|Saturday, 24 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-06-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 14 June 2012 Issue No: 4095
 Samaras: 'Salvation gov't' after electionsNew Democracy's (ND) programme is cost-estimated in euros, whereas other programmes either don't exist or are essentially calculated in "drachmas", although the parties are not saying so, ND leader Antonis Samaras charged in a nationally televised press conference on Wednesday.
"We want to change the programme that exists now so as to create new jobs and remain in the euro. SYRIZA, on the other hand, speaks of an unilateral abrogation (of the Memorandum bailout terms) that creates a rift with the EU and exit from the euro. When you do that -- unilateral abrogation -- you will be forced to concede and, in the end accept, not only one but 10 Memorandums," Samaras said in reference to his criticism of the rival Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).
ND, he continued, has clearly stated where the required money will come from for the recovery of the Greek economy. "We have explained where the needed liquidity for the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the recapitalisation of the banks, etc, will be generated from. We endorsed the Monti proposal inside the European framework. For us, the major issue is 'inside the euro', with a stable government, for a policy of growth and the creation of jobs. This is how the psychology in the market will change," Samaras said.
Asked on the government to emerge from Sunday's repeat general elections and if he will be prime minister, Samaras replied that, in a democracy, it is self-evident that the leader of the first party in votes is the prime minister.
"Do you think that the post of prime minister will be enviable? Do you think that many will be clamoring for it, especially without having asked it from the Greek people? And why are the Greek people voting, to have a prime minister who did not emerge from the elections?" he asked.
Samaras stressed the need for a salvation government to be formed after the elections, adding his optimism that the lack of governance will not be perpetuated.
Asked which parties he would cooperate with, Samaras said that, without exclusions from the outset, a government must be formed with a policy framework for Greece's stay in the euro and renegotiation of the Memorandum.
"It is obvious that things can't go on as they are, we had received the people's message, which is for cooperation and staying in the euro. I believe that a government will be formed, but we cannot set out prohibitive conditions. For example, Mr. Venizelos wants an ecumenical government, but what will happen if the other parties don't accept? Mr. Tsipras wants a Left government, but the others don't accept. I say that the country needs a strong government, which I call a salvation government," Samaras said.
On the developments in the EU, he said that strong countries of Europe, such as Spain, are five times the problem that Greece is.
"I believe that through alliances with countries facing similar problems, through friendships with people who play key roles, we can gain from the fact that Europe is changing and following a new policy. Greece is being given an opportunity to achieve the same. If we abrogate (the Memorandum), Greece will become the 'black sheep', and some quarters want this, the black sheep being eaten by the wolf in order to be used as an example," Samaras continued.
He expressed certainty that European partners are ready to commence a substantive discussion for amendments to the loan agreement, stressing that "all accept the fact that the solution must be a European one".
Samaras further noted that when he sent his letter of guarantee to Greece's partners, he included the word 'amendment', and the letter was accepted.
"This is important. It has to do with the aspect of growth," he added.
 Security, measures against illegal migration"We must throw off fear and consolidate a feeling of security. We will retake our cities from those who have taken them over in the worst way," he said during the nationally televised press conference.
He reiterated that illegal immigrants will be sent to special reception centres, "and we'll better guard the border while also reversing the Ragoussis law on immigration".
Samaras referred to tragic situations, charging that there is an increase in both illegal prostitution and drug use, while he also referred to a state of lawlessness.
Turning to instances of urban violence, often attributed to self-style anarchists and so-called "anti-state" activists, he repeated that his government "will take off the masks (off troublemakers)."
"There is no democracy with fear, there's no economy with fear," he said, before aiming his criticism at rival leftist SYRIZA, which he called on to make its positions on the issue of security "clear".
"They say that we have a rightist agenda, I've hear this. Let SYRIZA come to Aghios Panteleimonas (in inner city Athens) and Patras; let them tell us about travel documents (for illegal immigrants), what is this agenda? If they give out travel documents then the other countries (in the Schengen Pact) will exclude even Greek citizens (from visa-free travel)," he said.
In stepping up his attack on SYRIZA, Samaras said there was "...also a grouping within SYRIZA that applauded Koufodinas," a reference to the convicted "November 17" terror gang hitman.
The ND leader also ridiculed a proposal by the leftist party to field police officers covering protests and demonstrations without sidearms, calling such a prospect "unacceptable".
Referring to the issue of unemployment, he said the goal is growth and the creation of new job spots, while at the same time saying that jobless benefits will be extended.
Samaras emphasised that only growth will cut unemployment.
"The only way to kill hope is to say that there is money and to engage in demagoguery, at the same time while you're pushing the country out of Europe. The vessel (Europe) already exists," he underlined.
In a later statement issued by SYRIZA, the party noted that "Mr. Samaras cannot understand the Greek people's struggle for dignity, justice and democracy."
The party also terms Samaras as "unrepentant" because he repeated, as SYRIZA claims, the blackmailing arguments used by creditors, "skating over the fact that if something leads to the drachma it is the Memorandum."
 Tsipras in FT: 'I will keep Greece in the eurozone and restore growth'Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras stressed his determination to keep Greece in the eurozone, while at the same time restoring growth in Greece, in an article in Financial Times newspaper appearing on Tuesday.
"Lest there be any doubt, my movement - SYRIZA - is committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone," Tsipras wrote, adding: "President Barack Obama was right when he said last
Friday: 'Let's do everything we can to grow now, even as we lock in a long-term plan to stabilise our debt and our deficits, and start bringing them down in a steady, sensible way.' That applies to my country, too. The need for giving Greece a chance for real growth and a new future is now more widely accepted than ever".
Expressing his firm belief that SYRIZA will receive "a clear democratic mandate" from the Greek people in Sunday's repeat general elections, Tsipras said that he will take "immediate action to end Greece's corrupt and inefficient political and regulatory systems that have ravaged our economy over the past decades", adding that the Greek people also expect SYRIZA to take "immediate responsibility for averting the country's evolving humanitarian crisis" and warning that "if we do not change our path, austerity threatens to force us out of the euro with even greater certainty".
He wrote that only Syriza can guarantee Greek stability because "we do not carry the political baggage of the establishment parties that have brought Greece to the brink of ruin", adding that a renewed Greece will contribute to the new foundations of a closer, more unified Europe, and noted that the developments in Spain at the weekend "confirm that the crisis is pan-European, and the way it has been handled so far has been completely ineffectual".
"The people of Greece want to replace the failed old memorandum of understanding (as signed in March with the EU and International Monetary Fund) with a 'national plan for reconstruction and growth'. This is necessary both to avert Greece's humanitarian crisis and to save the common currency," he continued.
Tsipras said that the systemic fiscal problems of Greece are, in large part, a problem of low public revenues. "Myriad tax concessions and exemptions granted to special interests by previous administrations, along with a low effective tax rate on personal income as well as capital, explain much of the problem. So too does the highly ineffective method of tax collection".
According to Eurostat, he added, Greece lags behind the eurozone average of government revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product by 4 per cent. The two-party political system has spent decades conveniently ignoring the dire need for effective tax reform. It has focused its tax collection efforts on the one exhaustible source of income tax: middle and low-income households.
SYRIZA's plan for reconstruction and growth is a programme of pragmatic and socially just fiscal stabilisation consisting of: stabilising public expenditure at approximately 44 per cent of GDP and reorientating this expenditure to ensure it is well spent; increasing revenues from direct taxation to the average European levels (by more than 4 per cent of GDP) over a four-year period; and reforming the tax regime so as to identify the wealth and income of all citizens, and to distribute equitably the burden of taxation, Tsipras explained.
Noting that lack of financial transparency prevails, even as Greek banks are being recapitalised with loans from the troika (the EU, IMF and European Central Bank), Tsipras said that "we will ensure that viable banks are recapitalised transparently and in a way that is fully compatible with the public interest. That is the only way to ensure that the entire financial system is returned to full stability".
"This Sunday we will bring Greece into a new era of growth and prosperity. The new era begins on Monday," Tsipras concluded.
 PASOK leader Venizelos calls for breaking of artificial polarisation climatePASOK party leader Evangelos Venzelos, addressing the party's main election rally in the Piraeus district of Korydallos on Wednesday evening, stressed that the future for Greece was "looming extremely dangerous, as it appeared from the recent interviews by New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras."
Venizelos added that there is no scenario that can leave any party out of the responsibility for the country's future and once again raised his proposal for "national joint responsibility governance."
He also referred to the "artificial polarisation" scene which, as he said, must break because it is leading the country to deadlock and added that if this climate does not break the coutry will not have a viable government on June 18.
The PASOK leader further said that in order for the future of the young generation to be saved and the country to have hope, PASOK's proposal must be implemented on national joint responsibility governance with the participation of all the parties.
Referring to the election result of May 6, Venizelos said the people called for three things: the country must steadfastly continue its course in the euro, the unfavourable terms of the loan contract to change without the achievements being harmed and for there to be cooperation between all parties because no one can rule alone.
 PASOK spokesperson repeats proposal for gov't of shared responsibilityPASOK spokesperson Fofi Gennimata on Wednesday stressed that the validity of the proposal for a government of shared responsibility made by her party was highlighted after the nationwide televised press conference by New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, aired earlier in the day, and yesterday's press conference by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras.
"It has become obvious that the proposal for a government of shared responsibility is the only feasible, responsible and progressive line," she stressed, adding that "it is crucial to be promoted by the Greek people themselves."
Gennimata underlined that this presupposes that "the factitious polarization should end and bogus dilemmas that offer no solution must be taken off the table," stressing that this will be possible only if PASOK emerges strong after Sunday's elections.
 Papariga: 'KKE will not annul its historic role'Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga essentially ruled out her party's participation in a post-election coalition on Wednesday, during an all-media press conference leading up to the Sunday polls.
"KKE's participation in a government with a mistaken line and without being able to trust those that participate in it would mean a nullification of its historic role," Papariga said.
She repeated that KKE will "exercise its historic responsibility within the popular movement, in conditions of heightened capitalist crisis, utilising all options". She also underlined that the party had experience in dealing with both the "terrorism and fear" that will be sown by a New Democracy government and the disappointment that would result from a government led by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).
Papariga said that her party's "historic responsibility" was to contribute to the organisation of the people so that they "do not lose everything" and clarified that she meant the organisation of the masses and politicising the movement in the direction of a social-political front, adding that the party had experience with provocation and would be able to deal with the "ups and downs" both for itself and the popular movement.
She also suggested that this popular movement, while not a monopoly for KKE and its trade union faction PAME, had not reacted in proportion to the attack it had received, stressing that the workplace should become the "main front in the struggle".
"The people must know that unless they have power in their hands, no government can save them," Papariga stressed.
She underlined that KKE had "deep and essential differences" with all the other parties and no desire for dialogue or participation in a government, focusing its efforts instead on helping the popular movement negotiate the "ups and downs".
KKE's leader underlined that the talk of a Greek exit from the eurozone or even the EU was not a bluff and would happen with "the terms of bankruptcy". Concerning the discussion underway at the EU for a further concentration of power in the hands of the European Commission, she stressed that once a government had conceded the powers discussed then "domestically it will heighten autocracy".
She expressed the opinion that SYRIZA would not, in fact, abolish the bailout agreement and boot out the EU-IMF troika but would finally be seen to "move in the same orbit" as New Democracy.
Asked if the KKE would stick to its guns in spite of losing votes as a result, Papariga stressed that the "political cost at the expense of the people" came first for the party and that participation in a government when the people were not in power would be a "political mistake that could not easily be corrected".
"The people will win, and in this victory we will play a leading role," she underlined, stressing that the KKE was consistent and also capable, while its main criterion was "whether we can inspire the people to trust in their strength".
She noted that KKE both wanted a high percentage and had a right to ask for it but was not prepared to trade off the interests of the people for minor places in the government.
Questioned about the far-right Golden Dawn party, one of whose candidates slapped a woman KKE candidate on live television a few days earlier, Papariga underlined that GD should be 'marginalised' and was being used by the powers of the system to break strikes.
 French President Hollande gives interview to MEGA TV channelFrench President Francois Hollande, in an interview with the MEGA television channel's main evening news bulletin on Wednesday, stressed that "the complete annulment of the memorandum will be considered by certain countries as a rupture."
He pointed out that "I shall not support this case", explaining that he, having set growth in the EU as a priority, will support the growth measures that will also have an impact in Greece "on condition, of course, that Greece itself will choose to stay in the eurozone and respect its commitments" since "observance of the commitments that have been taken does not mean staying in the same state."
"I invoked before my counterparts the European structural funds that have not been absorbed to be used for Greece's growth," Hollande added.
"I respect," he said, "the Greek people and the exercising of their sovereign right. I want Greece to stay in the eurozone but the Greeks must know that this necessitates a relation of trust."
Asked on the issue of renegotiating the memorandum, he replied that he does not desire to exercise pressures, nor to express threats, while on the support of Spanish banks, he mentioned that it did not take place "for us to handle better Greece's case later."
Also asked on the difference between the Nicolas Sarkozy presidency and his, Hollande said "we are already in another stage, since there is an important change regarding growth, an issue that will place the Europeans round a table."
 Caretaker PM reports to President: preparations for elections going wellCaretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos visited President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday and briefed him on preparations for the upcoming elections on Sunday, saying that were going well, with no particular problems, with everything ready to produce the election result.
 Venizelos briefs caretaker agriculture minister ahead of EU ministers' meetingPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos met on Wednesday with caretaker Agricultural Development and Foods minister Napoleon Maravegias, who has sought briefing on the political parties' positions on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) before representing Greece at a meeting of EU farm ministers on Monday -- the day after repeat general elections in Greece and before a new government is formed.
In statements afterwards, Venizelos said he and his party have spoken frequently on these issues given that there is great pressure for changes to the CAP, but not even the farmers listened.
He added that a very serious discussion must take place, and for this a national plan is necessary, which can be forged and applied only by a government of national co-responsibility.
 PASOK leader says no question of civil servants dismissalsPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos held a meeting with delegations of the OLME and DOE teachers' unions on Wednesday and stated afterwards that there is no question of civil servants being dismissed and consequently of teachers as well.
Venizelos added that the staff decrease in the public sector can take place through the pensionings and the implementation of the "1 to 5" rule between hirings and departures.
 SYRIZA delegation visits foreign ministryA Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) delegation headed by MP candidate Thodoris Dritsas toured the foreign ministry on Wednesday and was briefed on policy issues by the ministry's administrative and caretaker political leadership.
Dritsas referred to a need for more encouragement to diplomats and, replying to a press question, stressed that there is no question of slackening on the issue of protecting sovereign rights, despite the fluid political situation in the country.
 Independent Greeks leader meets with trade unions, visits coastguardIndependent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos on Wednesday met with the boards of the two major umbrella trade unions in the public and private sectors, the civil servants' union federation (ADEDY) and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) respectively, and expressed support to wage earners and pensioners, stressing that they have become the targets of the country's creditors.
He said employees and pensioners have reached their limits and have shouldered the burden of all "troika" imposed measures.
Earlier, Kammenos visited the coast guard headquarters in Piraeus and met with coastguard personnel union representatives who briefed him on their demands.
Kammenos underlined that merchant marine, tourism and primary production can lead the country out of the crisis.
The Independent Greeks leader also met with production sector representatives and later in the afternoon he will address an election campaign rally in Menidi, greater Athens. His nationwide televised press conference will be aired on Thursday from Zappeion Hall in central Athens.
 LA.O.S leader visits ThessalonikiPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Wednesday met with representatives of local production classes in Thessaloniki.
He also met with representatives of the Thessaloniki Police Union, visited a downtown police station and expressed support to the demands of the police officers.
He will address an event on Alexander the Great later in the afternoon.
 Supreme Court clears judge, Vatopedi monastery monks of delaying announcement of Rodopi court decisionThe Greek Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Vatopedi Monastery abbot Ephraim, the monk Arsenios and justice Maria Psalti of charges relating to a delay in publicly announcing the ruling of a Rodopi first-instance court. The court had found in favour of the state in a case against the monastery concerning the ownership of Lake Vistonida and its shoreline but the ruling was not announced after the two sides came to an out-of-court settlement.
Based on the initial conviction, the judge had acted improperly by failing to officially post the court's ruling after the decision was reached and allowing the two sides to reach an agreement when the court had already ruled in favour of the state.
The Supreme court reversed a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment handed down Psalti, Abbot Ephraim and the monk by a lower court, acquitting them of charges of breach of duty and instigating breach of duty.
It judged that the conviction lacked the adequate reasoning to back it up, contained unclear points, lacked a legal basis and mistakenly interpreted the application of the law. On this basis, it ruled that no criminal act had been committed and both the justice and the two monks should be acquitted of the charges.
The decision to revoke the convictions was opposed by the Supreme Court's deputy prosecutor, who judged the conviction legal and the reasoning behind it valid.
On a related charge concerning a breach of confidentiality of the judges' conference on the case, for which the three accused had also been convicted, the Supreme Court ruled that by overturning the first conviction against the judge there was no case of breach of confidentiality by simply relaying the judges' final decision without the accompanying reasoning.
Revealing this decision is thus no longer an offence punishable under the law, since it is information that will be included in the decision that will subsequently be published, the court found.
 Golden Dawn members' trial postponed until June 27The trial of eight Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party members accused of an attack that led to injuries at a cafe in Veria was on Wednesday postponed until June 27.
The Veria first-instance court agreed to postpone the hearing once again since the main witness failed to appear. The case was first postponed last Monday when the court also ordered their release from custody.
The eight stand face charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm, destruction of property, abuse and threatening behaviour.
 Culture minister launches media blitz to overturn tourism slumpCaretaker Culture and Tourism Minister Tatiana Karapanagioti gave interviews to several international mass media outlets (Huffington Post, The New York Times, France 2, Sveriges Radio) this week to promote the country's positive image abroad, and to re-approach "traditional markets" of tourist arrivals.
She also spoke with representatives of the ethnic Greek communities in Canada and South Africa via video calls, while another such contact is scheduled with the Greek community in Australia at the end of the week.
The reversal of whatever negative developments in the tourism sector is a top priority for the minister, who focused on the dispersal of fears and concerns expressed by foreign tourists wishing to visit Greece but are kept away by economic and political developments.
In a commentary published in Huffington Post under the headline "The Greece I know" signed by the caretaker minister it is stressed that the birthplace of democracy remains "secure and calm" despite the crucial upcoming elections.
"The gloom-and-doom myths are what dominate the international commentary about Greece today. However, those who choose to dig a bit deeper will find an innovative, re-energized tourism sector, offering noticeably higher quality services at far more competitive prices. And of course, visitors will find the same jaw-dropping scenery, sumptuous cuisine, cultural treasures and vibrant nightlife that have always set Greece apart from the rest.
Karapanagioti will also give interviews to the Italian La Stampa, the Spanish El Mundo and China's CCTV channel.
 July pensions to be paid as normal, caretaker minister saysThe payment of pensions in July will take place as normal, caretaker labour and social insurance minister Antonis Roupakiotis told reporters on Wednesday, during his first and last press conference for journalists covering the ministry.
Based on the information supplied by the management of social insurance funds, Roupakiotis said that there would be no problem with the payment of the pensions in the following month but refused to give any assurances concerning August, saying that this was beyond the remit of the caretaker government and minister.
The labour minister confirmed that social insurance fund finances were in a poor state and that the largest social insurance fund IKA would need 1.4 billion euro from the state budget to pay for pensions, while the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) would need a further 260 million euro to pay unemployment benefits, despite the fact that only one in five unemployed received unemployment benefit.
Noting that most Greeks paid their social insurance contributions at the end of each month, Roupakiotis said that the financial picture that emerged reflected the true capabilities of social insurance funds and that the payment of contributions had been impacted by the state of the economy. An increase in unemployment by one percent resulted in losses amounting to 450 million euro for the social insurance funds, he added.
The labour minister focused especially on the climate in the labour market, which he said was not so much the result of abolishing the residual duration of collective agreements as of the constant rejection of sectoral labour agreements by employers, who were daily replacing these with company and individual contracts "with significantly less favourable terms". He noted that in many cases, there was even pressure on individual employees to force them to accept these personalised contracts.
 Defensys 2012 exhibition postponed due to lack of firm bookingsThe international defence industry exhibition "Defensys" due to be held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki in 2012 will be postponed, possibly until 2013, due to a lack of firm bookings from abroad. Organisers said that the extended pre-election period and general uncertainty concerning the future of the Greek economy discouraged major foreign defence industry firms from paying deposits to confirm their participation, even though a large number of firms had responded to the initial deadline for expressing interest at the end of May.
"Companies were asking for more time, for example until July, but as organisers we were unable to wait any longer if we wanted to hold a successful exhibition," said the head of the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry Dimitris Bakatselos, one of the members of the Defensys organising team.
The previous Defensys was held in 2010, with the participation of 162 companies.
 NEL Lines reaches settlement with state, to resume routesNEL Lines, the ferry boat operator mostly servicing the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, on Wednesday announced that it will resume subsidised routes after receiving guarantees that a portion of the amount owed to it by the state will be paid by Thursday.
According to the company, the ministry of development pledged that "bureaucratic procedures" will not block the full settlement of the discrepancy.
The amount owed to NEL Lines and its subsidiary "C-Link Ferries" is roughly 8.5 million euros.
 Business Briefs-- Greece's import price index in the industrial sector rose 5.2 pct in April this year, compared with the same month in 2011, after an increase of 8.0 pct recorded in April 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.
-- E-purchases from Internet users rose 28.3 pct in the first quarter of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday, adding that Internet users making purchases through the web accounted for 23.6 pct of total users in the country.
-- ION, a Greek chocolate industry, on Wednesday reported a decline in sales and profits for the second consecutive year in 2011, affected by a continuing decline in demand for chocolate products in the domestic market.
 Stocks end 2.09 pct upStocks ended significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, boosted by expectations that the June 17 elections will result to a strong government. The composite index of the market rose 2.09 pct to end at 499.56 points, off the day's highs of 502.70 points. Turnover remained a low 33.209 million euros.
The Big Cap index jumped 2.75 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.76 pct higher. Banks (5.29 pct), Utilities (4.97 pct) and Construction (3.82 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (2.97 pct), Commerce (2.82 pct) and Oil (0.27 pct) suffered losses.
Alpha Bank (10.23 pct), Eurobank (8.04 pct) and PPC (7.69 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OPAP (3.31 pct), Folli Follie (2.80 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (0.73 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 78 to 36 with another 30 issues unchanged. Dias Aquaculture (24.38 pct), Avenir (21.57 pct) and AAA (20 pct) were top gainers, while Euromedica (20 pct), Varvaresos (20 pct) and Teletypos (19.76 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.27%
Personal & Household: +1.38%
Raw Materials: +3.22%
Travel & Leisure: -2.97%
Food & Beverages: +2.96%
Financial Services: +4.61%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Alpha Bank and Coca Cola 3E.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.95
Public Power Corp (PPC): 1.40
HBC Coca Cola: 12.44
Hellenic Petroleum: 4.09
National Bank of Greece: 1.04
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.50
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds narrowed slightly to 27.79 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 29.28 pct and the German Bund 1.49 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 1.0 million euros, which were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.93 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and the one-month rate 0.38 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a small premium of 0.16 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover falling to 18.114 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,520 contracts worth 9.541 million euros, with 22,885 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 97,894 contracts worth 8.573 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (29,022), followed by Alpha Bank (22,218), Cyprus Bank (20,530), Piraeus Bank (4,200), MIG (4,117), OTE (3,683), Cyprus Popular Bank (3,208), OPAP (2,206) and PPC (2,115),
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.272
Pound sterling 0.818
Danish kroner 7.543
Swedish kroner 8.964
Japanese yen 101.3
Swiss franc 1.218
Norwegian kroner 7.624
Canadian dollar 1.305
Australian dollar 1.275
 Australian pupils visit Greece as part of educational/cultural programmeOn 11 June 2012, the Australian Embassy in Athens received 46 students and teachers from St Spyridon College in Sydney, Australia.
St Spyridon College is a co-educational school providing education to some 700 students from kindergarten to Year 12. It was established in 1983 by the St Spyridon Parish of South East Sydney, under the auspices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. St Spyridon students come from 20 different cultural backgrounds.
The visit is part of the school's annual program aiming to immerse students in the Greek language, culture and history. In Athens, the students laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Syntagma Square and at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Alimos. The students were also received at a reception hosted by Ambassador Jenny Polyxeni Bloomfield at the Australian Residence.
During their stay, the students will tour archeological sites and visit various parts of Greece.
As part of this year's ANZAC Day commemorations, the St Spyridon College students also took part in an on-line communication with students from Livadohori on Limnos, during which students reflected on Limnos' bonds with the ANZAC campaign and discussed the historical links between the two nations.
"These visits reflect the strong and enduring people to people, educational and cultural links between Australia and Greece - underpinned by the 500,000 strong Greek community in Australia and over 100,000 Australian citizens living in Greece," said Bloomfield.
"The strong bonds between our two countries are felt especially keenly during these difficult times for Greece. Australia believes that Greece will be able to overcome its problems, and we stand ready to assist in any way that we can," she added.
Greek is one of Australia's major community languages, spoken at home by some 250,000 Australians, and is among the top ten languages studied at Australian schools. In 2011 the Australian Government identified Greek for inclusion in Australia's national curriculum as a foreign language to be offered to students in Australian schools. This is an important development for the maintenance of the Greek language among the Greek-Australian community, in addition to community schools, an Australian Embassy press release said.
 Pharmacist, 52, shot dead in Rendi districtA 52-year-old pharmacist, father of two, was shot dead by gunfire at the corner of Nikolaidis and Perikleous streets in the Agios Ioannis Rendi municipality, a working-class district near Piraeus.
Police later announced that the evidence concerning the attack on Spyros Poukamisas, which took place near the victim's pharmacy, points toward robbery as the motive. The pharmacist was not known to have any financial differences with anyone, ruling out a settling of accounts as the motive for the shooting. A search is still on to find the culprit.
According to eye-witness reports, the pharmacist was accosted by two men that tried to force him to hand over a bag containing an unknown quantity of money. When he resisted, one of robbers shot him and the two men then got away in a yellow car of French make. The victim was hit by three 9mm bullets.
 Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Society president on murder of Piraeus pharmacistPanhellenic Pharmaceutical Society president Theodoros Ambatzoglou said he was shocked by the cowardly murder of the pharmacist Spyros Poukamisas who was a member of the Piraeus Pharmaceutical Society.
"The pharmaceutical world is grieving today for a fighter pharmacist and an excellent family man," Ambatzoglou said, expressing his warm condolences to his family and calling for the arrest and exemplary punishment of the ruthless murderers.
 Kymi bank robbers arrested at dawn on WednesdayThe two gunmen who robbed the branch office of the Agricultural Bank and played a leading role in the ensuing manhunt in the city of Kymi, in eastern Evia, on Tuesday, were arrested at dawn on Wednesday.
They are two Greeks aged 42 and 45 who were arrested following an extensive police operation in which forces of the Evia Police Department participated with backing by the Greek Police.
The operation led to the discovery and confiscation of three stolen vehicles, the weapons used by the perpetrators during the robbery, as well as all the money they seized from the bank, amounting to 121,500 euros.
The 42-year-old was found in possession of a pistol and two magazines and 30 cartridges, while his accomplice was arrested shortly afterwards and on the roof of a home a bag was found in which he had hidden a pistol and 23 cartridges.
 Thieves make off with entire photovoltaic park in the night in SerresThieves dismantled and took off with an entire photovoltaic park in Strymonochori, Serres, during the night, police reported on Wednesday.
The owner of the park could not believe his eyes when he went to the photovoltaic installations on Wednesday morning and saw only the concrete bases, with 176 of the total 220 installed panels missing and a several holes cut in the steel wire fence.
According to early information, the thieves broke into the installations during the night with a truck and unscrewed the photovoltaic panels from their concrete bases without being seen, since the photovoltaic park is situated in an uninhabited area.
The financial loss caused is unknown, but according to first estimates is more than 80,000 euros.
Serres police are conducting an investigation into the theft.
 Two injured in attack on KKE campaign boothTwo people were injured in an attack on a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) campaign booth in the northern Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi on Tuesday night.
Unknown perpetrators caused damage to the booth and injured two KKE supporters, who were giving out campaign material at the booth, before fleeing.
Police are investigating the incident.
 Four arrested for illegal arms tradeFour individuals, aged 29, 34, 36 and 41, were arrested on charges of dealing in illegal weapons, a ring allegedly run out of an unlicensed gun shop in west Athens' Peristeri district.
A police search of the suspects' residences, the store and three restaurants owned by the suspects, among others, turned up for assault rifles, three sub-machine guns, more than a dozen handguns and three shotguns, along with ammunition.
All four were led before a prosecutor.
 Police officer arrested for extortionA 50-year-old police officer was arrested and charged of extortion and breach of duty after his alleged victim, a physician, filed a complaint that led to an investigation by the police internal affairs unit, it was announced on Wednesday.
The 52-year-old physician filed the complaint on Tuesday, charging that the police officer demanded his motorcycle in order not to expose him for previous illegal actions he claimed the latter (physician) had committed.
According to reports, the police officer threatened the man with legal action by utilising a complaint filed by another individual. The third person had claimed that the physician issued fake certificates using official seals of state hospitals.
The police officer was arrested on Tuesday afternoon while allegedly taking possession of the motorcycle's keys and after signing legal documents transferring its title to him.
 Large quantity of contraband cigarettes confiscated in Messinia prefecturePolice detected two trucks in the Messinia prefecture on Tuesday morning containing 585,840 packets of cigarettes of various companies that lacked a consumption tax indication.
The drivers abandoned the two trucks and fled away after police asked them to stop for a check.
The contraband cigarettes were confiscated, as well as the trucks that were found to have forged licence plates.
 Psychological support to minors of incarcerated mothersUnderage children of mothers incarcerated in the Korydallos and Eleona correctional facilities will be offered free psychological and psychiatric support, as well as healthcare services on a regular basis, following an agreement signed between the ministry of justice and four hospitals in Athens, it was announced on Wednesday.
The agreement came into effect on Tuesday and will be re-examined annually by ministry representatives and cooperating hospitals.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe parties' campaigns ahead of Sunday's repeat general elections, the continuing outflow of bank deposits and the nearly deplete state coffers were the main items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ND leader Samaras: 12 measures for security and immigration issue".
AVGHI: "The first 5 measures - Government of the Left as of June 18".
AVRIANI: "Only hope for Greece is Alexis Tsipras' leadership stature".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Greece is full of petrol (deposits)".
ELFTHEROS TYPOS: "Eurozone is teetering - Merkel (German chancellor) living in her own world".
ESTIA: "Catastrophe at the gates".
ETHNOS: "They (troika) want 'autograph' (signature) from Alexis (SYRIZA leader Tsipras) too".
IMERISSIA: ?"SOS from the state coffers - Salaries, pensions, benefits at risk as from July 15".
KATHIMERINI: "State has money for up to July 20".
LOGOS: "Desperate picture in the job market".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Payments default salvaged the 5-month deficit".
NIKI: "The public sector branches in which dismissals will be made".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strong KKE - Springboard for the movement - Force of pressure in parliament, too".
TA NEA: "They're playing it all for all".
VRADYNI: "Pension: Which workers consolidate eligibility with 4,500 work stamps".
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