|Monday, 19 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 20 September 2012 Issue No: 4179
 Finmin concludes meeting with EU-IMF troika; 'gap' in austerity package at 2 billion, senior official saysFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Wednesday wrapped up a meeting with the heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika, held to negotiate the measures that will make up an 11.9-billion euro austerity package. There were no official announcements.
According to a senior finance ministry official, the troika has accepted measures amounting to some 8.5-9.5 billion euro, including cuts to the budgets for health, defence and local authorities, and the government's economic team is now fighting to reach agreement on a 'gap' of roughly two billion euro that remains in order to reach the 11.9 billion euro target demanded by Greece's creditors.
He referred to the remaining two billion needed to complete the package as the 'hard core' of spending cuts and said that an increase in the age of retirement by two years was still 'on the table'. The meeting was held with the participation of troika economic experts, brought in to help with the discussion on macroeconomic considerations, such as the depth of the recession, the sustainability of public debt and possible measures to reduce the deficit. With another meeting due to take place on Thursday between the three party leaders in the coalition government, the finance ministry source appeared visibly frustrated at what he called 'grumbling and leaks' from the other parties backing the government. "The measures were given to them in detail. We proposed that they come to the negotiations with the troika and they refused," the same official said, stressing that while Stournaras and the government's financial team were 'fighting' to get the troika's approval for the remaining measures, they were receiving no help but only criticism and grumbling.
 Austerity measures necessary to balance budget, gov't spokesman saysTalking about the package of austerity measures demanded by Greece's creditors on the state television channel NET, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Wednesday indicated that the cuts were necessary in order for Greece to eventually arrive at balanced budgets. "They are cuts that must happen so that at some point we get to 'six of one, half a dozen of the other' and the spending and revenues of our budget balance out. The difference now is that they will be immediately accompanied by measures for growth. We have grounds to believe that in the Autumn we will have sent a strong message to international markets that things are changing here in Greece, that it is worth investing in the Greek economy. We are at a crucial turning point," he said. According to the spokesman, the situation was critical and Greece would either make it or lose everything. "This is why I say that these will be the last measures," he added, emphasising that Greece must secure the next tranche of bailout loans amounting to 31 billion euro in order to succeed. Concerning Greece's hopes of obtaining a loan extension at the upcoming EU summit, Kedikoglou refused to 'anticipate' developments but suggested that the October European Council, coming in the wake of the announcements made by ECB President Mario Draghi, would be among the most important in the EU's recent history. "The estimates that Europe is now moving in the right direction are starting to multiply. And what do I mean by the right direction? It is not only about what suits us but is moving as a whole. It is moving within the framework of the vision launched by the first founders of the European Union," he added. Questioned about Greek society's reaction to the measures, the spokesman said that the government must manage to convince ordinary Greeks that the measures were being implemented in the fairest way and the laws would be enforced equally for everyone, with none of the exceptions or the phenomena of the past.
 PASOK opposes more horizontal measures, urges ministries to 'trim the fat'PASOK party press spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata on Wednesday repeated PASOK's opposition to further horizontal measures like pay and pension cuts, noting that Greek society "cannot take any more", and urged Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to press for more cost-cutting by ministries. "Here and now, Mr. Samaras must call the ministers and ask them to submit specific plans for saving funds in their area of responsibility," Gennimata said, replying to questions. PASOK believes that there is still room to reduce wasteful spending in the public sector, she added, calling on the government to now find "at least two billion of the equivalent measures of 18 billion euro that Samaras presented at Zappion as main opposition leader". She also accused the ruling New Democracy party of failing to help PASOK when it was in the opposition, failing to admit to the role of the Karamanlis government in causing a massive increase in the public debt, but "instead donning an anti-Memorandum cloak that it shed automatically once it was in government again".
 This austerity package must be the last, DIMAR spokesman saysThe latest round of austerity cuts must be the last, Democratic Left (DIMAR) press spokesman Andreas Papadopoulos said on Wednesday, on 'Vima' radio station. "It is imperative that this is the last package of measures. For reasons relating to the credibility of the political system but primarily for social reasons, because there is nowhere else left to cut," said the press spokesman for the smallest of the three parties supporting the coalition government. While some divergence from the original policy agreement of the coalition partners was inevitable, given that thes situation was not static, Papadopoulos also stressed that an effort must be made to eventually fulfill the promises made in the policy agreement once the country had gotten over the current difficult phase, "because we consider that this government must have a four-year horizon". Questioned about his party's negative stance on the draft amendment for leisure craft that was finally withdrawn, Papadopoulos stressed that there had to be better communication and an official briefing on each proposed item of legislation every time, so that MPs were not 'caught off guard'. He also suggested that tax revenues from the specific amendment could be greater.
 Samaras meets with Union of Shipowners repsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras met on Wednesday with the leadership of the Union of Greek Shipowners at the Maximos Mansion government house, in what officials later described as a wide exchange of views on Greece's hugely important and lucrative shipping sector, as well as on the battered Greek economy's prospects. According to a relevant press release by the premier's office said the union's representatives responded positively to proposals by the government side on how the sector can contribute towards efforts to exit the crisis and generate an economic recovery. Union president Theodoros Veniamis also briefed Samaras on a programme to create new job spots in maritime shipping, as well as an ongoing social responsibility initiative that is funding families in need. The programme, funded by the union, is expected to expand and fund other sectors, such as healthcare and maritime education. The meeting was also attended by Merchant Marine Minister Costis Mousouroulis.
 KKE party on PM-shipowners meetingThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Wednesday on the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with the representatives of the shipowners, termed the latter "audacious" and "provocative", "who appeared as great benefactors with the humanitarianism of charity, at a time when they do not even give a euro from their huge profits to the Fund of the retired seamen which is close to bankruptcy, and which they have repeatedly robbed". "The government is also audacious and provocative, that treats them with gratitude and thanks them for 'their contribution', at a time when they do not pay even a euro in tax neither for oil, they infringe the rights of the dockers, dismiss and hire crews without elementary rights and build their shops abroad," thew announcement added. It concluded by saying "this is capital, this is how the governments that serve it, function".
 Samaras' meeting with coalition gov't party leaders on ThursdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet on Thursday at 13:00 with the party leaders that comprise his coalition government, Evangelos Venizelos (PASOK) and Fotis Kouvelis (Democratic Left).
 European Commission president Barroso on Greece and the eurozoneBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Spinthourakis) European Commission president Jose Barroso, speaking during an interview with the Euronews channel, where he replied to questions by European citizens, said among other things that "the new measures must be adopted as soon as possible and in parallel Greece must show energy through the use of the EU Funds and through the promotion of the reforms for strengthening its competitiveness". Asked on "what will take place in Greece from now on", the European Commission president said: "First of all let us clarify that Greece did not reach this situation due to the European Union. Greece reached this situation due to the non-viable debt and the deficits that accumulated with the passing of years. What the EU is doing is that it is giving Greece the opportunity to avoid default. Now, I realise that many of these adjustment measures are extremely painful and that indeed the Greeks have made great efforts which some underestimate sometimes. And I am referring to the measures that have to do with the salaries as well as to other measures. I believe that it is of vital importance for Greece and for the eurozone for Greece to remain in the euro. For this purpose the new measures must be adopted as soon as possible and in parallel Greece must show energy through the use of EU Funds and through the promotion of the reforms for strengthening its competitiveness. In this way Greece can restore trust, only with the regaining of trust will we be able to create viable jobs for the peoples of Europe and not only".
 Tsipras: SYRIZA ready to lead struggle in defence of society, democracyMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday lashed out at the government and a pending package of austerity measures, saying his party is ready to lead society and organise what he termed "social resistance and struggle". The leftist leader also promised that SYRIZA will "defend freedom and democracy in Greece". Addressing his party's Parliamentary group, Tsipras said the "government propaganda" must be faced and democracy should be defended. He strongly criticized the government and warned of the existence of "a united political centre, comprising New Democracy (ND), PASOK and Democratic Left (DEM.AR), that leads the efforts aimed at implementing the measures for the demolition of society regardless of the cost." He said that "an effort is being made to keep in power the political system that led the country to bankruptcy," and referring to the "theory of the extremes" he said that "an attempt is being made to equate the struggles of society with the violence of para-state groups."
 Government spokesman on Tsipras interviewGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, commenting on an interview by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras with an Argentinian newspaper, said on Wednesday that "at a time when the country is waging a tough battle to remain in the euro, Mr. Tsipras wants to ruin it, envying the default of Argentina". The spokesman also accused Tsipras of "reaching the point of characterising the euro a prison for the Europeans" and that "he might dream and pursue turning Greece into a huge 'shantytown' with illegal immigrants, impoverishment and crime". "Fortunately for the country and unfortunately for Mr. Tsipras, the Greek citizens are not adventurers," Kedikoglou concluded.
 PASOK sec't receives Russian envoyPASOK Parliamentary group secretary Yannis Maniatis met on Wednesday with the Russian ambassador in Greece, Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, at the former's office in Parliament. According to a PASOK announcement, talks focused on various economic sectors, with the emphasis, however, focusing on a joint Greek-Russian cooperation committee meeting next month. The two officials discussed bilateral cooperation in the tourism, agriculture development, energy and transports fields, along with the ongoing economic crisis.
 Ind'p Greeks leader meets with school teachers' repsOpposition Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos on Wednesday met in Parliament with representatives of the primary school teachers' union federation (DOE) who referred to the problems faced by their sector. Commenting afterwards, Kammenos said the condition of most schools in the country is "unacceptable" and underlined that expenditures in the sectors of education and health should not depend on troika's approval.
 Inquiry launched into alleged list of 'suspiciously wealthy' MPsSupreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Nikos Pantelis, responsible for financial crimes, on Wednesday instructed Financial Crimes Prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spiros Mouzakitis to investigate press reports about an alleged list of 33 current and former MPs of the New Democracy and PASOK parties with suspiciously large personal fortunes. According to reports appearing in the media, the list was put together by the financial crimes squad SDOE following a painstaking investigation lasting several months. According to sources, however, only five of these MPs has come under more careful scrutiny from SDOE. Pantelis has instructed his colleagues to first verify reports that such a list exists and, if the reports are proved true, to conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether crimes such as tax-evasion, money-laundering or other activities to amass illegally obtained wealth have been committed and by whom. Should the prosecutors find evidence of such offences carried out by ministers, they will have to refer the case to Parliament in accordance with laws on ministerial liablity. If the evidence implicates serving MPs, on the other hand, the prosecutors will be free to carry out all investigative acts needed to ascertain that the offence was committed but not those 'impinging on the person of an MP', for which they will have to first ask that the MP's Parliamentary immunity be lifted. Based on reports, SDOE investigated roughly 500 current and former MPs and discovered that there were significant discrepancies between the earnings and the income declared for 33 past and present Parliamentarians. After seeking and gaining access to the bank account records of the 33 individuals involved, sources say that questions have arisen concerning five MPs, which some quarters insist are also ministers.
 Converted army camps to be used to house migrants, minister confirmsArmy camps earmarked to be shut down by the defence ministry will be converted into facilities to house migrants and refugees arriving in Greece, Public order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikolaos Dendias announced on Wednesday while visiting the headquarters of the Greek Police in Athens. Replying to questions, Dendias confirmed that some of the 45 army camps that the defence ministry had decided to shut down would be given to the Greek Police to be used for housing immigrants. He also observed that the situation in the centre of Athens had greatly approved in terms of the presence of migrants but that no one should expect the problems of decades to go away in one or two months. The minister visited the police headquarters to congratulate officers on their recent successful capture of the 'Kalashnikov gang', as well as recent successes of the DIAS motorcycle police and the financial police.
 Task Force chief asks European Funds to halt unemployment in Greece"The determination of the Greek government and the structure of the reforms being advanced comprise a new beginning for Greece," European Commission (EC) Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach said on Wednesday after a meeting with employment, social security and welfare minister Yiannis Vroutsis. Reichenbach told Vroutsis that the climate for Greece prevailing in Europe is changing, and pledged to make every possible effort for the transfer to the country of funds from the European Community Fund, to be used to halting the escalating unemployment in Greece, especially among young people. Vroutsis described the meeting as "interesting and constructive", noting that apart from youth unemployment, other topics discussed were the structural changes in the social security system, stamping out transgressions in the labor market, and enhancing the social economy. Vroutsis reiterated that pensions would be paid normally, and said the ministry was examining, in collaboration with the European Commission, a restructuring of the benefits payment system, while the country's largest social security funds IKA (state-run Social Security Foundation), OAEE (self-employed professionals' fund) and ETEA (uniform auxiliary social security fund) would immediately set up a joint collection agency to collect contributions and overdue dues, which would have a large fiscal benefit for the country. On boosting employment on youth, Vroutsis said the labor ministry was drafting a new programme that would benefit 80,000 unemployed young people, in sectors such as agriculture and hotels. In that context, Vroutsis asked Reichenbach for the transfer of relevant knowhow from Germany. As for stamping out transgressions in the labor market, Vroutsis said the ministry was advancing a legislative regulation that would upgrade the Labor Inspectors' Corps (SEPE) that would give increased authorities to the Labor Inspectors equivalent to those of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) inspectors, aiming at creating a modern and efficient mechanism, of which assessment has been asked from the International Labor Organization (ILO).
 Alt. FinMin expresses 'realistic optimism' on execution of state budgetAlternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Wednesday wrapped up the parliamentary presentation of the figures that outline the course of the execution of the state budget in the Jan.-Aug. 2012 eight-month period, by saying that he is "realistically optimistic". Addressing the responsible parliamentary committee, he said that "everybody should join forces to implement a national road map that will incorporate the terms agreed with the partners" and pointed out that the government tries to reduce the sacrifices that will have to be made by the Greek people, which for the period 2010-2012 amounted to 49 billion euros or 22.6 pct of the GDP. "The sacrifices made are huge not counting certain additional ones," he said and underlined that "the descending course of the economy should be stopped". He said that there are hopeful indications, stressing that in August the state budget surplus was 850 million euros, public spending was reduced 17.5 pct in the months of July and August while, in the first half of the year, the exports' surplus was 640 million euros. The alternate finance minister admitted that the primary deficit will correspond to 1.5 pct of the GDP rising higher than anticipated. He said, however, that this variation will be accepted by the EC-ECB-IMF troika without asking for new measures. He said that concerns remain as regards the revenues and stressed that recession will reach 6-7 pct by the end of the year. He added that an encouraging fact is the improvement observed in expenditures in the past two months which was achieved without an increase in overdue payments of state debts and without taking additional economic measures.
 EBEA president addresses Moscow eventMOSCOW (AMNA/E.Papadosifaki) Greece's Central Union of Chambers of Commerce and EBEA president Constantine Mihalos, in an address in Moscow in the framework of an event by Eurofresh fruits, an EU programme that is managed by the Central Union of Chambers of Commerce, stressed that energy, tourism, shipping and agriculture are the sectors currently presenting excellent cooperation opportunities between Greece and Russia. Mihalos said that the sector of agricultural production in particular provides very fruitful ground for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation. More specifically, the sector of the agricultural production of fruit and vegetables, with exports amounting to 115 million euros in 2012 compared to 98 million euros in 2010, holds a fourth of total exports to Russia, that reached 394 million euros in 2011. In the sector of fruit and vegetables in particular, Greek exports amounted to 80.8 million euros in 2011 compared to 48 million euros in 2010. The biggest increase was recorded in strawberry exports with 129 percent, peaches and nectarines with an increase of 24 percent and exports quadrupled in other sectors of fresh products (fresh cucumbers, kiwi fruit, etc). Greece's ambassador to Russia, M. Spinelis referred in his address at the same event to the very good course of Greek exports that showed an increase of 34 percent in the first half of 2012, while last year the increase amounted to 27 percent. He also stressed the advantages of Russia's vast market that can now receive any product. The alternate general director of the Chamber of Moscow, Sergei Kousmin pointed out that there is a programme for the improvement of agricultural production in Russia that the Greek businesses can utilise through the local production of products, so as to minimise the cost and benefit from the exporting opportunities to the countries of the commonwealth. Russia, he added, is aiming at an increase in grain exports to the EU as well as the export of processed products such as flour.
 Amendment on leisure craft withdrawnAn amendment abolishing the 'special tax' for privately-owned vessels over 10 metres long introduced the previous year and replacing it with a special fee for all privately owned engine-powered boats longer than 12 metres, sailing boats exceeding 15 metres, and so-called 'traditional leisure craft' that will pay the same fee reduced by 25 percent, was withdrawn from parliament late Tuesday by merchant marine minister Costas Mousouroulis. According to Mousouroulis, the amendment was withdrawn in order the an estimation of its yield could be made by the State General Accounting Office, as per the Rules of Parliament, and it will be re-tabled in the future. Earlier, the amendment had come under heavy fire from the opposition parties, but also from Democratic Left (DIMAR), a junior member in the three-party coalition government. It is noted that the master plans for the country's ports that are also included in the regulation are not withdrawn and continue to be valid as proposed legislation. The tax on privately-owned vessels had been introduced last year in order that leisure craft declared as professional craft would not evade taxation. Mousouroulis told parliament that the existing tax had fallen well below the anticipated yield, bring only a few thousand euros into the state coffers, just like its predecessors. "The yield of the preceding tax regulations had been minimal. Those who thought up this tax failed miserably. Such craft left Greece (Greek shipping registry) and went to Turkey, Montenegro, Italy and other countries," Mousouroulis said. He stressed that "sea tourism is an indisputable advantage of Greece", adding: "We insist that the (new) regulation is correct. Do the colleagues in the opposition take the responsibility, given that the tourism period ends these days and the owners of these craft are taking their decisions on where their craft will dock for winter? Similar withdrawals of taxes were made by Spain and Gibraltar, with immense success. We believe that a uniform sailing and docking tax is the only proven method to maintain jobs and generate new ones." Main opposition SYRIZA deputy Panagiotis Lafazanis called the withdrawal of the amendment "one more irregular retreat by the government under the outcry of the opposition...and the chaos prevailing in the government and the civil services." Under the withdrawn amendment, the current 'special tax' for privately-owned vessels over 10 metres long would be replaced by a special fee for all privately owned engine-powered boats longer than 12 metres, sailing boats exceeding 15 metres, and so-called 'traditional leisure craft' that would pay the same fee reduced by 25 percent. The fee would apply to all leisure craft falling in these categories, regardless of their flag, and the amount would increase depending on the size and type of the vessel involved, as well as the time spent in Greek territory. There would be no fee for craft owned for professional use, regardless of their size and type. Boats that pay the fee would be given the appropriate sticker for that category and vessels that could not produce this during coast guard inspections would have their naval documents withheld until payment was made - including a fine amounting to 200 percent of the annual fee. The tax measures for leisure craft introduced the previous year were scrapped on the grounds that they failed to increase the 'taxable items' and tax revenues but instead created "conditions of recession that resulted in lower turnover for Greek businesses involved in the maritime tourism sector".
 Amendment on seaports causes Parliament standoffMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), after a confrontation on Wednesday with the representatives of the majority in Parliament, requested a roll-call vote on a government-sponsored amendment that will have a retroactive effect, in ratifying the master plans for the development of the country's ports -- drawn up in the period 2002-2012. SYRIZA's objections, targeting the constitutionality of a decision to place the amendment in an irrelevant draft law, were rejected by the political parties backing the government and the ultra-right Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party. The 400-page long amendment concerns decisions made by the Seaport Planning and Development Committees in the period 2002-2012 regulating the use of land and defining building regulations in seaport regions. Referring to the purpose of the amendment, New Democracy (ND) parliamentary spokesman Makis Voridis said it is designed to ratify administrative acts that face annulment because they had not been published in the Government Gazette when they should.
 Coastal shipping sector issues discussed next weekCoastal shipping issues will be examined by sector union representatives during a meeting with Shipping & Aegean Minister Costis Mousouroulis next week, possibly on Monday, it was announced on Wednesday. An informal committee, set up by the ministry, studies a National Bank of Greece report on counterbalancing the country's coastal shipping sector, while the conclusions of a report prepared by a cross-party committee set up by the previous ministry leadership for this purpose is also being studied. The coastal shipping association SEEN will meet on Thursday to elect a president a 12-member board.
 Greek export performance index sharply up in H1Greece's export performance index almost doubled in the first six months of 2012 compared with the same periods in 2009 and 2010, although the country remained at the bottom of the EU-27 list which reflects exports as a percentage of GDP. The country's export performance index rose to 12.4 pct, from 6.5 pct and 6.7 pct of GDP in 2009 and 2010, respectively, but sharply down from 35.6 pct of the European average index, data released by the Federation of Northern Greece Exporters showed. The report attributed this significant increase in export performance -over the last two years- to higher export value and a shrinking GDP.
Greece, along with other European southern countries facing severe fiscal problems (Spain, Italy and Portugal) occupy the bottom places of the export performance list in Europe, highlighting the impact of exports on the prosperity and growth of each national economy. Imports of foreign goods to Greece fell by 11 pct, or 2.7 billion euros, from 2009 until the first half of 2012, the biggest decline in the EU-27. On the other hand, Greek exports recorded the biggest percentage increase in the EU in the first six months of the year (including oil products). Exports grew by 15 pct, sharply up compared with a 3.7 pct increase in EU-27 exports and a 4.1 pct rise in Eurozone exports.
 Industrial turnover index down 7.3 in JulyTurnover in the domestic industrial sector fell significantly in July this year, Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Wednesday. The statistics service, in a report, said the turnover composite index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell 7.3 pct in July, after an increase of 20.4 pct recorded in July last year. The statistics service attributed the 7.3 pct decline to a 35.4 pct drop in mining turnover and a 6.8 pct fall in manufacturing turnover. The domestic turnover index fell by 7.0 pct and the external market index dropped by 8.0 pct. The outlook for industrial production in the country remains grim as new orders fell significantly in June. Hellenic Statistical Authority said that the new orders composite index dropped 12.8 pct in July, after an 8.2 pct increase recorded in July 2011. The decline reflects a 14.8 pct drop in the domestic market index and an 11.9 pct fall in the external market index.
 New Cyprus Airways flights in GreeceThe Cyprus Airways company announced its decision to expand its business activity in Greece following the positive, as it said, response had by the Athens-Thessaloniki route. More specifically, as of the coming winter period, which begins on October 28, 2012, Cyprus Airways will include in its flight programme daily or very frequent flights to Greece's most important airports. As was announced, the company will be carrying out schedules as follows:
Athens-Iraklio, two (2) flights daily Athens-Rhodes, one (1) flight daily Thessaloniki-Iraklio, one (1) flight daily Thessaloniki-Rhodes, three (3) times a week
Moreover, with the winter period flights to the two existing domestic schedules of Cyprus Airways in Greece will increase by one as follows: -Athens-Thessaloniki, three (3) flights daily (instead of two). -Iraklio-Rhodes, four (4) flights a week (instead of three).
 Seamen call 24h strike on Sept. 26The Hellenic Seamen's Union will stage a 24-hour strike in all ports throughout the country on Wednesday, 26 September, it was announced on Wednesday. The Seamen's Union is demanding from the government that it safeguard their working positions and protect their social security rights. They also demand the immediate signing of their collective labour agreements.
 Business Briefs-- The Greek state will seek to collect 30 pct of OPAP's gross earnings annually by the year 2020, according to new legislation drafted by the finance ministry and unveiled on Wednesday.
 Stocks end moderately lowerStocks ended moderately lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, hit by a 18.37-pct drop in OPAP's share price after news of a new tax regime on gaming services in the country was announced. Analysts said the new tax regime - agreed to with the European Commission - will hit OPAP's profitability by 200-300 million euros annually. The composite index fell 0.39 pct to end at 753.06 points, after rising as much as 1.90 pct early in the session. Turnover jumped to 100.999 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.67 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.35 pct lower. The Commerce (8.35 pct), Industrial Products (7.05 pct) and Oil (5.45 pct) were top gainers among sector categories, while Travel (15.96 pct), Banks (3.09 pct) and Telecommunications (1.79 pct) suffered losses. Viohalco (11.5 pct), Folli Follie (8.56 pct) and Titan (5.23 pct) were top gainers among blue chips stocks while OPAP (18.37 pct), Cyprus Bank (5.86 pct) and National Bank (3.90 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 75 to 57 with another 28 issues unchanged. Fourlis (21.74 pct), Viohalco (11.5 pct) and Kloukinas-Lappas (9.87 pct) were top gainers, while HOL (19.53 pct), OPAP (18.37 pct) and Nikas (12.37 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows: Industrials: +7.05
Oil & Gas: +4.51
Personal & Household: +0.78
Raw Materials: +3.00
Travel & Leisure: -15.96
Food & Beverages: -0.47
Financial Services: +0.72
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows: Alpha Bank: 1.65 Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.92 HBC Coca Cola: 14.31 Hellenic Petroleum: 7.40 National Bank of Greece: 1.97 EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.08 OPAP: 4.31 OTE: 3.30 Bank of Piraeus: 0.40 Titan: 14.70
 Greek bond market closingThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 18.90 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 18.5 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 20.5 pct and the German Bund 1.60 pct. Turnover totaled 13 million euros, all buy orders. In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.72 pct, the six-month rate was 0.47 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.22 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.98 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining an improved 40.548 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,794 contracts worth 18.164 million euros, with 29,574 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 99,586 contracts worth 22.384 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (17,583), followed by National Bank (15,972), Alpha Bank (15,507), MIG (3,414), Cyprus Bank (10,908), PPC (3,319), OPAP (12,669), Piraeus Bank (10,158), Cyprus Popular Bank (3,312), Eurobank (1,250), GEK (1,010) and Intralot (1,320).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank: U.S. dollar 1.319 Pound sterling 0.814 Danish kroner 7.566 Swedish kroner 8.649 Japanese yen 103.92 Swiss franc 1.227 Norwegian kroner 7.543 Canadian dollar 1.286 Australian dollar 1.264
 New com't established to press for return of Parthenon MarblesThe culture ministry on Wednesday announced that it will re-establish a special advisory committee to coordinate actions aimed at securing the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles. The president of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, Christoforos Argyropoulos, archaeologist Eleni Korka, attorney Irini Stamatoudi, who heads the Intellectual Property Organisation, and foreign ministry representative Panos Kalogeropoulos were listed as members of the committee, announced by Alternate Culture Minister Costas Tzavaras. "Greece's moral right is above every objection that is based on arguments aired as mere delay tactics, and aiming to brush aside the basic principle that is universally applied, namely, the necessity of cultural monuments to be repatriated, meaning a return to the place of their origin," Tzavaras said.
 EOPYY doctors temporarily call off strikeDoctors contracted by the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) on Wednesday announced a temporary suspension of strike action, after EOPYY paid up 6.5 million euro owed to them for June. They noted, however, that EOPYY still owes doctors 260 million euro for 2012 and 1,110 million euro for 2010 and 2011, while those covered by EOPYY are owed more than 100 million euro. Their announcement notes that EOPYY has an obligation to immediately pay money owed to doctors for the months November and December 2011 by the former social insurance funds that were merged to form EOPYY. The doctors emphasised that they were calling off strike action in a show of support for Greek society and those insured by EOPYY but demanded the immediate start of dialogue with Alternate Health Minister Marios Salmas and warned that the 'nightmare scenarios' of EOPYY bankruptcy are "being implemented".
 More than 350 brothels in greater Athens, only four with licensesThere are more than 350 brothels currently operating in the wider Athens area, of which only four are licensed, according to an estimate by the public order ministry, a document from Minister Nikos Dendias releaved on Wednesday, after its tabling in Parliament. According to the document, "the precise number of brothels in the Athens area cannot be determined due to the frequent change (of address), given that others (brothels) are shut down (by authorities), others relocate or close. Overall, it is estimated that more than 350 brothels, with a constantly changing number -- of which only four operate with a license -- operate in Athens." The document was submitted in reply to a tabled question by New Democracy (ND) deputy Adonis Georgiadis, who further stated that surprise inspections take place on a daily basis on brothels and in places where illegal prostitution takes place.
 Hollywood thriller to be filmed in Athens, CreteA number of scenes of a planned Hollywood thriller, "Two Faces of January", based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, will be shot on location in Athens and Crete. The film will be directed by screenwriter Hossein Amini, and star Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst. Filming in Athens will take place around the Acropolis and the Roman Forum on Oct. 14-17, culture ministry officials said on Wednesday. The psychological drama unfolds in Greece and Turkey and centres on a con artist, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen), who accidentally kills a private detective investigating him. He becomes a fugitive from international police with his wife (Kirsten Dunst). Highsmith is the writer of popular novels The Talented Mr. Ripley, The American Friend and Strangers on a Train. Meanwhile, parts of the Turkish documentary on the life of Mehmet II, produced by the Turkish TRT channel, were filmed at archaeological sites in central Athens on Wednesday.
 Rainy on ThursdayRainy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 2-7 beauforte. Temperatures between 17C and 31C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with variable 2-5 beauforte winds and temperatures between 19C and 31C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 18C and 26C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe deliberations for the finalization of the new austerity measures and prime minister Antonis Samaras' series of meetings with European leaders and officials mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Samaras' meetings with European prime ministers".
AVGHI: "25 percent recession by 2014".
DIMOKRATIA: "Storm on the brink"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Which measures have locked for salaries, pensions and benefits".
ESTIA: "Government's national effort undermined".
ETHNOS: "Pension-'gift' to trade unionists".
IMERISSIA: "Market anticipates positive developments".
KATHIMERINI: "MPs who perpetrate a felony will be arrested".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Government searching for 9.5 bln euros cutbacks in salaries and pensions".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Clouds of imperialistic war thicken".
TA NEA: "The cutbacks in lump sum retirement superannuities".
VRADYNI: "Troika now wants low pensioners' blood".
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