|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 13 July 2012 Issue No: 4120
 PM satisfied with coalition leaders' meetingPrime minister Antonis Samaras said Thursday that his meeting with the leaders of the two parties supporting his coalition government had been positive, speaking to reporters after the swearing-in of new deputy labour minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos - the replacement for Nikos Nikolopoulos, who resigned earlier in the week.
Asked if the three leaders -- Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (Dem.Ar) leader Fotis Kouvelis would travel abroad together for deliberations, the premier replied: "We have that ability. If we want to we will do so, We have not made such a decision yet."
In comments to the radio station Real FM later on Thursday, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos commented on the meeting and attacked the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, saying that it should also assist efforts to improve conditions imposed on Greece in return for bailout loans.
"Let SYRIZA come and help. Both at the national negotiating team and by meeting the EU-IMF troika to state its opinions and check its figures," he said, criticising SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for refusing to meet troika officials and noting that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had always agreed to meet and outline his party's opinions when he was the main opposition.
He accused Tsipras of "waiting in the wings" and refusing to help in the hope that the government would be destabilised.
PASOK's leader said that the meeting with Samaras and Kouvelis had ended in absolute agreement on both their assessment of the situation and what should be done, underlining that an updated and extended medium-term fiscal consolidation programme was needed that stretched until the end of 2016 or early 2017.
Also speaking on Real FM, Dem.Ar's leader said the framework of the extended repayment period will be made more specific in September. Kouvelis denied that there was any 'rift' within the government, saying that he had seen no signs of this during his two-hour meeting with the other two leaders of the governing coalition.
He also voiced support for Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, noting that the finance minister had referred to extending Greece's fiscal consolidation programme at the recent Eurogroup meeting and noted provisions of the programme that had deepened economic recession to nearly 7 percent.
He announced that the government was looking at equivalent measures that could be carried out immediately and thus avoid the necessity of salary cuts to the 'special payrolls', as wellas measures to boost liquidity on the Greek market, increase installments for paying taxes and providing a heating benefit after the heating oil tax goes up.
 Greek gov't seeking equivalent measures worth 11.7 bln euroThe Greek government is intensifying efforts to agree on equivalent measures worth 11.7 billion euro within the next 10 days, in the framework of a new Medium-term Framework 2013-2014. The measures will be presented to the EU-IMF troika on July 24 and will focus on cutting public spending. The issue was discussed on Thursday in a meeting of nine cabinet ministers and one deputy minister and will be continued on ministry official level on Friday. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will meet all related ministers on Monday in order to reach an agreement by Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, government officials said that the government would not have to take any additional measures, on the precondition that it will implement all measures agreed in March, such as a special duty on property and raising taxes on heating oil. Regarding a provision to cut so-called special payrolls in the public sector, worth 205 million euro, government officials said that the troika was examining a government proposal of equivalent measures to avoid cutting these payrolls.
The meeting was chaired by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and brought together Defense Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos, Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Labour Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos.
 Implementation of reforms will create favourable environment for negotiations, Kedikoglou saidGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Thursday underlined that "as the economy improves we will bring more complex issues up for negotiation with our partners."
Speaking on state-run NET radio, he stressed that the European partners are saying "show us that you are making steps in the right direction and you' ll be met with more fertile ground for negotiation and changes in the terms of the policy followed. This negotiation will be continuous and in connection with the course of the Greek economy."
He underlined that privatisations will continue and used as an example LARCO, a general mining and metallurgical company, stressing that already two investors have expressed interest.
As regards the privatisation of the state-run lottery and betting agency, OPAP, he said that the terms based on which the process will take place will have to be clarified, adding that "a privatisation of this size will alter the Greek economic environment, which is a top priority."
Referring to pensions and the likelihood of more cuts, he underlined that "every possible effort is being made to avoid more sacrifices".
 Coalition government a 'domestic troika', SYRIZA saysIn a renewed attack on the three-party government, the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on Thursday said it was a "governmental domestic troika" that was hypocritically paying lip service to renegotiation of the bailout terms, even as it was planning to impose a raft of painful new measures on the electorate.
"Even the much-vaunted extension that the three parties presented as salvation for the country, when in reality it is nothing more than an extension of austerity, has now been postponed until after the barbarous Memorandum measures have been carried out," SYRIZA's press office said.
The main opposition stressed that the planned measures would include selling off of state property, new heavy taxation like that on heating oil, more lost jobs and more salary, pension and benefit cuts.
SYRIZA repeated its proposal for the rejection of Memorandum policies and a new national strategy centred on protecting public assets, boosting employment and growth, with state control of banks and a just taxation system for the redistribution of wealth that "is the only realistic solution for exiting the crisis with society still standing".
Commenting on the unemployment figures for April, meanwhile, SYRIZA 'shadow' employment minister Dimitris Stratoulis stressed that the austerity policies of the bailout agreement were consigning people and especially youth to join the growing ranks of the unemployed, whose numbers had now reached record levels.
With one in every two young people without a job, Stratoulis said, these policies that the current coalition government had pledged to continue were turning Greece "into an immense social ruin" and would lead to an even deeper recession and disintegration of the Greek economy in coming years.
 IMF open to discussions with the Greek side, its spokesman saysNEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesman Gerry Rice spoke during the regular press briefing in Washington on Thursday of "delays" in the implementation of the loan agreement on the part of Greece.
Asked on the prospect of the memorandum's renegotiating, Rice stressed that there is no intention for changes in the targets of the memorandum, underlining that "the basis for the renegotiating will be the targets that have already been set".
As regards the delays, he pointed out that they exist in certain sectors on the observance of the programme's implementation, adding that some targets were achieved and others were not achieved.
Rice expressed the view that "the Greek economy is entering a very difficult period", noting that "the Fund is open to discussions with the Greek side".
As he said, the representatives of the troika are expected to return to Athens on July 24, while the IMF's technical mission is returning to the U.S. to process all the data on the course of the memorandum's implementation.
 PM briefed by ministersPrime minister Antonis Samaras was briefed by public order and citizens' protection minister Nikos Dendias and administrative reform minister Antonis Manitakis on the conditions in their ministries and problems in separate meetings on Thursday.
Dendias, asked by reporters afterwards what the most significant problem was at the present time, replied "firefighting".
 Foreign Minister Avramopoulos addresses EU ambassadors' meeting in AthensForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday expressed certainty that the Cypriot EU Presidency is very well prepared to lead the EU toward a better Europe, in spite of the major challenges that will be called to face.
Addressing the meeting of EU ambassadors in Athens held at the initiative of the Cypriot EU Presidency, Avramopoulos referred to the Greek government under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, stressing that it has undertaken to defend the country' s European aquis for the benefit of economic growth, prosperity, security and progress.
As regards the fiscal consolidation programme, he referred to Greece' s strong commitments and the quick implementation of structural reforms.
Avramopoulos said that the drastic reduction of Greece's deficit and public debt is a top priority and stressed that the limited time available for the fiscal consolidation has led to deep recession. He underlined the vital importance of Greece' s request for time extension, adding that this way the implementation of the programme will continue without further unemployment increase.
Referring to Turkey's challenge of the Cypriot EU Presidency, he stressed that this behaviour is not consistent with EU candidate states that have an obligation to show due respect to the EU bodies and institutions.
Avramopoulos said Turkey' s failure to utilise the Cypriot EU Presidency to promote its European prospect and seek a solution to the Cyprus issue was a serious mistake. He said that the same goes for the policy disputing Cyprus' sovereign rights in the exploitation of its mineral resources within the framework of its EEZ.
He stressed that Greece maintains its EEZ right in accordance with the Law of the Sea and underlined that it wishes to proceed with the delineation of all sea zones with its neighboring countries.
As regards the European prospect of Western Balkan states, Avramopoulos said that the Greek EU Presidency in 2014 will give a new boost to the EU accession of the countries in the region and underlined that Greece still supports the Euro-Atlantic prospect of fYRoM stressing, however, that the country' s government should adopt a constructive stance on the name issue.
Commenting on developments in the Middle East and North Africa, he pointed out that Greece is in favour of a peaceful solution in Syria and expressed hope that a consensus will be reached in the UN Security Council.
 Turkey has 'wrong attitude that leads nowhere' regarding Cyprus, foreign ministry saysTurkey's dispute of the Cyprus Republic's sovereignty and its insulting of the European institutions -- such as that of the Presidency -- is a "wrong attitude that leads nowhere", Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said Thursday, commenting on a military exercise being conducted by Turkey is an area of Cypriot sovereignty without Ankara previously notifying the Republic of Cyprus, as required.
Turkey, he said, has only to gain from Cyprus' membership in the EU, adding that the reunification of the island would be in everyone's interest.
He noted that since May the Turkish-Cypriot side and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have essentially pulled out of the negotiations, thus hindering any progress on the Cyprus issue.
 Greece calls on FYROM to stop negative propagandaGreece's firm desire for a solution to the FYROM name issue was reiterated on Thursday by foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras during a regular press briefing.
The Greek side supports the UN-brokered process for a solution, he said, but added that so far the FYROM side does not appear to have a frank disposition, and called on the FYROM leadership to stop its negative propaganda and prove in action that it desires a resolution of the issue.
Delavekouras said it was hoped that there would be a new meeting soon with the UN secretary general's special envoy on the FYROM name issue, Matthew Nimetz, "to see how he process will continue from here on".
Asked about the prospect of a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries, he replied that there were sure to be contacts, but added that the issue at hand is the substance.
 Defence Minister seeks President' s assistance in preventing salary cuts for militaryNational Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Thursday requested the assistance of the President of the Republic to prevent new salary cuts for military personnel dictated by the bailout agreements for the loans to Greece.
During his meeting with President Karolos Papoulias, whom he visited at the Presidential Mansion to brief him on armed forces issues, Panagiotopoulos invoked the President' s powers under the Constitution as head of the armed forces.
Panagiotopoulos underlined that military personnel have already suffered wage cuts of up to 37 pct and cannot withstand additional cuts of 10-12 pct.
He said that he has come up with equivalent measures that can produce equal results, thus avoiding the salary cuts, stressing that he intends to present them to the finance ministry and have them discussed with the troika.
 Interior minister meets visiting EU Regional Policy Commissioner HahnInterior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Thursday met European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn, who is currently visiting Athens. Their talks covered the modernisation and rationalisation of local government authorities, setting up a 'social shield policy' and waste management.
Stylianidis said that experts from the EU Task Force for Greece will assist Greek municipalities in updating their administrative structures and operation in order to improve their administration and achieve optimum financial management. He noted that the Administrative Reform ministry will also be asked to assist, providing funds from the 500 million euro it has received from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) to spend on electronic governance.
Concerning the 'Social Shield', Stylianidis said that this will be financed by the state, the NSRF and from money saved by reorganising local authorities. The minister underlined that the programme was essential and noted that municipalities, which had seen their finances cut 61 percent in the last two years, had to be supported because they were the "only living network of social protection".
Hahn counter-proposed seeking all the unused European funds in the NSRF and other funds or programmes that had not yet been exploited by Greece.
On the issue of waste management, Stylianidis stressed the urgency of using European funds to speed up the closure of dump sites. Noting that this was an issue involving several ministries, including his own, the finance ministry, the development ministry and the environment ministry, he suggested that this issue might require the appointment of an 'expediting' minister.
 Development minister holds talks with European Commissioner HahnDevelopment, Competitiveness, Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis received the commitment from visiting European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, during their two-hour meeting on Thursday afternoon, that he will mediate with the European Investments Bank for the release of valuable funds for Greece.
Hahn said that Greece is showing good rates in the absorption of funds and is higher than the European average, however it appears that the funds do not reach the beneficiaries easily and this is an issue that should be solved in cooperation with the EU as well. He also said that that the orientation of the funds of ESPA for the backing of SMEs will be of decisive importance in the struggle against unemployment.
On his part, Hatzidakis said that the discussion focused on the issues of liquidity, while mentioning that he briefed the Commissioner on the course of the 181 priority projects that have been agreed with the EU.
The minister further revealed that the draft agreement on the motorways will have been completed by September and the final decision will have been publicised by the end of the year.
Lastly, Hatzidakis said that the reduction of bureaucracy for the speedier release of ESPA funds constitutes a basic priority for the ministry.
 Dendias: Situation in Athens center a 'spreading bomb'The situation in the center of Athens is a "bomb" that is constantly spreading, public order and citizens' protection minister Nikos Dendias said Thursday, adding that "I cannot stand by and watch the centers of cities being taken over one after the other".
"There is no reason in my being the minister of public order and watch this bomb continually spreading. This situation is no longer tolerable," Dendias said, noting that he visited, by himself, all the problem areas such as Omonia Square and its surrounds, Kypseli, Aghios Panteleimonas, etc.
"What I saw surpasses the imagination. We have safety problems and cannot operate as we did five years ago," Dendias said, in his first meeting with reporters covering the ministry since the new coalition government was sworn in, while he also referred to the intense problem of illegal migration.
Dendias said that given this situation and society's demands on the police and fired department, there could be no further cuts in the salaries of policemen and firemen.
On the contrary, he announced a streamlining in other areas, noting characteristically that checks would be made into why the police spend 36 million euros a year in fuel, 19 million euros a year in rents and 13 million euros a year for the maintenance of its 13,768 vehicles.
He announced that a committee of senior officers would be set up that will also examine the issue of guarding targets and individuals, for which 3,500 policemen are assigned
Dendias further said that construction of the fence along the Evros River would proceed, as well as the immigrant holding centers.
 Foreign and tourism ministers discuss collaboration to boost tourist arrivalsForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Thursday said the two ministries were currently planning to create a permanent mechanism to coordinate their activities relating to tourism. This aims to promptly address problems that arise and which affect the flow of tourism toward Greece, ultimately helping to boost the number of tourists choosing to holiday in the country.
The issue of visas was a key problem, with Avramopoulos outlining a number of steps taken by the foreign ministry to make the process quicker and simpler in order to better support tourism - including a drive to attract visitors from emerging markets. The minister said consular authorities had been informed that visas may be cleared in just 48 hours, provided this did not cause problems in terms of the Schengen Treaty.
The ministry has also taken steps to increase the number of locations where a prospective visitor might apply for a visa, outsourcing so that visas are available even in cities that have no Greek consulate, and for granting visas for multiple visits and longer periods, even up to five years. He also pointed to other innovative ideas, such as free visas for under-12s, students and selected groups or a pilot project launched for the first time this summer that makes it easier for third-country nationals to travel between Greece and Turkey.
Kefalogianni stressed that many things can be done to overcome the difficulties of the current year for tourism and reverse the negative climate in order to bring about a recovery, adding that the cooperation with the foreign ministry could be valuable in this effort.
She noted that the number of bookings had recovered after the June 17 elections, though this did not amount to a full recovery of the ground lost in earlier months.
Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said the meeting had focused on ways to reverse the negative publicity for the country and promote Greece as one of the most beautiful, safe and competitive destinations in the world.
 TEIs starved of funds due to PSI, TEI heads reportThe presidents of Greece's Technological Educational Institutes (TEI) held an emergency meeting in Athens on Thursday, attended by Education Minister Kostantinos Arvanitopoulos, and outlined the serious problems faced by TEIs throughout the country as a result of a 'haircut' of their funds due to PSI bond swaps.
They stressed that TEI higher education institutes were facing "economic suffocation" and did not rule out legal action against all responsible. When the academic year began in September, they added, TEIs would lack funds to cover even their basic operating expenses while there were also serious problems in the application of the new framework law for higher education, with many TEIs lacking a governing board. Among such problems they noted the fact that, due to a lack of administrative bodies, TEIs would be unable to award degrees.
The minister assured them that solutions to the problems that have arisen will be found and the situation defused so that they will be able to operate properly in September. Addressing the meeting, he stressed the need for a strategic national plan for education through a wide-ranging dialogue with all bodies involved. Arvanitopoulos particularly emphasised issues of student welfare, saying that the ministry will take steps to solved all the problems via the educational institutes' budgets.
The meeting concluded with the adoption of eight resolutions referring to financial difficulties, staff shortages but also excessive student numbers.
 Environment ministry advises public to avoid polluting activities due to heatwaveIn advice issued to the public on Thursday due to the heatwave and high temperatures, the Greek environment urged people to avoid activities that released pollutants into the atmosphere during daylight hours and up until the early evening.
With temperatures reaching their peak during a heatwave forecast to last into the middle of next week, the ministry asked that people avoid using their cars and prefer public transport, avoid transporting liquid fuels during the day and avoid refuelling their vehicles until after sunset.
It also urged people to avoid operating units and businesses such as dry cleaners, metal-plating workshops, painting and dyeing workshops and other activities that emit volatile hydrocarbons, as well as using paints containing organic thinners in the afternoon and early evening.
The environment ministry noted that the meteorological service forecast weather conditions favouring an accumulation of atmospheric pollutants to potentially dangerous levels.
Ozone levels were also at high levels in Athens at around 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, just below the alarm level at 236 microgrammes per cubic metre in Thrakomakedones.
The level for informing the public is 180 microgrammes per cubic metre, while the alarm level is 240 microgrammes. At alert levels, the health ministry advises those with respiratory or heart conditions or other sensitivity to air pollution - among them small children - to remain indoors and avoid intense physical activity.
 Tsipras to chair European Left Party Executive Committee conference over weekendRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group president Alexis Tsipras will address the opening of the two-day sessions (July 14-15) of the European Left Party's Executive Committee conference at a downtown Athens hotel.
The situation in Greece after the elections will be discussed at the Executive Committee's conference, that will be chaired by Tsipras, who is also vice president of the European Left Party, as well as the Executive Committee's draft political decision on the situation in Europe after the summit.
 PASOK announces new political and organisational secretariatsThe PASOK party, a junior member in the three-party coalition supporting the government, on Thursday announced the composition of its new political secretariat and organisational secretariat, two new bodies created in efforts for a complete overhaul of the party.
These included many high-ranking party officials that served in previous PASOK governments as ministers or in high profile posts, such as Costas Skandalidis, Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Fofi Gennimata, author Mimis Androulakis, Petros Efthymiou and others.
 KKE tables bill for abolishing Memorandum, bailout loans and accompanying measuresThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday tabled a draft law calling for abolition of the Memorandum and the bailout loan agreements and accompanying austerity measures (application laws), as well as the 2013-2015 Middle-'term Fiscal Strategy Framework.
In the explanatory report to the draft law tabled by the KKE parliamentary group, all the measures the KKE asks to be abolished "emanate from the strategy of the EU and the big capital to push the burdens of the capitalist crisis onto the backs of the working class and popular strata" and are "measures being advanced in all the EU member states regardless of (their) debts and deficits".
 KKE party says privatisations favour big capitalAn announcement by the Communist Party of Greeece (KKE) Central Committee's press office on Thursday on the privatisation of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) said "the privatisations being promoted by the coalition government in agreement with the EU, will worsen the life of the people even more, they will fuel unemployment, they will achieve the collapse of labour rights and bring about new blows against the country's growth possibilities."
KKE stressed that "the privatisations are taking place for big capital to obtain vital space and to secure certain profit-making" and that "electric power and DEH have been in the front line of privatisations for many years".
In another development, KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga will be making an address at the "Fix" Park in Athens at 9 p.m. on Friday, in the framework of the political and cultural events for Greek and foreign working people that KKE's Attica Party Organisation is organising.
 Papandreou visits Thessaloniki with SE European socialistsFormer prime minister and Socialist International President George Papandreou on Thursday stressed that major changes, that should have been introduced decades ago, were implemented in Greece in the past 2.5 years as shown by OECD figures.
Speaking in Thessaloniki, Papandreou said that accusations that Greece had not carried out reforms were an "easy stereotype".
Papandreou visited Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, accompanied by SI general secretary Luis Ayala and the leaders and representatives of socialist parties in SE Europe (Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, fYRoM).
He underlined that cooperation between the Balkan states is a decisive factor in overcoming any weaknesses and difficulties in the Balkans, adding that the socialist parties in the region highlight the potential for cooperation.
"When we are united in the Balkans we have a strong voice but when we are divided we become pawns on the major powers' chessboard," Papandreou stressed.
Solid waste management body's debts a ticking time bomb, Attica Region chief warns in report to supreme court prosecutor
In a complaint submitted to the Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes on Thursday, Attica Region chief Yiannis Sgouros called for an investigation into massive debts of 83 million euro accumulated by the body responsible for handling Attica's solid wastes, the Special Intergradal Association of the Attica Prefecture (EDSNA), in charge of waste management in and around Greece's capital. Sgouros warned that the EDSNA was in deep financial trouble, with an increasing risk that it will fold and leaving Attica choked in rubbish.
He asked that judicial authorities locate and hold those responsible for the EDSNA's dire financial straits to account, discovering the acts or omissions that created the problems.
Sgouros noted that EDSNA's debts were huge and growing daily, creating a serious risk that it will cease to operate entirely - either because it is unable to pay the company that handles the incinerator for hospital waste and inters rubbish at the Fylis landfill site or because there is not enough money to cover payroll costs.
An audit into EDSNA's finances is now being carried out by the Greek Association of chartered accountants, whose report will also be passed on to judicial authorities once it is completed.
The case has now been referred to the head of the Athens First-Instance Court Prosecutors Eleni Raikou.
 Greek unemployment jumped to 22.5 pct in AprilGreece's unemployment rate rose to a record-high of 22.5 pct of the workforce in April, or around 1,110,000 unemployed people, up 308,000 compared with the same month last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
Unemployment was greatest among young people aged up to 24 years old (51.5 pct in April), while it rose to nearly 30 pct in the 25-34 age group. The statistics service said the unemployment rate was 16.2 pct in April 2011 and 22.0 pct in March. The number of unemployed people totaled 1,109,658 in April, up 38.4 pct compared with April 2011 and 2.5 pct compared with March 2012.
The number of employed people totaled 3,813,601 in April, down 332,535 from April 2011, or 12,827 from March 2012. Unemployment among young people, aged 15-24 rose to 51.5 pct in April, from 43.5 pct in April 2011, in the 25-34 age group it rose to 29.8 pct from 22.9 pct, in the 35-44 age group it rose to 19.4 pct from 13.2 pct, in the 45-54 age group it rose to 17.2 pct from 11 pct and in the 55-64 age group it rose to 13.8 pct from 7.4 pct. Unemployment among women rose to 26 pct in April from 19.8 pct in April last year, while among men it rose to 20.0 pct from 13.6 pct, respectively.
The Aegean region (24.6 pct), Epirus-Western Macedonia (24.5 pct), Macedonia-Thrace (23.9 pct), Attica (23.4 pct), Thessaly-Central Greece (23.1 pct) and the Peloponese (19.2 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates among the country' s regions.
 GSEE calls for urgent action to fight joblessnessThe General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation, on Thursday called for urgent measures to tackle joblessness, following the publication of Hellenic Statistical Authority figures showing that Greece's unemployment rate had climbed to 22.5 percent in April.
GSEE said that a change in policy and taking measures to boost growth and the real economy were urgent in order to avoid real unemployment from topping 26 percent by the end of the year, while also calling for measures to provide relief to those out of work.
 Greek businessmen top in the world in stress at workGreek businessmen had the most stress at work in the world during the last year, Grant Thornton said its International Business Report. The report, conducted on a sample of 6,000 enterprises around the world, showed that Greece, along with Botswana and Thailand, were some of the few countries where stress at work rose in 2011 compared with 2010. More analytically, Greek businessmen were more stressed in 2011 (67 pct) than in 2010 (61 pct), while Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain recorded an average rate of stress around 40 pct in 2011, down from 60 pct in 2010.
The report said that pressure to achieve business goals was the common and main cause of stress at work in Greece (45 pct), while only 19 pct of Greek businessmen were taking holidays as a way to lower their stress burden, down from 50 pct in the European Union and 42 pct globally. Sport (44 pct), and entertainment outside (37 pct) and inside their homes (43 pct) were the most popular ways for Greek businessmen to relax. A 45 pct of top managers said their stress levels increased in the last 12 months, both in Greece and worldwide, while the report said that enterprises were focusing on more realistic performance goals.
 German federal Deputy Labour Minister Fuchtel on the cooperation between Germany and CreteGerman federal Deputy Labour Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, appointed to promote Greek-German local administration cooperation, on Thursday expressed optimism referring to cooperation between the south Aegean island of Crete and Germany, characterizing it innovative and groundbreaking.
Speaking in the city of Iraklion in his capacity as German Chancellor Angela Merkel' s representative assigned with the task of promoting Greek-German relations in the sector of local administration, Fuchtel said that cooperation with Crete focuses on the exchange of know-how aimed at boosting local economy and economic growth.
In comments made to reporters in the margins of a working meeting at the offices of the Region of Crete, held in the shadow of intense local reactions, Fuchtel called Crete a safe tourism destination and pointed out that the initiative on the exchange of know-how and the twinning of regions that share common characteristics was launched in 2010 seeking to boost friendly ties.
Cooperation focuses in the sectors of tourism, exports and waste management with a special emphasis on youth vocational education and training, he stressed, adding that young Greeks can attend vocational training schools in Germany.
 Major fraud amounting to 5.0 million against IKA-ETAMMajor fraud against the Social Insurance Fund (IKA-ETAM) was discovered after the "Risk Analysis" profiling system was activated in late 2011, it was announced on Thursday.
After processing available data, the system traced a brand name outerwear company which, according to the personnel information statements it had submitted to IKA-ETAM since 2002, was employing personnel with very large salaries but had never paid corresponding contributions to the social insurance fund.
The company' s practices had defrauded IKA-ETAM of millions of euros in pensions because, according to existing legislation, a retired employee will receive a pension pegged to their salary, regardless of whether employers have paid their contributions.
The company in question owes IKA-ETAM the amount of 4.5 million euros, while a second company founded in 2009, both members of the same business group, owes the sum of 592,515 euros.
The investigation into the case continues in Athens and other cities where companies of the business group in question are based.
 Greek stocks continue moving lowerGreek stocks continued moving lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday. The composite index of the market managed to end above the 600-point level but turnover shrank further as the market entered the peak summer period. The index ended at 600.16 points, 0.92 pct off the day' s lows of 596.58 points. Turnover was a thin 19.131 million euros.
The Big Cap index eased 0.49 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 0.49 pct. The Financial Services sector (8.78 pct), Raw Materials (4.15 pct) and Industrial Products (3.63 pct) were top gainers, while Food (4.06 pct), Constructions (2.81 pct) and Travel (1.44 pct) were top losers. MIG (14.15 pct), Viohalco (9.25 pct), Mytilineos (4.65 pct) and Folli Follie (2.59 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Coca Cola 3E (4.08 pct), Titan (3.32 pct) and OPAP (1.68 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 73 to 60 with another 33 issues unchanged. Varvaressos (20 pct), GEKE (19.96 pct) and Attica Holdings (19.87 pct) were top gainers, while Sidma (20 pct), Pegasus (19.92 pct) and Vioter (19.86 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.37%
Personal & Household: +1.82%
Raw Materials: +4.15%
Travel & Leisure: -1.44%
Food & Beverages: -4.06%
Financial Services: +8.78%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 01/09/12
Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/34
HBC Coca Cola: 14/10/12
Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/17
National Bank of Greece: 01/01/22
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.62
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was steady at 24.11 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 25.34 pct and the German Bund 1.23 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 1.06 pct, the six-month rate 0.77 pct, the three-month rate 0.49 pct and the one-month rate 0.20 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.31 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 5.399 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,017 contracts worth 2.204 million euros, with 22,281 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 26,573 contracts worth 3.195 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank' s contracts (6,676), followed by National Bank (5,883), Cyprus Bank (1,069), OTE (1,976), PPC (2,466), OPAP (988), Piraeus Bank (1,878), Cyprus Popular Bank (4,920), Mytilineos (221) and MIG (146).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1236
Pound sterling 800
Danish kroner 7548
Swedish kroner 8709
Japanese yen 98.08
Swiss franc 1219
Norwegian kroner 7583
Canadian dollar 1264
Australian dollar 1220
 7-year-old twins injured in 'hit and run' accident in serious conditionTwo seven-year-twins that were injured in a hit-and-run accident early Thursday in central Athens along with their mother were reported to be in serious condition later in the day by doctors as the Aglaia Kyriakou children' s' hospital, where they are in the Intensive Care Unit.
According to attending physicians, the one twin, a boy, has multiple fractures in the extremities and jaw, as well as injuries to the fact and mouth. The other twin, a girl, suffered lighter injuries. The doctors said that it appeared feasible to stabilize the condition of the girl, but much more difficult for the boy.
A motorcycle ran into and injured a woman and her 7-year-old twin son and daughter in the center of Athens and fled on Thursday morning, abandoning the victims, but later turned himself in to police.
The incident occurred at 8:15 a.m., when the motorcycle had run into a bicycle and sped off, injuring the woman and her twins, who are Polish nationals, in the process.
The mother and children were taken by ambulance to Evangelismos Hospital and the Aglaia Kyriakou children's hospital respectively, where they have been admitted.
Police later tracked down the driver from his motorcycle, which he abandoned near the scene of the accident and fled on foot. Officers contacted the driver's father, who found the driver and told him to go immediate to Traffic Police headquarters, which he did.
The driver is a 21-year-old Navy petty officer, who told police he fled because he got scared.
The driver will be sent before a prosecutor.
 Man arrested for smuggling contraband cigarettesA 21-year-old Greek man was arrested at Exohi customs post in Nevrokopi for trying to cross the border carrying 17,500 packets of contraband cigarettes without paying the necessary duty.
The man was driving a bus with German number plates and attempting to leave the country. The cigarettes were concealed in a hidden compartment in the roof of the bus. Both the bus and cigarettes were confiscated.
Suspects in case of 168 kg of cocaine to make testimonies on Saturday
The four alleged members of an international drug trafficking ring, who were arrested having in their possession a total of 168 kilos of cocaine, will make their testimonies before Thessaloniki investigating authorities on Saturday.
The perpetrators, a Spaniard, a Portuguese and two Bulgarians, were brought before a prosecutor who filed serious charges against them and referred them to an investigator to make their testimonies.
 Greek national under-19 soccer team qualifies for European 2012 Championship finalThe Greek national under-19 soccer team qualified for the final of the European 2012 Championship, in Estonia, after beating England 2-1 in extra time, in the first semi-final on Thursday, while the team was left with 10 players in the 45th minute after Kapino was sent off.
The national team went into the lead with Bougaidis 38', Afobe equalised 56' and Lykoyiannis scored the winning goal 108'.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime minister Antonis Samaras' deliberations with coalition partners Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK leader) and Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left leader), the finance ministry's plan for the payment of income taxes in installments, the dispatch of Tax Bureau notices for the payment of the extraordinary real estate surtax and the denationalisations were the main items in Athens' newspapers on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The real estate surtax in five two-month installments".
AVGHI: "Internal Troika".
AVRIANI: "Finish with the meetings and take decisions quickly before the country sinks entirely".
DIMOKRATIA: "They're searching for Andrikos (George Papandreou's brother) over the strange routes of the CDS'".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Four changes to taxation".
ELLADA: "Cohesion games - End of alert to Venizelos manufactured crisis".
ESTIA: "Electronic chaos with the income tax statements".
ETHNOS: "Explanations after the...misunderstanding".
IMERISSIA: "Payment facilitation from the Tax Bureau".
KATHIMERINI: Convergence on the next steps".
LOGOS: "Hot July for households".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Full-speed...backwards in the denationalisations".
NIKI: "Secure 5 percent interest with savings account".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government, employers, GSEE want permanent poverty of workers".
TA NEA: "Exercises in equilibrium".
VRADYNI: "Guide to inheritance taxes, parental transfers, gifts".
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