|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 19 July 2012 Issue No: 4125
 Coalition leaders agree; no further austerity cuts in 2012"The government is acting within the framework of the agreement of the three political party leaders," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Wednesday, following a meeting of the three party leaders supporting Greece's coalition government at the prime minister's office.
Kedikoglou said the meeting between Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras with the heads of the two junior parties in the coalition, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (Dem.Ar) leader Fotis Kouvelis was conducted in a friendly climate.
He said the government's concern was to promote growth and employment while ensuring social cohesion and strengthening the country's position abroad.
Asked whether there would be any further 'horizontal' cuts to pay and pensions, he referred reporters to the statements made by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who also attended the meeting.
In statements afterward, Stournaras said the three party leaders had agreed there should be no further austerity cuts in 2012, despite at 2.0-billion-euro 'hole' in the execution of the budget, and also reached broad agreement on all the basic guidelines of policy.
This was also confirmed in separate statements by Venizelos and Kouvelis to the press after the three-hour meeting.
 Venizelos: Agreement on next stepsThe leaders of the three-party coalition government agreed on the next steps to be taken, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said Wednesday after a meeting between prime minister Antonis Samaras and junior coalition partners Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, which was also attended by finance minister Yiannis Stournaras.
The first target, Venizelos said, is revision of the loan agreement, beginning with an extension of the fiscal adjustment deadline.
He also said it was agreed that a new Middle-Term fiscal adjustment programme must be drafted, on which the 2013 budget will be founded.
He said Greece must manifest credibility and speed in decision-taking for the structural changes, including the privatizations, and in turning around the conditions on the market so that there will be liquidity.
With respect to execution of the 2012 budget, Venizelos said that no additional measures will be taken beyond those that have already been decided, and those will be applied with the greatest possible social sensitivity.
With respect to the 11.5 billion euros in state spending cuts for the years 2013-2014, he said it was agreed that no across-the-board measures will be taken, adding that there were some prospective measures that would be finalized after the next meeting with the Troika.
He further announced that a national negotiations team will be set up soon, to be called the National Committee for Economic Planning, adding that it was also decided that the three party leaders, headed by the prime minister, will act at high-level in Europe to present the "feat" that Greece has achieved and reverse the wrongful image of the country that exists in Europe.
 No new austerity measures in 2012, Dem.Ar leader confirmsThere will be no new austerity measures in 2012, Democratic Left (Dem.Ar) leader Fotis Kouvelis confirmed after a meeting of the three party leaders supporting Greece's coalition government earlier that morning. He said the meeting ended with a decision to uphold the initial policy agreement signed by the three parties after the June 17 elections a month ago.
Kouvelis said his talks with New Democracy leader and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos had been "productive" and said that the government would seek to find equivalent measures in order to avoid cutting so-called 'special' public-sector payroll salaries.
Dem.Ar's leader also referred to a decision to give an income-linked fuel subsidy to those worst affected by the abolition of cheaper tax on heating fuel and he underlined that a property surtax being levied via electricity bills will be split up into a number of installments that will stretch over the first months of 2013.
Concerning the renegotiation of the austerity measures demanded as a condition for bailout loans, a key pre-election pledge for all three parties in the coalition government, Kouvelis said the three party leaders were currently working on an overall plan whose chief goal was to extend the period for achieving fiscal consolidation targets.
"For this reason there will be contact with Greece's EU partners in coming months that will go beyond the EU-IMF troika missions and up to a high political level with EU officials," he added.
He also stressed the need to quickly investigate cases of tax evasion that involved even political figures that had either cheated on taxes or gained income illegally.
Finally, he referred to attempts to revive the Greek market using money from the next tranche of bailout loans, with immediate implementation of structural changes and exploitation of public property, as well as a relaxation of rules used by the debt monitor Teiresias in order to give respite to the market and small businesses.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras predicts new measures with catastrophic impact for GreeceAttacking the coalition government's announcements on Wednesday, the head of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party Alexis Tsipras accused the three government parties of lying about not planning further austerity measures.
In a brief statement to the press in the afternoon, Tsipras said the three-party coalition was continuing the 'catastrophic work' of the previous coalition government under the central banker Lucas Papademos, picking up where this was left off.
When the government spoke of a new medium-term programme they actually meant a third Memorandum, he added, predicting that there would soon be additional austerity measures which, combined with the selling off of public assets, would have a disastrous impact on the Greek people.
"The government is carrying out the orders of the EU-IMF troika and does not serve the public interest," he added, slamming the focus on further cuts and austerity in the midst of a recession as a "recipe for disaster" that must necessarily push Greece out of the eurozone.
 KKE leader: coalition gov't statements 'no reassurance'The 'summarised' statements made by the finance minister and the two leaders of the two junior parties in the coalition government should not reassure any working person, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed on Wednesday, after a meeting of the leaders of the three parties in the coalition government.
"Their ideas concerning equivalent measures is a logic and practice that will lead to a subtraction of a part of both salaries and pensions and benefits for a very large part of workers that will be arbitrarily classed as middle or higher incomes," she underlined.
She underlined that the equivalent measures will be class based and against the people and stressed that the government was trying to present them as something that would not happen until the distant future when in fact, this future will come within the space of just three months.
In later statements, Papariga also warned against the division of ATE Bank into a 'good' and 'bad' bank that she said would pave the way for a privatisation that would have a severe impact on both the bank's staff and on farmers, since it held the majority of agricultural loans and attached mortgages.
"At the KKE, apart from the fact that we say 'no' to this privatisation, we are asking for the precise opposite: that there are no foreclosures, that there is economic support for farming in spite of the unfavourable conditions that exist in the area of production costs and, of course, for ATEBank to remain as the bank that is related to agricultural production, irrespective of our views on the way the banking system operates in Greece," she added.
 FinMin meets HBA presidiumFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras met on Wednesday afternoon with the presidium of the Hellenic Bank Association (HBA).
Both sides said the meeting was "a courtesy meeting of mutual briefing".
 Athens issues travel advisory for SyriaThe Greek foreign ministry on Wednesday issued a travel advisory cautioning Greek citizens "not to travel for whatever reason to Syria, due to the rapid deterioration of safety conditions in the country and the spreading of fighting and suicide attacks in Damascus."
"Greeks working in Syria are called upon to take all possible precautions and be in contact with the Greek embassy in Damascus," the advisory states.
 Greek Parliament president begins visit to CyprusNICOSIA (AMNA/A.Viketos)
Greek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis began a three-day visit ot Cyprus on Wednesday, his first abroad since his assumption of the post.
Meimarakis held substantial talks with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias but no statements were made afterwards.
The Greek parliament president had met earlier with Cyprus House of Rpresentatives Speaker Yiannakis Omirou with talks focusing on the Cyprus issue.
Speaking to reporters, Meimarakis noted the fact that Cyprus currently holds the rotating European Union presidency is of great importance for Greece, expressing certainty that this presidency will remain "cool-headed and unswayed from outside non-productive interventions that emanate mainly from Turkey, so as to achieve its targets."
"This offers an opportunity to us to invite Turkey today to show that it sincerely and effectively wants not to have problems with its neighbours. To confirm that it cares for its European orientation and make the necessary moves that will help it to cooperate with Cyprus' EU presidency for the benefit not only of the Cyprus people but of the EU and European institutions as well," Meimarakis said.
He noted, however, that Turkey "does not respond to this call and this is understood by our European partners."
On his part, Omirou said: "Today, in these critical conditions faced by Hellenism, we are called upon, Greece and Cyprus, and certainly the two parliaments, to jointly study these challenges and wage the battle for defending the rights of Hellenism."
While in the Cypriot capital, Meimarakis will also attend memorial events marking the 38 years since the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island republic.
 Investigation into use of fake supporting documents in NAT pension applicationsShipping and Aegean Minister Kostis Mousouroulis on Wednesday instructed ministry services to fully investigate instances where fake supporting documents may have been used in applications for pensions and other benefits paid out by the seamens' social insurance fund NAT.
Evidence uncovered during in an investigation by the Greek coast guard internal affairs service revealed that seamen have been awarded old-age pensions using fake certificates of employment on ships with foreign flags and that NAT beneficiaries have received one-off lump sum payments using fake or tampered medical certificates.
An initial investigation points to involvement by consular and embassy staff, doctors and Navy Retirement Fund employees. The fake supporting documents bear false signatures and were allegedly stamped by staff at Greek embassies and consulates that were not actually serving there at that time or are completely unknown to the interior ministry.
The use of the fake certificates did not, however, exempt seamen from paying the equivalent contributions to NAT in order to have their working years on third-country ships recognised as pensionable.
The use of fake medical certificates used to apply for exceptional payment of lump sums to NAT pensioners is also being investigated.
The medical certificates and fake employment certificates were found on a NAT employee that was not responsible for accepting or processing the applications and documents for pensions.
 Tsohatzopoulos: damning evidence by former minister's cousin points to Cypriot politicianIn damning evidence given to an examining magistrate investigating allegations of graft against former Greek minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, relayed to AMNA by well-informed sources, the minister's cousin Nikos Zigras on Wednesday pointed to the active involvement of a former Cypriot politician in laundering cash from kickbacks for purchasing the Russian missile system TOR M1.
Zigras, currently being held on remand as Tsohatzopoulos' accomplice, claimed in testimony to the magistrate that a Cypriot politician that repeatedly served as a government minister had not only been actively involved in the money-laundering operation for the illegal cash but also in transporting the money.
Described as a key player in the management of the offshore companies used to legalise the kickbacks and bribes, Zigras said the Cypriot politician had a hand in setting up these companies and often brought 'carrier bags' filled with bank notes to Greece.
Another 'cash courier' named by Zigras was one of Tsohatzopoulos's top aides, who had served with him in several ministries over the years and already faces charges in connection with the case, as well as his ex-wife, who he claimed had often received such illegal money.
At other points in his testimony, Zigras told the magistrate that Tsohatzopoulos spent sums exceeding 2.5 million euro on each election campaign in order to ensure his re-election and immunity from prosecution. Tactics of which he accused the former minister included the outright 'purchase' of votes from expatriate Greeks brought in from Russia and gypsies, as well as buying hundreds of season tickets for the PAOK football team that he then distributed.
 Environment ministry announces measures to restore liquidity without raising power ratesThe environment, energy and climate change ministry on Wednesday announced a series of measures to restore liquidity for the electricity market without raising power rates before the end of this year, though there may be an increase in the fee for renewable energy sources included in the bill.
Ministry sources said the measures taken in July will include a reduction in the guaranteed prices for 'green' energy for both existing and new units, a reduction in the money raised for third parties via electricity bills, especially taxation on energy and municipal rates, though this will be accompanied by the end of a free distribution of carbon emission rights for power plants from the start of next year, at which time the Public Power Corporation and other power producers will have to buy rights for each tonne of carbon produced. The additional cost for consumers will be offset by the reduction of taxation included in the bills.
"We are looking to balance the market in order to avoid increasing rates," said Deputy Environment Minister Assimakis Papageorgiou, noting that conditions had changed and new solutions were needed with objective actions by all sides in order to ensure that the market was able to survive.
He said legislative measures changing the structure of the energy market will be taken in the autumn in order to correct those features that were now not functional.
A major development is the prospect of exploiting seams of lignite coal in Drama and Elassona - something ruled out by the ministry's previous administration and to accelerate a tender for the Vevi mine in Florina that has stalled for the last six years. The ministry is also in talks with the EU-IMF troika on implementing provisions for giving the private sector access to coal mining, including the sale of PPC mining units and to link.
 Tourism minister to visit London for talks with travel industryTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni will depart for a trip to London on Wednesday in a bid to help improve the image of Greek tourism and help boost the number of bookings for Greece in time for next year.
Kefalogianni will stay in the British capital until Saturday, granting a series of interviews to European and US media and holding meetings with representatives of the travel industry.
The interviews will include one with BBC World Service, the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, televised interviews with Bloomberg's Countdown, CNBC's Squawk Box Europe, and the Quest Means Business programme on CNN International, as well as an interview with the newspaper The Independent and the British travel industry magazines ABTA, Travel Weekly and Travel Trade Gazette.
On Thursday, the minister will meet with British travel agents and tour operators in order to present the basic guidelines and the short- and long-term goals of Greek tourism policy.
 Labour minister promises to cover trade union payrollLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis held a meeting with the national association of trade union employees on Wednesday and assured them that procedures were underway to cover the operating expenses and payroll of trade unions in Greece. He promised the government will seek to resolve problems faced by trade unions and that it supported their autonomy and independence.
Staff at trade union organisations have been unpaid for the past seven months, following the abolition of the worker housing (OEK) and worker welfare (OEE) state organisations, ostensibly as part of a drive to trim down Greece's public sector.
 Seven banks file suit against Lavrentis LavrentiadisSeven Greek and foreign banks on Wednesday filed a suit against Greek businessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis and five executives of Neochimiki for allegedly forming and managing a criminal organization, fraud, share manipulation, abuse of confidential information and legitimizing proceeds from illegal activities. The seven banks are National Bank, Emporiki Bank, Piraeus Bank, Geniki Bank, Millennium Bank, HSBC and Hellenic Bank.
Neochimiki, owned by Lavrentiadis, was sold to US Group Carlyle in 2008 for 750 million euros. Following that, the company which reported a very smaller turnover despite the fact that it had sold some of its units and had a high debt, was transferred again under the ownership of Lavrentis Lavrentiadis for less than 90 million euros. The banks accuse the Greek businessman and his partners of presenting false balance sheets in order to raise the company's share price, allowing it to receive bank loans up to 500 million euros.
 Stocks end slightly higherStocks ended slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, partly reversing a two-day decline of the market, finding support in the shares of OTE, PPC and Coca Cola 3E, while banks came under selling pressure. The composite index of the market rose 0.21 pct to end at 613.65 points, with turnover shrinking further to a low 13.633 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 0.20 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.53 pct lower. The Telecoms (3.39 pct), Commerce (1.41 pct) and Food (1.09 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Banks (1.85 pct), Health (0.76 pct )and Industrial Products (0.05 pct) were top losers.
OTE (3.39 pct), Viohalco (2.0 pct) and PPC (1.56 pct) were top gainers, while Metka (3.79 pct), Alpha Bank (2.70 pct) and National Bank (2.42 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers slightly led decliners by 64 to 63 with another 21 issues unchanged. Attica Holdings (20 pct), Geke (19.93 pct) and Athina (19.85 pct) were top gainers, while Alko (27.60 pct), Centric Multimedia (17.83 pct) and General Commerce (12.64 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.28%
Personal & Household: +0.83%
Raw Materials: +0.66%
Travel & Leisure: +0.09%
Food & Beverages: +1.09%
Financial Services: +0.10%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, National Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 01/08/12
Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/61
HBC Coca Cola: 13.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/49
National Bank of Greece: 01/01/21
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 further to 23.14 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 23.16 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 24.34 pct and the German Bund 1.24 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed to lower. The 12-month rate was 1.03 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.74 pct, the three-month rate was 0.46 pct and the one-month rate eased to 0.17 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.35 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining an extremely low 3.548 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,710 contracts worth 1.918 million euros, with 24,049 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,554 contracts worth 1.630 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (2,426), followed by National Bank (1,588), Cyprus Bank (1,510), OTE (698), PPC (1,596), Piraeus Bank (482), Hellenic Exchanges (266), Eurobank (125) and Intralot (138).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1241
Pound sterling 795
Danish kroner 7550
Swedish kroner 8620
Japanese yen 98.08
Swiss franc 1219
Norwegian kroner 7594
Canadian dollar 1258
Australian dollar 1204
 Major fire near RioA major wildfire was raging Wednesday morning in the region of Argyra, Achaia prefecture, threatening populated areas in the communities of Argyra, Kato Kastritsi, Magoula, Sella and Platani, north of Rio.
A strong team of 70 firefighters with 21 fire engines, two firefighting planes and a water-dropping helicopter were battling the blaze.
A heavy cloud of smoke has covered part of northern Patras.
The blaze broke out at dawn Wednesday, and was heading in the direction of Kato Kastritsi and Drepano, and firefighters were battling to keep the flames away from homes.
An emergency plan was in place to evacuate the threatened communities if needed.
Airborne means were conducting water-dropping flights over the area, despite strong winds and thick smoke.
Meanwhile, another fire front broke out Wednesday morning in Achaia, this time in the Tzailo region, burning a forest expanse. Local firefighters were being assisted by aerial means and colleagues from neighboring Ileia prefecture.
 Fire at Zevgolatio blazing for third dayA fire that began Monday at Zevgolatio in Corinthia was still blazing fiercely on Wednesday, fanned by strong winds that started up during the night. In spite of the fire brigade's efforts, the fire was burning uncontrollably on Wednesday and heading toward Archaies Kleones, having passed through Spathovouni.
A force of 41 manned 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.
 Attalos Stoa reopens to public after 30 yearsThe magnificent sculptures of the Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora in central Athens will be showcased in the upper floor of the two-storey 159 BC structure, which reopens to the public on Wednesday after remaining closed for three decades.
Dozens of stone antiquities have been put back on display, together with a plethora of antiquities that have not been previously exhibited.
The 1,440 square meter upper floor has up to now served as a storage space for artifacts, archives and offices of the American School of Classical Studies that is conducting excavations in the area.
A total of 56 stone-made antiquities are on display again, while the exhibition has also been be enriched with ancient findings never exhibited before, following a Finance Ministry approval in 2010 of a joint proposal by the School and the First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities for showcasing the rich antiquities of the site in a more 'museum-like' concept, which was also endorsed by the Council of Museums.
The study for the showcasing of the exhibits was conducted within the framework of a project called "Reviving the Ancient Agora, the place where Democracy was born.
The proposal suggested that the presentation of sculptures takes place in thematic sections and chronological succession allowing the visitors to witness the evolution of sculptural art during the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman Times highlighting the course from the Ancient Greek idealism to the Roman realism.
The Stoa of Attalos houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora. Its exhibits are mostly connected with the Athenian democracy.
The project, which also includes digitalization and projection of the finds and the archived material on the Ancient Agora, through new technologies, will be formally presented to the public in September.
 Cup for first-ever Olympic marathon on show at new Acropolis MuseumThe silver cup awarded to Greek runner Spyros Louis when he won the first-ever Olympic marathon at the 1896 Games in Athens will be displayed at the new Acropolis Museum for a year, starting in September. The news was announced on Wednesday by the 'Stavros Niarchos' Foundation, which bought the cup in an auction held by Louis's descendants in April with a promise to make it accessible to the public and put it permanently on display at the 'Stavros Niarchos' Foundation Arts Centre when this is completed.
In the meantime, the foundation selected the new Acropolis Museum as a venue that combined maximum security with ease of access for the public and has prepared supporting audiovisual and printed material surrounding the cup and its history.
During the year-long exhibition at the Acropolis Museum, the foundation will continue efforts to find other potentially suitable venues that could temporarily display the cup until 2015, when its own arts centre is due to be completed.
 Agioi Theodoroi man arrested for debts to state exceeding 9 millionA 66-year-old man from Agioi Theodoroi in Corinthia was arrested on Wednesday for having confirmed debts to the Greek state of 9,012,411.36 euro. He was taken before a Corinth first-instance court public prosecutor.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe spending cuts expected to be finalized the three coalition government party leaders on Wednesday, the plans for pensions, benefits and lump-sum retirement superannuity and the privatizations were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The weight of the decisions on prime minister Antonis Samaras".
AVGHI: "They're razing salaries, pensions".
AVRIANI: "The Troika wants more blood".
DIMOKRATIA: "Who will be sacrificed for the 11.6 billion euros (cuts in state spending).
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pensions under the microscope".
ELLADA: "They're letting the Troika decide".
ESTIA: "Radical changes to taxation".
ETHNOS: "The entire list of the benefits being cut".
IMERISSIA: "The 11.5 billion euros measures a puzzle - Battle for 2-year extension to fiscal adjustment".
KATHIMERINI: "The government's critical quandary".
LOGOS: "The benefits and pensions that will be cut".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Measures with taxes and across-the-board cuts planned".
NIKI: "How much your gold valuables are worth".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The people can put a brake on the privatization of Hellenic Railways (OSE)".
TA NEA: "In which Funds the retirement superannuity will be cut".
VRADYNI: "Pensions up to 2,400 euros - Knife to retirement superannuity, benefits".
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