|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-05-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 31 May 2012 Issue No: 4084
 Commission calls on Greece to implement agreed measures; Rehn reactionBRUSSELS (AMNA)
The Greek economy continues to contract and short-term growth rates have been further revised downwards. It is estimated that the economy contracted by 6.9 percent in 2011. The recovery previously announced for next year will be further delayed with, at best, a stagnation of activity in 2013. It is only in 2014 that positive annual growth rates are expected to return, the European Commission said in its report on the Greek economy.
In a report on jobs and growth in the Eurozone, the Commission said that following a request from Greece in April 2010 and negotiations with the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF the European Council on 2 May 2010 agreed an economic adjustment programme for Greece covering the period 2010-13. A second economic adjustment programme was agreed by the European Council on 13 March 2012 covering the period 2012-14.
The overarching objective of that second programme is to durably restore Greece's credibility for private investors by ensuring fiscal sustainability, safeguarding the stability of the financial system, and boosting growth and competitiveness.
Greece made mixed progress towards achieving the ambitious objectives of the first adjustment programme and important fiscal targets were not met. Several factors hampered implementation: political instability, social unrest, issues related to administrative capacity and a recession that was much more severe than previously projected. Additional consolidation measures were therefore adopted throughout 2010 and 2011.
However, Greece substantially reduced the general government deficit between 2009 and 2011. The adjustment is much bigger than most other cases of fiscal consolidation in EU countries in the past. Large-scale financial assistance from the international community compensates for the fact that Greece is not expected to be able to return to market financing over the next three years.
Greece will need to use that time to underpin its fiscal consolidation measures by implementing structural fiscal reforms to generate expenditure savings on a durable basis and structural reforms to boost growth will need to be accelerated to improve competitiveness.
The report recommends that Greek must implement the measures laid down in Council Decision 2011/734/EU of 12 July 2011, as amended on 8 November 2011 and 13 March 2012, and the Memorandum of Understanding on specific economic policy.
Meanwhile, Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn, speaking during a press conference here, reiterated the need for commitments to be observed on the part of Athens and of its eurozone partners, in presenting the European Commission's recommendations for the improvement of the 27 EU member-states' competitiveness.
Asked which points of the memorandum could constitute an object of renegotiating with the Greek side, Rehn declined to comment, merely saying that Greece is experiencing a period of "pre-election democracy" and that he himself respects democracy.
He stressed, however, that the second adjustment programme is aimed at bringing Greece back into an orbit of recovery and that it constitutes a kind of "solidarity pact" between Greece and the remaining 16 members of the eurozone.
 Senior U.S. Treasury official conveys Obama's support for crisis-hit GreeksFollowing meetings with Greek officials in Athens, U.S. Under Secretary for the Treasury for International Affairs Lael Brainard on Wednesday said she had conveyed the support of the United States and U.S. President Barack Obama for the Greek people, noting that they were making heavy sacrifies as they carried out reforms to reduce the country's debt and deficit.
"Greece is an old friend and ally of the United States. As President Obama said, we are fully aware of the Greek people's difficult sacrifices at this crucial time. The Greek people are carrying out major reforms in order to restore competitiveness and a sustainable fiscal position. We stand by the side of the Greek people as they continue their commitment to the road of reforms," Brainard said.
During her visit to Athens accompanied by U.S. Treasury's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia Christopher Smart, Brainard held talks with interim finance minister Georgios Zannias concerning Greece and Europe on Tuesday and met the leaders of Greek political parties.
 Papoulias expresses thanks to Obama administration for supportPresident Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday asked a visiting American Hellenic Institute (AHI) delegation to convey to US President Barack Obama his appreciation for the US administration's support to Greece amid the current economic crisis.
"I express my thanks to President Obama for the support offered by the Americans to Greece in this difficult time," Papoulias said, adding that "such issues have a special interest for the United States because the crisis in Europe affects the United States."
He said that overcoming the crisis soon will benefit all and referring to developments in Greece he said "I believe that after a government is formed we'll see better days."
Papoulias also thanked the Greek-American delegation for promoting Greek interests and positions and for strengthening the Greek-US relations.
On their part, the delegation briefed Papoulias on the initiatives undertaken, including a visit to Israel.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras says upcoming elections last crucial referendum on memorandumRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing a rally in the Athens district of Keratea on Wednesday evening, said that "on June 17 the two parties of vested interests and of corruption, New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, are clashing with the Greek people," while stressing that the upcoming elections "are the last crucial referendum on the memorandum".
Tsipras said that in the elections the "forces of yesterday are clashing with the forces of tomorrow, the forces of disaster and of fear with the forces of creation and of hope."
The SYRIZA leader called for a "clear first place" from the Greek people so that a government of the left can be formed and as he said "a step separates the dream from reality."
 Venizelos meets with civil servants' umbrella federation ADEDYPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said that his party is always open to dialogue, to tell the truth about the major problems put forward this past period and to which answers needed to be given under dramatic conditions, in a discussion with the presidium of the civil servants' umbrella federation ADEDY on Wednesday.
Venizelos said that the civil servants have close and fraternal bonds with PASOK that continue today, despite the displeasure, pessimism and indignation of the times.
"The dilemma of the upcoming elections is whether we will walk alone the path of unilateral abrogation of the loan agreement, which is 'playing with fire' and could lead Greece, whether by choice or by mistake, outside the euro, with traumatic repercussions, or whether we will walk the path of courageous revision, founded on extension of the time for the fiscal adjustment," Venizelos said.
On PASOK's proposal for the fiscal adjustment, Venizelos said that it could be extended "as long as possible, perhaps by even three years" if the financial tools were found, "and they can be found".
 PASOK leader Venizelos addresses rally in Nea IoniaPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, addressing a rally in the Athens district of Nea Ionia on Wednesday, stressed that "if we offered something to the country, despite the anger and the indignation, the unemployment and recession that began in 2007 and not in 2010, is that we averted this image and the country is not experiencing this hell."
"I strees this by reading", as he said, "backwards the report by the National Bank that circulated on Tuesday and that presents the situation that will take place if the country leaves the euro and returns not to our 'beloved' drachma but to an inflationary drachma of unemployment and recession."
Venizelos added that "it is a gloomy situation that no one wants to live and I believe that the people will make choices that will prevent us finding ourselves in such a situation."
 Papariga: KKE staying 'outside the pen' in order to not betray the peopleThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is staying "outside the pen" in order not to betray the people but instead to become the inspirer of a major popular alliance with which the people will fight for popular authority, KKE leader Aleka Papariga told a campaign rally in the Athens suburb of Ilioupolis on Tuesday night.
Predicting that any government formed after the June 17 elections will be essentially unsustainable, she opined that soon there could be a new recourse to elections, and warned that the situation could be aggravated sharply "and we may see critical masses of workers taking to the streets and demanding, through their struggle, very impelling matters".
All over Europe, she said, they are talking about an unstructured default by Greece, "and this is not a bluff", and posed the question of whether it is of any importance for the people if the bankruptcy is managed by New Democracy (ND) or SYRIZA, adding that "they will not be able to stop it".
Papariga explained that Greece was headed to bankruptcy because the capitalist crisis was deepening, adding that if and when a recovery occurs, it will be short-lived and will be followed by a new crisis cycle.
On the Memorandum, she said it was essentially a composite collection of measures that are implemented in all of Europe, and were implemented in a short space of time in Greece, adding that it will become outdated because the worst was yet to come, and recalling that there exists a European programme of measures up until 2020 whereas the commitments for the haircut of the Greek debt extend all the way to 2042.
"Even if the Memorandum is abolished, we will be in perpetual Memorandums," Papariga said.
 Papariga visits Skaramangas ShipyardsThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) cares not only for the situation of the working class in Greece, but also the wealth-producing potential of the country, KKE leader Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday, addressing workers at the Skaramangas Shipyards.
"It is the big capitalists we don't want, not the closure of factories," she said.
At a time when the EU foresees lending to specific branches and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) is talking about development of 6-7 branches, the KKE is speaking about popular authority under which, with central planning and based on the people's needs and full employment of the labor potential, at least 30-40 industrial branches will be fully developed, Papariga said.
She said the issue of the shipbuilding and repair industry is at the core of the political issue of the country, adding that the operation of the shipyards is a matter of the policy decision of every government, combined with the decisions of the EU, which is a decisive factor as to whether shipyards will operate in Greece or not.
The KKE leader further noted that there is a specific EU decision for the operation of certain shipyards in Europe, while the defence industry, which is connected with the operation of the shipyards, is concentrated in northern Europe.
"One cannot want to stay in the euro and the EU and at the same time want the operation of the shipyards," she said, adding that the bankruptcy scenarios are not a bluff. "Right now, we have a gradual bankruptcy and there is a danger of going to a generalised bankruptcy, in which case the shipyards are 'finished," she continued.
"We want the shipyards to operation, and in fact to hire workers," she said, and opined that a disaster was taking place in Greece: "Disaster is the fact that 3,000-4,000 highly-trained skilled workers are left without jobs, resulting in the loss also of the experience they acquire on the job, which knowhow is a serious plus for the country and the people."
Papariga recalled that Greece had industrial production in the 1950s and 1960s with "lesser educated workers" and wondered "how can they say that we cannot have industrial production today, with such highly specialised staff?"
She said that, together with the shipyards, the country's defence industry must also be boosted, given that "the danger of war has not been eliminated".
Papariga further warned that the risk of an unstructured or a structured default exists, given that the crisis in the eurozone was spreading and deepening, citing the situation in Spain, when asked to comment on a National Bank of Greece (NBG) report on the repercussions of a Greek exit from the eurozone.
She said that rejection of the Memorandum and its anti-labor measures and "continued stay in the EU at all cost" were two different and incompatible things. "The people must realise the need for Greece's disengagement from the EU, and not only its withdrawal from the eurozone," Papariga said.
 DIMAR leader: Greece will not remain ungovernedDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Wednesday said that his party will do whatever possible in order for a government to be formed after the June 17 elections, speaking in the southeastern Greek city of Nafplio, adding that the times demand responsibility and seriousness from everyone.
"Greece will not remain without government," said Kouvelis, who also referred to the need of an Immediate Plan of Governance with specific and written commitments on the renegotiation of the Memorandum that will secure Greece's remaining in the eurozone and the stabilisation of the economy, as well as the relief of the salary earners and the pensioners, and also the mandatory progressive reforms in the State, the political system and the institutions.
 Katseli's 'Social Agreement' party to support SYRIZA on June 17The head of the Social Agreement party Louka Katseli on Wednesday officially announced her decision to support the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party in the elections on June 17, based on policy convergence achieved by the two parties during her meeting with SYRIZA's leader Alexis Tsipras.
In statements after the meeting, Tsipras praised her stance and expressed certainty that it will also be appreciated by voters. He noted that Katseli's decision to base her support on "policy positions and not trade-offs" did her credit, especially as it came in "an era of cheapness when sworn enemies united in unholy alliances so as not to lose office".
The talks with Katseli centred on the axis of a leftist progressive government that would liberate people from the "noose of the bailout agreements". According to Tsipras, they agreed that the foremost dilemma in the upcoming elections was not whether Greece will remain in the eurozone but whether it will remain in the eurozone with the Greek people retaining their dignity or with people "plundered, without hope and without rights".
Tsipras said they had agreed on the need for an agreement to replace the bailout programme with a national plan to restore the country, reorganise production and introduce fair fiscal reforms.
SYRIZA's leader also commented on a Reuters report alleging that former interim premier Lucas Papademos had called European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and requested that he make a strong statement about the risk of Greece's exit from the eurozone to 'push' Greece's political leaders in the right direction - a report later denied by Papademos.
According to Tsipras, the report was 'no surprise' and the biggest enemy and threat to the stability of Greece's economy were not its European partners but "domestic forces with a direct line to institutional and extra-institutional centres in Brussels" that did not hesitate to place the stability of the economy at risk in order to play political games. A report by the National Bank of Greece concerning the risks of a Greek eurozone exit were "similarly irresponsible and opportunist," he added.
"We are sorry for the depths the panic-stricken have stooped to, inside and outside the country," Tsipras added, saying he was confident that they would be unable to manipulate the dignity and intelligence of the Greek people.
 Former PM Papademos denies asking Barroso to make severe statement on GreeceFormer prime minister Lucas Papademos on Wednesday denied the contents of a recent dispatch by a foreign news agency according to which European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso's statement that Greece must abide by its commitments or leave the euro had come at the request of Papademos himself.
"I did not ask of anyone to make any statement, nor did I speak with anyone at my own initiative during those days. Some sides want to create a problem," Papademos said on private VIMA FM radio station.
According to a Reuters dispatch Barroso, during an interview on Italian television on May 11 and asked about SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' plans to annul the bailout agreement, replied that if a member of the club does not follow the rules, it is better for that member to leave the club.
The markets panicked, the Greeks were livid and Barroso drew criticism, according to the dispatch which, citing an unnamed Commission official, added that the most annoying thing, however, for Barroso is that he had no intention of making such a tough statement, but did so because he received a phone call from 'caretaker' (sic) prime minister Lucas Papademos asking him to do so.
According to the dispatch Papademos, disappointed by the failure to form a coalition government after the May 6 elections in Greece, wanted from Barroso to 'address a strong message" in the hope that this would awaken the Greek political leaders.
"It was not a Barroso initiative, but a direct request" that did not work, the dispatch cited an unnamed Commission official as saying.
 Former PM interview with Belgian newspaperBRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Spinthourakis)
The Belgian newspaper De Tijd published a report under the headline "The new government team will have little room for maneuvering" which included a telephone interview of former Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
Asked about recent opinion polls according to which, the conservative party of New Democracy (ND) appears to be the leader in the June 17 elections and therefore, a majority government could be formed with PASOK and the Democratic Left (DIM.AR), Papademos said that "based on the findings of the opinion polls such a government appears to be likely".
He said that the coalition government that will be formed "should continue the policy of spending cuts and reforms. Only limited readjustments can be made in the loan agreement and the new government will have a limited room for maneuvering."
Papademos said in the interview that "the policy followed in Greece includes important elements that could boost economic growth," adding that further measures toward this direction could be incorporated.
The former prime minister stressed that the interest rates could be changed by changing the loan repayment timetable, underlining that "first we should implement the programme and have a primary surplus in the state budget in the next two years."
Papademos also expressed the wish that Germany will adopt a more moderate stance toward Greece if the country meets its commitments
The newspaper underlined that according to Papademos, "Spain's problems are not necessarily a bad development for the Greeks because the fear of a banking sector collapse in Spain could work to Greece's benefit."
 Head of EuroParliament socialists slams Lagarde's 'Guardian' interview as 'scandalous'VIENNA (AMNA - D. Dimitrakoudis)
The head of the European Parliament's Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Hannes Swoboda has dubbed recent statements by International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde concerning the crisis in Greece as "scandalous". In an article appearing in the Austrian newspaper "Die Presse" on Wednesday, Swoboda said that Lagarde's interview with the London-based paper "The Guardian" showed "arrogance" and a "lack of sensitivity".
According to the Austrian MEP, voters in Greece were increasingly aware that after June 17 there must be a government that is prepared to support the necessary reforms process.
 Opinion poll indicates desire to stay in eurozoneAn overwhelming majority of 80.9 percent of respondents want Greece to remain in the eurozone at all costs, while 77.8 percent are in favour of amendment of the Memorandum and 66.4 percent prefer the formation of a cooperation government, according to the results of a GPO opinion poll presented on private Mega television station on Tuesday night.
According to GPO chief Takis Theodorikakos, the poll was conducted by telephone on a sampling of 1,600 citizens from may 25 to 29.
To a question on what the respondents want to emerge from the June 17 repeat general elections, 66.4 percent of the respondents replied "a cooperation government", against 30.3 percent who wanted a "self-sufficient government", while 3.3 percent declined response.
Asked about their degree of interest in the elections, 82.7 percent of the respondents replied "very much", 17 percent replied "not so much", while 0.3 percent declined comment.
To a question on whether there should be repeat elections, 25.3 percent of the respondents replied "yes", 72.4 percent replied "no", that a coalition government should have been formed after the inconclusive May 6 general elections, while 0.3 percent declined comment.
Asked whether Greece should remain in the euro at all cost, 80.9 percent of the respondents replied "yes" and 18.0 percent replied "no", while 1.1 percent declined response. In an earlier opinion poll, in February, 2012, the corresponding percentages were 77.2 percent, 21.1 percent and 1.7 percent respectively.
To a follow-up question of whether continuation in the euro 'at all cost' means acceptance of the implementation of the Memorandum as a condition, 52.4 percent of the respondents said "yes", 44.5 percent said "no", and 3.1 percent declined comment.
Asked what should be done with the Memorandum, 20.4 percent of the respondents were in favour of its abrogation, 77.8 percent were in favor of its amendment, while 1.2 percent declined comment.
To a question on what actions of the government could lead to the country's exit from the euro, 67 percent of the respondents replied 'abrogation of the Memorandum', 17.6 percent replied 'implementation of the Memorandum", and 15.4 percent declined comment.
Asked about the prospect of an exit from the euro, 45.5 percent of the respondents said it was "a very strong prospect" while 45.4 percent replied "a small prospect" and 6.2 percent declined comment.
To a question on who was to blame for the failure to form a government, 47.9 percent of the respondents said Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, followed by New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras with 16.7 percent, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos with 6.8 percent, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos with 4.4 percent, Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis with 3.2 percent, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga with 2.4 percent, and ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) leader Nikos Mihaloliakos with 0.1 percent.
Asked which political party leader maintained the most positive stance after the inconclusive May 6 elections, 22 percent of the respondents said Samaras, followed by Tsipras with 20.8 percent, Venizelos with 17.2 percent, Kouvelis with 9.6 percent, Kammenos with 6.4 percent, Papariga with 4.3 percent, and Mihaloliakos with 1.7 percent.
With respect to voters' intent, 23.4 percent of the respondents said they would vote for ND, 22.1 percent for SYRIZA, 13.5 percent for PASOK, 7.4 percent for Independent Greeks, 5.9 percent for KKE, 5.1 percent for DIMAR, 4.2 percent for Chryssi Avghi, 2.6 percent for Dimiourgia Xana, 2.6 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party and 0.5 percent for the Ecologists-Greens, while 9.4 percent were undecided.
Asked which party was the most prepared to govern, 55.1 percent of the respondents said ND, followed by SYRIZA with 16.1 percent, PASOK with 10.2 percent, Independent Greeks with 3.8 percent and DIMAR with 2.2 percent, while 24.3 percent said 'a different party'.
On the party expected to win the elections, 56.6 percent of the respondents said ND, followed by SYRIZA with 33.6 percent and PASOK with just 0.5 percent.
As for who is the most appropriate for prime minister, 22.7 percent of the respondents said Samaras, followed by Tsipras with 19.1 percent, Venizelos also with 19.1 percent, Kouvelis with 8.1 percent, Kammenos with 4.4 percent, Papariga with 2.1 percent, and Mihaloliakos with 1.7 percent.
Asked what the voting criteria will be, 36.5 percent of the respondents said "the formation of a government", 24.6 percent said "ensuring Greece's stay in the euro", 19.9 percent said "change of the Memorandum" and 15.3 percent said "abrogation of the Memorandum", while 3.7 percent declined comment.
Regarding the rallying of the parties' voters, the poll indicated 89.3 percent for ND, with a tendency of attracting voters from Democratic Alliance at 66.7 percent, from Independent Greeks at 14.9 percent, and from LAOS at 16.4 percent.
Rallying of SYRIZA voters was 79.7 percent, with a tendency of attracting voters from DIMAR at 21.4 percent, from Chryssi Avghi at 18.2 percent, from Independent Greeks at 17.0 percent, from KKE at 16.2 percent, from PASOK at 4.0 percent and from ND at 1.8 percent.
According to Theodorikakos, in presenting the results of the question on the rallying of the parties, many of the people who voted for Chryssi Avghi place themselves politically as 'Left or Center-Left), given that, according to the poll results, 60 percent of the respondents who voted for Chryssi Avghi in the May 6 elections did so in protest against the political system and 29.3 percent did so "in order for the immigrants to leave the country", while only 4.8 percent put themselves politically as "ultra-right".
To the same question, 58.6 percent of the respondents who voted for SYRIZA in the May 6 elections did so in protest against the political system, 28.2 percent for abrogation of the Memorandum, and 6.5 percent for the formation of a Left government.
 Latest opinion poll results releasedThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) garners 30 percent, at least 3.5 percentage points ahead of New Democracy (ND), of respondents' "electoral assessment" of parties, according to a latest opinion poll unveiled on Wednesday.
The poll was conducted by VPRC for the Athens weekly magazine 'Epikaira. SYRIZA was also the first party in a previous poll's "election influence estimate" figure -- rather than the standard voters preferences' measurement.
Based on the findings, five of the seven parties that entered Parliament in the May 6 elections have increased their election percentage, while PASOK's share remains the same and the ultra-right Golden Dawn shows a decrease.
The survey, conducted between May 25-29, showed SYRIZA increasing its percentage share of the vote by 1.5 percent relative to the previous poll conducted by VPRC for a small Athens-area TV station, rising from 28.5 percent to 30 percent (with an error of margin ranging from 27.1 percent to 32.9 percent).
ND is shown rising by 0.5 percent to reach 26.5 percent (with a margin of error between 23.7 percent and 29.3 percent). PASOK remains steady at 12.5 percent while the Independent Greeks party rises to 7 percent, the Democratic Left to 7.5 percent, and the Communist Party from 5 percent to 5.5 percent.
Golden Dawn party is seen slipping by 1 percent, from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent, while losses were also sustained by the Recreate Greece party, which slipped from 3 percent to 2 percent (between a minimum of 1.1 percent and maximum of 2.9 percent) and does not clear the 3 percent ceiling for entering Parliament.
Meanwhile, yet another opinion poll, this one conducted by the Pulse RC company for the weekly newspaper "Pontiki", shows New Democracy and SYRIZA tied in respondents' preferences, a slight increase for PASOK and confirmation of the trend of smaller parties losing ground.
According to results, ND and SYRIZA each garner 24.5 percent of respondents' preferences, followed by PASOK with 13.5, the Independent Greeks party 7 percent, KKE 5 percent, Golden Dawn 5 percent, the Democratic Left 5 and the Dimiourgia Xana (Recreate Greece) party 2.5, among others.
 Next Greek government should include SYRIZA, Swoboda saysVIENNA (AMNA - D. Dimitrakoudis)
The head of the European Parliament's Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Hannes Swoboda on Wednesday said that the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party in Greece should be part of the government elected to power on June 17, speaking during a open debate on Austrian state radio with prominent German leftist Gregor Gysi.
Swoboda said that Tsipras' party would have the support of the European social-democrats if he stepped up and took responsibility in the next Greek government. If Europe wanted Greece to be saved, it would have to tell Tsipras that there would be a negotiation, he added.
He said the European social democrats wanted socially balanced austeritymeasures in Greece, where the public sector would have to become smaller and more effective, and he suggested that Tsipras would be more willing to compromise after the elections.
In earlier statements, both Swoboda and Gysi warned of the dire consequences that exiting the eurozone would have for Greece, which they said would become impoverished as a result of the devaluation of its currency, noting that this was an outcome desired only by the very rich in Greece.
 Circular suspends freeze on hiring of seasonal local authority staffCaretaker government Interior Minister Antonis Manitakis on Wednesday issued a circular suspending a freeze on new hiring by local authorities, allowing municipalities and regional authorities to hire an additional 11,000 contract workers to cover heightened seasonal needs during the summer months.
The decision to lift the suspension of hiring during the pre-election period was taken so that local authorities might be able to continue procedures for hiring 4,703 sanitation staff, the hiring of 5,000 seasonal workers for a maximum period of two months for fire safety, municipal childcare services and sanitation, lifeguards, 500 irrigation water distributors and 700 staff for municipal summer camps for children.
The circular also specifies the maximum number of seasonal staff can be hired on two-month contracts in each region, with 1,500 allocated to Attica, 600 for Thessaly-central Greece, 300 in Epirus-Western Macedonia, 450 in the Peloponnese, western Greece and Ionian , 300 in the Aegean, 300 on Crete and 1,550 in Macedonia-Thrace.
 Banks' recapitalisation will open new period of stability, Fund head saysDepositors should not be afraid following Greek banks' recapitalisation with 18 billion euros from the Financial Stability Fund, the Fund's president Panagiotis Thomopoulos said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Thomopoulos underlined that following banks' successful recapitalisation, viable enterprises will be able to renegotiate with banks their loans to achieve better terms, while banks will regain their access to liquidity offered by the European Central Bank, after their capital adequacy rates improved to 8.0 pct. At the same time, this development fully safeguards the state's interests. The Financial Stability Fund on Wednesday appointed its representative to the boards of the four banks (National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank) which have received the 18 billion euros. Each representative will have limited duties at first. Thomopoulos left the door open for banks to proceed with a further reduction of their personnel, while he categorically rejected recent press reports alleging that the Greek state could borrow from the Fund in case of need.
Thomopoulos categorically denied such reports saying it was against the law a noted that the Fund currently has in its portfolio bonds worth 7.0 billion euros and around 700 million euros in cash.
The agreement signed by Greek banks to participate in a recapitalisation plan envisages a due diligence control and drafting of restructuring programs which must be submitted with the Fund by the end of August at the latest. The Fund could then ask banks to cut their personnel and their payroll cost.
Troika's aim is by September to have completed a share capital increase process with the participation of private investors in order that banks' capital adequacy rates to rise further to 9.0 pct.
"This will offer the possibility to open a stability period for the banking system," Thomopoulos said.
The terms and procedures of these share capital increase schemes would be determined in a presidential decree to be issued by a new government after the June 17 elections.
The Financial Stability Fund - the basic and largest shareholder of banks - could acquire a strengthened role in banks' management if private investors failed to contribute at least 10 pct of the needed new capital.
 Greek textile industry's exports down in 2011The Greek textile industry suffered a negative year in 2011, with exports of clothing and accessories falling by 2.6 pct to 776.9 million euros, while exports of textile fabrics fell 5.0 pct to 406.7 million euros, Eleftherios Kourtalis president of the Federation of Greek textile industrialists (SEBK) said on Wednesday.
Addressing the annual general assembly of the federation, Kourtalis said that behind these figures for 2011 smaller or larger business drama was hiding, and in general less jobs, less enterprises, less workers and less state revenue.
"The Greek textile industry is suffering the effects of a degrading process reflecting a long-term de-industrialization of the country, unfair competition and a significant decline in domestic demand as a result of an economic crisis," Kourtalis told the Federation's members.
He noted that the industry was facing the challenge of restructuring, modernizing, with the aim to boost its export activity -an one-way road towards sustainable growth. He urged the state to support the Greek textile industry by strengthening liquidity in the market, immediate payment of all state debts to private enterprises, reducing employers' social contributions by 50 pct over the next three years at least, cutting electricity bills by 50 pct, a more efficient state procurement system, cutting corporate taxes and drastically reducing bureaucracy, corruption and the black economy.
Kourtalis stressed that the country urgently needed a strong and stable government which -in cooperation with productive classes- will draft a new growth policy and allow the fiscal consolidation of the country.
 Credit to private sector fell by 4.7 pct in AprilThe annual growth rate of total credit to the domestic private sector decreased further to -4.7 percent in April 2012 from -4.0 percent in the previous month, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative amounting to 1.997 billion euros in April, after a negative flow of 377 million euros in April 2011.
The net flow of credit to enterprises in April 2012 was negative, amounting to1.514 billion euros (April 2011: positive net flow of 212 million) and the annual growth rate of credit decreased to -4.7 percent from -3.3 percent in the previous month. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial enterprises decreased to -4.4 percent from -3.3 percent in March 2012 and the annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries decreased further to -11.3 percent in April 2012 from -4.1 percent in the previous month.
The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative amounting to 83 million euros (April 2011: negative net flow of EUR 191 million) and the annual rate of change of credit remained at negative level but increased to -6.6 percent in April 2012 from -7.2 percent in the previous month.
In April 2012, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 399 million euros (April 2011: negative net flow of 399 million). As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions stood at -4.4 percent in April 2012, unchanged from the previous month.
 Rise in visitors at Trade Exhibition Eastern Macedonia-ThraceVisitors to the 21st Trade Exhibition Eastern Macedonia and Thrace 2012, organised by Thessaloniki Trade Fair S.A. in Komotini from 24-27 May, posted a 19 percent rise, the organising committee said on Wednesday.
According to data, 11,200 people visited the exhibition this year against 9,400 in 2011.
A total of 143 exhibitors, up from 118 in 2011, took part in the exhibition this year, which focused on the sectors of renewable energy and heating as well as food and beverages.
 International symposium in Athens on 'Time for investments in Greece'The first international symposium that will take place in Athens in the Greek market after the June 17 elections, will be titled "Time for investments in Greece."
The symposium, that will be organised by the company 'fmw financial media way', is under the auspices of the Central Union of Chamber of Commerce of Greece and will take place on Friday June 29, 2012, at the Grande Bretagne hotel in Athens and will be addressed by politicians, chamber of commerce officials, academics and businessmen.
The symposium is the first of its kind that will present the new factors in the Greek economy after the June 17 elections.
 Tourist coach drivers announce four-day strike starting MondayThe tourist coach drivers' union federations on Wednesday announced a four-day strike beginning next Monday at 1:00 p.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m. on June 8, after the failure of negotiations for the signature of a new collective labour agreement for drivers.
An announcement by the General National Federation of Tourism Enterprises expressed sorrow over the failure of negotiations and referred to a failure of the other side to appreciate that "Greece's economic reality had changed in an irreversible way" and that its members were no longer able to pay the drivers of tourist buses the same benefits they had received in recent years without any change.
 Business Briefs-- Chinese importers expressed a strong interest in Greek products exhibited in the 13th International Food, Beverage, Wine & Spirits Exhibition "SIAL China 2012", which took place in Shanghai on May 9-11.
-- National Bank of Greece on Wednesday reported losses totaling 537 million euros in the first quarter of 2012, reflecting negative results from financial transactions in Greece and a 47-pct increase in provisions.
-- Piraeus Bank on Wednesday reported a pre-tax loss of 80 million euros in the first quarter of 2012 and said that after tax results showed earnings of 298 million euros. Assets fell 4.0 pct to 47.5 billion euros in the January-March period, and were down 16 pct compared with the same period last year.
-- Intralot on Wednesday reported a 6.1-pct decline in its pre-tax earnings to 15.2 million euros in the first quarter of 2012, while EBITDA rose 6.9 pct to 41.7 million euros during the same period. Consolidated turnover rose 15.4 pct in the January-March period to 347.2 million euros.
-- MIG on Wednesday reported after parent tax losses of 9.1 million euros in the first quarter of 2012.
-- Viohalco on Wednesday reported losses totaling 14.7 million euros in the first quarter of 2012, after earnings of 6.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
 Stocks end 3.19 pct downStocks resumed their decline after a two-day rally, which brought gains of 8.85 pct in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
Market sentiment was undermined by negative developments in the bond markets of Spain and Italy and under the pressure of a 7.94-pct drop in the share price of National Bank, which leaves the MSCI Standard Index on Thursday.
The composite index of the market fell 3.19 pct to end at 511.29 points. Turnover remained a low 36.005 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 3.68 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 1.63 pct. The Commerce (3.09 pct) and Travel (0.36 pct) sectors scored gains, while Personal Products (8.56 pct), Banks (5.55 pct) and Foods (4.57 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Folli Follie (3.59 pct), and OPAP (0.25 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Jumbo (9.06 pct), National Bank (7.94 pct) and MIG (7.79 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 79 to 31 with another 21 issues unchanged.
Balkan Real Estate (29.79 pct), 3A (19.59 pct) and Paperpack (16.42 pct) were top gainers, while Lavipharm (21.09 pct), Axon Holginds (19.61 pct) and Revoil (19.23 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.82%
Personal & Household: -8.56%
Raw Materials: -3.01%
Travel & Leisure: +0.36%
Food & Beverages: -4.57%
Financial Services: -4.61%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, HBC Coca Cola, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.89
Public Power Corp (PPC): 1.39
HBC Coca Cola: 12.55
Hellenic Petroleum: 4.60
National Bank of Greece: 1.16
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.53
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 28.54 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market with the Greek bond yielding 29.81 pct and the German Bund 1.27 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged with the 12-month rate easing at 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 0.94 pct, the three-month rate 0.67 pct and the one-month rate 0.38 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 2.03 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 7.239 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,877 contracts worth 4.479 million euros, with 20,079 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,518 contracts worth 2.760 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (11,553), followed by Alpha Bank (7,914), OTE (573), PPC (597), Piraeus Bank (231), Cyprus Popular Bank (496), Mytilineos (174), Hellenic Petroleum (201), Coca Cola 3E (240) and OPAP (147).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.262
Pound sterling 0.809
Danish kroner 7.542
Swedish kroner 9.089
Japanese yen 99.86
Swiss franc 1.219
Norwegian kroner 7.627
Canadian dollar 1.297
Australian dollar 1.292
 2012 Global Summit of Women to be held in AthensNew York (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
The 2012 Global Summit of Women will be held in Greece this year, opening in Athens on Thursday with the theme "Women: The Engine of Economic Growth".
Women from all over the world, leaders in government and business, scientists, professionals and academics, personalities in the Society of the Citizens and the global women's movement, will gather in Athens for the three-day Summit, which has been taking place for the last 22 years.
"We deliberately chose Greece to host the Summit this year because we strongly believe that we should always be there where we are needed most," Irene Natividad, president of the Global Summit of Women, told AMNA.
"The Summit will bring new ideas, and prospective alliances, through the meetings between Greek entrepreneurs and Summit participants, while it will also provide an opportunity for talented Greek women to present themselves and get to know people of international prestige, giving a different picture of Greece," Natividad added.
The Global Summit of Women was conceived as the nexus at which all sectors - public, private and nonprofit - would come together under the common vision of dramatically expanding women's economic opportunities globally through exchanges of working solutions and creative strategies forged by women leaders in different parts of the world. It is a business Summit, whose 'business' focus is women's advancement in the global economy.
Irene Natividad, a recognized leader for women in the United States, wears many hats. Ms. Natividad is President of the Global Summit of Women, an annual international gathering of women leaders from around the world, and co-chairs Corporate Women Directors International, which promotes the increased participation of women on corporate boards globally.
According to the organisers, the Summit aims include "boosting the world's economies, increasing opportunities for all, developing a new breed of leadership, making technology more accessible and engendering peace worldwide, with more than 1,000 women leaders from every corner of the world gathering to share winning strategies to advance women's economic lives and to ensure global prosperity".
On the selection of this year's venue, according to the organisers:
"Gateway to the economies of South Eastern Europe --- the Balkans -- Athens, Greece serves as the venue for the 2012 Global Summit of Women, the foremost international economic forum for women leaders in business, government, and civil society.
"Beyond its historic treasures and vibrant culture, Greece continues to be a leading exporter of aluminum, nickel, copper, and magnesium. Known for its leading shipping industry, the Summit will feature women shipowners in the program. Greece's national network of women entrepreneurs is eager to welcome, to connect, and to form partnerships with their global counterparts through formal business-to-business meetings.
"With its reputation as an exciting, fact-filled, hands-on gathering of high caliber participants, the 2012 Global Summit of Women is delighted to bring its global gathering from over 80 countries to Greece. Given the current economic crisis, the 2012 Summit focuses on the growth areas in the global economy in which women will play a pivotal role."
 Rubens masterpiece to be returned to Belgian museumA stolen Rubens masterpiece, entitled "The Hunt for the Caledonian Wild Boar", which was recovered by Greek police last September will be repatriated, the Central Archaeological Council announced on Wednesday.
The 1618 oil sketch (28 x 52 cm) was stolen in 2001 from the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts and was recovered by police on Sept. 1, 2011 in an Athens seaside suburb.
Two people, a former antique store owner and a female TV presenter, who attempted to sell the oil sketch to undercover police for 6 million euros, were arrested on money-laundering charges after the painting was found in the trunk of their car. The pair was not involved in the original heist.
The painting depicts one of the most popular themes for the 17th century aristocracy and was bought in London in 1898 by the Belgian museum for 250,000 GBP.
Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a prolific 17th century Flemish Baroque painter and proponent of an exuberant Baroque style emphasising color, movement and sensuality, and is known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
 Greek Atomic Energy Commission undergoes int'l evaluationThe Greek Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the national authority responsible for radiation protection, nuclear safety and nuclear security, underwent an international evaluation on May 20-30 in the fields of environmental protection from atomic radiation and nuclear safety.
A technical report with specific recommendations based on the available findings was presented in a press conference on Wednesday.
The report, which was drawn up by experts, includes a number of observations and proposals on certain areas that can be further improved. A conclusive detailed report will be delivered in three months and will be made public by GAEC.
Based on the findings reached, an action plan will be adopted by GAEC, being the competent authority, and the Greek state, to ensure full harmonisation with international standards.
Greece is the first non-nuclear EU-member that underwent such an evaluation while the rest non-nuclear members will be assessed by 2021.
 Holocaust survivors address event in AthensFour Holocaust survivors described their ordeals in Nazi concentration camps during an event hosted by historian Hagen Fleischer at the philosophy faculty's amphitheatre at the University of Athens on Tuesday.
Fleischer, emeritus professor of history at the same university, who has spent 40 years studying the WWII period, hosted the event in reaction to the rise of the ultra-right party in Greece following the May 6 elections.
Scuffles between riot police, Thessaloniki municipal employees protesting planned assignment of sanitation services to private concerns
Scuffles broke out on Wednesday morning outside the Thessaloniki City Hall between MAT riot police and municipal employees protesting plans to privatise the municipality's sanitation services.
The employees, supported by the Panhellenic Federation of Local Government Employees (POE-OTA) were staging a work-stoppage on Wednesday morning and rally in protest of a 2.3 million euro international tender announced by the municipality for the assignment of the repairs of the city's garbage trucks to a private company.
The employees attempted to enter the City Hall's amphitheater where the municipality's financial committee was due to convene to take its final decisions on the tender, but were repelled by riot police deployed outside the building, who used chemicals to disperse the protesters.
 Pensioner commits suicide for financial reasonsA 62-year-old pensioner was found hanged in a park in Nikaia, district of Piraeus, on Wednesday. Police arrived at the spot following a call by local residents.
A letter which was found on the victim explained that financial reasons led him to commit suicide.
 Foreign national severely beaten in train station in AthensA 32-year-old Pakistani was severely beaten by unidentified individuals late Tuesday in the Athens ISAP train station at Aghios Nikolaos. The victim is currently hospitalised in an Athens hospital. Police are investigating the case, including the possibility of a racist attack. Two days ago, on Monday evening, an unknown individual stabbed a Bangladeshi national in an ISAP train in Athens.
 Former minister Tsohatzopoulos to be brought before prison Disciplinary CouncilFormer PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will find himself before the prison Disciplinary Council in the next few days after prison employees found a mobile phone in his possession.
According to what is applied for disciplinary offences by detainees, the defendant in the case of the legalisation of illegal commissions might face a sentence of either the deprival of the right to work or even of his transfer to another prison .
Tsohatzopoulos, accused of money laundering, is in custody on remand, pending trial.
 Human trafficking ring dismantledPolice in Athens dismantled a human trafficking ring that allegedly forced Bulgarian women into prostitution after smuggling them into Greece on promises that they would find legitimate jobs, authorities announced on Wednesday.
Two Bulgarian nationals were arrested and other five people, two local men, another two Bulgarians and one Albanian, are still wanted.
The case was brought to light two days ago when a 20-year-old woman from Bulgaria, a victim of the crime ring, went to the police after managing to escape from an illegal brothel.
The woman will be repatriated at her request.
 Panathinaikos Athens beats Olympiacos Piraeus 84-74 in basketball championship title playoffPanathinaikos Athens beat Olympiacos Piraeus 84-74 at the Athens Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening and equalised the best-of-five basketball championship title playoffs to 2-2. The final playoff to decide this year's basketball championship title will be played at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus at 19:00 on Saturday.
The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 14-19, 36-38, 55-58, 84-74.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe repercussions of a possible Greek exit from the eurozone according to a National Bank of Greece (NBG) report, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "45,000 hirings in Local Administration".
AVGHI: "NBG speculation".
AVRIANI: "The people are laughing at the doomsayers' stupidities of a system that is collapsing".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "NBG report: Return to drachma a terror scenario".
ESTIA: "This is how we reached the collapse".
ETHNOS: "Document on drachma nightmare".
IMERISSIA: "NBG's shocking report: Drachma would bring chaos?
KATHIMERINI: "The eurozone exit nightmare".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "NBG: Return to drachma a nightmarish landscape".
RIZOSPASTIS: "People's organisation and alertness in the face of the possibility of an unstructured default".
TA NEA: "French President Francois Hollande message: Respect for the Greeks -International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde: I learned my lesson".
VRADYNI: "Burning taxes for low income earners, even for the unemployed".
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