|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 12 October 2012 Issue No: 4197
 Unemployment rampant at 25.1pct in JulyUnemployment was rampant in July, shooting to 25.1 percent, with more that 1,000 people losing their jobs daily, according to figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Thursday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that the unemployment rate in July 2012 was 25.1% compared to 17.8% in July 2011 and 24.8% in June 2012.
The number of employed amounted to 3,763,142 persons. The number of unemployed amounted to 1,261,604 while the number of inactive to 3,356,276.
The number of employed decreased by 329,086 persons compared with July 2011 (an 8.0% rate of decrease) and increased by 5,364 persons compared with June 2012 (a 0.1% rate of increase).
Unemployed increased by 377,991 persons (a 42.8% rate of increase) compared with July 2011 and by 23,255 persons compared with June 2012 (a 1.9% rate of increase).
Inactive persons -that is, persons that neither worked neither looked for a job- decreased by 2,236 persons (a 0.1% rate of decrease) compared with July 2011 and by 3,406 persons compared with June 2012 (a 0.1% rate of decrease).
Unemployment among young people (under 25 age bracket) skyrocketed to 54.2 percent, while unemployment among women jumped to 29 percent from 21.4 percent in July 2011, and unemployment among men climbed to 22.3 percent from 15.1 percent in July 2011.
Attica -- the greater Athens region, where approximately two-thirds of the country's population resides -- rose to 2nd in the list of peripheries with the highest unemployment rates with 25.2 percent (from 17.5 percent in July 2011), behind the Epirus-Western Macedonia periphery with 27.1 percent (19.0 percent in July 2011), and followed by Macedonia Thrace with 24.9 percent (19.7 percent in July 2011).
Age-wise, the 15-24 age bracket remained the hardest hit, with unemployment skyrocketing to 54.2 percent from 42.6 percent in July 2011, followed by the 15-34 age bracket with 31.4 percent (from 24.4 percent in July 2011), the 35-44 age group with 21.3 percent (14.5 percent in July 2011), the 45-54 age bracket with 18.2 percent (from 12.3 percent in July 2011), the 55-64 age group with 14.2 percent (8.7 percent in July 2011) and the 65-74 age bracket with 5 percent (from 2.8 percent in July 2011).
 New 500 million euro shortfallA new 'black hole' of 500 million euros turned up during the government's financial staff's meeting with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika on Wednesday evening, after which the country's international lenders asked that this shortfall be covered through either a new extraordinary contribution or application as of this year of the cuts in holiday benefits to civil service employees and pensioners.
According to sources, the shortfall concerns the obligation of domestic banking institutions to return this year to the state the sum of 500 million euros. The sum must be returned in the form of dividends and concerns the state reinforcement, through preferential shares, that the banks had received in 2008.
Financial staff sources said that the Troika heads asked that the 500 million euros not be returned to the state, which drew reactions from finance minister Yannis Stournaras and alternate minister Christos Staikouras, who argued that this money represented revenues included in the 2012 budget. Indeed, on September 7, Staikouras, in a letter to central Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos and chairman of the Hellenic Banking Association George Zanias, had asked for the payment of the 500 million euros by the banks.
The Troika initially responded to the Greek objections by proposing that either a new extraordinary contribution be imposed or that the holiday benefits of the civil servants and pensioners be effective as of this year, so as to cover the 'black hole' with an immediate fiscal yield. The Troika proposals were rejected by the Greek side, after which the Troika counter-proposed either a new cutback in salaries or the imposition of an extraordinary contribution on banking employees. The counter-proposal was also rejected by the financial staff, and remains open.
As for the other open issues in the negotiation of the package of 13.9 billion euros, sources said the discussion is focusing chiefly on the measures for 2014, with the Troika insisting on 9 billion euros in measures for 2013 and the financial staff saying it was trying not to diverge greatly from the 7.8 billion euros foreseen by the budget in additional measures for 2013.
Negotiation of these issues will resume on Thursday afternoon, when the finance minister is due to meet again with the Troika chiefs at 18:30.
 PASOK spokeswoman: 'inconceivable' that banks be left off paying 555 millionThe idea that banks should be let off making repayments for state-provided financial assistance and that money sought instead by further cutting wages and pensions was "inconceivable", PASOK party press spokeswoman Fofi Gennimata stressed on Thursday.
She was commenting on objections raised by the EU-IMF troika to a sum of 555 million euro to be paid back by banks under a law passed in 2008 for money put up by the state as guarantees during the credit crisis. These repayments had been included in the state budget.
 Democratic Left party says troika's proposals on banks unacceptableThe Democratic Left party, which participates in the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' coalition government, in an announcement on Thursday, termed as politically and morally unacceptable the proposals submitted by the troika for debts not to be paid by the banks "due to legal issues" being created in their recapitalisation, and instead of this an equivalent amount to be received, through cutbacks, in 2012, in the wages of the bank sector's employees or the public sector in general.
The announcement added that banks are obliged to hand over to the Greek state 555 million euros as a result of the capital backing they received from the state in 2008.
Lastly, it said that the party considers as self-evident the government's non-negotiable position that in any case the amount of 555 million euros will be paid by the banks and indeed the handover will take place in 2012 so that the budget's deficit will not increase further.
Objections were raised by the EU-IMF troika to a sum of 555 million euro to be paid back by banks under a law passed in 2008 for money put up by the state as guarantees during the credit crisis. These repayments had been included in the state budget.
 KKE on 550 million euros owed by Greek banksThe opposition Communist Party (KKE) on Thursday stressed that "the public debt, which was the cause that led to the imposition of the memorandums and to the people shouldering the consequences of the capitalist crisis, was inflated by the tens and hundreds of billions of euros that ended up in different sections of plutocracy".
"The 550 million euros is a miniscule debt and constitutes a provocation on behalf of the government to even discuss with the representatives of the EU and the IMF the likelihood of not being repaid by the bankers," a KKE statement underlined.
 Barroso: "critically important" that Greece stays in euroBRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni)
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday urged Europe to support Greece in its efforts to overcome the debt crisis, saying that it was "critically important" that Greece stays in the euro.
"To have Greece in the euro I think is critically important, not only for Greece but also for the euro area," he said during a conference organised by the 'Friends of Europe' think tank.
He strongly praised Greece's budget-cutting efforts, saying that its achievements in budgetary adjustment were of a "historic nature" but not always recognised.
"We should support Greece," Barroso said, "provided Greece now respects all the commitments."
 Assessment for Greece will hinge on troika report, Merkel repeatsBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel once again deferred all decision on whether Greece will get an extension in its bailout programme until after the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika deliver their report on whether the country has met commitments under the bailout agreements.
"This will be the basis for our assessment," Merkel said, in an echo of similar statements made during Tuesday's visit to Greece, when asked to comment on proposals made by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde that Greece be given an extra two years to complete its programme.
The German chancellor admitted, however, that Germany's economy has also been affected by the recession in the European south.
 Europeans must avoid Greece leaving euro 'at all costs', Strauss-Kahn saysFormer International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has advised Europeans to accept the losses involved and avoid a Greek exit from the euro "at all costs", warning that the alternative could well prove much more costly for all involved.
"Greece does not represent more than 2 percent of the eurozone's GDP but, the smaller the country, the bigger the problem. This is because investors can see that the EU is not in a position to solve a problem that is 2 percent of its GDP and they lose confidence. And without confidence there is no growth," Strauss-Kahn said, in statements made to the magazine Europolitique while he was in Seoul to take part in a discussion on the future of the Eurozone at the World Knowledge Forum.
He also criticised European leaders for failing to take the measures needed to contain the crisis. "Ever since the Greek crisis erupted, we have been doing nothing but playing for time in order to avoid a collision with the wall but not resolving anything. The eurozone is in real danger," he warned.
The former IMF chief suggested that Europe set up mechanisms to reduce spreads in borrowing rates, saying it was impossible to have a monetary union with such different rates of borrowing. Countries such as Germany and France must contribute to reducing borrowing rates. The survival of the eurozone itself is at stake," he added.
 Gov't flatly denies press report of troika 'demand' for isles' 'evacuation'The government on Thursday categorically denied that representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" ever raised the issue of Greek islands with a population of less than 150 residents being "evacuated".
According to a finance ministry announcement hours after the "report" went viral on the Greek-language websites, such rumours "have nothing to do with reality".
An earlier press release by the shipping & Aegean ministry stressed that the "troika (representatives) never raised an issue of the evacuation of small islands," ostensibly because they are a burden the state budget.
"No one ever raised such an issue with the shipping & Aegean minister. Anyone faced with such a prospect would only consider it a joke, one in bad taste," the ministry added.
According to AMNA reports, a meeting between a "troika" delegation and shipping ministry officials exclusively concerned problems in the coastal shipping sector, namely, ferryboat routes to remote islands amid the ongoing and severe economic crisis.
 Spokesman on Greek-Turkish relationsGreece's position on exploratory contacts with Turkey is that they concern a delimitation of the Aegean continental shelf, extending from the Evros (Maritsa River) border region to the island of Kastellorizo, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told a regular press briefing on Thursday.
He described as "positive" the talks between Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, during the latter's visit to Athens on Wednesday, noting that they focused on January's upcoming meeting in Turkey of a Greece-Turkey high-level strategic cooperation council, which he said is expected to boost bilateral relations.
"We should leave behind the past, with respect for history, in order to build a future of peace, to the benefit of our peoples," Delavekouras said, acknowledging, however, that both sides are aware that there are "issues between them" without the resolution of which there can be no full normalisation of relations.
He said the designation of maritime zones with all of Greece's neighbouring countries is a "strategic choice" of Athens, as he cited the existence of agreements with Italy and Albania, ongoing contacts with Egypt and Libya, along with constant contacts and coordination with the Republic of Cyprus. He said efforts with Turkey on the same subject are continuing, through the exploratory contacts.
The designation of maritime zones is a sovereign right and the authority of the coastal country, as explicitly stated in the Law of the Sea, he reminded.
 Foreign ministry on migration issues, Greek-Turkish readmission protocolForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delevekouras on Thursday noted that Greece is under huge pressure from migration that was totally out of proportion to that faced by any other EU country, stressing the need for cooperation with neighbouring countries.
He also pointed out that the Greek-Turkish readmission protocol signed in 2002 was not being implemented properly while the equivalent Euro-Turkish agreement had not been ratified or implemented.
 Foreign ministry on Syria issueThe Greek people share traditionally close relations with the Syrian people, whereas the Assad regime has chosen to violently suppress demonstrations, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Thursday said, suggesting that the rival sides in the country should opt for a political solution, a de-escalation of tension and dialogue.
He also reminded that mortar shells fired from Syrian territory have struck Turkish soil.
The foreign ministry spokesman made the statement in response to a question by a reporter on the expression of solidarity from Athens to Ankara vis-a-vis the Syria conflict.
 Gov't plan for mass exodus of Syrian refugeesGreece is being prepared for the likelihood of a mass exodus of Syrian refugees from their war-torn country, according to a scenario processed by the public order ministry in cooperation with the UN and the EU, ministry sources said Thursday.
The hypothetical scenario provides for the accommodation of up to 20,000 Syrian refugees if necessary, while Cyprus and Turkey will host up to 48,000 and 130,000 refugees, respectively.
According to the ministry planning, the Syrian refugees that would flee to Greece would be hosted in refugee centres to be set up on the Aegean islands of Rhodes and Crete.
Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said financial assistance of reception countries, such as Lebanon and Jordan, which border Syria, is now a priority.
Referring to the illegal migration problem, Delavekouras said Greece faces enormous pressure by illegal migration, which is disproportional compared to any other EU country, while he underlined the need for cooperation with the neighboring countries.
He also reminded that the 2002 Greece-Turkey readmission protocol is not implemented in a satisfactory manner, while the relevant EU-Turkey agreement has not been ratified and implemented.
 SYRIZA on Davutoglu's visit to AthensMain opposition SYRIZA, commenting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's visit to Greece, noted on Thursday that "Turkey's stance continues the dispute tactics over Greece's sovereign rights".
SYRIZA said that it supports the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, however in order for this to happen, which is in the interests of both countries, steps must be taken by Turkey as well.
It also adds that Davutoglu's statements to the Greek press on Wednesday prove that Turkey has a long way to go in the painful but necessary efforts it must make to turn page in the bilateral relations.
"In the light of these statements, as well as the of the two infringements of Athens' FIR and the violation of Greek national airspace, visits like this (Davutoglu's) are simply an exchange of compliments, without any substance".
 Delavekouras: no response from FYROM to Greek proposalsGreece has received no response from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the "very positive proposals" it made toward Skopje, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said in reply to questions on Thursday.
"We did not look at all kindly upon efforts made by FYROM to blackmail the European Commission," Delavekouras added, in reference to the terms used in the Commission's progress report on FYROM. He claimed the neighbouring country's leadership had artificially highlighted this issue in order to divert public opinion away from the more fundamental observations and shortcomings listed in the report.
According to Delavekouras, Greece had carried out its own assessment of FYROM's progress in the framework of accession and he pointed out that the final decision was taken by the European Council. He also noted the favourable international response to Greece's initiative, as reflected in a statement by European Commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fule who had called it a "serious" proposal and urged Skopje to respond positively.
 FM spokesman: Egypt a "very important partner in region"Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday noted that "Egypt is a very important partner in our region," expressing the Greek people's support to the people of Egypt, "which took their fate into their own hands", and to the Egyptian government.
The spokesman also referred to the existence of an ethnic Greek community and private businesses in the country, the number of which increased after the so-called "Arab spring".
Greece's president will visit Egypt on Oct. 18.
 PASOK leader testifies in Parliament concerning 'Lagarde List'Testifying to Parliament's Committee on Institutions and Transparency concerning the flash drive containing a list of Greeks with large Swiss bank accounts that had been in his possession for more than a year, PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday did not rule out that the information on the drive might have been tampered with.
"The material was given to me unofficially, without accompanying materials. I don't know if the original material or a copy was given. Nor could Mr. Ioannis Diotis (the former head of the financial crimes unit SDOE) know if the original had been given to him," Venizelos said.
According to Venizelos, whose party is one of three in the coalition government, Diotis knew only what the previous finance minister George Papaconstantinou had told him, adding that the former SDOE chief "has no reason not to tell the truth".
He also admitted that the huge delay in investigating the information contained in the USB flash drive might have given the interested parties sufficient time to cover their tracks.
PASOK's leader insisted that the information on the flash drive could not legally be used as evidence in an investigation because it was the result of digital data theft and obtained through covert operations by intelligence services and was therefore illegal, while he noted that the information on it may have been 'doctored' before it ever came into the government's hands.
Venizelos said the list was handed to him by Diotis at the end of August 2011, who said that it had been given to him unofficially by Papaconstantinou in early June. He said that Diotis had left the flash drive and a few printouts of names - "at random, I think". Venizelos said that he had put the flash drive in a box, along with other electronic material, without using it until he had sent it to the prime minister.
"I always had the certainty that the original material was kept at SDOE, in the same way that all briefings are kept by the relevant services. No service sends something without keeping a copy," he added, insisting that SDOE neither asked nor waited for instructions before investigating individuals, even politicians.
PASOK's leader said that because he was under the impression that Diotis and the Greek intelligence service EYP would have copies of the material, he had not thought to hand it over to the new minister after the elections. He claimed that Diotis had contacted him on the telephone when he was visiting Brussels and urged him to remember the flash drive, which he had fortunately kept and was able to return in the condition it had been given him upon his return from Brussels later the same night.
Concerning the printed pages that were given to him along with the flash drive, Venizelos was unable to say what happened to them, surmising that they were lost or thrown away.
 Labour minister Vourtsis briefs PASOK delegationA briefing meeting on the course of talks with the EU-ECB-IMF troika representatives was held on Thursday afternoon between Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and a PASOK party delegation comprising Evi Christophilopoulou, Yiannis Koutsoukos, George Koutroumanis and Christos Protopapas.
An announcement issued by PASOK said given last February's act on the reduction of basic salary rates, no further adverse changes to labour relations should be made, especially with regard to proposals for reduction of layoff pay.
In addition, PASOK officials asked the minister to keep the party informed on developments on the issue regarding the reduction of employers' social security contributions, before the tabling of any relevant legislation arrangements and/or modifications.
 Gov't eyes private notaries in bid to stamp out fake pensionsThe government on Thursday announced a new measure aimed at combatting instances of fake pensioners of families of deceased pensioners bilking Greece's cash-strapped pension funds out money, although private sector notaries public instead of municipalities' registry offices have been tapped.
According to the plan, dubbed "Ariadne" after the mythical figure, marriage and burial licenses, as well as whatever changes in family statuses (divorce, births etc.) in relation to pension funds, will be declared at notaries. The latter, in turn, will supposedly forward the declarations to pension funds via an electronic system.
In presenting the plan, Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis said costs for issuing a burial license will be paid by the funds (as part of reimbursed funeral costs), whereas other licenses and declarations will be paid by the private citizen -- with initial reports putting the figure at an eyebrow-raising 40 to 50 euros.
The initiative remains to be included in a relevant draft law, which has not been drafted as yet.
 Supreme Court prosecutor appeals to judiciary to end industrial actionsSupreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes on Thursday called on the country's court judges and prosecutors to fully return to their duties and end their mobilisations, stressing that the partial abstention from their duties is in violation with the Constitution. The members of the judiciary have launched mobilisations against intended wage cuts in their sector.
A document signed by the Supreme Court prosecutor noted that the members of the judiciary serving in civil and criminal courts should return to their duties and administer justice for the sake of Greek society, which "is being battered by an unprecedented economic crisis."
Tentes stressed that "now more than ever before, it is their duty to toil for the administration of justice, combat tax evasion and corruption in the public sector and punish the phenomena of violence and extensive anomy that cause the decaying of the economy and society."
"It has become evident that the much needed economic growth and the country's exit from the crisis will not be possible without a credible, speedy and effective justice system," he concluded.
 Justice minister slams unmindful publicising of 'name lists'The unmindful publicizing of lists with names of suspected offenders is a dangerous phenomenon that, in essence, conceals criminal acts instead of exposing them, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis stressed on Thursday.
Speaking in parliament, in response to a question tabled by PASOK MP Dimitris Kremastinos on the operation of the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA), the minister said that the independent watchdog is designed to protect personal data and not become a pretext in an effort to conceal the names of those who have committed criminal acts.
He underlined, however, that "the other extreme of spreading rumors anonymously and mud-slinging should be avoided".
Roupakiotis stressed that a justice ministry-sponsored clause will be tabled in parliament next week clearly defining the manner, time and reasons making the publicizing of personal data imperative by the prosecutor's office.
 George Papandreou at Barclay's conferenceSocialist International (SI) president and former Greek prime minister George Papandreou is participating in the Barclay's conference for developing countries, that is taking place in Tokyo on Thursday and Friday.
Papandreou will be holding meetings on the sidelines of the conference, that is taking place in the Japanese capital on the occasion of the annual conference of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with representatives of investments agencies and market officials, including World Bank vice president Mats Karlsson and the IMF's head economist Olivier Blanchard.
 Meeting between FinMin Stournaras and troika endsA meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the EU-ECB-IMF troika representatives ended Thursday evening with sources indicating that the two sides were close to agreement on austerity measures for the 2013-14 period.
The total cost of the measures the Greek government would take as part of the country's austerity programme for the next two years would amount to 13.9 billion euros. Of that, 7.8 billion euros would come from further cuts to salaries, pensions and allowances.
According to sources, Stournaras and the troika have reached agreement also on taxation system reforms, expected to bring the state revenues of 2.0 billion.
Greek government efforts are focused on finalizing the entire package of fiscal and structural measures with the troika -to be applied in the next two years- before the upcoming European Union Council, October 18-19, 2012.
A likely breakthrough was also achieved on the controversial issue regarding whether or not Greek banks should pay the state the amount of 555 billion euros owed as part of 2008's bank recapitalisation. The troika had proposed that the amount should be raised by further cuts in pensions and incomes, but eventually the two sides agreed that further talks be held with the banks. A Finance ministry official said that banks do not object to pay the state the above amount.
 Alternate FinMin optimistic over exit from crisisAlternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, addressing the opening event of the Greece-Australia Business Council, stressed that there are some initial positive dim signs allowing for ground of optimism on the country's exit from the crisis.
Staikouras referred in particular to the qualitative improvement of the chapter of Greece's reliability that is being observed lately as well to the satisfactory implementation of the budget despite the great recession.
He also referred to positive events such as the gradual return of deposits, the speeding up being observed in the programme on utilising the public sector's property through a series of tenders that are under way, as well as to efforts for the creation of strong bank formations.
Addressing the event, Australian Ambassador to Greece Jenny Bloomfield said that Australia is prepared to assist the Greek effort at this difficult conjunction for Greece, conveying the lessons from its experience and know-how.
She added that Australia is at Greece's side at this difficult conjuncture and supports the efforts for the economy's restructuring that is of mutual benefit.
 Deputy energy minister meets with Chinese delegationDeputy Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Makis Papageorgiou on Thursday met with China's deputy energy minister, focusing on energy issues of mutual interest.
Papageorgiou noted that China and the EU are major importers and consumers of energy, a fact that makes their cooperation imperative.
He referred to the government strategic planning concerning the domestic energy market, the efforts made to safeguard energy supplies through diversification of energy resources and routes and the EU "20-20-20" targets to be met by 2020.
These targets set three key objectives for 2020, namely a 20 pct reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20 pct and 20 pct improvement in the EU's energy efficiency.
 Greek banks cut borrowing from ECB, ELA in SeptGreek banks slightly cut their dependence from European Central Bank's funding operations and the "emergency liquidity assistance" mechanism of the Bank of Greece in September, official figures showed on Thursday.
A report by the country's central bank said that Greek commercial banks' dependence from the mechanism fell to 100.6 billion euros in September from 100.8 billion euros in August, while during the same period, the domestic banking system's borrowing from the European Central Bank fell to 30.2 billion euros from 30.9 billion euros in August.
 Greek budget deficit down 37.1% in Jan-SepGreece's state budget deficit fell to 12.649 billion euros in the January-September period, while primary deficit was 1.998 billion euros, official figures showed on Thursday.
A report by the finance ministry said that both figures were significantly lower compared with budget targets for the period (13.510 billion euros and 2.858 billion euros, respectively). The budget deficit was 7.452 billion euros lower compared with the same period in 2011 (a decline of 37.1 pct), while primary deficit was down by 4.070 billion euros over the same period.
Net budget revenue totaled 36.744 billion euros in the nine-month period, down 1.317 billion euros from a budget target for the period. Net regular budget revenue totaled 34.186 billion euros, down 539 million euros from budget targets. The finance ministry attributed this decline largely to technical reasons.
Public Investment Programme's revenues fell to 2.58 billion euros in the January-September period, from a budget target of 3.336 billion euros, reflecting payment delays from European community funds.
State budget spending totaled 49.393 billion euros in the nine-month period, down 2.178 billion euros from budget targets for the period, reflecting lower spending in a Public Investment Programme (by 2.076 billion euros). Primary spending fell short by 11 million euros compared with budget targets and defense spending were 4.0 million euros down frm targets.
Capital spending totaled 10.650 billion euros in the nine-month period, down by around 2.0 million euros compared with budget targets.
 Coca Cola Hellenic moves to Switzerland, to list on LSECoca Cola Hellenic on Thursday announced that it was moving to Switzerland and listing its shares in the premium category of the London Stock Exchange, through a stock swap under a public offer submitted by Coca Cola HBC AG to acquire Coca Cola Hellenic.
Coca Cola HBC AG will become the new parent company of the group, based in Switzerland. Under the plan, the stock swap will be on an one-to-one basis, while the new shares will be listed in the London Stock Exchange with secondary listings in the Athens Stock Exchange and NYSE (through ADRs).
The main targets of the public swap offer are to better reflect the international nature of business activities and shareholder base of Coca Cola Hellenic, through its primary listing in the largest market in Europe with the largest number of multinational company listings.
Another target is to boost trading in its shares through its primary listing in the premium category of the London Stock Exchange and to facilitate a possible entry in the FTSE 100 index. Another aim is to improving Coca Cola Hellenic's access in international capital markets and to boost its flexibility in raising new capital to support its activities and investment projects.
The plan will have any change in the activities, strategy and priorities of Coca Cola Hellenic, as its current management will remain at the helm. The transaction will also not affect Coca Cola Hellenic's bonds with Greece, as the company will maintain its production and distribution units and Greece.
Coca Cola HBC AG was set up by Boval SA subsidiary, Kar-Tess Holding, with the aim to facilitate the transaction and has no other activities.
 Greece-Australia Business Council createdCentral Union of Chambers of Commerce and of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry Constantine Mihalos, addressing Thursday an event of the Greece-Australia Business Council titled "Targets, Actions and Business Initiatives", said that "the Greece-Australia Business Council, apart from its contribution to the strengthening of bilateral economic relations between the two countries, can function as an agent of a positive message, with wider importance for our country. It can promote the extroversive, the dynamic, the creative part of Greece. The businesses that dare to open themselves beyond borders, which develop and produce value for themselves, for their associates, for the Greek economy".
The Greece-Australia Business Council is a new agency that was created with the aim of contributing to the strengthening of the bilateral economic relations and business cooperation between the two countries "in an era in which Greece is waging the battle for the exit from the crisis and for the restoration of its international image, the founding of this new agency is very important", Mihalos said.
Bilateral relations between Greece and Australia are currently at a very satisfactory level, with examples of cooperation in such sectors as shipping, food, renewable energy sources etc. However, considerable ground still exists for widening and deepening bilateral cooperation in the sectors of the green economy, energy and food trade with emphasis on Mediterranean food products.
 Business Briefs-- Tourist arrivals fell by 9.0 pct in the first six months of 2012, while tourism revenues were down by 8.6 pct in the January-June period, compared with the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Thursday.
-- METKA on Thursday announced the signing of a second contract in Jordan to build an Alstom GT13E2 turbine along with all auxiliary parts energy power station with a power capacity of 146 MW.
 Stocks end flat on Thur.Stocks ended flat at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday at the close of a very volatile session.
Strong buying activity for selected blue chips, particularly PPC (+7.37 pct), counterbalanced a significant fall in the share price of Coca Cola Hellenic (-4.86 pct) after the news that the company was moving its base to Switzerland and the listing of its shares in the primary market of the London Stock Exchange (although it said it would seek a parallel listing in the Greek market). Coca Cola Hellenic is the biggest listed company in the Athens market (in terms of capitalization). The composite index of the market eased 0.10 pct to end at 798.66 points, rising as much as 811.26 pct and falling to 782.14 points during the day. Turnover was a moderate 62.372 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 0.41 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.56 pct higher. The Technology (5.61 pct), Utilities (5.23 pct) and Oil (3.76 pct) sectors scored gains, while Food (4.84 pct), Financial Services (3.0 pct) and Health (2.45 pct) suffered losses.
Motor Oil (7.56 pct), PPC (7.37 pct) and Ellaktor (5.63 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Coca Cola Hellenic (4.86 pct), MIG (2.34 pct) and Folli Follie (1.01 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 70 to 63 with another 28 issues unchanged. Audiovisual (26.42 pct), AAA (19.56 pct) and Elbsico (18.64 pct) were top gainers, while Pegasus (19.67 pct), Progressive (16 pct) and Kreka (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +3.76%
Personal & Household: -0.06%
Raw Materials: +2.71%
Travel & Leisure: +0.80%
Food & Beverages: -4.84%
Financial Services: -3.00%
The stocks with the highest turnover were HBC Coca Cola, National Bank, OPAP and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.81
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.08
HBC Coca Cola: 15.66
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.71
National Bank of Greece: 2.06
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.14
Bank of Piraeus: 0.48
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bond rose slightly to 16.92 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.43 pct and the German Bund 1.51 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 0.65 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.41 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.21 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 0.72 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 14.187 million euros.
Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,151 contracts worth 4.571 million euros, with 29,589 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 45,428 contracts worth 9.616 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (16,534), followed by Alpha Bank (5,945), Cyprus Bank (2,070), OTE (1,931), PPC (2,245), OPAP (1,887), Piraeus Bank (10.913), Coca Cola Hellenic (1,061), Eurobank (617), GEK (328), Mytilineos (387), MIG (592) and Intralot (324).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.311
Pound sterling 0.817
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.792
Japanese yen 102.78
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.493
Canadian dollar 1.283
Australian dollar 1.276
 Excavations for unexplored section of Gymnasium at Ancient OlympiaExcavations are to begin immediately to uncover the remainder of a building of the ancient Gymnasium in Ancient Olympia, venue of the first Olympic Games in antiquity.
The Gymnasium is a monument of exceptional archaeological and cultural value, and its full excavation will complete the archaeological landscape of the Sacred Altis sanctuary.
To date, the East Stoa has been partially investigated, at a length of 120 meters.
The ancient gymnasium of Olympia lies north-west of the Altis enclosure on a flat stretch of land by the Kladeos river bank. It is adjacent to the palaestra, which extends the gymnasium complex towards the south. Here athletes practiced track and field and the pentathlon. Before the construction of the gymnasium in the Hellenistic period, these events took place outdoors. The surviving structure dates to the second century BC.
The gymnasium is a large quadrangular building, with central court enclosed by Doric stoas. A series of rooms for the athletes probably occupied the west wing. The better studied east wing consists of a solid outer wall, an internal double Doric colonnade, and another colonnade of sixty columns along the court. The lower courses of the outer wall were of poros blocks with stone-built buttresses on the exterior, while the upper courses were of brick. The stoa, like the stadium, was one Olympic stade long, and had ruts on the floor marking the starting-point and finishing post, so that the athletes practiced the exact same distance as they would run during the games. The internal colonnade divided the stoa longitudinally into two parallel tracks: the xystos, the floor of which had to be regularly scraped and leveled (xystos=scraped); and, on the side of the court, the paradromis, or auxiliary track. The spacious court, approximately two hundred and twenty meters long and a hundred meters wide, was used to practice the javelin and discus. A monumental propylon was added at the south-east corner of the building, opposite the north-west entrance to the Altis, in the late second century BC. This propylon consisted of a Corinthian portico, 15.50 meters long and 9.80 meters wide, raised on steps. The propylon's interior was divided longitudinally into three naves by two rows of Corinthian columns; the entablature was decorated with bovine heads and supported a coffered stone ceiling. The south stoa, which communicates with the adjacent palaestra to the south, was added in the first century BC.
The gymnasium is only partly preserved. Its west wing was swept away by the Kladeos river, while its north section has not yet been investigated. The surviving remains were excavated and studied by the German School in recent years.
The gymnasium and palaestra were used to train and educate ancient Olympians. They followed a strict routine of physical training, as well as education in music, math, grammar and reading. The gymnasium was an open building with Doric columns on each of its sides and athletes also stayed under its shelter during hot and humid times to avoid overexposure to the weather.
 Four websites listing 'Thessaloniki airport' reportedly deceiving usersGreek Police's electronic crimes unit has begun an investigation into at least four websites using derivatives of the name "Thessaloniki airport", after reports surfaced that the websites in question deceived users seeking airplane tickets, car rentals and other assorted services.
The four sites are also suspected of posting erroneous information regarding flight schedules, amongst others, related to Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport.
The listed sites include "http://www.thessalonikiairport.com/" , "http://www.thessaloniki-airport.com/" , "http://www.airport-thessaloniki.com/" and "http://www.thessalonikiairport.org/" , which are hosted on servers located in the Netherlands, Britain and the United States.
Complaints by Internet users to police, the Civil Aviation Authority and the airport prompted the investigation.
The official site for information on airports in Greece can be found at "http://www.hcaa.gr/"
 DIMAR local office, ATMs torchedA Democratic Left (DIMAR) party local office and several bank ATMs were torched in a spate of arsons in the wider Athens area throughout Wednesday night.
At about 3:10 a.m., unidentified arsonists broke into the ground-floor DIMAR local office in Kessariani, dousing it with a flammable liquid to which they set fire before fleeing, causing extensive material damage.
Earlier, ATMs belonging to Piraeus Bank on central Alexandras Avenue in the Exarchia district, Eurobank, in Petralona, the TT-PostBank in Vironas and the entrance to a supermarket in Zographou were torched, resulting in extensive material damage.
 Incidents outside Patras restaurantAt least 10 people were detained by Patras security police on Thursday after an early morning attack against a restaurant in the central square of Psila Alonia.
According to sources, a group of anti-establishmentarians broke the windows of the restaurant, causing damage to nearby parked cars from the broken glass.
Minor incidents had taken place outside the same restaurant the night before the inconclusive May 6 general elections.
 Protest against migrant detention centre near DramaResidents of the village of Paranesti and other entities of Drama prefecture of northeastern Greece on Tuesday again protested against the transformation of an abandoned military camp into a migrant detention centre. Protestors handed a petition to the vice-prefect.
 Cloudy on FridayCloudy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 2-6 beauforte. Temperatures between 9C and 27C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens with variable 2-4 beauforte winds and temperatures between 16C and 27C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14C and 25C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's sudden 555 bln euros blockage with the EC, ECB, IMF troika and the Finance Ministry's plan for a uniform tax on real estate properties, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The Greek expectations now at the EU Summit".
AVGHI: "Return to para-state, government humiliates the country internationally".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Troika: Cut now the civil servants' and pensioners' holiday bonuses".
ESTIA: "Let's make the 'Greek miracle'".
ETHNOS: "The looting with the illegal pensions".
IMERISSIA: "Uniform tax on real estate".
KATHIMERINI: "Blockage with troika due to banks".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Tax storm in real estate in the search for new revenues".
RIZOSPASTIS: "In the battle for the strike on October 18 with PAME (Labour organisation affiliated to Communist Party of Greece)".
TA NEA: "Tax on all real estate properties".
VRADYNI: "They impose taxes even on privately-owned fields in order to collect 3 bln euros".
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