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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-17

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 17 October 2012 Issue No: 4201


  • [01] FinMin Stournaras, IMF's Thomsen speak of substantial progress in talks
  • [02] PM Samaras briefs gov't partners on negotiations with troika
  • [03] Labour minister says every possible effort being made for solution in talks with troika
  • [04] DIM.AR spokesman says troika proposals for labour issues 'must be repulsed'
  • [05] Health minister on meeting with troika, health system
  • [06] Government eyes approval of outstanding tranche in late Oct.-early Nov.
  • [07] President: Don't push everything on to the workers' shoulders
  • [08] PASOK party says Parliament must have last word on privatisations
  • [09] FM: Exploitation of foreign ministry properties serves public interest
  • [10] DM: Greece is 'key country' for global security system
  • [11] Ind'p Greeks party leader on fYRoM 'name issue'
  • [12] 'Lagarde list' yields evidence relating to Vatopedi, Proton Bank cases, sources say
  • [13] Education ministry's plan against bullying in schools
  • [14] AMNA strike on Wed.
  • [15] Wage cuts reach 24.26 pct on average, survey
  • [16] 100,000 businesses closed down over past 2.5 years
  • [17] IHT Greece Investment Forum themed 'Moving Forward'
  • [18] Eurozone records 6.6-bln-euro trade surplus in Aug.
  • [19] Greek inflation lowest in EU in Sept., Eurostat
  • [20] Greece raises 1.625 bln euros from T-bill auction
  • [21] Draft amendment concerning AMNA withdrawn
  • [22] Minister announces imminent reduction in drug prices
  • [23] Seamen's 24h strike on Thursday
  • [24] Business Briefs
  • [25] Stocks rise strongly on Tues.
  • [26] Greek bond market closing
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [29] Alepotrypa Cave in Bay of Diros
  • [30] Justice minister in satisfactory condition after surgery
  • [31] Health minister visits justice minister in hospital
  • [32] Trial for British woman's murder adjourned due to absence of key witnesses
  • [33] Man escapes from police jail in Olympic Village
  • [34] Police arrest man on Crete after 'arsenal' was found
  • [35] Arrests in major police operation in Roma settlement
  • [36] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [37] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] FinMin Stournaras, IMF's Thomsen speak of substantial progress in talks

    Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said late Tuesday night that negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' of Greece's international lenders on a new 13.5 billion euro austerity package over the next two years (2013-2014) registered a "very important progress over the past months" although "some issues remain pending, on which we expect to reach agreement in the coming days."

    "As regards labour market issues, there was an initiative on the part of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and in the coming days (Labour Minister Yiannis) Vroutsis will propose solutions on issues that have come up," Stournaras said in a written statement following the end of talks with the troika at the Finance ministry in the presence of Labour Minister Yiannis Vourtis.

    "The timetable of actions remains as is," he added.

    "As regards the troika, despite any tensions over these two months of tough negotiations, they have shown a spirit of good cooperation, and have proposed compromising solutions, and I am convinced that they do the best in their power to find solutions to the difficult problems which really exist...I am optimistic that things will progress according to our wishes," Stournaras concluded.

    On his part, International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative Poul Thomsen said that agreement between the two sides "was reached on most policy issues, and we have made significant progress." He added, that "the few issues pending would soon be agreed upon."

    The heads of the troika delegation are scheduled to leave Athens on Wednesday. They will return to the Greek capital next week to resume talks with government ministers on a package of austerity measures required to give the green light to the disbursement of a 31.5-billion-euro trance form an EU-IMF rescue loan.

    [02] PM Samaras briefs gov't partners on negotiations with troika

    PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, in statements following the meeting on Tuesday evening between the three party leaders supporting the government - Prime Minister and New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras, Democratic Left (Dim.Ar) party leader Fotis Kouvelis and himself- denounced the hard nucleus of the eurozone's countries and other officials of "playing with fire" in relation to the Greek issue, as well as for the survival of the eurozone itself.

    Venizelos also denounced the EC, ECB, IMF troika of "deliberately delaying" talks on the package of measures something which, as he said, does not benefit neither Greece nor the eurozone. He added that the talks must be concluded but not at any cost and not in a hasty way.

    As regards labour issues, on which the troika has raised new demands, Venizelos rejected what the representatives of the country's creditors called for, saying that the extreme point in these issues is that which had been decided in February 2012.

    He stressed that anything else does not help neither the growth nor the competitiveness of the Greek economy. The PASOK leader pointed out that his party supports the government, adding that "we must all support a unified national policy, that must produce results."

    As he said, he requested from Prime Minister Samaras to present Greece's real national and social question at Thursday's EU summit. Referring to the package of measures, Venizelos said that this must be indeed the last, and be internally fair, not horizontal and take the country out of the crisis at last.

    Concluding, the PASOK leader said that PASOK will function again this time in an absolutely responsible way, as a guarantor of political stability in the country "which is moving in a strategically perplexed Europe."

    On his part, Kouvelis expressed his absolute disagreement with the demands of the troika regarding the sweeping changes in labour issues.

    "The Democratic Left rejects and will not ratify the measures demanded by the troika on labour issues", he said, adding that "it (the troika) must realise that its demands exceed the endurances of society".

    He accused the troika of making demands continuously on what the country must do to receive the tranche for 31.5 billion. "Labour rights being levelled is not a structural change," he said and stressed that if what was proposed was accepted, this would lead to greater and deeper recession.

    Kouvelis reiterated his position on an overall political negotiating of the package of measures, of extension and the enactment of the clause that will provide the possibility for measures to be withdrawn when targets are achieved.

    He also expressed support for the immediate enactment of growth measures and insisted that he does not agree with horizontal cutbacks in wages and pensions.

    [03] Labour minister says every possible effort being made for solution in talks with troika

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, speaking after the end of his third meeting with EC-ECB-IMF 'troika' representatives on Tuesday, said that "we are making every effort possible for a solution".

    "We are waging a battle with realism and without obsessions. At the moment there is a deviation that we believe will be overcome and the negotiations will continue," he added.

    Vroutsis said on his departure that his ministry will undertake initiatives that it will announce as of Wednesday.

    Before his third meeting with the troika, Vroutsis had briefed the three political leaders of Greece's coalition government - Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis -- on the course of negotiations which revolve around the highly volatile issue of increased flexibility in labour relations. ?

    "There is no standstill in talks with the troika, negotiations are continuing," Vroutsis told reporters upon leaving the meeting with the three party leaders.

    According to reports, the minister had been given instructions by the three political leaders on dealing with the issues raised by the troika in the specific sector, which according to reports, deals with collective bargaining changes in favour of employers and reductions in severance pay in case of a redundancy.

    The second meeting between the heads of the EU-IMF troika mission in Athens and Greek Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis had ended abruptly on Tuesday afternoon after the two sides hit deadlock for the second time in the same day.

    Sources in the labour ministry had cited "complete disagreement" on the issue of three-year wage maturation periods, saying that the labour ministry had been prepared to continue the talks but the representatives of Greece's creditors had departed.

    Most of the objections to the government's position originated with the head of the International Monetary Fund's Greek mission Poul Thomsen, who had earlier contacted IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde twice on the telephone. Representatives of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, Matthias Mors and Klaus Masuch, respectively, had appeared more accommodating.

    The troika claims that the three-year wage maturation periods and benefits were abolished when the second memorandum for the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy was voted into law and that there is therefore no reason to hold a discussion.

    Representatives of Greece's creditors say that the English version of the memorandum contract, specifically on page 468, says that after the revision of the National General Collective Labour Agreement, the minimum wage has been replaced by "a statutory minimum wage" to be set by the government and the social partners without making any special reference to maturations and benefits. The troika interprets this as a reference to a wage and nothing else and, on this basis, consider that the abolition of the three-year maturations has already passed into law.

    The Greek text of the same agreement refers to a minimum wage legislated by the government and the social partners, which according to the labour ministry does not preclude maturations and benefits.

    References to three-year maturation periods and other benefits linked to length of service with the same employer are also made in law 4046 passed in March 2012, which freezes the amount of the minimum wage and all related benefits and wage increases until the rate of unemployment falls below 10 percent. The particular law makes provision for residual duration of collective agreements and preserves four basic benefits.

    Vroutsis will meet Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Parliament in order to brief him on the latest developments in the negotiations with the troika. At the same time, sources said, the heads of the troika mission in Athens will be holding a conference call with their superiors.

    Links to the controversial sections of the Memorandum agreements are provided below: English version (p. 468) and Greek version (p. 518)

    [04] DIM.AR spokesman says troika proposals for labour issues 'must be repulsed'

    A spokesman for the Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, one of the three parties in the coalition government, on Tuesday expressed hope that the proposals of the EU-IMF troika on labour issues will not be part of the negotiations. DIM.AR spokesman Andreas Papadopoulos also stressed that if they were raised, they would have to be repulsed, underlining that proposals such as abolishing entitlements such as the minimum wage, redundancy compensation and the three-year salary maturity hikes could not be acceptable.

    "I consider that there will be difficulties. It is possible that we shall have some losses. However, the major issue is to preserve the government's cohesion but, without, at the same time fragmenting society. The things the troika is proposing, especially on labour issues, are catastrophic," Papadopoulos said.

    [05] Health minister on meeting with troika, health system

    Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Tuesday said that the negotiation with the EC, ECB, IMF troika is continuing, speaking on private radio RealFM.

    The minister said his negotiations with the troika on Monday had been one of the most difficult days of his tenure.

    "The public health system can't be amputated," noted Lykourentzos, adding that "the need is to for further contain the waste of public money, not to deprive public for from the fulfillment of needs, as they emerge from the everyday relation between the citizen and the public health system".

    [06] Government eyes approval of outstanding tranche in late Oct.-early Nov.

    The government anticipates the approval for the disbursement of an outstanding 31.5 billion euro tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan to be decided at an extraordinary Eurogroup meeting at the end of October or at the regular Council of Finance Ministers on November 12, a high-ranking finance ministry official told AMNA in the early hours of Tuesday after the conclusion of marathon talks by the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' of Greece's international lenders with the ministers of health, administrative reform and finance, consecutively.

    The same source said that the Troika will brief IMF chief Christine Lagarde, ECB president Mario Draghi and EC Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Ollie Rehn on the progress in the negotiations at the EU Summit on Thursday, adding that the Greek government is aspiring to a positive reference to the developments in the Greek economy in the text of Summit conclusions.

    "The tranche will not be forthcoming if all the structural (measures) and the 'prior actions' have not closed," the official said, adding that "there are still many small items that we must close, in order to receive the tranches in mid-November".

    The Troika is due to begin a new round of negotiations with the government on Monday.

    [07] President: Don't push everything on to the workers' shoulders

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Tuesday that everything should not be pushed onto the shoulders of the working people, as he greeted a delegation of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) at the Presidential Mansion.

    Papoulias revealed that he had been put in an awkward position when German chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently visited Athens, asked him what the rich Greeks are doing, to which he responded "everyone contributes on the basis of his own patriotism".

    The President told the GSEE leadership that he was at their side, stressing that "the Greek people have given everything they could".

    "I said this to Mrs. Merkel to. If you want more measures, change people," Papoulias said, adding that "our country is waging a battle for survival" and "if it survives, we'll work out everything else."

    "It is unacceptable that others evade and others play dumb, while others pay. When we speak of social cohesion, this is based on a fair distribution of the weight. We did not find the workers in order to load the entire crisis on them. There are others who sent out their money left and right and have bought half of London," Papoulias said.

    GSEE president Yannis Panagopoulos thanked Papoulias, and stressed that the primary target is for the country to be saved, but added that the Greeks have dignity.

    "The policies being exercised contain great inequalities for the salary and pension earners. Not everyone is contributing, and this is accepted by the politicians," Panagopoulos said, adding that Mrs. Merkel had pointed out to him, in their meeting during her visit, that Greeks were buying up entire street blocks in London", to which he said he replied that "the Siemens bribery money is returning to its natural place".

    [08] PASOK party says Parliament must have last word on privatisations

    Parliament must have the last word on privatisations, according to the PASOK party, which intends to table a relevant amendment soon.

    The issue was at the focus of the party's Finance sector session, at which the relevant amendment was endorsed with the remark that "the necessary exploitation of public property is not a blank cheque".

    PASOK's proposal includes the following points: 1.- Every privatisation is faced distinctively because they are different among them, 2.- the framework of every privatisation and the relevant proclamation are ratified by Parliament and 3.- the privatisation contracts are likewise ratified by Parliament.

    [09] FM: Exploitation of foreign ministry properties serves public interest

    All the actions for the exploitation of foreign ministry real estate properties serve the public interest, foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a document submitted to parliament on Tuesday.

    "In the context of the nationwide effort to reduce the state debt and contain the country's deficits, the exploitation of certain real estate properties of the foreign ministry was decided," Avramopoulos said in his document, adding that the task of exploiting these real estate properties has been undertaken by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), which is investigating the relevant investment interest.

    The foreign ministry document was submitted to parliament in reply to a question tabled by Independent Greeks MP Maria Tsaroucha on the planning for the sale of properties abroad housing Greek embassies, in order to raise state revenues.

    [10] DM: Greece is 'key country' for global security system

    Greece's role as a key country in security matters for the global and regional security system is one of the strongest and most competitive advantages of the country and highlighting this is the country's strongest and most competitive advantage for dealing with its fiscal problems and promoting investments in the country, defence minister Panos Panagiotopoulos told an International Herald Tribune "Investment in Greece Forum" themed "Moving Forward" on Tuesday.

    Panagiotopoulos noted that Greece is not the only country to be in debt and with fiscal problems, but, as he recently told his NATO and EU counterparts, it is the key country for the global security system, due to its geopolitical and geostrategic position.

    He said that Greece exercises a composite and multi-level policy, to the benefit of the Greek people, adding that Greece is consistent with its Alliance obligations while at the same time it is developing initiatives with respect to Russia and China.

    On the domestic defence industry, he said that the state 'embrace' and 'trade unions' extremities" at times resulted in the withering of the state infrastructures. Noting that the state could not possibly maintain these infrastructures, he pointed out the need for new planning in order to correctly organize the infrastructures, with an exports-orientation, in order that they could survive in today's competitive environment.

    [11] Ind'p Greeks party leader on fYRoM 'name issue'

    Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to come to Parliament and reply on "whether he has given away the name Macedonia".

    Speaking in the north-central city of Veria, where he attended events commemorating the centenial of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule, Kammenos called on the prime minister brief Parliament on the unresolved "name issue" with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM).

    He also charged that PM Antonis Samaras has retreated before the specific foreign policy issue, refusing in the process to answer a tabled question in Parliament.

    "The man who brought down the government in 1993 has an obligation not to back-track over the name 'Macedonia' ... he should answer."

    [12] 'Lagarde list' yields evidence relating to Vatopedi, Proton Bank cases, sources say

    The investigation of the so-called 'Lagarde list' - which gives the names of 1,991 Greeks with sizeable HSBC bank accounts in Geneva - has turned up evidence relating to the still open Vatopedi monastery land swaps case and the investigation into suspect loans handed out by failed Proton Bank, sources revealed on Tuesday.

    The two financial crimes prosecutors investigating the list will now forward the relevant evidence to the judicial officials handling these two high-profile cases, to use in their own investigations.

    In the meantime, the two former heads of the SDOE financial crimes unit Ioannis Diotis and Ioannis Kapeleris, both summoned to testify as suspects for possible breach of duty or removal of documents in relation to their handling of the 'Lagarde list', were given a week to prepare their testimony before they appear before the two financial prosecutors again.

    [13] Education ministry's plan against bullying in schools

    The Education Ministry is planning a special program against 'bullying" in schools and is proceeding with the establishment of an Observatory against violence in schools in order to deal with the phenomenon.

    Deputy Education Minister Theodoros Papatheodorou on Tuesday submitted a letter to parliament in response to Democratic Left deputies' query on the in-school violence.

    The deputies referred to research on the bullying phenomenon in Greece recording a substantial increase of in-school violence victims. A University of Ioannina study indicated that 90 percent of pupils in Greece have been victims of intimidation.

    [14] AMNA strike on Wed.

    Staff and journalists at the Athens News Agency (AMNA) will participate in a 24-hour strike called by journalists' unions in Greece from 6 a.m. on Wednesday until 6 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18. No news items or dispatches will be disseminated during that period. Our apologies to our subscribers.

    Financial News

    [15] Wage cuts reach 24.26 pct on average, survey

    The Greek labor market has turned a dramatic shift towards flexible forms of work and a decline in wages over the past two years, a report tabled to Parliament showed on Tuesday.

    The report, tabled by Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, showed that part-time work contracts totaled 109,885 in the first half of 2012, while rotating employment totaled 28,161 in the same period. The report also showed that a total of 44,122 labor contracts changed from full to part or rotating employment contracts. The ministry report said that a total of 496 business contracts have been signed in the period February 14-June 31 2012, covering 57,614 workers with an average cut in wages of 24.26 pct, although another 109,123 workers signed personal working contracts envisaging average wage cuts of 23.36 pct.

    The Labor Minister said that ministry agencies performed inspections in 10,047 enterprises in the first six months of the year and that the findings were shocking, with black employment reaching 58.2 pct of the workforce in the restaurant sector, 8.7 pct in the retail sector and 11 pct in the manufacturing sector.

    [16] 100,000 businesses closed down over past 2.5 years

    The General Confederation of Professional Handicraftsmen and Merchants of Greece (GSEVEE) has addressed a letter to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the party leaders, calling for a meeting with them.

    According to the letter, "the figures from Eurostat show that the vicious circle of recession is threatening the endurances of society, the viability of businesses and is leading to the mass ruin of jobs and it does not allow government and party isolationism and unilateral decisions."

    GSEVEE also pointed out that "the policy of internal devaluation, also according to data of GSEVEE, has led 100,000 businesses (net decrease) to a discontinuation of work over the past 2.5 years. Data that is also confirmed by Eurostat".

    As regards jobs, about 500,000 have been lost in the private sector from 2010 until today, resulting in the economic crisis tending to turn into an intensively humanitarian one as well. The private sector and small businesses in particular have 'kneeled'".

    More than 90,000 small and average-size (SMEs) Greek businesses were obliged to close down from 2008 until 2011, with predictions for this year remaining ominous. This data is included in the results of a performance evaluation report achieved by SMEs in all EU member-states, that was prepared by the European Commission.

    [17] IHT Greece Investment Forum themed 'Moving Forward'

    The challenges that Greece is facing in attracting investments were at the focus of addresses one the second day of an International Herald Tribune "Investment in Greece Forum" themed "Moving Forward", with speakers elaborating on the topic "strategic areas for investments in Greece".

    Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos spoke of the contribution of the defence industry to the development of the Greek economy, and stressed that if everyday tranquility is not ensured, through securing the country's sovereign rights and national independence, then the country's economy will also not be able to function.

    "Greece today cannot present itself internationally only as a country that owes and has fiscal problems. On the contrary, the country is a strategic hub for security in the wider region, and this is acknowledged internationally," he said.

    Panagiotopoulos stressed that Greece could exploit its geostrategic role in the direction of developing its defence industry, noting that Greece has built submarines and frigates and that many small and medium size enterprises have a good showing in the international defence industry market.

    Tourism, infrastructure and investments secretary general Yannis Pyrgiotis said that tourism is the most significant axis of growth of the Greek economy, noting that 40 percent of the growth in Greece over the next decade is estimated to be coming from tourist, generating 18 billion euros to the country's GDP, at 2010 prices, and creating 220,000 new jobs.

    On attracting investments, Pyrgiotis noted that a new service has recently opened at the tourism ministry for investors, aimed at overcoming bureaucratic procedures and a speedier issue of the required licences. He added that the tourism ministry, at the end of this week, will announce four new investment proposals to which the newly-opened office has provide its services for expediting the licencing procedures.

    Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) managing director Yannis Emiris pointed out the very significant efforts made by the Fund so far in the direction of exploitation of the state assets. He said that 17 investors have already expressed interest in the State Natural Gas Company (DEPA) and its subsidiary distributor DESFA, 9 investors have expressed interest in the former Athens International Airport expanse in Ellinikon and 7 investors have expressed interest in tourist investment in the Afantos expanse on the island of Rhodes.

    Emiris panned optimistic that this mobility will continue in the other state properties up for privatization.

    Daniel Sahl, the liaison officer for bilateral relations between the industrial federations of Germany and Greece proposed an "internationalization" of the HRADF, saying that the latter must acquire an international range, without the Greek state losing its sovereign rights, however.

    "The HRADF needs to acquire an international management, with a Greek supervisory council at its side," Sahl said.

    [18] Eurozone records 6.6-bln-euro trade surplus in Aug.


    The Eurozone recorded a trade surplus of 6.6 billion euros in August, while the EU-27 recorded a trade deficit of 12.6 billion euros in the same period, Eurostat said on Tuesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report published here, said that Greece recorded a trade deficit of 9.0 billion euros in the January-July period, down from a shortfall of 14 billion euros in the same period last year. Eurostat said that Germany (109.1 bln), the Netherlands (29.1 bln) and Ireland (24.8 bln) recorded the highest trade surplus in the seven-month period from January to July, while Great Britain (85.1 bln), France (48.9 bl), Spain (20.5 bln) and Greece (9.0 bln) recorded the highest trade deficits.

    [19] Greek inflation lowest in EU in Sept., Eurostat


    Greece recorded the lowest annual inflation rate in the European Union in September (0.3 pct), Eurostat announced on Tuesday. In a report published here, the EU executive's statistics agency said average inflation in the Eurozone was unchanged at 2.6 pct in September, and in the EU-27 unchanged at 2.7 pct.

    Greece (0.3 pct), Germany (2.1 pct) and France (2.2 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates, while Estonia (4.1 pct), Slovakia (3.8 pct) and Cyprus (3.6 pct) the highest inflation rates in the Eurozone. In the European Union, energy (9.1 pct), tobacco/alcohol (4.0 pct), transportation (4.8 pct), housing (4.1 pct), restaurant/hotels (1.9 pct), education (0.5 pct), health (2.4 pct), home equipment (1.1 pct), clothing (1.6 pct), food (2.7 pct) and Telecommunications (-3.3 pct) showed the biggest changes.

    [20] Greece raises 1.625 bln euros from T-bill auction

    Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a three-month Treasury bills issue raising 1.625 billion euros from the market at a lower cost. The Public Debt Management Organization, in a statement, said that the interest rate of the issue was set at 4.24 pct, down from 4.31 pct in the previous auction of the same issue (Sept. 18), while bids submitted surpassed the asked sum by 1.9 times. The organisation accepted non-competitive bids up to 375 million euros. The auction was made through the market's primary dealers while settlement date was set for Friday, Oct. 19.

    Under market regulations, non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum can be submitted by Thursday, Oct. 18.

    [21] Draft amendment concerning AMNA withdrawn

    The finance minister on Tuesday withdrew a draft amendment concerning AMNA, which had been included as a rider in an amendment on equating consumption taxes for fuel oils.

    The amendment anticipated, amongst others, a separate president for AMNA's board of directors, and a managing director to oversee the Agency's day-to-day operations.

    [22] Minister announces imminent reduction in drug prices

    Alternate Health Minister Marios Salmas on Tuesday announced an imminent reduction in prices for pharmaceuticals, through a decision to be signed by the minister in the next few days.

    Speaking on Vima radio station, Salmas said that pharmaceutical costs were set to go down by 300-400 million euro due to a repricing of some 12,000 pharmaceutical products that had nearly all been reduced downward, while the contribution paid by patients would also be reduced.

    [23] Seamen's 24h strike on Thursday

    Ships throughout the country will remain docked on Thursday following a Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) decision to participate in the 24-hour nationwide strike declared by the country's two major umbrella labour federations GSEE and ADEDY.

    PNO opposes the government's new measures that also affect the seamen's sector and warns that Thursday's strike is only the start of a series of initiatives that the sector will proceed with.

    [24] Business Briefs

    -- Around half of all Greek export companies face acute liquidity problems while their viability is at risk, a survey by the Panhellenic Exporters Association showed on Tuesday.

    -- The Allianz Hellas Insurance company on Tuesday said its revenues totaled 110.6 million euros in the first half of 2012, while operating earnings jumped 51.8 pct to 12.8 million euros in the January-June period.

    [25] Stocks rise strongly on Tues.

    Stocks continued moving strongly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the market forecasting a positive outcome in negotiations between Greek authorities and the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" over a new package of austerity measures.

    The composite index of the market jumped 1.78 pct to end at 849.82 points, off the day's highs of 854.24 points. Turnover rose slightly to 68.854 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.91 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.33 pct higher. The Food (5.37 pct), Utilities (4.33 pct) and Commerce (4.15 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Oil (2.25 pct) and Personal Products (0.93 pct) suffered losses. PPC (5.58 pct), Coca Cola Hellenic (5.35 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.62 pct) and Folli Follie (4.26 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Petroleum (3.59 pct), Viohalco (2.32 pct) and Jumbo (1.07 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 79 to 59 with another 29 issues unchanged.

    Karamolegos (23.14 pct), Alpha Real Estate (19.78 pct) and AAA (19.53 pct) were top gainers, while NEL (19.75 pct), Aegek (18.99 pct) and Elbisco (13.04 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.15%

    Commercial: +4.15%

    Construction -0.68%

    Oil & Gas: -2.25%

    Personal & Household: -0.93%

    Raw Materials: -0.62%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.48%

    Technology: +1.64%

    Telecoms: +1.39%

    Banks: +2.35%

    Food & Beverages: +5.37%

    Health: +2.49%

    Utilities: +4.33%

    Financial Services: +1.77%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Alpha Bank and HBC Coca Cola.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 2.04

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.35

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.91

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.71

    National Bank of Greece: 2.25

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.25

    OPAP: 4.25

    OTE: 3.65

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.54

    Titan: 13.83

    [26] Greek bond market closing

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 16.03 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 16.13 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 17.57 pct and the German Bund 1.54 pct. Turnover was a thin one million euros, one sell order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates remained almost unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.65 pct, the six-month rate was 0.41 pct, the three-month rate was 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.66 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 17.562 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,613 contracts worth 7.167 million euros, with 29,229 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 51,146 contracts worth 10.395 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (15,693), followed by Alpha Bank (10,180), Cyprus Bank (2,318), OTE (1,526), PPC (3,155), OPAP (2,268), Piraeus Bank (10,384), Eurobank (1,210), Ellaktor (230), GEK (958), Intralot (971) and MIG (861).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.324

    Pound sterling 0.821

    Danish kroner 7.571

    Swedish kroner 8.756

    Japanese yen 104.48

    Swiss franc 1.227

    Norwegian kroner 7.501

    Canadian dollar 1.306

    Australian dollar 1.288

    General News

    [29] Alepotrypa Cave in Bay of Diros

    Reproduction of the paleo-environment of western Mani after the Pleistocene period and its interaction with man, the realization of a systematic surface study of the environs of the Bay of Diros and the study and publication of the archaeological material unearthed were the three targets of the research programme "Diros excavation and research project" that was completed over the summer.

    The Alepotrypa (Foxhole) Cave, the exploration of which began in 1970, was inhabited during the Neolithic Period (6000-3000B C) and has produced thousands of finds of clay, stone and bone tools, jewelry and human and animal bones.

    The 2012 studies began with a geoscopic study in the area of Xagounaki (Neolithic acropolis of Diros) at the northern entrance of the Alepotrypa Cave. This area gave up a heavy concentration of stone tools, shells and human bones from the Late Neolithic Period.

    Excavations also turned up an undisturbed double child burial in an urn, sections of another burial from the Final Neolithic Period and three adult burials, also undisturbed. The concentration of the more than 160 burials found to date, combined with the large quantity of pottery and tool finds, lead to the conclusion that the area was heavily occupied during the Final Neolithic Period.

    Noteworthy is the full absence of finds after the Neolithic Period, which indicates that the Cave and its surrounding area were not used after that period for systematic habitation.

    Overlooking the Bay of Diros, Alepotrypa is a stalactitic cave that contains the remains of a Neolithic (Stone Age) village, burials, a lake and an amphitheater-sized final chamber that hosted burial rituals more than 5,000 years ago.

    The Cave was sealed off from the outside world during a heavy earthquake at the end of the Late Neolithic Period, until it was accidentally discovered by locals in 1958.

    [30] Justice minister in satisfactory condition after surgery

    The condition of Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, who underwent surgery in the head on Monday at Attikon hospital in Athens, is good and without any complications, according to the minister's attending physicians.

    The minister, who is currently in ICU, will be transferred to a regular room within the day.

    Roupakiotis was rushed to hospital on Monday with a persistent headache. The medical examinations showed that the minister had a small hematoma in the head that needed to be surgically treated.

    [31] Health minister visits justice minister in hospital

    Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Tuesday visited Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis at the Attikon University General Hospital where he was admitted for treatment, where he also conveyed the best wishes of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for his speedy recovery.

    Doctors reported that the minister's condition is good and he is making good progress and will soon be able to resume his duties at the ministry.

    [32] Trial for British woman's murder adjourned due to absence of key witnesses

    The trial of British national Luke Walker for the killing of his 21-year-old girlfriend Chelsea Hyndman, also British, was postponed by a Mixed Jury Court in the city of Iraklio, Crete on Tuesday, due to the absence of key witnesses.

    Walker, 22 at the time of the killing, is accused of having beaten Hyndman to death during an argument while the two of them were living and working in Malia, a resort on island of Crete, in May 2010.

    The court accepted a request by both sides that the coroner who carried out the autopsy on Hyndman and the doctor that operated on the 21-year-old be called as witnesses, postponing the trial. The case will now be returned to the appeals court prosecutors so that a new trial date can be set.

    Walker's defence lawyer also requested that restrictions preventing his client leaving Greece be lifted, which the court accepted on condition that the defendant post bail of 10,000 euro.

    Hyndman died in May 2010 after she was taken to hospital suffering from intense abdominal pain. After examination, doctors diagnosed a rupture of internal organs and carried out surgery but were unable to save her life.

    In statements to police after her death, Walker said that he had hit the victim accidentally while he was in a fight with another British man, when he had kicked her unintentionally. He also asserted that the 21-year-old had hurt herself badly on a separate occasion, when she fell down in the street.

    Among those present during Tuesday's hearing was the mother of the unlucky young woman, who in the past statements to Greek and foreign media had been strongly critical of the way Greek authorities had handled the case and for failing to support her in dealing with her daughter's death. She made no statements after Tuesday's hearing in Iraklion, however.

    [33] Man escapes from police jail in Olympic Village

    A 21-year-old Roma man being held for theft managed to escape from a police station jail in the Olympic Village at 1:25 p.m. on Tuesday.

    The young man tricked the guard on duty into releasing him by pretending he needed to use the toilet. When the guard opened the door to the cell, however, the prisoner shoved him aside and fled the building.

    The Greek Police have initiated proceedings for the suspension of those in charge at the police station and a search for the suspect has been launched.

    [34] Police arrest man on Crete after 'arsenal' was found

    A 45-yar-old man was arrested on Tuesday in Kasteli, Chania, on the island of Crete, after police found a large number of guns, ammunition and illicit drugs in his possession.

    Following a search in his home in the morning, police found a pistol, bullets and a quantity of narcotics. As the search continued into the afternoon, at a privately-owned greenhouse and surrounding spaces on Elafonisi, police were stunned to find 2.5 kilograms of cannabis, 7,500 bullets, two war riffles, a double-barreled shotgun, a revolver, a pistol, a rifle and a Greek police and army G3 rifle.

    The list of what police found is long enough and includes as many as 199 detonators, four hand-grenades, 8.5 kg of jell dynamite, 4.5 kg of ammonium dynamite, a homemade explosive device, 434 meters of wick, 12 pistol magazines, and various gun maintenance items. Weapons and ammunition were kept in special configured crypts.

    Four policemen were slightly injured during the operation as the man resisted arrest. A Bulgarian national, who was hired and worked at the premises where the weapons were found, was also arrested.

    [35] Arrests in major police operation in Roma settlement

    Over 150 persons were taken in for questioning during a major police operation on Tuesday in a Roma camp and settlement in Zefyri, northwest of Athens.

    Five of the detained were arrested, charged with drug dealing, illegal possession of weapons and other felonies.

    The operation is still underway and after its conclusion police will issue an announcement.

    Weather forecast

    [36] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-6 beauforte. Temperatures between 12C and 31C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with variable 3-5 beauforte winds and temperatures between 19C and 30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 15C and 27C.

    [37] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The government's negotiations with the EC, ECB, IMF troika and the next tranche of the bailout loan, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The crisis brings depression!".

    AVGHI: "Government, troika agree on salaries of unemployment"

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Brussels' message of support, battle in Athens for the measures".

    ESTIA: "Tug of war over the labour issues".

    ETHNOS: "Brutal night for troika and ministers".

    IMERISSIA: "EU Summit unlocks the 31.5 bln euros tranche".

    KATHIMERINI: "Delay in negotiations with troika".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Upsets in labour issues on the government partners' table".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Government, troika, capitalists impose hellish labour regime".

    TA NEA: "Troika demands layoffs with specific names".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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