|Sunday, 25 February 2024
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 28 September 2012 Issue No: 4185
 FinMin: Leaders' agreement on main axes of austerity packageThe leaders of the three parties supporting the coalition government have reached agreement on the fundamental axes of a package of austerity measures for cutting state spending by 11.5 billion euro in the next two years (2013-2014), finance minister Yannis Stournaras said after the leaders' meeting on Thursday, adding that "this agreement gives me a basis for a strong negotiation" with Greece's international lenders.
Stournaras, who also attended the meeting between prime minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, said that the package of measures will be tabled for ratification in parliament after agreement is reached between the government and the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika'.
He also said that Greece will seek a two-year extension for its fiscal adjustment, to 2016.
Stournaras, who left open the prospect of a new meeting of the coalition government party leaders, not to discuss the measures but on the "target achievement and measure replacement" clauses, stressing that "the clauses will be symmetrical".
Under a 'deviation clause', or Plan B, being discussed with the Troika, the Greek government will be obliged to take equivalent measures from the hard core (wages, pensions and benefits) in January 2014, for each point of deviation from its targets on primary deficit/surplus in 2013.
Earlier, Kouvelis also said that initial agreement was reached on the basic axes of the 11.5 billion euro package of new measures, speaking to reporters as he exited the meeting of the coalition government party leaders.
"There are still some matters pending, such as the extension," he said, adding that he insists on a clause for replacement of austerity measures when revenues are generated and targets are met, adding that this is a very important element.
Kouvelis said that now the deliberation with the Troika was beginning, adding that this will take place on multiple levels so that when parliament is called on to ratify the measures there will be both a tax and a developmental dimension, while he also appeared certain that there will be an extension, thus easing the burden on the taxpayers..
The DIMAR leader also left open the prospect of another meeting of the party leaders, to finalize the agreement.
Venizelos, on his part, said that the three party leaders had decided on the "basic axes for the final negotiation with the troika, which now need to be made more specific". He noted that the negotiation will not be over the fiscal measures in themselves and that its key element will be an extension of the loans until 2016.
He also emphasised that the result must allow for the immediate and full disbursement of the 31 billion euro in bailout loans and suggested that an extension of the consolidation period might mean that many of the austerity measures would not finally have to be implemented, since the country would meet its targets and have positive growth rates.
"We want to say that these really are the last measures that will be taken," PASOK's leader added.
 DIMAR leader's reservationsDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis convened a meeting of his close associates and senior party officials after the meeting of the three coalition government party leaders to brief them on the basic axes agreed by the leaders on the package of austerity measures to cut state spending by 11.5 billion euro over the next two years, and to discuss the party's further moves.
Sources told AMNA that Kouvelis said he had told the other two leaders, prime minister Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, that the measures should not be put to vote in parliament before Greece secures commitments from the EU/IMF for the disbursement of the pending tranche of 31.5 billion euro of the bailout loan.
For this purpose, he proposed -- and the proposal was accepted, the sources said -- that Samaras come into immediate contact with the European partners so that the negotiation be completed.
The same sources said that Kouvelis voiced reservations over an increase of the retirement age from 65 to 67 as to the way and time the measure will be implemented, while on the cuts to holiday bonuses he insisted that they not be abolished but instead that scaled cuts be made, and that seasonal benefits not be abolished.
 Independent Greeks party on outcome of party leaders' meetingThe Independent Greeks party, commenting Thursday on the outcome of the meeting between the party leaders supporting the government, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, criticised the government partners.
"They are continuing to say half truths to appease and to deceive the Greeks," the party's spokesman Christos Zois said, and referring to the clause on the replacement of the measures, said that "it sweetens the pill".
 PM Samaras discusses Greek economy issues with BoG governor ProvopoulosPrime Minister Antonis Samaras held an hour-long meeting with Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor George Provopoulos at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday afternoon, focusing on Greek economy and developments in the banking system.
The government has stated that the biggest part of the tranche for 31.5 billion will go to the recapitalisation of banks, so that liquidity will be boosted.
After meeting Provopoulos, the prime minister received Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, also in light of the meetings that both he and the economic staff will be having with the troika (the EU, IMF and ECB) on Monday, in the wake of Thursday's agreement between the party leaders as well.
 Avramopoulos has round of meetings on UN General Assembly sidelines; attends Cyprus presidency eventNEW YORK (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who has just held a round of meetings held on the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly, on Thursday also attended an event held at the Lincoln Center in New York to celebrate Cyprus' European Union presidency and the 52nd anniversary of the Cyprus Republic. At the event, he had the opportunity to talk with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
In addition to the two EU officials, the dinner and concert were attended by Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias, a number of EU foreign ministers, Archbishop of America Dimitrios, several diplomats and members of the Greek-American community.
Earlier, Avramopoulos had held talks with Archbishop Dimitrios that also covered issues relating to Greek expatriates, while he is due to hold talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Turkish representation to the UN on Thursday night.
The Greek minister will also attend a brief ceremony for the signature of ministerial agreement between Greece, Italy and Albania for the TAP natgas pipeline project.
His meetings on Wednesday included those with Bosnia-Herzegovina Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija and his Albanian counterpart Edmond Panariti, which focused mainly on the two countries' prospects of joining the EU.
In talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, the focus was on Jordan's role in preserving balances in the Middle East and developments in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean as a whole, while Avramopoulos accepted an invitation to visit Amman.
Another meeting held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly was with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, representing one of the BRIC nations with a special role in the IMF, that covered mainly economic developments in Greece and bilateral relations. Patriota also accepted an invitation to visit Athens.
Finally, the Greek minister held talks with his counterpart from South Sudan Nhial Deng Nhial, foreign minister in the newest member-state of the UN, in the first contact between Greece and South Sudan at this level.
 Panagiotopoulos attends informal EU defence ministers' meeting in NicosiaNICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)
Greece and France both asked that the official record of an informal EU defence ministers' meeting held in Nicosia reflect their sorrow at the fact that the general secretariat of NATO was not represented at the meeting, Greek Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos said on Thursday.
Panagiotopoulos said the meeting discussed developments in Arab countries and around the Mediterranean, with ministers voicing concerns about a new wave of migrants from Arab countries and north Africa to Europe, combined with developments in Syria.
The Greek minister asked for more financial and military means for FRONTEX, so that it was able to deal with the growing problem of illegal migration. He also asked for continued EU participation in military and other operations to patrol the seas around the Horn of Africa.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras: 'Europe needs new Marshall Plan'BRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni)
"Europe needs a new Marshall Plan," the leader of Greece's main opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA-EKM) Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday, during a press conference at the European Parliament.
Tsipras called for a European conference on the debt crisis that will lead to crucial conclusions and decisions, equivalent to those taken in 1953 for Germany, as a solution for an exit from the crisis. He also called with the cancellation of austerity-based policies imposed on Greece and their replacement with a plan for growth.
"The Greek economy must be given time and breathing space in order to get started again and not be permanently demolished with a new package of spending cuts amounting to 13 billion euro," he stressed.
SYRIZA's leader pointed out that, after 2.5 years of austerity cuts, Greece's GDP had dropped 20 percentage points since the start of the crisis and "we are all witnessing the same play over again. A programme that leads nowhere and is a vicious cycle of austerity, recession, deficit and debt". The sooner Greece and Europe got off this catastrophic course, the better it would be for everyone, he added.
The rise of the far right 'Golden Dawn' in Greece and its increasing influence on Greek society was another issue raised by Tsipras, who warned that this was not a phenomenon that would be confined only to the European south.
Questioned about the prospect of a Greek exit from the euro, Tsipras replied that the Eurozone was not a 'club' where some countries were 'owners' and the others were 'renting'. "The eurozone is like a chain with 17 links. If one breaks then the chain also breaks," he emphasised.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, commenting on Thursday on statements made in Brussels by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, said "apart from the hefty words, we hope that Mr. Tsipras got wind of European reality at least".
 Tsipras tables motion for setting up parliamentary committee to pursue German war reparationsMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called for the establishment of an inter-party parliamentary committee to pursue WWII war reparations from Germany, in a letter addressed to the parliament president tabled on Thursday, noting that "we must all invest faith and confidence" in such a committee's work.
Tsipras' motion was tabled in the 300-member parliament just days after a German foreign ministry statement said that "there is no issue" of reparations to Greece after the passing of so many years.
The SYRIZA leader said in his letter that in the approximately 70 years since the end of WWII, the Greek governments have never organised or pursued systematically the demand for the fulfillment of occupation Germany's obligations to the Greek people.
He pointed out that the inter-state agreement for the forced loan to Germany during the occupation, the stolen treasures and the reparations for the destruction of infrastructures and human capital have been dealt with by the various Greek governments in a piecemeal fashion and with an attitude that was almost offensive to the historical memory of the Greek people.
Tsipras also said that the joint meeting of parliament's standing Economic Affairs and Defence and External Affairs committees on March 28 on the German reparations, at the initiative of MPs of all the parties, had been an initiative of outstanding importance, and recalled that "the demand and decision of this meeting was the establishment of an inter-party parliamentary committee, from the parliament plenary, responsible for the collection and organisation of the undisputable historic documents that will render the Greek argumentation capable of demanding that which is owed and to rally other European forces in this effort".
Tsipras assured the parliament president that the SYRIZA parliamentary group, true to its commitments, "wants to give continuity to this common effort, with a motion for the establishment of this committee".
In May, then Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis told Parliament that he had ordered the archives of the General Accounting Office to be searched for evidence to support Greece's claims against Germany for war reparations that have been outstanding since the period of the Nazi occupation in WWII.
Sahinidis said that finance ministry officials had already found dossiers with the details of Greeks who had received compensation from Germany in the 1960s, while the search of the archives would continue and any documents found would be utilised and converted to digital form in order to ensure that it would not be lost.
 PASOK party leader to attend Party of European Socialists 9th conferencePASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos will travel to Brussels on Friday to attend the 9th conference of the Party of European Socialists (PES), during whose sessions new political directions will be decided, the new directorate will be elected and changes in the charter will be adopted as well as in the capacity of member of the participating parties.
According to a PASOK announcement, on Saturday on the second day of the conference, Venizelos will participate in an open discussion panel on the theme "Together for the economy we need".
 Private healthcare providers suspend services to EOPYYIn a joint press release on Thursday, the private health providers registered with the National Organisation for Healthcare Service Providers (EOPYY, the new unified primary healthcare organisation) said they will suspend their services to the EOPPY from October 8 to 12.
Clinical doctors, laboratory doctors, diagnostic centers, rehabilitation and treatment centers and private clinics said in joint statement that they will continue their mobilization with rolling five-day suspensions of service.
EOPYY-insured workers will thus be required to pay 100 percent of the value of the services rendered, at the cost designated in the state invoice list, and then seek rebate of the proportion of the sum covered by EOPPY from their social security fund, instead of receiving the services on credit and paying only their own percentage of the cost.
The private providers' coordinating committee warned in a press release, titled 'final curtain for EOPYY' warned that it would take legal action on any disciplinary offence committed at their expense and exercise all their legal and contractual rights.
The statement said that this decision was taken "under the weight of the unbearable debts of EOPYY to all the providers without exception, as payments (by EOPPY) for the pharmaceutical expenditure and medical visits have been made only up to June 2012, while all other healthcare service providers have been unpaid since May, while at the same time 36 months in back pay is also owed for services rendered.
The state is pushing their businesses to financial collapse and bankruptcy, the announcement said, adding that the zero hour is here and there is no longer room for oligory.
 Broad meeting on EOPYY issueA broad meeting will be held at the Finance Ministry on Thursday with the participation of ministry officials, Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis and Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, as well as the Alternate Health Minister Marios Salmas on how they will confront the problems in EOPYY.
According to Finance Ministry officials the shortfall in EOPYY in 2012 has reached 2-2.5 bln euros.
 People with disabilities rally in AthensPeople with disabilities gathered on Thursday in downtown Athens and held a protest rally and march to parliament, where a delegation submitted a resolution against the possibility of cutbacks in the disability pensions and benefits.
Scuffles with riot police and minor injuries were reported.
 KKE on incidents with riot police during rallyThe Communist Party (KKE), in an announcement on Thursday regarding an incident at a protest on Thursday by people with disabilities, said it was "barbaric to condemn people with disability to poverty; it's more barbaric to meet them with riot police because they are protesting. Today's attack by riot police against the disabled proves that inhuman policy is imposed with inhuman means."
 Development minister holds meeting with US officialThe precondition for Greece to return to the path of recovery and growth is for the structural changes to be promoted speedily.
This was stressed in their meeting on Thursday by Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and US Assistant Finance Secretary, responsible for European and Eurasian affairs, Christopher Smart, who was accomanied by the US ambassador to Greece Daniel Smith.
The focus of the discussion was the course of the implementation of the structural changes and reforms in the sector of the Development and Competitiveness ministry.
 Development Minister receives Italian envoyDevelopment, Competitiveness, Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis met on Thursday with the Italian ambassador to Greece Claudio Glaentzer.
The two officials discussed the economic crisis and agreed that it must be confronted with development measures.
The meeting focused on bilateral issues and the developments in the eurozone as well as issues regarding the energy sector.
 Shipping minister discusses illegal immigration with Turkish ambassadorShipping and Aegean Minister Kostis Mousouroulis held talks on Thursday with Turkish ambassador to Athens Kerim Uras, focusing on further cooperation between the two countries on handling migrant flows, as well as the incident that took place on Wednesday at Farmakonissi, when a Turkish coast guard vessel entered Greek territorial waters and collided with a Greek harbour corps boat.
On the occasion of the incident at Farmakonissi, Mousouroulis drew attention to greater self-restraint and calm, stressing that such acts entail the risk of an accident, aggravate the climate between the two countries and do not contribute to the effective handling of illegal immigration.
Issues were also discussed concerning cooperation between the two countries in sea tourism, mutuality in port dues, as well as the effort for the creation of healthy and balanced competition in the framework of international sailings on both sides.
 Archbishop, development minister discuss exploitation of Church propertiesArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Thursday had a meeting with Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis to discuss ways of exploiting Church properties.
After the meeting, Hatzidakis said that they had exchanged views on the issue, with both sides agreeing that exploiting property owned by the Church would be useful for both the Church and the state, enhancing the former's contribution to welfare and society while bringing investments and creating new jobs.
 Democrats Abroad urge US citizens in Greece to voteThe Democrats Abroad Greece organisation is urging all US citizens living in Greece to request from election clerks, in their home district in the United States, to send them absentee ballots.
"To cast your vote in the Nov. 6 US presidential and Congressional elections, you need to make a signed request to your voting clerk to send your ballot to your Greek address. You cannot assume your ballot will be sent to you automatically as it might have been in the past. The deadline for most states (practically if not legally) is the first week in October, if you sign your form and send it in by fax or email. If you send via the Greek post office, you have only a couple of days left," a press release by the organisation reads.
Eligible US citizens can get their federal absentee ballot request form (FPCA) from the US embassy or consulate general, or, in an much easier manner, download it from http://subscriber.amna.gr/anaweb/Users/Brady/Documents/DA Secretary 2010/www.votefromabroad.org (www.votefromabroad.org). This secure web site will help you fill out the form with all the information your state requires, and tell you exactly where to email, fax, or mail it. You download the form, print out the form on page 4, sign and date it, and scan/email, fax, or snail mail (with a 78 cent Greek stamp) to your home county or township in America. The addresses for your local election official are listed on page 1 of your form.
Additionally, the group will host an event to watch the upcoming US presidential debate on Thursday, October 4. At 7 p.m. at the Hard Rock Caf? in downtown Athens. The price per person is ? 15. For more information send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 210 3227463.
Democrats Abroad is considered a state-level party committee by the Democratic National Committee.
 Greece launches international tender for 33pct stake in OPAPGreece on Thursday launched an international tender for the sale of a 33 percent holding in the Athens-listed Hellenic Football Prognostics Organization (OPAP).
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund S.A. (HRADF) on Thursday announced the launch of an international public tender process for the sale of its 33% shareholding in the Hellenic Football Prognostics Organisation S.A. (OPAP).
OPAP was established in 1958 and has been listed on the Athens Exchange since 2001. OPAP holds the exclusive concession for the organisation, operation and conduct of certain games of chance in Greece. In 2000, OPAP was granted a concession for the exclusive right to operate 13 games of chance in Greece for 20 years, a concession that has recently been extended for 10 more years, until October 2030. Additionally, OPAP holds the exclusive licence for 10 years for the operation of 35,000 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), of which 16,500 will be operated by OPAP itself and the remaining 18,500 by concessionaires of OPAP.
Interested parties are invited to express their interest and demonstrate that they fulfill the criteria outlined in the invitation for expression of interest so as to qualify for participation in the tender process. Expressions of interest are required to be submitted by no later than 17.00 hrs UK time on October 19, 2012.
The tender process is expected to be conducted in two phases, subject to the HRADF's right to subsequently introduce an additional intermediary phase of nonbinding offers.
In phase I, candidates will express their interest to participate in the tender process.
In phase II qualified interested parties, will be requested to submit their binding offers.
Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch and National Bank of Greece SA are acting as financial advisers and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Karatzas & Partners Law Firm are acting as legal advisers to HRADF.
 Austerity package lacks growth measures, Chamber president saysA package of austerity measures reportedly agreed to by the government lacks measures to reverse the ongoing and deep economic recession, Constantine Mihalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, Mihalos, who is also the president of the Central Union of Greek Chambers, said that "although we do not know the details of the measures agreed to, one thing is certain: There will be dramatic cutbacks, which inevitably will mean a strong hit on consumption and the market. At the same time, it is clear that the biggest part of revenues will come from taxation, mostly SMEs, leading to more business closures."
Mihalos said the attention of both the Greek government and partners should focus on economic growth.
 Shipping minister to meet Friday with representatives of Greek shipowners in LondonThe reestablishment of the Merchant Marine ministry, the issue of piracy on ocean-going ships, maritime training, the attraction of ships to the Greek register and issues related to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will be the focus of talks that Shipping and Aegean Minister Kostis Mousouroulis will be having on Friday with the representatives of the Greek Shipowners in London (Greek Maritime Cooperation Committee).
The representatives of the Greek Shipowners in London are in Greece in the framework of their annual meeting with the board of the Union of Greek Shipowners.
 Bank credit to private sector remained negative in Aug.Bank credit to the domestic private sector remained negative in August, with the annual growth rate of total credit to the domestic private sector standing at -4.8 percent in August 2012, compared with -4.9 percent in July 2012, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that in August 2012 the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative, amounting to 1.046 billion euros, down from 1.310 billion euros in August 2011.
The net flow of credit to enterprises in August 2012 was negative, amounting to 657 million euros (August 2011: negative net flow of 690 million) and the annual growth rate of credit stood at -5.3 percent, unchanged from the previous month. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial enterprises was less negative at -4.6 percent in August 2012, from -5.1 percent in the previous month, while the annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries was more negative at -17.0 percent in August 2012, from -8.0 percent in July 2012.
The central bank said that the net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative amounting to 42 million euros, down from 143 million euros in the same month last year, and the annual rate of change of credit was less negative than in the previous month (August 2012: -4.7 percent, July 2012: -5.3 percent).
In August 2012, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 347 million euros, down from 476 million euros in August last year. As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions stood at -4.2 percent in August 2012, from -4.3 percent in July 2012.
 Stocks end down on profits takingStocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as investors took profits after the news that the three political leaders - forming the government - agreed on a new package of austerity measures. The composite index of the market fell 1.68 pct to end at 742.44 points -falling below the 750 level for the first time in the last seven sessions. The index was up 1.33 pct early in the day. Turnover, however, shrank to low 39.548 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.61 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.51 pct lower. The Financial Services (1.93 pct), Travel (1.90 pct) and Commerce (0.78 pct) sector scored gains, while Personal Products (4.55 pct), Raw Materials (4.55 pct) and Health (3.06 pct) suffered losses. MIG (4.71 pct), OPAP (2.96 pct) and Folli Follie (0.78 pct) scored gains among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (6.99 pct), Mytilineos (5.52 pct) and Jumbo (4.78 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 78 to 51 with another 30 issues unchanged. Varvaresos (19.51 pct), Mouzakis (9.55 pct) and Logismos (9.42 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Holding (13.67 pct, Akritas (10 pct) and Viokarpet (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.12%
Personal & Household: -4.55%
Raw Materials: -4.55%
Travel & Leisure: +1.90%
Food & Beverages: -1.85%
Financial Services: +1.93%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, OTE, National Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.61
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.80
HBC Coca Cola: 14.71
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.74
National Bank of Greece: 1.89
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.11
Bank of Piraeus: 0.36
 Greek bond market closingThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 18.53 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday from 18.15 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 19.97 pct and the German Bund 1.44 pct. Turnover was a low 4.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.69 pct, the six-month rate was 0.44 pct, the three-month rate was 0.22 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.68 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 10.922 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,047 contracts worth 4.188 million euros, with 29,277 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 30,344 contracts worth 6.734 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (9,879), followed by Alpha Bank (4,633), Cyprus Bank (1,248), OTE (5,674), PPC (1,327), OPAP (2,184), Piraeus Bank (2,050), Eurobank (837), Ellaktor (3990), MIG (607) and Mytilineos (281).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.306
Pound sterling 0.805
Danish kroner 7.567
Swedish kroner 8.576
Japanese yen 101.48
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.490
Canadian dollar 1.284
Australian dollar 1.253
 European Heritage Days marked this weekendThe annual European Heritage Days (EHD) will be marked in Greece this weekend with periodic exhibitions, thematic tours and music concerts at museums and monuments throughout the country, under the theme "Crises: Continuities and discontinuities in History".
Every year in September, the 50 signatory States to the European Cultural Convention take part in n the European Heritage Days - a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, putting new cultural assets on view and opening up historical buildings normally closed to the public. The cultural events highlight local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art, but the broader aim is to bring citizens together in harmony even though there are differences in cultures and languages.
Each year, national and regional events are organised around a special theme. These themes vary in each country from year to year. They include such topics as: specific forms of heritage (e.g. farmhouses, musical instruments, culinary traditions, garden architecture); specific periods in history (e.g. the Medieval heritage, the Baroque heritage); and society's approaches to heritage (e.g. heritage and citizenship, heritage and youth).
It is a joint action of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Commission (EC) involving all the signatory states of the European Cultural Convention under the motto "Europe: a common heritage", and the annual programme offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public. It aims to widen access and foster care for architectural and environmental heritage. These events are known as Open Doors Days.
In Greece, the events begin on Friday, which is dedicated to schools, and culminates over the weekend at various museums, monuments and sites, entry to which will be free for the public.
In Athens, events will be held at the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum, the Byzantine and Christian Museum and the V&M Theocharakis Foundation, and other sites.
Similar events will be held in other cities throughout the country, including Thessaloniki, Patras, Delphi, Karditsa, Lamia and Atalanti.
 Serifos 'chora' to be declared an archaeological siteThe 'chora' or main town on the Aegean island of Serifos is to be declared an archaeological site, according to a decision of Greece's Central Archaeological Council (KAS) that was announced on Thursday.
The island has a rich history, featuring in ancient myth and legend as the home of the hero Perseus, and has been settled since prehistoric times. Its chora, situated high on a hill overlooking the island's main harbour, is notable for its dramatic views and is classic example of traditional Cycladic architecture.
Included in the archaeological site are the town's Medieval settlement, the 'Kastro' or fort, its post-Byzantine churches, a large segment of open land where mosaic floors have been discovered and the Church of the Birth of the Virgin. Excluded from the site is the neighbourhood Lakka, where no archaeological remains have been found.
In ancient times it was known as the 'Iron Island' due to its many mines and antiquities found scattered about the island date from the early protoCycladic period to the Byzantine era. It also served as an island of exile during Roman times.
The current chora evolved from an ancient settlement and a medieval all built on the same location. Most of the archaeological finds are statues, funerary stele and mosaics from the classical, Hellenistic and Roman eras - many of them embedded in later walls and inside houses. Very few of the antiquities on the island were discovered as a result of formal archaeological excavations, apart from some mosaic floors, sections of a roadway and a drain.
 University of Crete closes teacher-training school due to lack of staffThe University of Crete based in Rethymno on Thursday announced the closure of its primary school teacher training department due to a shortage of the necessary staff. The decision was made by the university's General Assembly, which strongly protested at the education ministry's failure to make appointments outstanding for the past three years, its failure to pay contract teachers and the small number of teachers detached to the department.
A ban on employing contract teachers that in recent years had covered standing needs of the department, such as lectures and seminars and other tasks, made it impossible to offer the course, they said.
Meanwhile, students and staff formed a human chain around the central building of Athens University on Thursday in a symbolic protest against the underfunding of higher education and the problems to the running of universities caused by the latest framework law for higher education.
 Man arrested in Athens in connection with Aghia Napa killingsA 27-year-old local man was arrested in Athens on Wednesday on a European arrest warrant linked to the gangland-style killing of five men, identified as body guards, on Cyprus late last June.
The warrant was issued by Cypriot authorities for the man, who is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Police on the island republic claim that hte man spoke with the alleged triggermen before and immediate after the victims were ambushed in the seaside resort of Aghia Napa.
Three Cypriots and two Romanians were killed in a hail of gunfire as they were riding in a car. All five reportedly worked for a local businessman.
Another Greek national is also wanted in connection with the case.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime Minister Antonis Samaras' meeting with the party leaders that participate in his government, Evangelos Venizelos of PASOK and Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left (DIMAR) on the finalisation of the new package of austerity measures and the upsets in the taxation system, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Civil servants to pass exams by the spring of 2013".
AVGHI: "The beginning of the upset".
DIMOKRATIA: "Final blow".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The final decisions for the pensions".
ESTIA: "Major damage from the strikes".
ETHNOS: "Zero hour - The burning package in the leaders' hands".
IMERISSIA: "Time's up for the measures - Three leaders' meeting on Thursday crucial".
KATHIMERINI: "Time's up for the three leaders".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The measures in leaders' hands with very delicate balances".
RIZOSPASTIS: "PAME's (Labour organisation affiliated to Communist Party of Greece) demonstrations were a huge torrent".
TA NEA: "The major upset in taxation".
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