|Sunday, 18 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 14 September 2012 Issue No: 4174
 PM receives French FinMin MoscoviciPrime minister Antonis Samaras met on Thursday with visiting French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici.
The meeting, which took place one day ahead of an informal Eurogroup meeting in Nicosia, took place in a "very good climate", according to government sources.
Moscovici, the first French finance minister to officially visit Greece since 1998, also met with his Greek counterpart Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday afternoon, with no statements made after the meeting.
Earlier, Samaras met with the president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) president Werner Hoyer, for talks that were also attended by Stournaras and Hatzidakis.
 Venizelos and Moscovici send message of determination for GreecePASOK party President Evangelos Venizelos and visiting French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici sent a message of determination for Greece to remain in the euro and the eurozone, following their meeting in Parliament on Thursday.
Venizelos stressed that Moscovici conveyed "very strong messages" by the president of the French Republic and the French government "for a Greece steadily European, inside the euro, a Greece that deserves to become a place for investments, that has strong prospects and for a reliable Greece that must observe its commitments and must complete the fiscal adjustment".
The French Finance minister said that "we desire real adjustments to take place, cutbacks to be made", stressing however that "in no way should all these programmes, and it is something we rule out, take place in a unilateral way, in a way that will cause pain and in a way that will be punitive for Greece".
He also pointed out that "we desire a Greece where justice will prevail" and that "we desire that Europe shows all its solidarity to Greece", referring to the relevant statement by the French president, Francois Hollande.
Moscovici also said that the French side has the same approach to things with Venizelos and added that "we are relying a great deal on his support for this programme".
 'France is always on the side of Greece', French FinMin Moscovici saysFrench Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, speaking Thursday afternoon at a press conference after his meetings with Greek officials, stressed that "France is struggling for the eurozone's integrity not to be harmed. This is the message I brought to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, to the 'friend' Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the relevant official for the structural reforms, Minister Kostis Hatzidakis".
Moscovici stressed that "our feeling is that things are going in the right direction".
He said that there is a word that is common in the mouths of all, the word "determination", a word that he reiterated many times in his brief interview.
Moscovici expressed the conviction that "the Greek government has the will" to proceed with the necessary reforms and wished "this will to turn into actions, so that we will soon have an agreement between Greece and the troika that will be ratified by the Eurogroup and then by the European Council".
Returning to the word "determination", he said that "it means structural reforms, a more effective public administration, social justice, modernisation of the economy".
He also referred at this point to the technical assistance and support offered by France through the task force and underlined that all efforts aimed at the exit from the crisis have France's support.
The French minister also stressed "on the part of French President Francois Hollande" that "it is important for the Greek people to gain hope, if there is justice, and recovery and referred to the expression by the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for there to be "light in the tunnel".
At the same time that Europe is calling for respect for the commitments, he said, "we must also see economic growth as well, so that the sacrifices will not be in vain, but a better life for the Greeks."
Referring to bilateral economic relations, the French Finance minister said that during his meeting at noon with French businessmen who are active in Greece they reassured him that they are bound with Greece and desire to stay. "We decided, indeed," he added, "to strengthen trade bonds and improve the operating conditions of businesses."
Stressing that his presence in Athens is a visit of friendship that is taking place "in difficult moments", Moscovici underlined that "France was always on the same side witrh Greece, desired its entry into the zone of the euro and today France is struggling for the integrity of the zone of the euro".
 Gov't: Labour costs reduced; no reason for more measuresThe government is making "every effort in order to not touch labour relations", government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou underlined on Thursday, speaking to a local Athens television station, and in reference to heightened press speculation over whether the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" is demanding greater liberalisation in the country's labour sector.
"We have already lowered labour costs, and there is no reason for such issues to be tabled by the troika ... Negotiations are continuing for the best possible results," Kedikoglou said.
Furthermore, the government spokesman said Athens must persuade its partners that the country's external debt can be rendered viable.
He added that a pay reduction (6 percent) for law enforcement and military personnel, which is among the proposals in an 11.5+ billion-euro package of austerity measures, must be restored as soon as possible -- echoing previous statements by the government that pay cuts for such personnel will be restored when the state's finances improve.
 IMF spokesman: 'Good arguments' for extension of bailout conditionsNEW YORK CITY (AMNA)
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesman on Thursday said there are "good arguments" for extending the period required for Greece to meet bailout targets.
However, spokesman Gerry Rice told a regular press briefing that a final decision depends on the ability to secure funding to cover any gaps created from such an extension.
Rice also referred to the efforts made by the Samaras government and the Greek people to deal with the economic crisis, reiterating the IMF's support for the implementation of "fair and balanced" measures.
Moreover, he said the goal of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" is to the return the current (and second) economic programme "back on track".
He spoke only hours after Greece's representative to the IMF executive board, Thanos Catsambas, was quoted by the WSJ as saying that debt-laden country would require additional loans, described by the paper as a "third bailout agreement".
Asked if the IMF supports the restructuring of the country's debt by eurozone partners and the European Central Bank, Rice said the organisation is seeking two things for its Greek loan programme: debt sustainability and a fully-financed programme.
 FinMin dismisses notion of another bailoutIn a later statement, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, speaking to Reuters, dismissed the report referring to the possibility of a third bailout loan package.
Stournaras underlined that the country's positions are expressed by the prime minister and the minister of finance, a reference to the statements published by the press.
 Government withdraws article on state's settlement with SiemensThe government on Thursday withdraw an article of legislation that backdated the period when an agreement for a settlement between the Greek State and the company Siemens came into force, shortly before the holding of a roll-call vote requested by main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).
Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said that the specific article had been added to the draft bill in order to clear up a legal ambiguity that might have allowed Siemens to question the validity of the agreement. He stressed that criticism of the specific article in Parliamentary committee's and before the plenum were "just populism and conspiracy theories".
Staikouras noted that Siemens had admitted in a letter that the foreseen terms that would allow the agreement to go into force had already been met, making the passing of a new article superfluous.
According to SYRIZA MP Panagiotis Lafazanis, the fact that the government had backed down on the issue and the article had been withdrawn left the agreement with Siemens, "in limbo and absolutely void".
"There is no agreement with Siemens. It is now unconstitutional, legally invalid, without force and cannot generate legal results," Lafazanis claimed.
Other opposition parties, including the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Independent Greeks, expressed satisfaction with this development, as did the Democratic Left (DIMAR) of the government coalition, which previously expressed reservations about the specific item of legislation.
The Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party, by contrast, insisted that the roll-call vote should go ahead, in spite of the fact that the article had been withdrawn, and finally walked out of the proceedings charging that the government and main opposition had "set up a show".
According to sources within the PASOK party, another member of the coalition government, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos had personally contacted Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis on Thursday and called for the withdrawal of the "superfluous" legislation ratifying the agreement with Siemens, so as not to lend credence to SYRIZA's unfounded criticism and make the Parliamentary majority appear divided, especially given DIMAR's refusal to back the measure.
 PASOK accuses SYRIZA of demagogy over Siemens settlementPASOK spokesperson Fofi Gennimata on Thursday underlined that main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) "is seeing ghosts and imagines conspiracy theories".
Genimmata said the withdrawal, by the government, of an article that concerns an agreement between Siemens and the Greek state should not be regarded as SYRIZA's victory, but as a response to its demagogy.
She pointed out that the agreement serves national interests, is valid and implemented as a law of the state after being ratified in parliament with a majority vote.
 SYRIZA accuses PM Samaras of 'blind obedience to memorandum policy'The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's meetings with European officials from which, as it said, "nothing new resulted", accused the premier of "blind obedience to the memorandum policy".
SYRIZA said the prime minister "declared blind obedience to the memorandum policy while the European officials stated the need for Greece to continue on the disastrous path of the memorandum" and added that the "common stance of the European elite and the Greek government on the implementation of the memorandum is disastrous for both Greece and Europe."
The struggle of the European peoples for dignity and social justice is related to the reversal of the memorandums and of neoliberalism, the announcement cconcluded.
 SYRIZA MPs table question for labour minister regarding 'Troika' demandsThirty MPs of the main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party on Thursday tabled a question for Labour Minister Ioannis Vroutsis regarding a series of tough new demands for more flexible labour laws made by the EU-IMF 'Troika'.
Listing measures leaked to the press, such proposals for a six-day working week, 13-hour working day, lower employer contributions, an increase in the age of retirement to 67, minimum wages set by the government and measures facilitating dismissal of staff, the MPs ask Vroutsis to confirm whether he intends to adopt the new measures that demolish worker rights, as demanded by Greece's creditors.
They also challenge the government to demonstrate how increasing the working week, the number of hours worked each day and the age of retirement will help fight unemployment.
 PASOK leader Venizelos meets with visiting CPC delegationBilateral and EU-China relations in the ongoing international financial crisis dominated in the meeting on Thursday between PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and a visiting Communist Party of China (CPC) delegation.
Venizelos briefed the seven-member delegation on efforts made by Greece to overcome the economic crisis and highlighted the Bank of China contribution to this end by purchasing Greek state bonds.
The delegation expressed China's interest in forging even closer bilateral relations and its readiness to proceed with investments in Greece.
They thanked Venizelos for the role of the PASOK government in the evacuation of 13,000 Chinese nationals during the crisis in Libya and invited him to visit China.
 Independent MP signs request for Parliament inquiry into debt crisisIndependent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos on Thursday had a meeting with independent MP for Achaia Nikos Nikolopoulos, who signed a document calling for a Parliamentary inquiry into the events and triggered the debt crisis and forced Greece to sign punitive memorandum agreements for bailout loans.
Sources at Independent Greeks stressed that the meeting was in no way linked to the possibility of Nikolopoulos joining the ranks of the Ind. Greeks.
The call for a Parliamentary probe requires 60 signatures in order for the proposal to be debated in Parliament and Kammenos has sent letters to all the political parties, asking them to back the request.
 KKE leader calls for grass-roots mobilisation against crisis, defends KKE strategyOpposition party leader Aleka Papariga, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), on Thursday underlined that the crisis in Greece was "very bad and will get worse". She called for a grass-roots mobilisation by workers and the popular masses, saying they must rally their forces in order to fight back, while speaking on a morning programme on the state television channel NET.
Asked to comment on whether some forms of labour mobilisation, such as closing ports, might serve to alienate people from the KKE, Papariga noted that as the problems became more acute, the forms of action must keep step. When asked about the reduction in her party's appeal in the elections, she noted that she had never said "vote for KKE so we can solve your problems" and that KKE's failure to convince the electorate did not mean it was not right.
KKE would change its strategy, she added, if the EU contributed to improving the lives of peoples, if the capitalist crisis was abolished and there was a way out in favour of the people.
 FM in US next week, to address UN Gen. Assembly, meet with UN chiefForeign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos leaves on Wednesday for the US, where he will address the UN General Assembly in New York and also have meetings in Chicago.
A day earlier, Avramopoulos will brief the parliamentary standing committee on national defence and foreign affairs.
Avramopoulos will initially fly to Chicago, where he will meet with local Greek American community representatives, Greek Orthodox Church officials and Illinois state officials.
In New York, Avramopoulos will meet with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and with the UN chief's special envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz, while on the sidelines of the General Assembly he will have a series of bilateral meetings with colleagues from SE Europe, the Middle East and the Arab world.
The Greek foreign minister will also attend a working dinner organised by the International Institute for Peace in the Middle East, a dinner of the Cross-Atlantic Dialogue members, and a working breakfast organised b the Spanish and Moroccan foreign ministers on mediation in the Mediterranean region.
 Foreign ministry: fYRoM leadership expressing 'extreme positions'Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday referred to continuous provocations by successive leaderships in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), as well as a tendency by the latter in expressing "extreme positions".
Responding to a press question on the future of negotiations under UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz as regards the still unresolved "name issue" between Greece and the neighbouring country, Delavekouras cited what he called "problematic relations" between fYRoM and almost all of its neighbours. He also reminded that "fYRoM retains a European prospect thanks to the Thessaloniki Agenda", taken at the 2003 EU Summit meeting.
Delavekouras expressed a hope that the landlocked country's leadership will change course and adhere to European standards, pointing out that Greece is potentially a "close ally" of this country, "if only a fair and viable solution to the name issue is promoted".
Asked about an invitation for a meeting with the Greek prime minister, extended by fYRoM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the spokesman said that "publicity stunts, harsh rhetoric and insults" do not constitute honest political will for progress.
"Greece has proved its desire for a solution at the negotiating table," he underlined.
 Greece's position on Kosovo remains steadfast, FM spokesman saysGreece's position on Kosovo remains steadfast, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras reiterated on Thursday.
Delavekouras noted that Greece had been a leader in the efforts for European incorporation of the region, stressing Athens' unwavering position that "viable and steady solutions must always be sought".
 Athens' dynamic presence in Euro-Med cooperation underlined by UfM SGGreece is preparing specific actions in terms of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation to deal with problems highlighted by the Arab Spring, and which had an impact on the recession-plagued Mediterranean north, Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi said on Thursday.
In an interview with AMNA, he said "we should respond to the new realities and challenges," underlining that his visit to Athens is linked with the preparation of actions to be undertaken by Greece in 2014 when it will take over the rotating EU Presidency.
He also noted that jobs creation and the reinforcement of regional cooperation is an urgent need for the Arab countries of the Mediterranean.
The UfM is a multilateral partnership that encompasses 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin on an equal basis which, according to its secretary general, is a "novelty" compared to the efforts for cooperation made so far in the region.
 Public order minister makes surprise inspection visit to PatrasPublic order and citizens protection minister Nikos Dendias made a surprise visit to the western port city of Patras late Wednesday for an on-the-spot inspection of the situation in the area due to illegal migration.
Dendias also met with Western Greece police chief Ioannis Siamos and Achaia police chief Athanassios Kyriakopoulos, who briefed the minister on the measures that have been taken, especially in the port of Patras and at the Araxos civil airport.
Sources said that Dendias was also briefed by local police on the arrests made over the past three months in a clampdown on illegal migration, and discussed additional measures that could be taken in the immediate future.
 Parliamentary com't condemns violence by far-right MPsThe Special Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Ethics on Thursday condemned recent violent incidents that took place with the participation of opposition Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) MPs.
The committee suggested holding an off-the-agenda discussion on such instances in case they continue, while it condemned the violent incidents held with the participation of Golden Dawn MPs, and expressed the hope that the executive power representatives will deal with the issue quickly and effectively.
Meanwhile, a case file against far-right Golden Dawn MP Constantinos Barbarousis has been forwarded to Parliament, requesting that the MP's Parliamentary immunity be lifted so that he be prosecuted and tried.
Barbarousis is charged with attempting to impersonate police and morally instigating damage to foreign property in connection with incidents in which Golden Dawn supporters smashed up stalls run by foreign nationals at a Messolongi open-air market.
 Prosecutor refers case against GD MP to ParliamentThe Messolongi first-instance court prosecutor on Thursday sent the file on the evidence against far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party MP Constantine Barbarousis to the Supreme Court so that it might be forwarded to Parliament, requesting that the MP's Parliamentary immunity be lifted so that he might be prosecuted and tried.
Barbarousis is charged with attempting to impersonate authority and morally instigating damage to foreign property in connection with incidents in which GD supporters smashed up stalls run by foreign migrants at the Messolongi open-air market.
 Unemployment skyrockets to 23.6pct in Q2Unemployment in Greece skyrocketed to 23.6 percent in the second quarter of the year, up more than 7 percentage points against the corresponding quarter in 2011 (16.3 percent), and from 22.6 percent in the first quarter of the year, while the number of unemployed reached more than 1.168 million, with an average 1,000 jobs being lost daily in the last year, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that in the 2nd Quarter of 2012 the number of employed amounted to 3,793,147 persons while the number of unemployed amounted to 1,168,761. The unemployment rate was 23.6% compared with 22.6% in the previous quarter, and 16.3% in the corresponding quarter of 2011.
The number of employed persons decreased by 1.2% compared with the previous quarter, and by 8.7% compared with the 2nd Quarter of 2011. The number of unemployed persons increased by 4.3% compared with the previous quarter and by 44.2% compared with the 2nd Quarter of 2011.
The unemployment rate for females (27.3%) is considerably higher than the unemployment rate for males (20.8%). By observing the unemployment rate for different age groups, it arises that the highest unemployment rate is recorded among young people in the age group of 15-24 years (53.9%). For young females, the unemployment rate is 62.1%.
As regards the educational attainment level, the unemployment rate is higher among persons who have not attended school (35.8%), and among those who have completed secondary education or tertiary and post-secondary vocational education (26.0%). The lowest unemployment rates are observed among persons who have completed postgraduate studies or have doctorates (12.9%), and among those who have completed university (16.2%).
The percentage of the "new" unemployed, that is the percentage of persons who entered labour market for the first time, is 23.3%. It is noted that the percentage of the "long term" unemployed, that is the percentage of persons that have been looking for a job for more than 1 year (irrespectively of being "new" or "old" unemployed), is 59.0%.
The unemployment rate is higher for persons of foreign nationality (32.5%) compared with those of Greek nationality (22.7%). It is also noted that the percentage of the economically active persons with foreign nationality is much higher than the corresponding percentage for persons of Greek nationality (71.1% compared to 51.7%).
The geographical areas (NUTS II regions) with the highest unemployment rate are Western Macedonia (30.0%) and Sterea Ellas (28.4%). The lowest unemployment rates are observed in Ionian Islands (14.3%) and Southern Aegean (15.3%).
During the 2nd Quarter of 2012, 76,837 persons who were unemployed one year ago found a job. During the same period, 36,869 persons who were inactive one year ago found employment. On the contrary, 224,691 persons who were working one year ago, during the 2nd Quarter of 2012 are unemployed and 97,939 persons, who were working, are now inactive. In addition, 118,153 persons who were inactive one year ago, during the 2nd Quarter of 2012 entered labour market and are searching for a job.
In an examination of changes in employment by different sector of economic activity, it is seen that compared to the 2nd Quarter of 2011 there was a decrease in employment in all sectors. In the primary sector the decrease was 3.1%, in the secondary 15.0% and the tertiary sector 8.1%.
The percentage of part time employment amounts to 7.3% of the total of the employed. The percentage of part timers who chose to work part time because they cannot find a full time job is 60.3%, while 9.3% chose a part time job for other personal or family reasons, 5.6% because they are looking after children or incapacitated adults and 24.7% for other reasons.
The percentage of employees is estimated at 63.2% of the total of the employed persons and is by far lower than the mean percentage of employees in the European Union, which is 80%.
 Greece-EIB sign agreement for liquidity to marketGreece and the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Thursday signed an agreement for the provision of liquidity to the market.
The accord was signed in Athens by Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras and EIB president Werner Hoyer.
Hoyer told reporters afterwards that the agreement was a message to the Greek and European peoples that "we will stay here and increase the EIB's activities, with this liquidity package, which will give momentum to the SMEs (small and medium size enterprises)".
Hoyer, who had earlier visited the central Bank of Greece (BoG) called the recapitalization of the banks very important, because it helps the real economy.
According to a Greek finance ministry announcement, the agreement provides for the immediate disbursement of funds of up to 750 million euros by the EIB.
The "guarantees protocol agreement" unblocks the disbursement of loans, while at the same time creates new funding with the guarantee of the Greek state.
Under the agreement, the disbursement of a total of 750 million euros in loans may proceed in areas such as energy, education, transports and SMEs.
More specifically, the SMEs will absorb approximately one million euros from the total package, which will give a significant liquidity injection to the market, according to the ministry.
"It is an important development that will bring real money to the economy at a time when the lack of liquidity has caused asphyxiating problems on the market," Stournaras is cited as saying.
 EIB funding for hwy projects eyedDisbursement of funds allocated in within an 1.44-billion-euro programme that the Greek government signed with the European Investment Bank (EIB) last July is beginning, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said after a meeting with visiting EIB president Werner Hoyer.
The two sides also discussed the development bank's participation in several major projects and specifically the construction of two major highway projects by separate consortia, while satisfaction was expressed by the Greek side regarding the increased liquidity that the agreements with the European Investment Bank generated for the domestic market.
By 2015, the bank will channel loans totaling 1.7 billion euros, of which 1.4 billion concern SMEs. The first 900 million euros will be disbursed by January 2013.
 Deputy Development minister discusses cooperation between Greek and Chinese businessesDeputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mytarakis discussed the widening of bilateral cooperation between Greek and Chinese businesses during the meeting he held on Thursday with a delegation of senior officials of the Chinese government, headed by the member of the Administration Council of the Shangdong Region Li Faquan.
Emphasis was also placed on the sectors of the economy, trade and investments and Mytarakis briefed his interlocutor on the privatisations programme that the government is implementing.
On his part, Li Faquan reassured that he will brief the Chinese leadership as well as the Chinese companies on the investments opportunities in Greece. He also invited the Greek deputy minister to visit the region of Shangdong (where 96.7 million Chinese citizens live) for them to probe the sectors in which bilateral and regional economic and trade cooperation could be strengthened.
 Greek exports to Turkey up 48.41 pct in H1Greek exports to Turkey rose by 48.41 pct in the first half of 2012, with the bilateral trade balance showing a surplus for Greece (751.2 million euros in the January-June period) from a deficit of 99.9 million euros in 2010, official data showed on Thursday.
A report by the Greek embassy in Ankara said that Greek exports to Turkey more than tripled in the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2009.
Greek exports were mostly fuel (69.99 pct of total exports). Excluding fuel, exports grew by 13.96 pct. Exports of fruit and farm products continued falling steadily, while raw materials and industrial products showed a dynamic increase.
On the other hand, Turkey's exports to Greece fell by 17 pct to 488.8 million euros in the first six months of the year, from 595.9 million euros in the first half of 2011.
 OTE begins dialogue over voluntary retirement planThe management and the workers' union of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Thursday began exploratory talks over a management plan to implement a voluntary retirement program and the transfer of workers to other activity, covering a total of 2,000 workers, in an effort to further cut costs.
An OTE internal document said that during the meeting, the management presented the group's financial situation and called for a dialogue over a package of socially responsible solutions examined aimed to adapting the workforce the group's needs following a restructuring program and lower demand for its services.
Under the plan, OTE seeks to implement a voluntary retirement program for workers nearing retirement age offering full social insurance coverage. The management also noted that OTE must evolve into a company distinguished for its excellence in customer service and operating efficiency.
 Greek unions declare general strike on September 26The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servant's union federation ADEDY, the country's largest umbrella trade union groups representing the private and public sectors, respectively, on Thursday announced a 24-hour general strike on Wednesday, September 26. On the day of the strike, the unions will also stage a rally at Pedion tou Areos in Athens, starting at 11:00 a.m.
"We categorically reject government intervention for legislation setting minimum wages and hourly rates in the private sector, the abolition of free collective bargaining, and all plans at the orders of the creditors to reduce compensation and increase the age of retirement," a GSEE announcement said.
The union warned that as long as Greece's creditors insisted on the implementation of policies leading nowhere, the opposite of trade unions will intensify.
 Paraplegics Federation demonstration at Finance MinistryThe Pan-Hellenic Federation of Paraplegics on Thursday staged a demonstration outside the finance ministry in central Athens, asking to meet with finance minister Yannis Stournaras to explain to him the difficulties faced by thousands of paraplegics in Greece resulting from cutbacks in the state's welfare benefits.
A spokesperson for the federation said that if there request for an audience with the minister is refused, the demonstrators will then head to parliament to seek its intercession.
A demonstration by the associations of visually impaired persons will take place outside the finance ministry at noon Thursday.
 Greek coastal shipping sector posts lossesGreece's coastal shipping sector is plunging further into the red, hit by the deep economic recession and rising fuel costs, with conditions in the sector looking like "a boiler ready to explode", industrial officials told a meeting on Thursday.
The four largest coastal shipping companies, ANEK, NEL, Minoan Lines and Attica, are estimated to have lost more than 55 million euros in their six-month turnovers, with accumulated losses estimated at 94 million euros in the January-June period.
Association of Passenger Shipping Companies sources told AMNA that the coming winter would be a very difficult period for the sector, as reduced income has already cut passenger traffic, while fuel prices remained at very high levels.
Fuel costs accounted for 60 pct of operating costs in a vessel, with the price of diesel oil rising to 594 euros per ton this year, up from 480 euros in 2011 and 380 in 2010.
Apostolos Ventouris, the Association's president, in a letter announced its resignation from the post warning that coastal shipping companies are in the verge of collapse.
In his letter, Ventouris said authorities persistently dismissed his repeated calls for any real, radical change, or reform in the sector, and urged the government to immediately look into the sector's problems.
 Business Briefs-- Greek banks lowered their borrowing from the emergency lending mechanism ELA in August, while they raised borrowing from the European Central Bank, the Bank of Greece announced on Thursday.
-- Greece's import price composite index in the industrial sector rose 3.4 pct in July, compared with the same month last year, after an 8.7 pct increase in July 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Thursday.
-- Public Power Corporation on Thursday said it will receive 32.9 million euros as compensation for its decision to waive its option to buy 30 pct in DEPA, after reaching an agreement with the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund.
 Stocks end down on profit takingStocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as a wave of profit-taking selling put an end to a seven-day rally in the market which pushed the composite index up 19.95 pct. The index fell 3.73 pct to end at 741.76 points, while turnover remained a high 105.959 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 4.19 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.19 pct lower. The Technology (1.54 pct) and Constructions (0.89 pct) were the only sectors to move higher, while Banks (6.26 pct), Raw Materials (6.22 pct), Oil (4.74 pct) and Food (4.60 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Eurobank (5.71 pct), Titan (0.86 pct) and MIG (0.35 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Cyprus Bank (12.46 pct), Alpha Bank (8.24 pct), National Bank (6.86 pct) and Mytilineos (6.25 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 89 to 55 with another 21 issues unchanged. Nutriart (19.35 pct), Sprider Stores (17.78 pct) and Sato (16.95 pct) were top gainers, while VIS (30 pct), Varvaresos (19.91 pct) and Mohlos (13.04 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -4.74%
Personal & Household: -4.41%
Raw Materials: -6.22%
Travel & Leisure: -3.00%
Food & Beverages: -4.60%
Financial Services: -2.57%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.56
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.68
HBC Coca Cola: 14.02
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.57
National Bank of Greece: 1.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.10
Bank of Piraeus: 0.41
 Greek bond market closingThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 18.97 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 19.86 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 20.54 pct and the German Bund 1.57 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 13 million euros, of which 11 million were sell orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were 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 0.26 pct and the one-month rate 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.54 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a strong 42.575 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 14,783 contracts worth 21.089 million euros, with 27,092 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 113,326 contracts worth 21.486 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (41,383), followed by Alpha Bank (19,341), Cyprus Bank (7,744), MIG (2,73), OTE (8,855), PPC (3,866), OPAP (5,046), Piraeus Bank (13,369), Cyprus Popular Bank (2,138), Eurobank (3,436), Ellaktor (1,401), Intralot (856), Mytilineos (518) and Hellenic Petroleum (285).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.310
Pound sterling 0.813
Danish kroner 7.565
Swedish kroner 8.636
Japanese yen 101.74
Swiss franc 1.231
Norwegian kroner 7.530
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 Aeschylus 'returns' to ancient Theater of Dionysus 2,500 years laterFor the first time after 2,500 years, the words of ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus and music will be heard at the ancient open-air Theater of Dionysus, on the southern slope of the Athens Acropolis, in a single performance on Saturday, September 22.
Dedicated to Greece's archaeologists and all those working on the preservation and restoration of the country's ancient theaters, the concert will feature the world premiere of noted composer George Kouroupos' work "Monologue", which is based on two monologues from Aeschylus' tragedy Prometheus Bound.
The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major open-air theater on the southern slope of the Athens Acropolis and one of the earliest preserved in Athens. It was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine and the patron of drama and hosted the city's Dionysia festival in honor Dionysus.
These dramatic festivals were competitive among playwrights and involved the production of four plays, three tragedies and one satyr play featuring lighter themes. It was the venue of the first performances of the plays of the classical era tragedians (who competed there and whose works survive today) Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Menander, and the comedies of Aristophanes. Aeschylus, in fact, won the competition of 480 BC in the Theater of Dionysus with his famous Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon, Choephori and Eumenidis).
Aptly, the Aeschylean monologues that will be heard in this unique performance come from another trilogy, as Prometheus Bound is the first play in a trilogy referred to as the Prometheia and survives in full, whereas the second and third plays, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer and Prometheus Unbound, survive only in fragments.
It is of immense historic significance as it is here that the masterpieces of ancient drama were first performed.
The Greek authorities announced in late 2009 a 6-year, 6 million euro program for the partial restoration of the ruined marble theater, slated for completion by 2015, which includes extensive modern additions to the surviving stone seats.
A small section of the theater's stone seating, which could hold up to 15,000 spectators, still survives, to which restorers will gradually add several tiers using both recovered ancient fragments and new stone. Retaining walls and other parts of the building will also be strengthened.
 Foreign nat'ls arrested on drug trafficking chargesSeven individuals, all foreign nationals, were arrested on drug trafficking charges after police raided two apartments in the Sepolia district of central Athens, it was announced on Thursday.
Six men, three Tunisians, two Iraqis and an Algerian, as well as a woman from Serbia, were arrested after police found and seized 147.7 grams of heroin, 746.7 grams of unprocessed cannabis and 6,000 euros in cash.
In a separate drug trafficking case, police arrested another three foreign nationals, an Egyptian, an Iraqi and a Syrian.
A search of the Egyptian's apartment in the Egaleo district revealed 26.3 grams of heroin, a large amount of money in euros and foreign currencies, as well as a hunting knife and an air pistol.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-8 beauforte. Temperatures between 16C and 33C. Cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-6 beauforte winds and temperatures between 20C and 31C. Rainy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 20C and 28C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceThe negotiations for the new austerity measures and the planned privatization of OPAP (29 percent share package), Greece's state lottery monopoly, were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Despair closed the center of Athens again - 'Capital' of protest demonstrations - Workers of various professions protested against the harsh austerity measures".
AVGHI: "They're giving everything away, and hiding".
AVRIANI: "The sale of OPAP changes the climate".
ETHNOS: "Jackpot with express privatizations".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Heating oil subsidy for few, and with coupon".
ELLADA: "Samaras fears overturn (of government)".
ESTIA: "Those who create jobs".
IMERISSIA: "High expectations on the Athens Stock Exchange".
KATHIMERINI: "Tough bargaining over layoffs, labor issues".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Four large thorns obstruct agreement (on the measures)".
NIKI: "Earn good money with time deposits".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The 38th KNE (KKE youth organization) Festival opens today".
TA NEA: "They're 'cutting' the layoffs and 'pasting' the retirement age".
TO PONTIKI (weekly): "Rich 'beggars'."
VRADYNI: "Loans: The banks refuse but the courts write off".
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