|Monday, 21 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 24 October 2012 Issue No: 4206
 PM issues brief statement amid continuing talks on closely watched austerity packagePrime Minister Antonis Samaras made a brief nationally televised statement just before 8 p.m. (18.00 GMT) on Tuesday, following day-long talks with the two junior coalition partners supporting his government, PASOK's Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis.
"I know very well what is at stake for the country today. For the last three months, on a daily basis, we are changing Greece's image ... under the most difficult of conditions we are holding tough negotiations to enable the country to exit this impasse," the prime minister said, adding:
"We have already, in terms of both labour and other issues, changed many, very many of the troika's initial proposals, and negotiations are continuing ... my only criterion is always Greece and its future. I will not back down from this responsibility. And I do not even want to think of what will happen if at this time I do not hold the (state's) helm firmly. I am only looking ahead, requesting the greatest possible unity. All who dare will save Greece."
According to press reports and "leaks" throughout the day, the thorny issue of labour sector liberalisation has dominated back-and-forth deliberations. A final agreement by the three party leaders is necessary in order for an omnibus draft bill envisioning more than 13 billion euros in austerity measures -- mostly pay and pension cuts, as well as tax hikes -- to be tabled in Parliament.
 SYRIZA sharply criticises PM televised statementThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on Tuesday evening charged that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' televised statement earlier in the afternoon -- calling for unity -- was "not addressed to the Greek people".
"There has never been substantial negotiation, since from the day following the general elections (mid June) Mr. Samaras has assured the (EC-ECB-IMF) troika for the memorandum's strict implementation," the announcement stated.
 PASOK leader: we support government but Greece is not a 'protectorate'PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday repeated his party's support for the government after participating in a meeting of the three party leaders in Greece's governing coalition on Tuesday. He also underlined that Greece is not a "protectorate" and that this was something that had to be understood by the country's EU partners and the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika representing the country's creditors.
"We are nationally united when we talk with the partners and other international factors. We will do our national duty," he added, expressing confidence that Greece will succeed.
In his statements after the meeting, Venizelos referred to the package of measures for the country's overall economic problem as a whole, not wanting to focus entirely on the controversial issue of labour relations, though he did express disagreement with the troika's proposals concerning the latter.
He stressed that Greece's economic management had to be carried out by Greek authorities, based on the figures collected and processed by the legally established organs of the state, and that this had to be respected.
He also insisted that the package of measures that will come to Parliament must really be the last one, and that this must be understood not only by the Greek people and Parliament but also by international markets, so that it was not rejected by them.
Venizelos noted that a solution had to be found concerning the sustainability of Greece's debt and the extension of the adjustment period, noting that there were margins for achieving a comprehensive and safe solution through measures that were fair and did not further lower pensions or minimum wages etc.
He stressed that the negotiations were now political and said that he had asked the prime minister to take action on his own level and speak with his counterparts in order to create conditions that would lead to a comprehensive framework that can be presented to the Parliament and will give a "comprehensive and safe solution to the Greek problem".
On labour relations, in particular, PASOK's president said that it was "unfair and provocative" for the troika to once again raise issues that had been settled the previous spring, adding that nothing to justify raising this issue had occurred between March and October. He also pointed out that labour costs had fallen dramatically in Greece in recent years and that the "soft underbelly" of the Greek economy's competitiveness lay elsewhere.
Venizelos made his statements after the head of the third party in the coalition government, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, categorically stated that his party will not support the changes in labour relations demanded by the troika.
 Kouvelis leaves party leaders' meeting, rules out vote for troika labour reformsThe head of the smallest of the three parties in the coalition government, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, emerged from a meeting of the coalition's three party leaders on Tuesday and stressed that DIM.AR will not vote for the labour measures demanded by the EC-ECB-IMF troika.
"I will not accept and will not vote for the troika's demands for labour relations, which are already disintegratint," he told reporters after a two-hour meeting with the other two political leaders. He categorically underlined his opposition to the measures the troika was insisting on, which he said 'levelled' labour relations.
"They have nothing to do with fiscal reform, essentially they want wages stuck at low levels," he added and warned that if the troika's demands were accepted, unemployment and layoffs will increase.
"Its demands are unacceptable," Kouvelis stressed.
 Government spokesman on negotiations on labour issuesGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, briefing political reporters on Tuesday, after a meeting between the leaders of the three party supporting Greece's coalition government, said that "there has been considerable progress in negotiations (with the EC/ECB/IMF troika) on the labour issues".
"We have achieved better terms compared to those that were valid from the previous memorandum in February," he added.
Asked about the stance of the Democratic Left party leader, he replied "we do not comment on government partners".
On his part, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said that a substantive negotiation took place with the troika that was concluded shortly before the meeting of the party leaders yielding specific results.
"We gained the three-year terms. Something that was already lost by law 4046 in February 2012. We secured that the individual arrangement of the working period not to be included in the new loan contract. As regards compensations, the troika accepted the mechanism we proposed, to freeze for those working more than 16 years with a ceiling at 1800 euros which, according to the salary level of remunerations in 2011, concerns 80% of the labour force and, with given the decreases that have followed, reaches up to 85%," Vroutsis said, stressing that this development is proof that "we waged a battle and we won".
He also said that the Labour ministry delivered a document containing its final proposals and that if he is asked to attempt again to approach these issues he will do it of course, stressing that "we achieved unbelievable things and we made a great step".
 FinMin briefs troika headsGreek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras briefed, during a tele-conference on Tuesday night, the heads of the EC/ECB/IMF troika on the meeting earlier in the day between the leaders of the three parties supporting Greece's coalition government.
Finance ministry sources said later that the negotiations will be continuous until their scheduled end on Thursday. A Euro Workimng Group meeting will ce convened on Thursday and Friday.
Negotiations concern the implementation of austerity measures amounting to 13 billion euros -- mostly pay and pension cuts, as well as tax hikes.
 SYRIZA on coalition government party leaders' meetingThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on Tuesday on the meeting between the leaders of the parties supporting the government coalition and statements by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis, spoke of "bravado on their part which comes too late".
SYRIZA stresses that "the bravado by Kouvelis and Venizelos, which are coming too late, since they have already agreed to the implementation of the memorandum policy, have little value. The already ratified measures on the labour issues have demolished every labour right, they have sent thousands of working people to unemployment, sinking in parallel the Greek economy into recession".
"Those now appearing as saviours of the labour relations, are those who have already dissolved them and intend, in the coming future, to complete their work. Those who are against the troika are not the government partners but the Greek people who are struggling for the country's riddance from the memorandum and the country's productive reconstruction on the basis of the protection of labour and of the welfare state and the redistribution of wealth," SYRIZA concluded.
 Tsipras: Coalition gov't is 'isolated, dependent and terrified'Main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras described the three-party coalition government as "isolated, dependent and terrified", addressing a rally in Serres on Monday evening.
"The three-party Samaras government is an isolated, dependent and terrified government. Isolated from the people, because all three parties that comprise it defrauded the people pre-electorally and grabbed their vote. Dependent on the lenders and its trembling local protectors, and terrified of the consequences of its signature on the new Memorandum, because the hour is nearing for an end to the lies," Tsipras said.
He said the government is "trying to say that it is negotiating that which it already legislated in February for the dissolution of the labor regime, and thinks that with theatrics it can fool the Greek people".
"It is looting and devouring everything that has been left standing," Tsipras charged, adding that "the people, who are living a drama it (government) has imposed on them and know it, cannot be fooled".
He said that prime minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis "chose to be in the good graces of the powerful, support a strategy that is an impasse for Europe and destructive for Greece, either from lack of courage and perspicacity or due to the need for someone to back them now that they are collapsing, or from fear" that other scandals will come out into the open.
On the 31.5 billion euro tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan due to be disbursed to Greece, Tsipras said that "not one red cent of the 31.5 billion euro will go to the Greek society, the asphyxia that exists is only asphyxia of the banks, and even if we did not want the tranche, they (EU-IMF) would give it us by force".
Tsipras appealed anew to the Greek MPs to not vote in favour of the new austerity measures, and commenting on New Democracy MP from Fthiotida Nikos Stavrogiannis' statement quoted in a Sunday newspaper that he will not vote for the latest round of austerity measures, leading to his expulsion from the ND parliamentary group by Samaras, Tsipras said: "We hail the bold decision of the ND deputy from Fthiotida and call on all the citizens to unite...it is the MPs' patriotic duty to not vote for these measures...let them not be the last measures (of austerity), but the first measures that will not pass."
"The three Memorandum political leaders who insist on the manufactured danger of Greece's exit from the Eurozone in order to preserve the lunar landscape of the Memorandum, are exposed in the eyes of the Greek people as lacking credibility and doom-sayers," Tsipras charged, adding that "the inspirer of the pseudo-dilemma 'Memorandum or drachma', (German finance minister) Schauble himself, formally withdrew (the dilemma) in Singapore, speaking the language of truth, openly admitting that the cost of ousting Greece from the euro would be disproportionate to (the cost of) keeping Greece in the euro."
"The accuse us (SYRIZA) of having no plan. We do have a plan, to rebuild Greece and render their Memorandums scrap paper. The blame for the humiliating subjugation of the people and the country to the lenders will be sought out and attributed. The time has come for the Greek people to stand tall. The co-governance is hanging by a thread. It has been disdained politically and morally. At the time that the people are suffering, the government is extending 'protection clauses' to the big debtors (to the state), the collusionists, the tax dodgers. Generous discounts from the property surtax are given to big businessmen, the bankers are given the ability not to pay their dues to the state, the television station owners are given facilitation and exemption of their dues for the use of the frequencies, resulting in our seeing 'filtered' news. Bankers and TV station owners are dancing hand-in-hand the dance of collusion," Tsipras charged.
The SYRIZA leader renewed his call for a renegotiation of the loan agreement, in the direction of a moratorium on interest payments on the external debt for a specific period of time, the write-off of a substantial percentage of the nominal value of the state debt, and the repayment of the balance with a 'development clause', and the restructuring of the country on the basis of an integrated developmental and production plan founded on the real social needs "and not the insatiable desires of some companies for profits".
The country needs an alternative way out and a serious, well-thought-out strategy, and an agent that will be the body of a broad political and social alliance organized around this alternative policy plan. This agent is the new SYRIZA that will arise from the process of self-organization and political maturity currently underway, Tsipras said, adding that "the major powers will not come to save us; the people will save the country".
"What we deserve is a course with dignity and pride," the SYRIZA leader concluded.
 Ind'p Greeks party on labour issuesThe opposition Independent Greeks party on Tuesday spoke about a "make believe confrontation and negotiation" on labour issues commenting on the meeting of the political party leaders backing the government and the statements made by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis.
Independent Greeks spokesman Christos Zois also noted that the alleged confrontation on labour issues serves as an "alibi that allows the government to pass other pre-decided measures".
Earlier, party president Panos Kammenos spoke about "constitutional diversion imposed by the troika and executed by the government" referring to the wage cuts in the judiciary sector and called on the President of the Republic take a stand on the issue.
 Golden Dawn party on party leaders' meetingThe Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party, in an announcement on the meeting between the leaders of the parties supporting the government, spoke of a "continuation of the shadow theatre of the coalition government with verbal bravado by those who have already given up everything to the usurers".
The announcement concluded by saying "the show will go on like this to the end, in an effort to save the (EC/ECB/IMF) troika's local branch, which is bringing to Parliament tomorrow the bill on the country's absolute sellout".
 KKE on economic measuresThe opposition Communist Party (KKE), referring to the meeting of the leaders of the three political parties supporting the coalition government, stressed on Tuesday that "the major problem of the political parties backing the government is how to impose the continuation of the unbearable austerity measures and the lasting memorandums on the people".
"It is up to the workers, the young, the unemployed, to prove with their organised struggle that they cannot be exploited by the political parties in the government, the big businessmen and the EU," a KKE press office statement noted.
Referring to government measures that will affect labour rights, the KKE said that "a new crime is being committed" and called on the old and new workers and the jobless to join forces and defend the right for stable work, guaranteed labour rights and wages.
 KKE leader interviewed on TVCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga ruled out any change in her party's strategy, in an interview on private Kontra Channel television station on Monday night.
She also warned that the new austerity measures to be tabled on parliament will be a 'massacre', and will not be the last, adding that the people, must manifest with their stance that they are determined to fight, that they will defeat fatalism and commence an enduring counter-attack.
"A radical change must take place in Greece," she said.
Questioned on the KKE's low percentages in opinion polls, Papariga said that the party 'measures' the course of the labor movement above all else, taking into account, for example, how many general assemblies of unions take place or the percentage of participation in strikes.
She reiterated that the crisis is a crisis of the capitalist system, not a crisis of management, as maintained by all the other parties except the KKE.
Questioned on the situation in the Middle East, Papariga said that the region has drawn great interest as the antagonism among the major interests increases, adding that the alliances among the various countries change in just days at a time. Asked whether Greece should take part in the 'game', she said that the country will go either with the attacker or be a victim adding that all this concerns agreements of companies that entail no respect or commitment with respect the country's sovereign rights.
On Cyprus, she said that it did well to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC), but again, the agreements are between companies, and do not ensure a solution of the national issue of Cyprus, adding that the Israel-Cyprus-US agreements "could come towards Greece, too".
As for Turkey's threats if Greece declares an EEZ, Papariga said that NATO 'covers' the Turkish violations of the Greek borders, without anyone saying anything about it, and added that the government acts in the context of the EU and NATO. "The KKE has spoken about the borders and the concession of our sovereign rights since Maastricht (1992).
Asked on the prospect of a creation of a Kurdish state, Papariga said that "the slogan for an independent political state accommodates the US"", adding that the slogan of self-determination has matured as a progressive demand in other treaties, stressing that "the issue is whether this will be the people in power, or whether the state will be a pawn".
 Minister discusses health sector reforms with Task Force chiefHealth Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Tuesday received European Commission Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach, who expressed the wish for Greece to receive the 31.5-billion-euro loan tranche as soon as possible thus ensuring the much needed funds for the National Organisation for Health Care (EOPYY) that will be used to pay its debts to collaborating health sector providers.
He also noted that the health minister should take the necessary political decisions to implement measures agreed to with the troika and to proceed with the measures that will accelerate reforms in the sector.
On his part, Lykourentzos referred to the joint efforts made by the Task Force and Greek officials in the implementation of structural reforms in the health sector, including hospital management and e-prescription.
More than 100 specialists are providing know-how for the immediate solution of problems concerning primary healthcare, utilisation of existing personnel in the healthcare sector, price lists for pharmaceutical and the prospect of health tourism.
 Ecumenical Patriarch continues visit to N. GreeceEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Monday visited Sidirokastro in northern Greece, as his visit coincided with the 21st anniversary of his enthronement on Oct. 22, 1991.
The Patriarch officiated at a mass at the town's main cathedral and afterwards inaugurated the Triantafillou Museum. Later, he visited the offices and foundations of the bishopric.
In the evening, he received Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras at the Monastery of Timios Prodromos in the village of Akritohori. Tsipras was on a tour of the region.
 Van Rompuy: Greece's progress will be examined at next EurogroupSTRASBOURG (AMNA/N. Roussis)
'Greece's progress will be examined at the next Eurogroup meeting following the troika's (EC, ECB, IMF) report, European Commission president Herman Van Rompuy said Tuesday in Strasbourg.
Presenting the results of the recent European Council meeting, Rompuy said that Greece has made progress in the streamlining of its fiscal issues and that this progress will be examined in the next Eurogroup and will be based on the troika's report.
Van Rompuy referred to the adverse predictions for the unemployment rate in the European Union, saying that 25 million people, mostly youth, are currently unemployed in the EU and noted that the Union's top priority is the creation of new working positions as well as the social integration.
 Development minister confers with Task Force chief on market liquidityIf there is good will also on the part of the European Investment Bank (EIB), there will be positive news soon on injecting liquidity into the Greek economy, development, competitiveness, infrastructure, transport and networks minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Tuesday after a meeting with European Commission Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach.
Reichenbach, replying to press questions, said he shares the concern of European Commissioner for regional development Johannes Hahn over the liquidity problem.
The negotiation with the EIB for the materialisation of the programme for the provision of guarantees to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) is continuing at technical level, the minister said, while ministry officials have frequently commented that the delay is not due to the EIB leadership but to low-ranking staff as bureaucratic procedures keep arising.
Hatzidakis reiterated that the key to liquidity is the agreement with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' of Greece's international lenders, while Reichenbach noted that the target is to find a solution to the difficult aspect of liquidity, noting that discussions are taking place on guarantees from the Greek state, adding that "very soon we will have some results".
Reichenbach said he was not in a position to judge how the EIB-Greek government collaboration will progress, noting that the Task Force, in tandem, is working with the government so that a solution may be found in the discussions between the two sides and for cash to flow into the Greek market before end-2012 for business plans that have been agreed.
Hatzidakis was optimistic that the programme for the SMEs will be materialized normally and that the cash will flow into the market as foreseen in the relevant timetable, and noted that the effort was continuing to improve the business climate in Greece.
In that context, he added, 'horizontal' measures will be announced next week concerning the fuels market, while announcements and additional measures will be announced within the week on the retail market. Further, at the end of October the plan for exporters will be announced.
 Tourism minister satisfied with contacts in BerlinBERLIN (AMNA/F. Karaviti)
Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, who is in Germany, in response to a formal invitation by Deputy Finance Minister for Tourism issues Ernst Burgbacher, expressed satisfaction over both the climate and content of her meetings in Berlin over the past two days.
Kefaloyianni reiterated that Greece remains a hospitable destination and referred the comments by German tour operators regarding the good experiences of their clients who visited Greece this year.
The minister invited the German government to explain to private citizens as well the Greek people's intention to stay in the euro and the effort being made by Greece to overcome the crisis.
 Greece spectacularly improves business environment, World Bank reportGreece spectacularly improved its business environment during the last year, raising its ranking by 22 steps to the 78th position among 185 countries evaluated in the World Bank's "Doing Business 2013" report.
The report said that Greece was the 8th country with the biggest improvement in the regulatory framework for business activity last year, with Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the US and Denmark ranking at the top.
Greece's current position in the Doing Business 2013 report is a result of the country's performance in facilitating business activities, such as business set-up (Greece ranks 146th), building license (31st), electricity supply (59th), credit access (83rd), tax payment (56th), asset register (83rd), external trade (62nd), clearing of bankrupt companies (56th) and investor protection (117th).
The World Bank, in its report, said that it takes 11 procedures and 11 days to open a new business in Greece, while the cost totals 20.5 pct of per capita income (25,030 US dollars) and minimum capital totals 24.4 pct of per capita income. Greek enterprises spend an average 202 hours annually in tax payment, while total tax rate reaches 44.6 pct of profits.
Greek Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis on Tuesday welcomed Greece's improvement in the rankings, in statements after meeting the head of the European Commission Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach, who also congratulated Greece on its spectacular improvement.
A ministry announcement underlined that the country had achieved the greatest improvement in the past six years, while Greece was also among 23 countries in the world that had showed improvement in at least three of the areas examined by the World Bank for the purposes of the report, indicating that its rise in the rankings was the result of a broad reform programme.
"Today we have the first positive news about the Greek economy for a long time," Hatzidakis said, stressing that this would be heard worldwide and expressing hope that more good news will follow.
"This did not happen by chance and was not done by me. It was done by my predecessors. It is based on work on the level of structural changes, on simplifying the business environment, licensing etc that led to the country's overall improvement internationally, in terms of competitiveness," he added.
He said that the government's commitment was to continue in this vein, expressing hope that this will happen with the support of the majority of the Greek people. He also listed recent examples of such reforms, such as updating market regulations or action to tackle tax-evasion in the fuel market, or planned legislation to facilitate investments and simplify the issue of professional licences.
Hatzidakis said the government had also asked the World Bank for closer cooperation in examining the economy and identifying areas where further improvements might be made that would allow Greece to rise further in the rankings and become more attractive to investors.
 Greek budget deficit falls to 12.7 bln euros in Jan-SepGreece's state budget cash deficit totaled 12.720 billion euros in the January-September period, while the primary deficit totaled 2.070 billion euros, significantly lower compared with budget targets for deficits of 13.531 billion euros and 2.879 billion euros, respectively, the finance ministry announced on Tuesday.
In a report, the ministry said both the state budget deficit and the primary deficit were significantly lower compared with the same period last year (by 7.381 billion euros and 3.999 billion euros, respectively).
Net budget revenue totaled 36.700 billion euros in the nine-month period, down from a budget target of 38.040 billion euros. Regular budget net revenue was 34.142 billion euros in the January-September period, down from a budget target of 34.709 billion, reflecting an extension of tax payments deadlines, although part of this deviation was covered by the proceed of 201 million euros from France and Finland (transfer of bond returns) and property taxes.
The Public Investment Programme's revenues totaled 2.558 billion euros in the nine-month period, down from a budget target of 3.331 billion euros.
State budget spending totaled 49.420 billion euros in the January-September period, down from a budget target of 51.571 billion euros, reflecting lower defense spending and lower capital spending.
 International investing interest focused on touristic portsThe investment interest mostly focuses on the tourist ports according to Invest in Greece managing director Stephanos Isaias, in a document that was submitted to parliament in reply to a query tabled by Independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos.
In the period 2011-2012 the organisation Invest in Greece received 22 requests from international investors manifesting interest in commercial and tourist ports.
The requests came from Australia, Austria, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Hungary, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and the Czech Republic.
 Tourist arrivals down 9pct in first half of yearTourist arrivals dropped by 9.0 percent in the first half of the year, according to figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that according to the Border Statistical Survey conducted by the Bank of Greece, in the period January-June of 2012, arrivals of non-residents from abroad decreased by 9.0%, as compared with the same period of the year 2011.
More specifically, arrivals from Europe, which account for the majority of arrivals of non-residents to Greece (87.8%), registered a decrease of 7.9% in Jan-June 2012 as compared with the same period of 2011, while arrivals from the Member States of the European Union recorded a decrease of 11.6%. Arrivals from France, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Poland and Germany showed a significant decrease in absolute values. On the other hand, a significant increase of arrivals was observed in the cases of United Kingdom, Albania and Spain. As regards to the distribution of arrivals by country of origin, the largest number of arrivals came from Germany (12.8%), the United Kingdom (12.7%) and France (6.3%). Moreover, the corresponding data for the rest of the continents show a significant decrease of arrivals, in absolute values, from America for the period Jan-June 2012 as compared with the same period of 2011.
The analysis of the data by means of transportation and by point of entry shows that most arrivals are by air, while airports with the largest proportion of traffic to be those of Athens (21.8%), Iraklio (11.6%), Rhodes (9.2%) and Thessaloniki (6.5%).
 Russian interest in Greek real estate investmentsRussian concerns and investors interested in purchasing real estate in Greece are reportedly focusing on island properties valued between 100,000 and 200,000 euros, and secondly, in urban areas, according to the conclusions of a second Greek-Russian Real Estate Forum organised in Athens this week by the Greek-Russian Chamber of Commerce.
The event brought together scores of representatives from Russia's biggest real estate agencies.
Outlining the profile and the preferences of Russian investors in the real estate sector, the president of the Russian Real Estate Agencies Federation, Anna Lupashko, stressed that special emphasis is placed on Greece's mild weather conditions, Russian tourists' positive impressions during holidays in the country, as well as a feeling of security, traditional bonds of friendship etc.
 Chambers sign protocol of business cooperationA business mission to the central Italian city of L'Aquila, organised by the Hellenic-Italian Chamber, resulted to the signing of a protocol of business cooperation between the local chamber, the Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Commerce in Athens and the Serb-Italian Chamber of Commerce. The signing of the protocol will enable the three participating countries to form a common front aimed to boost exports to neighbouring countries.
 New Proastiakos station opens near PatrasA new suburban rail station will be inaugurated on Wednesday in the western port city of Patras, a development that extends the network from Athens to Corinth and across the breadth of northern Peloponnese to the busiest port along western Greece.
The station, Exo Agia, will serve commuters throughout the greater Patras region, including the town of Rio, where a long span bridge connects the Peloponnese with western Greece north of the Corinth Gulf.
 People with disabilities demonstrate nationwide over pension suspension pending re-evaluationDefying the rain, people with a disability demonstrated throughout Greece on Tuesday, protesting the discontinuation of their disability pensions and benefits until their re-evaluation by the Disability Certification Centers (KEPA).
In Athens, the demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the Social Security Foundation, while similar demonstrations were held in 36 other cities outside KEPA offices.
Chanting slogans and holding banners reading "No to the euthanasia of the disabled", "Disabled and Poor" and "No to the social exclusion of people with a disability", the protestors in Athens marched to the labour ministry, where they submitted a resolution with their demands.
President of the Confederation of People with a Disability, Ioannis Vardakastanis, the problem with the re-evaluation by the KEPA affects more than 70,000 disabled people, who have been on waiting lists for a long time and whose pensions and disability benefits have been suspended until re-examination by the Health Committees and certification is issued.
The protestors are demanding the resumption of their disability pensions and retroactive payment of disability welfare benefits as of the date of the re-examination application until completion of the re-examination process and issue of a new certificate.
 Stocks end significantly down on profit takingStocks came under strong selling pressure to end significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors opted to take profits after a recent strong rally over the previous days on the market. The composite index fell 2.29 pct to end at 873.51 points, with turnover remaining a strong 90.100 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 2.02 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.36 pct lower. The Travel (0.68 pct) sector was the only one to end higher, while Health (4.85 pct), Oil (4.24 pct) and Telecoms (3.90 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Cyprus Popular Bank (13.79 pct), OPAP (1.02 pct) and Piraeus Bank (0.64 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Metka (5.39 pct), Motor Oil (4.96 pct), MIG (4.78 pct) and Eurobank (4.51 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 100 to 44 with another 33 issues unchanged. Logismos (29.27 pct), Attica Publications (20 pct) and Varvaresos (19.44 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzioannou (20 pct), Compucon (20 pct) and Spider (17.95 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -4.24%
Personal & Household: -0.26%
Raw Materials: -3.25%
Travel & Leisure: +0.68%
Food & Beverages: -1.80%
Financial Services: -3.74%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.26
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.42
HBC Coca Cola: 16.85
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.60
National Bank of Greece: 2.37
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.27
Bank of Piraeus: 0.63
 Greek bond market closingThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 15.32 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 14.75 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.89 pct and the German Bund 1.62 pct. Turnover totaled 5.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.63 pct, the six-month rate was 0.40 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 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 0.47 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,805 contracts with 31,322 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 78,903 contracts, with investment interest focusing on Cyprus Bank's contracts (14,178), followed by National Bank (13,382), Alpha Bank (9,669), MIG (2,352), OTE (2,091), PPC (1,885), OPAP (4,535), Piraeus Bank (14,732), Cyprus Popular Bank (12,114), Mytilineos (474), Eurobank (1,953) and Intralot (277).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.32
Pound sterling 0.825
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.746
Japanese yen 105.4
Swiss franc 1.227
Norwegian kroner 7.528
Canadian dollar 1.315
Australian dollar 1.285
 Akrotiri archaeological site posts 1,300 visitors daily since reopeningThe Akrotiri archaeological site on the island of Santorini which reopened on April 11 after remaining closed for more than 6 1/2 years following the collapse of a steel roof that claimed the life of a UK tourist and injured six other visitors, has attracted droves of visitors in the six months since its reopening, reaching up to 1,300 people on some days.
In September 2005, a steel roof in the archaeological site collapsed, killing a tourist from Wales and injuring another six -- two Slovenian tourists, two Americans, a German and a Greek -- three of them seriously.
The culture ministry at the time had blamed the collapse on "wrong technical choices", and three engineers involved in the construction of the roof over the site were charged.
A new bio-climatic roof of stainless steel and wood has replaced the collapsed roof. Designed by architect Nikos Fintikakis, the new roof ensures zero energy consumption, which renders it a unique energy conservation project on such a large scale internationally. The specially designed openings at north and south ensure circulation of air during the night hours so that the site is cooled naturally, while during the daytime they allow the sun's rays in so as to provide natural lighting of the site.
The paths for the visitors follow, as a rule, the routes of the ancient streets, while a special route has been designed for people with a disability.
Akrotiri is one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean.
The first habitation at the site dates from the Late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium B.C.). During the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium B.C.), a sizeable settlement was founded and in the Middle and early Late Bronze Age (ca. 20th-17th centuries B.C.) it was extended and gradually developed into one of the main urban centers and ports of the Aegean.
The large extent of the settlement (approx. 20 hectares), the elaborate drainage system, the sophisticated multi-storied buildings with the magnificent wall-paintings, furniture and vessels, show its great development and prosperity.
The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network of its external relations. Akrotiri was in contact with Crete but also communicated with the Greek Mainland, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.
The town's life came to an abrupt end in the last quarter of the 17th century B.C. when the inhabitants were obliged to abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes. There followed the devastating eruption of the island's volcano, known as the Minoan or Thira (Santorini) eruption, one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. The volcanic materials covered the entire island and the town itself. These materials, however, have protected up to date the buildings and their contents, just like in Pompeii.
The Akrotiri archaeological site is open to visitors from 8:00 to 17:00.
 Free entrance to Acropolis Museum on October 28 national holidayThe Acropolis Museum will celebrate the October 28 anniversary of Greece's entrance into a victorious war against Italian Axis forces during World War II by offering free entrance between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on that day, as well as thematic presentations organised by the archaeologists-curators on the staff.
The presentations will be part of the "Bright Stories About Fire" activity and will be held every hour between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
 'Balkan Wars 1912-1913' exhibition inauguratedA photographic exhibition entitled "Balkan Wars 1912-1913", hosted at the Secretariat General of mass media in Athens, was inaugurated on Tuesday by government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, as the event marks the 100th anniversary of the liberation of Thessaloniki from the Ottoman rule on Oct. 26, 1912.
Kedikoglou characterised the exhibition as very timely, "reminding us how much we can accomplish if we are united".
The photographs on display are part of collections that belong to the Archive and Library of the Secretariat General of Information & Communication - Secretariat General of Mass Media. They cover the period from the eve of the Balkan Wars until their end with the signing of the Treaty of London on May 30, 1913 and the Treaty of Bucharest on Aug. 10, 1913.
The exhibition will be open for the public until Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
 Guided tours of Parliament offered to the publicPublic tours of Parliament in downtown Athens are available on Sundays by the Hellenic Parliament Foundation for Parliamentarianism and Democracy, it was announced on Tuesday.
All citizens can visit the Parliament building, learn about its history and be briefed on the national assembly's operation and legislative work.
The guided tours are held every Sunday at noon and are available the public, following an advance request at the phone numbers: 210 3692429, 210 3692106 (Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.)
 Greek-American teen collects 80,000 dollars for needy children in GreeceA 17-year-old Greek-American girl has collected 80,000 USD for needy children in Greece, which will go to 'Make a Wish Greece', a branch of the 'Make a Wish International' foundation that was founded in 1007.
Christina Levendi, a senior at Tenafly Highschool, enlisted the help of her schoolmates and organized an event on Sunday at the community center of Saint Trinity Cathedral in Manhattan, and sent out hundreds of e-mails and made hundreds of telephone calls to spread the news of the event.
 Series of events on Greece organised by Greek communities in ChileThe Federation of Greek communities in Chile organised a series of events entitled "Greece always present, Greece rejuvenates the world" in Santiago and other cities where there are Greek communities.
The events included speeches, a presentation of traditional dances and articles in local newspapers.
 Police probe claim of foreign nat'ls mistreatment while in custodyGreek Police's (EL.AS) internal affairs division has begun an investigation into allegations that three foreign nationals -- from Pakistan and Bangladesh -- were mistreated at a Piraeus police precinct, as well as alleged poor detention conditions at the specific station.
Specifically, an anti-racist activist group claims that the detainees were beaten on the third floor at the precinct last Sunday.
 Earth tremor in region of PrevezaAn earth tremor measuring 4.6 points on the Richer scale occurred at 18:30 in the region of the city of Preveza, central Greece, but no damage has been reported.
Its epicentre was recorded 12 kilometres west of Preveza and was strongly felt as its depth was only two kilometres.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beauforte. Temperatures between 11C and 25C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens with northerly 4-6 beauforte winds and temperatures between 16C and 20C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 13C and 22C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's plan for a change in real estate taxation and the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the two party leaders (Evangelos Venizelos from PASOK and Fotis Kouvelis from Democratic Left) who participate in his coalition government on Tuesday, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hour of decisions".
AVGHI: "Samaras afraid of Papandreou's (George, former PASOK leader) end".
DIMOKRATIA: "The drama begins".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Auctions and loan regulations freeze".
ESTIA: "Take-off or disaster".
ETHNOS: "Tax reliefs on real estate to be abolished".
IMERISSIA: "What the rise in the Athens stockmarket hides".
KATHIMERINI: "Labour issues the catalyst of the developments".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "New tax on real estate".
RIZOSPASTIS: "No wait - Organisation of action to block the 'exhausting measures'."
TA NEA: "Real estate auctions frozen in 2013, too".
VRADYNI: "Knife to pensions from the first euro".
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