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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 Issue No: 4172

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM meets Draghi, stresses Greece's commitment to meeting bailout terms
  • [02] ECB statement on Samaras-Draghi talks
  • [03] PASOK party satisfied with recognition by partners and PM of work done until today
  • [04] Labour minister ends meeting with troika; 2nd meeting to follow
  • [05] Development minister holds talks with troika
  • [06] French finance minister to visit Greece on Thursday
  • [07] Papoulias: 'Greek people have reached their limits'
  • [08] PASOK party leader briefs deputies on recapitalisation and Monday's meeting with troika
  • [09] SYRIZA leader Tsipras holds talks with Chinese ambassador
  • [10] Ind'p Greeks' party leader: 'New measures the country's tombstone'
  • [11] KKE calls for participation in general strike
  • [12] KKE suspends operation of its TV station
  • [13] Greek foreign minister: Turkey's stance to Cypriot EU presidency a mistake
  • [14] FM speaks by phone with Antioch Patriarch Ignatius
  • [15] Former minister denies reports on new assets
  • [16] Husband of former minister to face felony charges over controversial money transfer
  • [17] Acceleration of privatisations approved
  • [18] Municipalities call 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday
  • [19] Greek budget deficit down significantly in Jan-Aug
  • [20] CoS cancels tender for land registry in Athens
  • [21] New deadline for legalisation of constructions lacking planning permission
  • [22] Wholesale turnover slumps 15.2pct in Q2 2012
  • [23] Motor Trades turnover plunges 33.2pct in Q2 2012
  • [24] Building activity down 40 pct in June
  • [25] Business Briefs
  • [26] Stocks extend rally for 6th straight session
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [30] Schools open, teacher unions complain of staff shortages
  • [31] University professors hold protest rally in Athens
  • [32] Alternate education minister visits Athens Academy
  • [33] Surprise arrival at Athens International Airport: First-ever appearance of Buff-breasted sandpiper in Greece
  • [34] Man injured for going to barbershop owned by foreign national
  • [35] Cargo ship runs aground off Evia, crew safe
  • [36] 103 illegal migrants to be repatriated
  • [37] Two arrested in Halkida drug bust
  • [38] Traffic police officers arrested on extortion charges
  • [39] Visitors and revenues down in museums in May 2012
  • [40] Two wildfires in progress on Andros and in central Greece
  • [41] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [42] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM meets Draghi, stresses Greece's commitment to meeting bailout terms

    Greece is determined to meet the obligations it has undertaken under the terms of bailout loans and at the same time speed up the recovery of its economy, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Tuesday after meeting European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt.

    Samaras said that he had discussed the prospects of both Greece and the Eurozone during his meeting with the ECB president, expressing Athens' support for the initiatives taken by Draghi to stabilise the monetary union and find a way out of the debt crisis, putting an end to attacks by speculators.

    "We also spoke about the great efforts being made by our country to regain its credibility and emerge from the crisis. I insisted that we are determined to meet the obligations we have undertaken and, at the same time, to speed up the recovery of our economy," he said.

    According to the Greek premier, Draghi had noted the progress made by Greece and the meeting had marked a "first step for a closer and more productive cooperation with the ECB".

    [02] ECB statement on Samaras-Draghi talks

    A press release issued on Tuesday by the European Central Bank (ECB) said that during Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's talks with the Bank's President Mario Draghi, in Frankfurt earlier in the day, "both sides agreed that Greece has already taken significant steps towards budgetary consolidation and economic modernisation but that major challenges remain".

    "Today (Tuesday), Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, visited the European Central Bank (ECB). He was accompanied by Yannis Stournaras, Minister for Finance, Christos Staikouras, Alternate Minister for Finance, and other members of his staff," the press release said.

    "During his visit, the Prime Minister and his delegation met with Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, Joerg Asmussen, Member of the ECB's Executive Board, Beno?t C?ur?, Member of the ECB's Executive Board, and ECB staff to discuss matters of mutual interest. The main topic of discussion was the state of affairs regarding Greece's economic adjustment programme, the ongoing review conducted by staff of the European Commission, in liaison with the ECB and the IMF, and developments in the Greek banking sector. Both parties agreed that Greece has already taken significant steps towards budgetary consolidation and economic modernisation but that major challenges remain. The Prime Minister assured the ECB delegation of his and his Government's commitment to getting the adjustment programme back on track and continuing the necessary reforms for Greece to regain competitiveness and put its economy and public finances on a solid footing," the ECB press release added.

    [03] PASOK party satisfied with recognition by partners and PM of work done until today

    PASOK party sources, commenting on an announcement by the European Central Bank (ECB) following the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and ECB head Mario Draghi, expressed satisfaction on Tuesday because "at last the work done until today is being promoted and recognised by both our partners and by the prime minister".

    A press release issued by the European Central Bank (ECB) said that during Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's talks with the Bank's President Mario Draghi "both sides agreed that Greece has already taken significant steps towards budgetary consolidation and economic modernisation but that major challenges remain".

    KKE party says Samaras-Draghi meeting confirms that government and EU determined to intensify war against people

    An announcement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday, on the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt earlier in the day, stressed that "the Samaras-Draghi meeting confirms that the government and the EU are determined to intensify the war against the people."

    "There must be no expectation or illusion. After today's tunnel in which the working people are in, new tunnels will follow, with whatever government, because the crisis in the eurozone will deepen and because the profit-making of the monopolies, that is a one-way road for them, presupposes the return of the life of the people to the decade of the '50s and even further back. The immediate reply must be the organising of a general strike with an escalation of the struggle for the reversal of the antipopular measures of the government and the EU," the announcement added.

    [04] Labour minister ends meeting with troika; 2nd meeting to follow

    Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis concluded a meeting with the heads of the EU-IMF troika in Athens on Tuesday, saying there had been a discussion in a positive climate on the ministry's obligations. He also announced that a follow-up meeting with the IMF's Poul Thomsen, European Commission's Matthias Mors and European Central Bank's Klaus Masuch had been agreed in the near future with the heads of the troika mission, while a team of troika technical experts would be at the labour ministry from Wednesday.

    The meeting between the troika mission chiefs and the labour ministry's political leadership began on Tuesday afternoon, slightly delayed due to a protest staged by PAME trade unionists outside the ministry entrance. Troika officials had requested that the meeting be held at an Athens hotel but Vroutsis refused, saying he would not move from his office and would arrange for unobstructed access to the ministry.

    [05] Development minister holds talks with troika

    The representatives of the EC/ECB/IMF troika requested from Development and Competitiveness Minister Kostis Hatzidakis that prices should drop in the market, during their meeting on Tuesday afternoon, making their assessment that distortions keep prices high.

    The discussion focused on the functioning of competitiveness, the deregulation of markets and the lifting of regulating and arranging obstacles in retail trade, fuel and pharmaceuticals to also achieve a decrease in prices.

    As regards Free Economic Zones, ministry officials said that the officials of the IMF are negative towards the creation of a Free Economic Zone in Greece, with the Greek side however appearing determined to keep the discussion open since, since as Hatzidakis has said, "it is not compulsory for the Free Economic Zones to constitute a geographical region but can correspond to a sector for a specific branch of the Greek economy".

    [06] French finance minister to visit Greece on Thursday

    French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici is due in Greece on Thursday for the first official visit by a French finance minister to the country since 1998, according to a French embassy press release on Tuesday. During the visit, Moscovici will be received by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and meet with his Greek counterpart Yannis Stournaras, as well as Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.

    [07] Papoulias: 'Greek people have reached their limits'

    "The Greek people are making huge sacrifices. I think that they have reached their limits. Their patience and courage, while facing this situation, are admirable," President Karolos Papoulias said on Tuesday.

    Receiving Canadian Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella at the Presidential Mansion, Papoulias sent a clear message to European partners, stressing that "until now we were being flogged merciless. I think that we have paid enough for our mistakes. Europe should realise that Greece will have to be assisted, together with Spain, Portugal and Italy, to overcome the economic crisis and be able to be of assistance to Europe's historical survival and role on the global scene."

    He also expressed certainty that "problems will be overcome" and underlined that "positive things have taken place lately. The decision by ECB president Draghi is on the right direction, while the stance toward Greece has changed in Europe and European capitals."

    The Canadian Senate speaker was accompanied by Senate opposition leader James S. Cowan, Senator Leo Housakos and Canada's Ambassador to Greece Robert William Peck.

    [08] PASOK party leader briefs deputies on recapitalisation and Monday's meeting with troika

    PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, addressing a meeting of the party's economic sector department on Tuesday, briefed the party's deputies on the issue of recapitalisation and on his meeting with the EC/ECB/IMF troika on Monday.

    According to reports, as regards the issue of recapitalisation, Venizelos explained to the deputies that banks are going under the strategic control of the state, stressing that "our stance towards the banks must be monitoring and developmental, meaning that they must become a growth lever to pass liquidity to the real economy".

    The PASOK leader referred to the results of his meeting with the troika and, according to the same reports, made two assessments: on the one hand that it will be very difficult for the troika to accept to include cutbacks in operational expenditures and on the other that the equivalent clause proposed by the Democratic Left and PASOK's focal position on an extension of the period of fiscal adjustment are in the same direction and in the same spirit.

    According to other reports, Venizelos termed the extension an essential term for the viability of the country.

    [09] SYRIZA leader Tsipras holds talks with Chinese ambassador

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parlia-mentary Group leader Alexis Tsipras presented SYRIZA's positions on the handling of the crisis in Greece and on foreign policy to the amabassador of the People's Republic of China Du Qiwen during their meeting on Tuesday.

    According to a relevant announcement, SYRIZA's leader had the opportunity of referring to "the painful political, economic and social conjuncture that the country and the people are experiencing and to the disastrous repercussions of the neoliberal policies of the troika that are being applied in harmonisation with the three-party government."

    At the same time he presented SYRIZA's specific and alternative proposals to enable the country to exit from the crisis with growth policies that will bring back dignity and hope for the Greek people, the announcement also said.

    On his part, the ambassador presented and described specifically his country's foreign policy in Europe and Greece in particular.

    The announcement said that the two sides expressed a coincidence of views particularly on the crisis in the Middle East, the civil war in Syria and the need for finding a peaceful political solution and not military intervention.

    [10] Ind'p Greeks' party leader: 'New measures the country's tombstone'

    Opposition Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos on Tuesday termed the new austerity measures expected to be announced in the coming days as the country's "tombstone", adding that the only solution is the immediate abolition of the Memorandum.

    Speaking at a press conference within the framework of the 77th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), he said "the interaction with the (EC-ECB-IMF) troika reminds one of the relationship between drug addicts and their ... in order to get our (loan) tranche we will have to give our soul".

    He also accused the prime minister of misleading the people to get their vote in the recent general election, and ruled out the likelihood of cooperation with New Democracy (ND) and PASOK.

    Kammenos visited the Centre of Thessaloniki Labour Unions and later in the afternoon he will visit the trade fair. On Wednesday evening, he will address a party rally.

    [11] KKE calls for participation in general strike

    The Communist Party (KKE) lashed out at Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Tuesday, saying he is "the most industrious executioner of workers' conquests", in reference to what it called anti-worker measures decided by the government and troika.

    A KKE statement underlined that "businesspeople and EU representatives cannot hide their enthusiasm over the minister's eagerness to further slash wages and benefits, to rid employers of the already low contributions they pay to social insurance funds, to abolish the 8-hour workday and to introduce layoffs without compensation, as well as, rotating work schedules and new increase in retirement age among others."

    KKE called on workers to participate in a "general strike to stop the new crime that is being prepared."

    [12] KKE suspends operation of its TV station

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announced on Tuesday that it is suspending the operation of the party's television station "902".

    According to the announcement, which was published in the party's daily newspaper Rizospastis, KKE is suspending the operation of the TV station due to the high cost of operation entailed by the recent transition to digital TV in Greece.

    [13] Greek foreign minister: Turkey's stance to Cypriot EU presidency a mistake

    Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday criticised Turkey's stance toward the EU and Cyprus' EU presidency, saying that Ankara had missed a major opportunity and undermined its own accession course in the process.

    "It was a mistake on Turkey's part, the fact that it failed to exploit the opportunity of the Cypriot presidency. Ankara missed a major opportunity, finally undermining its own European course," Avramopoulos said in statements on the sidelines of his meeting with visiting Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Markoulli.

    He noted that Turkey's attitude "expressed disrespect for European institutions."

    During her visit to the Greek foreign ministry, Markoulli thanked the Greek government for its assistance to Cyprus' EU presidency through the loan of expert staff to help serve its needs.

    Referring to her recent meetings with Avramopoulos in Cairo and in the Cypriot town of Paphos, she strongly condemned the bloody crisis in Syria that had so far left 27,000 dead and created 300,000 refugees, stressing that the humanitarian burden on surrounding countries that this created must be addressed in some way by the EU.

    Avramopoulos similarly condemned the 'blind violence' and the climate of civil strife cultivated in the country and underlined that a return to normality demanded the departure of regime leader Bashar al-Assad, a ceasefire in the country and protection of Syria's Christian community so that dialogue might begin between the warring factions and a political solution found.

    Questioned on Turkey's stance to the Cypriot EU presidency, Markoulli stressed that this was a 'slap in the face' for the EU since Ankara's refusal to collaborate was a display of "contemptuous behaviour by a candidate country". Concerning the Cyprus issue, she noted that there was immobility, in spite of the efforts made by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

    Avramopoulos, on his part, noted that a just and viable solution of the Cyprus issue was a paramount policy goal for Greece, without which there could be neither full normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations nor progress in Turkey's EU accession.

    [14] FM speaks by phone with Antioch Patriarch Ignatius

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday expressed Athens' strong solidarity for the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and Syria's threatened Christian communities, during a telephone conversation with Patriach Ignatius IV of Antioch and All The East, with whom he discussed the situation in the strife-plagued Mideast country.

    The foreign minister noted that the protection of religious minorities must be at the forefront of efforts for a solution to the Syrian crisis, while he briefed the Patriarch of Antioch on relevant discussions held at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paphos.

    At the meeting, the Greek side highlighted to EU partners the need for protection of the Christian communities of Syria.

    [15] Former minister denies reports on new assets

    Former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is currently being held in custody pending trial, termed in a statement on Wednesday, as "deliberate leaks" the press reports on new evidence for assets appearing and being examined by the investigation.

    Authorities investigating Tsohatzopoulos had announced on Monday that dozens of additional properties and bank accounts owned by the former political "strongman" have been discovered abroad and may be frozen if they are proven to be linked to illegal kickbacks or political funds.

    Tsohatzopoulos said in his statement that the "mudslinging" against him emanates from people desiring to harm him communicatively and added that "let them better look at the chaos, the dissolution and the disastrous course of the country that as petty leaders they led it to, over the past years".

    He reiterated that the judicial investigation against him was based on a penal prosecution that he has already requested to be declared unacceptable to the relevant Council and is waiting for the issuing of a relevant ruling.

    [16] Husband of former minister to face felony charges over controversial money transfer

    The businessman husband of MP and former minister Dora Bakoyannis may face felony charges in a case concerning the inaccurate "source of income" statement submitted by the latter, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Court of Appeals Prosecutor Konstantinos Tzavelas recommended to the appellate court judges' council that Isidoros Kouvelos be tried before a Criminal Court of Appeals charged with direct complicity in the case.

    According to the case file, Bakoyannis did not include in her declaration the sum of one million euros transferred to London by her husband in 2011. The money transferred from a Greek bank was initially generated from the liquidation of stock market shares that Kouvelos owned in the United States. Bakoyannis justified her husband's actions by saying that he legally transferred the funds abroad for the purchase of a merchant vessel.

    Last April, the Supreme Court prosecutor's office had asked Parliament to lift the parliamentary immunity of the then Democratic Alliance president MP Dora Bakoyannis in order to be investigated. She later disbanded the party.

    The transfer of the sum in question was revealed earlier in the year in the annual hearing of the head of the money-laundering watchdog Supreme Court prosecutor Panagiotis Nikoloudis before the Parliamentary special permanent committee on institutions and transparency.

    Kouvelos recently served as the head of Greece's national delegation at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

    Financial News

    [17] Acceleration of privatisations approved

    The Public Asset Development Fund's (TAIPED) board met on Tuesday to focus on the acceleration of the privatisation process.

    Based on the decisions reached, the prospective buyers in the 2nd phase of the tender procedure for the sale of 70 pct of Helliniko S.A. are: Elbit Cochin Island Ltd, Lamda Development SA, London and Regional Properties and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. QSC.

    In the 2nd phase of the tender for the exploitation of the real estate property at the Cassiope on the Ionian island of Corfu, the prospective buyers are: NCH New Europe Property Fund II LP and NCH Balkan Fund L.P.

    The companies selected to participate in the 2nd phase of the tender for the exploitation of the real estate property in Afantos on the southeast Aegean island of Rhodes are: ATLANTICA HELLAS S.A., LAMDA DEVELOPMENT S.A., LONDON & REGIONAL PROPERTIES LTD, MINOAN GROUP PLC, NCH CAPITAL INC and TEMES S.A.

    The TAIPED board also approved the draft contract to be signed with the Public Power Corp. S.A. (PPC S.A.) concerning the latter's resignation - on a quid pro quo basis - from its right to purchase up to 30 pct of Hellenic Public Gas Corp. S.A. (DEPA) shares.

    The terms for the 1st phase of the tender for the privatization of DEPA and Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA) were also approved based on which indicative offers by prospective investors will be placed.

    The next TAIPED board meeting will take place on Sept. 19.

    [18] Municipalities call 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday

    Municipal services throughout the country will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday due to a 48-hour strike called by the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) in protest over continuous cutbacks in funding to the municipalities, warning that there is an imminent danger of a total collapse of local government in Greece.

    The decision for the action was taken at a KEDE conference on August 30, where studies presented said that a planned further 30 percent reduction in funding to local government in addition to the 60 percent reduction effected in the three-year period 2009-2012 would result in the closure of all the social welfare services of the municipalities.

    KEDE warned that the municipalities would no longer be able to run the municipal childcare stations, municipal medical services, senior citizens' centers (KAPI), the 'Help at Home' programme and other services, and also would no longer be able to continue maintenance of school buildings, playgrounds and other municipal infrastructures, but also cultural and sport activities.

    Further, KEDE warned, the municipalities will not be able to pay municipal employees' salaries, resulting in closure of the municipal services.

    A nationwide rally will be held Wednesday morning in Athens' downtown Klafthmonos Square, followed by a march to the finance ministry and meeting with the finance minister.

    On Thursday morning a KEDE delegation will meet with parliament's standing committees on Public Administration and Finances, and with the parliament presidium.

    The KEDE board will meet again on Thursday noon to assess the results of its mobilizations and decide further action and initiatives.

    [19] Greek budget deficit down significantly in Jan-Aug

    Greece's budget deficit totaled 12.365 billion euros in the January-August period, down from a budget target of 15.213 billion euros, while the budget recorded a primary deficit of 1.295 billion euros in the eight-month period, down from a budget target of 4.201 billion euros, the State Accounting Office said on Tuesday.

    Both figures - budget deficit and primary deficit - were also significantly lower compared with the corresponding eight-month period in 2011. As a result, the state budget balance fell

    33.8 pct from last year, while the state budget recorded -for the first time- a surplus of 850 million euros in August.

    Net budget revenue totaled 33.082 billion euros, down 2.077 billion euros from a budget target, but up 1.6 pct compared with the same period in 2011.

    The Public Investment Programme's revenues totaled 2.463 billion euros, down from a budget target of 3.039 billion euros, reflecting a delay in community capital inflows.

    Budget spending totaled 45.447 billion euros in the first eight months of the year, down from a budget target of 50,372 billion euros, with Public Investment Programe's spending falling by 2.244 billion euros compared with budget targets. Capital spending fell slightly to 11.069 billion euros, while primary spending fell by 17.8 pct in August, falling for the second month in a row.

    A freezing of tax returns, large cutbacks in the Public Investment Programme and a widening state debt to the private sector (amounting around 6.7 billion euros) were the main reasons behind an improvement in budget figures in the first eight months of the year. On the other hand, a 26.5 pct increase in direct taxes in August, higher special consumption tax on fuel revenues (due to higher fuel prices) and dividend revenue helped in raising budget revenue by 24.2 pct in August. This combination narrowed a hole in state budget revenue to 2.077 billion euros in the January-August period.

    [20] CoS cancels tender for land registry in Athens

    The Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, on Tuesday cancelled a tender for the second stage of creating a land register in the municipality of central Athens. The cancellation of the Athens section of the tender is a serious setback for the process within the Athens municipality.

    The ruling was passed following a complaint made by one of the companies that submitted bids in the tender, the Doxiadis Bureau - Consultants for Development and Housing SA, which challenged its exclusion from the tender. In a hearing on Tuesday, the court finally upheld the Doxiadis Bureau complaints against the procedure followed.

    Specifically, the judges found that the offer submitted by the second consortium in the tender had been tampered with after it was submitted, writing on one of the pages of its offer.

    [21] New deadline for legalisation of constructions lacking planning permission

    The deadline given to owners of illegally built constructions to have them declared in order to legalize them has been extended until Jan. 31, 2013, the ministry of environment, energy & climate change announced on Tuesday.

    The decision was made "taking under consideration the grave economic circumstances" and in an effort to convince more people to take advantage of the measure.

    By July 25, a total of 408,140 illegally built constructions had been declared by their owners and the fines collected total roughly 626 million euros.

    [22] Wholesale turnover slumps 15.2pct in Q2 2012

    Turnover in wholesale slumped 15.2 percent in the second quarter of the year, according to provisional results published by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that the Turnover Index in Wholesale Trade in the 2nd quarter 2012 compared with the 2nd quarter 2011 decreased by 15.2%. The index in the 2nd quarter 2011 compared with the 2nd quarter 2010 decreased by 9.9%.

    The Turnover Index in Wholesale Trade in the 2nd quarter 2012 compared with the 1st quarter 2012 increased by 5.4%. The index in the 2nd quarter 2011 compared with the 1st quarter 2011 increased by 2.7%.

    [23] Motor Trades turnover plunges 33.2pct in Q2 2012

    Turnover in Motor Trades sector plunged 33.2 percent in the second quarter of the year, according to provisional results published by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that the Turnover Index for Motor Trades in the 2nd quarter 2012 compared with the 2nd quarter 2011 decreased by 33.2%. The index in the 2nd quarter 2011 compared with the 2nd quarter 2010 decreased by 30.9%.

    The Turnover Index for Motor Trades in the 2nd quarter 2012 compared with the 1st quarter 2012 increased by 7.2%. The index in the 2nd quarter 2011 compared with the 1st quarter 2011 increased by 2.6%.

    The Turnover Index for Sale of Motor Vehicles in the 2nd quarter 2012 compared with the 2nd quarter 2011 decreased by 38.7%. The index in the 2nd quarter 2011 compared with the 2nd quarter 2010 decreased by 35.1%.

    The Turnover Index for Sale of Motor Vehicles in the 2nd quarter 2012 compared with the 1st quarter 2012 increased by 2.5%. The index in the 2nd quarter 2011 compared with the 1st quarter 2011 decreased by 1.0%.

    [24] Building activity down 40 pct in June

    Building activity fell sharply by 40 pct in June this year, measured on volume, with the outlook remaining bleak as building permits fell by 41.7 pct in the same month, Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said building activity in the first half of the year fell 17.9 pct (based on building permits) and by 13.9 pct (based on volume) compared with the same period in 2011.

    [25] Business Briefs

    -- Public Power Corporation on Tuesday said it was waiving an option to buy 30 pct of DEPA, in a move aimed at facilitating a government effort to privatize DEPA-DESFA group.

    -- Greek employers expect further workforce reductions in the fourth quarter of 2012, a report by Manpower showed on Tuesday. In its quarterly review on the employment outlook in Greece, Manpower said 65 pct of Greek employers do not expect any change in their workforce, 9.0 pct expect an increase in the number of their workers, while 25 pct expect further cutbacks in workforce.

    -- Greece's central government cash deficit fell drastically in the January-August period to 6.3 billion euros, from 18.6 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2011, the Bank of Greece announced on Tuesday.

    -- Intrakat on Tuesday announced the signing of a contract between its subsidiary Prisma Domi ATE and the Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks ministry to build the extension of a new runway at the airport on the island of Paros.

    [26] Stocks extend rally for 6th straight session

    Stocks continued moving higher for a sixth consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market to the highest level since March 28.

    The market easily absorbed an early wave of profit taking selling, while buyers reappeared in the market focusing on blue chip stocks. The composite index rose 0.75 pct to end at 731.51 points, after falling as much as 2.06 pct during the session. Analysts expect the index to test the next resistance level at the 740-790 levels. Turnover was a moderate 61.039 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.10 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.21 pct lower. Utilities (9.10 pct), Raw Materials (5.20 pct) and Banks (4.25 pct) were top gainers, while Constructions (3.79 pct), Personal Products (3.64 pct) and Commerce (2.32 pct) were top losers.

    Cyprus Bank (14.75 pct), PPC (11.98 pct) and Cyprus Popular Bank (9.3 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Titan (4.89 pct), Jumbo (4.03 pct) and Motor Oil (2.62 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 91 to 51 with another 16 issues unchanged. AXON Holdings (20 pct), Att-kat (19.05 pct) and Cyprus Bank (14.75 pct) were top gainers, while Varvaresos (20 pct), HOL (20 pct) and Compucon (18.57 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +0.01%

    Commercial: -2.32%

    Construction: -3.79%

    Oil & Gas: +0.49%

    Personal & Household: -3.64%

    Raw Materials: +5.20%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.60%

    Technology: +5.20%

    Telecoms: +2.33%

    Banks: +4.25%

    Food & Beverages: -1.35%

    Health: +2.71%

    Utilities: +9.10%

    Financial Services: -0.31%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.57

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.74

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.30

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.70

    National Bank of Greece: 1.75

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.83

    OPAP: 6.00

    OTE: 3.08

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.34

    Titan: 14.00

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 20.45 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 20.29 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 21.98 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.53 pct. Turnover totaled 4.0 billion euros, all buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed to lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.75 pct, the six-month rate was 0.51 pct, the three-month rate was 0.26 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.

    [28] 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 remaining an improved 22.050 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,652 contracts worth 8.892 million euros, with 25,959 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 75,740 contracts worth 13.158 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (28,437), followed by Alpha Bank (16,955), Cyprus Bank (7,290), MIG (814), OTE (3,522), PPC (5,054), OPAP (2,285), Piraeus Bank (5,280), Cyprus Popular Bank (981(, Mytilineos (1,023), Sidenor (499), Eurobank (1,447), Ellaktor (646) and GEK (611).

    [29] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.297

    Pound sterling 0.809

    Danish kroner 7.564

    Swedish kroner 8.604

    Japanese yen 101.2

    Swiss franc 1.225

    Norwegian kroner 7.499

    Canadian dollar 1.261

    Australian dollar 1.248

    General News

    [30] Schools open, teacher unions complain of staff shortages

    Despite assurances by Education Minister Kostas Arvanito-poulos that the start of the new school year began without a hitch on Tuesday, during visits to a number of state schools in the greater Athens area, teacher unions insisted that the year began with staff shortages running into the thousands.

    In a statement to reporters, Arvanitopoulos noted that the school year was launched with all schools fully equipped with books and staff, with books arriving even in remote Gavdos.

    "Primary and kindergarten teachers and teachers of all basic subjects in secondary education were in their places today. During the next week, when the size of each class is finalised, we will appoint every necessary reserve teacher, down to the last," he said. The minister noted that even in a time of dire economic crisis, it had been shown that with good planning, organisation and a bit of good will from teachers, it was possible to ensure that schools were open, supplied with books and that teachers were in their place.

    According to trade unionists, however, there up to 5,000 unfilled positions for kindergarten, primary and special education teachers and roughly 3,500 unfilled positions in secondary schools, as well as 6,000 unfilled positions for specialised subjects in all-day schools.

    Teacher unions, who have declared a 24-hour strike in primary schools and three-hour work stoppages in secondary schools on Wednesday, additionally complained about the huge debts running to hundreds of thousands of euros in school committees for whole regions, such as in Kozani, Marousi, Patras and Kastoria.

    [31] University professors hold protest rally in Athens

    About a thousand people from the sector of higher education participated on Tuesday evening in a rally held in Syntagma Square in Athens by the Federation of University Professors in protest at cutbacks in their salaries.

    "We demand a fair distribution of burdens and salaries" said a banner held by the demonstrators, who are also demanding a "strong public university".

    [32] Alternate education minister visits Athens Academy

    Alternate Education Minister Costas Tzavaras on Tuesday visited the Academy of Athens and was briefed on its activities. He praised the institution's work and underlined that his visit reflects his respect and appreciation of its role in the protection of the Greek cultural heritage.

    [33] Surprise arrival at Athens International Airport: First-ever appearance of Buff-breasted sandpiper in Greece

    Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) had a surprise unscheduled landing a few days ago when a Buff-breasted sandpiper, which breeds in the open arctic tundra of North America made one of its rare appearances in Europe and first-ever in Greece.

    The Buff-breasted sandpiper, Tryngites subruficollis, is a small shorebird, classified as a calidrid sandpiper and currently believed to be the only member of the genus Tryngites.

    Members of the Fauna Observation Team of the Airport's environmental service -- who are also members of the Greek Ornithological Society -- spotted the bird at the airport's southern border.

    The Buff-breasted sandpiper is a very long-distance migrant and spends the non-breeding season mainly in South American, migrating usually through central North American. Occurring as an occasional wanderer to western Europe, particularly during the autumn migratory season, this was the first recorded sighting of Tryngites subruficollis in Greece. Its moderately small remaining population continues to decline and as a result it is considered Near-Threatened.

    Arrivals of rare birds are not uncommon in the region of the AIA, and the Buff-breasted sandpiper was the 188th species of bird to be recorded there.

    [34] Man injured for going to barbershop owned by foreign national

    Two unidentified persons injured a Greek man in a barbershop in the Metamorphossi district of Athens owned by a foreign national on Monday and set fire to the shop's furniture, causing minor material damage.

    According to initial information, the man went to a barbershop owned by a Pakistani national to have a haircut when the two unidentified individuals stormed in behind him and argued with the man for choosing to have his haircut in the foreign barber's shop. During the verbal altercation one of the two suspects lightly injured the customer in the right shoulder blade with a sharp object.

    The two suspects then doused the barbershop's furniture with flammable liquid, to which they set fire, causing minor material damage, and fled.

    Police are investigating the incident, while the injured man was taken to hospital.

    [35] Cargo ship runs aground off Evia, crew safe

    A Greek cargo ship ran aground on the rocky islet Vergoudia in the gulf of northern Evia at dawn Tuesday in high winds of up to 7 beaufort velocity, but all 11 on board were safe and well and no rift was caused to the vessel's hull.

    The freighter "Efstratios", carrying a cargo of 2,200 metric tons of sunflower flour, had set off from the islet of Psachna headed for Rethymno, Crete island, with a 10-member crew comprising nine Greeks and one Romanian, as well as one passenger.

    No oil spill was reported, and the ship has not taken on water.

    A tugboat was en route from the port of Piraeus to the site. A coastguard vessel attempted to approach the distressed freighter but was unable to do so due to gusty north-northeasterly winds of up to 7 beaufort velocity blowing in the area.

    [36] 103 illegal migrants to be repatriated

    One hundred and three illegal migrants, all Pakistanis will be repatriated on Tuesday, following court orders issued against them.

    The foreign nationals will leave from the International Athens Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" and the International Airport of Alexandroupolis "Dimokritos" with destinations Islamabad and Lahore.

    The repatriation operation of illegal migrants to their country of origin is being held within the actions against illegal migration and is covered by the European Fund for Repatriations

    [37] Two arrested in Halkida drug bust

    Police on Tuesday announced the arrest of two suspects, a 31-year-old Belgian national and a 36-year-old Greek, for setting up an organised hydroponics farm where they grew large quantities of hydroponic cannabis, as well as trading in other drugs. The operation was set up in a rented rooms complex on the Psachna-Politikon road in Evia. The arrests were made on Monday by the Attica drugs squad, in an operation mounted with the help of Halkida security police.

    Authorities confiscated roughly 2,000 cannabis plants, more than 2,000 esctasy pills, 76.5 grammes of cocaine, 138 grammes of MDMA and 385 grammes harvested hydroponic cannabis. Other evidence confiscated included a gun with two clips, hundreds of shells, a set of electronic scales, gardening tools and equipment and a small sum of money.

    The lab was discovered following a tip-off and a surveillance operation on the Evia complex. The two suspects had converted this to a hydroponics farm, buying cannabis seeds on the Internet and growing them indoors using specialised equipment, such as hydrators, ventilation systems, artificial light and special fertilizers.

    The two suspects will be led before a Halkida Misdemeanours Court prosecutor.

    [38] Traffic police officers arrested on extortion charges

    Two traffic police officers, one still serving and the other retired, were arrested and charged with extortion of individuals whose cars had been stolen.

    The ring was allegedly controlled by an inmate serving time at Malandrinos prison in central Greece. Three transport ministry employees are also face charges in the case.

    Months of investigation by police in Athens resulted to the arrests of six people on Monday, aged between 43 and 49, including the two officers and the alleged ring leader, while other five individuals are also wanted.

    The accused traffic officers reportedly fed information about stolen cars to the inmate on a daily basis. The latter would then collect information on the owners of the cars through the collaborating transport ministry employees. The inmate, according to the indictment, then contacted the owners of the stolen cars (which were not in the ring's possession) and, posing as the owner of a junk yard, demanded between 800 euros and 2,000 euros, depending on the car's market value, in order to return the vehicles.

    Roughly 150 people whose cars were stolen have been called to testify. Police investigated 72 cases and the money eventually paid by defrauded car owners was more than 31,000 euros.

    [39] Visitors and revenues down in museums in May 2012

    The number of visitors to museums throughout Greece dropped by 3.2 percent in May 2012 and revenues fell by 22.1 percent, compared with the same month in 2011, the Independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday. In the first five months of 2012 the number of visitors to museums rose by 1.6 percent but the revenues fell by 24 percent compared with the correspondent period in 2011.

    Visitors in the archaeological sites around the country fell by 0.3 percent in May 2012 and revenues fell 19.2 percent in comparison with May 2011. In the first five months of 2012 the number of visitors in archaeological sites rose by 20.3 percent but the revenues fell 22.2 percent in comparison with the same period in 2011.

    [40] Two wildfires in progress on Andros and in central Greece

    A wildfire on the island of Andros which erupted late Monday in the Vitali region was burning for a second day on Tuesday. A strong force of firefighters assisted by airborne means are battling the blaze, which was not threatening inhabited areas.

    Another wildfire was reported in a forest expanse in Zeli, central Greece. Fourteen fire engines with a 33-member crew and four firefighting aircraft are operating in the area.

    Weather forecast

    [41] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-6 beauforte. Temperatures between 16C and 31C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-5 beauforte winds and temperatures between 19C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 17C and 28C.

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

    The deliberations on the new measures and the pressure and arguments in the government's negotiations with the troika (EC, ECB, IMF) and the Eurogroup meeting on Friday in Nicosia, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Troika demands, prime minister Antonis Samaras resists!".

    AVGHI: "Cold-blooded murder - Suddenly they are seeking an additional 6 bln euros".

    AVRIANI: "People outraged with the political leaders' theatrics".

    DIMOKRATIA: "The toughest it can be!".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pension at the age of 67 in order for 1 bln euros to be found".

    ESTIA: "Troika presses and we resist".

    ETHNOS: "Declare, pay and save your money!"

    IMERISSIA: "Investors return to Athens Stock Exchange - 4.7 percent surge in general price index".

    KATHIMERINI: "All measures again on the table".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The measures must be presented to the Eurogroup even without agreement on them".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Popular struggle for relief measures and radical reversal".

    TA NEA: "The golden trick! How night club stars avoid taxes".

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