|Wednesday, 15 August 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 13 September 2012 Issue No: 4173
 PM's meeting with coalition gov't party leaders endsA meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with the party leaders that participate in his coalition government - PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis - on the package of measures for 11.5 billion euro cuts in state spending over the next two years demanded by the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' of Greece's international lenders, ended on Wednesday night.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, Government Spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that the "package is a difficult package" and that negotiations were continuing for the "best possible outcome".
On his part, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters that he briefed the prime minister and the two party leaders on his meeting with the troika earlier in the day, terming Wednesday a "day good enough regarding developments", adding that talks were still going on.
He also expressed his conviction that a convergence of views would result soon.
On his part, PASOK leader Venizelos said after the meeting that "we naturally discussed the course of the negotiations with the troika. The discussion is very difficult, because many and important funds concerning the expenditures have not been finalised. For me, just like I said yesterday (Tuesday) after my discussion with the troika, the extension of the fiscal adjustment period to 4 years is a foregone conclusion. The discussion with the troika was also based on this case. It is a foregone conclusion that moves will take place for the further decrease of the debt, without whatever other country of the European Union being harmed in any way, whatever European taxed citizen".
The PASOK leader further said that "we also have the possibility of utilising decisions of the European Union and of the Eurozone on how the recapitalisation of banks will take place and on how we can move in the second stage bonds market. These may seem technical for the citizens, but they are crucial because they permit us to safeguard incomes, the social state, the functioning in general of an organised state that has cohesion and solidarity. For us there is no question of layoffs of civil servants".
"There can be no further change in labour relations, that moves outside the European framework. In Greece whatever is valid in all of Europe must be valid in Greece. We are a European Union member-state, not only of the Eurozone," Venizelos added, while stressing that "the discussions are taking place every day. We have an improvement. I tell you from my experience that this will close in its entirety, at the end of the discussion".
Democratic Left party leader Kouvelis said on his part that negotiating is continuing and that he insists on all that the Democratic Left has stated on the issue of the measures.
"The troika and the European partners must realise that no measure can be implemented in a dissolved society," he said.
As regards the arrangements on labour relations in the private sector, Kouvelis said that all that the troika is reportedly calling for cannot "be implemented further in the already ruined labour rights", while on layoffs in the public sector that the troika is also reportedly calling for, Kouvelis reiterated that on the issue of the reduction of the public sector evaluations of the agencies must take place, but that also the pensionings of civil servants are more than double the figure that has been requested to be decreased.
 Meeting between Finance Minister Stournaras and the troika described as "constructive""Progress has been made but it is still too soon to say anything," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Wednesday immediately after the three-hour meeting with the EC/ECB/IMF troika representatives held in search of "common ground" between the government and the creditors as regards the 11.9-billion-euro package of economic measures.
European Commission Director Matthias Mors characterized the meeting as "constructive" saying that "progress has been made," while IMF's Poul Thomsen said that it was a "good meeting".
According to a senior ministry of finance official, the troika representatives appeared more conciliatory and willing to listen to the views of the Greek side.
However, the four "thorns" in the negotiation remain, namely, spending cuts in the sectors of defence, health, local administration organizations and the administrative reform which includes the measure of public sector layoffs. On those issues, the representatives of the country's creditors want to hear what the responsible ministers have to say.
In next Friday's Eurogroup meeting in Nicosia the main subject will be the fiscal situation in Spain and therefore, there will be no detailed presentation of the economic measures by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras. Greece will be the main subject in the Eurogroup to take place on October 8.
A meeting between Stournaras and his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
 Meeting at ND party offices in light of ratification of measuresA meeting was held on Wednesday afternoon at the initiative of New Democracy (ND) party secretary Manolis Kefaloyiannis, with the participation of party deputies and Eurodeputies, where an extensive briefing took place by ministers and deputy ministers on the economic situation and the course of negotiations with the troika.
Deputy Minister of Finance Christos Staikouras, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, briefed extensively deputies in an effort to limit whatever reactions in light of the ratification of the measures in Parliament.
 Barroso acknowledges Greek effortsSTRASBOURG (AMNA/N. Roussis)
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso acknowledged the efforts being made by Greece for fiscal streamlining, during a presentation of the Commission proposals for Europe's exit from the crisis at the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Bravo to Greece, he said, adding that Greece has the ability to reach the turning point this autumn and to proceed to streamlining of its economy, by applying its commitments.
If Athens materializes the regulations it is advancing, it will succeed in remaining in the euro, Barroso said.
 President Papoulias receives Cyprus FMPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received on Wednesday visiting Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Markoulli.
Papoulias, commenting on Markoulli's reference to Turkey's refusal to cooperate with the Cypriot EU presidency, called it "a provocation and an insult against the EU".
Markoulli agreed that Turkey lost an opportunity for cooperation, not with Cyprus, but with an EU institution adding that "We want a transformed Turkey in Europe. It revealed itself, not to us who know it, but to the others".
The visiting Cyprus official added that Turkey is a candidate country for the EU but unlike the other candidate countries, it doesn't act according to the EU articles.
Papoulias congratulated Markoulli for Cyprus excellent presidency of the EU. "I am happy you gave an answer to those who disputed that Cyprus would be capable to manage such a presidency," he said.
 DIMAR will not lead country to chaos, senior party official saysIn spite of strongly worded objections and disagreements on certain harsh measures, the cohesion of Greece's three-party coalition government was not at risk, Democratic Left (DIMAR) Central Committee Secretary Spyros Lykoudis assured the private 'Vima' radio station on Wednesday.
"I admit that at times our objections, given the extreme pressure from society, can lead us to certain inelastic expressions relative to the measures but we are making the effort. We are trying to find alternative measures - and succeeding, I would say, even though it is difficult," he said.
Concerning the comment that DIMAR "should not be taken for granted," Lykoudis explained this was a reference to the very great effort that will be made by the party, right up to the very end, to find alternatives to harsh austerity measures that society was unable to tolerate.
He emphasised, however, that the party had at no time expressed nor intended to call for any alternative to negotiating with the country's creditors and had no intention of triggering a political and governmental crisis.
Noting that the reality of the situation was tough, Lykoudis conceded that there might be departures from the initial policy agreement signed by the three coalition government parties, especially since the country's creditors - perhaps understandably due to the past but not justifiably at present - were not inclined to be flexible.
"We must also press for things as a country. At the same time, we must always bear in mind that it is not at all easy, it is essentially impossible to express any other alternative path other than negotiation with our partners - and to always and constantly bear in mind that DIMAR will not lead the country to chaos," he added.
 PASOK leader Venizelos meets representatives of research centres, university professorsPASOK president Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday met with representatives of university professors, technical institutions and research centres.
The meeting was held at the party's headquarters in Athens and focused on sector wage scale issues. Venizelos pledged that he will convey the content of the discussion to the government which is backed by his party.
 Ind.Greeks leader attacks gov't, SYRIZAIndependent Greeks party leader Panos Kamenos attacked both the government and the main opposition SYRIZA party on Wednesday evening, while addressing a meeting in Thessaloniki.
Kamenos spoke of "political impostors of the coalition government" and accused SYRIZA of "watering down its wine and turning a page in his policy".
The Independent Greeks party leader also termed the three party coalition government "third occupational memorandum government" and accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis of having "signed the demolition of the country".
 KKE: new guillotine for wages, pensions, social insurance, labour rightsOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday used harsh words when referring to the meeting of the political party leaders who back the government and the new measures decided jointly with the troika.
A party statement underlined that "the government and the EU are setting up another guillotine for wages, pensions, social insurance and labour rights to ensure that the profits of capitalists will recover."
"The workers can put an end to their impoverishment only if they form a united front and launch a counter-attack on the EU, the capital holders and the political parties that are in their service," the KKE statement concluded.
 Foreign policy the focus of the meeting between SYRIZA leader and FM AvramopoulosMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group leader Alexis Tsipras, speaking after his meeting with Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday, said that "Greece cannot behave like the poor relation of a Europe that is in crisis, but as an equal member of the eurozone, with equal rights and obligations, but also as a country that has inexhaustible possibilities of exercising foreign policy".
The SYRIZA leader, after thanking the minister for his initiative regarding the briefing meeting, stressed that they had the opportunity of discussing current foreign policy issues, as well the challenges the country is facing on the new international environment.
"Our country, despite the very considerable economic crisis it is experiencing, has a very important geopolitical potential" and stressed that "in no way must we exhaust this potential, but utilise it. In no way must we let the economic crisis constitute a cause for sovereign rights, that emanate from international law, to be jeopardised, or for Greece to be at risk, also in light of the wider shakeups in the region of the southeastern Mediterranean," Tsipras said.
Referring to the meeting's agenda with the minister and the enlarged meeting that followed, Tsipras said that SYRIZA expressed concern over developments in Syria and mainly over the humanitarian dimension that the crisis is taking on, as well as over the wave of refugees that will be created unavoidably. He also expressed concern "for the clouds of war over Iran," a fact that, as he said, concerns Greece directly as well.
On his part, Avramopoulos expressed the hope that the meeting will constitute the beginning for close and constructive cooperation in the future as well, also underlining the important role of the National Foreign Policy Council that will convene on October 8, with an invitation for particiption to all the political forces participating in Parliament.
In parallel, Avramopoulos stressed that "foreign policy must be national and the precondition for this is national understanding" and noted that "Greece never had the luxury, and even more so today, for divisions".
The Foreign minister also pointed out that the Foreign ministry is serving this unity and national understanding, through a strategy that takes into consideration the new geopolitical and geostrategic factors, aspiring to highlight Greece as a factor of security and stability in the wider region.
 FM Avramopoulos holds meeting with Union for the Mediterranean sgForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, speaking after his meeting on Wednesday with Union for the Mediterranean Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi, who is on a visit to Athens, expressed Greece's support for the Union.
Avramopoulos had the opportunity of being briefed analytically on the work and the mission, as well as the activities, of the Union congratulating Sijilmassi for the initiatives he has undertaken lately to strengthen the organisation's role in the wider region.
Referring to the organisation's role, Avramopoulos stressed that it gathers round the same table of dialogue all, without exception, the countries of the European Union and the Southern Neighbourhood, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"We agreed to cooperate harmoniously and to undertake initiatives, and in the framework of the Greek presidency that starts on January 1, 2014, during which the Mediterranean will have a focal position and a main priority," he added that .
On his part, Sijilmassi said that the Union for the Mediterranean will always be at Greece's disposal to continue "to promote the ideas in which we all believe and to implement the regional cooperation, joint action and completion plans in cooperation with all the Mediterranean partners," while stressing that "we nurse great hopes and expectataions for the Greek presidency of the EU in 2014."
 FM Avramopoulos meets former Italian premier AmatoGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met on Wednesday evening with visiting former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato, with talks covering international developments and the situation in the eastern Meditarranean as well as the current economic crisis.
One of the issues touched was, as Avramopoulos told reporters after the meeting, "how our generation and the representatives of our times will be able to lay the foundations, through the crisis, so as to make a new start, leading Europe to its final destination which is its political unification."
On his part, Amato referred to the common problems faced by both Italy and Greece, noting that the two countries, despite difficulties, were on the right track and results would soon appear. Nevertheless, he added, the fate of Greece and Italy does not depend only on efforts deployed by the two countries but also on developments on a European level and in the Eurozone.
 FM Avramopoulos sends message of condolences to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton over Benghazi attackForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos sent a message of condolences to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with which he expresses his regret over the tragic death of the U.S. ambassador and three other members of the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Avramopoulos unequivocally condemned the armed attack and expressed his undivided support to the families and relatives of the victims.
 Justice ministry mulling tougher penalties for racist violence, minister saysThe justice ministry is mulling tougher penal treatment of crimes involving racist violence by the courts, including jail terms exceeding three years and restrictions on the ability to convert or suspend sentences, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis announced on Wednesday.
The minister openly criticised the tactics adopted by the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party during its recent attacks on migrants selling wares in street markets, saying that their actions "offend the traditional values of justice and create conditions for the growth of neo-fascist practices in the country".
He warned of the hidden dangers when certain groups or individuals attempted to step in to replace the state and said that any expression of violence or hatred should be condemned, regardless of whether it was directed against migrants or against Greek citizens.
Roupakiotis went on to announce plans for the introduction of tracking bracelets to use on inmates, convicts or remand prisoners, saying that a ministry committee was currently examining the framework of implementing the measures (for offences punished with up to 10 years imprisonment) and who would cover the cost of their purchase.
The ministry also intends to introduce tougher penalties for drug dealers, who might now face a life sentence even if they are proved to be addicts, while the penalty for drug use is converted to a minor misdemeanour bearing a sentence of up to three months if it is committed on private property and a more serious offence when it is carried out in a public place.
Finally, top priority will be given to the speedy trial of taxation cases exceeding 150,000 euro so that they are concluded within a matter of months while current laws designed to address corruption in the state sector will be extended to cover all civil servants and wider public-sector workers.
 GD party sues minister, police chief for response to street vendor episodesThe Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party Parliamentary spokesman Christos Pappas on Wednesday filed a civil suit against Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias and the chief of the Greek Police Lt. Gen. Nikos Papagiannopoulos for slander, 'perversion of institutions', and 'suppressing legal public actions' with the Supreme Court prosecutor.
The party accuses Dendias of trying to politically exploit the actions of the party on September 7-8 against foreign vendors in street markets and proceeding to act in ways that were beyond the bounds of legality. Among the charges it makes against the minister, there is even that of harbouring criminals - namely, the unlicensed street hawkers targeted by GD.
It repeated objections to a decision to withdrawn police guards supplied to protect the party's MPs and also the stationing of police vans and patrol cars outside the party's headquarters, claiming that their purpose was to check the identity of those entering and leaving.
 Members of the military hold protest rally and protest march in AthensRepresentatives of agencies of members of the military in active service and in retirement carried out a protest march to the Finance ministry on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, they had staged a rally at the Old Parliament building in Athens, protesting cutbacks in their salaries and the downgrading of their profession.
 Interior ministry preparing legislation for transparency in political fundingPlans for new legislation to regulate the funding of political parties, political finance and transparency in the political system were the main focus of a meeting held at the interior ministry on Wednesday, with the participation of Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Alternate Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou and Transparency and Human Rights General Secretary George Sourlas.
"The legislative initiative we are planning takes into account all European data monitored by the Council of Europe. Our goal is that it should incorporate all the reports of national Parliaments, combine the views of the parties and answer society's demands for a blow to 'black money' and the establishment of a new political culture, a modern democracy," Stylianidis said.
According Sourlas, all necessary measures for dealing with the issues will be taken so that Greece will no longer be under CoE oversight for corruption issues.
 Council of State judges decide 20-day 'abstention' from September 17The Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, will likely be 'closed for business' from September 17 until October 6 after the union of CoS justices on Wednesday decided on a 20-day abstention from their duties in protest against planned cuts to their pay.
Specifically, the justices have decided that on the start of the new judicial year and for the next 20 days they will step down from the bench at 10:30 a.m. until the end of court working hours at 3:30 p.m.
During the same period, the publication of all court rulings, acts and the minutes from the inspections of major contracts for public works and public-sector procurements will be suspended.
The Union of Judges and Public Prosecutors has also decided on an abstention from duty for six days, on September 17-22, during which time they will also step down from the bench in court from 10:00 a.m. until the end of court hours. Similarly, no court decisions or rulings will be published during this period.
Decisions on whether to join in the labour action are still pending from administrative and the Union of Greek public prosecutors.
 Parliamentary Ethics Committee decides to lift immunity of ND deputy BakoyannisThe Parliamentary Ethics Committee decided on Wednesday to lift the immunity of New Democracy (ND) party deputy Dora Bakoyannis, that she herself had also requested.
The Committee convened on Wednesday, following the forwarding of the file of proceedings against Bakoyannis, that was created on the basis of the law for failure to register in the former minister's source of income statement of a deposit for one million euros abroad by her husband Isidoros Kouvelos.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos holds meeting with FYROM president at PhanarSKOPJE (AMNA/N. Frangopoulos)
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) president Georgi Ivanov, who is in Istanbul to participate in an international business forum, met on Wednesday with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Phanar.
According to a relevant announcement by the office of Ivanov, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed satisfaction over the frequent meetings and exchange of views with the president of fYRoM.
The announcement also said that "following the showing of interest by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Mr. Ivanov briefed him on the relations between FYROM and Greece, particularly on the economic relations and the relations between the two societies".
 Event held in Athens to remember 9/11US expatriates and members of the American community in Greece held a solemn gathering on Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the 9/11 tragedy, the 11th anniversary of the terrorist hijackings. The commemoration was held in Mavili square, next to the US embassy in Athens.
 Greece speeds up procedures for privatization of OPAPGreece is speeding procedures for the privatization of OPAP - Greece' s state lottery monopoly - Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the fund said that a board meeting next Wednesday will discuss launching an international tender to sell 29 pct of OPAP's equity capital, a development which will reduce the state's equity participation in the organization to around 5.0 pct.
The fund said that the board meeting will discuss approving final contract texts for completing an international tender for the accession of lottery operations to private investors, launching an international tender to sell 29 pct of OPAP and opening the second stage of a tender process to sell a property of 500 stremmata (500,000 sq.m.) in Kassiopi, Corfu.
 Alpha Bank analysts question validity of troika demandsGreece has more than achieved the fiscal consolidation demanded of it and will have a primary surplus in general government spending as of 2012, in spite of the deep recession gripping the Greek economy, according to the latest report released by private-sector Alpha Bank's economic analysts on Wednesday.
"In spite of all this, the troika continues to question - to a great extent without grounds - the results of measures that the government has detailed, resulting in further foot-dragging and the constant raising of demands to take new measures. This policy contributes to extending the recession for the Greek economy, is extremely dangerous and, in short, is contrary to the interests even of the creditors of the country themselves," Alpha Bank said.
"The Greek economy can no longer be the hostage of any person's political ambitions. If the 'troika' insists on denying the efficacy of the measures or the need for a more gentle fiscal consolidation, it is self-evident that the country must do what is dictated by the nation's interests, given the balances that arise. Because in life, there is no such thing as can't. There is only won't," the bank's analysts conclude.
 Municipality finances will be discussed after troika's evaluation of the Greek economy, Stournaras saidThe meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) board on Wednesday ended without results.
The participating mayors accused the minister of failing to meet their economic demands and telling them that any discussion on the issue will take place after an evaluation is issued by the troika and the 31.5-billion-euro tranche of aid is received.
KEDE President Costas Askounis stated that 14 municipalities were unable to pay their staff for the first half of September and roughly 100 municipalities are at risk of declaring cessation of payments next month.
 Wind Hellas, Germanos Group announce strategic partnership agreementWind Hellas and Panos Germanos Group on Wednesday announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement, of financial and commercial nature. Presenting the agreement, Nasos Zarkalis, chairman and chief executive of Wind, said the partnership will have a 15-year duration, in the first stage, with an option of extension. Under the terms of the agreement, Panos Germanos Group could acquire up to 10 pct of Wind Hellas in the period from 2013 to 2016. Zarkalis said the partnership agreement focused on commercial partnership, exchange of know-how and an equity relation between the two companies.
Zarkalis said the partnership was agreed in conditions of economic crisis hitting the country and that the aim was to benefit the consumer, offering modern and quality services at low prices. He said that the mobile market in Greece has lost 40 pct of its turnover in the last four years, but noted that Wind was in excellent condition, with zero debt obligations, has reduced its operating cost in the fixed-telephony services by 25 pct and has raised its customer base to 400,000, while in the mobile business it has managed to significantly slow down customer losses.
P.Germanos Group officials said the deal will create 100 new job positions directly and noted that the group will expand its branch network in Greece and abroad.
Both companies expressed their confidence that the partnership agreement will succeed.
 HCC investigation uncovers evidence of construction sector cartelAn investigation by the Directorate General for Competition of the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) has unveiled a construction sector cartel that operated in the country between 2002 and 2009, it was announced on Wednesday.
The investigation was launched in response to media reports on high real estate prices and after an announcement in the Association of Constructors (EKKE) website calling on sector professionals to refrain from constructing new buildings until 70 pct of the available real estate had been sold.
According to the Directorate General for Competition, EKKE through repeated decisions and recommendations to its members contributed to limiting the real estate market and price fixing.
The HCC plenum will convene on Nov. 1 to decide whether national or EU legislation was violated.
EKKE represents 14 pct of the construction companies in the greater Athens region.
 Market representatives called to submit healthy competition proposalsDevelopment, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis addressed a letter to the boards of business and consumer organizations requesting them to submit specific proposals by the end of September aimed at lifting competition obstacles, facilitating entrepreneurship and containing price hikes, it was announced on Wednesday.
The ministry has appointed a special coordinator on the issue since August, while the General Secretariat for Commerce will review market inspection clauses and amend the market inspection code.
 New CEO at Invest in Greece S.A.Stefanos Issaias is the new CEO of Invest in Greece S.A., it was announced on Wednesday.
The decision for his appointment was signed by Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.
Aristomenis M. Syngros retains his position as the agency's board president.
Invest in Greece S.A. is the official Investment Promotion Agency of Greece under the supervision of the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, that promotes and facilitates private investment.
 ADEDY, GSEE to organise nationwide general strikeThe civil servants' union federation ADEDY has decided to collaborate with the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the largest umbrella trade union organisation representing private sector workers in Greece, in the organisation of a general nationwide strike in late September/early October. The decision was made during Tuesday's meeting of ADEDY'S Executive Committee.
The strike will be held in protest against a further round of pay and pension cuts and planned layoffs in the public sector that ADEDY claims will disable public services and demolish all that remains of the social welfare state. The union has urged public-sector workers to organise a variety of protest actions and rallies and has also decide to organise labour demonstrations on the day that the measures are announced in all Greek towns and cities, as well as an evening protest rally in Athens.
 Greek stocks jump 5.33 pct on WednesdayGreek stocks soared to their highest levels since March 23 2012, extending their rally for the seventh consecutive session, as a decision by the German Constitutional Court to ratify the ESM and the fiscal pact lifted uncertainty over the ability of Europe to manage its financial crisis, paving the way for the creation of a system to rescue indebted Eurozone states. The Greek market over-reacted, compared with other European markets.
The composite index of the market soared 5.33 pct to end at 770.53 points, for a net gain of 19.95 pct during the seven-day rally. Turnover surpassed the 100-million-euro mark for the first time in three-and-a-half months totaling 127.256 million euros.
The Big Cap index jumped 6.85 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.56 pct higher. All sectors moved higher, with the Banks (14.02 pct), Financial Services (9.35 pct) and Health (9.28 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Eurobank (26.20 pct), Piraeus Bank (22.45 pct), MIG (17.36 pct) and National Bank (16.57 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 115 to 48 with another 16 issues unchanged. Paperpack (28.7 pct), Eurobank (26.2 pct) and Piraeus Bank (22.45 pct) were top gainers, while Olympic Catering (20 pct), Varvaresos (19.7 pct) and Yalco (19.59 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +4.06%
Personal & Household: +0.73%
Raw Materials: +4.16%
Travel & Leisure: +6.62%
Food & Beverages: +2.78%
Financial Services: +9.35%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.70
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.86
HBC Coca Cola: 14.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.00
National Bank of Greece: 2.04
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.05
Bank of Piraeus: 0.42
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 19.86 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 20.45 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 21.49 pct and the German Bund 1.63 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 11 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 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.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.57 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising further to 44.808 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,528 contracts worth 22.008 million euros, with 26,385 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 120,771 contracts worth 22.799 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (46,813), followed by Alpha Bank (24,757), Cyprus Bank (7,661), MIG (1,945), OTE (5,264), PPC (6,559), OPAP (5,571), Piraeus Bank (9,166), Cyprus Popular Bank (1,945), Mytilineos (1,485), Eurobank (3,016), GEK (1,800) and Ellaktor (1,818).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.308
Pound sterling 0.813
Danish kroner 7.565
Swedish kroner 8.600
Japanese yen 101.96
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.518
Canadian dollar 1.275
Australian dollar 1.250
 3 foreign nationals arrested, four wanted, for dozens of robberies, one homicide in Corinth, Fthiotida prefecturesThree Albanian nationals were arrested late Tuesday in the seaside town of Kiato and four more are wanted for dozens of armed robberies and burglaries of residences in the prefectures of Corinthia and Fthiotida, including the homicide of an octogenarian local man.
Following a months-long investigation, Kiato police arrested the three Albanians -- aged 22, 22 and 28 -- in Kiato for participation in a criminal gang, while four other suspects -- three Albanian nationals aged 23, 25 and 31, and an unidentified fourth man -- are wanted.
Case files were drafted for the seven, which are charged with establishing a criminal gang for the purpose of committing armed robberies and burglaries against mostly elderly people, and for implication in the homicide of an 82-year-old local man on June 18 in Pyrgos, Corinth prefecture, during a robbery.
Members of the gang, in different compositions each time, would break into the homes of elderly people, with assault rifles, and would beat and injure the victims into revealing where they were hiding money and objects of value.
They are charged with 19 armed robberies of homes and four burglaries of vacation homes in the wider region of Corinth and Fthiotida between late April and early September this year, making off with more than 73,000 euros in cash and jewelry.
The four arrestees will be led before a Corinth examining magistrate.
 Escaped convict recaptured in KeratsiniAttica police on Wednesday successfully recaptured a 38-year-old escaped convict, who had been at large for the past 20 months, in the Keratsini district near Piraeus. The fugitive had been missing since he failed to return to Agia prison at the end of a period of furlough.
During that time, he had racked up a number of outstanding convictions for fraud and car theft after dozens of incidents in which he contacted individuals selling their cars through the small ads and took their cars using fake IDs without handing over any money. Police have linked him to 16 such incidents and are also investigating his possible involvement in other criminal activities.
 Wildfire at five locations in FarsalaA wildfire broke out simultaneously at five different locations in the region of Farsala, central Greece, in a scrubland area, on Wednesday afternoon.
The wildfire is being tackled by dozens of firemen who are backed by over 20 vehicles and four firefighting aircraft. Three of the fires were reported under control in the evening.
 5.4R quake jolts CreteA moderate earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale jolted Crete at dawn Wednesday.
The earthquake was recorded at 6:30 a.m. in the sea northwest of the island of Crete, at a distance of 63 kilometers southeast of Paleohora, with an epicentral depth of 20 kilometers, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-7 beauforte. Temperatures between 16C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with variable 3-5 beauforte winds and temperatures between 20C and 32C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 19C and 29C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's deliberations with the troika (EC, ECB, IMF) over the new austerity measures and prime minister Antonis Samaras' meeting Tuesday with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi in Frankfurt, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Draghi's kudos to Samaras".
AVGHI: "Extreme measures against demonstrations".
AVRIANI: "49 years of work for retirement".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Troika's knife to compensations".
ESTIA: "The state-dependent resist".
ETHNOS: "New thriller over compensations, six-day workweek".
IMERISSIA: "Positive sign from Draghi - Hopes for liquidity and lightening of the debt".
KATHIMERINI: "IMF: Layoffs and retirement at the age of 67".
LOGOS: "ECB acknowledges Greece's progress!".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Draghi, Samaras seek solution for debt reduction".
RIZOSPASTIS: "New massacre of laborers to save the big-time businessmen".
TA NEA: "The huge looting with fuel".
VRADYNI: "Massacre in pensions, retirement age and labor issues".
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