|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-10-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 26 October 2012 Issue No: 4208
 Labor Minister: Positive, undisputed steps madeLabor Minister Yannis Vroutsis said Thursday that the outcome of the government's negotiation with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'Troika' of Greece's international lenders "has not belied us, despite the stifling context in which it took place", during a briefing of parliament's Standing Committee on Social Affairs on the developments concerning the labor issues.
Vroutsis said that the government succeeded in improving many of the positions of the initial text for ensuring the disbursement of the outstanding 31.5 billion euro tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan, noting that his ministry completed a round of deliberations with undisputed positive steps.
"It now remains to be seen whether there will be something positive too from Mr. Tsakoglou at the Euro Working Group," he added, referring to Council of Financial Experts president Panos Tsakloglou's presentation of the measures and Athens-Troika negotiation outcome to the Euro Working Group meeting on Thursday and Friday.
Elaborating on the positive developments achieved on labor issues during the negotiation with the Troika, Vroutsis said that there will be no change for more than 85 percent of salary earners, and only workers with large incomes will suffer reductions.
He further said that there will be no further cut in the minimum wage, the three-year salary maturities were salvaged, the free collective bargaining was safeguarded despite the new mechanism for determining the minimum wage, the severance pay was secured at near the EU average, especially for those with small and medium incomes, the procedures of the Labor Inspectors' Corps, which added bureaucratic burdens, were abolished but maintained the aspects concerning protection of the workers' rights, and the time of notice of layoff was increased to four months from the three months wanted by the Troika.
 Minimum wage to stay at current levels regardless of memorandum, labour minister saysThe minimum wage that is currently at 586 euro per month will remain at that level until the end of the fiscal adjustment programme, regardless of what is written in the Memorandum, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis pledged on Thursday while speaking before Parliament's Social Affairs Committee.
"There will be no special economic zones in Greece. I am opposed to something of this sort both personally and in terms of my political proposal," Vroutsis said while briefing the committee on developments concerning labour issues.
He expressed hope that from 2013, when the figures pointed to a primary budget surplus of around 1 percent, the economy would enter a different trajectory resulting in the long-anticipated growth that would slow unemployment.
 FinMin: Gov't determined to table the package of measures in parliamentFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday expressed hope that the deputies of the parties that participate in the coalition government will vote in favor of the package of measures.
Leaving the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) after his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Stournaras called on junior coalition partner Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis and his party deputies to support the changes in the labour regime, which DIMAR refuses to vote for, clarifying that the government is determined to proceed and table the package of measures in parliament within the next days.
The Finance Minister denied reports that a discussion with the EC, ECB, IMF troika is underway in order that the changes in the labour regime will not be included in the package of measures that will be brought to parliament, but be tabled at a later date in a separate article of legislation.
At 18:30 Stournaras will brief the cadres of the other junior coalition partner PASOK on the developments.
 Democratic Left party insists on refusal to accept troika proposals on labour issuesThe Democratic Left party announced on Thursday evening that it remained steadfast on its refusal to accept the proposals of the EC/ECB/IMF troika regarding labour issues.
The party's Executive Committee convened earlier in the day for almost four hours and after examining all aspects of the negotiations between the Greek government and the troika on the controversial issue, issued an announcement in which it stressed that "it insists unanimously and steadfastly on its refusal to accept the proposals of the troika regarding labour relations".
The announcement makes no reference to the government, and appeals to the European partners to reconsider their stance. "We appeal to the European partners and we call on them to withdraw the demands of the troika that reverse rights and achievements of the working people of our country," the announcement says.
According to senior Democratic Left party officials the negotiations will be continuing in the coming days to enable an end to the deadlock and for the measures to be tabled in Parliament for ratification.
The Democratic Left party participates in the Antonis Samaras coalition government.
 KKE leader: troika's main concern is to overturn labour rightsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday asserted that the primary concern of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund was to fully overturn all labour rights because "that is where the profit lies".
She pointed out that disagreements with the government were chiefly centred on this issue and that from this workers should reach the conclusion "that they are trying to find new, tougher terms of class exploitation".
"The disagreements exist because there is a people that is mobilising, because they are afraid of the popular vote," Papariga added, while disputing the extent that such disagreements were "real".
"The thing, in this case, is the following: given that they consider the euro, the eurozone and chiefly the European Union a one-way streets, if they consider the tranche a one-way street, then the disagreements of both are nothing more than a deception of the people," she said.
 Eurogroup on Greek issue likely to be held next weekA Eurogroup meeting to discuss exclusively the Greek issue is likely to be held via teleconference next Wednesday, should agreement is achieved on Monday's Euro Working Group, according to a Finance ministry high ranking official.
The same source said that Thursday evening's Euro Working Group would be adjourned for Monday, allowing time for an agreement between the coalition government's three party leaders on a number of outstanding fiscal and labour market issues, part of the requirements for a rescue package.
In a related development, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras had a meeting Thursday evening with officials from the PASOK party, which participates in the Antonis Samaras coalition government, for a discussion on latest developments with regard to the package of measures required to be agreed upon by Athens before its international lenders unlock a loan tranche of 31,5 billion euros.
On labour reforms, PASOK wants the National Collective Labour Agreement to be extendible also to non-signatory employers. This, is interpreted into safeguarding marriage and long-service allowances for employees whose employers have not signed the Collective Labour Agreement.
With regard to pension cuts demanded by the EC/ECB/IMF troika, PASOK officials proposed that such cuts be applied to pensions of over 486 euros per month, gradually increasing from 6% up to 14%, while retaining Christmas and Easter bonuses to pensioners.
 President, PM in Thessaloniki on Friday for anniversary of city's liberation from Ottoman rulePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras arrive in Thessaloniki on Friday for celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule.
They will attend a doxology in the morning at the church of Aghios Dimitrios (St. Demetrios), the city's patron saint, whose feast day is celebrated on October 26 (Friday).
Afterwards they will go to the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, where Papoulias will inaugurate an exhibition of "Heirlooms of the Liberation 1912-1913" and "Celebration of the Flag: In the footsteps of the liberators", while Samaras and Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou will address the inauguration ceremony.
Samaras will return to Athens in the early afternoon, while Papoulias will remain in Thessaloniki until Sunday.
Three-day events open in Thessaloniki on Friday marking the triple celebration of St. Demetrios' feast day, the 97th anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule, and the October 28 OCHI Day national holiday.
Papoulias will on Saturday morning attend the Celebration of the Flat at the Thessaloniki Officers' Club, where he will hand over the flat of the 100 years of the liberation of Thessaloniki and Macedonia to the head officer of local division of the Evzones (Presidential Guard), which will then be hoisted at the top of the White Tower.
On Sunday morning Papoulias will attend the military parade marking the October 28 OCHI Day national holiday, after which he will depart for Athens.
Defence minister Panos Panagiotopoulos, who is already in Thessaloniki where he will escort the President to the three-day events, is holding talks with the city authorities.
Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos will also arrive in Thessaloniki on Friday for the triple celebration.
The October 28 "Ochi Day" national holiday commemorates the anniversary of Greece's resounding "Ochi" (no) to then Italian dictator Mussolini's demand for free passage to invade Greece during World War II, which brought Greece into the war on the Allied side. On Oct. 28, 1940, fascist Italy presented Greece with the ultimatum, but Greek leader Ioannis Metaxas tersely refused, and the country not only denied Mussolini's forces free passage, it went on the offensive in mid-November and drove the opposing forces back through part of southern Albania.
The main military parade is traditionally held in Thessaloniki, while student parades are held in Athens and the rest of the country.
 SYRIZA's message for October 28 National HolidayA message by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) issued on Thursday on the occasion of the October 28 OCHI Day national holiday, underlined that "the struggle for democracy and social justice is the most substantive act in honour of the National Resistance generation."
SYRIZA called on the people to say "no" to the memorandum and fascism in a peaceful way, stressing that "history is written by the peoples' struggles".
The message underlined that Greece's resounding OCHI (no) to the fascists' demand for free passage to invade Greece during World War II and the Greek Resistance constitute a proof of the power people have when they join forces.
Referring to the recent developments, SYRIZA underlined that labour and social rights are being attacked while public resources are being looted.
SYRIZA also referred to the rise of the ultra-nationalists of Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) saying that fascist, neo-Nazi entities take advantage of fading memory and the economic and political crisis.
 KKE message for 'OCHI' day: people's 'no' to fascism, nazism in 1940 an inspiration for todayThe people's 'no' in 1940 to fascism and nazism, the mass heroic and armed struggle of EAM, of ELAS, with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in the leading role, today inspires, teaches and calls workers and young people to utter their own 'no' to the dictatorship of monopolies, the European Union. To say by organising in work places and neighbourhoods, through their steadfast and decisive struggles, 'no' to the constant measures and memorandums for their destitution imposed by the EU and the governments for the interests of big capital," the KKE said in an announcement issued on Thursday for the anniversary of the Oct. 28 national holiday or OCHI (NO) day.
 Amendment to cap top salaries in state-owned organisations, banksSixty New Democracy MPs on Thursday tabled an amendment in Parliament, attached to the government's bill on privatisations, that will cap the maximum monthly salaries of general directors in state-owned organisations so that it does not exceed the 2,900 euro per month net salary received by ministry general secretaries.
The same measure, which the MPs have asked to be voted on in a roll-call vote, also stipulates that bank governors cannot have monthly salaries exceeding those of the prime minister, namely 70,000 euro a year. For organisations where the state does not have a majority share, the issue of director salaries will be decided at the company's annual shareholder meeting.
 SYRIZA leader asks for detailed breakdown of abolished OEK, OEE assetsMain opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday tabled a question for the finance and labour ministers, asking for a detailed breakdown of the assets and property owned by the abolished Worker Housing (OEK) and Worker Welfare (OEE) organisations.
Tsipras and SYRIZA MP Dimitris Stratoulis asked to be informed on the active sources of income of the two organisations, their cash reserves, a complete list of any property that they owned and an assessment of its value.
 GD's Michaloliakos opposes govt privatisation plansOpposition Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Michaloliakos on Thursday voiced his opposition to the government's privatization plans of state enterprises, but said he was in favour of redundancies of public servants.
Speaking in parliament during debate of a draft bill on the reduction of the state's share in Public Utilities (DEKO) and other state-owned enterprises, Michaloliakos said his extreme far-right wing party shared the view that "national independence requires that crucial sectors of the economy, such as energy and public goods, should be under state control".
"A corrupt and rotten state should be changed, not sold out", the GD leader noted.
 Foreign ministry spokesman on human rights, EU-Arab relations, Western Balkan countries visa issueReferring to allegations concerning minority rights in Greece, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday spoke of "an attempt to fabricate a false situation,"to which the best response was to present the reality existing in Greece.
Pointing out that the "Muslim minority" was the only minority in Greece, he stressed that "marginal groups will not be able to turn a section of the Greek society into a ghetto". He underlined that Greece consistently implements human rights and it will be useful to neighbouring countries to follow the Greek example.
Responding to a relevant question, he said that Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos had suggested recently to his European counterparts the institutional upgrading of EU-Arab relations on political and economic level.
Delavekouras said that in view of next month's meeting between the EU and Arab League foreign ministers, Avramopoulos has underlined that the EU should display interest in the region.
As regards the visa issue, he said that the stance adopted by Greece is a proof of its positive and supportive attitude toward the greater Balkan region.
Responding to a question raised in the EU on the likelihood of having the visa free status for citizens of Western Balkan countries suspended, Delavekouras pointed out that in practice "there is no such issue". He reminded, however, that "Greece has backed the request of our neighbours for a visa free status because it believes that people should be able to travel without restrictions."
 Foreign Ministry spokesman: No developments on FYROM issue"Unfortunately there is no answer to Greece's proposal referring the continuation of the Nimetz procedure on the solution of the FYROM name issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Thursday.
Replying to relevant queries, Delavekouras said that FYROM is displaying an attitude that disdains the UN procedures and adopts "offensive statements" on Greece, creating a climate that does not assist the procedures.
Delavekouras underlined that a change of the climate is necessary, accusing FYROM of repetitive insults and offensive statements against Greece.
On the EU report on enlargement, he reminded that it is only a proposal and only the EU member states' positions have substance.
 Foreign ministry on stance of Turkish consul in KomotiniThe Greek Foreign ministry has requested in a demarche an explanation from Turkey's ambassador to Athens regarding the stance of Turkey's general consul in Komotini, who "is threatening and defaming" the imam The imam had previously reported threats against his person.
An anouncement by the Foreign ministry stresses that the imam, in a written report to the Foreign minister, revealed that he is being threatened and defamed by local inhabitants of his and that he is resorting to Justice (through his proxy lawyer) on the handling of his abusing by an associate of the Turkish consulate of Komotini.
The Foreign ministry's announcement stresses that in the imam's report "the general consul of Turkey in Komotini is also reported as being involved" and consequently the Turkish ambassador was summoned for further explanations. Because "it is not possible for actions of the representative of Turkey in Komotini - in excess of his consular duties - of which we want to believe the Turkish government is unaware, to create frictions and tensions between the two countries" following the visit to Athens by (Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet) Davutoglou and in light of the session of the Supreme Greece-Turkey Cooperation Council, the announcement added.
 Defence Minister Panagiotopoulos briefs parliament on armoured tanks suppliesDefence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Thursday briefed parliament regarding a US offer to donate 400 used ABRAMS armoured tanks to the Greek army, clarifying that the proposal is being considered and no decision has been made yet.
A document signed by the minister was forwarded to parliament in response to a question tabled by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MPs on long-term planning concerning armaments programmes. The MPs asked for clarifications as regards "armoured tanks' supplies that are being promoted, despite the fact that no such approval has been given by parliament".
 Venizelos in Washington on Thursday, will address Brookings Institution event next weekPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos leaves for Washington on Thursday, at the invitation of the Brookings Institution, a DC-based public policy think tank.
Venizelos will address a Brookings Institution event on Monday, October 29 titled "The debt crisis in the Eurozone, the case of Greece and the role of the US", while he will also hold talks with US government officials.
Venizelos will also take the opportunity to see his daughter, who is studying at Georgetown University.
 Gov't spokesman: Initiatives on ERT aim to render it a primary information mediumAll the initiatives surrounding the state broadcasting foundation ERT aim to render the state radio and television a primary medium of information that operates along the European models, deputy minister to the prime minister and government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told parliament on Thursday, responding to charges by main opposition SYRIZA deputy Nikos Voutsis of "phenomena of manipulation, partisanship and generalized disdain of state radio and television".
Kedikoglou denied the accusations, countering that the freedom enjoyed by ERT presenters reached the point that improper comments are made against him personally and against the government, "and we accept this because we are genuinely liberal-minded".
Voutsis also charged biased presentation in the ERT news broadcasts, to which Kedikoglou responded that no SYRIZA cadre has been denied a say, nor has the main opposition leader's address to his parliamentary group 'disappeared', as had occurred in the past.
Kedikoglou further invited the political parties to collaborate in the drafting of rules, a concise legal framework with a 20-year horizon, for digital television "which is the biggest challenge today".
On accusations of hiring at ERT on the basis of party criteria, especially in positions of special advisors, that cost the state broadcaster 83,000 Euros per month at a time when 60 contract employees are faced with losing their jobs, Kedikoglou said that efforts were being made to take advantage of the staff in accordance with their abilities, adding that the ERT Rules of Operation set out which positions may be sought by the free market.
 KKE on the scare prank pulled on its MP Liana KanelliA scare practical joke played by the satirical TV show 'Synteleia' on Communist party (KKE) MP Liana Kanelli, reducing her to tears as she exited a private TV studio where she was a guest on a Thursday morning talkshow, prompted a response by the KKE press office later the same day.
In a gag of highly questionable taste - given that Kanelli had been publicly and viciously slapped on live television by the ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party spokesman Elias Kassidiaris last June - Kanelli left the studio during an advertising break to find herself suddenly ambushed by a man wearing boxing gloves draped in the Greek flag, who came at her pretending that he was going to hit her. The prank was captured on camera to be used in a satirical show airing on the same channel.
The MP was so upset and offended that she immediately left the studio and only returned much later, visibly tearful, after the host of the TV show 'Skai Tora' Popi Tsapanidou publicly apologised on behalf of the channel.
Explaining her reaction to the joke, Kanelli told Tsapanidou "This is not funny for a person that has been attacked. I can deal with the GD politically." She also expressed her anger that the violence against her had been trivialised and turned into a joke, saying this was a precursor to desensitising people to such political violence.
KKE stressed in a statement that "the Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) issue cannot be used to pull pranks and, therefore, the 'joke' played on Liana Kanelli in SKAI TV studios is unjustifiable".
"The specific event shows that the nature of this fascist organization, being a weapon that is used against the workers and in favour of the capitalists, has not been fully realized by the workers. It's even worse, if it has become realized and despite of that it is being presented as a joke," the KKE statement added.
 Security forces prepare for fresh protest actionPolice,?fire-fighter and coast guard trade unions on Thursday announced an escalation of their protest activities in Athens and the provinces.
In a joint announcement, the trade unions said that, at first, a nationwide protest will be staged in Athens on Thursday November 1.
Trade unionists said that they will embark on an extensive campaign to brief deputies of all the Parliamentary parties, in particular those who support the government, as well as Greek society that "they are not asking for anything more than their rights and dignity".
 Olli Rehn spokesman: progress on Greece deal but no final agreement yetBRUSSELS (AMNA- M. Aroni)
There has been substantial progress in talks between the EU-IMF troika and the Greek government in recent days but the two sides still have to settle some technical matters before a final agreement is closed, a spokesman for European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said on Thursday.
Simon O' Connor had been asked whether there were signs that an agreement might be reached by later on Thursday afternoon, when the Euro Working Group is to convene in Brussels to discuss the Greek fiscal adjustment programme.
 Aegean Airlines says acquisition of Olympic Air a necessary moveThe acquisition of Olympic Air by Aegean Airlines was a necessary move in order that the two Greek airlines become viable, dealing with the challenges of an economic crisis and increasing competition in the airline market, Eftihis Vasilakis, vice-chairman of Aegean Airlines said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Vasilakis said that airline passenger traffic was down 30 pct in the last three years, with the value falling by more than 45 pct over the same period. Average airline fare fell by 25 pct despite a hike in fuel prices. Passenger traffic fell significantly in Athens, while regional airports recorded an average increase in traffic of 12 pct. Domestic traffic fell significantly this year (-13 pct), while international traffic rose substantially. Vasilakis said that the international flights market totaled 3.5 billion euros, while the domestic flights market 240 million euros.
He acknowledged that Aegean Airlines suffered losses in the last three years, hit by an economic crisis, higher fuel prices (35 pct of total spending) and financial difficulties by Greek consumers.
Vasilakis said the acquisition of Olympic Air covered only the airlines' flight operations and not its ground handling and technical base, while he estimated that the new company will be ready in a period of 5-7 months from the moment that competition authorities would clear the deal.
He also acknowledged that there will be a reduction in the new company's workforce and said that synergies from the deal will total 30-35 million euros.
Aegean Airlines' vice-chairman also criticized the Athens International Airport's pricing policy saying the Athens airport was much more expensive compared with other competitive airports. Vasilakis said the aim was that the new company will become profitable again in the next two years, to operate a fleet of 50 aircraft in the next five years and 70 aircraft in the next 10 years and to have 10 bases in regional airports in Greece.
 Deputy environment minister receives French ambassadorDeputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Makis Papageorgiou on Thursday received French Ambassador in Athens Jean Loup Kuhn-Delforge to discuss privatisations, developments relating to renewable energy sources and other energy infrastructure projects.
The meeting was also attended by the ministry's economic service chief and observer on the board of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund board Herve Le Roy.
The object of talks was to assist the efforts of the Greek government for action and policy for growth.
 Church of Greece signs cooperation accord on pilgrimage tourismThe Church of Greece and the Church of Moscow have signed a cooperation agreement for the development, projection and promotion of pilgrimage tourism, and is eyeing a similar collaboration with the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP), the Vatican's official bureau of pilgrimage tours.
The cooperation agreement was signed in Moscow on Wednesday by Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu, at the head of a Church of Greece delegation, while a Church of Greece delegation will also visit Rome on October 29-31 to collaborate with the ORP in view of the arrival of a large number of Roman Catholic pilgrims to Greece in the coming months following in the steps of St. Paul.
 Bank deposits up, credit down in SeptemberGreek commercial banks recorded a savings capital inflow of around 1.0 billion euros in September, with saving deposits by Greek households and enterprises totaling 154.3 billion euros at the end of the month, from 153.4 billion euros a month earlier, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that Greek banks' saving deposits were down more than 82 billion euros since early 2010 when the crisis begun in the country.
At the same month, the annual growth rate of total credit extended to the domestic private sector was less negative at -4.5% in September 2012, compared with -4.8% in August 2012, and the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative, amounted to 468 million euros (September 2011: negative net flow of 1.059 million euros), the central bank said.
The net flow of credit to enterprises in September 2012 was negative, amounting to 158 million euros (September 2011: negative net flow of 584 million), and the annual growth rate of credit was less negative at -4.9%, from -5.3% in the previous month. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial enterprises remained unchanged at -4.6%, while the annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries was less negative at -10.2%, in September 2012, from -17.0% in August 2012.
The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was marginally positive, amounting to 2 million euros (September 2011: negative net flow of 108 million euros), and the annual rate of change of credit was less negative than in the previous month (September 2012: -4.1%, August 2012: -4.7%).
In September 2012, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 312 million euros (September 2011: negative net flow of 367 million euros), and the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions stood at -4.2% in September 2012, unchanged from the previous month.
 Travel balance shows increased surplus in Jan-AugTravel proceeds fell by 3.4 pct in the January-August period this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2011, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that a 2.9 pct increase in travel proceeds in August helped in slowing down the rate of decline in the eight-month period. The Bank of Greece said travel revenues from EU states fell by 8.1 pct to 4.857 billion euros in the January-August period, while revenues from countries outside EU rose by 7.0 pct to 2.608 billion euros. Revenues from Germany fell 14.3 pct to 1.1 billion euors, from France fell by 8.2 pct to 628 million euros and from the UK rose by 23.9 pct to 1.030 billion euros. Proceeds from the US fell 15.4 pct to 309 million euors, while from Russia rose by 35.9 pct to 723 million euros.
The country's travel balance showed a surplus of 6.156 billion euros in the eight-month period, up 65 million euros from the corresponding period in 2011
 New Greece-Italy sea link with Trieste terminalThe Minoan Lines coastal shipping company announced that it has extended its existing itinerary Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona with the addition of Trieste as the terminal port.
According to the company, which is member of the Grimaldi Group, the new sea link will be carried out by the cruise ferries CRUISE EUROPA and CRUISE OLYMPIA and the ultra-modern EUROPA LINK.
The sea link will be operated three times a week
 Business Briefs-- Papoutsanis ABEE on Thursday said its consolidated turnover rose around 2.0 pct in the January-September period to 11.6 million euros, from 11.4 million euros in the same period last year.
 Greek stocks end lowerGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday unable to hold on to their initial strong gains as the market remained nervous awaiting a political agreement on a new package of austerity measures. The composite index of the market fell 0.96 pct to end at 881.22 points, off the day's lows of 873.29 points. The index was up 1.29 pct early in the session. Turnover remained a strong 89.791 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 0.80 pct and the Mid Cap index eased 1.15 pct. The Construction (2.31 pct), Raw Materials (2.77 pct) and Health (1.69 pct) sectors scored gains, while Financial Services (2.92 pct), Technology and Food (1.77 pct) suffered losses.
Titan (3.67 pct), Mytilineos (3.20 pct) and National Bank (0.41 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (3.82 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.55 pct) and Cyprus Bank (3.42 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 76 to 61 with another 28 issues unchanged. Alpha Grissin (20 pct), Attica Holdings (19.6 pct) and Olympic Catering (18.89 pct) were top gainers, while Nutriart (20 pct), Hellenic Fish Farms (19.44 pct) and Yalco (18.35 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.70%
Personal & Household: -0.68%
Raw Materials: +1.86%
Travel & Leisure: -0.83%
Food & Beverages: -1.77%
Financial Services: -2.92%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.29
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.75
HBC Coca Cola: 16.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.69
National Bank of Greece: 2.42
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.26
Bank of Piraeus: 0.63
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 15.51 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 16.42 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 17.10 pct and the German Bund 1.59 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 0.63 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.39 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 0.99 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 29.628 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,161 contracts worth 10.416 million euros, with 31,575 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 87,752 contracts worth 19.212 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (35,386), followed by Alpha Bank (11,749), Cyprus Bank (9,897), Piraeus Bank (9,105), MIG (1,080), OTE (1,881), PPC (2,050), OPAP (5,537), Cyprus Popular Bank (3,095), Mytilineos (1,522), Eurobank (3,744) and Hellenic Exchanges (915).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.318
Pound sterling 0.816
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.818
Japanese yen 105.71
Swiss franc 1.227
Norwegian kroner 7.573
Canadian dollar 1.307
Australian dollar 1.269
 Former Athens mayor Dimitris Beis diesFormer Athens mayor Dimitris Beis, elected twice in 1978 and 1982, died on Thursday at the age of 84, after a bout with cancer.
Beis was born in Edessa in 1928 and had studied at the Law School of the University of Athens, followed by post-graduate studies in Paris.
He became involved in the local administration soon afterwards, and was elected mayor of Zographou in 1964, and again in 1975.
During the dictatorship he was sent twice to military court and was imprisoned.
In 1974 he joined PASOK party and was elected Athens Mayor.
In June 1989 he was elected MP, for the first time, for the Athens A' district on the PASOK.
Beis was expelled from PASOK in June 1998 because he refused to withdraw his candidacy for Athens mayor as an independent, in which local government elections PASOK backed Maria Damanaki.
 Largest Greek flag in the world is hoisted at the port of ThessalonikiThe largest Greek flag ever hoisted is flying at the port of Thessaloniki as part of the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the city's liberation from the Ottomans.
The gigantic flag that was donated to the municipality of Didimoticho by Zissis Chrysochoou -- measures 480 square meters (17.46 meters by 27.52 meters) and weighs 130 kilos -- arrived in Thessaloniki on the occasion of its centennial celebrations.
The specific flag, which has been registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest national flag, was first donated to the municipality of Didimoticho in 1998 for the celebrations marking the northeastern Greek town's liberation.
Until 1998, the largest flag hoisted in the world was the Brazilian national flag measuring roughly 300 square meters.
 Parliament vice president's car stolen, foundParliament vice president and New Democracy (ND) deputy Christos Markoyannakis' parliamentary car was stolen on Wednesday.
According to information Markoyannakis parked his car for a short time at Nea Smyrni square in Athens and when he returned it had vanished.
Police found the car an hour and a half later, abandoned in the area.
 Fair on FridayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 2-5 beauforte. Temperatures between 9C and 26C. Fair in Athens with variable 2-4 beauforte winds and temperatures between 16C and 26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 12C and 23C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe all-night deliberations with the troika (EC, ECB, IMF) in order to overcome Democratic Left's (DIMAR) refusal to vote for the changes in the labour regime, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New austerity measures sealed, extension on the brink".
AVGHI: "Cheap tricks to save themselves".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Confession of guilt (by former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou) over the 'Lagarde list'."
ESTIA: "The truth about the compensations".
ETHNOS: "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos agree: All measures in a single bill".
IMERISSIA: "Agreement with hurdles".
KATHIMERINI: "The agreement up in the air".
LOGOS: "The cuts foreseen in the new measures".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Two-year extension plan under the shadow of a political disagreement".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The way opens wide for privatisations and reversals in labour regime".
TA NEA: "Compensations and layoffs- The final agreement - Troika makes small concessions".
VRADYNI: "The changes in tax exemptions, parental gifts, donations, inheritances".
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