|Friday, 23 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 11 July 2012 Issue No: 4118
 Finmin: Greece must get economic programme back on track before discussing modificationsBRUSSELS (AMNA/Maria Aroni)
Greece needs to get its economic adjustment program back on the right track this year before beginning a discussion on possible modifications and extending its fiscal goals, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after an Ecofin meeting here, the Greek minister said that Eurozone Finance ministers were inflexible concerning the implementation of measures in Greece in 2012 and announced that the Greek government must begin implementing measures first passed in March worth 3.0 billion euros. Stournaras, however, said he emphatically stressed to his counterparts the continued economic recession in Greece - which has proved to be deeper and longer than troika's forecasts with greater impact on the society and unemployment. The Greek minister said that the country will try to achieve its fiscal deficit goal for the current year (14.8 billion euros) in absolute numbers and not as a percentage of the country"s Gross Domestic Product. Stournaras said he did not submit a request for extending the Greek program, but expressed his confidence that "when the time comes (the request) will be made, because it is fair". "We are currently in the fifth year of recession," Stournaras said.
 FinMin assures Eurogroup: Greece will put programme back on trackBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)
Finance minister Yannis Stournaras assured the Eurogroup of the new Greek coalition government's intention to put the country's adjustment programme back on track, Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker told a press conference in the early hours of Tuesday after the conclusion of a marathon 9-hour meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels.
Juncker said that the eurozone finance ministers examined the first reports of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' inspectors' reports and the Eurogroup will return to the Greek issue when the Troika completes its evaluation and drafts its final report on progress in the Greek programme.
Replying to a relevant question, Juncker said that the Greek finance minister "did not make any requests" during the meeting for funding or a time extension of the target of reducing the fiscal deficit to the 3 percent ceiling.
"I imagine that there are such requests on the Greek side", he added, noting that the relevant discussions will be postponed for September at the latest.
On the Greek bond that expires on August 20, Juncker assured that the Eurogroup will find a solution.
The eurozone ministers also renewed Juncker's term as Eurogroup president for another 2 1/2 years, but Juncker stated that he does not intend to complete the term and will step down at the end of the year.
 SYRIZA blasts FinMin's stance at EurogroupMain opposition SYRIZA on Tuesday criticised Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras' stance at the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels the previous day.
"Consistent with his views, Mr. Stournaras did not seek any other path beyond strict implementation of the Memorandum," SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said, adding that "the minister's identity of views with the arguments and views of our lenders is reflected in Mr. Schauble's (German finance minister) congratulatory message to his Greek counterpart".
"All those who, before the elections, entrusted Mr. Samaras (prime minister and New Democracy leader), hoping in a different confrontation of the policy of the Memorandum feel absolutely belied," he said.
"Our people forgive mistakes, but not lies," Skourletis added.
 PASOK on Eurogroup, Ecofin meeting; SYRIZA's stancePASOK spokesperson Fofi Gennimata on Tuesday referred to the Eurogroup and Ecofin meeting, citing the "comprehensive strategy" outlined by party leader Evangelos Venizelos in the government's policy platform debate in Parliament.
She underlined that new macroeconomic data should be taken under consideration and the fiscal adjustment period should be extended by three years if possible and, in any case, by no less than two years, referring to the second phase of the negotiation and the revision of the loan contract for Greece.
Referring to the positions adopted by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Gennimata stated that it is engaged in moves "made for domestic consumption and for the purpose of creating impressions," adding that the only result is to "undermine the country's negotiating power".
The PASOK spokeswoman made the comment in response to a draft law to be sponsored by SYRIZA concerning the measure allowing labour contracts to remain in effect after expiration, the minimum wage, the unemployment benefit and other relevant issues.
 PASOK party leader calls for meeting between the three party leaders supporting governmentThe PASOK party has called for a meeting between the three party leaders supporting the government and with the participation of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, according to PASOK party sources.
The same sources said that PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos held a telephone conversation on the issue with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis, while the meeting, always according to the same reports, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
 KKE says 'renegotiation' a fraudThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said Tuesday that the so-called "renegotiation" in the EU that would bring relief from the Memorandums and the consequences of the crisis has proved to have been a "fraud" from the very beginning.
In a comment on Monday's Eurogroup meeting and the Greek government's stance, a KKE statement said that the people, in order not to waste any more time and keep counting painful losses, must urgently do away with the 'myth' of the 'good or bad negotiator' and decisively demand their contemporary rights, and put an end to their tax annihilation and the privatisations.
 Extraordinary real estate surtax may be separated from electricity billsThe ministry of finance is considering ending the collection of an extraordinary surtax on real estate via electricity bills, sources said on Tuesday.
Among the scenarios examined by the ministry of finance as regards collecting the real estate surtax for 2012, is mailing it to taxpayers separately from the electricity bill. In addition, it could be paid off in five instalments, while in case the taxpayers fail to pay the surtax they will not be faced with electricity cuts.
 SYRIZA criticises government over real estate 'tax'The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday accused the government of making false pledges before the elections, on the occasion of scenarios being examined at the Finance ministry on the payment method of the "tax" on real estate.
SYRIZA's press office said in an announcement that "despite the fact they are making official its disengagement from the provision of electric power, they are coming at the same time to confirm what all the people are aware of now: what the joint governance parties were saying before the elections were lies" and that "they had the exclusive target of snatching the vote of the Greek citizens".
It further said that no mention was made of the abolition of the unfair and unconstitutional tax, therefore, in contrast to the pre-election statements by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, while concluding that "this movement of solidarity and self-organising of the citizens is what will also impose its final abolition and the protection of those who cannot and who refuse to pay it".
 Gov't spokesman on issue dealing with PM's new legal adviserGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Tuesday, replying to an earlier announcement by the Independent Greeks party aimed at the prime minister's newly appointed legal adviser, countered that "the slanderers, in any case, deliberately omitted any mention that Mr. (Yiannis) Karacostas resigned from Siemens Hellas as soon as Michalis Christoforakos took over, because he disagreed with him."
Independent Greeks Parliamentary group secretary Costas Markopoulos on Tuesday evening issued a statement charging that the new legal adviser to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also served as a legal consultant to the German multinational's Greek subsidiary, which has been accused of widespread kickbacks and bribes in order to win state contracts in the country.
"We are referring to unbelievable wretchedness. The character and the scholarly value of the professor emeritus and president of the Law School faculty, a former vice-rector and current president of the legal council of the Bank of Greece, Yiannis Karacostas, is beyond any reproach."
According to Markopoulos, it is emerging as a "major political and moral issue", while he referred to Karacostas' website, where "it appears that he is also a legal adviser to Siemens. Mr. Karacostas was a legal adviser at Siemens in the kickbacks-laden contracts against the Greek state," Markopoulos said.
 Defence minister briefs PM on defence-related issuesDefence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Tuesday had a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in order to brief the premier on all issues within his area of responsibility.
Panagiotopoulos noted that all armed forces personnel were standing at the side of the Greek people and that the state must also stand by them in its turn, defending their dignity and facilitating their daily lives.
He once again expressed satisfaction at the high level of operational readiness and deterrent power of the Greek armed forces, including the high morale and dedication of army officers, which he said had not been affected by the cuts.
The minister stressed that armed forces personnel were carrying out their mission in the best possible way and remained devoted to duty.
In statements after the meeting, Panagiotopoulos said the briefing was held in the framework of regular meetings between Samaras and government ministers that first began when he was still in hospital recovering from surgery.
 DM Panagiotopoulos holds meeting with U.S. AmbassadorNational Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos received U.S. ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith on a courtesy visit at noon on Tuesday.
Issues concerning relations between the two countries were discussed during the meeting.
 Foreign minister receives Patriarch Theodoros IIForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday received Alexandria and All Africa Patriarch Theodoros II, who is currently in Athens on a visit.
Their talks focused on recent political developments in Egypt, the work of the Patriarchate and issues concerning the Greek community in Egypt.
In statements after the visit to the foreign ministry, the Patriarch wished the Greek people "courage and patience" and thanked the Greek state and the foreign ministry for their long-standing interest in the affairs of the Alexandria Patriarchate. He stressed that in his tours and travels around the world, he always spoke of the Orthodox faith and Greece.
He also referred to his recent meeting with Egypt's newly elected president Mohammed Morsi, saying that Morsi had assured him of his support of the Alexandria Patriarchate.
 Development Minister Hatzidakis discusses investment issues with Canadian ambassadorThe establishment of a seaplane air transportation network to service Greek island routes and its future expansion to other areas, as well as the disengagement of the Canadian Eldorado Gold Corp investment from Greece, dominated discussion in a meeting on Tuesday between Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Canadian Ambassador to Athens William Peck.
The Eldorado Gold Corp is the owner of Thracean Gold Mining S.A., while it also holds 19.9 pct of Thrace Minerals S.A. In December 2011, it was announced that the company will take over and merge with the Canadian company European Goldfields (parent company of Hellas Gold S.A. that controls the Halkidiki Mines).
 Handover for new deputy labour ministerNew Deputy Labour Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on Tuesday formally took over the post from Nikos Nikolopoulos, who resigned as deputy minister just one day after Parliament's vote of confidence in the government and just days after he was sworn into office.
Wishing his successor and Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis success in their work, Nikolopoulos said he had been honoured by the prime minister's decision to include him in the government but insisted "that my primary duty is to keep my word to the citizens that for 23 years have sent me as their representative to Parliament".
Questioned about his letter to the prime minister, Nikolopoulos said that this concerning political issues that were not linked to issues concerning powers and responsibilities but the policy being followed. Announcing his resignation on Monday, Nikolopoulos said this was prompted by disagreement with the government's strategy of putting off negotiations to modify bailout loan commitments relating to labour issues with Greece's European partners.
 Reasons for resignation of dep. minister 'unheard-of', gov't spokesman saysGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Tuesday termed the stance adopted by former deputy labour minister Nikos Nikolopoulos, who resigned a day after a successful vote of confidence for the government, as "unheard-of".
Speaking to an Athens-based private radio station, Kedikoglou said meetings with representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF troika were held for briefing purposes only, and were not negotiations or a renegotiation, "as it was confirmed by Nikolopoulos himself, when speaking to reporters".
"The members of the government knew that they had a difficult mission ahead ... and knew that things wouldn't be easy ... apparently, as I said yesterday, not everybody can handle adversity," Kedikoglou added.
He commented that Athens should first regain its credibility by meeting its commitments and making steps toward the right direction thus creating a favourable environment for renegotiation, adding that the goal set is to avoid imposing new measures in 2012.
 SYRIZA tables bill to bring back Worker Housing, Workers Welfare organisationsThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on Tuesday tabled the first draft bill of the new Parliamentary session in its capacity as main opposition party. The draft bill calls for the reversal of an act of Cabinet that abolished two state agencies, the Worker Housing Organisation and the Workers' Welfare Organisation, as part of Greece's commitments under the bailout loan Memorandum agreement.
The party also announced plans to table legislation concerning collective bargaining agreements, including the unions' right to unilaterally have recourse to arbitration in labour disputes, restoring powers stripped from the labour mediation and arbitration organisation and giving full regulatory powers to the arbitrator, the power to extend sectoral collective labour agreements between similar professions and the principle of the most favourable measure in cases of collective labour agreements of different levels.
 PASOK leader Venizelos meets with parliamentarians of Greek descentPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with a World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (PADEE) delegation and discussed the role of its members in efforts aimed at restoring Greece's international prestige.
The discussion with representatives of parliamentarians of Greek descent (members of legislatures in countries where Greek is not an official language) was characterized as friendly and creative, according to a statement issued by PASOK.
PADEE comprises roughly 226 parliamentarians and former MPs from various countries (except from Greece and Cyprus).
 KKE general secretary urges parties to support proposals of striking steel workersCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Tuesday called on all parties in Parliament to support the latest decision made by the workers' general assembly at the Greek steelworks Hellenic Halyvourgia (HLV) after meeting a delegation of the steel workers' union at her party's headquarters in Perissos.
The workers adopted a memorandum calling for the immediate rehiring of 40 workers fired by the steelworks, a discussion and agreement for the return of the rest in a reasonable space of time and no new hiring until that time. The assembly decided that, if those demands were met, it will recommend ending a strike now entering its nine month and putting the plant into immediate operation.
"This decision has proposals that in all cases can and must be met. The workers are in the right and the labour minister has an obligation to himself immediately proceed with a trilateral meeting that includes the employers in order to find a solution," Papariga said.
The strike was originally launched in 2011 as a protest against the management's attempts to reduce payroll costs through wage cuts and shedding a number of jobs at the plant.
President briefed on economy by BoG chief
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received central Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos at the Presidential mansion on Tuesday, for a briefing on the economy.
Papoulias asked Provopoulos to give him a first estimation of the course of the economy after the general elections and the formation of the coalition government.
Provopoulos said that we must start from the beginning and accelerate the reforms and the exploitation of the State property in order to have growth and to create new working positions, because the long election campaign intensified the uncertainty in the economy and the banking system.
"On Monday I met with prime minister Antonis Samaras and ascertained his determinations for action in these areas," said Provopoulos
On his part Papoulias asked to be informed on the conditions in the banks. The BoG head answered that the banks had gone through a very tough ad period and lost a great deal of bank deposits, which are now returning at a steady pace. "In the following months and given the intensification of the government's action, the economy will overcome the crisis and ensure a climate of confidence for everyone, something that was missing," Provopoulos added.
 Rapid Reaction Force readiness drillGreece's Rapid Reaction Force launched a preparedness drill on Tuesday, with the maneuver involving the loading of weaponry on aircraft.
The drill, ordered by the Armed Forces General Staff (GEETHA) chief, aims at achieving the loading of weaponry on all airborne means, both offence and defence, within the specified times.
The exercise, which did not involve the deployment of troops, was completed in less than the required time.
 NATO vessels arrive for port visit to PiraeusThree vessels of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) sailed into the port of Piraeus on Tuesday.
The frigates "BAYERN" (Germany), "GEDIZ" (Turkey) and "COURBET" (France) are on a courtesy visit to Greece in the context of the NATO member state's cooperation against piracy, with German commander of the SNMG2, Thorsten Kahler, aboard.
The ships will set sail for the Mediterranean on July 13.
The SNMG2 is a NATO standing maritime Immediate Reaction Forces. Prior to 1 January 2005 it was known as Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED).
SNMG2 is a multinational, integrated maritime force - made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team - that is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions. Usually the Force is employed in the Mediterranean area but, as required, will be available anywhere NATO requires it to deploy.
SNMG2 carries out a continuous programme of operational training and conducts port visits to know and get known in many ports in and out of the Mediterranean, in NATO and non-NATO nations. These include ports in nations that are part of the Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programmes.
 SYRIZA leader criticises governmenrt and parties supporting itRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group president Alexis Tsipras, addressing a rally in the Athens district of Peristeri on Tuesday evening, called on all citizens, regardless of party origin, to participate in the transformation of SYRIZA-EKM into a "political force of the one and only component: the sovereign people", to become "participants in the party that will take the future of the country in its hands tomorrow".
He said "SYRIZA is here, not the same as yesterday, through this procedure of the emancipation of the people who were disengaged from the two power parties and SYRIZA grew up and is maturing more and is preparing itself and transforming into a big party, the wide democratic party of the left".
Tsipras criticised the government and the parties supporting it because, as he said, they forgot on the day after the elections what they were saying about renegotiating, while also saying that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras "is in a panic".
 KKE party publicises conclusions on May 6, June 17 electionsThe Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Central Committee on Tuesday publicised the "conclusions of the elections of May 6 and June 17 2012", stressing that the relevant decision took into consideration discussions that had preceded at all of the party's organisations and its youth group KNE and adding that this decision as well will be raised for approval by these organisations.
KKE believes that the climate in which the two consecutive elections took place, and in particular the promotion by official sources of the possibility of a new controlled or uncontrolled default, the great agressiveness of capital for the reversal of all labour relations and the swelling of unemployment, had an influence on the election attitude, pointing out that the working labour struggles during the crisis "cultivated a wave of popular anger and dissatisfaction against both PASOK and New Democracy (ND) parties, but at the same time the system intervened with the aim of quelling popular resistance, the diversion from radical targets with provocation and confusion".
The decision says that in the elections of May 6 "an unprecedented and contemporaneous collapse occurred in the electoral influence of PASOK and ND, with KKE achieving a small increase, taking on the one hand votes mainly from PASOK and ND, but having on the other hand "visible leaks towards SYRIZA in the major urban centres".
As regards the June 17 elections, the KKE stresses that the necessity for the formation of a government with ND or SYRIZA as the nucleus had become the main voting criterion. "A considerable withdrawal in the voting criterion based on the abolition of the memorandum also occurred, in whose case renegotiating was promoted combined with the assurance for Greece's stay in the eurozone and the EU at all cost," the KKE also said.
 Greek budget deficit falls to 12.312 bln euros in H1Greece's state budget deficit fell to 12.312 billion euros in the first six months of 2012, down from a budget target of a shortfall of 14.878 billion euros, while the budget's primary deficit fell to 3.152 billion euros, down from a target of 5.267 billion euros, official figures showed on Tuesday.
A report by the General Accounting Office said net budget revenue totaled 23.357 billion euros in the January-June period, down from a budget target of 24.754 billion euros. Net budget revenues - excluding the Public Investment Programme - totaled 21.854 billion euros, down from a target of 22.841 billion in the six-month period. A decline in revenues is attributed to lower income tax receipts and lower transaction tax revenues.
Public Investment Programme revenues totaled 1.503 billion euros in the first half, down from a budget target of 1.913 billion euros, reflecting delay in community payments.
State budget spending totaled 35.669 billion euros in the six-month period, down from a budget target of 39.632 billion euros, reflecting lower primary spending, lower defense spending and lower capital spending.
 Greek budget deficit fell to 6.455 bln euros in H1Greece's central government cash deficit decreased to 6.455 billion euros in the January-June 2012 period, from 13.152 billion euros in the corresponding period of 2011, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in a report, said that during this period, ordinary budget revenue amounted to 21.892 billion euros, from 22.032 billion euros last year. Ordinary budget expenditure decreased to 27.966 billion euros from 33.420 billion euros in January-June 2011.
 Greece raises 1.625 bln euros from T-bills auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bills issue raising 1.625 billion euros from the market at a slightly lower cost. The Public Debt Management Organization, in a statement, said that the interest rate of the issue was set at 4.70 pct, down from 4.73 pct of the previous auction of six-month securities. The issue was 2.16 times oversubscribed.
 Greek exports ease 0.8 pct in MayGreek exports growth eased in May this year as European economies slowed further, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said the value of exports - excluding oil products - totaled 1.382 billion euros in May, from 1.394 billion euros in the same month last year, for a decline of 0.8 pct. The value of imports - excluding oil products - totaled 2.682 billion euros in May, from 2.766 billion euros in May 2011, for a decline of 3.0 pct.
 Greek exporters call for urgent reversal of export declineA decline in exports must be urgently reversed and the country's credibility to be regained through clear messages over the development of the Greek economy, the Panhellenic Exporters Association stated on Tuesday.
Commenting on data released by the national statistics service - showing a slight decline in exports in May - Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Association, said Greek exporting companies' liquidity must be urgently boosted, along with the liquidity of the domestic market, while the government must implement the necessary tax and administrative reforms which will allow the country to attract investments and international cooperations towards exploiting the country's competitive advantages.
The Panhellenic Exporters Association said exports' decline in May was attributed mainly to lower exports to EU states (-4.9 pct), while exports to third countries rose by 7.3 pct.
The EU's share in Greek exports - excluding oil products- fell to 63.7 pct of total exports from 72 pct in 2011. The Association noted, however, that Greek exports grew 5.2 pct in the June 2011-May 2012 period, compared with the previous 12-month period.
Greek exports rose in food, beverage/tobacco, raw materials, chemicals and confidential products. On the other hand, exports fell in oils, industrial products and machinery.
 Industrial production down 2.9 pct in MayIndustrial production fell 2.9 pct in May reflecting a 3.1 pct decline in manufacturing production in the month, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. The statistics service, in a report, said that the industrial production composite index fell 2.9 pct in May, compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 9.8 pct recorded in May 2011. The index fell by an average 5.6 pct in the January-May 2012 period, compared with the same period in 2011, after a 7.6 pct decline recorded last year.
The statistics service attributed the 2.9 pct decline of the index in May to a 0.2 pct fall in mining production, a 3.1 pct drop in manufacturing production (leather/footwear -38.4 pct, printing -28.3 pct, machinery -41.8 pct, furniture -28.8 pct, beverage -4.7 pct, textiles -23.2 pct, clothing -9.2 pct, paper -10.4 pct, basic metals -11.6 pct and electrical equipment -12.5 pct).
The electricity production index fell 4.3 pct in May, while the water production index rose 2.3 pct.
 Banks deny 'mammoth merger' reportsThe National Bank of Greece (ETE) on Tuesday denied reports in financial daily that creation of a "mammoth bank" with the merger of ETE, Piraeus Bank and Emporiki Bank was in the works, in a letter of response to a relevant query by Capital Market Commission.
A similar denial was issued by Piraeus Bank.
 Alpha Bank files petition requesting Eleftherotypia be declared bankruptAlpha Bank on Tuesday filed for the implementation of provisional remedies against X.K. Tegopoulos Editions S.A., the owner of the currently out-of-print Athens daily "Eleftherotypia", ahead of filing a petition within the next few days requesting that the company be declared bankrupt.
According to reports, the bank claims it holds outstanding debts by the company totalling roughly 25 million euros. A court date has been set for Nov. 20, 2012. The bank, one of the X.K. Tegopoulos Editions S.A. creditors, cites a recent First Instance Court ruling that rejected an application by the company for its classification under the provisions of Article 99 of the bankruptcy code.
A similar move against X.K. Tegopoulos Editions S.A. was made by EWORX S.A., an internet digital agency that offers consultancy and implementation services. A court date was set for Nov. 28, 2012 with the company claiming roughly 47,000 euros.
 Visitors up, revenues down in museums in March 2012The number of visitors to museums throughout Greece increased by 19.8 percent in March 2012, however, revenues fell by 18.6 percent, compared with the same month in 2011, the Independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
However visitors in the archaeological sites around the country rose by 68 percent in March 2012, but revenues fell 31.9 percent in comparison with March 2011.
 GSEE board decides general strike with open dateThe plenum of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) board concluded its meeting at noon on Tuesday and authorised its Executive Committee to go ahead with a general strike with an open date, in accordance with developments.
GSEE's board also decided to organise a rally and a gathering at the Venizelos statue in Thessaloniki on September 8, when the Thessaloniki International Fair will open.
A meeting between GSEE's Executive Committee will also take place in the coming days with the federations of public utilities (DEKO) to examine forms of mobilisation against the "planned mass privatisations".
 Stocks end sharply lowerStocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors took profits after the market's recent rally. Selling focused on bank shares and the shares of Hellenic Telecoms and PPC which had recorded big gains recently. The composite index of the market fell 3.26 pct to end at 621.69 points, after rising as much as 1.42 pct early in the session. Turnover remained a low 31.983 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 4.28 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 3.91 pct. The Food (0.16 pct) sector was the only one to end higher, while Telecoms (7.79 pct), Raw Materials (7.46 pct) and Banks (6.68 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Coca Cola 3E (0.20 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while National Bank (8.76 pct), Mytilineos (8.75 pct), OTE (7.79 pct) and Viohalco (7.76 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 84 to 40 with another 20 issues unchanged. Marak Electronic (20 pct), Vioter (19 pct), Cyclon (17.13 pct) were top gainers, while Medicon (29.88 pct), Kloukinas-Lappas (28.19 pct) and Pegasus (20 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.47%
Personal & Household: -2.75%
Raw Materials: -7.46%
Travel & Leisure: -3.78%
Food & Beverages: +0.16%
Financial Services: -5.22%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, OTE, National Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 01/10/12
Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/52
HBC Coca Cola: 15/03/12
Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/18
National Bank of Greece: 01/01/25
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.65
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 24.23 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 25.54 pct and the German Bund 1.31 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 1.09 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.80 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.52 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.22 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1246
Pound sterling 803
Danish kroner 7549
Swedish kroner 8702
Japanese yen 99.1
Swiss franc 1219
Norwegian kroner 7598
Canadian dollar 1269
Australian dollar 1219
 Wife of hotel owner beaten to deathA 69-year-old woman was found murdered on Monday evening in her house in the Athens suburb of Filothei.
The victim, wife of a hotel chain owner, was beaten, mostly punched, which resulted in her death.
According to police, no evidence of a break-in was detected.
Police are investigating the case and the body will be examined by a coroner.
 HRW raises alarm over what it claims is rising xenophobic violence in GreeceIn a 99-page report released on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch reports that Greek authorities have systematically failed to stem the rising incidence of xenophobic and racist violence targeting migrants and asylum seekers in Greece.
Entitled 'Hate on the Streets: Xenophobic violence in Greece', the report says police and the judiciary have failed to respond effectively to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account, have not yet developed a preventive policing strategy to address the problems and also discourage the victims from filing official complaints.
Noting that no one has been convicted under Greece's 2008 hate crime statute, the report includes interviews with 59 people who experienced or escaped a xenophobic attack, including 51 serious attacks between August 2009 and May 2012. Victims of serious attacks included migrants and asylum seekers of nine nationalities, among them two pregnant women.
According to Human Rights Watch researcher Judith Sunderland, "people coming from war zones are scared to go out at night in Athens for fear of being attacked" and several attacks never make it onto the news or into official statistics because the victims are reluctant to pursue the matter, believing it will not do any good.
Illegal migrants, in particular, are told by authorities that if they may face detention themselves if they insist on a criminal investigation, while a further hurdle is the 100-euro fee introduced in 2010 to discourage frivolous complaints that anyone must pay in order to file an official complaint.
In its report, the group urged the new government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to take immediate steps to counter xenophobic violence, including by publicly condemning such attacks and indicating that there will be zero tolerance for vigilante violence targeting migrants, as well as through better policing methods, improved prosecution of hate crimes and ensuring that illegal migrants do not face detention or deportation for reporting an alleged hate crime. The group also notes that the 100-euro fee should also be waived for such complaints.
 Open-air film screenings in Thisseio districtThe Association of Greek Archaeologists' (SEA) cinema unit, in cooperation with the Greek Directors' Guild, will offer free open-air film screenings to cinemagoers at the association's courtyard, in Athens' Thisseio district, to the southwest of the Acropolis archaeological site.
Screenings at the outdoor cinema will be launched on Thursday with the 1988 film "Cinema Paradiso" and will continue for the duration of summer through autumn, with Greek-language films every Tuesday and foreign films on Thursdays.
 Greece wins WWF-hosted energy saving championshipGreece won the European Citizens Climate Cup (ECCC) hosted by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 11 European countries, it was announced on Tuesday. Malta won the second place and Denmark came third.
Stavros Lekkos from Kato Diminio, Corinth prefecture in southern Greece, was the winner in Greece among 8,393 participants.
Roughly 20,000 people participated in the ECCC competition aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
The ECCC was addressed to European householders, families and singles, based on the energy consumption of their houses. Participants had one year to implement strategies and measures aimed at reducing their overall energy consumption.
 Magistrate rejects petition by jailed ex-minister's wife for psychiatric evaluationAn examining magistrate investigating the money-laundering case against former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by the latter's wife requesting to undergo psychiatric evaluation. Both Tsohatzopoulos and his wife, Vicky Stamati, are jailed pending trial.
According to the magistrate's decision, there are no reasons requiring the psychiatric evaluation of Stamati.
Tsohatzopoulos' wife maintains in her petition that her mental and physical health has deteriorated since her incarceration, stressing that her self-declared hunger strike and, mostly, her absence from her young child, have had a very negative effect on her health.
 Sixty kilos of hashish found in parked truckPolice found on Monday a truck parked on the 12th km of the Thessaloniki-Edessa old national highway, loaded with 60 kilos of hashish.
A 41-year-old Albanian, driver and owner of the truck, was arrested and the illegal cargo, which was hidden in a secret compartment under the driver's seat, was confiscated.
Police had received information that the truck was used to carry illegal migrants, however during the search police found the drugs.
The suspect will be sent before a Thessaloniki prosecutor and is believed to be a member of a Greek-Albanian drug trafficking ring.
 7 illegal migrants attempting to travel to W. European destinations intercepted at airportsMore arrests of illegal migrants attrempting to travel to countries in central and northern Europe with forged or stolen travel documents from airports in western Greece were reported this week.
According to authorities, police arrested seven non-EU foreign nationals at the provincial western Greece airports of Araxos and Aktio, respectively, who tried to board planes with forged and falsified travel documents. In two cases police discovered residence permits stolen from the Attica regional service.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Eurogroup meeting decisions and the imminent changes in taxation as well as the cutbacks in special payrolls and the privatisations, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
AVGHI: "Vote of confidence for unemployment and recession".
AVRIANI: "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras declares war on guilds".
DIMOKRATIA: "Armed forces excluded from the new cutbacks in special payrolls".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Brussels' first sign for extension of loan repayment".
ESTIA: "Troika justified - The gigantic privatisations programme".
ETHNOS: "On the edge over August's loan installment".
IMERISSIA: "Eurogroup's stern message: Last chance for reforms".
KATHIMERINI: "Eurogroup: Meet the targets and then we will see".
LOGOS: "Who will benefit from the changes in taxation".
NAFTEMPORIKI: " A few weeks' deadline for return to the right track".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Aggressive popular movement against government's antipopular course".
TA NEA: "Eurogroup's ultimatum to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras: 'Implement the Memorandum and we will see'."
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