|Tuesday, 18 December 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 21 July 2012 Issue No: 4127
 PM Samaras calls for a European, democratic and functional solution to Cyprus issueGreek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called for a Cyprus settlement, a European, democratic and functional solution that will reunite the island without settlers and occupation forces.
In a written statement issued on Friday on the occasion of the completion of 38 years since the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, Samaras notes that "thirty eight years of occupation and illegal colonization of a large part of the territory of an independent and sovereign state, member of the UN and the EU have passed."
Samaras also notes the destruction of monuments of the Greek civilization and orthodox monasteries and churches, all located in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.
Today, he adds, "we honour those who have fallen heroically and we renew our common duty to Cyprus and our brothers, the Greeks of Cyprus."
Samaras concludes by underlining that "united and determined we support the struggle of the Cyprus Hellenism, for a solution in the framework of the UN resolutions and the European acquis communautaire. A solution leading to a reunited Cyprus without settlers and occupational forces. A European, democratic and functional solution. Because if it is not functional, it is not viable. And if it is not viable, is not a solution."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Samaras speaks with Draghi, Lagarde by phonePrime Minister Antonis Samaras spoke by phone on Friday with European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi.
According to reports, the two men discussed several of the latest developments in Europe, as well as Greece-specific matters. A face-to-face meeting was decided for next month.
Meanwhile, a meeting between Samaras and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde will probably come sooner, with whom the Greek premier also spoke by phone on Thursday.
 Bill Clinton in Athens on Sunday, to meet with PM at noonFormer US President Bill Clinton will be in Athens for a few hours on Sunday, and will meet with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at noon at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters).
Clinton is coming to Athens to address an event organised by a group of prominent Greek American, through the Hellenic Initiative Program backed by Diaspora business executives, lawyers, scientists and others, aiming at the establishment of a Fund that will promote foreign investments in Greece.
 FM Avramopoulos receives AJC's HarrisGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met on Friday with visiting American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David A. Harris.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, the meeting was held in a friendly climate and focused on possible cooperation with the Greek government but also on cooperation between Greek and Jewish organisations in the United States and throughout the world.
On his part, Harris expressed AJC's support for Greece's efforts for an exit from the crisis and praised the high level of cooperation between Greece and the United States and between Greece and Israel.
The AJC executive director was also received by National Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos.
 ND Parliamentary group to convene next TuesdayNew Democracy's Parliamentary group is to convene next Tuesday, for the first time since the elections, so that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras can give instructions to MPs and highlight the need to support radical changes and reforms that the government intends to carry out.
During the meeting, they will also elect a new Parliamentary group secretary to replace Kostas Tasoulas while the election of a new ND secretary will take place next Thursday.
ND has the highest number of seats of any party in the Greek Parliament and heads the three-party coalition government.
 Hellenic Steel execs tell AMNA will not close Aspropyrgos unitHellenic Steel Industry (Elliniki Halyvourgia) executives told AMNA on Friday that the company management has decided not to go ahead with the closure of its plant at Aspropyrgos, where early in the morning the gates to the facility were forcibly reopened on orders by the prosecutor after being closed for nine months due to a workers' strike.
The executive said the Hellenic Steel management decided not to shut down the Aspropyrgos unit, noting that following the state's decision to "restore legality" by implementing a June ruling of an Athens court declaring the strike illegal, the reasons for submitting an application for mass layoffs and suspension of the Aspropyrgos unit have ceased to exist.
Clashes broke out early Friday morning between police and protesting Hellenic Steel Industry workers at the industry's Aspropyrgos plant, as the gate of the unit reopened at 5:30 a.m. on orders of the prosecutor and the intervention of a strong police contingent.
Nine people were detained by police early Friday, while one injury was initially reported. Scuffles were also reported between strikers and workers wishing to return to work.
The move to forcibly open the entrance came after labour ministry deliberations with strikers aimed at breaking the deadlock fell through.
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 has demanded 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 had 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.
The police contingent was deployed to the steel plant by order of the prosecutor after recourse by workers wishing to return to work seeking state intervention because they were being barred from entering the plant by strikers.
Some 150 people were congregated outside the plant, as well as police, as spirits calmed down.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accused the New Democracy (ND), PASOK and Democratic Left (DIMAR) coalition government of being mainly to blame for the "MAT (riot police) raid of the Halyvourgia, on prosecutor's orders" and charged "use of chemicals against, beatings and arrests of strikers in order to protect the strike-breaking mechanism".
A KKE announcement said that it was "once again confirmed that the state, the capitalists and their governments are united against the workers, the other popular strata, the working-class family that is desperately struggling to make ends meet", and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the riot police from the plant and the release of the detainees.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou later asserted that the workers themselves had asked for the police to intervene and open the plant and he underlined that the government would always act to uphold the law.
"We have a fact: the intervention of the appropriate authorities for the protection of the right to work. More than 100 workers at Hellenic Steel went to the police asking for the protection of this sacred right," Kedikoglou said.
According to the office of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, meanwhile, the prime minister himself had intervened and ordered action to opening the plant, as a message that the government will uphold the law at all times, regardless of the wishes of certain trade union minorities.
A similar line was taken by the PASOK party, one of the smaller parties supporting the coalition government, which issued a statement concerning the need to protect the right to work and to protect the productive fabric of the country.
The Democratic Left (Dem.Ar), the third party in the governing coalition, said the labour ministry had to help mediate an immediate solution that would allow the plant to resume operating without an internal conflict between the workers and criticised the presence of riot police as further escalating tensions "at a time when the problems of the Greek economy require broader consensus and understanding".
The move was strongly criticised by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, however, which said it was an indication of how the government intended to treat workers and their struggles and a resort to violence and autocracy to suppress labour action.
 Arrested striking steel workers charged and released pending trialSix striking steel workers arrested during a morning police raid to open the Hellenic Steel (Elliniki Halyvourgia) plant in Aspropyrgos on Friday were charged and released later on Friday afternoon, pending a trial.
The six are accused of illegal violence and violating a court decision, since the strike had been ruled illegal by a court some months ago.
 European ombudsman meets president of the republicThe European Ombudsman's report for the year 2011 was delivered to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias by European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros on Friday.
Together with the six-page report, Diamandouros handed over to Papoulias a leaflet which, as he said, contains "the principles that should govern the civil servants' functions in the European Union written in all EU languages."
"The situation is still very difficult," Diamandouros told the president, adding that everyone should lend a hand to help out.
The European Ombudsman has also briefed Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on the content of his report.
 Venizelos meets with European OmbudsmanVisiting European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros met Friday with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and discussed matters related to the former's office and the state of the institutions in the EU more generally.
Diamandouros also gave Venizelos a copy of the European Ombudsman's annual report for 2011.
 PASOK leader Venizelos meets with AJC's HarrisPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos met on Friday with visiting American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David A. Harris.
The state of the Greek and European economies in the past three years of the crisis, Greek-US relations, relations between Greece and Israel as well as the current situation in the eastern Mediterranean and developments in the Arab world were discussed during the meeting.
 Hatzidakis: Greece must 'positively surprise' Europe and marketsGreece needs to "positively surprise" Europe and the markets by signalling its determination to carry out reforms and privatisations, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said on 'Real FM' radio on Friday.
The minister said the government was keen to press ahead with privatisations in order to boost growth and noted that by carrying out privatisations, "you send a message that you are a country that is friendly to businesses".
"With every privatisation, we will be sending a message inviting other business people to come to the country in order to create new jobs, which is what is required," he said.
Referring to public utilities and especially the water company in Athens EYDAP, the minister said that one of the conditions for privatisation would be to set up a regulatory authority to protect consumers and public health while the management, instead of staying with the state, would go to a major company with a concession contract.
Concerning the heavily indebted Greek Railways Organisation, he said that a series of legal issues would first have to be resolved.
 HRADF managing director resigns, cites lack of needed backing by new governmentHellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) managing director Costas Mitropoulos tendered his resignation on Friday to the finance minister, effective as of August 10.
The resignation, which was also forwarded to the leaders of the three parties supporting the coalition government, said the resignation is effective as of August 10 to enable a full briefing of the new managing director.
In his letter, Mitropoulos estimates that revenues from denationalizations in 2012 would not exceed 300 million euros, and complained that the new coalition government did not provide the support that the HRADF needs in the present conditions.
Mitropoulos said in his letter that the government must publically and in action give its full support to the HRADF management and facilitate its actions, as well as advance the denationalisations according to plan in order to speed up the process and for the denationalisations to produce the expected results.
This, he added, will send to investors the message of credibility, professionalism and dedication to the targets that they seek in order to invest in Greece.
He charged that the new government did not give the support needed in the present conditions to the HRADF and, on the contrary, in an "indirect but systematic" way undermined the prestige and credibility of the HRADF in the eyes of the prospective investors.
The government further failed, to date, to name a president of the board so that the board could resume its meetings and accelerate the denationalisations programme.
Under these conditions, Mitropoulos said in his letter of resignation, it was impossible for him to fill the role of managing director, which the state entrusted to him in June 2011, in a professional and efficient manner.
 Athens to set up illegal migrants holding centre within city limitsThe City of Athens intends to set up a holding centre for illegal migrants within the city limits, an announcement by Citizens Protection and Public Order minister Nikos Dendias said on Friday after a meeting with Athens Mayor George Kaminis.
Kaminis, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said that the municipality is doing all it can for the social cohesion and rejuvenation of the Greek capital, and in that context it would be positive for "reception and hosting centres to be created".
He also said that the Athens municipality agrees to the establishment of such a centre within the city limits, aspiring to setting the example, in the hope that other municipalities will follow suit.
Dendias, in turn, said that the establishment of such centres is necessary in order to stem the migratory flows to the borders.
"We will follow the plan that was drawn up in 2010 and has been submitted to the EU," the minister said.
The 2010 plan foresees the establishment of holding centres on Greece's borders, centers for asylum-seekers and migrants requiring humanitarian support and detention centres for migrants destined for deportation. It also foresees the operation of an independent Political Asylum Service, the staffing of which has been outstanding since 2011 when the service was instituted.
 2 Israeli naval vessels arrive for courtesy visitTwo Israeli naval vessels arrived in Greece this week for a courtesy visit, within the framework of closer Greek-Israeli military cooperation.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, accompanied by the Hellenic Armed Forces General Staff General Mihail Kostarakos and Hellenic Navy chief Rear-Adm. Kosmas Christidis, toured the two vessels at the Salamina naval station.
One of the two vessels was identified as the Israeli Navy corvette "Lahav", while the other was an escort ship.
 Greek liquidity operations temporarily transfered to ELA, ECB saysThe European Central Bank on Friday said all Greek debt instruments fully guaranteed by the state will be temporarily ineligible for use as collateral in its regular funding operations until completion of an EC-ECB-IMF troika assessment on the Greek economy.
In a statement, the EBC said that due to the expiration on 25 July 2012 of a buy-back scheme for marketable debt instruments issued or fully guaranteed by the Hellenic Republic, these instruments will become for the time being ineligible for use as collateral in Eurosystem monetary policy operations.
"In line with established procedures, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) will assess their potential eligibility following the conclusion of the currently ongoing review, by the European Commission in liaison with the ECB and the IMF, of the progress made by Greece under the second adjustment programme".
Liquidity needs may be addressed by the relevant national central bank in line with existing Eurosystem arrangements, the central bank said.
 Greek current account deficit down 37.9% in MayGreece's current account deficit shrank by 37.9 pct in May, compared with the same month last year, to 1.2 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.
The central bank, in a report, said that the trade deficit fell by 232 million euros, as a result of a 358 million euro decrease in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, as well as a 280 million decline in net payments for purchases of ships. By contrast, the net oil import bill rose by 406 million euros or 60.3 percent, offsetting the aforementioned improvement to a large degree. The trade deficit excluding oil and ships narrowed due to a considerable rise of 152 million euros (or 14.1 percent) in export receipts and an also considerable decline of 206 million (or 9.0 percent) in the import bill.
The surplus of the services balance shrank by 182 million euros as a result of higher net payments for "other" services and lower net travel receipts. Over the same period, net transport receipts rose. In more detail, travel spending in Greece by non-residents declined by 13.9 percent year-on-year, while travel spending abroad by residents of Greece fell by only 3.9 percent; as a result, net receipts decreased by 115 million euros. In the same month, non-residents' arrivals decreased by 12.2 percent, according to the Bank of Greece's border survey. Gross transport receipts (chiefly from merchant shipping) increased by 4.4 percent and the corresponding payments fell by 7.8 percent, resulting in higher net receipts by 103 million. The income account deficit narrowed by 584 million euros, owing to a 587 million euro decline in net payments for interest, dividends and profits, which mainly reflects a 513 million euro decrease in net interest payments on Greek government bonds held by non-residents, following the PSI. Finally, the current transfers balance showed a much smaller deficit year-on-year, mainly on account of lower general government net transfer payments (chiefly to the EU).
In the January-May 2012 period, the current account deficit fell by 4.5 billion euros or 39.9 percent year-on-year, to 6.8 billion. This development reflects, primarily, the substantial decline of 2.6 billion euros in the non-oil trade deficit, as well as a 1.1 billion decrease in the income account deficit and rises of 502 million and 161 million in the surpluses of the services balance and the current transfers balance, respectively. At the same time, the net oil import bill fell slightly by 148 million euros.
In more detail, the trade deficit decreased by 2.8 billion euros, as a result of a 1.6 billion (or 29.0 percent) decline in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships and a 1 billion euro fall in net payments for purchases of ships, whereas the net oil import bill also fell, as already mentioned. Receipts from exports of goods excluding oil and ships rose by 7.5 percent, while the corresponding import bill decreased at a relatively faster pace (11.5 percent). An increase in the surplus of the services balance is mainly due to higher net transport receipts and, secondarily, lower net payments for "other" services, whereas net travel receipts fell slightly in the first five months of 2012. In more detail, travel spending in Greece by non-residents fell markedly (by 12.5 percent) year-on-year, reflecting also a decrease in non-residents' arrivals at an average year-on-year rate of 10.8 percent. At the same time, however, travel spending abroad by residents of Greece fell by 21.3 percent, resulting in a slight decline of 19 million in net receipts. Over the same period, gross transport receipts (chiefly from merchant shipping) remained unchanged (+0.9 percent), but the corresponding payments fell by 12.5 percent; as a result, net receipts rose by ? 441 million.
The income account deficit fell by 1.1 billion euros year-on-year, mainly owing to a sharp decline in net interest payments on Greek government bonds held by non-residents, which is due to the PSI.
Finally, the current transfers balance showed a surplus of 1.2 billion euros, up by 161 million year-on-year. This development is due to, primarily, a 127 million decline in the net transfer payments of the sectors other than general government (mainly emigrants' remittances) and, secondarily, a 34 million rise in general government net transfer receipts (mainly from the EU).
In May 2012, non-residents' direct investment in Greece showed a net outflow (decline) of 79 million euros. The most important transaction under this category concerns an inflow of 47 million for the participation of the Cypriot company TBG Cyprus Holdings Limited in the share capital increase of PepsiCo-Ivi S.A. Residents' direct investment abroad recorded a net outflow (increase) of ? 56 million, without any remarkable transaction. Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of 7.4 billion euros was recorded.
Under "other" investment, a net inflow of 8.9 billion euros was recorded, which is mainly attributable to a net 4.7 billion increase (inflow) in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non.
In the January-May 2012 period, direct investment showed a net outflow of 59 million (compared with a net outflow of 567 million in the corresponding period of 2011).
At end-May 2012, Greece's reserve assets stood at 5.5 billion euros.
 Greek budget deficit down to 12.477 bln euros in H1Greece's state budget deficit fell to 12.477 billion euros in the first half of 2012, from a budget target shortfall of 14.878 billion euros, while the budget recorded a primary deficit of 3.317 billion euros, from a budget target for a primary deficit of 5.267 billion euros, the finance ministry said on Friday.
A ministry statement said that net budget revenues fell to 23.191 billion euros, reflecting lower income tax receipts and lower transaction taxes.
The Public Investment Programme's revenues totaled 1.503 billion euros in the January-June period, down from a budget target of 1.913 billion euros, reflecting payment delays from community funds. State budget spending fell to 35.668 billion euros in the first six months of the year, down 3.964 billion euros from budget targets.
 Industrial new orders' index down 9.7 pct in MayGreece's new orders' index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell 9.7 pct in May this year, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 11 pct recorded in May 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this negative development to a 14.8-pct decline in the domestic market index and a 5.4 pct decline in the external market index.
Meanwhile, the turnover index in the industrial sector fell 5.6 pct in May, compared with the same month last year, after a 9.7-pct increase in May 2011. The statistics service attributed this development to a 13.6 pct decline in the mining turnover index and a 5.5 pct fall in the manufacturing turnover index.
It also said that the domestic market turnover index fell 5.7 pct in May and the external market index dropped 6.0 pct in the month.
 Building materials' prices up 0.7% in JuneBuilding materials' prices rose 0.7 pct in June, reflecting higher prices in products and services related with the building industry, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 13.9 pct increase in electricity prices, a 7.8 pct in switches, a 6.9 pct in pipes, a 4.7 pct increase in circulators, a 4.6 pct rise in tiles, a 4.4 pct increase in steel pipes, while windows (3.3 pct), security doors (2.1 pct), lifts (1.9 pct) and closets (1.3 pct) recorded price declines.
Meanwhile, the statistics service also announced that the new home building materials' price index rose 0.7 pct in June, compared with June 2011, after an increase of 2.5 pct recorded a year earlier. The index was down 0.2 pct in June from May 2012.
 Report: Greek insurance market has major growth potentialOnly 8.0 pct of the Greek population has any form of private insurance policy, a report by MRB Hellas said on Friday. The report confirmed that the private insurance sector has great prospects of development, with life insurance policies lagging significantly in the country.
The report showed that the 18-24 age group (7.7 pct of total) has the smallest percentage of private insurance, while the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups had the highest percentage rates (31.7 pct and 27 pct, respectively).
Athens has the largest share of insurance companies' clients, while their profile shows that they are married and have a monthly income of more than 1,500 euros. The most popular form of private insurance policy was car insurance, house insurance, healthcare and life insurance. MRB Hellas conducts its survey based on international standards every month except August.
 'Greece Debt Free' buys back 2.5 billion euro of Greek debt in 1st monthThe non-profit and strictly non-political and non-governmental organisation 'Greece Debt Free (GDF)' set up by ship owner Peter Nomikos to help relieve Greece's debt burden - taking advantage of the very low prices for which Greek bonds are currently trading - has already managed to buy 2.5 billion euro of Greek debt during its first month in existence. In an interview given to AMNA on Friday, Nomikos outlined how the idea began and also how it works.
Nomikos created an electronic platform where private individuals and firms can make donations that are then used to buy Greek bonds trading on the market for prices ranging from 10-20 percent of their face value. Ultimately, GDF intends to write off the debt entirely, thus securing a benefit much greater than the amount of cash donated.
"Our proposal is simple. Anyone that wants to help Greece can donate one euro and GDF will buy and then write off with this one euro about eight euro of Greek debt," he explained.
"If you communicate this message to anyone that loves Greece, things can truly change," he added.
The interview with Nomikos was as follows:
Q: How did you get the idea of starting up this initiative?
N: "I started considering the idea of the GDP last year, in the midst of the Arab Spring movements. It was unbelievable how half a billion people can become motivated and lead to a democratic change via the social media (facebook, twitter, YouTube etc) in the Middle East. An entire nation was mobilised within a few weeks. GDF was designed to take advantage of these new means of networking and communication. Via GDF anyone can now help Greece, with trust and transparency. It is a tool for everyone."
Q: The base of your organisation is in the United States. Why the U.S. and not Greece?
N: "In Greece I could not be sure that the money would remain 'untouched', I didn't know what would happen if some law changed or if the political situation in the country changed suddenly. Then the donations would not be safe. Our organisation must remain separate from these things and politics. Therefore, the GDF had to have its base operating under the legal status of U.S. charitable foundations so that our donors can be sure that their donations will be used precisely for the purpose outlined in our web page.
The GDF, therefore, is under U.S. law for charitable foundations, which means that U.S. citizens donating money for the purposes of the foundation can deduct their donation from taxes. This is an incentive for expatriates in the U.S. This means that every donation originating in the U.S. can write off debt amounting to 11 or 12 times the amount of capital donated, instead of eight for non-U.S. donators. This is a unique option that does not exist in Greece."
Q: For every euro donated, how much nominal debt is written off?
N: "As one can see on our web page, for every euro that someone donates to GDF, eight euro of Greek debt are bought by the GDF and later written off".
Q: Why, do you believe, hasn't the Greek state proceeded to make similar moves?
N: "I do not want to comment on the political movements of the Greek government. Comments on this are the job of the media. GDF is not a political organisation".
Q: What do you do once you buy the bonds? Do you keep them or write them off at once?
N: "We buy them and then write them off later. If you write off a large amount of debt immediately, this would likely result in an increase in the price of the bonds. You must remember that the 'cheaper' Greeks buy their debt, the better. To cancel later is a standard practice in bond buyback programmes.
Q: Some in Greece question your statement that if every Greek donated 3,000 euro, you could collect 34 billion euro and buy the huge Greek debt of 284 billion euro. This is based on the assumption that bond prices will stay at 12 cents to the dollar, which is not correct. How do you deal with the problem of rising bond prices?
N: "We never said anything of the kind. Our Internet message refers to the bonds that are available now and can be bought at this time. We do not make any statement about the purchase of the whole debt and how much this would cost. For us at GDF, our primary goal is to reduce the debt to sustainable levels. If tomorrow morning the Greek government could get 34 billion euro from the IMF and spend this sum on buying back a part of the Greek debt, this would make us all glad and would be a major diplomatic success. Let us assume now that we Greeks collect 34 billion euro to buy back bonds, wouldn't this be a huge success for the Greek nation? We would surely buy some back at the price of 12 cents on the dollar, some at 30, 40, 50 or even higher. The average purchase price, however, would be every low and in every case of bond buy back - whether state or company - the average price is the most important."
Q: However, if these bonds are bought in bulk, their price will rise. How do you deal with this possibility?
N: "GDF collects all the donations and proceeds with coordinated purchases in a manner that we believe will not sufficiently affect the prices of bonds. If we asked each person to buy the bonds on their own and bring them to us, this would trigger an increase. We avoid this, simply asking for the money and carrying out the purchase of the bonds ourselves. If enough money is collected so that the purchase of bonds raises their prices, then we must look at the average purchase price. Because every price below their nominal value is money saved. But the lower the purchase price is, the better. Because if the crisis intensifies, the participation of every patriot will be greater since the same bonds will be bought with less money."
Q: Do you believe that you will face reactions from Greek banks and pension funds, who are the main 'owners' of Greek debt?
N: "I believe that there should be no objections. This move is a gain for Greece and all Greeks must embrace it. The bond holders that are not selling will welcome every reason for a reduction of the debt toward generated GDP, since this will increase the value of the paper they hold."
Q: From a practical point of view, what is the procedure that someone needs to follow in order to donate any sum and how confident can they feel that the money will be used correctly?
N: "Anyone can access our website from the Internet and make their donation via paypal or money order. Afterward we will buy the bonds. It is that simple. We soon hope to have a call centre ready that will be able to serve interested parties and receive donations over the phone. In this way we will try to buy the maximum possible amount of Greek debt at the lowest price. For example, if two bonds are trading, one at 12 cents to the dollar and the other at 13 cents to the dollar, we will choose the one selling at 12 cents and then write off 100 cents of debt."
"In terms of reliability, one additional reason why I chose the U.S. to set up the GDF is that the U.S. legal framework for such companies ensures that the money donated to them is used strictly and solely for the purpose for which it is intended. I personally funded, at my own expense, the cost of legal protection, planning and creation of the website and, of course, the founding of GDF, and I continue to pay for the operating expenses. I did this so that the GDF is not burdened and all the money donated goes solely for the purpose for which it is intended. We are a mechanism, not just an organisation."
 Travel agents up in arms over Monday closure of Rhodes tourist attractionsTravel agents in Greece and especially on the island of Rhodes on Friday expressed their intense displeasure at a decision to close the island's main tourist attractions, including the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, on Monday when five cruise ships with 3,000 passengers were booked to stop at the island and tour the sites.
The problem has arisen due to a staff overtime issue and a sudden ministry decision to reject a past arrangement where travel agents covered the cost of overtime pay for the guards.
"We are going through the worst economic period the country has ever experienced, with ourselves chiefly responsible, and it is truly an oxymoron for us to want tourists and incoming tourism and the same time that we ourselves, with our behaviour, drive them away and point them to competitor countries," the national travel agents' association GEPOET said in a press release.
Staff in museums and archaeological sites does not work on that day but a "temporary" solution had been found where they turned up for work and their overtime was paid by travel agencies. A few days ago, when bookings had already been made, travel agents were suddenly informed that the ministry did not accept their request to do this next Monday on the grounds that guards refused to work without written permission from the ministry.
 Greek stocks end 1.38 pct higherStocks ended significantly higher for a second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, boosted by buying interest in selective blue chips such as Coca Cola 3E, Motor Oil and OPAP.
The Greek market ignored a negative climate prevailing in other European markets. The composite index rose 1.38 pct to end at 630.84 points, off the day's highs of 632.17 points. The index rose 1.46 pct in the week, reducing its annual losses to 7.29 pct.
Turnover remained a low 19.374 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 0.71 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.58 pct higher. The Food (5.30 pct), Travel (3.0 pct) and Health (2.71 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Constructions (3.98 pct) and Personal Products (2.82 pct) suffered losses. Coca Cola 3E (5.36 pct), Motor Oil (3.56 pct) and Metka (2.92 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Titan (4.86 pct), Viohalco (3.85 pct) and Jumbo (3.24 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 69 to 61 with another 25 issues unchanged. Mohlos (29.82 pct), Balkan Real Estate (21.21 pct) and PC Systems (20 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (20 pct), HOL (19.9 pct) and Pegasus (19.88 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.03%
Personal & Household: -2.82%
Raw Materials: -0.37%
Travel & Leisure: +3.00%
Food & Beverages: +5.30%
Financial Services: -1.21%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, OTE, National Bank and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 01/09/12
Public Power Corp (PPC): 01/02/70
HBC Coca Cola: 14.75
Hellenic Petroleum: 01/05/51
National Bank of Greece: 01/01/24
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.66
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 23.53 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 24.70 pct and the German Bund 1.17 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.01 pct, the six-month rate 0.73 pct, the three-month rate 0.45 pct and the one-month rate was 0.17 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.46 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover remaining a low 5.576 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,858 contracts worth 3.248 million euros, with 23,675 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,751 contracts worth 2.328 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,652), followed by Alpha Bank (2,975), OTE (2,839), PPC (2,046), Piraeus Bank (1,045), Hellenic Postbank (599), Intralot (132), Eurobank (201), Cyprus Bank (338), OPAP (828) and Coca Cola 3E (100).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. Dollar 1238
Pound sterling 790
Danish kroner 7551
Swedish kroner 8580
Japanese yen 97.3
Swiss franc 1218
Norwegian kroner 7534
Canadian dollar 1250
Australian dollar 1191
 Greece switches over to fully digital TVGreece started the switchover to a fully digital signal for television on Friday, with the analog signal of nationally broadcast television stations transmitted from Mount Hymettus in Attica stopping as of 3:00 a.m. Areas served by the Hymettus transmitter include all of Athens and the Attica basin, the Mesogia areas of east Attica, the western shores of the Cyclades islands and the southern shores of Evia.
Based on a 2012 ministerial decision, after July 20 the Hymettus transmitter will only transmit the digital signal of all private and state-run channels broadcast nationwide, with the exception of the state channels ET1, NET and ET3 for which the switchover has been postponed until August 17, after the conclusion of the 2012 Olympic Games.
In addition to the Hymettus transmitter centre, Attica is also served by a centre on the island of Aegina that also broadcasts the digital signal of state TV channels, private channels and local television channels and serves mainly the southern areas of Attica, as well as a transmitter centre on Mount Parnitha that will continue to transmit the analog signal for all channels since it is not one of the 23 locations included in the first phase of the switchover.
The Hymettus centre serves an estimated 120,000-150,000 households, which do not have the alternative option of receiving an analog signal once the switchover occurs, while recent laws have also given regional television stations the option of broadcasting a digital signal from Hymettus.
According to digital provider Digea, older-technology television sets will need a digital-to-analog converter that supports MPEG4 in order to receive any signal and will need retuning to different frequencies.
 Body of unidentified man found on Halkidiki beachThe body of an unidentified man was discovered washed up on Roditis beach in Paliouri, Halkidiki on Friday.
The body was transferred to the forensics department of the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University (AUTH) for a post-mortem.
The Coast Guard believes the body may belong to a diver who went missing in June off nearby Samothraki.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe settlement of overdue debts to the state and payment of this year's income tax in installments, retroactive cuts in retirement superannuities in all deficit-ridden Funds and the planned abolitions and mergers of state agencies were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "20 organisations with 200 services being abolished".
AVGHI: "Good morning with 22 percent cut in retirement superannuities".
AVRIANI: "Suspicious assets of 4 former and 2 incumbent MPs under microscope of SDOE financial crimes squad".
DEALnews: "The secret plan for Greece".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New trick with the LAFKA (special tax on high pensions)".
ELLADA: "Take (fire protection) measures, we're burning".
ESTIA: "They're rewarding the tax dodgers!"
ETHNOS: "Cold shower with the retirement superannuity in the public sector".
IMERISSIA: "Taxes, debts in many small installments".
KATHIMERINI: "22.6 percent reduction in civil servants' retirement superannuities".
LOGOS: "22.6 percent 'scissor' to public sector retirement superannuity".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Taxation package foresees many installments for everyone".
NIKI: "Cheap rents in 'safe' neighborhoods".
PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "Poll: After Papoulias (President of the Republic), who? - Fotis Kouvelis (leader of coalition government junior partner Democratic Left party) for President of the Republic".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Intervention in Syria escalating".
TA NEA: "Five-year installments for overdue debts to state".
VRADYNI: "Shut-downs and mergers of state agencies".
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