|Wednesday, 25 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 20 July 2012 Issue No: 4126
 Greece urges political solution in SyriaGreece on Thursday stressed the need for a political solution in Syria that respects the country's sovereignty and independence, and endorsed the immediate implementation of the Annan Plan.
Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told a regular press briefing that the Greek Embassy in Damascus was in contact with the Greeks in strife-torn Syria and has instructed them "to take all precautions" and remain in contact.
He endorsed the immediate implementation of the Annan Plan as well as the need of finding a political solution, with respect for Syria's sovereignty and independence and the volition of the Syrian people, while also noting the historic bonds between Athens and Damascus.
Questioned on Athens' stance in the event of an Israeli or US military attack against Syria or Iran and whether Greece would provide facilitation, given the country's military cooperation accord with Israel, Delavekouras stressed that there can be only a political solution in Syria, adding that he did not intend to comment on "war scenarios".
He also expressed Greece's hope for the building of confidence between the Group of Six and Iran.
"Greece is a force of peace," the spokesman stressed.
 Greece states 'abhorrence' over bomb attack on Israeli tourist bus in BulgariaGreece on Thursday expressed its abhorrence over Wednesday's terrorist bomb attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian resort city of Burgas that killed at least six people and injured another 32.
Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stated Greece's support for and solidarity with Bulgaria, Israel and the friendly people of Israel, and extended condolences to the families of the victims.
 FM speaks by phone with Libyan counterpartGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday spoke by phone with his Libyan counterpart Ashour Bin Khayal. The talks were held just few days after the first free election in the North African country.
According to a relevant announcement, the Libyan foreign minister expressed his government's desire to promote closer cooperation with Greece in all sectors.
Khayal also proposed intensified bilateral contacts to register issues of mutual interest and to reinforce cooperation.
On his part, Avramopoulos referred to the need of rapidly solving problems that emerged from the hosting and hospitalisation of Libyan nationals in Greece. On this occasion, a relevant announcement stated, the Greek minister expressed Athens' readiness to extend more medical help to Libya.
 FM spokesman on Greek-Turkish relations; EEZA foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday said that a supreme cooperation council between Greece and Turkey is a necessary tool to boost systematic bilateral cooperation on mutual interests, in response to a press question on why the specific body is being reconvened.
Spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras reminded of the increased trade between the two countries, especially growing Greek exports to the neighbouring country, as well as growing tourism exchanges. He also cited the significance of such cooperation in dealing with the problem of illegal immigration.
"Our goal is a complete normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations, but this can only take place within the framework of international law," he added, while again citing Ankara's negative stance on issues involving the Aegean, Cyprus and the "anachronistic", as he said, "threat of war" issued by Turkish assembly in the mid 1990s.
In an unrelated development, Delavekouras said no committee has been formed on the issue of Exclusive Economic Zones, as the issue is being considered by several government and state entities, as well as by the foreign minister himself.
 PPC restores power to invalids asylumThe Public Power Corp. (PPC) on Thursday afternoon restored power to long-standing asylum treating invalids, located in the inner city district of Kypseli, after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras himself intervened.
According to reports, the premier's chief of staff Costas Bouras spoke with PPC chairman Arthuros Zervos by phone after news spread that power was cut-off after the institution failed to pay for a real estate tax, tacked on to power bills in 2011.
According to the latter, the name on the bill belonged to a private citizen and not to the institution. The power was immediately restored after the mixup was cleared.
Meanwhile, in another PPC-related development, the controversial head of the PPC employees' union, Nikos Fotopoulos, on Thursday claimed he was being "targeted" by a "furious and orchestrated" attack against him.
Fotopoulos claimed he never threatened to cut power to consumers as part of an industrial action, but only to exercise the union's right to legally strike, while he again claimed that his personal safety is being threatened.
 Troika due back in Athens on July 24Brussels (AMNA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' will return to Athens on July 24, European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn's spokesperson Simon O'Conner confirmed in Brussels on Thursday.
 SYRIZA delegation calls on Administrative Reform minister for non-implementation of Memorandum commitmentsA main opposition SYRIZA delegation called for non-implementation of commitments emanating from the Memorandum "which contains qualitative and functional inaccuracies and disdaining characterisations for the civil servants" during a meeting Wednesday with Administrative Reform and eGovernance minister Antonis Manitakis.
A SYRIZA press release on Thursday said the delegation expressed worry over continuous "leaks" of anticipated changes to the public administration, "the evaluation of which has been assigned to foreign Memorandum agencies that are not subject to national-internal control".
 Some 1.5 million legal and illegal migrants currently in Greece, minister tells conferenceAn estimated 1.3-1.5 million migrants -- both legal and illegal -- are currently living in Greece, Interior Minister Evripides Stylianidis told a migration conference in Athens on Wednesday evening
He told a day-conference titled "Double Challenge: Economic Crisis and Migration" organised by the Constantine Karamanlis Foundation and the Center for European studies that between 2005 and the present 550,000 arrests of illegal immigrants have been recorded, many of which were multiple arrests for the same individuals.
Further, according to FRONTEX figures, some 120-350 people attempt to pass illegally into Greece from the Greek-Turkish border daily.
Citing police statistics, Stylianidis said that migrants accounted for multiple the percentage of involvement in violent crimes -- such as homicides, rapes and armed robberies -- vis-a-vis Greek transgressors, while they also accounted for the largest percentage of perpetrators in intellectual property theft (pirate CDs and DVDs). "The result is that a sense of fear and insecurity has justifiably been created among the Greek citizens," he added.
Stylianidis further said that some 150-200 applications for political asylum are submitted daily, and currently 30,000 cases are outstanding.
As for the migrant holding centers, he said that facilities for 5-6,000 individuals are needed in the Evros region near the Greek-Turkish frontier and for at least 30,000 in Athens and Thessaloniki, adding that mainly defunct military conscript camps would be used for the facilities.
The immediate goal is to stem the flow of illegal migrants towards urban centers with parallel mass arrests in the urban centers, adding that the priority in expulsions will be placed on groups of high-risk for public order and the public health.
 Parliament president continues Cyprus visitNICOSIA (AMNA)
Visiting Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis, in statements here regarding the Greek economy, expressed his view that the "recipe" followed so far in dealing with the crisis is wrong.
Meimarakis spoke after a series of meetings with Cypriot leaders.
"I believe this will become understood by our European partners, our allies, our creditors, and I consider that the troika will deal with these issues with greater experience and flexibility," he said.
 PASOK leader chairs meeting of PASOK MEPsPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday chaired a meeting of the party's eurodeputies that focused on developments in the European Union as well as on issues relating to the party.
According to PASOK sources, the issue of revising the country's loan contract, the plan for an exit from the current economic crisis and Greece's contacts with European institutions and other EU member states were discussed.
 New ambassadors present credentials to presidentThe new ambassadors accredited to Greece from Nepal (based in Paris), Nicaragua (based in Vienna), El Salvador (based in Rome), Gambia (based in Madrid) and North Korea (based in Rome) presented their credentials on Thursday to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Papoulias accepted the credentials of ambassadors Mohan Krishna Shrestha (Nepal), Alvaro-Jose Robelo Gonzalez (Nicaragua), Aida Luz Santos de Escobar (El Salvador), Bala Garba Jahumpa (Gambia) and Kim Chun Guk (North Korea).
 SEB sets priorities in dialogue on labour relationsLowering labour costs, a focus on contracts offering wages much higher than a National General Labour Contract and lifting hurdles in competitiveness are the priorities set by the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB), in a dialogue with social partners over labour relations.
The federation, in a statement issued after a meeting with social partners on Thursday, said "any discussion on labour issues should be conducted without taking in mind prevailing conditions in the economy".
The federation noted that full priority should be given to the hundred thousands of unemployed people who mark the desertification of the private economy in favor of an unscathed client state. Those unemployed included tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businessmen who were forced to close down their enterprises because of the crisis. SEB said resolving the problem would have to ensure the recovery of the private economy and in this context, the Federation recommends an agreement on lifting hurdles in competitiveness and adjusting average labour costs.
 Exports equivalent to just half of importsThe deficit in Greece's trade balance is one of the factors that plunged the country into the crisis, competitiveness deputy minister Notis Mitarakis told an international working conference titled "National Trade Facilitation Strategy for Greece" in Athens on Thursday, adding that boosting exports is necessary for a recovery of the economy in the context of a new extrovert growth model.
He said that although Greek exports have posted a historic, record rise, exceeding 10 percent of GDP, all the other EU countries continued to have much better exports performance. "The corresponding percentage is double in Spain and Portugal, while in Ireland and The Netherlands it exceeds 50 percent," he noted.
The trade balance deficit may have been reduced, but is still remains high, Mitarakis said, adding that the value of Greece's exports corresponds to just half of the country's imports, which means that "we cannot be complacent but rather try much harder" to boost exports.
The government's target, he continued, is to drastically reduce the trade deficit by 2014 and to boost exports of good so that they will correspond to 16 percent of GDP by that year. These targets can be achieved through expansion of the export base -- in other words increase of the number of exported products and exporting companies -- promotion of exports, meaning that the products will find buyers abroad -- and drastic simplification of the procedures for exporting and importing.
 Minister discusses marine tourism with marina managersTourism minister Olga Kefaloyanni discussed ways to boost marine tourism with the president and vice-president of the Marinas Association of Greece on Thursday.
During the meeting, which was also attended by the ministry's new secretary general Tassos Liaskos, the two men briefed the minister on the issues concerning the branch but also the wider tourism sector.
Kefaloyanni said that marine tourism is one of the immediate priorities of the ministry in the context of enhancing the tourism facilities offered by Greece and upgrading the services provided.
 Greek consumers among most pessimistic, Nielsen reportGreece remained among the top five most pessimistic countries in the world, with consumer confidence remaining below the 60-point level for the last two years, Nielsen said in its latest report on consumer confidence.
The consumer confidence index rose slightly in the second quarter of the year, compared with the first quarter, reflecting improved expectations over the results of general elections in the country. At the same time, nine out of 10 Greek consumers believed that the country remained in recession, while a large part said they expected the crisis to continue in the coming months. Labor prospects are one of the biggest concerns for Greek consumers, along with economic prospects. Almost four in 10 Greeks said they did not save any money, the highest rate ever recorded in Greece and one of the highest in the world in the second quarter of 2012. According to the report, 89 pct of Greek consumers changed their buying habits because of the continuing crisis, while 78 pct have cut money spent outside their homes. Roughly 78 pct has turned to cheaper consumer products.
Europe remains the most pessimistic continent in the world, with consumer confidence rising one point to 73.
In Nielsen's report the 100-mark indicates the line between optimism and pessimism among consumers. The Asia-Pacific region is the most optimistic in the world.
 Stocks end significantly higherStocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as very low trading conditions in the market contributed to higher volatility in share prices. The composite index of the market rose 1.40 pct to end at 622.26 points, while turnover remained a low 15.782 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 1.67 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.93 pct higher. The Financial Services (2.63 pct) was the only sector to end lower, while the Travel (4.85 pct), Personal Products (4.75 pct) and Utilities (2.37 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Jumbo (5.26 pct), OPAP (4.91 pct), PPC (3.07 pct) and Titan (2.80 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (2.69 pct), Cyprus Bank (1.64 pct) and Metka (1.52 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 56 to 53 with another 29 issues unchanged. Geke (19.91 pct), Alko (18.81 pct) and Nutriart (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Mohlos (26.13 pct), Pegasus (19.02 pct) and Lamda Development (10.97 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.33%
Personal & Household: +4.75%
Raw Materials: +0.07%
Travel & Leisure: +4.85%
Food & Beverages: +1.43%
Financial Services: -2.63%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, HBC Coca Cola and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 01/09/12
Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/69
HBC Coca Cola: 14.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/53
National Bank of Greece: 01/01/23
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.67
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 23.64 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 23.14 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 24.85 pct and the German Bund 1.21 pct. Turnover was a low 4.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.02 pct, the six-month rate was 0.74 pct, the three-month rate 0.45 pct and the one-month rate 0.17 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.19 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining an extremely low 3.524 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,555 contracts worth 1.742 million euros, with 23,675 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,368 contracts worth 1.782 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE' s contracts (2,548), followed by National Bank (1,319), Alpha Bank (2,106), PPC (1,170), OPAP (517), Piraeus Bank (200), Cyprus Popular Bank (1,672), Intralot (78), ATEbank (61), Mytilineos (87) and Hellenic Postbank (90).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1247
Pound sterling 794
Danish kroner 7550
Swedish kroner 8632
Japanese yen 97.96
Swiss franc 1219
Norwegian kroner 7589
Canadian dollar 1256
Australian dollar 1195
 Major wildfire in Keratea, east of AthensA major wildfire erupted near the east Attica township of Keratea on Thursday afternoon, with the flames coming close to a pair of residential areas.
A retirement home, monastery and camp ground were evacuated, while a large firefighting force was at the scene.
 Octogenarian found murdered in Aghios PanteleimonasAn 81-year-old man was found murdered late Wednesday in the apartment, where he lived alone, in the heavily migrant-populated district of Aghios Panteleimonas near central Athens.
The body of the octogenarian was found by relatives who were alarmed after being unable to contact him in recent days. Accompanied by police, they called in a locksmith to let them into the man's apartment shortly after midnight and discovered the body.
According to an initial coroner's report the body bore stab wounds in the abdomen. The apartment showed no signs of a break-in but was in disarray as if it had been searched.
Police are investigating the possibility of theft as the probable motive.
Sources told AMNA that Attica security police are seeking a woman, a returning Greek from the former Soviet Union who was staying with the elderly man and who has disappeared, for questioning.
 First West Nile virus death in GreeceGreece's first death of the West Nile Virus was confirmed in Athens late Wednesday.
The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) announced that a 75-year-old man, a resident of central Athens' Kato Patissia district who developed encephalitis as a complication of West Nile virus contracted through a mosquito bite, had succumbed to the virus, while two more patients have been hospitalised.
 Convicted terrorist Xiros undergoes eye surgeryConvicted terrorist Savvas Xiros underwent two eye operations at a Thessaloniki-area hospital this week, after a court decision last month authorised his transfer from Korydallos prison, where he is serving consecutive life sentences.
"Savvas Xiros is essentially blind. The damage he has sustained to his eyes does not offer the prospect of him seeing again. We, as physicians, have the obligation to do what is best for the patient, regardless of who he is and what his political beliefs are," the head of the AHEPA hospital's first ophthalmology clinic, Panayiotis Economidis, told AMNA on Thursday.
Xiros was severely injured in June 2002 while placing a bomb outside a ticket booth at the port of Piraeus' ferry boat dock.
His botched terror attack and subsequent arrest marked the beginning of the end for the once-elusive "November 17" urban terrorist group.
While at the Thessaloniki hospital Xiros will also undergo treatment by a variety of medical specialists.
 Migrant-smuggling vessel located west of CreteA total of 38 people, believed to be illegal migrants heading to Italy or another destination, were rescued on Thursday off a small vessel drifting in the sea some 90 nautical miles west of Crete.
The group included 20 men, seven women and 11 minors. The group was picked up by a Denmark-flagged container carrier, which was set to sail into Hania, Crete late Thursday.
 Four foreign nat'ls arrested at makeshift 'chopshop'Four foreign nationals, three Nigerians and one man from Ghana, were arrested on Thursday on car theft charges, after police reportedly spotted the suspects at a makeshift 'chopshop' in the Aspropyrgos industrial district, west of Athens.
Three small trucks and a car, all reported as stolen in the greater Athens area, were identified at the scene.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAthens' targets in view of the next visit by the Troika as agreed at Wednesday's meeting of the three-party coalition leaders Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis mostly dominated the front-page headlines in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "No new measures for 2012".
AVGHI: "Memorandum no.3".
AVRIANI: "He burns the 'burned' and protects the collusion partners".
DIMOKRATIA: "The burning testimony on former PASOK defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' mammoth kickbacks".
ELLADA: "Chasm (difference in views) between (coalition) leaders and (finance minister) Stournaras".
ESTIA: "Utter chaos with (various taxes and extraordinary fees on) real estate properties".
ETHNOS: "Government's race for 3+11.5 billion euros".
IMERISSIA: "Agreement/message - 'Battle for the 11.5 billion euros package (of state spending cutbacks)".
KATHIMERINI: "Athens' line of defence".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "They agreed without finding the 11.5 billion euros we are short of".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The equivalent measures are anti-working class".
TA NEA: "The secret worry of the three leaders".
TO PONTIKI (weekly): "Dives...into empty pockets".
VRADYNI: "Retirement superannuity: Up to 40 percent reduction in public and private sector".
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