|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-10-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 12 October 2011 Issue No: 3912
 Troika statement 'balanced, practical and positive,' Finmin saysFRANKFURT (AMNA)
The 6th tranche of EU-IMF bailout loans to Greece, amounting to eight billion euro, will most likely be disbursed in early November, the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Tuesday after receiving the report of the 5th EU-IMF review mission in Greece. The announcement noted that the Eurogroup and the IMF's Executive Board would first have to approve the conclusions of the fifth review.
In statements from Athens, Greek Finance Minister and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos said the troika's statement was "balanced, practical and positive" while noting that "political and economic time has become greatly condensed".
He underlined that all the things which the government had promised to do would have to be in place before the 6th tranche was disbursed and even before the Eurogroup summit on October 23.
The minister said that the next step for the country was not just to ensure disbursement of the 6th tranche but also the completion and activation of decisions made by EU leaders concerning Greece's debt on July 21, so that the new programme could begin to be implemented. He said that this would provide a final and convincing answer to the sustainability of Greece's public debt.
He emphasised the need to compensate for the delays in making structural changes and making sure that fiscal targets in 2012 were reached by producing the first primary surplus for the first time in years, meeting the obligations that Greece had undertaken toward its EU partners "with decisiveness and determination".
The full text released by the European Commission, ECB and IMF on Monday, following a fifth review mission to Greece, was as follows:
"Staff teams from the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have concluded their fifth review mission to Greece to discuss recent economic developments.
The mission has reached staff-level agreement with the authorities on the economic and financial policies needed to bring the governments economic program back on track.
Regarding the outlook, the recession will be deeper than was anticipated in June and a recovery is now expected only from 2013 onwards. There is no evidence yet of improvement in investor sentiment and the related increase in investments, in part because the reform momentum has not gained the critical mass necessary to begin transforming the investment climate. However, exports are rebounding albeit from a low base and a shift towards a more dynamic export sector, supported by a moderation of unit labor costs, should lead to more balanced and sustainable growth over the medium term.
Inflation has come down over the last year and is expected to remain below the euro area average in the period ahead.
In the fiscal area, the government has achieved a major reduction in the deficit since the start of the program despite a deep recession. However, the achievement of the fiscal target for 2011 is no longer within reach, partly because of a further drop in GDP, but also because of slippages in the implementation of some of the agreed measures.
As for 2012, the mission believes that the additional measures announced by the government, in combination with a determined implementation of the adjusted Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy, should be sufficient to bring the fiscal program back on track and ensure that the deficit target of EUR 14.9 billion will be met.
Looking to 2013-14, additional measures are likely to be needed to meet program targets. Such measures should be adopted in the context of an update of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy by mid-2012. To ensure that the program is growth-friendly, and in view of the ambitious assumptions regarding improvement in revenue administration already embedded in the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy, it is essential that such measures focus on the expenditure side.
In the area of privatisation, progress has been achieved with the creation of a professionally managed privatisation fund. However, delays in the preparation of the assets for privatisation, and to some extent worse market conditions, mean that revenues in 2011 will be significantly lower than expected. The government remains, however, committed to the revenue target of EUR 35 billion by the end of 2014. Ensuring that the privatisation fund remains independent from political pressures remains key for success in this area.
Banks have improved their capital base through market-based means. As evident from this weekends resolution of Proton Bank, the recent amendment of the banking law ensures that non-viable banks can be wound down while protecting depositors' interest and preserving the stability of the financial system.
As to structural reforms, areas of progress include the transport sector, licensing procedures, and regulated professions. As overall progress has been uneven, a reinvigoration of reforms remains the overarching challenge facing the authorities. In this regard, the decision to suspend the mandatory extension of sector-level collective agreements to the firm level is a major step forward, as it will help ensure the flexibility in the labour market needed to boost growth and prevent high unemployment from getting entrenched.
Overall, the authorities continue to make important progress, notably with regard to fiscal consolidation. To ensure a further reduction in the deficit in a socially acceptable manner and to set the stage for a recovery to take hold, it is essential that the authorities put more emphasis on structural reforms in the public sector and the economy more broadly.
The success of the program continues to depend on mobilizing adequate financing from private sector involvement (PSI) and the official sector. Ongoing discussions on PSI together with assurances provided by European leaders at their July 21 summit suggest that the program remains fully financed.
Once the Eurogroup and the IMF's Executive Board have approved the conclusions of the fifth review, the next tranche of EUR 8 billion (EUR 5.8 billion by the euro area Member States, and EUR 2.2 billion by the IMF) will become available, most likely, in early November."
 FinMin: Approval of 6th tranche likely ahead of Oct. 23 eurozone summitGreek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said on private television late Monday night that ratification by parliament of the ministry's new omnibus bill containing the recently announced measures on a new salary scale in the public sector, reserve labour, cutbacks in tax exemptions and reliefs and labour issues is a necessary prerequisite for approval of the disbursement of the 8 billion euros 6th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan, as well as the structural changes that need to be materialised by the end of October.
He said that the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika', which would depart Athens "most likely" on Tuesday, will require approximately 10 days to draft its progress report on the Greek economy.
He further said that the disbursement of the 6th tranche could be approved by the Eurogroup, possibly in a telephone conference, ahead of the October 23 eurozone summit.
The minister also expressed certainty that the country would achieve a 3.2 billion euros primary surplus in 2012, noting that the 2012 state budget has undergone scrutiny by the troika.
 Venizelos to MPs: 'if you don't agree, topple the government'Finance Minister and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday challenged ruling party MPs to topple the government if they don't agree with what it's doing, sources within the PASOK party said.
"If you think the government is ineffective and has no moral basis for the things it is doing then topple it," Venizelos said during a meeting of the party's Parliamentary working groups for interior and economic affairs concerning a draft bill for the uniform public-sector wage scale and labour reserve measures.
Venizelos also underlined that Greece's European partners were handling the country's debt, while Greece's job was to tackle the deficit and the necessary structural reforms.
The party's working group interrupted its session, which will continue after 7:00 p.m.
 PM completes consecutive meetings with Inner Cabinet ministersPrime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday held a series of meetings with leading Inner Cabinet ministers, including Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, Agriculture Minister Costas Skandalidis, Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis and infrastructures, transport and networks minister Yiannis Ragoussis.
The ministers were briefed on the ongoing backstage negotiations between the Eurozone countries that take place following the meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the Greek debt in view of the Oct. 23 Eurozone summit.
The current political situation was also discussed and the increased social reactions to the government decisions. The premier and most of his ministers were against holding snap elections and convening the Political Party Leaders' Council under the President of the Republic.
They also agreed that the government work should be accelerated in the sectors of health, education, and in the opening of the "closed-off" professions.
 PM Papandreou to chair cabinet meeting on WednesdayPrime Minister George Papandreou will chair a cabinet meeting at 11 in the morning on Wednesday that will discuss, among other issues, the issue of the deregulation of transport, including the taxi profession.
The prime minister will also continue his private meetings with government members on Wednesday. At 10:30 in the morning he will meet government Vice President Theodoros Pangalos and at 3 in the afternoon Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis.
 Gov't presents 'picture of confusion', ND spokesman saysThe government was "absent" from developments, was not negotiating anything and even its own members were not being briefed about what was going on, main opposition New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis said on Tuesday, attacking the government's stance and inaction during the ongoing debate about a haircut of Greek debt.
He accused the government of presenting a picture of confusion, with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos contradicting government spokesman Ilias Mossialos on the same issues.
"Which of the two is lying? Venizelos who claims to know about the talk on a debt haircut or Mossialos, who categorically states that no such issue has been put to the government?"
Mihelakis noted that the government spokesman had already revealed on October 5 that the discussion about a higher debt haircut was being carried out without Greece's involvement, insisting that neither the prime minister nor any part of the government had participated in such discussions and that no such issue had been raised in Papandreou's talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Concerning ND's own position, Mihelakis said that "the ideal would be to implement the decisions of July 21" and that any other discussion should also assess the impact on banks and the social insurance funds. He stressed that ND could not express any other opinion without having being briefed and also noted that this discussion was damaging.
The spokesman referred to a question on rising crime rates tabled in Parliament by ND leader Antonis Samaras on Monday, noting that crime had reached unprecedented levels, with armed robberies a daily occurrence, people murdered for a handful of euros and armed break-ins into people's homes.
"The government bears huge responsibility and the prime minister cannot remain silent on this issue," he stressed.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras demands list of state debtors, owners of Swiss bank accountsCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday demanded that the government release a list of some 3,800 entities and individuals that owe more than 100,000 euro to the state, as well as a CD with the names of Greeks with sizeable Swiss bank accounts.
Tsipras made the demand in the form of a question for the prime minister tabled in Parliament, in the light of statements made by former deputy finance minister Dimitris Kouselas. He accused the government of creating armies of unemployed, imposing ever more onerous taxation and leading the people to painful sacrifices, while at the same time showing provocative inertia toward the rich with huge Swiss bank accounts, allowing them to get off scot-free without striving to open their accounts and ascertain whether their wealth was legally acquired or declared.
 Health Minister on spending cuts in sectorHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday underlined that the ministry's volition to guarantee the Greek system of free access to hospitals, in response to negative reports in foreign media alleging that the economic crisis has made the National Health System (ESY) virtually inaccessible to the Greek people.
In a press conference focusing on the work done over the past year, Loverdos referred to cutbacks in pharmaceutical expenditures, pointing out that medicine cost for Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) - Greece's largest social insurance fund - was down 150 million euros in 2010. The reduction for the rest social insurance funds and the health ministry was 750 million euros.
Loverdos underlined that 1 billion euros will be saved in 2012 and 2.5 billion euros in 2013, reducing medicine cost to 2004 levels.
As regards e-tenders for hospital pharmaceutical supplies, he stressed that the cost reduction in the first auction was 85 pct compared with the initially estimated procurement cost. A second e-tender for 13 pharmaceutical substances has already been launched with a budget of 95 million euros, while a third e-tender will be completed on Oct. 31.
Referring to the ESY operating cost reduction, recorded during the past year, he stressed that spending was down 400 million euros in 2010 and 500 million euros in 2011.
The health minister underlined that more spending cuts are possible and used as an example cosmetic plastic surgery operations made in public hospitals that cost 2,000 euros with the surgeons using the hospital facilities and supplies. "Such illegal behaviors continue," he said, adding that public health inspectors are investigating similar cases and that he has personally notified the first-instance court head public prosecutor Eleni Raikou.
 ND vice president Avramopoulos to visit Washington and NYNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos will visit Washington and New York on October 12-16.
Avramopoulos will hold meetings in the US capital with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin, Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the managing director of "Brookings Institution" Bill Antholis.
On this coming Saturday, Avramopoulos will meet in New York with Archbishop of America Demetrius and expatriate businessmen.
 Special independent com't to redefine role of public mediaA Special Independent Committee has been assigned the task of redefining the role of public-rum media following a decision by Minister of State Elias Mossialos, who also holds the media portfolio, it was announced on Tuesday.
The committee is made up of university professors and will focus exclusively on the preparation of proposals for the creation of a modern model of governance while safeguarding the public character of ERT S.A. radio and television.
The decision is placed within the framework of the government initiative concerning the reorganisation of ERT S.A., according to a statement issued by the minister of state.
An advisory team of international experts is also set up to offer technical assistance to the special independent committee. The team is made up of foreign mass media experts.
 Minister promotes investments to French entrepreneursPARIS (AMNA / Olympia Tsipira)
Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Tuesday urged French business leaders to invest in Greece, saying that the country was radically changing to "adopt a new productivity model, more competitive, more export-orientated and more friendly to enterprises".
Addressing an event in Paris organised by the French-Hellenic Chamber on investment opportunities in Greece, Chryssohoidis stressed that a new investment law offered significant investment incentives, new services while it eliminated bureaucratic procedures.
"We began a major effort," the Greek minister said, adding that German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler recently visited Greece and signed a memorandum of understanding envisaging efforts to attracting large and medium-sized investments to Greece.
Chryssohoidis said that similar contacts have been made with the Dutch government. He noted that French enterprises were the second largest investor in Greece, with investments in the real economy with long-term planning, and stressed that Greece was currently in need of serious medium-term investments - the main characteristic of French investments.
Chryssohoidis met with the heads of the Oseo investment bank, a state bank used to finance innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises, the head of MEDEF - France's employers' union - and with the board of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development OECD).
 Venizelos: Greek banking system is secureFinance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday announced that development are expected in the coming days on the state's real property linked with the tourism and energy sectors, during his address at the "Greece, Mediterranean and the Arabic World" Conference organised by the Progressive Policy Research Center in Athens.
The minister also underlined that the Greek banking system is secure and that the banks will not be nationalised.
He also noted Greece's important presence in the energy sector adding that "the Arabic world has a major presence in the latter sector and Greece on its part has a substantial role in the networks policies".
Venizelos reiterated that Greece is and will remain a member of the eurozone, underlining at the same time the US's and other EU members' important role in the Greek crisis.
According to Venizelos, Greece's presence in the eurozone "is not under negotiation, neither by us nor by them. We have found powerful allies in the US and in our EU partners".
Speaking later at a meeting of the party's parliamentary committee on internal and economic affairs, Venizelos said that there will be agreement with the parliamentary parties and parliament president for the vote on the omnibus bill to take place before October 23, when a eurozone summit is scheduled.
 Greece's liquidity is guaranteed with the July 21 Eurozone Bailout AgreementGreece's liquidity will be guaranteed for the next decade if the terms of the July 21 Eurozone Bailout Agreement are not changed for the new loan, a senior finance ministry official on Tuesday said.
The country's needs for the specific period of time are estimated to 80-90 billion euros, while the loan will be 109 billion euros, the official clarified.
However, all pending issues, such as, the labour reserve measure, the unified pay scale in the public sector, labour relations, the deregulation of the so-called "closed professions", the adoption of new taxation system, etc., will have to be settled by the government through a parliamentary vote.
The troika (EC-ECB-IMF) report on the Greek economy is likely to be announced before the Eurozone Summit meeting on Oct. 23, the ministry of finance official added.
 Civil servants continue sit-ins at ministries, public servicesGreek civil servants in Athens on Tuesday continued an ongoing flurry of sit-ins at ministries and public services, protesting the planned introduction of a uniform salary scale in the public sector.
Employees blocked off the entrances to buildings housing the interior and development ministries, the pensions directorate of the General State Accounts Office, and the social security informatics directorate.
Sit-ins were also staged at two hospitals -- the Sotiria and Athens General State hospitals -- in the Greek capital, while throughout the country employees held sit-ins at municipal buildings and garages, and Town Halls.
Municipal employees were due to hold a protest rally shortly after noon in central Athens, and from there march to parliament and the interior ministry.
The panhellenic federation of local government employees has decided to continue its mobilisations until October 19, when a 24-hour nationwide labour strike has been called by the country's two main umbrella federations GSEE and ADEDY, representing the private and public sector respectively.
 Hellenic Petroleum workers suspend strikeThe Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) workers strike has been suspended, according to a decision by the workers' union taken unanimously on Tuesday evening.
"The Labour Contract determining the remuneration and labour terms continues to apply as it has been agreed. The government's omnibus bill excludes ELPE," the union said. "Before the development of the change of the bill, the Union in an extraordinary session decided unanimously this afternoon 11/10/11 the suspension of the strike."
 Lines form outside fuel stations as refinery workers launch strikeEmployees in Greece's refineries on Tuesday launched a strike, causing long queues outside fuel stations as drivers rushed to fill up their gas tanks in fear of shortages on the market in the event the strike is continued for several days.
Many fuel stations in Athens had already exhausted their reserves by noon.
 Seamen announce 48-hour strike on Oct. 17-18The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation PNO on Tuesday announced a 48-hour rolling strike starting on October 17 and ending at 6:00 a.m. on October 19, during which no ships of any class will set sail from any Greek port or harbour.
The head of the PNO said the federation will hold a meeting on October 18 in order to decide whether another 48-hour strike will follow. If the strike action does continue, it is likely to cause serious problems in getting supplies to many Greek islands.
PNO had warned the appropriate Greek ministries at the end of September that strike action was pending unless its basic demands were met. The union accused the government of conducting a full-frontal assault on the social insurance entitlements of Greek seamen, both working and retired, blaming the country's difficulties on Greece entering the European Support Mechanism and the laws implementing the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy.
The union federation is demanding that the seamen's pension and social insurance fund NAT continue to receive funding from the state budget and that current benefits be preserved as they now stand. It also demands security for Greek seamen's jobs, improvements in training and action against unemployment.
It goes on to demand new negotiations for collective labour agreements, since seamen's pay has been stuck at the same levels since 2010 and the preservation of a Special Fund for Seamen's Family Benefits as a private, independent body financed through the contributions of ship-owners and seamen.
 Dock workers decide work stoppage, two strikesDock workers throughout the country on Tuesday decided to hold a work stoppage from the start of their shift until 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, as well as two 24-hour strikes on October 18 and 19. The first strike will coincide with strike action by public utilities and public-sector enterprises, while that on October 19 will coincide with a nationwide general strike called by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).
The strike was decided in protest against the new uniform wage scale and the labour reserve measure that is due to be voted on in Parliament.
 Greek inflation rose to 3.1 pct in SeptGreek inflation rose to 3.1 pct in September from 1.7 pct in August reflecting increases in housing and transportation prices (electricity bills, natural gas and petrol), the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a monthly report, attributed this development to a 2.2-pct increase in food/beverage prices, a 5.8-pct rise in alcohol/tobacco prices, a 2.8-pct increase in clothing/footwear, an 8.3-pct rise in housing prices, a 0.8-pct rise in durable goods, a 4.8-pct increase in transportation prices, a 0.6-pct rise in communications, a 2.9-pct rise in hotel/coffee/restaurant prices and a 2.7-pct increase in other goods and services.
On the other hand, health prices fell 0.7 pct, leisure was down 0.3 pct and education prices fell 0.4 pct in September.
The inflation rate was up 5.6 pct in September 2010. The consumer price index rose 3.3 pct in September compared with August, after an increase of 1.9 pct recorded in the same period last year.
Greece's harmonised inflation rate rose to 2.9 pct in September from 1.4 pct in August and 5.7 pct in September 2010.
 State raises 1.3 bln euros from T-bills auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue, raising 1.3 billion euros from the market at a slightly higher rate.
The Public Debt Management Organization, in an announcement, said bids submitted totaled 2.725 billion euros, 2.73 times more than the asked sum, while the interest rate of the issue was set at 4.86 pct, up from 4.80 pct in the same auction last month.
The settlement date was set for Friday, Oct. 14.
The organization said it accepted non-competitive bids worth 300 million euros, while additional non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum were expected to be submitted by Thursday, Oct. 13.
 Athens hotels occupancy rates up in AugustAthens' hotel room occupancy rates rose substantially in August 2011, boosted by a 1.13 pct increase in comparison with August 2010.
According to the Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation, the occupancy rates in 4-star hotels jumped 24.40 pct in August, while in 5-star hotels it was up 2.7 pct in the same month.
Moreover, the average occupancy rates rose to 63.10 pct for 4-star hotels from 50.70 percent in 2010, to 57.50 pct for 5-star hotels from 55.90, while occupancy rates fell 10.5 pct in 2-star and 3-star hotels, falling to 60.60 percent and 67.70 percent respectively compared with 2010.
 Business Briefs-- Demand for electrical power rose 2.6 pct in September compared with the same month last year, although demand remained negative in the January-September period, recording a decline of 2.49 pct, official figures showed on Tuesday.
-- The number of active users of social media in Greece continued rising this year, with Facebook users totaling 1.5 million, Youtube users totaling 340,000 and Twitter users at 85,000, a report by InNews SA showed on Tuesday.
 Stocks plunge to lowest levels since June 1993Stocks plunged to their lowest levels since June 1993 at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by a wave of selling in bank shares amid worries of a larger-than-expected 'haircut' of Greek debt, combined with concerns over developments in the domestic banking sector.
The Bank index plunged 13.18 pct to end at its lowest level since early 1990. The composite index of the market fell 1.97 pct to end at 725.45 points, while turnover remained a low 51.873 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 3.92 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.63 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 2.13 pct. MIG (16.18 pct), Titan (6.42 pct), Mytilineos (3.33 pct) and OTE (1.61 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Postbank (28.02 pct), Eurobank (20 pct), Piraeus Bank (19.26 pct), Alpha Bank (19.42 pct) and National Bank (15.79 pct) were top losers.
The Financial Services (10.53 pct), Construction (4.79 pct) and Raw Materials (2.22 pct) scored gains, while the Bank (13.18 pct), Insurance (6.82 pct) and Technology (5.88 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 97 to 52 with another 20 issues unchanged. Audiovisual (30 pct), Mohlos (16.22 pct) and MIG (16.18 pct) were top gainers, while Xylemporia (29.86 pct), TBank (28.57 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (28.02 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.84%
Personal & Household: +0.37%
Raw Materials: +2.22%
Travel & Leisure: -1.99%
Food & Beverages: -0.04%
Financial Services: +10.53%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola 3E and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.83
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.41
HBC Coca Cola: 12.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.01
National Bank of Greece: 1.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.56
Bank of Piraeus: 0.25
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell slightly to 15.96 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 16.04 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.04 pct and the German Bund 2.08 pct. There was no transactions in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate was 2.10 pct, the six-month rate 1.77 pct, the three-month rate 1.57 pct and the one-month rate 1.36 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.09 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining a low 20.185 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9.580 contracts worth 13.755 million euros, with 21,411 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 45,445 contracts worth 6.430 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (19,029), followed by Eurobank (1,689), MIG (3,499), OTE (1,185), OPAP (833), Piraeus Bank (5,566), GEK (3,458), Alpha Bank (5,591), ATEbank (987), Hellenic Postbank (808) and Cyprus Bank (835).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.381
Pound sterling 0.883
Danish kroner 7.555
Swedish kroner 9.257
Japanese yen 105.82
Swiss franc 1.256
Norwegian kroner 7.897
Canadian dollar 1.419
Australian dollar 1.388
 Mycenaean tomb discovered on Ionian Sea isletFindings unearthed by archaeologists in the southern half of the Ionian islet of Meganissi, southeast of the holiday island of Lefkada, are of major scientific, historical and cultural value, experts said on Tuesday.
Excavations in the region of Kefali over the past two years brought to light an untouched Mycenaean-era tomb. According to reports, there is evidence that archaeologists have in fact discovered a complex of Mycenaean tombs.
The Teleboans island complex, where Meganissi belongs, are the remnants of a larger peninsula that existed in pre-Classical antiquity, according to archaeologists.
The area where the excavations are taking place belongs to a British company, the majority shares of which are owned by banker Lord Rothschild.
 Ecumenical Patriarch inaugurates Lagada sewage treatment plantEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Tuesday inaugurated a sewage treatment plant in the Thessaloniki district Lagada, during a visit to the northern Greek city that began on Monday.
Local officials said the sewage treatment plant was among the biggest infrastructure projects in the area and was completed in 2002 but had not been able to operate because there had been no provision to link the plant with the city's sewage network.
This had caused extensive problems with pollution in the region, especially for Lake Koronia that received much of the urban sewage.
The Patriarch went on to inaugurate a research centre for Alzheimer's and the study of old age, again in Lagada, and a hall named after him at the International Academy of Theological and Philosophical Studies 'Sts Cyril and Methodius'.
After concluding his visit to Lagada on Tuesday, the Patriarch is due to return to Fanar, Istanbul on Wednesday morning. His tour of northern Greece, including a visit to Mount Athos, was held to mark the 20th anniversary since his enthronement as Patriarch.
 Social media users in Greece exceed 1.5 million, survey showsMore than one in 10 Greeks is an active user of social media such as Facebook or Twitter, according to a survey unveiled on Tuesday by the firm InNews SA. According to this, there are 1.5 million active Facebook users - out of a population of just under 11 million based on a 2011 census. Another 340,000 are active users of Youtube while roughly 85,000 have Twitter accounts.
The figures were based on measurements conducted in the second and third trimester of 2011, using a special platform (Intelligent Social Network Platform) that allows InNews to monitor and analyse the freely available information posted by Greeks on social network sites.
Active users are considered those who post information or comments and allow open access to at least part of their account.
The survey showed that Greek Twitter users are the most active and post roughly 180,000 tweets a day, or more than two posts a day per user. On other networks, users post comments or information about once a week.
Specifically, Greek Facebook users post 240,000 status updates and comments a day, while there are 50,000 daily comments and videos by Youtube users.
InNews will be presenting its methodology at a Social Media seminar organised by FIBEP in Brussels on October 13.
 Archaeological sites, museums closed due to strike on Wed. and Thurs.Archaeological sites, museums and Culture and Tourism Ministry services will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday, 12 and 13 October, due to a 48-hour strike called by the Panhellenic Federation of Culture Ministry Employees
According to an announcement, the employees are protesting the government's measure of reserve labour, the cutbacks in their salaries within the framework of the uniform salary scale in the public sector, and the merger and unification of the ministries' agencies within the context of rationalisation of expenditures.
Moreover, they demand an increase in financing for culture and tourism via the national and European funds.
 Public transport employees to hold 48-hour strike on Thursday and FridayPublic transport employees have finalised their decision on escalating their strike action.
Consequently, on Thursday and Friday, October 13 and 14, all public transport means will be immobilised, while the employees have scheduled a protest rally at 11 in the morniong on Thursday that will be followed by a march to Parliament.
 Work stoppage in Attica courtsThe Federation of Judicial Employees of Greece has announced a two-hour work stoppage in all Attica courts on Thursday, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. During the strike action there will be a protest rally outside the Administrative Reform ministry on Vassilisis Sofias Street.
The judicial employees are demanding that the government immediately withdraw plans to apply the uniform public-sector wage and rank scale, the abolition of all laws that undermine social insurance entitlements and the exemption of court secretariats from the 10:1 rule for departures to hirings, as well as a fairer taxation system.
 Drug trafficking ring dismantledA female Greek police officer working undercover played an instrumental role in the dismantling of an Albanian drug trafficking ring that smuggled cannabis into Greece, it was announced on Tuesday.
Police in Athens arrested a 20-year-old Albanian, the recipient of the drugs in Greece, and confiscated 162.2 kilos of unprocessed cannabis, as well as a private car used to transport the illegal cargo. The suspect's accomplices are still being sought.
The ring leader has been identified and is wanted in Albania where he resides.
In a separate case, police arrested a 31-year-old Albanian national in the district of Nikea, greater Athens region, after finding in his possession 2 kilos and 297 grams of the explosive TNT , two detonators, a slow-burning fuse and a pistol.
The suspect is a drug addict and police believe that the explosives belonged to another individual.
 Public prosecutor intervenes over uncollected refuse in AthensThe head of the first-instance court public prosecutors Eleni Raikou on Tuesday ordered a preliminary investigation to determine why refuse was not being collected in Athens, so that mounds of rubbish collected in the streets.
Raikou has called the heads of Attica municipalities in order to explain why rubbish is not being collected when the workers have not declared an official strike.
 Two migrants killed, eight injured in road accident near KavalaTwo illegal migrants from Iran were killed and eight others were injured in a traffic accident at dawn Tuesday on the Egnatia Highway near Kavala.
According to local police, they received information of an operation by two migrant smugglers to convey nine illegal migrants by jeep from Komotini to Kavala and, lacking time to launch a coordinated operation they set up two road blocks on Egnatia Highway on the border of the Kavala administrative region.
The jeep managed to evade the first roadblock, at the Aspri Ammo turnoff, and sped away, but overturned further down along the highway.
Four of the passengers initially escaped into a nearby forest but became trapped and required the assistance of the Fire Department. Of the four, one was seriously injured and died en route to hospital.
A second migrant died on the spot in the accident, and eight others suffered lighter injuries.
 Lawyers announce 7-day nationwide strike from ThursdayGreek bar associations throughout the country on Tuesday announced a nationwide lawyers' strike from October 13 until October 19. A coordinating committee for the local bar associations made the decision during an emergency meeting convened immediately after a meeting held on Tuesday with the justice ministry's leadership that ended in deadlock.
 Greece beats Georgia 2-1, qualifies for EURO 2012 finalsTBILISI (ANA-MPA)
Greece beat Georgia 2-1 in a EURO 2012 Group 6 game played here on Tuesday evening, winning first place in the group and qualifying for the finals that will be taking place in Ukraine and Poland.
Georgia went into the lead with Targamadze 19', but Fotakis 79' and Haristeas 85' sent Greece to the EURO finals for the third consecutive time.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 25C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 11C to 23C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 9C to 20C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe cutbacks in the public sector's special salary scales and the losses in bank stocks on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) as well as Proton Bank's nationalisation, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras did not mince his words, set out the problem in its true dimensions".
AVGHI: "Caretaker government".
AVRIANI: "Samaras demands elections immediately".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The warning bell sounds for doctors, judges and armed forces staff (so-called special salary scales)".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Samaras' answer to co-governance scenarios: They must go if we want to be saved".
ESTIA: "Rescue for Greece exists".
ETHNOS: "Sweeping law on the special salary scales as well".
IMERISSIA: "Banks' 'haircut' on ASE - Panic over the rumours of a large 'haircut'."
KATHIMERINI: "The German secret plan terrifies".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Proton bank sparks crisis in banking market".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Debt 'haircut' to bring more suffering to the people".
TA NEA: "Ceiling on special salary scales".
 Christofias: Eroglu reneged on earlier positions on governanceNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
The Turkish Cypriot leader submitted counter-proposals on the issue of governance which he should not have done, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias said in statements after Tuesday's meeting with Eroglu, in the framework of direct negotiations aiming to solve the Cyprus problem.
"We continued the discussion today (Tuesday). I wish that on Friday, at my next meeting with Dervis Eroglu, we will conclude on the economy and internal security, but I say that I wish, I am not sure," he added.
"From there on discussion on the most important issues will continue - property, territory, governance. We believe that on these issues we have concluded the discussion on the most important issues but unfortunately the Turkish side reneged on its earlier positions," he added.
Christrofias also said that they will have three more meeting until this round of talks ends and they go to New York for their meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the end of October.
Asked if Eroglu has rejected the Greek Cypriot side's proposals on the issue of governance, Christofias said that he cannot say that he rejected them. "He made counter-proposals he shouldn't have made," he said.
The president declined to comment on statements by the so-called foreign minister of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Cyprus' occupied areas that there will not be territorial adjustments as regards Morphou and Famagusta, saying he does not recognise him and therefore does not comment on his remarks.
Asked about the chapter on EU issues, Christofias said they did not discuss it on Tuesday and that the issue is pending.
Peace talks began in September 2008 with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that would reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Leaders discuss EU, economy and internal security, UN envoy says
Tuesday's meeting between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus in the framework of the ongoing UN led talks focused on EU, the economy and internal security issues, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer has said.
In a short statement to the press after a five hour long meeting, Downer noted that "it has been a pretty productive meeting", adding that "they will meet again on Friday and the meetings after that next week are on Wednesday and the following Friday".
"We are looking forward to continuing this constructive process", he said.
Replying to a question on whether there has been any "give and take" in the talks Downer stressed that "we try to avoid getting ourselves bogged down in semantic debates", adding that "a peace process can be overwhelmed with debate about semantics, about words and phrases and the meanings of words and phrases".
"It's been our assessment that today's meeting has been a pretty useful meeting, a lot of different ideas and views that have been exchanged; I think that our overall take is that it has been constructive," he added.
According to Downer, the two sides have slightly different styles of negotiation, neither one being better than the other.
"I think that it's proved to be quite productive today", he reiterated.
Invited to say what is going to happen in New York where the two leaders are expected to meet with the UN SG Ban Ki-moon end of October, Downer said that the UN SG "himself wants to make up his mind how he is exactly going to handle it once he has seen what the leaders have achieved by the end of their meeting on the 21st of October".
"We are three meetings short of that", he noted, adding that at this stage he doesn't make any predictions to the UN SG about where the two leaders will get to by the end of the last meeting on October 21.
"I simply don't know the answer to that", he said.
Downer added that he will provide the UN SG with some advice once the meetings are over and he will then make up his mind on how to handle the meeting with the two leaders in New York, due to probably take place on October 30 and 31.
Downer said that the UN SG's current thinking is to have the meeting over two days.
Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974. UN led talks have been underway between the two leaders since 2008 with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.
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