|Saturday, 24 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 6 July 2012 Issue No: 4114
 PM meets troika chiefs, says government will speed up reformsMeeting the head of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund 'troika' mission in Athens on Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras underlined the government's willingness to make more decisive progress in the fiscal consolidation programme for Greece and accelerate structural reforms that would allow the economy to recover, create jobs and strengthen social cohesion.
The meeting lasted nearly an hour, during which Samaras outlined his main positions for the future of the Greek economy as these were laid out in his letter to the Eurozone member-state leaders at their recent summit, including the premier's statement that Greece accepts 'ownership' of the fiscal programme.
According to one of the prime minister's aides, the government intends to first implement policies that produce tangible results and then seek a renegotiation of bailout terms. Emphasis is also given to the meeting between the troika and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Sunday, after which the finance minister will travel to Brussels to attend the Eurogroup. The government's goal is to avoid the necessity for ratification of any decisions taken by European member-states by EU national parliaments, which it believes will introduce further complications and launch a new round of debate concerning the Greek problem.
 Reichenbach: No more words, but actionEuropean Commission Task Force chief Horst Reichenbach said he was very satisfied with the new coalition government's determination for the structural reforms to proceed, adding that this was the first time he ascertained this in Greece, in statements to AMNA on Thursday on the sidelines of an exports conference in Athens.
Reichenbach, who left Greece after the conference, said of his first contacts with the new Greek government that there was a clear determination on the part of the government to act, and the will existed to proceed with the reforms, at a degree that he has not seen to now in Greece. There is also a sense of urgency, that the success and the results must come quickly, he said, adding that there was an open disposition to continue with the Task Force a very constructive cooperation, for the provision of technical assistance, which is offered by many EU member states and man international organisations to the Greek authorities.
He said he was very satisfied, and that all the sides clarified the changes and progress they are seeking, as well as how the Task Force, on its part, can contribute to attaining those targets.
The next step, he continued, is that now all that has been agreed needs to be applied. No more words, the words need to be put into action, Reichenbach said, adding that the conference showed that the business world wants a facilitation of exports, simplification of the procedures, and this will have a positive impact on the business climate.
Asked what the first priority is for the Greek economy, Reichenbach said it is the Greek government that will determine the priorities, and the Task Force ?is here to back them".
 Task Force chief meets with new FMVisiting European Commission Task Force chief Horst Reichenbach met on Thursday with foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, in the context of the Commission official's first meetings with the members of the new Greek government.
During the meeting, which was also attended by deputy foreign minister Dimitris Kourkoulis and ministry and Task Force officials, Reichenbach briefed the minister on the progress so far in the Task Force's mission to Greece, and ways in which the ministry could assist in the Task Force's work were discussed.
 EU Task Force head meets health minister, pledges to help improve e-systemsThe head of the European Union's Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach on Thursday said that his team intends to provide the country's new health minister with every possible help in getting an electronic prescription system running smoothly and in properly organising an electronic system for monitoring healthcare sector procurements.
In brief statements after meeting Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, Reichenbach said his team will support the health minister in dealing with the challenges involved, supplying knowhow and anything else required to improve the operation of the country's healthcare system.
The minister stressed that this support was necessary and useful and would contribute to producing specific results: "There is a commitment to implementing the targets and we will work hard for this," he said.
Lykourentzos said that the work must begin by perfecting the electronic prescription system and providing network coverage throughout the country, after which all systems involved in this process must be electronically linked up, including that of the National Organisation for Healthcare Service Providers (EOPYY).
The third goal will be to reduce spending on medication, with the aim to have the lowest possible price for each drug apply each time, in line with what has been achieved in other European countries where this target has been met, such as Austria. The minister did not rule out a change in the way pharmaceuticals were priced in order to meet this goal.
A fourth goal is to bring about improvements in terms of the Diagnosis-Related Group hospital fee system and restrict the number of bodies purchasing supplies in order to ensure better control of prices for consumables and drugs.
After the meeting, it was announced that a working team including representatives of the finance and labour ministries will be set up at the health ministry in order to jointly make decisions and initiate actions linked to healthcare finances. A meeting between the health and finance ministers to discuss the health sector's financial affairs and outstanding debts to suppliers and pharmaceutical firms is to take place next week.
 Administrative Reform Minister Manitakis holds talks with troika representativesThe decisions on the government's negotiating position towards the troika regarding the restructuring of the public sector, with the issue of layoffs as the focus, will be taken at a central political level. On the specific question of the organisations that will merge or be abolished it will be the product of a collective decision by the parties participating in the government, according to Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis.
Speaking after a meeting with the troika representatives, Manitakis said the discussion took place in a very constructive climate. As he said, "the course of the reforms was discussed and the priorities in each sector were raised."
 Environment ministry leadership holds talks with troika representativesThe leadership of the Environment, Energy and Climatic Change ministry held talks on Thursday with the representatives of the troika.
According to reports, the course of the implementation of the memorandum's provisions in the energy sector was examined, with the deregulation of the market, the structuring of the invoices of the Public Power Corporation and access by third parties to the lignite production of electricity being the focus.
 Justice ministry met goal as regards the number of major tax violation cases triedThe justice ministry exceeded the target set concerning the number of major tax violation cases tried in court, as it was established by the visiting troika representatives on Thursday.
Administrative court judges and court of appeals judges tried 54 pct of the major tax violation cases brought to justice exceeding the 50 pct target set as minimum.
The opening up of the legal profession and the reform of the Lawyers Code, as well as the course of the e-Justice Action Plan and the presidential decree on the country's Small-Claims Courts were also discussed in the meeting with the troika representatives.
 New FinMin sworn inNew finance minister Yannis Stournaras was sworn in on Thursday, with prime minister Antonis Samaras in attendance, in the premier's first public appearance after recent eye surgery.
Also, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou was sworn in as deputy minister of state, and Costas Tsiaras as deputy foreign minister.
 Gov't has given up on renegotiating Memorandum, SYRIZA claimsThe main opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday repeated accusations that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition government have backtracked on pre-election promises to renegotiate the terms of bailout loans to Greece, highlighting his decision to put off the government policy statement until after his meeting with the EU-IMF troika.
"Mr. Samaras' choice to meet the troika first and then present his government's policy statement to Parliament and the Greek people clearly illustrates [the government's] intentions and priorities," a SYRIZA press office announcement stressed.
The pre-election promises of all three parties in the coalition government to renegotiate the terms of the Memorandum had now given their place to a faithful implementation of Memorandum commitments that fully ignored the message of the elections, the party added.
These included privatisations and the selling off of public wealth that would deprive the economy of valuable tools for national growth, continued reductions in public spending by wage and pension cuts, the dismantling of the welfare state and cuts in public investments programme in ways that would increase unemployment and deepen the recession, the announcement added.
The only prospect for the Greek economy's recovery was the overthrow of destructive Memorandum policies and a new strategic plan to support growth, employment and a productive restructuring of the economy, SYRIZA stressed.
The party's Parliamentary representative Panagiotis Kouroublis, in separate statements on Thursday, also reacted to suggestions made by British Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK was considering plans to close its borders to Greek nationals if the country exited the eurozone.
Kouroublis said the statements were politically and diplomatically "unacceptable" and stressed that "such slips do not help establish a climate of confidence that is needed for the EU to deal with the economic crisis that now affects it as a whole".
"Given that the United Kingdom hosts within its territory the base of the speculative banking system that is at the centre of the creation of problems that European countries and especially Greece, are catastrophically experiencing, he has an obligation to carry out corrective actions in the interior of his own country before he proceeds with the utterance, with admittedly unrivalled ease, of statements that undermine European bonds," he added.
Kouroublis also underlined that the government must take all necessary diplomatic steps to ensure that Cameron revised or retracted the statements that were a blow to Greece's dignity and the principle of solidarity between EU member states.
 Government spokesman replies to criticism from SYRIZAGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, replying to a question by the press regarding criticism from the main opposition party, said "this government with a mandate by the people has chosen our stay in Europe and the euro. SYRIZA (the Radical Left Coalition) and the interests of the drachma can wait until the next elections."
 Venizelos calls for extension of fiscal adjustment to 2017Greece now needs the clear political support of its partners, so that the fiscal crisis will not turn into a crisis of social cohesion and political dysfunction, because Greece cannot serve as a "laboratory of failure of the eurozone policies" but rather of those policies' renewal to bring it out of the crisis, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos told a meeting of his party's parliamentary group.
He said that "we need an agreed, realistic and applicable framework that is in harmony with the decisions of the European Council", adding the Mid-Term framework currently in effect was inadequate and therefore a new, realistic, updated Medium-Term Programme is needed, with extension of the fiscal adjustment to 2017.
Greece, he continued, states its preparedness to apply all the necessary reforms and structural changes that are linked to changing the state, growth and the creation of jobs, but added that blatant dismissals in the public could not be made and are not required, but rather an overall evaluation of the structures, services and personnel in the public sector.
In that respect, he said that the 1:5 ratio of one hiring per 5 withdrawals in the public sector was feasible, and could even be made stricter, at a 1:10 ratio.
Venizelos further said that there could be no further cuts in salaries and pensions, but instead an escalated formula of the tax obligations of the citizens.
During the Parliamentary group meeting, Venizelso also announced the MPs that would be its rapporteurs for each ministry or major sector of government policy, naming a total of 28 MPs for 18 ministries/policy sectors that included finance, administrative reform, interior, national defence, development, transport and networks, environment, health, labour and social insurance, education and culture, sport, agricultural development, justice, citizen protection, tourism, shipping, Macedonia-Thrace, and ministry of state.
Still to be named is the MP rapporteur for foreign ministry affairs.
 Ind'p Greeks to introduce revised nationality draft billThe Independent Greeks party will introduce a draft bill on Monday abolishing legislation passed by the previous Papandreou government on the acquisition of the Greek nationality, it was announced on Thursday.
The party's Parliamentary group secretary, Costas Markopoulos, said the main points of the bill will include introduction of stricter preconditions for the acquisition of the Greek nationality, even compared with those in effect before the so-called Ragoussis Law (Law No. 3838/10).
Also, the bill will recommend the abolition of the right of non-EU third country nationals to vote and stand for office in local administration elections, Amendment of article 72, Law No. 3886/2005 on "the entry, residence and social integration of third country nationals" and the introduction of a population quota restriction for the acquisition of "legal residence", based on economic and social viability conditions.
According to the bill, only Greek nationals will be admitted into military and police academies, as was the case before the Ragoussis Law was put into effect.
 KKE party on government's meetings with troikaAn announcement by the press office of the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Central Committee on Thursday said "the joint governance and the troika, the representatives of the EU and the IMF, are meeting as associates to jointly decide on how the implementation of the barbaric measures will become more effective so that the people will continue to pay the consequnces of the crisis and the deadlocks of the EU. For this reason the people do not need better negotiators, but organising, solidarity and determination for them to exit themselves, with their own forces, from the tunnel of the euro-oneway path of impoverishment."
 Macedonia University bestows Bulgarian President Plevneliev with honourary doctorateThe University of Macedonia's Business Organisation and Administration faculty in Thessaloniki on Thursday bestowed Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev with an honourary doctorate.
The event took place in the university's hall of ceremonies and the rector, Yiannis Hatzidimitriou, stressed in his address that the university is ready to contribute to the common development targets of Greece and Bulgaria and through their achievement to contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations and the improvement of the prosperity of the peoples of the two countries.
 New FinMIn: There's light at end of tunnel, but tunnel is long"Starting today we are entering very deep waters. We have difficult years ahead and we can only promise hard work. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is long," new Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters during a swearing-in ceremony at the ministry, Stournaras stressed: "We are taking over at perhaps the most difficult time for the Greek economy".
Commenting on his meeting earlier with the heads of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", the minister said that the troika representatives was briefed over the situation of the Greek economy after two general elections, adding that the programe was both in and out of the framework.
"We do not see the troika as occupiers, we see them as colleagues, they represent creditors and we are obliged to live together," Stournaras said. The new FinMin said he will brief his European colleagues at the Eurogroup next Monday over the condition of the Greek economy.
 EC Task Force chief: Very great potential for increasing Greek exportsThere is very great potential for increasing Greek exports, European Commission Task Force for Greece ch8ief Horst Reichenbach told an exports conference in Athens on Thursday, adding that the country was in a good geographical position with many promising young entrepreneurs and a staff dynamic with many qualifications.
What remains is to complete the structural changes, he said, adding that the first step has been taken concerning the competitiveness of the Greek economy, and a significant contribution is the management of the labor cost, which needs to be continued in order for the competitiveness terms to improve even more in the coming years.
Addressing a conference titled "Exports, a springboard for growth and exiting the crisis", held at a central Athens hotel under the aegis of the foreign ministry, Reichenbach said that the strategies for exports have been set out and indicate that the benefits are ahead of us. The promotion of Greek products and facilitation of export processes are the two main areas in which the effort for changes focuses on, and technical teams are already working in this direction'
He noted that Greece sought the assistance of the Task Force and since March 2012 experts from the US and Sweden have been working at technocrats level, while the Netherlands has also agreed to provide technical assistance with experts from its export federations, and by the end of 2012 new services are planned to be added to improve the image of Greek products and services in collaboration with all the other related authorities.
Reichenbach said a chart of targets has been drafted with recommendations to the Greek authorities, while the reports drafted in April 2012 for the finance and development ministries pointed out the delays that need to be eliminated in order for Greece to align itself with the other European countries.
The experts, he continued, have proposed specific timetables and the points on which efforts need to focus are establishment of a national strategy to facilitate exports, among all sides involved and at all levels, and drastic simplification of the various procedures (licensing, etc). He cited as an example that today there are some 150 different types of certification whereas in France there are only 35.
On Customs procedures, he said that bureaucracy needs to be reduced by half (5- percent) and procedures that are very rarely used in Greece need to be simplified.
Reichenbach also noted that the UN and the Task Force are organising two labs on exports in Athens on July 19 and 20 in order to set out the priorities in the existing situation.
"We are fully aware" of the difficult conditions in corporate financing and that new moves must be made urgently, he said, noting that some platforms are already ready and with the elimination of the other obstacles "we feel that we have the ability to aim at a high rate of exports".
He said the Task Force was not overlooking the fact that the current economic conditions are particularly adverse for businesses, as demand has declined by more than 25 percent and investments have fallen by more than 40 percent and several thousands of companies have gone out of business.
The Greek economy is of a similar size with other European markets, but in comparison appears to be a 'closed market', and this alone shows that there is room for great improvement, Reichenbach said.
 President Papoulias addresses business forum at Bulgarian EmbassyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday delivered the opening remarks at a business forum organised by the Bulgarian Embassy in Athens to coincide with an official visit by Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev to Greece. Addressing the forum, Papoulias underlined the need for a new, healthy and productive model for development in the country that will help Greece emerge from the crisis empowered while preserving its social cohesion.
"This effort passes through the harsh sacrifices of the Greek people, which are often not appreciated by our partners," he added, noting that Greece was seeking to create a more favourable environment for business and become a country that attracted investments.
Papoulias noted that Greece and Bulgaria had strengthened their ties through past joint initiatives and efforts, creating a significant precedent in the Balkans and a valuable example of good neighbour relations and mutual esteem. These bilateral economic and commercial ties could be further boosted through the two countries' European course, he said. Among others, he pointed out that Bulgaria had received 54.29 million euro from Greece through the Greek Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans, of which 79 percent was spent on public works, 20 percent on private investments and 1 percent on micro-projects.
Finally, he expressed Greece's enduring interest in the currently stalled plan to construct the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and other energy projects such as the South Stream and IGB natgas pipelines.
 Finances of insurance funds worseningThe situation concerning insurance funds is shaky according to data provided on Thursday at the 2nd annual regular conference of the Panhellenic Federation of Social Policy Organisations Staff.
According to the Federation's president Thanassis Kapotas, the Social Insurance Fund (IKA) must secure 1.4 billion by the end of the year or 350 million a month to be able to meet its commitments.
As regards the Self-Employed Professionals Insurance Organisation (OAEE), the Organisation's deficit expected for this year is about 830 million euros.
 FDI flows towards Greece low, potential significant, UNCTAD saysGreece lost more ground in the world investment list, hit by a deep recession and a lack of confidence in the economy because of a debt crisis in the country, UNCTAD said in its World Investment Report 2012.
The report "Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies", focused on the fundamental role played by governments in determining an international investment scene and the need to create, promote and implement new generation policies for foreign direct investments. The report was presented by UNCTAD and the American College of Greece.
The report said that Greece fell to the 142 place in the 2011 list, from 134 in 2010 among 181 countries based on the Inward FDI Attraction Index, while based on the Inward FDI Potential Index, Greece's place was 59 among 177 countries. These figures show that Greece is currently a low investment attraction country but with significant potential. Based on the Inward FDI Contribution Index, Greece ranks 67 among 79 countries.
Net foreign direct investments totaled 1.823 billion US dollars in 2011, from 373 million in 2010, while net FDI outflows rose to 1.788 billion US dollars in 2011 from 979 million in 2010.
Global FDI flows rose to 1.5 trillion US dollars in 2011, reflecting strong investment trends in developed, developing and transition countries. FDI flows to developed countries rose 21 pct to 748 billion US dollars, FDI flows to developing countries grew 11 pct to a record 684 billion dollars, UNCTAD said.
 Decline in tourist arrivals on RhodesTourist arrivals on the island of Rhodes posted a 10 percent decline in June 2012 against the same month last year, according to Rhodes "Diagoras" Airport data announced on Thursday.
A decline was recorded from most tourist markets, with the largest being in visitors from Poland, Italy and Slovakia. A decline was also recorded in tourists from the most popular markets, England and Germany.
Conversely, a small increase was recorded in tourist arrivals from Russia and Norway.
Despite the decline in figures, English tourists remained in first place in arrivals on the island, with Russian tourists coming second.
 Environmental impact study on Votanikos-Alexandras twin regeneration project OK'dAn environmental study on the Votanikos-Alexandras Avenue twin regeneration project was approved on Thursday by the Regional Attica Council, giving the "green light" to the largest project ever implemented in the municipality.
Regional Governor Yiannis Sgouros said the approved environmental impact study is in compliance with a relevant Council of State (CoS) ruling.
The long-standing twin urban regeneration project involves the old Alexandras Avenue Panathinaikos pitch and the currently run-down Votanikos district in downtown Athens.
According to the current plan, building construction at the Votanikos site will be reduced by 66,000 square meters, while open spaces and "green" areas will be increased by 30,000 square meters. A total of 178,000 square meters will become public recreation spaces and "green" areas, while 43,000 square meters of private real estate will be turned into a department store.
 Asmussen figure for 'average' Greek public-sector wage simply wrong, SYRIZA stressesThe figure of 3,000 euro per month quoted as the 'average' Greek public-sector salary by European Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen was simply wrong, the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party Parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Kouroublis stressed on Thursday.
Commenting on Asmussen's remark at the Economist Conference held in Athens on July 2, Kouroublis was equally scathing about the ECB board member's inaccuracies but also the Greek government's failure to react "to the insult of misinformation".
"It is clear that the ECB's high-ranking executives lack seriousness and professionalism if they make mistakes of such magnitude, and extortionately impose their catastrophic policies without first ensuring that they have been informed about the real situation that exists in Greece," Kouroublis said.
He clarified that SYRIZA had waited three days for the government to state its position concerning Asmussen's comments, adding that no one, regardless of their position, had a right to spread false information that created a negative climate in European public opinion against Greece and the Greeks - especially not those who were supposed to monitor, suggest and impose political choices on the country.
SYRIZA's Parliamentary spokesman also noted that the comment, which was picked up and reproduced by sections of the foreign media, was mysteriously omitted from the official Greek translation of the ECB official's speech on the Economist website.
 KKE joins in criticising Hellenic Sugar privatisationCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday stressed her opposition to the planned sale of the state-owned Hellenic Sugar Industry (EBZ), calling the plan to sell off the country's remaining sugar processing plants "a political and economic crime".
"This sale has nothing to do with the crisis but is being carried out to ensure implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy," she said, emphasising that the buyer would not only receive the plant but also the quota rights, so that those buying the factory would also buy the subsidies that had previously gone to farmers.
Papariga made the statements after meeting a delegation of the EBZ's workforce at her party's headquarters in Perissos, promising that KKE would table a proposed amendment of the relevant clause referring to the sale of the EBZ in the Memorandum.
She stressed that her party opposed the sale in principle, in the belief that Greece could become fully self-sufficient in sugar and thus avoid the import of products that could be manufactured in Greece. KKE's leader also pointed out that closing the sugar plants would not only impact the workers in the plants but also the farmers and all other businesses involved in the collection, storage and packaging of sugar, while increasing the country's import burden and raising sugar prices.
 Stocks end 2.03 pct downStocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as investors took profits after a four-day rally which pushed the market 12.44 pct higher.
A negative trend in other European markets, after ECB's gloomy forecasts over Eurozone's economic outlook, also dampened sentiment in the Greek market. The composite index fell 2.03 pct to end at 637.05 points, with turnover rising slightly to 40.589 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 2.42 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.23 pct lower. The Telecoms (2.31 pct), Industrial Products (1.77 pct) and Health (1.61 pct) sectors scored gains, while Technology (6.13 pct), Food (5.41 pct) and Banks (3.78 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Ellaktor (6.72 pct), Viohalco (2.78 pct) and OTE (2.31 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (6.35 pct), Coca Cola 3E (5.42 pct) and Eurobank (5.08 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 67 to 59 with another 21 issues unchanged. Cyclon (23.23 pct), Neorio (19.62 pct) and Selonda (13.75 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (19 pct), Sato (8.18 pct) and Attikat (17.65 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.10%
Personal & Household: -1.75%
Raw Materials: -0.87%
Travel & Leisure: -3.02%
Food & Beverages: -5.41%
Financial Services: -2.22%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, HBC Coca Cola and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 01/01/18
Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/30
HBC Coca Cola: 14.83
Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/26
National Bank of Greece: 01/01/39
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.69
Bank of Piraeus: 0.24
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.77 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising further to 15.605 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,988 contracts worth 8.336 million euros, with 20,713 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 48,232 contracts worth 7.269 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (13,424), followed by Alpha Bank (13,413), OTE (4,176), PPC (3,058), OPAP (1,976), Piraeus Bank (3,264), Cyprus Popular Bank (3,625), MIG (333), Coca Cola (268), Hellenic Exchanges (110) and Mytilineos (547).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1261
Pound sterling 810
Danish kroner 7548
Swedish kroner 8747
Japanese yen 100.63
Swiss franc 1219
Norwegian kroner 7588
Canadian dollar 1276
Australian dollar 1225
 Convicted N17 terrorist to be temporarily released to receive treatmentA Piraeus court on Thursday unanimously accepted a request by convicted N17 terrorist Savvas Xiros for a fiive-month temporary and conditional release from prison to undergo treatment at Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital.
Xiros is serving five consecutive life sentences, with an additional 25 years, for his participation in the ultra-leftist "November 17" urban terror gang. He was arrested in June 2002 at the port of Piraeus when he was seriously injured during a explosion of a bomb he was placing. The blast resulted in his loss of eyesight in one eye, the partial loss of vision in the other, while blowing away part of his right hand.
His attorney also claimed that his client suffers from hearing loss and extensive swelling in both legs due to some type of unnamed virus, which he said was contracted in prison.
 Precinct commander suspended after notorious terror suspects disappearThe commanding officer of a police precinct in Athens' inner city Exarchia district was suspended from duty following a decision by the Greek Police (EL.AS) chief on Thursday, in response to the disappearance of notorious terror suspects Nikos Maziotis and his companion Paula Roupa.
The pair are accused of involvment in the ultra-leftist urban terrorist group "Revolutionary Struggle", while Maziotis has previous terrorism-linked convictions.
An inquiry into the case was also ordered by Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias.
Maziotis and Roupa, who have a young child together, were freed after spending 18 months in jail pending trial. When the 18-month period to be tried expired, they were freed and ordered to report to the specific police precinct on a regular basis. The last time they appeared was on June 20.
Their failure to appear in the courtroom where their trial was held on Wednesday raised suspicions within the counter-terrorism unit, which was not notified by the responsible police precinct that the two had failed to appear since June 20. A search at their residence in the Exarchia neighbourhood showed that it was abandoned.
 2 receive suspended sentences in ERT World caseThe former director of the state-run ERT World channel, Nikos Kourtis, and one-time ERT journalist Irene Nikolopoulou were handed 12-month suspended sentences on Thursday after being found guilty of breach of duty and moral instigation, respectively. Another three journalists were acquitted of all charges.
The ERT World trial began last May based on charges filed in June 2010 by prosecutor Panagiota Fakou following an investigation on reported financial irregularities in ERT.
According to the case file, the operating cost of ERT World had spiraled from 300,000 euros in 2005 to 3-4 million euros in 2009, because of alleged unjustified hirings with monthly salaries between 6,000 euros and 8,000 euros. According to the prosecutor, the operating cost of the television channel increased ten-fold when four basic internal productions were assigned to private production companies.
 Burned body of unidentified person found in apartment fireThe charred remains of an unidentified person were found in the early hours Thursday by firefighters in a second-floor apartment in the residential district of Neos Kosmos.
It is unknown whether the victim was male or female.
According to firefighters, the blaze broke out under unknown circumstances in the bedroom of the apartment and was extinguished before spreading to the other rooms, but firefighters found the burned body of an unidentified individual, believed to be the tenant of the apartment.
An investigation is underway into the causes of the fire and to identify the victim.
 Four football hooligans to serve time for murderAn Athens court of appeals on Thursday upheld a guilty verdict for four defendants in the murder of 26-year-old Panathinaikos fan Mihalis Filopoulos, who was killed on March 29, 2007 in a "rumble" between fans of rival teams in the Peania township, east of Athens proper.
The four defendants, who denied all charges against them, received between 10 and 16 years in prison.
The so-called "date with death" was set between Olympiacos and Panathinaikos hooligans outside the venue where a women's volleyball game was taking place.
 Alleged gang members appear before examining judgeFour of the 25 self-styled anarchists arrested in Thessaloniki in relation to recent fighting between rival gangs were released after testifying before an examining judge on Thursday. In their testimony all of the suspects denied charges against them.
Twenty-five people were arrested on Monday morning after police in Thessaloniki raided several occupied properties and hang-outs frequented by self-styled anti-state and anarchist activists.
Those arrested were charged with forming a criminal ring, aggravated assault and grand larceny in relation to recent disputes between rival gangs.
 Maximos Mansion restaurant to close by decision of PM SamarasBy decision of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras the Maximos Mansion restaurant that cost 63,000 euros a year will close.
 Switchover to fully digital TV signal to begin on July 20Greece will start the switchover to a fully digital signal for television on July 20, when the analog signal of nationally broadcast television stations currently transmitted from Mount Hymettus in Attica will stop, the digital provider Digea announced on Thursday. Areas served by the Hymettus transmitter include all of Athens and the Attica basin, the Mesogia areas of east Attica, the western shores of the Cyclades islands and the southern shores of Evia.
Based on a 2012 ministerial decision, after July 20 the Hymettus transmitter will only transmit the digital signal of all private and state-run channels broadcast nationwide, with the exception of the state channels ET1, NET and ET3 for which the switchover has been postponed until after the 2012 Olympics on August 17.
In addition to the Hymettus transmitter centre, Attica is also served by a centre on the island of Aegina that also broadcasts the digital signal of state TV channels, private channels and local television channels and serves mainly the southern areas of Attica, as well as a transmitter centre on Mount Parnitha that will continue to transmit the analog signal for all channels since it is not one of the 23 locations included in the first phase of the switchover.
The Hymettus centre serves an estimated 120,000-150,000 households that will not have the alternative option of receiving an analog signal once the switchover occurs, while recent laws have also given regional television stations the option of broadcasting a digital signal from Hymettus.
Digea warned that older techology television sets will need a digital-to-analog converter that supports MPEG4 in order to receive any signal and will need retuning to different frequencies.
 Wildfire in Istiea in EviaA wildfire breaking out in Istiea in Evia, in eastern Greece, at 2 p.m. on Thursday was reported still raging in the evening.
The blaze is laying waste a pine tree forest over the village of Vouta but residential areas are not in danger according to the fire brigade. Firefighting aircraft and a firefighting helicopter helping in combatting the wildfire left the area at nightfall and 42 firemen backed by 21 vehicles are continuing the struggle to place the blaze under control.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime Minister Antonis Samaras' meeting with the heads of the troika delegation and the coalition government parties' agreement on the policy statements, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Samaras crucial meeting with the troika on Thursday".
AVGHI: "Government executes contracts for troika".
DIMOKRATIA: "Police unveil the 28 persons who burned Athens".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Package arrangement for all taxes".
ESTIA: "Here's the opportunity for Greece".
ETHNOS: " 'Troikan' war' for 31.5 billion euros".
IMERISSIA: "Growth jump-start with three major works".
KATHIMERINI: "Repayment tax plan in 9 installments".
LOGOS: "Halt to extraordinary contributions".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Government will seek vote of confidence from the troika, too".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party : Tax allowances for the people and high taxation on the monopolies".
TA NEA: "Privates concerns in PPC, too".
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