|Thursday, 18 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-11-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 16 November 2012 Issue No: 4223
 PM in Malta: Recovery in 2013Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday anticipated that the first signs of recovery of the Greek economy will emerge in 2013, and opined that the country, with the policy being followed, will exit the crisis, addressing a European People's Party (EPP) Bureau Meeting in Malta on the theme "The answer is more Europe".
Samaras, the main speaker at the event attended by the leaders of the parties belonging to the European Parliament's EPP grouping, described the harsh austerity policy implemented in the country, stressing that "Greece is going through difficult hours".
"The deficit literally exploded in 2009. After three years of tough austerity, we will reduce the deficit by 8 percent of GDP. Such a reduction, in just three years, has never been done before, but it was accomplished at a tough price, Greece lost approximately 25 percent of its GDP in three years," he said.
The premier said that Greece "has seen the worst face of the crisis, and after the following decisions we took we will have the first signs of recovery next year".
On domestic developments, Samaras said that there is broad agreement in Greece and difficult decisions have been taken, even recently.
He at the same time called on Europe to continue and complete its policy of support for the eurozone countries facing problems and sounded the warning bell on the threat to social cohesion.
"No programme can succeed if you do not have society with you," he warned, and once again expressed optimism, stressing that the Greek success in dealing with the crisis will turn into a European success.
On European unification matters, Samaras reiterated that the next step is a federal union of European states, adding that "together we can accomplish much more than each of us separately".
Samaras had several sideline meetings with Europarlia-mentarians, which were to be followed by a private discussion with Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
 Government spokesman says Greeks will not forgive SYRIZA for undermining national effortGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou reacted strongly on Thursday to an attack against Prime Minister Antonis Samaras by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on account of the prime minister's address at a European People's Party (EPP) event in Malta.
"SYRIZA is not merely insulting the prime minister but is undermining the national effort. We disdain the insults, but the Greeks will not forgive the undermining of the national effort," the spokesman said.
Kedikoglou revealed in parallel that that Samaras "in the framework of the effort for the country's rescue, spoke with leaders of all the national groups of the EPP, the majority party at the European Parliament, while he met with the prime minister of Malta."
Earlier, in a comment on the prime minister's statements, the press office of SYRIZA-EKM had said that "Mr. Samaras is continuing with fathomless audacity to give the impression that he is out of place and time. We do not know whether his prolonged optimism on the 'success' of the programme concerns the explosion of unemployment and poverty and the unprecedented humanitarian crisis that Greek society is experiencing or the absolute absence of his government from the negotiations for the debt".
The press office added that in any case "Mr. Samaras is continuing to travel to Europe proclaiming in all tones his submission to the troika, while he is absolutely discredited within the country".
 AN.EL party disputes PM's statement over econ recoveryThe opposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) party on Thursday expressed its disagreement with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' assertion that the first signs of economic recovery will emerge in 2013.
Party spokesman Christos Zois said, in a statement, that the recession in the Greek economy will be "very high" in 2013, as well, while unemployment has surpassed all predictions.
"Despite the fact that we are not soothsayers, if we examine the predictions of the most optimistic observers, Greek and foreigners, we will conclude that, contrary to assurances given by Mr. Samaras, the recession will be very high while unemployment has surpassed all predictions," Zois said.
Addressing an event attended by the leaders of parties belonging to the European Parliament's (EPP) grouping in Malta earlier on Thursday, Samaras said the first signs of recovery of the Greek economy will emerge in 2013, and opined that the country, with the policy being followed, will exit the crisis.
 SYRIZA leader calls for an end to privatisationsSelling off national assets must stop, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday, adding that the rush for privatisations was instigated by Greece's creditors.
He also referred to a "looting of the country ... taking valuables, the silver cutlery, anything that's left."
Speaking at the Larco mining and metals processor in central Fthiotida prefecture, Tsipras said that selling off the company was "a national crime."
Cutting wages and pensions paled before the sell-off of public assets, he said, and was carried out "so that the national salvation government that will take over very soon does not have tools to rebuild production." He called the case of Larco, the largest ferronickel producer in Europe, "emblematic," as the company turned profits in 2010 and 2011 and represented 3 percent of national exports.
The SYRIZA leader also contested the election of the head of TAIPED, the agency responsible for privatisations, saying the he lacked a majority vote.
 No change in Greek debt policy, Merkel saysBERLIN (AMNA/F.Karaviti)
Germany's position against another haircut for Greek debt remains unchanged, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said here on Thursday.
"Our position on restructuring [the Greek debt] has not changed, neither should it change," Merkel told a press conference after a meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. She urged the Eurogroup, scheduled to meet on November 20, to find a fast solution for Greece.
Ayrault, on his part, said both he and Merkel agreed that "we must do everything to ensure that Greece remains in the Eurozone," adding that if there was "the slightest doubt or reluctance, we would have carried a heavy responsibility."
He added that "the time of decisions for Greece is approaching, and France as well as Germany hope that these decisions come the soonest possible."
Responding to questions about the heckling of the German consul by protesters in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Merkel said "violence is not a way to express disagreement" and added that the right to demonstrate should be carried out peacefully.
 Agreement to cover Greece financing gap at next Eurogroup, Schaeuble saysBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
Euro area countries will reach an agreement on covering Greece's financing gap at the next Eurogroup meeting, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble predicted at a "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" conference on Thursday.
He said that the draft of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika report did not include any recommendation on this issue.
According to the German finance minister, this was now the Eurogroup's "actual task" and it would be solved by next Tuesday.
He appeared confident that the euro crisis will be overcome but warned that this would be achieved gradually and that Europe now needed a solution for Greece that will last for some period of time.
"Imbalances in European monetary union are becoming smaller. One can say we're on the right path," Schaeuble added.
 IMF committed to Greek debt programme, spokesman saysThe target of reducing Greek debt to 120 percent of GDP by 2020 remains unchanged, the International Monetary Fund stated on Thursday.
At a press conference in Washington, IMF spokesman William Murrary stressed the importance of a Eugroup meeting on Nov. 20. The fact Fund chairman Christine Lagard was attending, he noted, was "the clearest example I can give you that talks are not deadlocked."
He added that the Fund remains "fully committed" to the Greek programme.
Reiterating Lagarde's position, Murray said the IMF was looking for a "real solution, not a short-term one ... It's in Greece's interest, it's in Europe's interests, it's in the world's interests, that Greece have a sustainable debt position."
Murray said there are many "technical ways" of reducing debt and a complete picture of the debt would be presented by the EC-ECB-IMF troika in its report, he said.
Replying to press questions, Murray said the Fund had done what it could for the country's debt, and that it was not possible to supply Greece with zero-interest loans. In regard to protests against austerity measures in Greece, Portugal, Spain and elsewhere, Murray said the focus should be on development and job opportunities rather than on austerity.
 PASOK leader meets with BoG chief"We need a new beginning in order for the Greek economy to exit from the vicious circle of recession. The new growth model must be supported by a new banking system," PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday after a meeting with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos at the former's office in parliament.
Venizelos noted that the Greek people put their money in the banks in order to boost not only deposits but also the liquidity in the real economy, so that there will be investments and jobs, adding that "we must ensure this in every way".
PASOK leader said that "we want a liquidity pact with the banks, a restructuring pact with every bank and a pact to restore the value of the banks in the market", adding that "only in this way can we ensure that what we are doing will be felt by every Greek in their lives".
Referring to a PASOK proposal on the over-indebted households and the regulations that were agreed before the general elections with the EC, ECB, IMF troika, Venizelos underlined that "it is very important for everyone who owes to the banks, for every over-indebted household, to feel that a framework that protects him in a just way exists.
 Justice minister unveils new codes for lawyers, prisons; opposes reforms dictated by Greece's lendersJustice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Antonis Roupakiotis on Thursday expressed complete opposition to measures affecting lawyers included in the omnibus bill of structural reforms and prior actions demanded by Greece's creditors, which was passed by Parliament the previous week. In a press conference to present a new code for the correctional system and a new code for lawyers prepared by his ministry, Roupakiotis unveiled draft legislation that directly contravened measures in the omnibus bill pertaining to lawyers' fees and the mandatory attendance of lawyers at the signing of contracts.
The government minister also levelled harsh criticism against Greece's European creditors and accused them of imposing extremely tough terms, while he disagreed with measures on nationality adopted by the government.
"They stepped on our neck. They abolished fundamental rights of lawyers, especially the nouveau poor, who are today working for 400 euro. They demanded and succeeded that there should be no minimum limit for those working in the private sector. This was imposed by the finance ministry and the troika for the sake of banks and insurance companies," Roupakiotis said. A former president of the Athens bar association, Roupakiotis stressed that he did not care if he was called the "minister of lawyers and judges".
The draft legislation prepared by the ministry committee contravenes the provisions of the omnibus bill, which abolished minimum fees or a mandatory requirement that lawyers be present at the signing of contracts.
"The justice ministry accepts the dimension given by the committee, even if this is in conflict with whatever dictates have already been imposed," the minister said.
The measures proposed in the draft legislation instead require that buyers employ a lawyer for all transactions exceeding 60,000 euro in the Attica area and for all transactions exceeding 20,000 euro in the rest of the country, barring donations, endowments and other types of gifts.
For the seller, the ministry committee proposed that an ownership deeds survey be submitted before any contracts are signed.
Explaining the reasoning behind the specific measure, Roupakiotis stressed that the requirement for the presence of a lawyer was waived only where there was land register, which has not been completed for Greece, and that those claiming the opposite were failing to respect the truth.
The minister also disagreed with the prime minister's call for new legislation on acquiring Greek nationality, following a Council of State ruling that judged previous laws passed by PASOK unconstitutional.
"The tougher we make the laws, the more we strengthen Golden Dawn instead of weakening it. The state must see other possibilities at the root of the problem," Roupakiotis said.
He opposed suggestions that Golden Dawn should be outlawed, however, noting that "political problems are solved in other ways".
Presenting the new correctional code, the minister underlined the "shameful" conditions in some Greek prisons, citing the situation at Hania correctional facility, which had 25 beds and 38 inmates, as an example.
Under the new code, inmates will have conjugal rights and for the first time be given access to computers and the Internet for educational and research purposes. Prisoners will also be able to reduce their prison time if they successfully graduate from a completed course of study.
The new code establishes the maximum number of inmates per square metre, giving the citizens' ombudsman, Parliament and other groups the power to regularly visit and inspect prison facilities. Concerning the issue of GPS ankle-bracelets to prisoners during furlough, Roupakiotis said he was waiting for the recommendations of the appropriate ministry committee.
Other innovations introduced by the new code for lawyers include a nationwide exam for registration with local bar associations, with more stringent security measures to prevent cheating. It also stipulates that lawyers can be either Greeks, Greek expatriates or citizens of the European Union.
The new code bars lawyers elected to Parliament or the European Parliament from undertaking to defend cases involving drug offences, sex crimes or other crimes whose defence might shock or offend public opinion.
Other changes concern disciplinary action against lawyers, forbidding the search and confiscation of documents, the arrest and trial of lawyers in a police court for minor offences or their arrest during a trial.
It also sets the fees of salaried lawyers working for banks, public-sector legal entities and other organisations and extends the term elected bar association officials, while reforming legislation for mistrials and making them statute-barred after three years instead of six months.
 KKE party on Council of State's decision on citizenshipThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Thursday on the Council of State's decision on citizenship, stressed that "despite the fact that KKE exercised criticism on the Ragoussis law and tabled a specific framework for the very serious immigration issue, the fact that the government accepts the decision by the Council of State shows that it is starting to make the life of migrants unbearable, even of those who have been living and working for years in the country".
A draft law prescribing stricter criteria for acquisition of Greek citizenship will be presented within the month, according to an announcement by the prime minister's office on Wednesday, hours after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras himself ordered the relevant interior minister to immediately implement a Council of State (CoS) ruling that overturned a controversial naturalisation law passed by the previous PASOK government.
 Nimetz invites Greek, FYROM representatives to talks at UN next weekNEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
The UN Secretary General's personal envoy in the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz has invited the chief negotiators of the two countries, Ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece and Zoran Jolevski of FYROM to meet with him at the UN headquarters in New York on November 19 and 20, and both sides have accepted the invitation, a UN announcement said on Wednesday.
According to the announcement, Nimetz will meet with the two representatives separately and jointly, with the purpose of assessing the state of the UN-brokered talks and aiming at progress in the search for a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.
 Greek FM holds telephone conversation with Albanian counterpartGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, in light of his visit to Albania on November 28, at the invitation of his Albanian counterpart, communicated by phone with Edmond Panariti on Thursday.
Avramopoulos, on the occasion of his presence at the ceremony on the 100th anniversary of the country's independence, talked with his Albanian counterpart reconfirming the mutual will for the further development and deepening of relations between the two countries for the benefit of the two peoples.
 Greece, Cyprus will never accept Turkish invasion, occupation as an accomplished factGreece and Cyprus will never accept the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus as an accomplished fact, the Greek foreign ministry said on Thursday, in a comment on the 29 years since the unilateral declaration of a pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus, which it called an ongoing affront to the United Nations and international law and order.
"The unilateral declaration of the pseudo-state in the section of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish military - which blocks the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue and has led the Turkish Cypriot community into international isolation - is a 29-year, ongoing affront to the United Nations Organization and international law and order," the Greek foreign ministry said in an announcement.
"The UN Security Council has expressly condemned this legally void action and has called on all states not to recognize, facilitate, or in any way assist the secessionist entity that calls itself the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'," the foreign ministry continued, but added that "to date, Turkey has unfortunately continued to ignore the Security Council resolutions on the Cyprus issue and to pursue the international upgrading of the illegal secessionist entity."
"But it does so in vain, because Greece, like Cyprus, will never accept the Turkish invasion and occupation as accomplished fact. We call on Turkey to realize, at long last, that the resolutions of the Security Council and the Republic of Cyprus's membership in the European Union determine the basis and content of a comprehensive and mutually acceptable solution," the ministry concluded.
 Turkish FM comments on Greek Muslims 'without substance,' ministry saysClaims by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference that Greece does not respect the rights of the muslims in Thrace, Rhodes and Kos are "rhetoric meant to impress and without substance," the Greek foreign ministry said on Thursday, adding that such statements did not contribute to a good climate and the building of confidence.
A statement by the ministry noted that fortunately the Greek Muslims in Rhodes and Kos and the Muslim minority in Thrace do not share the belated interest of Davutoglu on human rights, since "they know that the Greek state is a model of respect for human rights and live peacefully with their Christian fellow-citizens".
If Turkey showed the same interest for the ethnic and religious minorities in its territory, "most of which have been extinguished," the ministry said, "the situation would be very different in our sensitive neighbourhood."
 KKE on military operations in Gaza, Syria and IranThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Thursday, condemns "Israel's murderous military operations in the Gaza Strip, which are related with an effort to generalize the imperialistic intervention and war against Syria and Iran, which have been planned and are being advanced by the USA, NATO, the EU and Israel and with the active assistance of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar".
Moreover, KKE asks of the Greek government to "annul Greece's military cooperation with Israel and to immediately shut down the Souda base and in general to not provide the ground, the ports and Greece's airspace (as facilitations) for the imperialistic war against Syria and Iran that will lead the Greek people and the other peoples of our region to major bloodshed and disaster."
In the same announcement KKE reiterated its support to the "Palestinian peoples struggle against the Israeli occupation and the struggle for the creation of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state at the 1967 borders with Eastern Jerusalem as the capital".
 Commemoration of 39th anniversary of Polytechnic students' uprising begins on ThursdayThe gates of the Athens Polytechnic opened on Thursday morning for the annual three-day commemoration of the November 17, 1973 Athens Polytechnic students' uprising that led essentially led the collapse of the 7-year military dictatorship in Greece (1967-74).
Officials, trade union representatives and citizens laid wreaths and placed flowers at the Polytechnic (now the National Technical University of Athens-NTUA) monument.
The three-day events will wind up on Saturday, November 17, with a march to the US embassy in Athens.
A three-day commemoration is held nationwide each year in tribute to a student uprising against the military dictatorship ruling Greece at the time, that was violently put down in the early hours of November 17, 1973 when the army and tanks were brought in to disperse the students that had taken over the Athens Polytechnic building and the civilians who had thronged to the site in support of the uprising.
The commemoration will once again take place under stringent security measures. The various departments of Athens University scattered throughout the Greek capital closed on Wednesday night and will remain closed throughout the three-day events.
The Polytechnic gates will open every morning and close at night during the three days, while teams of students, professors and NTUA workers will remain inside the Polytechnic campus to guard the premises.
Traffic restrictions have already gone into effect in the Polytechnic environs.
The organizers of the commemoration are mulling the holding of memorial events inside the campus in addition to the traditional exhibitions and speeches.
The commemoration of the Polytechnic uprising will be held on Friday in primary and secondary schools.
 Bundestag MP: 'Most Germans no longer believe the Greeks are lazy'German federal parliament (Bundestag) deputy and chairperson of the Bundestag's German-Greek Parliamentary Friendship Group Annette Groth told AMNA on Thursday that "most Germans no longer believe that the Greeks are lazy", referring to recent articles in the German press on how Greeks are viewed in German public opinion.
"Most Germans no longer believe that the Greeks are lazy. They see more what is going on in Portugal, Spain and France and realise that there must be some reason for these reactions. They see that this reason cannot be that the people in these countries do not work enough. They are not so foolish any longer. They are manipulated by the media but the media have also changed. You will not find an article these days in the German newspapers that defames the Greek people. Most Germans realise that the general economic crisis is the cause of the problems," she said.
Asked about a controversial statement that seemed to denigrate Greek workers made by German Deputy Labour and Social Issues Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, who has been appointed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to promote Greek-German local administration cooperation, she suggested that his statement had been taken out of context. Speaking to the 3rd Greek-German meeting in Thessalonki on Wednesday, Fuchtel had said that 1,000 people in Germany do the same work as 3,000 Greeks in the Greek local government.
"I believe that Mr. Fuchtel has regretted that comment, but that reference was made in a context relevant to the efficiency of the public sector. He is not a man to claim that people should be dismissed and lose their jobs," Groth said.
Groth spoke with protestors who had gathered outside the venue of the Greek-German meeting, who asked her about Merkel's views, the troika and the cuts, and during her address to the meeting stressed that "it is foolish for one to claim that the German government wants to oust Greece from the euro".
She said that the European Commission has acknowledged that Greece has made the biggest efforts in the fiscal sector than all of Europe combined, and for this reason the next tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan will be able to be disbursed.
On how to deal with the adverse economic situation in Greece, Groth said that there are large private properties in the hands of fewer than 2000 families, and there is a large correlation between a large state debt and the concentration of wealth. "We must think how the immense fortunes could serve the management of the crisis. The rich should pay. We consider that taxation of the higher incomes, in the context of today's crisis, can contribute to a more equal participation in the difficulties," she added.
 Protestors heckle German officials in ThessalonikiProtesting members of the local government employees' union (POE-OTA) on Wednesday heckled German consul Wolfgang Obermaier in Thessaloniki as he arrived at the "N. Germanos" congress center where the 3rd Greek-German Peripheries, Municipalities and Citizens net was taking place, in the presence of German Deputy Labour Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel and Greek Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
The protestors threw bottles of water and coffee and attacked two members of the German delegation before they were repelled by riot police.
Obermaier during his speech referred to the incident "I am happy to be here and glad that today some protestors took my papers and I can't read them all", and opined that statements by Fuchtel on Wednesday were misunderstood. "Perhaps the misunderstanding was made that the Greek-German meeting wants to cut working positions in Greece's local administration from 3,000 to 1,000.
"I hope we will solve these misunderstandings," he added.
On his part Fuchtel referred to the people's right to protest in a democracy. "Tragic human stories exist...Understanding is needed...Personally I believe that it is the people's right to protest within the framework of democracy...we must give them the ability to protest and demonstrate, because this is the right of every citizen's in a democracy".
Stylianidis spoke of acts of violence that exceed the democratic boundaries.
 SYRIZA calls for former minister's resignation from Parliament over leaked exam paper scandalMain opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' MP for Messinia Thanassis Petrakos on Thursday called on former PASOK education minister Evi Christofilopoulou to resign from her seat in Parliament, following reports that the minister's daughter had set up a vocational training college in partnership with a private school owner found guilty of leaking questions from the 2009 university entrance examinations.
Fotis Bougas, owner of the Bouga Schools in Kalamata, had been found guilty of leaking the exam papers to students and fined by the regional secondary education directorate (PYSDE) while a decision on his appeal to the central secondary education directorate (KYSDE) is still pending. The relationship between Bougas and the minister's daughter was reported by the private school educators' federation (OIELE).
"Mrs. Christofilopoulou has an obligation to resign as an MP since this revelation vindicates - as OIELE's announcement stresses - the president of the federation, who had asked for Mrs. Christofilopoulou's resignation in July 2011 from the position of deputy education minister," Petrakos said.
In an announcement on Wednesday, OIELE said the news that Christofilopoulou's daughter will be taking over as head of the private vocational training college 'Orizon' opening on the premises of the Bouga schools was "an answer to the question about who was protecting Mr. Bougas and intervened so that his case at KYSDE has not been heard up to this day".
The announcement also notes that the vocational training college started up in September, two months before the omnibus bill containing a "convenient" ordinance allowing private schools to offer their facilities for commercial uses after school hours was passed by Parliament. It also pointed out that Christofilopoulou had repeatedly tried to issue circulars with the same content while she was minister but had been blocked by OIELE, based on a unanimous opinion of the state's legal council forbidding the use of private school buildings for commercial uses.
 Health minister briefs president on health issuesDealing with wasteful spending in healthcare does not necessarily mean restricted health services or provision of drugs, Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos stressed on Thursday, after briefing President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on issues concerning health.
Replying to the president's questions about the progress in implementing changes, Lykourentzos stressed the government's determination to manage the funds of the Greek people wisely and with transparency, "putting every euro to work".
"Things in the sector of health are difficult. It was always an area with heightened demands, since we are managing human pain. Now, the conditions are more difficult because, as we said, funds are required but we also have issues because doctors, nurses are retiring," the minister said.
 Professor Liargovas new head of State's Budget Bureau in ParliamentPeloponnese University Economics professor Panayiotis Liargovas is the new head of the State's Budget Bureau in Parliament.
His appointment received a majority vote by Parliament's Regulation Committee with the votes of the deputies of New Democracy, the Democratic Left, the Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn. Apostolos Kaklamanis voted "present" on the part of PASOK, while the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against.
 Labor Minister: 'Social budget' will post 2 bln euro surplus for first time in 2013Greece's so-called 'social budget', which comprises the state expenditures for pensions and benefits, etc, will post a surplus for the first time in 2013, estimated at two billion euro, Labor, Welfare and Social Security minister Yannis Vroutsis predicted on Thursday, addressing the 2nd annual Labor & Insurance Conference on the theme "Labor Market: How will it Contribute to Economic Growth?" organized by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce at a downtown Athens hotel.
Opening the conference, Vroutsis referred to the issue of the minimum salary, noting that an agreement has been reached with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, and will remain steady until the end of the Middle-Term Programme in 2016.
The minister called on businesses to join the employer organizations so that the arrangements that will be agreed among the social partners as terms in the National General Collective Labor Agreement will apply to all workers.
Vroutsis acknowledged that the measures are tough, given that "in recent years 60 billion euros in measures have been taken, which correspond to 30 percent of GDP".
Main opposition SYRIZA MP and shadow labor minister Dimitris Stratoulis, addressing the same conference, said that "despite the sacrifices of the Greek people and the 'haircut' of the state bonds, the debt problems is not being solved but aggravated".
He added that the priorities of a Left government with SYRIZA as its backbone would include consolidation of a "minimum guaranteed income" for all citizens and renegotiation of the harsh terms of the Memorandums.
The main aspect of the negotiation will be a write-off of the greater part of the Greek debt, which he said would not be sustainable "even if half of Greece is conceded and its residents become slaves", and payment of the balance with a "growth clause" as applied in the cast of post-war Germany.
These regulations would be combined with a recapitalization of the banks, which would pass into state control, he added.
 Private sector the hope for jobs, deputy minister tells business leadersJobs in the near future will not come from the public sector, but the private one, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Thursday.
Speaking at the presentation of Certificates for Business Excellence organised by the Hellenic Management Association (EEDE), Mitarakis added that the government's target is not to shrink the public sector, but to develop and expand the private sector by attracting investments, whether small or large.
The deputy minister expressed his optimism about market liquidity, which would receive a boost from 25 billion euros expected to recapitalise banks, 7 billion euros to be used to meet the state's debts to the private sector and 850 million euros in European Investment Bank grants, among others. He expressed his certainty that the incoming cash in 2013 would be greater than the liquidity lost by the fiscal adjustment measures.
EEDE president Constantine Lambropoulos said that the association had trained over half a million business people in its fifty-year existence and set up more than 14,000 training programmes. The association also presented the Quality Leader award for 2012 to Constantine Evripidis, CEO of Genesis Pharma pharmaceutical company.
 Greece posts lowest inflation rate in EU in Oct.BRUSSELS (AMNA)
Greece recorded the lowest inflation rate in the European Union in October (0.9 pct), Eurostat said on Thursday. The EU executive's statistics agency in a report published here said that the average inflation rate in the Eurozone was 2.5 pct in October, from 2.6 pct in September, while in the EU-27 the inflation rate eased to 2.6 pct in October from 2.7 pct in September.
Greece (0.9 pct), Sweden (1.2 pct) and Latvia (1.6 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in the EU, while Hungary (6.0 pct), Romania (5.0 pct) and Estonia (4.2 pct) the highest rates.
The inflation rate was 2.6 pct in the Eurozone in the period October 2011-October 2012 and in the EU-27 2.8 pct. Sweden (0.9 pct), Greece (1.4 pct) and Ireland (1.9 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates, while Hungary (5.5 pct), Estonia (4.3 pct) and Poland (4.0 pct) recorded the highest inflation rates.
 Greek banking system poised to turn a corner, BoG chief says in WSJ articleGreece's banking system is poised to turn a corner, and the broader economy will follow, central Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos noted in an article appearing in a guest column in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper on Wednesday.
He said that the country's reform process is creating a leaner, structured banking sector, which will bring new confidence for depositors and renewed access to capital markets, and opined that three large, strong banks and a few smaller banks will remain on the Greek market, forming the basis of the country's banking system.
This development in the Greek banking sector matters a great deal both to Greece and the rest of Europe, he wrote, stressing that returning Greece to growth is the lever that will finally address the country's challenges: from its debt burden to its budget deficit and rising unemployment.
With the Greek banks well on their way to recovery, the general economy will follow, he opined: ""As Greek banks turn the page on a very difficult chapter in their history, the broader economy will follow."
The next step, he said, will be to recapitalize Greece's most important banks. "Once that process is complete, it will mean stronger, well-capitalized banks, new confidence for depositors, and renewed access to capital markets," he said, adding that he expected that three large, strong banks and a few smaller banks would form the basis of Greece's banking system.
 Tourism Minister: New marketing strategy necessaryTourism Minister Olga Kefaloyanni on Thursday expressed the hope that 2013 will be a better tourist year than 2012, in her opening address to the "Re-Thinking Greece" conference at Acropolis Museum in Athens.
The Tourism Ministry's strategic target for 2013 is Greece's recovery on the international tourism scene and its ascension to the top rankings among the countries with the highest attraction of visitors.
Kefaloyanni noted that tourism can become the spearhead for the country's progress, underlining that not only the structural changes are necessary but also a new marketing strategy. "Greece is not only sun and sea. The Greek tourism must escape from the seasonality trap. A year-round tourism must be established," she said and called for the tourist agents' cooperation.
On their part the tourism entities expressed their satisfaction with the Tourism Ministry's initiative to 'run' the country's campaign earlier than in the past years and called on the minister to undertake initiatives towards solving long-standing structural problems that hinder the tourism development.
 FinMin requests information on Greeks appearing in Jersey Island HSBC listFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras, in a letter to his British counterpart, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Thursday, requested information on Greek citizens with financial activity stating Greece as their base that have bank accounts in the HSBC Bank branch on Jersey Island, a tax haven.
The issue of the new list was raised by "Daily Telegraph" newspaper which cited information that 97 Greek citizens with roughly 22.3 million euros in bank accounts are among the names on the list.
According to the same article, drug dealers and persons convicted of financial and penal crimes are on HSBC's clients list.
 Business Briefs-- The value of bounced checks fell by 34 pct in October to 78.9 million euros and by 34.7 pct in volume, compared with the corresponding month last year, official figures showed on Thursday.
-- Terna Energy on Thursday reported a 42-pct increase in its nine-month net profits (after minorities) to 12.3 million euros, from 8.6 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
 Stocks end lowerStocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as bank shares came under selling pressure again after Wednesday's rebound. The composite index of the market fell 0.84 pct to end at 788.06 points, off the day's lows of 785.19 points. The index was up 1.31 pct early in the session. Turnover shrank to a low 44.517 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.13 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.66 pct higher. The Industrial Products (2.56 pct), Raw Materials (2.04 pct), Technology (0.89 pct) and Oil (0.71 pct) sectors moved higher, while Banks (6.88 pct) and Travel (2.76 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Cyprus Popular Bank (8.51 pct), Motor Oil (3.28 pct), Viohalco (3.14 pct) and Mytilineos (1.96 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (8.23 pct), Piraeus Bank (8.09 pct), Alpha Bank (7.55 pct) and Eurobank (7.12 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 72 to 52 with another 21 issues unchanged. Druckfarben (23.08 pct), Alsinco (19.82 pct) and Pegasus (19.11 pct) were top gainers, while Vioter (19.51 pct), Perseus (17.65 pct) and Sato (17.24 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.71%
Personal & Household: +0.75%
Raw Materials: +2.04%
Travel & Leisure -2.76%
Food & Beverages: -0.29%
Financial Services: +0.80%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and of Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.47
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.18
HBC Coca Cola: 16.95
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.20
National Bank of Greece: 1.45
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.69
Bank of Piraeus: 0.38
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was almost unchanged at 16.19 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 17.53 pct and the German Bund 1.34 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.58 pct, the six-month rate was 0.36 pct, the three-month rate was 0.19 pct and the one-month rate was 0.10 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.04 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to a low 11.359 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,721 contracts worth 3.857 million euros, with 30,326 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 51,104 contracts worth 7,502 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (20,393), followed by Alpha Bank (8,086), Piraeus Bank (8,315), OTE (3,141), OPAP (1,649), Cyprus Popular Bank (2,235), Eurobank (2,554), MIG (213), Mytilineos (286), Intralot (493) and PPC (585).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.294
Pound sterling 0.817
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.777
Japanese yen 105.21
Swiss franc 1.222
Norwegian kroner 7.469
Canadian dollar 1.297
Australian dollar 1.253
 "Discovering the World of Alexander the Great" international conference in NaoussaThe overall picture of the research on Alexander the Great and the impact of his course in the world will be presented at an international scientific congress tiled "Discovering the World of Alexander the Great" which opened Thursday at the Aristotle's School (Ancient Mieza) in Naoussa, organized by the 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities and the Polycentric Museum of Aigai.
The three-day conference, which opens Thursday and will run through Saturday, while on Sunday a one-day conference will be held on the Aigai Palace that includes a tour of the site.
The conference aims to inform the international scientific community and wider public on the "Alexander the Great Virtual Museum: From Aigai. to the Acumen (world)", a major and innovative digital project inspired, designed and carried out by the Ephorate with financing from the National Strategic Reference Framework-NERVE (Digital Convergence).
An overall picture of the research on Alexander the Great and the impact of his route will be presented for the first time. Another important aspect of the conference is the presentation of the archaeological surveys conducted in the countries which constituted the Hellenistic world: scientists of international repute and directors of excavations from Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and also from England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Russia and Greece will sum up their surveys and announce the new historical and archaeological data about the cities of Asia Minor, the southern Levant, Egypt of Mesopotamia, Persia, Baktria etc. Furthermore, researchers, historians and museum directors will talk about Alexander the Great's personality and how he influenced history, myth and art.
The network of cities founded by Alexander the Great and his successors, in which older cities were also organically incorporated by combining local and Hellenistic features, became the geographical and cultural space of the Hellenistic era and the first form of universality. At that time, for the first time, a new way of communication and spreading of cultural goods appeared, a new experience of community and relations between people, a way of perceiving space and time as "our world", and living within it as having a common language, an "ecumene".
At the one-day conference, all new archaeological data which came to light during the surveys in the palace of Aigai will be presented. The emblematic building founded by Philip II of Macedon in the second half of the 4th century BC became the architectural, technical, artistic, political and philosophical model of the public building which dominated the Hellenistic, Roman and Medieval world. The ecumenical aspect of the Aigai Palace will be examined at a roundtable discussion.
 Greeks receive Vatican's Guiseppe Sciacca AwardsVATICAN (AMNA/Th.Andreadis -Syggelakis)
The awards ceremony of the 11th International Giuseppe Sciacca Awards was held at the Vatican's Universita Urbaniana on Thursday.
Young people aged 18-35 with significant activity in the arts, culture, science and society as well as exceptional personalities were awarded.
The special award for Archaeology was bestowed on archaeologist and director of the excavations and restorations in Ancient Messini Professor Petros Themelis.
The Social Work award was given to the founder and president of the "Kivotos tou Kosmou" (Ark of the World) organisation Father Antonios Papanicolaou for his important support of and contribution to children and families that are facing difficulties.
Cypriot Olympic sailing champion Pavlos Kontides received the Sports Award for his success in the 2012 Olympic Games (second place in sailing, which was the first Olympic medal for Cyprus in the modern history of the Olympic Games).
A 17-year-old high school senior from Greece, Giorgos-Nektarios Delis, received the "Maria Grazia Balducci Rossi Award" for Social Sensitivity and Volunteerism.
 Art exhibition to support the homeless of AthensThree hundred artists from all over the world have created and are displaying their works at the "Technopolis" in downtown Athens to support the homeless of Athens.
Artists from Greece, Europe, Egypt, USA, India, China, Morocco and Nigeria responded to an invitation by the art platform "artAZ" to create one work of art for this cause.
The works will be on display in the "Ekplixi 4" (Surprise 4) exhibition running at the Athens Municipality's Technopolis from Friday through Sunday.
The signature of the creator of each work will not be visible and the identity of the artist will be revealed after it is sold.
The exhibition is organized for the 4th consecutive year, with the proceeds going to the relief of the homeless.
 Ministries' mobile phones cost 1 mln euros per year, MP saysThe cost of the use of mobile phones in all ministries is 1 million euros every year, according to New Democracy (ND) deputy Andreas Psyharis' estimations.
According to his press release on Thursday, Psyharis had requested from all ministries the relevant data, and reached the conclusion that Public Order Ministry has the largest number of cell phones (1,000) with total cost of 476,816 euros per year.
The ministry with the least cost (2,000 euros per year) is the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, which has only one cell phone. The Finance Ministry in 2011 paid 99,985 euros for the use of its cell phones, the press release added.
 Western Greece local services on strike Friday, MondayThe Region of Western Greece offices will be shut Friday and Monday to protest layoffs in state and local government. The strike will affect public services in the prefectures of Achaia, Ilia and Aetoloakarnania.
Prefect for Western Greece Apostolos Katsifaras said that basic labour rights were being dismantled, while the layoffs were decided on without any process of evaluation and inventorying of actual needs.
 Eight arrested for burglaries, theft, in raid on Roma campTwo Roma gangs accused of a plethora of burglaries and thefts were disbanded on Thursday by Thessaloniki police, who arrested eight persons in a raid on a Roma camp in Ypsomata, Diavates, while another 10 are wanted.
Five people were arrested, including one FYROM national, and another seven are wanted from the first of the two gangs, accused of carrying out 16 burglaries of private and public enterprises in western Thessaloniki between April 2011 and January 2012, making off with safes containing cash, electrical and electronic goods, jewelry, documents and other valuables.
Three people were arrested and another three were wanted from the second gang, accused of breaking into private residences in Thessaloniki and other cities of northern Greece between July and early November, making off with cash, jewelry and electronic devices.
The members of the second gang are also accused of removing the license plates from 11 cars, which were then placed on vehicles the gang used as getaway cars. Several firearms, a large quantity of jewelry and a number of state license plates were found in their possession and seized.
 Attempted escape foiled at Larissa prisonGuards at Larissa prison on Thursday foiled the attempted escape of seven inmates from a ground-floor cell in the prison's third wing, a justice ministry announcement said.
The prisoners had dug a five-metre deep, nine-metre long tunnel under ground that they intended to use to get out of the prison. The tunnel was discovered, however, due to the vigilance of prison guards, who conducted a thorough search of the cells.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 4C and 21C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 13C and 19C. Cloudy with possibility of light showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 10C and 16C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceA prospective tax on retirement superannuations, the recession in the economy for the 5th straight year and the government's efforts to attract investments were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Disbursement of the 31.5 billion euro tranche certain by the end of November".
AVGHI: "They've turned us back to the drachma GDP".
DIMOKRATIA: "Kicks for Venizelos - Angry small-scale holders of Greek bonds, who saw their life's earnings diminished, lashed out when they saw the former finance minister outside the central Bank of Greece (BoG) on Wednesday afternoon".
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Layoffs via ATM".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: ""New 'haircut' on retirement superannuations and severance pay via Tax Bureau".
ELLADA: "Simitis (former PASOK prime minister) spirit in Samaras (current PM) body".
ESTIA: "Shocking (newspaper) article from 80 years ago".
ETHNOS: "New cut to retirement superannuation via 10-45 percent tax".
IMERISSIA: "Moves for growth".
KATHIMERINI: "Naturalization issue divides the government".
LOGOS: "Bomb from (IIF chief) Charles Dallara".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Recession in the economy out of control".
NIKI: "13 landmark rulings that save the bank borrowers".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggle for welfare structures based on the needs of the persons with disabilities".
TA NEA: 'Haircut again to retirement superannuations and severance pay".
VRADYNI: "All the changes on taxation of real estate and rents".
6 DAYS: "New measures will mean collapse (of coalition government)".
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