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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-01-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 5 January 2012 Issue No: 3966
 Papademos: Danger of disorderly default if lending negotiations failPrime Minister Lucas Papademos appealed to social partners on Wednesday to quickly complete negotiations that will lead to an improvement of the economy's competitiveness and higher employment rates.
"Without such an agreement with the troika and the subsequent (envisioned) lending, Greece in March faces a direct danger of a disorderly default. Therefore, during the coming weeks, everything will be judged by our actions and decisions," he stressed.
The prime minister noted that one of the main demands by the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" is improved competitiveness and measures to combat unemployment.
 GSEE: No consensus on minimum wage, 13-14th salariesGreece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) on Wednesday ruled out all prospect of consensus on entitlements included in the current national collective agreement, such as the minimum wage or the 13th and 14th salaries in the private sector.
In statements after a meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Labour Minister George Koutroumanis on Wednesday, GSEE President Yiannis Panago-poulos stressed that the "minimum wage of the poor labourer is not negotiable and GSEE will not back down even one step".
Panagopoulos underlined that trade unions were not prepared to give their consent to any of the issues raised by the EU-IMF troika, which has pushed for the abolition of both the minimum wage and the 13th and 14th salaries, and would not allow employers to "take back" their signature.
During their meeting with the premier, which forms part of a lightning round of talks with trade unions and employers on labour and wage issues that was launched by Papademos on Wednesday, trade unionists also presented two further demands.
One was that a haircut of Greek debt should not involve government bonds held by state pension funds and, if this process went ahead, that there be a recapitalisation as applied for banks. The second was that the government launch policies to boost employment and fight unemployment, with Panago-poulos pointing out that there had been much talk but little action on this score so far.
According to GSEE sources, the prime minister avoided any commitment that legislation to settle labour and pay issues would not go ahead in the case that the social partners failed to reach an agreement.
 SEV support for Papademos gov'tThe head of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) on Wednesday reiterated his support towards the interim government headed by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, saying "it has undertaken a national salvation mission and will succeed only if it manages to overcome the phenomena of misunderstanding and treachery".
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Papademos, Dimitris Daskalopoulos said political parties and government ministers must have a single voice and have the duty to seek consensus. "If this doesn't happen, the people will put the blame on the current (coalition) partners," he added.
Daskalopoulos, heading a delegation of the federation, met for two hours with Papademos and his associates over labour relations, ahead of a crucial negotiation with the "troika" in mid-January.
Commenting on the issue of minimum wages, Daskalopoulos said: "the federation believes that social partners are mature to discuss a national agreement. For the minimum wage we believe it can be saved but at this difficult period we must see how to agree on the average labor cost in order to benefit competitiveness and employment".
 Employers' federation head: Creditors await deeds, not wordsGreece's creditors await deeds and not words to approve the release of the next bailout tranche of 89 billion euros, Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the head of Greece's largest employers' union warned that the danger of a complete national bankruptcy remained, and would only be removed after signing a new lending agreement. Such an agreement, he said, should envision an integrated action programme with specific structural reforms and deadlines.
 Return to drachma not an option for Greece, Juncker saysA return to the drachma is not an option for Greece, Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.
Speaking in a German radio network, Luxembourg's prime minister stated that the country's debt problem could be resolved without Greece leaving the Eurozone.
Juncker said details of a second support package for Greece, agreed by European leaders, would be finalised over the next few weeks after Athens completed its negotiations with private creditors over a 'haircut' in Greek state bonds.
"2012 is a key year for euro," Juncker said, adding that "at the end of the year it will become clear that we took the decisions which bring us closer to our target".
 Samaras: next elections can be held at end of MarchGreece's next general elections can take place at the end of March without affecting PSI or the signature of a new loan agreement, main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday, while addressing a meeting of ND's Executive Committee to discuss planning for the elections.
Once negotiations for the PSI were complete, another month would be required for the signature of a new loan agreement, Samaras stressed, meaning that elections could be held at the end of March.
Samaras said that his intention was to assist in restoring the sustainability of Greece's debt, which required the completion of the PSI process and the signature of a new loan agreement. He clarified that with the signature of the loan agreement, ND agreed to the general targets for the next three years for the elimination of the deficit, the reduction of the debt and boosting the competitiveness of the Greek economy.
ND's leader added that his intention was to help the government of Lucas Papademos to achieve its aims and finally resolve the problem concerning the sustainability of Greek debt. At the same time, he warned, ND would not put up with attempts to set conditions that everything be resolved within the brief transitional period of the Papademos government.
"If anyone tries to drag things out they will find us opposed. If some people want to play at party politics or internal party games, we will not participate. We want everyone to observe the goals that we set together. The Greek people will have an opportunity to decide on the government that will lead them from the crisis," he underlined.
He stressed that those fearing the judgement of the Greek people needed to accept that they could not avert the political legitimacy or the elections that the country needed.
Samaras repeated that many of the measures attempted in the last two years had failed to yield results, leading to an increase rather than a reduction of the deficit, and that some things had to change.
He stressed, however, that this was something that had to be negotiated by the next government.
On the issue of pensions, Samaras was categoric that the lowest pensions will be restored to their previous levels and that ND would not agree to any further slashing of pensions.
"Supplementary pensions were reduced twice and now they are seeking a third reduction, perhaps tomorrow a fourth or fifth, without even knowing how much the bond haircut will affect them. The issue of the viability of social insurance funds, especially supplementary pension funds, is something that we must look at comprehensively once the haircut that affects their revenues is completed," he pointed out.
On the deregulation of the hire truck sector that is due to be discussed by the cabinet on Thursday, Samaras said that ND had no objections to bringing forward the implementation of the law provided this was done with adherence to certain conditions that had been established.
"Otherwise, we will just demolish a sector of the economy. It will not be deregulated. It will be handed over to companies from third countries and not just the EU, something that doesn't happen anywhere in Europe," he pointed out.
 Papandreou says he will not stand for PM or PASOK leader in next electionsPASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing his party's political council meeting on Wednesday, said he will not be a candidate for prime minister or the party's leadership in any upcoming votes.
Specifically, Papandreou proposed that PASOK select a candidate that will lead the party into the next election via two methods -- i.e. by members of the party's Parliamentary group (its MPs in Parliament) or through another process that the party's internal organs will announce.
Following the election, Papandreou said a new PASOK president should be elected by the party's grassroots.
Lastly, Papandreou stressed that until the next election and election of a new party president he will remain at PASOK's helm.
 Papandreou cites confrontation with 'vested interests', clash with media groupPASOK leader and former premier George Papandreou on Wednesday reiterated that his party is "steadfast in the confrontation with vested interests", according to later statements by a PASOK spokesman.
The comments came after a high-profile PASOK political council meeting, where Papandreou announced that he will not stand as a candidate for prime minister in the next election.
According to former minister Panos Beglitis, Papandreou said his government in the two years it was in power "did not place importance on the causes of the (economic) crisis, and we were not steadfast in our confrontation with a system that was unproductive, statist and serpent-like; one that is responsible and involved for the Greek side of the crisis. We should have named these interests."
According to Beglitis, Papandreou referred to the president of the Lambrakis Press Organisation (DOL) Stavros Psycharis, who, as he said, applied for a 10-million-euro corporate loan from the National Bank of Greece.
Papandreou was quoted as saying that the issue of the loan wrongly reached his office, "as such issues must be determined with banking criteria ... and when he was briefed that the lending criteria were not fulfilled he said the loan must not be granted."
The PASOK president said a "clash" between his then government and the aforementioned media group headed by Psycharis began when the loan request was rejected.
Papandreou also referred to the ill-fated National Bank-Alpha Bank merger in the early 2000s, charging that it never materialised because, as he said, it was "undermined". No further details were given.
Finally, the PASOK leader referred to charges that one of his brothers was involved in Credit Default Swaps (CDS) speculation, hedging against a Greek sovereign default, stressing that from the moment that the accusation was made, the independent judiciary should have acted on its own accord.
Media group response
In a later written statement, Lambrakis Press Organisation (DOL) president Stavros Psycharis emphasised that "it is true that DOL requested a loan from National Bank, where it has been a customer for the past 90 years. National Bank said no, officially. Unofficially, they told us that it was not approved by the Maximos Mansion (the premier's office).
"It is evident that interventions in banks (management) against newspapers that do not satisfy the whims of those in power exhibit a fascist-like mentality ... It is self-evident that with power comes memory loss, even for completely recent events.
"The outgoing president of PASOK is asked to state under what conditions we met for the last time at the Maximos Mansion and why it was requested that we enter from the back door of the building. And who requested something from the other."
 LA.O.S' Karatzaferis on the Papademos governmentPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Wednesday underlined the importance of maintaining political stability at any cost to allow the present government to continue its work unobstructed.
Karatzaferis stated that prime minister Lucas Papademos was the last chance for the country and that "we will not have another chance".
He denied ever saying that he will withdraw his support from the present government, clarifying that he only said that he might withdraw his party's ministers.
Referring to the operation of the government, he said it will have to make swift decisions and stressed that its size should become smaller.
Karatzaferis also expressed doubts about the election date, stressing that on March 10 the government will have to win approval for the adoption of tough measures and the next day, the parliament will have to be dissolved to hold elections in less than a month on April 8.
 Foreign, environment ministries discuss national policy on energyIn a meeting held at the foreign ministry on Wednesday, foreign ministry and environment, energy and climate change ministry staff held talks on formulating a coordinated and integrated national policy on energy issues.
The meeting, attended by Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas and Environment Minister George Papaconstantinou at the head of delegations from each ministry, agreed to create a joint working group to tackle the issues involved.
Dimas noted that the meeting aimed at a coordinated energy policy able to deal with the problems, difficulties, challenges and opportunities that arose in constantly changing conditions on a global level.
They discussed projects for transferring energy from Russia and the Caspian Sea to Europe via Greece, exploration and exploitation of Greece's hydrocarbon reserves and the problems created by the situation in Iran.
Among the potential problems that may have to be faced is a drive by certain EU member-states, led by France, from sanctions against Tehran. If these include exports of Iranian oil, this is expected to create a major problem for Greece.
 FM to meet with UK MEP HowittForeign Minister Stavros Dimas will meet on Thursday with visiting UK MEP Richard Howitt, the European Parliament's rapporteur for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM). The meeting will take place at the foreign ministry.
 Yilmaz statements 'misinterpreted', Turkish minister says after meeting Greek FMThe statements made by former Turkish premier Mesut Yilmaz concerning the role of Turkish agents in setting forest fires in Greece during the 1990s were misinterpreted, Turkey's European Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis told reporters on Wednesday.
Bagis was replying to questions following his informal meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas, held during a private visit to Greece.
The Turkish minister noted that Yilmaz had himself issued a later statement indicating that he had been misunderstood. He also underlined that investigations carried out by the governments of both countries at the time had not found any evidence implicating either side.
He stressed that the raising of this issue was reawakening bad memories from the 90s when relations between the two countries were now much better.
Press sources said that Dimas asked Bagis for an investigation of the issue in order to avoid placing strain on relations between Greece and Turkey.
 Communist party head meets with TEE repsCommunist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday stated that the terms "wage cost and labor cost are not acceptable because without the workers, employees and wage earners there is no profit and therefore, no cost."
Papariga stated that smaller wages means that workers will have to pay larger social security contributions, while the cost of medicines, healthcare and education will increase leading to bigger profits and cheaper labour.
In a meeting with Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) representatives, the KKE general secretary underlined the party's opposition to the "systematic effort made in the name of the memorandum and the crisis to raise social security contributions paid by civil engineers and similar professions."
 Democratic Alliance leader demands briefing on debt haircut negotiationsDemocratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday demanded a full briefing from the finance ministry on the course of negotiations to decide a haircut of Greek public debt via a PSI bond-swap agreement.
Bakoyannis noted that one of the key problems of the economy was a lack of confidence that had frozen all new economic activity and deepened the recession, adding that the negotiations for the PSI played a major role in creating the economic climate.
"The responsibility for this negotiation belongs to the prime minister and the three political leaders participating in the cooperation government. Because the situation is exceptionally critical and the negotiation will determine the future of the country for very many years, the Democratic Alliance is asking the finance minister for a full briefing on its course," she said.
 Interior minister urges local authorities to 'reprioritise' spending for maximum social impactInterior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Wednesday advised mayors and regional authority heads to reprioritise their spending in 2012 in order to maximise its social impact and provide relief to citizens struggling with the economic crisis.
"Thousands of citizens are now unemployed or are struggling with significant cuts in their income and social support services," he pointed out.
He advised local government to keep spending on recreational events, promotional activity and related spending to the absolute minimum in order to save funds for activities with maximal social benefits, such as welfare or investment activities that create jobs and development prospects on a local level.
 Greentree talks aim at agreement on fundamental issues, Downer saysNICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)
The aim of the Greentree talks in New York is to reach agreement on fundamental issues of the Cyprus problem, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said on Wednesday.
The Greentree talks between UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and the leaders of the two communities on Cyprus are to take place on January 22-24.
If there was no agreement at the Greentree talks, then this would by definition lead to an impasse and the general secretary will then have to think about the next steps and discuss what must happen with the two leaders, Downer said.
The UN envoy noted that elements in the various chapters had been agreed but in some cases there was more work to be done.
"We really want to see this work done by the end of the Greentree meeting," he added.
If there was an agreement on the fundamental issues, then there would be a basic outline for an agreement concerning a solution to the Cyprus problem, with only the details left to be filled in.
He stressed that compromises had to be made and the issue to be settled was what those compromises would be, adding that it was not a question of time but an issue of politics and making decisions.
 Culture and Tourism minister visits GNTO headquarters for review of preceding yearCulture and Tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos visited the headquarters of the National Tourism Organisation of Greece (GNTO), where a review was made of the year that ended.
Special mention was made of the positive course in Greek tourism and the GNTO in past year, as well as the substantial rationalisation of expenditures achieved, in conjunction with the improved exploitation of available funds and optimum result of promotional activities conducted on a reduced budget.
During a meeting with GNTO secretary general George Koletsos and president Costas Zikos, the minister discussed the strategic plan and marketing issues for the new year, which includes an upgrading of the GNTO's role, and enhancement of Greece's image aboard.
 Greek businessmen pessimistic over economic developmentsThe vast majority of Greek businessmen are pessimistic over the course of the Greek economy and their personal finances, a survey showed on Wednesday. The survey, conducted by ALCO for the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), showed that 88 pct of respondent businessmen were pessimistic over economic developments while another 90 pct said they were pessimistic over their personal finances.
The survey also showed that a 65 pct of respondents expect their personal incomes to be reduced this year, while 71 pct said they were in favor of Greece remaining in the Eurozone and the euro currency.
Businessmen were divided in their views on the government's economic policy and efficiency, with 40 pct having a positive opinion, while 37 pct a negative opinion, while 25 pct of respondents declined to comment.
Businessmen were also divided over the necessity of having general elections in the short-term, with 40 pct saying there was no need for elections and 47 pct in favour of elections.
Commenting on the survey, EBEA's president Constantinos Mihalos said: "It is obvious that the efficiency of measures taken towards the recovery of the Greek economy were questioned by the majority of citizens. EBEA calls on the government to re-examine its mixture of policies and focus more on development measures".
 Civil servants union files motion against labour reserve measureThe Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and the Federation of Tertiary Education Administrative Staff filed motions with the Council of State on Wednesday over implementation of the controversial labour reserve measure in the public sector.
The unions charged that the measure is unconstitutional and contravenes EU law.
 Measures to upgrade merchant marine educationThe upgrading of merchant marine education and training is a major issue for Greek shipping, alternate minister of education Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos on Wednesday underlined, pledging that the abolished mercantile marine ministry will be re-established.
Speaking in a joint press conference with Arvanitopoulos, Deputy Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Minister Adonis Georgiadis said that the enactment of private merchant marine education is being considered with the backing of the Association of Greek Shipowners.
He also underlined that the private merchant marine schools will be supplementary to public merchant marine education.
 Business Briefs-- Emporiki Bank on Wednesday announced the successful completion of a share capital increase plan worth 2.0 billion euros, which was fully covered by its parent company Credit Agricole Group.
-- A total of six airline companies expressed an interest in a tender for 24 subsidised air routes to Greece's remote islands, filing bids with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) before the expiration of a deadline on Wednesday.
 Stocks end 0.5 pct downStocks ended moderately lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as an initial recovery proved short-lived because of a lack of follow-through buying.
The composite index of the market eased 0.50 pct to end at 662.29 points, after rising as much as 1.14 pct during the session. Turnover remained a very low 19.441 million euros.
The Big Cap index eased 0.24 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.79 pct lower and the Small Cap index dropped 1.0 pct. Titan (3.21 pct), Folli Follie (1.71 pct) and National Bank (1.37 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Marfin Popular Bank (5.24 pct), Hellenic Postbank (3.51 pct) and Motor Oil (3.10 pct) were top losers.
The Construction (2.43 pct) and Chemicals (1.64 pct) were top gainers, while Health (2.32 pct) and Oil (1.90 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 82 to 61 with another 26 issues unchanged. Unibios (25.81 pct), Zampa (25.55 pct) and Compucon (19.05 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (30 pct), Kathimerini (29.33 pct) and Hatzioannou (27.27 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.90%
Personal & Household: -0.04%
Raw Materials: -0.36%
Travel & Leisure: -0.20%
Food & Beverages: -0.74%
Financial Services: -0.89%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Coca Cola 3E.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.45
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.74
HBC Coca Cola: 13.05
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.36
National Bank of Greece: 1.48
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.31
Bank of Piraeus: 0.24
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.314
Pound sterling 0.843
Danish kroner 7.547
Swedish kroner 9.032
Japanese yen 100.92
Swiss franc 1.237
Norwegian kroner 7.816
Canadian dollar 1.335
Australian dollar 1.274
 International distinctions for University of CreteThe University of Crete was bestowed with two international distinctions for 2010-2011.
According to the list of Holland's University of Leiden, the Greek university is placed among the 200 top universities in the world, while it also placed among the top 500 in Times Higher Education list.
Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou met on Wednesday with the rector and gave her congratulations.
 Athens police raid illegal casino; 78 arrestsPolice raided an illegal casino in downtown Athens on Tuesday night and arrested 78 people for related charges, it was announced on Wednesday.
The private club operated in the basement of a building in central Athens' Patissia district and opened its doors only to member card holders.
Acting on a tip-off, police placed the illegal casino under surveillance for days and during the raid they arrested 36 local men, 43 Albanian nationals and a Bulgarian man. Among those arrested are the club operator, four employees and the "clients". Police confiscated 9,600 euros and 4,300 gambling tokens.
 Foreign nat'l arrested for forgery in IoanninaA 24-year-old Pakistani man was arrested on Wednesday on forgery charges in the northwest city of Ioannina.
The arrest was made during an identity check when the 24-year-old displayed a fake application for political asylum.
An investigation is underway to trace the source of the forged document.
 Man arrested for debts to public sector exceeding 1.0 million euroA 55-year-old man has been arrested for 1.054 million euro in overdue debts to the public sector, based on an arrest warrant issued by an Ioannina public prosecutor.
The man, the former owner of a marble trading company in Ioannina that is now closed, was arrested in the Athens district of Egaleo on Tuesday and is due to appear before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.
 Drug arrests in AthensA 47-year-old local woman was arrested on Tuesday in downtown Athens charged with drug dealing. Police found in her possession and confiscated 269 grams of heroin, 1,650 euros in cash, an electronic precision scale and a cell phone.
In a separate incident in Athens, a 26-year-old Mauritanian was arrested when police found in his possession one kilo and 305 grams of cannabis.
Both suspects were sent before a prosecutor.
 Super League resultsGames played for the Super League on Tuesday and Wednesday had the following results: Panionios Athens-Asteras Tripoli 2-0, PAS Yiannina-OFI Crete 0-0, AEK Athens-Doxa Drama 0-0, Ergotelis Crete-Xanthi 1-2, Kerkyra-Aris Thessaloniki 1-0, Panetolikos Agrinio-Panathinaikos Athens 1-1, PAOK Thessaloniki-Levadiakos Livadia 3-1 and Olympiacos Piraeus-Atromitos Athens 1-0.
Standings - Games Points
1. Olympiacos 15 36
2. Panathinaikos 13 30
3. AEK 15 29
4. PAOK 15 25
5. Xanthi 15 24
6. Atromitos 14 23
7. OFI 15 20
8. Ergotelis 15 18
9. Panionios 15 16
10. Panetolikos 13 16
11. Aris 13 14
12. Asteras 13 12
13. PAS Yiannina 13 11
14. Kerkyra 13 10
15. Levadiakos 9 9
16. Doxa 9 2
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -5C and 16C. Fair in Athens, with southerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 3C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 9C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime minister Lucas Papademos' scheduled round of meetings with the social partners on salaries, labour relations and social security issues, and pressure on Greece's creditors and government for a speedy completion of the deliberations on the 'haircut' of the Greek debt were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Malaria rampant among illegal migrants in Greece - Time bomb for public health".
AVGHI: "European Commission also belies them (government representative and ministers) on danger of Greece's exit from euro - Attempt to intimidate citizens and break down the people's resistance".
AVRIANI: "George (PASOK leader and former prime minister Papandreou) has not declared the pool he has built in the garden at his villa".
DEMOKRATIA: "I will burn you - Kapeleris 'fingers' Venizelos and Economou".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "11-day deadline for (new) cuts in salaries, pensions".
ESTIA: "Papademos must dare to do what the politicians did not all these years, in fear of the political cost".
ETHNOS: "Graft 'party' in Tax Bureau offices and customs houses".
IMERISSIA: "Without 'haircut', no loan".
KATHIMERINI: "Auxiliary pensions continue to divide government".
LOGOS: "Labour relations, salaries and social security are open issues".
NIKI: "Shave off 200-500 euros on repayment installments of mortgage loans".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone take part in the 17 January strike against the new anti-labour hurricane".
TA NEA: "Finance ministry gift: Payment of overdue debts in 60 installments of 100 euros".
VRADYNI: "Public sector: The five changes to retirement requirements".
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