|Monday, 16 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 21 September 2012 Issue No: 4180
 'Negotiations continuing', Finmin says after coalition leaders meetEmerging from a meeting between the three party leaders supporting the coalition government, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday confirmed that negotiations with Greece's creditors are continuing.
Stournaras said that a large part of the austerity package demanded of Greece had been agreed but there were still reservations surrounding certain of the proposed measures, chiefly to do with modernising the state, that had not yet been resolved.
"The negotiation is difficult. We are doing everything possible to minimise the social cost, especially for the poorer strata," the minister said, expressing hope that the package of measures will soon be finalised.
 FinMin briefs PM ahead of coalition leaders' meetingFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras opined on Thursday that discussions for the finalization of the government's package of austerity measures would continue for a few more days before final agreement is reached on the package 11.9 billion euro cuts in state spending, and estimated the shortfall between the measures proposed and those demanded by the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika at 2.0-2.5 billion euros.
Stournaras was speaking to reporters after he and the government's economic staff briefed prime minister Antonis Samaras of the finance minister's talks with the Troika on Wednesday, ahead of a scheduled meeting of the leaders of the three parties -- PM and New Democracy (ND) leader Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis -- for continued talks for the finalization of the measures.
The finance minister is due to meet later at the ministry with main opposition SYRIZA officials Yiannis Dragassakis and Efklides Tsakalotos to brief them on the ongoing negotiations with the Troika.
 PASOK leader Venizelos says wage, pension cuts excessivePASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday expressed reservations as regards the "internal balance" of the 11.9-billion-euro austerity package, addressing the meeting of the three political party leaders backing the country's coalition government.
Venizelos stated that it had been agreed that only 6.5 billion euros of the 11.9-billion- euro austerity package would come from wage, pension and benefit cuts and other five billion euros from public sector spending cuts. He said this balance has already been disturbed putting the blame indirectly on the troika and the government ministers who "must have greater and documented contribution to spending cuts." He also characterized as excessive the amount of 8 billion euros that will come from imposing wage, pension and benefit cuts.
Venizelos repeated PASOK's position against the adoption of across-the-board measures saying that this is the least that can be done.
The leader of PASOK said that in the meeting they were not presented with a finalised package of measures because negotiations between the government and the troika have not been completed and therefore, the political leaders will most likely meet on Wednesday instead of Sunday.
He underlined that the procedures will have to be accelerated and an agreement on the austerity measures will have to be reached as soon as possible because "this pending issue does not benefit the country". He added, however, that it should not be done hastily to the detriment or punishment of society as many times has been done by the troika.
Venizelos also responded to information that surfaced on Wednesday night according to which, an invitation has been extended to PASOK and the Democratic Left (DEM.AR) to participate in the negotiation, saying that "they expressed it ungracefully and they do not mean it."
He said that the austerity measures will have to be presented to parliament as soon as possible "in one strike", adding that Greece will have to receive the entire 31-billion-euro tranche.
The issue of the extension and implementation of the austerity measures in two phases was discussed in the meeting for the first time, Venizelos said, adding that the proposal will be presented to the troika by the negotiating team. According to the proposal, the implementation of the measures included in the second phase will not be necessary if Greece meets the goals set in the first two-year phase.
Venizelos said that the so-called equivalent measures have failed and that attention should focus on tax revenues. He pointed out that the troika calls for two billion euros in revenues, adding that "impressive revenues can be collected through a national taxation plan."
 Meeting of coalition gov't leaders ends; 'Nothing finalised' says KouvelisA meeting of the three party leaders supporting Greece's coalition government ended on Thursday afternoon. Leaving the meeting, Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis said that the negotiations were continuing and nothing had been finalised in terms of the measures that will make up an austerity package of 11.9 billion euro. He told reporters that the three party leaders will be meeting again next week.
"All those that were in a hurry to report that it was over were wrong," he said, noting that the EU-IMF troika must stop attacking Greek society and understand that there are limits to what people could put up with.
Also participating in the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Kouvelis were Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis.
A meeting between Stournaras and the heads of the troika mission in Athens is scheduled to take place at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.
 SYRIZA comments on party leaders meetingAn announcement by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party commenting on Thursday's meeting between the three party leaders supporting the government, stressed that "the meetings of the party leaders constitute the heightening of the operation to deceive the Greek people".
SYRIZA added that "the so-called bravado towards the troika has the same reliability with the pre-election commitments of the government parties on renegotiating" and that "there is no substantive disagreement between the government partners, except for their common commitment for the continuation of the memorandum policy, as well as their inability to defend before the people the new programme of social ruin and economic levelling".
The party concluded by saying that the "joint government-troika plan will be reversed by the unified struggles of the working people and will be replaced by SYRIZA's programme for the social and economic restructuring of the country, the protection of work and of the social state, the redistribution of wealth and growth."
 Independent Greeks party on party leaders meetingThe Independent Greeks party on Thursday termed the meeting between the three party leaders supporting the government, under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, "a show of the so-called intragovernmental negotiating, that is having a new extension at least until next week".
The party's spokesman Christos Zois said that in reality the government partners "are either seeking a way of announcing the measures that have already been agreed for fear of the reactions of the deceived citizens or someone is trying to gain time without us knowing why yet".
 Gov't seeks to complete negotiations with troika by SundayA Eurogroup meeting scheduled for October 8 is the deadline for the Greek government to reach an agreement with the troika over a new package of measures worth 11.9 billion euros, a Finance ministry official told AMNA following the completion of a meeting of the leaders of the three political parties in the government, while he added that the fact that the troika was returning to the negotiating table -later on Thursday- was a sign it was willing to compromise.
Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras was to have a new meeting with the troika late on Thursday in an effort to reach a compromise agreement on the package of measures. The government, the official said, aims to have completed negotiations by next Sunday as the troika officials were scheduled to leave Athens early next week. In case a full agreement was not achieved, the government's next aim was to finalize the package of measures up to 95 pct, while for the remaining 5.0 pt talks could continue with the troika's technical staff. The troika leaders were expected to return to Greece early in October ahead of the Eurogroup meeting to finalize the agreement. Greece is not planning to submit a request for an urgent Eurogroup meeting.
 Agreement with troika probable by Sunday, gov't sources claimGovernment sources on Thursday expressed 'guarded confidence' that an agreement with the EU-IMF troika on the 11.9-billion-euro austerity package will be in place by Sunday.
"We are seeking a 'golden mean' between the specifications of the government and the troika," the sources said after the end of a meeting between the three party leaders supporting the coalition government.
They said the situation was accurately described in the statement made by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and repeated that the government was trying to ensure the fairest distribution of the burden and aimed to protect the weakest social strata.
 KKE accuses government of launching tax raid on the financially weakOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday called on the workers, farmers and the self-employed to "resist the new tax raid launched by the government and refuse paying the extraordinary real estate surtax collected via electricity bills."
A statement by the KKE press office underlined that "an unprecedented tax raid is launched on the financially weak," while the coalition government and the troika are preparing to serve to the people "killer wage, pension and benefit cuts amounting to 11.5 billion euros."
 FM begins US visit in Chicago, to meet with UN chief on Sunday in NYNEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
Greek foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos opened an official visit to the US on Thursday (Greek time), with the first stop in Chicago, where he addressed a gathering of the local Greek community.
Avramopoulos, who is to address the UN General Assembly and meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon later in the week, said that the struggle being currently waged by Greece "is in the right direction" and, noting the efforts of the Athens government to deal with the crisis and the sacrifices of the Greek people, said that "Greece has started to regain its credibility in Europe".
He stressed that "the first words of support came from the United States".
"We are at the core, in the heart, of a battle, a struggle, a war. The previous generations have lived through other wars that killed people and destroyed buildings. We, at this time, are living through a war that may have not killed people or destroyed buildings, but tends to kill dreams and hopes. You speak daily with relatives and friends in Greece and are well aware that we are going through a tough period," Avramopoulos told the gathering.
He said that the current three-party coalition government is a "government of national cooperation", adding the wish that other political parties had also joined, because it bears the message that "national unity is that which must guide us in times of difficulty".
The government is waging the battle, and the first indications are positive, Avramopoulos said, noting that Greece has begun to regain its credibility in Europe and is being backed in this effort. "I want to believe that all these sacrifices, because they are indeed large sacrifices, that the Greek people have been undergoing recently will bear fruit. Greece is regaining its pace, its orientation, its certainty and its confidence. This is the cause that we are all serving, and no one can be spared in this struggle, especially the Greeks of the Diaspora, who perhaps even more than us in Greece feel the negative effects of this economic crisis, which has so severely harmed the country's international image," Avramopoulos continued.
He said that the battle being waged "is in the right direction" and that Greece, despite the crisis, remains one of the most fundamental factors of stability and security in a region that has recently begun to portend adverse impact on the entire world, given the situations in North Africa, the Middle East and SE Europe.
"Greece is a stable and a stabilizing factor. It has strength, a presence, and participation. It moves within the European family with respect, esteem, certainty and a role. Our decision is a given. We want to stay in the eurozone and know that this entails very many sacrifices, sacrifices that unfortunately at this time the Greek people, all of us, at all levels and classes, in every corner of Greece, are suffering," he added.
He said Greece is committed to waging the battle together for the country and Europe to find their way again, in a world in which everything has changed, noting that one of the first victims of this new situation -- in which fear and terror reign -- were the United States, eleven years ago, "and we, then and now, extended our solidarity and support, and the time has come for the US to manifest this to us".
On Greek-US relations, Avramopoulos said that the US has held a very cautious stance on the issue of the economic crisis in Greece, adding that the first positive messages and the first words of support had come from the US. "We must acknowledge this, and this is why it is a strategic choice of Greece to further strengthen its relations with the US in the future. One of the messages I convey on this mission here and in a series of contacts that have been made up to now with the Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, and with other officials who visited Greece. This is a joint decision of ours," the foreign minister added.
He further said that the Greek American community is one of the strongest links in the relations between the two countries, comprising one of the most fundamental elements of progress and growth of "this major power, this great nation", the US.
Avramopoulos will spend Thursday in Chicago, before heading on to Boston.
The Greek foreign minister flies to New York on Sunday to attend the proceedings of the 67th UN General Assembly, after which he will meet with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, with whom he will have the opportunity to discuss the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue and other topics of regional and international interest.
 Obama receives new Greek envoy, hails 'excellent' US-Greek relationsNEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
US president Barack Obama described US-Greek relations as excellent and said he looks forward to the continued cooperation between the two countries in all sectors, during a ceremony in which he received the credentials of Greece's new ambassador to the US Christos Panagopoulos on Wednesday.
Addressing the President, Panagopoulos conveyed the warm greetings of Greek President Karolos Papoulias and prime minister Antonis Samaras and the Greek people, also noting the "excellent level" of Greek-US bilateral relations.
Panagopoulos referred to Greece's role as a factor of stability, security and cooperation in its wider region, especially in SE Europe and the Middle East, while he also underlined the particular role of the large, powerful Greek community in the US as a constant factor of friendship and a human 'bridge' between the two peoples.
On the economic crisis Greece is currently undergoing, the Greek envoy said that it is not only a Greek crisis but a European and global crisis, and thanked President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their ongoing support to Greece in facing the crisis as well as the heavy sacrifices of the Greek people.
Obama made special mention of the ancient Athenian democracy, which he called the "foundation stone" of the American commonwealth, and noted the excellent traditional relations between Greece and the US, expressing appreciation for Greece's role as a factor of stability in the region and for the Greek American community.
The US President added that he looks forward to continuation of the cooperation between the two countries in all sectors.
 Venizelos meets with UNHC for Refugees, Ombudsman repsPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday met with representatives of the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Greek Ombudsman Office, where he was briefed on issues concerning migration, international developments that feed the illegal migration flow to Greece, opportunities that can be utilised by the country within the framework of the EU and the situation in Evros and the islands.
Venizelos said his party will sponsor a draft law against racism and xenophobia and request a Parliamentary discussion on the findings issued by a cross-party committee on migration, set up by the previous parliament.
He said PASOK's top priority is the restoration of a sense of security in the Greek society, adding that as far as the migration issue is concerned it can be handled through the complete and systematic implementation of an action plan.
Venizelos also said initiatives should be undertaken for the implementation of the Council Directive 2001/55/EC on the mass influx of displaced persons originating from countries in a state of war, like in the case of Syria.
 Financial police to help in fighting undeclared workPublic Order Minister Nikolaos Dendias and Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, in a meeting on Thursday, announced that they will enlist the help of Greece's financial police to crack down on undeclared work, in order to overcome obstacles arising from the limits on the jurisdiction and powers of labour ministry inspection services.
In statements after the meeting, Dendias promised to soon bring legislation that will empower the financial police to play a supporting role in cases where illegal or undeclared employment is discovered.
Vroutsis underlined that undeclared and uninsured work was a "financial crime" but also referred to the responsibility of the state, saying that it had to remove incentives that drove employers and employees to resort to 'black work' employment practices.
"For this reason, we are starting immediately with the simplification of labour law and the reduction of the administrative burdens through specific initiatives and actions," he added.
The minister underlined the damage caused by undeclared, uninsured work to the economy, saying that it reduced state revenues, undermined the state insurance system and skewed competition between businesses, as well as violating the rights of workers. He warned that the ministry will deal ruthlessly with systematic and repeat offenders trying to take advantage of the current economic crisis to increase delinquency at the expense of their workforce and the Greek economy.
Replying to questions, the labour minister confirmed that uninsured employment had now taken on alarming dimensions and was increasing 'geometrically'. Citing figures collected by the labour ministry, he said that uninsured work in businesses inspected during the first seven months of 2012 had increased to 35.4 percent, up from 11.36 percent in 2011 and 27.9 percent in 2010 during the same period. For foreign workers, rates of uninsured work were as high as 47 percent in 2012, up from 38.9 percent in 2011 and 37.1 percent in 2010.
Dendias also answered questions on clandestine migration and the wave of asylum-seekers arriving from strife-torn Syria, noting that the activation of plans to restrict the flow of migrants across the land border in Evros had minimised the entry of migrants from Evros but led to an increase in those arriving by sea from the Aegean. He noted that the inflow of migrants from the Aegean was roughly 30 percent that arriving from Evros.
He announced that four refugee reception centres were being set up in the Eastern Aegean to deal with the flow of incoming migrants.
 Uniformed public servants deliver resolution to prime minister's officeUniformed public servants held a protest rally in Herod Atticus street in Athens on Thursday during the meeting of the three party leaders supporting the government, while a delegation of the demonstrators handed a resolution to the director of the prime minister's office Costas Bouras.
"We are aware that the situation is bad but the commitments must be observed. We realise that we are at the cliff's edge and we are resisting so that they will not throw us off the cliff," said the POASY president, who added that the uniformed public servants will participate in the rally of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE)and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY).
"We shall not permit us being used as a suppressive apparatus of the struggle of other working people", he added.
 Parliamentary committee to convene on list of 32 political figures being investigated by SDOE for 'suspicious acquisition of wealth'The Parliamentary Committee on Monitoring Political Parties' Finances will meet on Wednesday, September 26, convened by committee chairman Thanassis Nakos, to discuss the issue of a list of 32 current and former MPs being investigated by the finance ministry's financial crimes squad (SDOE) for "suspicious acquisition of wealth".
Nakos also sent a letter to the SDOE chief asking that the details of the individuals being investigated be immediately released to the committee.
Earlier, finance minister Yannis Stournaras submitted a document to parliament confirming that 32 cases of political persons were being investigated by SDOE at the present time, in reply to a relevant question by Democratic Left (DIMAR) MP Nikos Tsoukalis.
In his document, Stournaras clarifies that the number of people being investigated is fluctuating, given that the SDOE is also conducting 'source of wealth' checks into the finances of politicians, local government executives and public functionaries in general, both current and former, in a crackdown on corruption. The number of cases being investigated at the present time is 32, he added.
The convening of the committee had been asked by main opposition SYRIZA deputy Dimitris Papadimoulis in a letter to Nakos tabled shortly before the finance minister's document was released.
 Council of Europe Parliament presidents begin Strasbourg conferenceGreek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis said Thursday that the Greek Parliament will assist the European effort for the overcoming of whatever democracy crisis exists in the taking of decisions with new institutions, with a new way of governance.
He was addressing the European Conference of Parliament Presidents of Council of Europe member-states, which began its sessions the same day in Strasbourg. Meimarakis stressed the great contribution that the Council of Europe has in defending human rights and democracy.
Participating in the two-day conference, that takes place every two years, are Parliament presidents of the Council of Europe's 47 member-states, the heads of various interparliamentary bodies and observers.
Meimarakis held contacts with counterparts of his on the sidelines of the conference, as well as bilateral meetings with the president of the Parliamentary Assembly Jean-Claude Mignon and the president of Serbia's Parliament Nebojsa Stegfanovic.
 Amnesty International rejects regulation turning illegal migrant status into incriminating factorAmnesty International on Thursday expressed concern in response to a recent announcement on the adoption of a legislative clause according to which, a person's illegal migrant status would be regarded as incriminating fact in case the individual in question is accused of intentionally committed crime.
According to the organization, such a regulation would be in violation of international law and would introduce discrimination between illegal migrants or asylum seekers and legal migrants and Greek citizens.
It is stressed that similar legislation adopted by Italy in 2008 was characterized as discriminatory by Italy's Constitutional Court.
 Finance ministry confirms plan for tax on freelance workers, rent incomeA high-ranking finance ministry official on Thursday confirmed reports that the government is mulling a 'head tax' on freelance workers and on those with income from rented properties, while stressing that the proposal has only been discussed and no firm decision has yet been made.
The ministry said that the measure would form part of a more general taxation reform to boost tax revenues by two billion euro, as envisaged in the Memorandum for the second bailout programme signed in March. By this means, ministry officials and the EU-IMF troika hope to 'catch' the groups that are chiefly suspected of extensive tax evasion, such as freelance workers, single-person businesses, those with income from rents and those with income from farming that do not declare farming as their main occupation. The aim is that these groups will be the main source of increased tax revenue.
Reports of a plan to impose a 'head tax' of 150 euro was leaked from sources in the PASOK party earlier on Thursday, who said it was brought up during a meeting between the three party leaders supporting the coalition government. The same sources said that PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is strenuously opposed to the proposed measure as 'unfair' and 'horizontal' and a "disastrous choice for the prospect of a National Taxation Plan" that PASOK wants to see implemented right away.
They also claimed that the eight billion euro segment of the package arising from cuts to pay, pensions and benefits also includes the estimated income revenue from an increase in the age of retirement to 67.
 New tax framework based on five axesA new tax framework in the country will be based on five axes, a Greek Finance ministry official said on Thursday. Speaking to AMNA, the official said that these axes will be:
self-employed and personal enterprises will be taxed with a reduced corporate tax, all business activity will be taxed according to book data, introducing a new tax scale with less scales, lowering tax rates on incomes from labor and business activity and cross-checking actions to combat tax-evasion.
 Gov't speeds up procedures for 4 highway, bridge projectsThe government is speeding up procedures to begin four large projects in the country, Stavros Kalogiannis, the alternate development minister told AMNA on Thursday.
Kalogiannis said the four projects include a bridge to connect the mainland with the island of Salamina, at the Perama site, a road link to the Ionian island of Lefkada, a new airport for Irakleio, Crete and a new highway west of Athens extending from the industrial district of Elefsina north to Lake Iliki, linking with the Athens-Lamia highway.
"Tender procedures for these projects will begin immediately. The projects are in a very good position and any hurdles will be overcome soon," Kalogiannis said, adding that he was "cautiously optimistic" over the outcome of negotiations to unfreeze works in five large road projects in the country.
 Parliament passes amendment for seaport master plansAn amendment retroactively ratifying the master plans for Greek seaports issued between 2002-2012 was passed by Parliament in a roll-call vote on Thursday. The amendment was supported by 151 MPs from two of the parties making up the coalition government, PASOK and New Democracy, while the 13 MPs of the third coalition member Democratic Left (DIMAR) cast blank votes. Votes against were cast by all opposition MPs.
Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), had demanded a roll-call vote on Wednesday and criticised the decision to add the amendment to an unrelated bill as unconstitutional, as well as objecting to the 'lumping' of disparate decisions into a single act of legislation and asking MPs to give 'carte blanche' approval.
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 was designed to ratify administrative acts that face annulment because they had not been published in the Government Gazette when they should.
 PPC welcomes European Court decisionDecisions taken by the European Court of Justice are undoubtedly a landmark for the Greek electricity market and significantly change the terms and the way to further opening up the domestic market, Public Power Corp. (PPC) said on Thursday, commenting on a EU Court decision over lignite electricity production unit.
"PPC remains steadfast in its position to further open up the domestic electricity market, but with strict respect of the law, serving healthy competition, covering all sectors of the market (wholesale and retail) based on the interest of consumers and of the general economy. It is self-evident that we will continue our cooperation with the state and regulatory authorities towards achieving a long-term and sustainable solution for the structure of electricity energy market in Greece," the utility said in a statement.
PPC underlined that the European Court decision proved that the company was not abusing its leading position in the market, it was not breaching European competition regulations and therefore no correctional measures were necessary.
 Stocks end 1.41 pct higherStocks resumed their upward trend at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, although prices ended off their day's highs as investors took profits after the news of a delay in finalising and ratifying a new package of measures by the government. Bank shares came under pressure, while other blue chip stocks such as Coca Cola 3E, PPC, Ellaktor and Viohalco remained strong.
The composite index of the market rose 1.41 pct to end at 781.53 points, after rising as much as 3.78 pct during the day. Turnover remained a strong 81.726 million euros. The Big Cap index eased 0.04 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 5.26 pct.
The Health (6.07 pct), Food (4.80 pct) and Industrial Products (5.39 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Banks (2.77 pct), Oil (0.70 pct) and Commerce (0.64 pct) suffered losses.
Piraeus Bank (4.74 pct), National Bank (3.05 pct), Eurobank (2.78 pct) and Titan (2.72 pct) were top losers, while Ellaktor (9.09 pct), Viohalco (7.19 pct), Coca Cola 3E (4.82 pct) and PPC (3.57 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 89 to 65 with another 18 issues unchanged. AAA (15.22 pct), Sidenor (12.23 pct) and Euromedica (10.89 pct) were top gainers, while Varvaresos (19.51 pct), Attica Holdings (19.38 pct) and Geniki (18.67 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.70%
Personal & Household: +4.39%
Raw Materials: +0.18%
Travel & Leisure: +1.01%
Food & Beverages: +4.80%
Financial Services: +3.03%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, OTE, National Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.63
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.06
HBC Coca Cola: 15.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.25
National Bank of Greece: 1.91
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.05
Bank of Piraeus: 0.38
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 19.26 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 18.90 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 20.38 pct and the German Bund 1.57 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 0.71 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.46 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.23 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a strong 36.964 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,897 contracts worth 19.794 million euros, with 29,656 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 104,449 contracts worth 17.170 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National bank's contracts (21,675), followed by Cyprus Bank (17,630), Alpha Bank (8,709), MIG (3,608), OTE (7,915), PPC (4,909), OPAP (6,635), Piraeus Bank (15,681), Cyprus Popular Bank (4,888), Mytilineos (1,146), Eurobank (1,420), GEK (2,604), Ellaktor (3,142) and Intralot (2,596).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.314
Pound sterling 0.812
Danish kroner 7.566
Swedish kroner 8.615
Japanese yen 102.73
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.543
Canadian dollar 1.286
Australian dollar 1.264
 Trial for Thessaloniki municipality embezzlement case beginsThe trial former mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and other high-ranking municipal officials and employees for a sensational embezzlement case at the Thessaloniki municipality, in which 51,4 million euro 'disappeared' from the municipality's coffers, began before a criminal appeals court on Thursday.
The first witness was finance ministry inspector Anastasia Tsemberi, who presented the findings of her investigation into the municipality's services that included forgeries and other irregularities that each year created ever-mounting deficits that did had never prompted any inspection of the supporting documentation. She also asserted that municipal employees had failed to cooperate and turn over documents she requested, forcing her to seek the intervention of a public prosecutor.
The municipality's former general secretary Mihalis Lemousias, currently jailed on remand, had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any connection with the main defendant in the case, municipality cashier Panagiotis Saxonis. On his part, Saxonis claimed that he had been acting on Lemousias' orders when he embezzled the above sums from the municipality's coffers using forged documents.
Others accused in connection with the case include former deputy mayors Mihalis Zorpidis, Anastasios Gerogiannis, and Theodoros Athanassaros and 12 senior administrative staff at the municipality. The money that was taken came from employee contributions that were not paid to social insurance funds for nearly a decade and the 18 defendants are accused of embezzlement, forgery, and of morally instigating and acting as accessories to these actions.
The trial is expected to last approximately one month.
 17 face felony charges in connection to bank fraud caseSeventeen former board members, executive officers and clients of the Cooperative Bank of Lesvos-Lemnos facecmultiple counts of felony charges, according to a decision by a First Instance Court prosecutor on the island of Lesvos, it was announced on Thursday.
Ten of the defendants are accused of breach of faith, five of direct complicity and two of moral instigation to committing a crime.
The Cooperative Bank of Lesvos-Lemnos was led to liquidation last March by the Bank of Greece (BoG) in response to a 2004 case involving a private company, which received a loan of more than three million euros without meeting the necessary conditions. As a result the bank had been placed under supervision while its next board in 2006 had appealed to justice.
The case file will be forwarded to an examining magistrate who will call the defendants to testify.
 European teachers express support to their Greek colleaguesThe European Trade Union Committee on Education has sent a "resolution of solidarity and support for the struggle of Greek teachers", it was announced on Thursday.
The European teachers express their solidarity in their resolution for their Greek colleagues, on the occasion of the upcoming September 26 strike, called by the ADEDY and GSEE unions, and in which the teachers will be participating, against the economic measures.
"There appears to be no end to austerity in Greece," the European teachers said in their resolution, adding that "after the double economic bailout, followed by stringent austerity measures, that have led education and health services almost to collapse, the Greek government is preparing itself for another round of cutbacks and privatisations".
As regards education, they sthessed that "the amount invested in public education in Greece was always among the lowest in Europe".
 Exhibition on Raoul Wallenberg in ThessalonikiAn exhibition entitled "Man Amidst Inhumanity", focusing on the life and work of famed WWII Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, opened on Wednesday at the Thessaloniki municipal council's auditorium.
The exhibition is organised by the Hungarian embassy in Greece in cooperation with the municipality of Thessaloniki, the embassy of Sweden and the Jewish community in Greece.
Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat serving in Budapest during the war, is credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands Hungarian Jews in 1944-45. 2012 has been declared the Wallenberg Year by Hungary to commemorate the centenary of his birth.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the Hungarian ambassador to Greece Eszter S?ndorfi.
The exhibition is open to visitors until Oct. 2.
 Three crackers accused of fraud against mobile telephony companyA Greek and two Cubans 'crackers' have been implicated in a major fraud against a mobile telephony server in Greece, electronic crimes squad police said on Thursday.
The three suspects, aged 51, 31 and 34, managed to electronically break into the system of the company, overriding security protection, and for a space of four months selling cheap pre-paid time telephone connections to Cuba, where the connection is very expensive, thus making large profits as the volume of the data moved on the internet was not recorded.
Using this method, the three are accused of conducting large volumes of internet data movement via mobile phones without being charged, causing losses of an estimated 690,501 euros to the company.
Police conducted searches of three residences in Athens and on the island of Mykonos, confiscating: a) From the residence of the 51-year-old Greek: A laptop, nine USB mobile broadband devices, three cell phones, 129 mobile phone card packages without sim cards, and 180 mobile phone card packages with sim cards. b) From the residences of the two Cubans: A laptop, three cell phones and three mobile telephony sim cards.
Case files have been drawn up against the three suspects, which will be forwarded to an Athens prosecutor.
 Wildfires in four different regions in HaniaFirefighting forces in Hania, on the island of Crete, have been alerted due to wildfires breaking out late on Thursday afternoon in four different regions, Kalami, Megala Horafia, Aptera and Kalyves.
In the case of Aptera, the wildfire threatened the archaeological site, but firemen succeeded in preventing the danger. However strong winds blowing in the area are an "ally" for the wildfire. Firemen are also creating fire protection zones to prevent the archaeological site from being threatened again, as well as homes in the area.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-8 beauforte. Temperatures between 12C and 29C. Fair in Athens with northerly 4-5 beauforte winds and temperatures between 18C and 28C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 16C and 23C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe negotiations for finalization of the package of new austerity measures, the cohesion of the coalition government's three supporting parties, pressures from the EU/IMF troika 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: "Critical meeting of the three (coalition government party leaders) on the 11.5 billion euros package".
AVGHI: "The three government partners playing the game of 'the least bad guy'."
DIMOKRATIA: "They're selling off the former palace, too".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "30 percent haircut to bank loan repayment installments".
ESTIA: "The recipe for salvation".
ETHNOS: "Scenery of tension at last minute".
IMERISSIA: "Taxation 'equivalents'."
KATHIMERINI: "Clash with the IMF".
LOGOS: "Right to self-insurance for the laid-off employees".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The first cracks in the government's cohesion due to the measures".
NIKI: "Secure your bank deposits - Earn good money".
PONTIKI: "Homes closing - The two troikas (three-party government coalition, EC-ECB-IMF international lenders) sinking Greece into permanent poverty".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Immediate measures for the Schools for children with disabilities".
TA NEA: "Professionals targeted by finance ministry".
VRADYNI: "Knife to lay-off compensations and abolition of holiday benefits".
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