of tools that the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) has at its disposal.

    Van Rompuy said this additional information would arise from the report of the EU-IMF troika mission in Greece and the European Commission's plan for recapitalisation of banks.

    The European Council president has also recommended the holding of emergency Eurogroup and ECOFIN council meetings before the summit on October 23.

    [04] PM, van Rompuy meeting on Thurs.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will meet with European Council president Herman van Rompuy on Thursday morning in Brussels, it was announced on Monday.

    Papandreou held a telephone conversation with van Rompuy on Monday.

    [05] PM Papandreou to meet US Vice President Joe Biden on December 5

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will be having a meeting on December 5 with United States Vice President Joe Biden, who will visit Greece. Biden will be making a tour of the region in early December and will also visit Greece. The US Vice President is also expected to meet the President of the Republic and possibly other political officials.

    [06] FM Lambrinidis attends EU FMs session in Luxembourg

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The situation in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa and developments in the Palestinian issue were the focus of the European Union Foreign ministers' session in Luxembourg on Monday, at which Greece was represented by Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis.

    The Greek Foreign minister stressed the need for the EU's active presence to fill the power vacuum that is being ascertained due to the fluidity prevailing. Lambrinidis also said that the EU should play this role, presenting an integrated development and political cooperation plan with the countries in the region.

    "No one can know the incentives and the intentions of the rest of the players who are active in the region," he said, adding that "no one can guarantee for us that these incentives coincide with the positive vision of the European Union for our Southern Neighbourhood."

    The Greek Foreign minister will begin a tour of the region on Wednesday with scheduled visits to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

    [07] Gov't spokesman: Any solution must be adequate and not harm Greece's rights in EU core

    Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos said on Monday that any solution decided must be legally secure, adequate and not high-risk, and must not harm Greece's fundamental rights in the EU core.

    In a statement on the ongoing deliberations over the Greek debt and the crisis in the eurozone, Mossialos added that no issue has been institutionally put forward for a further increase in the bond swaps than that originally foreseen in the July 21 eurozone summit agreement.

    Mossialos also said that there is no issue of nationalising any banks, beyond that of Proton Bank announced earlier in the day, which he said was a "special case".

    The spokesman further described as "positive" references by German chancellor Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy on the need for recapitalisation of banks, where needed, to boost the economic governance in the EU, and intimated that Greek prime minister George Papandreou will hold a series of briefings with the opposition party leaders.

    [08] Gov't rules out party leaders' council

    Government spokesman Ilias Mossialos on Monday ruled out the possibility of a party leaders' council chaired by President Karolos Papoulias, though not the prospect of a round of meetings between the party leaders and Prime Minister George Papandreou to brief them on EU developments and the handling of the debt crisis.

    He was also categoric in denying rumours that the prime minister was considering stepping down.

    "He is present and there is no thought of departure," Mossialos underlined, adding that the premier intended to hold one-on-one meetings with the ministers of the inner cabinet in order to discuss the latest developments and the initiatives that must be taken to boost growth, as well as continuing meetings with PASOK MPs.

    The spokesman also appealed to local authority workers to reconsider their strike and collect refuse that had piled up on streets around Athens, urging them to consider the implications for public health.

    "We are making every effort to deal with the problems that arise," he said. "We are asking for the strike to end and it will end," he added, referring reporters to the interior ministry for further details.

    He also strongly criticised sit-ins at ministries and public services, saying that these were unacceptable.

    "Strikes and mobilisations are a right but not sit-ins," he emphasised.

    Finally, he condemned the attack on Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis in a Thessaloniki cinema over the weekend, when students with banners booed the minister and hurled yoghurts at him.

    [09] ND leader Samaras: Snap elections now

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday repeated his demand for snap elections while again rejecting any "coalition government" scenarios.

    Addressing his party's executive Secretariat, he lashed out at the PASOK government, stressing that its absence from negotiations with the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" was "impressive", noting that a rift has now been created between the Greek people and those who are in government.

    Moreover, Samaras warned the government against holding a referendum, saying such a move would "further infuriate the people", or against resorting to what he called "blackmailing practices" for the purpose of collecting 180 votes (an extended majority) in the 300-MP Parliament.

    He maintained that there is no "national line" for him to back, pointing out that PM George Papandreou has made decisions himself two years ago and, therefore, there is no national line that can be drawn jointly.

    The ND leader stressed that the policy followed has failed because it was wrong from the start, adding that "it is right to reduce the size of an extravagant public sector but the government has not reduced it. It is right to combat tax evasion but the government did not do anything about it. It is right to proceed with privatizations but first there should be investments."

    Samaras repeated that renegotiation with the creditors is feasible. He said that the current dead end policy can change through renegotiation and repeated that "we do not want to change the goals set but the ways in which can be met".

    Finally, he emphasised that he "detests populism" and underlined that "the present government is finished".

    [10] LA.O.S to challenge constitutionality of gov't decisions

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Monday expressed his intent to challenge the constitutionality of decisions made by the current government.

    According to reports, the LA.O.S president said he will not recognise decisions made by a government which "does not hold the country's sovereignty in its hands". Based on the same information, Karatzaferis referred to decisions that concern the exploitation of public assets which, according to him, "are being sold off".

    He expressed discontent over the fact that the leaders of France and Germany postponed their decisions until late October and lashed out at main opposition party of New Democracy (ND), stressing that "those who abandoned the country 2 years ago now have resurfaced and do not hesitate to suggest solutions."

    [11] Minister presents 53 proposals for reforming justice, announces omnibus bill

    In a press conference on Monday, Justice Minister Miltiades Papaioannou unveiled 53 proposals for reforming Greece's judicial system, describing its current condition as "tragic". He also announced his intention to prepare an omnibus bill for speeding up justice that he plans to table in Parliament by the end of November.

    Papaioannou said he was submitting his 53 proposals for dialogue after a series of meetings with the leadership of the higher courts.

    Some of these have already sparked controversy, such as a proposal for the transfer of court material to notaries that lawyers have rejected as unconstitutional and threatened to fight with strike action.

    Replying to their concerns, Papaioannou stressed that he will respect the Constitution and that "nothing will be done outside the framework of the Constitution".

    Other of the measures proposed by the minister are the full deregulation of the legal profession, including that of notaries, in accordance with demands made by the EU-IMF troika.

    The minister said this process had already begun with some legislative measures, with troika officials objecting to restrictions on advertising by legal firms, on the participation of non-lawyers in legal firms and the way that lawyers' contributions are calculated.

    [12] Siemens case to close soon, justice minister indicates

    The Siemens kickbacks case will soon be closed entirely, Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou let it be understood during a press conference on Monday, replying to a reporters' question.

    "When a case closes on the side of the government, it closes overall. Either you reach a compromise or you don't," Papaioannou said concerning the negotiations currently underway with Siemens.

    "Very soon the negotiations will be completed," he said, indicating in this way that the case would soon be closed in terms of the Greek state's demands against Siemens.

    [13] Minister: Procedures on line for Evros fence

    Citizen' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis announced in Parliament on Monday that "the fence at Evros will be constructed. The process has already been completed for the tabling of bids, with 14 companies showing interest; we are waiting for the results."

    Replying to a question by a deputy on the taking of measures to limit the number of illegal immigrants trying to enter the country, Papoutsis said that a thermal camera network will be ready by the end of November, stressing that all auxiliary infrastructure is also being completed.

    [14] Ecumenical Patriarch attends events for 20th anniversary of enthronement

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Monday completed his four-day visit to the monastic community of Mount Athos where he attended special events marking the 20th anniversary of his enthronement.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch is currently on his way to the town of Langadas, near Thessaloniki, to attend festivities hosted by the local Holy Metropolis.

    Before leaving Mount Athos, he had visited the Monastery of Stavronikitas and expressed satisfaction for the restoration work done.

    Financial News

    [15] Finmin: 'No one will nationalise banks'

    "No one is going to nationalise the banks," Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos underlined in Parliament on Monday, while briefing the Economic Affairs Committee concerning his decision to take Proton Bank under state control.

    "Bank will be supported but banks are one thing and the specific shareholder composition is another," he explained.

    Venizelos said that he had been acting on the recommendations given to him by the governor of the Bank of Greece and the Financial Stability Fund, while the treatment of the bank was indicative of how a new law for keeping the banking system healthy will be applied.

    Under this, the bank was split into the 'good' and 'bad' parts, the licence of the 'bad bank' was revoked and it was placed in liquidation, while all the healthy loans and deposits were transferred to the good bank, which now belonged entirely to the Financial Stability Fund. The minister stressed that the board of the new bank would now be appointed by the state, its general assembly convened by the fund and all deposits fully protected.

    "The cost is less than the amount the Savings and Investments Fund would have to pay in compensation for the deposits in Proton Bank," he added, noting that such compensation would be paid out when as and when it became necessary to shore up the confidence of Greek depositors and investors that their savings and investments were secure.

    The minister came under fire for the measure, however, with MPs stressing that the cost of the bailout came to 863 million euro, once again charged to the tax payer, while the head of Proton Bank had reached a settlement with the government for the 51 million euro that he had embezzled and returned, so that there would be no further prosecution.

    The finance ministry announced that the state was taking over Proton Bank on Monday, saying that the new bank formed will be fully capitalised with a capital adequacy ratio of 10.6 pct and access to the Eurosystem through the Bank of Greece.

    [16] Proton Bank under state control

    Proton Bank became the first Greek bank to be taken under state control, a Finance ministry announcement said on Monday.

    A ministry announcement said that Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos accepted a recommendation by the Bank of Greece and signed a decision to place the bank under restructuring. Under the plan, a new "good bank" under the name of New Proton Bank will be formed which will carry all savings deposits and the healthy assets of Proton Bank. The ministry revoked the license of Proton Bank which was placed under liquidation.

    The new "good bank" received an operating license from the Bank of Greece and was supported by the restructuring arm of the Savings and Investments Fund, while the Financial Stability Fund provided the necessary capital and is now the sole shareholder of the new bank.

    New Proton Bank is fully capitalized with a capital adequacy ratio of 10.6 pct, with access to the Eurosystem through the Bank of Greece.

    The ministry announcement said the move was aimed at protecting the public interest and systemic stability in the financial system, fully securing the state's and individuals' deposits along with the smooth operation of the bank.

    New Proton Bank is fully relieved of problems of the past, it is fully healthy and continues operations as usual with the aim to sell its shares to private shareholders as soon as possible.

    The Financial Stability Fund, in an announcement, said it planned to implement an integrated business plan offering prospectives for the new bank and value to the shareholder.

    The Athens Stock Exchange suspended trading of Proton Bank's shares on the market. Stathis Papageorgiou (former chief executive in FBB bank) was appointed head of the board of the bridge bank.

    [17] Meeting on exploiting state-owned real property on Wednesday

    The finance ministry on Monday issued an invitation to the heads of Greek public utilities and state organisations, asking them to attend a meeting on Wednesday with representatives of the Fund for the Exploitation of State-owned Private Property (TAIPED) and National Bank of Greece (NBG) to discuss ways to exploit their real estate assets.

    In the letter, the ministry asks the heads of state enterprises and organisations to cooperate with its financial advisors, giving them full access to information concerning real property belonging to the company or organisation they run.

    This includes full access to any technical reports, studies or evaluations of the enterprises' real estate assets, supplying them with pertinent information concerning the particular details of each building or property, making their legal services and data base management staff for the real estate owned by the enterprise available and allowing the advisors to manage the information and data provided.

    NBG executives will be contacting the management of the state organisations over the coming days to set up meetings, asking them for the fastest possible response.

    A decision of the government committee for Restructuring and Privatisations has assigned nine financial institutions led by NBG to act as financial advisors for state organisation real estate rights.

    [18] Development minister to visit Paris

    Regional Development Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis is due in Paris on Tuesday for a series of meetings with the French government, international organisations and businesses whose main aim will be to attract foreign investments to Greece.

    The visit forms part of a series of initiatives seeking to bring in foreign investments and to promote Greek exports and to seek out know-how and expertise on making radical structural reforms to the real economy.

    Chrysohoidis will have meetings with French Finance Minister Francois Baroin, the head of the French business association MEDEF Laurence Parisot, OSEO General Director Arnaud Caudoux, Organisations for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Deputy Secretary General Pier Carlo Padoan and high-ranking executives of French companies interested in investing in Greece.

    He is also scheduled to address an event at the Greek-French chamber of commerce on investment opportunities in Greece.

    [19] Tourism minister's contacts in Paris

    Deputy Culture & Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis on Monday held a series of contacts in Paris focusing on further boosting tourist arrivals in Greece, which in 2010 recorded an increase of 24 pct compared with last year.

    Earlier in the day, Nikitiadis met with Club Mediterranee President / CEO Henri Giscard d'Estaing and invited him to consider the new investment environment and opportunities available in the country.

    The Club Med president underlined that the goal is to improve the quality of services provided in Club Med facilities in Greece and referring to the closed Club Med Hotel facilities in Kefalos, on the SE Aegean island of Kos, he pledged that it will reopen as soon as technical difficulties are overcome, leaving open the likelihood of new investments on Crete and elsewhere in Greece.

    Nikitiadis also met with TRANSAVIA chief executives requesting more flights to be scheduled for destinations in Greece, as well as, with Atout France, the French government tourist office, senior officials.

    Nikitiadis is in Paris representing the ministry at the Greek delegation, headed by government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, who was invited to attend the inauguration of the exhibition entitled "Ancient Macedonia: In the Kingdom of Alexander the Great" to be hosted at the Louvre from Oct. 13, 2011 until Jan. 16, 2012.

    [20] Unions point to 'troika' demand for abolition of collective labour agreements

    The contents of a letter reportedly sent by the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" to the labour ministry on Oct. 2 by email, before a meeting of its representatives with Labour Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis, were unveiled during a joint press conference on Monday by GSEE and ADEDY, the two largest umbrella trade unions in the country.

    According to the letter, the "troika" wants the abolition of the national collective labour agreement and the reduction or "freezing" of the minimum wage until economic growth begins, underlining that "other countries with similar circumstances have lowered the minimum wage to improve employment prospects."

    The letter points out that this change will help in the absorption of employees who will have to leave the public sector.

    It also included recommendations which were adopted in part or in their entirety in the draft law sponsored by the ministry of finance.

    As regards the labour contracts in individual sectors of the economy, the troika reportedly wants them to be frozen for three years, whereas the draft law provides for a two-year freezing.

    A troika proposal for labour contracts signed by individual enterprises is included intact in the draft law. According to the new regulation, negotiations and agreements from now on can take place with unions made up of less than 20 people if 2/3 of the employees participate and not only with trade unions.

    The troika also suggested to the government to enter a dialogue with social partners to ensure fair distribution of the crisis burden and of future gains when economic recovery is achieved.

    [21] GSEE, ADEDY on new measures

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) president Yiannis Panagopoulos, speaking during a press conference with the civil servants' union (ADEDY) on Monday, stressed that "things are difficult for the working people, but we must not bow our heads."

    On his part, ADEDY president George Tsikrikas stressed the need for the coordination of forces between GSEE and ADEDY, pointing out that working people must react to efforts for the creation of rivalry between the private and public sector, because they are equally harmed by the measures.

    [22] Unions to decide on further public transport strikes on Tuesday

    The heads of Athens public transport unions will be meeting on Tuesday in order to decide whether to continue strike action.

    Their meeting comes after a difficult day of rain and gridlocked traffic on Monday, with nearly all public transport in the capital at a standstill except the Proastiakos railway.

    Public transport workers held the strike in protest against the labour reserve measure announced by the government, hard on the heels of transfers that moved many public transport workers to other state-sector services.

    Trade unionists claim that this left many public transport services short-staffed, while they claim that the EU-IMF troika insists that collective labour agreements must be abolished entirely.

    [23] Bank workers' union calls two-day strike on Oct. 18-19

    The bank workers' union OTOE on Monday announced that it will call a two-day strike on October 18-19, the same day as strikes announced by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector.

    OTOE said the decision to strike was prompted by the government's law abolishing sectoral collective agreements, which they called a "surrender without terms of democratic institutions" that promoted employer abuses and blackmail as a regulator of labour relations and also the third reduction in pensions.

    [24] Customs officers, tax officials announce strike action from Oct. 17

    Tax officials and customs officers on Monday announced a series of 48-hour strikes in protest against the new uniform public-sector pay scale, which may lead to salary cuts of up to 40 percent for higher-paid public-sector workers.

    The tax officials' union federation announced two successive 48-hour strikes from October 17-20, while customs officers will strike from October 18-23.

    [25] State hospital employees work stoppage

    Employees at state hospitals around the country will hold a new work stoppage between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, protesting changes in the health sector as well as cutbacks in general.

    The administration's head offices at the Evangelismos hospital have been taken over by employees since Monday morning, resulting in the suspension of the hospital's administrative services operation.

    [26] Greek exports account for more than 10% of GDP, report

    Exports account for more than 10 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product, or more than 20 billion euros on an annual basis, recording a 13 pct growth rate, the Panhellenic Exporters Federation said on Monday.

    The Federation, in a report over export trends in the January-August period said that Greek exports grew by 11 pct (18 billion euros) last year, while OECD revised upwards its estimates for a 9.4 pct growth rate, from an initial forecast of 6.0 pct.

    Presenting the report, Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Federation said the figures "confirmed the importance and significance of exporting business activity in an effort towards the recovery of the Greek economy".

    Greek exports - excluding oil products - surpassed 20.5 billion euros in the September 2010-August 2011 period, for an increase of 13.3 pct compared with the previous 12-month period. Exports grew 38.6 pct in August compared with the same month last year, to 1.666 billion euros, while excluding oil products, exports grew 0.9 pct to 1.075 billion euros.

    The August export figures represent: a 32 pct rise in fuels, oil products, a 42.5 pct increase in confidential products, a 15 pct rise in machinery/transport, a 13 pct increase in industrial products and a 0.08 pct rise in other industrial goods. On the other hand, tobacco/beverage fell 13.4 pct, oils were down 9.0 pct, chemicals fell 6.3 pct, foods were down 3.7 pct and raw materials fell 0.5 pct.

    Imports -excluding oil products- totaled 2.349 billion euros in August, up 1.0 pct, but in the 12-month period to August 2011, imports were down 13 pct.

    [27] Greek exports up 0.9 pct in August

    Greek exports rose slightly in August, with the value of export-deliveries -excluding oil products- totalling 1.075 billion euros from 1.065 billion euros in the same month last year, for an increase of 0.9 pct, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that value of import-arrivals -excluding oil products- totalled 2.349 billion euros in August, from 2.326 billion euros in August 2010, for an increase of 1.0 pct.

    [28] Industrial production down 11.7 pct in August

    Industrial production plunged 11.7 pct in August this year, mainly reflecting an 11.0 pct drop in manufacturing production, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday. The statistics service, in a report, said the industrial production index was down 0.5 pct in August 2010. The 11.7 pct decline of the index was attributed to a 5.0 pct drop in mining production, an 11 pct decline in manufacturing production (mainly oil products, basic pharmaceutical products, non metal minerals and machinery), a 16.7 pct drop in electricity production and a 2.3 pct fall in water production.

    The industrial production index fell by 8.4 pct on average in the January-August 2011 period, compared with the same period last year, after recording a 5.3 pct drop in the eight-month period in 2010.

    [29] Building activity down 36.7 pct in June

    Building activity (measured on volume) fell 36.7 pct in June this year, for a 44.6 pct drop in the January-June period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday. The statistics service, in a monthly report, said that building activity in the private sector totalled 3,343 building permits, down 27.7 pct from 2010.

    Activity in the first half of the year was down 35.7 pct in permits and 44.6 pct in volume.

    A shrinking building activity worsens further unemployment trends in the country, while a large decline in building permits in June paints a bleak picture for future trends in the sector.

    [30] Business Briefs

    -- Media Saturn group announced a strategic restructuring of its retail network in Greece to better adjust with the current economic situation in the country, a move aimed at creating a larger and stronger Media Markt group.

    -- OPAP SA, Greece's state-owned lottery monopoly, on Monday said it has received two offers in an international tender to find a new IT provider. The two bidders are Intralot and GTECH Corp.-GTECH Global Services Corp. Ltd.

    [31] Foreign investors raise participation in ASE's cap in Sept

    Foreign investors slightly raised their participation the capitalization of the Athens Stock Exchange in September to 50.8 pct, from 50.2 pct in August, and up compared with 49.8 pct in September 2010, official figures showed on Monday.

    On the other hand, Greek investors cut their participation to 48 pct of the market's capitalization in September, from 48.5 pct in August. Foreign investors were net sellers in September, with capital outflows totalling 45.97 million euros, while Greek investors were net buyers with capital inflows totalling 46.48 million euros.

    The value of transactions in September totalled 1.36 billion euros, down 11.5 pct from August and sharply down (45.7 pct) compared with September 2010.

    Average daily turnover fell to 59.37 million euros in September, from 67.05 million euros in August and 109.38 million euros in September 2010.

    The number of active investor codes dropped to 39,517 in September from 57,232 in August and 68,786 in September 2010.

    The market's capitalization was 32.29 billion euros at the end of September, down 12.5 pct from a month earlier and down 42.2 pct from September 2010.

    [32] Stocks end off lows on Monday

    Stocks ended moderately lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, significantly reducing initial heavy losses as the market found support in non-financials blue chip stocks and particularly OPAP. Bank shares remained under pressure to end sharply lower. The composite index of the market ended at 740.06 points, off 0.58 pct, after plunging 5.78 pct early in the session. A decision to place Proton Bank under the control of the Financial Stability Fund and growing speculation of a larger-than-expected haircut of the Greek debt, intensified pressure on bank stocks. However, a recovery in international markets helped the Greek market to a spectacular improvement late in the day.

    Turnover remained a low 48.936 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.87 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 1.43 pct and the Small Cap index dropped 3.22 pct. OPAP (8.24 pct), MIG (8.88 pct), Titan (4.65 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (4.14 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Postbank (18.69 pct), Piraeus Bank (16.84 pct) and Eurobank (14.63 pct) were top losers.

    The Travel (7.88 pct) and Financial Services (4.29 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (10.41 pct), Insurance (6.38 pct) and Health (5.01 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 99 to 38 with another 32 issues unchanged. CPI (30 pct), Xylemporia (30 pct) and Kepenos Mills (29.41 pct) were top gainers, while TBank (30 pct), Moda Bagno (29.96 pct), ATEbank (23 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -6.38%

    Industrials: -0.56%

    Commercial: -0.10%

    Construction: +2.42%

    Oil & Gas: +3.07%

    Personal & Household: -0.09%

    Raw Materials: +1.42%

    Travel & Leisure: +7.88%

    Technology: -5.50%

    Telecoms: +0.98%

    Banks: -10.41%

    Food & Beverages: +2.35%

    Health: -5.01%

    Utilities: -0.97%

    Chemicals: -1.41%

    Financial Services: +4.29%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and OTE.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 1.03

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.35

    HBC Coca Cola: 12.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.06

    National Bank of Greece: 1.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.70

    OPAP: 7.09

    OTE: 3.10

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.31

    Titan: 10.60

    [33] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 16 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 16.04 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.06 pct and the German Bund 1.98 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 2.10 pct, the six-month rate 1.76 pct, the three-month rate 1.55 pct and the one-month rate 1.36 pct.

    [34] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.97 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 19.380 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,335 contracts worth 11.997 million euros, with 22,706 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 39,020 contracts worth 7.383 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,800), followed by Eurobank (1,886), MIG (2,949), OPAP (1,980), Piraeus Bank (6,666), GEK (2,130), Alpha Bank (2,489), Marfin Popular Bank (7,735), Cyprus Bank (434) and ATEbank (2,260).

    [35] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.379

    Pound sterling 0.881

    Danish kroner 7.555

    Swedish kroner 9.261

    Japanese yen 105.82

    Swiss franc 1.251

    Norwegian kroner 7.919

    Canadian dollar 1.419

    Australian dollar 1.388

    General News

    [36] Gale-force winds cancel ship sailings

    Strong winds, reaching up to gale-force velocity of 9 Beaufort, were hampering ship sailings in several parts of Greece on Monday morning.

    A ban on sailing was enforced for the Aghios Constantinos-Edipsos, Volos-Sporades Islands and Kavala-Prinos routes, while several routes from the country's major port of Piraeus were cancelled, as were the routes to the islands of Tinos, Mykonos and Paros from the port of Rafina.

    Heavy winds also dragged six boats from their anchorage in Perama, but without causing injury or marine pollution. Three tugboats were called in to assist the boats in docking again.

    [37] Flight delays in Athens due to weather, 'work-to-rule' strike

    Flights into and out of Athens airport continued to be dogged by delays on Monday as a result of poor weather and a "work-to-rule" strike by air-traffic controllers protesting against salary cuts as a result of their inclusion in the public-sector wage scale, which in some cases may be as high as 40 percent of their current salary.

    Athens International Airport reported that about 50 flights were delayed, on average by about 80 minutes, at 3:00 p.m. In some cases, the delays exceed two and half hours.

    The delays are both for departures and for aircraft arrivals.

    [38] Noted war photographer Balafas dies at 91

    Greek veteran war photographer Costas Balafas, noted for his photographic coverage of WWII and the National Resistance in Greece, died on Monday at the age of 91.

    Balafas was born in 1920 in the mountain village of Kypseli in Arta, the child of a poor a farming family, and at the age of 11 went to Athens to seek work.

    His first contact with photography and a camera was at the age of 13, when relatives of his boss came to Greece from the US and, wishing to please then, the boss took them on a sightseeing tour of Athens. One day, during a visit to Mt. Parnitha, the boss took young Costas along to take photographs of the entire family with a small, easy-to-use camera they had brought with them. And the rest is history.

    After that day on Parnitha, the young boy's dream was to acquire a camera of his own, and it was not until he was university student in Ioannina that he managed to buy one, selling his wristwatch to supplement his meager savings for the purchase.

    In Italy later, he befriended an employee at a neighborhood photographer's shop, next to whom he learned the art of the dark room and developing films, and traded in his camera for a newer one.

    It was with that new camera that he photographed the Greek army's advance to the Albanian front, the German occupation in Greece, and the Civil War, snapping scenes of war crimes at the risk of his life, and of fellow combatants during battle.

    Balafas' funeral was scheduled for Monday afternoon at the cemetery in the Athens suburb of Halandri.

    [39] Spectacular competition on the roofs of Santorini

    Trauceur Luis Alkmim from Portugal performs a spectacular jump during the "Red Bull Art of Motion" competition held at Firostefani on Santorini island on Saturday 8 October 2011. Fifteen top parkour and freerunning athletes from around the world took part in the unique race at what has been dubbed the "most natural" parkour track in the world, awing spectators with impressive strides over the white roofs of the houses of Santorini built on the cliff's edge of the famed volcanic Caldera of the popular Greek island. The 15 trauceurs took on Firostefani, enshrined as the "parkour paradise", with breath-taking tricks to a backdrop of the most famous sunset in the world, overtaking natural obstacles such as curves, voids and walls and defying gravity, completing the 200-meter-long course within 90 seconds and putting their personal mark on the race. Red Bull Art of Motion was first introduced as a competition in 2007 and has since turned into a state-of-the-art event in the Free Running community. (PHOTO: AMNA/Daniel Grund).

    [40] Armed robbery of bank money delivery

    Gunmen grabbed approximately 100,000 euros from a money delivery outside a National Bank branch in the Athens suburb of Neos Kosmos at 10:00 a.m. on Monday.

    The armed robbers approached the money delivery employees, wielding a pistol and a sledge-hammer, grabbed a sack with the money, and fled on a motorcycle.

    Police were searching for the robbers.

    [41] Three detained for armed break-ins, attacks on women

    Three foreign nationals were brought in to Greek police headquarters in central Athens for questioning on Monday, as suspects for a series of armed robberies targeting houses in the Attica area. They were detained after a coordinated police operation in Mesogia and Athens.

    Police suspect the three of belonging to the so-called "Kalashnikov gang" that broke into homes and is also implicated in abusing women. Their suspicions are based on evidence uncovered during their investigation but also a Kalashnikov rifle found in the house of one of the suspects.

    There is no positive confirmation yet, however, with further announcements due once the investigation is fully completed.

    Sources within the police said that the three were brought in after another woman was attacked and subjected to abuse within her home in Ilioupolis early on Sunday morning.

    In a later announcement, authorities said that additional evidence relating to the case was discovered in Koropi, where the 'Kalashnikov gang' had abandoned a Mercedes stolen from one of their victims, a foreign woman working as a diplomatic employee that was attacked, abused and robbed by the gang at her residence in Glyfada.

    Inside the vehicle, police found a nine-millimetre gun with a bullet in the chamber and another seven in the clip that are being tested by police crime labs.

    [42] Police shootout with drug smugglers on Greek-Albanian frontier

    Drug squad officers exchanged fire with drug smugglers on the Greek-Albanian frontier in the region of Konitsa on Monday, when the traffickers were spotted carrying six sacks loaded with cannabis in a car stolen.

    An exchange of gunfire with assault rifles subsequently erupted.

    A police roadblock outside the town of Konitsa led to the arrest of the driver, an Albanian national, while the co-driver escaped by fleeing into a forest.

    [43] Foreign nat'l, reputed armed robbery gang leader arrested

    An Albanian man, described as a prime suspect in a series of aggravated armed robberies in and around Athens, was arrested in Piraeus on Monday following a police investigation and a tip-off.

    The 30-year-old, aka "Tony", is the reputed leader of various armed gangs armed with trademark assault rifles (AK-47s) that specialise in the robbery of supermarkets, gas stations, newsstands and other businesses in the greater Athens area.

    The suspect, who is regarded as extremely violent, has also allegedly been involved in a shootout with police.

    The suspect is also accused of attempted homicide for opening fire on motorcycle police officers who were chasing a man believed to be the suspect after a robbery in November 2010.

    Four of his accomplices, all Albanian nationals, are also in custody.

    [44] Migrant smuggling arrests in Igoumenitsa

    Two alleged migrant smugglers, an 18-year-old Afghan and a 33-year-old Iraqi, were arrested in the extreme northwest port of Igoumenitsa on Monday on charges of attempting to smuggle four illegal immigrants aboard an Italy-bound ferry boat.

    The illegals were identified as two Afghans, an Iraqi and an Iranian.

    Weather Forecast

    [45] Rainy on Tuesday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 22C. Cloudy and rainy in Athens, with northerly 6-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 11C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 19C.

    [46] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and their commitment for a viable solution for Greece as well as the reported abolition of collective labour agreements, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Final solution by the end of October".

    AVRIANI: "Ruling PASOK 'reformists' are 'finishing off' Prime Minister George Papandreou".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They have secretly stolen the 'reserve laborers' lump sum retirement benefit".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "15 answers on the reserve labour, uniform payroll, grade scale".

    ESTIA: "Major responsibilities for the 'haircut'."

    ETHNOS: "Merkel, Sarkozy 'haircut' of the Greek debt in the dark".

    IMERISSIA: "Top-level agreement - Solution for Greece, banks and euro".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Merkel, Sarkozy seeking a viable and permanent solution".

    TA NEA: "Bargaining outside the barber shop".

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