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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-18

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 Issue No: 4124


  • [01] PM to meet party leaders in coalition government on Wednesday
  • [02] Govt continues effors to agree on spending cuts worth 11.5 bln euros
  • [03] Itemized list of ministries' property holdings ordered in bid to cut rent expenses
  • [04] Meimarakis promises to 'reappraise' Parliament spending from scratch
  • [05] SYRIZA on 11.5 billion spending cuts
  • [06] Gov't making 'show' of negotiating, KKE leader stresses
  • [07] Foreign minister holds dinner for Arab envoys in Athens
  • [08] FM meets with Turkish ambassador
  • [09] EU Commissioner, Hatzidakis discuss transport-related issues in Nicosia
  • [10] Minister: Tourism sector as driving force for rejuvenating economy
  • [11] Health minister: all obligations will be met
  • [12] Labor minister continues mediation in Hellenic Steel workers' strike
  • [13] Gov't spokesman on digital TV
  • [14] Disability issues, calculation dominates meeting between Venizelos, relevant group
  • [15] KKE condemns OSE privatisation plans
  • [16] UN's Nimetz in Skopje and Thessalloniki next week
  • [17] Greece raises 1.625 bln euros from T-bill auction
  • [18] Electricity demand up 12pct in June
  • [19] Cross-checks reveal extensive under-declaration of income by medical sector pensioners
  • [20] ADEDY protest rally in Athens next Thursday
  • [21] Stocks end 1.22% down
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [25] Fire at Zevgolatio, Corinth still blazing for second day, fanned by strong winds
  • [26] Flotilla of 44 yachts from Turkey to carry out Aegean island tour
  • [27] Man arrested for trying to generate fake tax registry numbers
  • [28] Twelve to stand trial for Thessaloniki extortion racket
  • [29] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] PM to meet party leaders in coalition government on Wednesday

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to have a meeting with the leaders of the other two parties supporting the coalition government - PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (Dem.Ar) leader Fotis Kouvelis - at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, the premier's office announced.

    [02] Govt continues effors to agree on spending cuts worth 11.5 bln euros

    Government ministries have pledged spending cuts totaling 5.7 billion euros so far, as part of a plan to achieve spending cuts worth 11.5 billion euros in the 2013-2014 period, a Finance ministry official said on Tuesday following completion of a round of meetings between ministries.

    Speaking to AMNA, the official said that the ministry was continuing efforts to find the remaining 6.0 billion euros, although he noted that agreement on final figures was not expected by Wednesday.

    According to sources, during Wednesday's meeting of the leaders of the three parties supporting the government, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was not expected to present analytical figures of spending cuts, with the three political leaders expected to receive a draft text over the basic directions of the program.

    "We will say how much we are going to save from pensions, from compensations, etc," the ministry official said, adding that discussions over spending cuts could continue until the arrival of the troika, probably next week.

    [03] Itemized list of ministries' property holdings ordered in bid to cut rent expenses

    The itemized listing of all the property holdings of ministries and the organisations and agencies they supervise was requested by government secretary general Panayiotis Baltakos, on the instructions of prime minister Antonis Samaras, in a letter to the Cabinet members.

    Samaras gave his ministers a week to make up their lists. The move aims at cutting the costs of housing state services, which for the most part today are housed in rented premises owned by private concerns and could be housed in buildings owned by the state, thus cutting down on expenses for rents.

    In a 2011 document, the finance ministry had informed parliament that the expenditure for the payment of rents for ministries, peripheral authorities and regional services cost 155.77 million euros, which arose after the state demanded reduced rates due to the crisis. The same expenditure for 2009 was 178.6 million euros.

    [04] Meimarakis promises to 'reappraise' Parliament spending from scratch

    All funds spent on running the Greek Parliament will be reappraised from scratch in order to ensure better financial management, Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis announced to reporters covering Parliament on Tuesday.

    Meimarakis denied rumours that the Parliament television station will be closed down and, concerning a Parliament gym, he said the aim was to reduce its running costs.

    "Every effort is being made to ensure that both operate in line with the current economic reality and the facts that exist," Meimarakis said.

    He also indicated that Parliament will continue to run as normal in the coming period, stressing that he had never announced the start of summer sessions.

    [05] SYRIZA on 11.5 billion spending cuts

    The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party termed, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the three-party coalition government under Prime Minister Antonis Samars as being the "natural continuation of the Papandreou and Papademos governments, as regards the content of its policy and its targets."

    The statement was issued by the party's press office in view of Wednesday's government decisions regarding spending cuts worth 11.5 billion euros in the 2013-14 period.

    "The new reactionary measures are there to reconfirm that the three parties' programme is the memorandum and that their target is its strict implementation, while the talk on renegotiating (the memorandum) was an electoral lie," the statement added.

    [06] Gov't making 'show' of negotiating, KKE leader stresses

    "The people cannot bear even one additional measure," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed on Tuesday, when asked to comment on a new round of austerity measures amounting to 11.5 billion euro that the government is seeking to implement in order to meet commitments under the bailout loans for Greece.

    "The government at this time, for reasons related mainly to making impressions and in order to appear consistent with the policy framework of the three parties is carrying out a sordid bargaining, supposedly attempting to divide the deeply class-driven, anti-popular measures over two or three years instead of one," she said in response to questions.

    She stressed that the people should not allow themselves to be misled by this pretence that the government was negotiating, stressing that those who finally imposed their wishes were the "hardest core of capitalists and monopolies".

    [07] Foreign minister holds dinner for Arab envoys in Athens

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday had a working dinner in honour of the ambassadors of Arab countries in Greece, seeking to boost traditionally friendly ties between Greece and countries of the Middle East and north Africa.

    Discussion focused on the prospects for further cooperation on the level of the economy and trade but also matters of regional interest for north Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, including the Middle East peace process.

    Special emphasis was given to recent developments in Syria, where Avramopoulos stressed Greece's "unequivocal condemnation of the escalation of violence that has caused huge losses among civilians". He repeated Athens' position for a peaceful, political solution to resolve the crisis in Syria.

    He also expressed hope that the mission of UN special envoy Kofi Annan will receive the support necessary to enable progress and underlined that the Assad regime had lost its legitimacy and was standing in the way of the political transition process.

    The foreign minister also briefed the Arab envoys on Greece's fiscal consolidation programme and the government's determination to overcome the crisis and reform the Greek economy. He outlined the potential for deeper cooperation with Arab countries in bilateral trade and various areas of shared interest, as well as the potential for investments and economic cooperation on both a state and private level.

    [08] FM meets with Turkish ambassador

    Foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Turkish ambassador in Athens met on Tuesday and reviewed progress in the preparations for the 2nd Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council.

    They also discussed bilateral relations, including enhancement of bilateral commercial relations and cooperation in the tourism sector.

    [09] EU Commissioner, Hatzidakis discuss transport-related issues in Nicosia

    NICOSIA (AMNA/A. Viketos)

    Issues of particular Greek interest dominated talks here on Tuesday between EU Commissioner for Transport and Commission Vice-president Siim Kallas and the relevant Greek minister, Costis Hatzidakis, on the sidelines of an informal EU transports and telecommunications ministers' summit.

    The latter said he brief Kallas on progress to better exploit state-owned provincial airports in Greece, as well as efforts to unblock progress in four major privately funded and managed highway projects in the country. The Commission will be called on to make observations on issues of competition, the internal market and transport policy.

    Hatzidakis also said that the issue of Greece's state-run and loss-making rail provider (OSE) was discussed, noting that the Samaras government has reiterated its volition to privatise the company.

    "However, there are legal obstacles, on the part of the EU Commission, dealing with issues of state subsidies ... We want to deal with these with the Commission in order to proceed to the next step for reforming OSE and privatising it," he said.

    Hatzidakis praised Cyprus' recently commenced EU presidency, while he later met with Cypriot Transport and Public Works Minister Efthymios Flourentzos, with talks touching on the BlueMed initiative for the joint management of airspace between Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Malta.

    Finally, he met with Cyprus Commerce and Industry Minister Neocles Sylikiotis.

    [10] Minister: Tourism sector as driving force for rejuvenating economy

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyanni said she intends to render the tourism sector a driving force for rejuvenating the Greek economy, speaking after a meeting with PM Antonis Samaras on Tuesday.

    She told reporters after the meeting that they discussed tourism-related issues in detail and that she briefed him on the first immediate steps the ministry has set in motion.

    The common goal is for the tourism sector to help in the recovery of the economy, to generate new jobs and more revenues for the state, for a rekindling of the sector.

    [11] Health minister: all obligations will be met

    Health minister Andreas Lykourentzos told the Pharma and Health Business conference in Athens on Tuesday that all the ministry's obligations emanating from the Memorandum will be met, adding that there was no room for divergence from the targets.

    He also spoke of substantial changes in the ministry's organisation with mergers of health structures as well as expenditure cuts.

    Irrational pharmaceutical expenditure die not mean better healthcare, he said, adding that a more rational healthcare could help the system survive.

    He said the medicinal expenditure had increased in the first half of the year, but added the ministry hopes to a one billion euros reduction by the end of the year and containing it at 2.88 billion euros.

    [12] Labor minister continues mediation in Hellenic Steel workers' strike

    A mediation effort by Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis between striking workers of the Hellenic Steel Industry (Elliniki Halyvourgia) of Aspropyrgos, who have been on strike for nine months, and the industry's management, which began on Monday, resumed on Tuesday but with no results.

    "The labor ministry has made and will continue to make every possible reconciliation effort for the finding of a solution to the issue," Vroutsis told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

    "The unit must reopen for the benefit of the Greek economy, employment and the workers themselves. Even at this last minute, we call on all parties to contribute positively to the finding of a solution and the reopening of the Aspropyrgos Steel Industry," he added.

    Asked by AMNA on the issue, the management declined any comment.

    The employees' union is demanding the re-hiring of 120 laid-off workers in order to end the strike, a demand that the steel industry's administration rejects.

    The management is demanding the immediate reopening of the plant before agreeing to any negotiation, citing a recent Athens First Instance Court ruling that declared the strike illegal.

    The management further informed the labor minister last week that it intends to submit an application to the ministry for mass dismissals and suspension of activity of the Aspropyrgos plant.

    [13] Gov't spokesman on digital TV

    The transition to the digital TV is a country's committment undertaken three years ago, Government Spokesman Simos Kedikoglou siad on Tuesday, in a response to a statement by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis regarding TV frequencies.

    "It is known that the European Union has set 2012 as the time limit for the transition to digital technology," Kedikoglou said, adding that after this year analogue TV will cease to exist and will be replced by digital TV.

    "Consequently Greece also must go to digital technology," the governmnet spokesman noted.

    Greece is expected to go to digital TV on July 20.

    [14] Disability issues, calculation dominates meeting between Venizelos, relevant group

    PASOK president Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with members of the executive secretariat of the National Confederation of Persons with Disability, with issues dealing with this sensitive group of the population expectedly dominating talks.

    According to a press release by PASOK, deficiencies related to recently established centres that will evaluate percentages of disability in individual cases dominated the meeting, as well as calculating disability for pension purposes, wage scales and the national tax code.

    Venizelos will reportedly convey the contents of his talks during a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis.

    [15] KKE condemns OSE privatisation plans

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) condemns the government's plans to privatise the Greek railways OSE while it supports the workers' efforts to go against these plans.

    "The KKE supports every effort, by the OSE workers, which will clearly fight against any form of privatisation of the Greek railways as well as any effort that will go against EU decisions and orientations for the liberalisation of railway transports," the party's press office said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

    The statement adds that the Greek people "need modern, qualitative, cheap and safe railway transports, but this need is being sacrificed on the altar of the monopolies' profit-making, through the policy of 'liberalising' railway transports in the EU countries promoted, in Greece, by the coalition government of New Democracy (ND), PASOK and Democratic Left parties."

    [16] UN's Nimetz in Skopje and Thessalloniki next week

    UNITED NATIONS (AMNA/P.Panagiotou)

    United Nations special envoy on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) 'name' issue Matthew Nimetz will accompany UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during the latter's trip to Skopje on July 24-25, it was announced here on Tuesday.

    According to a UN's secretariat announcement, the special envoy on the talks between Greece and fYRoM, will travel to Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on July 26 to meet Greece's UN representative Adamantios Vassilakis for a briefing.

    Financial News

    [17] Greece raises 1.625 bln euros from T-bill auction

    Greece on Tuesday successful auctioned a three-month T-bills issue, raising 1.625 billion euros from the market at a slightly lower interest rate.

    The country's Public Debt Management Organization, in a statement said that the issue was 2.12 times oversubscribed while the interest rate was set at 4.28 pct, down from 4.31 pct in the previous auction of same issue.

    The agency said it accepted bids up to 1.250 billion euros and non competitive bids worth 375 million euros. It will also accept non competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by Thursday, 19 July. Settlement date has set for Friday, July 20, 2012.

    [18] Electricity demand up 12pct in June

    A large increase of nearly 12 percent was posted in electricity demand in June against the same month in 2011, attributed mainly to an increase in demand from households and small enterprises, according to figures released by the Electricity Network management agency.

    Conversely demand by large industries supplied by the high voltage network declined by 2.1 percent in the same period.

    More specifically, electricity demand rose by 11.9 percent in June due to increased consumption by households and small and medium size enterprises (up by 5.6 percent, attributed to weather conditions and increased use of air conditioners) and by Public Power Corporation mines (up 36 percent), while demand by large enterprises dropped by 2.1 percent.

    With respect to production, electricity generation with renewable energy sources almost doubled and lignite-powered electricity production rose by 23 percent, while declines were posted in natural gas-powered and hydr0-electric powered production (down 2 percent).

    [19] Cross-checks reveal extensive under-declaration of income by medical sector pensioners

    Up to 5.5 percent of pensioners at the Healthcare Sector of the self-employed professionals' social insurance fund ETAA, which covers retired doctors, dentists, vets and pharmacists, receive pensions exceeding 6,000 euro per month and submit no income tax returns. A further 12 percent of pensioners in the same fund declare a smaller income than the amount they receive from the fund. This was revealed in cross-checks of records held by the labour and finance ministry, the results of which were announced on Tuesday.

    The cross-checks also revealed that an unusually high 11.3 percent of fund pensioners claim some form of disability when the overall average among pensioners is just 7.7 percent, a difference judged statistically significant.

    According to the labour ministry, all these disability pensions will be re-evaluated by ministry services in order to uncover possible instances of fraud.

    The cross-check of records held by the healthcare sector pension fund and the tax office was the first one completed since the labour and finance ministries embarked on their cooperation and an electronic link was set up between social insurance funds and the finance ministry's General Secretariat for Information Systems.

    The cross-checks are continuing for the sector covering engineers and contractors and that covering lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and deed officers.

    Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis stressed that the collaboration between the two ministries was a "breakthrough in the field of electronic governance that aims to reduce bureaucracy, check tax evasion and, chiefly, at a more effective monitoring and rationalisation of social spending".

    [20] ADEDY protest rally in Athens next Thursday

    The civil servants' union federation ADEDY is to hold a protest rally this Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. to protest against the final tax statements sent to tax payers by the Greek tax office. The rally will begin on pedestrianised Korai Street and will be followed by a march to the finance ministry and Parliament.

    ADEDY called on public sector workers in the country to protest against the excessive taxation of what it called their "meagre incomes, the policy of privatisations, the selling-off of public assets, the policy of unemployment and redundancies".

    The union federation urged the abolition of 'head taxes', an amnesty of tax obligations for low incomes and settlements for the rest with higher taxation of the rich, large real estate properties, big business profits and shipping.

    [21] Stocks end 1.22% down

    Stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market falling 1.22 pct to end at 612.38 points, after rising as much as 0.90 pct during the session.

    Turnover remained an anemic 17.407 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.88 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.97 pct lower. The Telecoms (3.96 pct) and Utilities (1.35 pct) sectors scored gains, while Food (4.64 pct), Personal Products (3.13 pct) and Financial Services (1.29 pct) suffered losses. OTE (3.69 pct), Eurobank (1.54 pct) and PPC (1.18 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Coca Cola 3E (4.68 pct), Jumbo (3.61 pct) and Cyprus Popular Bank (3.61 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 65 to 55 with another 31 issues unchanged. GEKE (20 pct), Teletypos (19.79 pct) and Varvaresos (19.44 pct) were top gainers, while Aegek (18.10 pct), Eurobrokers (17.31 pct) and Yalco (16.20 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.49%

    Commercial: -0.88%

    Construction: -0.88%

    Oil & Gas: -0.16%

    Personal & Household: -3.13%

    Raw Materials: -1.09%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.75%

    Technology: -0.68%

    Telecoms: +3.96%

    Banks: -0.44%

    Food & Beverages: -4.64%

    Health: +0.45%

    Utilities: +2.35%

    Financial Services: -1.29%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were HBC Coca Cola, National Bank, OPAP and OTE.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 01/11/12

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/57

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.65

    Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/46

    National Bank of Greece: 01/01/24

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.66

    OPAP: 01/04/89

    OTE: 01/02/36

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.22

    Titan: 13/04/12

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell further to 23.16 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 24.4 pct and the German Bund 1.24 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 2.0 million euros, equally distributed between buy and sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 1.03 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.75 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.46 pct and the one-month rate was 0.18 pct.

    [23] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to a low 3.492 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,364 contracts worth 1.538 million euros, with 23,475 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,476 contracts worth 1.954 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,311), followed by Alpha Bank (3,245), Cyprus Bank (1,620), OTE (1,112), PPC (1,147), OPAP (498), Piraeus Bank (2,020), Cyprus Popular Bank (1,961), Eurobank (1,092) and Mytilineos (82).

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. Dollar 1246

    Pound sterling 797

    Danish kroner 7553

    Swedish kroner 8733

    Japanese yen 98.6

    Swiss franc 1219

    Norwegian kroner 7587

    Canadian dollar 1265

    Australian dollar 1212

    General News

    [25] Fire at Zevgolatio, Corinth still blazing for second day, fanned by strong winds

    A fire that began the previous day at Zevgolatio in Corinthia was still burning fiercely on Tuesday afternoon due to strong winds that started up during the night. In spite of the fire brigade's efforts, the fire was burning uncontrollably on Tuesday and heading toward Archaies Kleones, having passed through Spathovouni.

    A force of 40 fire engines from Corinthia and surrounding prefectures was battling to put out the flames, assisted by teams on foot from Tripoli, Patras and Athens and six Canadair water-bombing aircraft from the air. All fire-fighting forces in the Peloponnese are currently on alert.

    Peloponnese Regional Authority chief Petros Tatoulis has been on the scene since Tuesday afternoon and earlier contacted the head of the fire brigade.

    [26] Flotilla of 44 yachts from Turkey to carry out Aegean island tour

    A flotilla of 44 yachts from Turkey sailed into the harbour of the Aegean island of Samos on Tuesday, their first stop in a tour of Greek islands in the Aegean. They were met by children from the Samos Sailing Club who offered local wines provided by the Samos Winery Cooperatives Union and brochures with information on the island.

    The group of sailing boats will carry out a 17-day tour with stops at the islands of Mykonos, Paros, Syros, Amorgos, Ikaria and Symi. They are due to leave Samos on July 19 for the island of Ikaria.

    The trip is being organised jointly by a firm managing marinas in Turkey and the Samos Sailing Club, which has links with equivalent clubs in Turkey.

    [27] Man arrested for trying to generate fake tax registry numbers

    The financial crimes squad SDOE on Tuesday arrested a Cypriot national that was caught trying to create 40 tax registry numbers at the Foreign Residents' Tax Office using fake documents.

    Suspicions at the tax office were aroused by the poor quality of ID photocopies supplied by the suspect and the SDOE was called in. Further inspection proved that the letters giving him power of attorney for the individuals involved had all been signed by a lawyer that had died three years earlier.

    According to SDOE, the issue of fake tax registry numbers is part of a scam set up by an 'industry' generating fake details used to collect VAT returns.

    [28] Twelve to stand trial for Thessaloniki extortion racket

    Twelve individuals accused of participating in a Thessaloniki-based extortion and loan shark racket uncovered last April are to stand trial before the Thessaloniki Criminal Appeals Court, authorities announced on Tuesday. They include a 35-year-old man accused as the leader of the ring and his wife.

    The ring operatred from 2006 and its victims were mainly nightclub owners in the Thessaloniki area but also the city's football club Iraklis.

    [29] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The behind-the-scenes, the speculations and the disagreements in the first drafting of a package of 11.5 euros in spending cuts for the two-year period 2013-2014, and the fiscal divergences ascertained in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report were the main front page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "End to wasteful spending and bureaucracy".

    AVGHI: "Every day they add billions and measures".

    AVRIANI: "The euro destroyed Italy".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hirings in 14 days".

    ELLADA: "IMF 'sees' revolution".

    ESTIA: "Substantial reduction in tourism".

    ETHNOS: "New haircut to pensions, one-off retirement benefit, benefits".

    IMERISSIA: "Friction among ministers over the spending cuts".

    KATHIMERINI: "Maximos (government headquarters) ultimatum to ministers (for spending cuts)".

    LOGOS: "Knife to salaries, pensions, one-off retirement benefit".

    NAFTEMBORIKI: "Troika: Yes to smaller public sector without layoffs".

    NIKI: "Ensure your money in secure deposits".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Governmental all-out attack on salaries, pensions, healthcare, social benefits".

    TA NEA: "3 billion euros 'knife' to benefits".

    VRADYNI: "Reduction of fines on structures lacking permits in order to rekindle the process".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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