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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-01-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 Issue No: 4283

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras holds meeting with Qatari counterpart al Thani
  • [02] PM begins visit to Qatar, investments high on the agenda
  • [03] Greek and Turkish prime ministers meet in Qatar
  • [04] Greece unveils plan to integrate state pension funds
  • [05] KKE slams minister's reference to 'clientist' pension system
  • [06] SYRIZA leader calls for elections before German polls
  • [07] DIMAR central committee sec. gen. on cooperation with SYRIZA
  • [08] KKE leader: Reversal means change of policy, not gov't
  • [09] Farmers awaiting outcome of meetings with party leaders
  • [10] Farmers briefly interrupt traffic near Nikaia junction on PATHE
  • [11] PASOK leader meets protesting farmers, urges 'dialogue' to solve problems
  • [12] Tsipras meets with farmers' representatives
  • [13] SYRIZA leader's letter to parliament president on farmers' problems
  • [14] Bus workers vote to decide further moves, buses to run normally on Wed.
  • [15] OSE, Proastiakos trains and buses on 24-hour strike from midnight on Wed.
  • [16] ETUC condemns Greek government's strike breaking tactics
  • [17] UN envoy Nimetz to hold meetings with Greece, FYROM representatives
  • [18] MP Dora Bakoyannis cleared of submitting inaccurate wealth statement
  • [19] FinMin sees 'light at end of tunnel', growth in 2014
  • [20] Task Force chief: Entrepreneurship, innovation the ingredients for growth, employment
  • [21] Investments in Greek wind power sector total 2.5 bln euros in 2012
  • [22] Tender for Ano Liosia waste processing plant
  • [23] Greek PPI up 4.7 pct on average in 2012
  • [24] Greek travel balance shows 8.2 bln-euro surplus in Jan-Nov
  • [25] Overdue debts to PPC at 1.27 billion euros, Parliament informed
  • [26] Forthnet terminates merger talks
  • [27] Business Briefs
  • [28] Greek stocks end moderately lower
  • [29] Greek bond market closing report
  • [30] ADEX closing report
  • [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [32] Google-supported study details Internet use in Greece
  • [33] Search for missing hiker continues
  • [34] Hospital doctors complain of staff shortages ahead of strike
  • [35] Aiginio residents take over toll post, wave drivers through without charge
  • [36] Female English teacher arrested for child porn
  • [37] Bank employee faces embezzlement charges
  • [38] Contraband merchandise destroyed by authorities in Piraeus
  • [39] 4.3R quake in sea region between Crete and Karpathos
  • [40] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [41] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras holds meeting with Qatari counterpart al Thani

    DOHA (AMNA/Sp. Koutzanis)

    A new staring point in Greece-Qatar relations was the focal point in remarks made after a meeting on Tuesday evening here by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Qatari premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani.

    During their meeting it emerged that both countries are interested in striking investment cooperation in sectors of mutual interest, such as tourism, energy and constructions.

    Samaras said Greece offers good opportunities for investments, while his Qatari counterpart said that his country, too, considers the prospect of going ahead with investments, e.g. in small- and medium-size enterprises.

    Ministers and major companies from both countries are expected to hold contacts in coming months to discuss further moves.

    The Greek prime minister said that the main goal of his visit was to "bring closer the State of Qatar and the investment opportunities offered by Greece. Our country offers significant investment opportunities that can be tapped by Qatar."

    "We had a dramatic crisis in Greece that made us wiser, more determined and stronger and not rely on specific timetables to know exactly what we will do," Samaras noted, adding that "we presented a new agenda of programs with deadlines and will continue discussions."

    "To find serious investors is not easy; we are serious investors and friends," Al Thani stressed.

    "We prefer interstate agreements which are fairer and more efficient for both sides, but we know the European commitments of Greece."

    Qatar's prime minister made special reference to his intention to participate together with Greece for the joint establishment of a special fund to finance Greek SMEs. As an example, he pointed to a similar agreement with Italy, in which both countries contributed one billion euros.

    [02] PM begins visit to Qatar, investments high on the agenda

    DOHA (AMNA/Sp. Goutzanis)

    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras begins an official visit to Qatar on Tuesday afternoon, during which he will meet with his Qatari counterpart and the Emir of Qatar aiming at enhancing economic relations between the two countries and attracting investments to Greece.

    Two accords will be signed during the meeting, one setting up a Greece-Qatar Business Council, which has been drafted by the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) and an inter-state cultural cooperation accord.

    Samaras, who arrived in Doha on Monday evening accompanied by several ministers and a 40-member business delegation, aims at attracting investments to Greece and rekindling Qatari investment interest.

    Samaras will meet with the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, on Tuesday afternoon.

    On Wednesday he will meet with the heir apparent to the Qatari throne, the Crown Prince of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Khalifa Al Thani, followed by a meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, after which he will attend the signing of the agreement for the establishment of a Greece-Qatar Business Council.

    The Greek premier will also attend a lunch hosted by Arab businessmen.

    Samaras will further visit the Museum of Islamic Art before departing Qatar on Wednesday evening.

    Samaras is accompanied Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Defence Minister Panos Panatiotopoulos, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, deputy development minister Notis Mitarakis, deputy energy minister Asimakis Papageorgiou, foreign ministry secretary general Panagiotis Mihalos, state deputy Chryssanthos Lazaridis, and Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) CEO Yiannis Emiris.

    The agenda of the discussions focuses on all issues of mutual interest, including energy, Greek state property denationa-lizations and tourism investments.

    Although Qatar prefers direct inter-state agreements in its areas of interest, the Greek side has stipulated that, at least with respect to participation in the denationalizations and privatizations, investment interest must be manifested via the relevant international tenders.

    The members of the large business delegation, representing a wide range of activities, are expected to close or at least prepare deals with their Qatari counterparts.

    Also in Doha are senior executives of four large Greek banks -- National Bank of Greece (NBG), Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank, Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. President and Managing Director Konstantinos Pilalis, and New Acropolis Museum president Dimitris Pantermalis.

    [03] Greek and Turkish prime ministers meet in Qatar

    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a informal 40-minute-long meeting on Tuesday at the hotel where both leaders are staying in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

    The meeting was held in the presence of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the Greek prime minister's diplomatic office director Stavros Vassilopoulos.

    The two leaders agreed to hold a broad-spectrum intergovernmental meeting on March 5 in Ankara to be attended by the Greek prime minister and a number of ministers.

    Prime Minister Samaras raised the "issue of the Greek rights in the sea", while privatisations were also among the issues briefly discussed at the meeting, with Erdogan noting that they had helped his country overcome the crisis.

    They also discussed issues of mutual interest, as well as economic developments in Europe and the region.

    [04] Greece unveils plan to integrate state pension funds

    The Greek government on Tuesday unveiled a plan to restructure the country's pension system through the financial integration of various sectors and by creating single set of rules and regulations for each pension organisation.

    Presenting the plan, Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said it envisaged the administrative and operational integration of 90 different pension registers and 60 different social insurance sectors which have been merged into the six main pension agencies of the country and continue to have "financial and accounting independence".

    The minister said that this situation has resulted in "bureaucracy, complexity, loss of revenue and problematic services to pensioners, increased administrative costs, inadequate statistics and undermined the ability to draft efficient policies".

    Ministry officials stressed that these changes should have been made years ago, but always stumbled on the fear of the "political cost", while they dismissed any possibility of further cuts in pensions because of these changes.

    According to the basic directions presented by the Labor minister, a coordinating commission will work on four axes: tracking down illegal pensions, collecting overdue debt and combating social contribution evasion through a single and simplified way of collecting debt and cutting administration costs.

    The commission will work under specific timetable and will convene at least once every month.

    Vroutsis described the country's pension system as a "mosaic of exceptions and special regimes built over the years of the basis of clientist attidents" and still remained "labyrinthine and fragmented".

    "We have no right to make the same mistakes again, leaving difficult decisions for tomorrow. We have no right to lose more opportunities," the minister told reporters, adding: "This is something that the next generations of Greeks will not forgive".

    Ministry sources said cuts made so far in basic and supplementary pensions saved around 1.4 billion euros for pension funds, of which 500 million euros from IKA, 2.4 billion euros from abolishing Christmas bonuses and 817 million euros from abolishing a favourable measure in social contributions paid by high-wage earners.

    [05] KKE slams minister's reference to 'clientist' pension system

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday strongly criticised Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis for his statements about Greece's pension system, especially his suggestion that the pensions and benefits received by workers were the result of "clientist attitudes", and noted that governments, big businesses and banks had for years plundered social insurance fund reserves.

    "Workers and especially the younger generation should rise up to put an end to this ongoing crime being carried out at their expense. The goal of the government and the EU is one: that they should not have basic insurance and benefits and that instead of a pension they should receive a welfare benefit in deepest old age," a party announcement said.

    [06] SYRIZA leader calls for elections before German polls

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called for general elections in Greece, saying they should be held before the German elections -- scheduled for September -- in order to halt Greece's catastrophic course, pledging that SYRIZA, as the new government to emerge, would seek a viable solution for the country.

    In a late-night interview on state NET television channel, Tsipras opposed the government's privatizations policy, calling it a looting of the state, and called for a clampdown on corruption and for the problems of bureaucracy and the environment to be dealt with.

    Tsipras said his party opposed the "looting" of the state, adding that any privatizations made should have social reciprocity.

    He further said that the problems of bureaucracy, corruption and the environment need to be tackles and a climate of stability is needed in order for the country to attract investments, while the "local oligarchy comprised of a few families that control the country's political and economic life" also must be dealt with.

    On his recent meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin, Tsipras said he presented the latter with the "numbers proving the failure of the (austerity) programme".

    Questioned on latest opinion polls showing a rise in the popularity of the coalition government and its supporting parties, Tsipras opined that after the disbursement of the recent tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan a false expectation was created by the government "while all around us there is a harsh reality: the tranches the country is receiving are barely sufficient to keep the banks from going bankrupt, but are not enough for the Greek people not to go bankrupt".

    He said that SYRIZA would form an alliance "even with the devil" to achieve results for the country, while adding that the International Monetary Fund must clash openly with Germany instead of mincing its words.

    Tsipras also said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was not telling the truth to the German people, in light of the upcoming elections, that the programme for Greece has failed.

    The interview drew the reaction of the government, with government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accusing Tsipras of "political opportunism".

    "In a new show of political opportunism, Mr. Tsipras, now that he sees that the ship is saved, appears to have changed course. Even if he teams up with the devil, though, he still remains without a compass," Kedikoglou commented.

    [07] DIMAR central committee sec. gen. on cooperation with SYRIZA

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) central committee secretary general Spyros Lykoudis on Tuesday, referring to a possible cooperation with main opposition SYRIZA, said that there are no open roads, but "we could cooperate, our party has no reservations on political alliances".

    "The question is not whether DIMAR could co-exist with SYRIZA but under what policy they could co-exist," said Lykoudis, speaking to private radio 'Vima'.

    [08] KKE leader: Reversal means change of policy, not gov't

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will insist on the reorganization, restructure and rebirth of the labour and popular movement, KKE secretary general Aleka Papariga said, speaking on private Kontra TV channel late Monday.

    Papariga said that the people must believe that they can win, but at the moment they do not believe it, and for this reason they are vulnerable to any kind of pressure.

    She also noted that in any case, the labour movement's opposition against any government is not enough, what is necessary is to fight against the policy being implemented. "Reversal does not mean change of government if the same policy remains the same".

    Referring to main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' recent visits to Germany and the US, the KKE leader noted that "we are not demonizing the visits per se" but added that "the purpose of these visits was to reassure them to not fear SYRIZA even as a 'governmental interval'."

    Asked on government's economic policy, Papariga said, beyond the KKE's positions, that they are trying to attract investments, something that may succeed, but at the expense of the people's interests. She added that a Greek exit from the eurozone has probably been avoided, "unless the crisis in the eurozone is aggravated".

    Concluding, Papariga said that the KKE will not say to the people that without struggle and sacrifices, and 'just by pushing a button', things will change.

    [09] Farmers awaiting outcome of meetings with party leaders

    Farmers throughout northern Greece are awaiting the outcome of their nationwide coordinating body's meetings with the party leaders in order to decide on the future of their mobilizations. On Tuesday the farmers' representatives will meet with main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and afterwards with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.

    Farmers from Thessaly remain with their tractors at the Nikaia interchange near Larissa on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, and at 12 noon will decide on their further action. In Imathia prefecture, the farmers have lined up their tractors at the Kouloura interchange on Egnatia highway.

    [10] Farmers briefly interrupt traffic near Nikaia junction on PATHE

    Traffic on the Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki (PATHE) national highway was interrupted for some 15 minutes just after 1:00 pm on Tuesday by roughly 400 farmers who held a meeting in the middle of the street near the Nikaia junction to decide on the course of their mobilizations.

    In defiance of police that did not allow them to line up their tractors along PATHE on Monday and which since then remain parked on the old Larissa-Athens national motorway, the farmers marched on foot on PATHE where they "set up camp" to hold their meeting.

    Traffic was diverted through Platikampos for the duration of the meeting of the protesting farmers.

    [11] PASOK leader meets protesting farmers, urges 'dialogue' to solve problems

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, leader of one of the junior parties in Greece's coalition government, on Tuesday held a meeting with a delegation from a farmers' union representing Greece's protesting farmers.

    Afterward, Venizelos announced that he would raise farming issues with his coalition partners at their next meeting and that this should also be attended by the ministers involved, including the finance and labour ministers, "so that the state can give an immediate and credible solution where it can and begin dialogue on issues that need to mature".

    Asked whether he had asked farmers not to block major roads, Venizelos said that it was PASOK's standing position that no mobilisation must create problems for society as a whole and stressed that he had called for dialogue and solutions instead of mobilisations.

    "Just as we had a positive development in issues concerning public transport, so we believe the political and social maturity of the farming world and its representatives will help so that society is not made to suffer," he said.

    Speaking on behalf of the delegation from the 'Initiative for Unity and Reformation of the Farming Trade Union Movement' that met with Venizelos, Yiannis Panagis said the stance adopted by farmers from here on will depend on "political decisions and the answers of politicians".

    In seeking the meeting with Venizelos, farmers wanted to come away with political solutions and commitments, he added, and their message to PASOK's leader as a partner in the coalition government was that they need answers concerning the government's plans for farmers and whether it really wanted a health primary production sector.

    "We are mobilising for an entire society. We want to generate wealth, so let us do it," he added.

    Other members of the delegation noted that farmers had not intended to block roads and that an incident where farmers briefly blocked the national highway was triggered by an argument with police in Lamia.

    Farmer unionists listed a series of issues that they said were taking the wind out of the sails of farmers and preventing the sector from acting as a 'steam engine' for economic recovery, including high production costs, lack of prompt VAT refunds and raised costs for supplies, power and fuel.

    [12] Tsipras meets with farmers' representatives

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday warned of the danger of a food crisis arising from farmers' inability to produce wealth, in statements after his meeting with farmers' representatives from all over Greece.

    Tsipras announced that within the day he will send a letter to parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis in which he will ask for an off-the-agenda debate in parliament at party leaders' level regarding the problems of the farming world. Moreover, Tsipras attacked Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, expressing the hope that this time the 'vanished' from the parliament prime minister will appear. "Enough with the public relations tricks," said Tsipras, noting the dramatic conditions prevailing in the farming world and not only.

    "The farmers," said Tsipras "agonizingly ask to be able to produce wealth. They are not beggars, they are not asking for money, they want to be given the ability to produce".

    The SYRIZA leader also said that the memorandum policies are dissolving the country's fabric and leading to a food crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and called on everyone to undertake their responsibilities. If this does not happen then the country will continue to borrow continuously in order to stand on its feet, which cannot solve any problem.

    On the farmers unions' part, Christos Goyas said that a new initiative on the farmers' side exists that unites tens of unions around Greece, the sole aim of which is to seek the ability to produce

    [13] SYRIZA leader's letter to parliament president on farmers' problems

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called for an off-the-agenda debate in parliament on the farming sector problems, in a letter addressed to parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis on Tuesday.

    In his letter, Tsipras refers to the farmers' mobilizations, which he said aim to publicize the increased problems faced by the primary sector of the economy.

    "The farmers are agonizingly asking that they be given the ability to produce wealth, an ability they are deprived of by the memorandum's policies implemented by the government," said Tsipras, underlining that "these policies are pushing the farming world to squalor, dissolve the productive fabric and lead the country to a food crisis and, finally, to a humanitarian crisis". In light of this coming crisis, I believe that is necessary for all the political forces of the country to take a position," said Tsipras, concluding: "The government and the prime minister in particular must appear in parliament and give answers to the farmers' problems".

    [14] Bus workers vote to decide further moves, buses to run normally on Wed.

    A voting procedure was still in progress late Tuesday evening by striking bus employees to decide further moves with regard to continuing their industrial action.

    The result of the vote is not expected until after midnight, owing to the large number of employees coming to vote, estimated to over 4,000.

    However, according to unionists, buses are expected to run normally on Wednesday, irrespective of the outcome of the vote.

    [15] OSE, Proastiakos trains and buses on 24-hour strike from midnight on Wed.

    Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) trains and buses will start a 24-hour strike from midnight on Wednesday, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Proastiakos suburban railway will not be running as well, while there will be no metro service between Doukissis Plakentias Station and the Athens Airport.

    OSE will reimburse passengers who bought tickets for the period of the strike, either returning the cost of the ticket or issuing "travel coupons".

    The strike action will also affect some journeys scheduled to begin on Wednesday (the day before the strike), including the 500 and 501 services on Athens-Thessaloniki line, the 1686 Alexandroupolis-Dikaia train, the 2536 Athens-Halkida-Athens train, the 743 and IC 85 on the Thessaloniki-Edessa-Florina-Thessaloniki line, the 3593 and 3592 on the Thessaloniki-Larissa-Thessaloniki line and the 2576 and 2577 on the Larissa-Volos-Larissa line.

    During the strike, all passenger and goods trains are cancelled, as are all bus journeys within the network, with the exception to the tourist trains on the Diakopto-Kalavryta-Diakopto line.

    After the strike, the 500 and 501 trains between Athens and Thessaloniki will be running without car-transportation carriages.

    The Alexandroupolis-Dikaia 1681 train and the Florina-Thessaloniki IC82 train will not be running on Friday, the day after the strike action.

    [16] ETUC condemns Greek government's strike breaking tactics

    The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on Tuesday condemned Greek authorities' use civil mobilisation legislation to break a strike by Greek public transport workers fighting to "maintain a collectively agreed public sector wages scheme".

    The ETUC announcement noted that the legislation, rarely invoked since the collapse of Greece's military dictatorship in 1974, can lead to terms of imprisonment of up to five years and has now been used against striking metro workers in Athens.

    According to ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Segol, "the wheeling out of emergency powers to enforce austerity policies is unacceptable."

    Referring to an ETUC special anniversary conference panel held on Monday that included Greek trade union president Yannis Panagopoulos and European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn, Segol noted that Rehn had spoken "of 'cherished' social model and of the benefits of social dialogue."

    "We call on him to tell the Greek government that their action is exactly the wrong way to get out of the crisis," she added.

    [17] UN envoy Nimetz to hold meetings with Greece, FYROM representatives

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    The UN secretary general's special envoy, Matthew Nimetz, will be having separate meetings here on Tuesday with the representatives of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Zoran Jalevski, respectively.

    On Wednesday, a joint meeting will be held at the UN headquarters. According to a recent announcement by the UN Secretariat, Nimetz's latest efforts are aimed at following up on the discussions in Athens and Skopje, Jan. 9 and 11, 2013, respectively, with senior government officials.

    [18] MP Dora Bakoyannis cleared of submitting inaccurate wealth statement

    An Appeals Justices Council ruling on Tuesday finally cleared the MP Dora Bakoyannis of having submitted an inaccurate statement of wealth in 2011.

    The case involved a sum of one million dollars that the MPs husband Isidoros Kouvelos had obtained by selling stocks in the United States, which he then sent to the United Kingdom to pay for a newbuilt ship.

    The ruling closes the case, following the acquittal of Kouvelos for colluding in the submission of an inaccurate statement of wealth last November.

    Bakoyannis had asked Parliament to lift her immunity for prosecution in relation to the case so that it could be fully investigated.

    Greek MPs are required to submit public statements of wealth listing all their incomes and assets every year.

    Financial News

    [19] FinMin sees 'light at end of tunnel', growth in 2014

    Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournars opined that the worst is over for Greece, with growth returning in 2014, in an interview with the BBC released on Tuesday. "There is definitely a glimmer of hope; light at the end of the tunnel," he said, adding that the probability of a Grexit -- Greece leaving the eurozone -- "is now very small".

    "We have managed to turn the economy around. From the markets, there's much more optimism. Deposits are coming back to the banks, the government is paying its arrears to the private sector and there is a change in how Europe sees us. So all the leading indicators are positive," he said.

    "We are two-thirds of the way towards our target, so people can have hope," he added.

    Stournaras expressed conviction that growth will come in 2014. "Towards the last quarter of 2013, we are going to have recovery," he said, adding that he feels "100 percent certain that this will be the last year of Greece's recession."

    On the sustainability of the Greek debt and responding to a relevant question, Stournaras said that "I would welcome a reduction of the level of debt -- but there are many ways to achieve that -- but it should happen in a way that minimizes the loss to other parties".

    Asked on the possibility of more spending cuts, Stournaras replied that "if we implement this year's reform programme, there will be no more austerity packages...no more cuts to wages, benefits and pensions", but was critical of the policy of harsh austerity imposed on Greece, underlining though that without the bailout money Greece would have found itself outside the eurozone, which would have meant disaster.

    "Greece was forced to cut too far, too fast. In hindsight, we should have placed more emphasis on structural reform and privatizations at the start," he said.

    "But we can't go back. There's no point crying over spilt milk. The eurozone was not prepared for the crisis," Stournaras added.

    On the talk of "Brexit" -- a potential departure of Britain from the EU -- which was sparked by British Prime Minister David Cameron's speech last week, Stournaras warned that "it would be a grave mistake for Britain to leave the EU".

    "Britain belongs to Europe politically, financially and from a cultural point of view," he continued.

    Asked if Greece would accept Britain renegotiating the terms of its EU membership, Stournaras warned: "That would open a Pandora's Box. Everybody would like to do the same. So that would spell the end of the European Union."

    Six months after assuming the Finance Ministry, Stournaras is convinced that Greece will make it. "Now that Greece has turned a corner, I'm actually enjoying the job," he said.

    [20] Task Force chief: Entrepreneurship, innovation the ingredients for growth, employment

    "Greece needs to find ways to boost growth and employment. Entrepreneurship and innovation are essential ingredients for success in this respect," European Commission Task Force for Greece chief Horst Reichenbach said on Tuesday, during a visit to the Corallia-Hellenic Technology Clusters Initiative at the Athens InnoCenter in Maroussi.

    Greece, he added, "can utilize its own wealth of talent and skills and become a world-class player", noting that initiatives such as Corallia, which has been heavily engaged in underpinning entrepreneurship and innovation, "prove that it can be done".

    Reichenbach, accompanied by head of the Task Force's Athens office Georgette Lalis and Task Force members Maria Velentza and Pauline Weinzierl, was briefed by the Corallia management team on the projects initiated and undertaken by Corallia to boost young entrepreneurship, support cluster development and regional specialization and launch and operate thematic innovation centers.

    The two sides discussed best practices that may be applied in Greece for the best possible utilization of European Structural Funds and towards the elimination of red tape and other regulatory and administrative barriers presently inhibiting Greece's growth and economic development. Focus was placed on the need to further boost Greece's innate strengths such as its human capital and scientific capacity in universities, research centers and startups through innovation and entrepreneurship related interventions.

    Horst said afterwards that it was agreed that the "Task Force and Corallia will work closely to explore potential opportunities to transpose Corallia's practices at large scale".

    The Corallia Clusters Initiative -or in short Corallia- is the first organization established in Greece for the management and development of innovation clusters, in specific sectors and regions of the country, within which actors operate in a coordinated manner. In those clusters, Corallia acts as Cluster Facilitator implementing specific support actions, which involve all innovation ecosystem actors, including industry, universities, research centers, financial institutions, regional and national authorities, infrastructure providers, suppliers and buyers, media, etc.

    Corallia has supported, up to date, the development of highly-specialized clusters in knowledge-intensive thematic sectors with a strong exports-orientation, possessing examples of success stories, such as the first and most mature innovation cluster in Greece, the mi-Cluster (nano/microelectronics based systems and applications), and two emerging ones, the si-Cluster (space technologies and applications) and gi-Cluster (gaming technologies and creative content). Additionally, Corallia has performed preparatory actions and has contributed to the kick-off of clusters in other sectors.

    Corallia has pushed forward the hyper-concentration of industrial members of clusters in thematic Innovation Centers in order to accelerate the bonds of cluster members and establish reference points for the sectors. It operates two Innovation Centers for the microelectronics sector, the Athens InnoCenter in Maroussi, where its Headquarters are also located, and the Patras InnoHub at Kastritsi, Patras.

    Corallia also implements an extensive Young Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (YEAP!) since 2006.

    Corallia's activities are financed by the private sector, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and National funds under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship, the Regional Operational Programmes, the Hellenic Public Investments Programme, the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, the Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme of the European Union and donations from the private sector, foundations and other benefactors.

    [21] Investments in Greek wind power sector total 2.5 bln euros in 2012

    The value of investments made in renewable energy sources in Greece totaled around 2.5 billion euros in 2012, of which around 150 million euros were in wind power projects, a report by the Hellenic Scientific Association of Wind Power Energy said on Tuesday.

    The report said that net increase in wind power was 115.2 MW in 2012, up 7.0 pct compared with the previous year, after a 23.5 pct growth rate recorded in 2011 - the best year in history for the wind power sector in Greece.

    The figures offer evidence that the wind power sector is alive and has significant growth prospects. Central Greece remains at the top of wind power facilities, with a power capacity of 548 MW and a market share of 31.3 pct, followed by the Peloponnese with 340.75 MW (19.5 pct) and Eastern Macedonia-Thrace with 240.6 MW (13.8 pct).

    EDF with 298.8 MW and a 17.1 pct market share was top among the energy groups in the sector, followed by:

    Iberdrola Rokas with 250.7 MW (14.3%)

    TERNA Energy with 241.5 MW (13.8%)

    ENEL Green Power with 200.5 MW (11.5%)

    ELLAKTOR with 146.8 MW (8.4%)

    Among wind power generator suppliers, Vestas is at the top with a 44.6 pct market share in 2012, followed by Enercon (40.8 pct) and Gamesa (14.6 pct).

    [22] Tender for Ano Liosia waste processing plant

    The construction of a solid waste treatment plant in Ano Liosia, greater Athens region, has attracted the interest of a number of consortia and individual private companies, it was announced on Tuesday by the Special Intergradal Association of the Attica Prefecture (EDSNA).

    The same companies, minus one, had previously participated in the tenders for the construction of similar projects in Grammatiko and Keratea, both located in the greater Athens region as well.

    A total of 6 companies will participate in the second phase of the tender.

    According to EDSNA, it will cover 40-60 pct of the construction cost of the planned project in Ano Liosia that will have the capacity to process up to 400,000 tons of solid waste annually.

    EDSNA president and Attica Region chief Yiannis Sgouros noted that the construction of the project will put an end to a practice that continued for decades, costing Greek taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros with no benefits in return. "The money spent to bury the garbage in landfills or for offset benefits was more than enough to build as many as four solid waste management plants," he said, adding that if that was the case "we wouldn't run a risk of being slammed with large fines by the EU".

    Referring to those who protest against the project, Sgouros stated that they are "professional protesters" who "react because embedded interests are being hurt".

    [23] Greek PPI up 4.7 pct on average in 2012

    Greece's producer's price composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew by 4.7 pct on average in 2012, after a 1.9 pct increase recorded in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the producer's price index was up 5.7 pct in December 2011, and attributed the December 1.9 pct increase to a 2.1 pct rise in the domestic market index and an 1.3 pct increase in the external market index.

    The index was down 0.3 pct in December from November 2012.

    The producer's price index was up 7.7 pct on average in 2011.

    [24] Greek travel balance shows 8.2 bln-euro surplus in Jan-Nov

    Greece' s travel balance showed a surplus of 38 million euros in November 2012, down by 6.0 million euros compared with the same month in 2011, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank, in a report, attributed this development to a decline in travel receipts by 14 million euros, or 7.5 pct, to 167 million euros and a 5.3 pct decline in travel payments to 129 million euros in the same month.

    The decline in travel receipts reflects a 7.2 pct drop in tourist arrivals in the country, while average spending per travel fell by 0.4 pct. Net receipts from travel services contributed to covering a trade balance deficit and accounted for 6.8 pct of total net receipts from services.

    The country's travel balance in the January-November period showed a surplus of 8.201 billion euros, down 74 million euros from the same period in 2011. This development is attributed to a 4.6 pct decline in travel receipts and a 19.2 pct drop in travel payments in the 11-month period. Tourist arrivals fell 5.6 pct in the January-November period, while average spending per trip rose by 1.1 pct in the same period.

    Travel revenues from Germany grew 38.1 pct in November to 19 million euros from 14 million in November 2011, from France rose by 12.7 pct to 7.0 million euros and from the UK fell by 31.5 pct to 13 million euros. Travel revenues from Russia dropped 49.9 pct to 5.0 millin euros, while revenues from the US grew 45.1 pct to 21 million euros in the month.

    In the January-November period, revenues from Germany fell by 9.9 pct to 1.639 billion euros, from France fell by 9.3 pct to 758 million euros from the UK rose 18.9 pct to 1.415 billion euros. Travel revenues from Russia grew 27.5 pct in the 11-month period to 944 million euros, while from the US revenues fell 20.5 pct to 416 million euros.

    [25] Overdue debts to PPC at 1.27 billion euros, Parliament informed

    Outstanding debts to the Public Power Corporation (PPC) at the end of November 2012 were 1.271 billion euro, according to a document sent to Parliament on Tuesday by PPC President Arthouros Zervos. The document was sent in reply to a question tabled by Independent Greeks party MPs that claimed that PPC was not chasing up large overdue debts from big clients.

    Based on the information sent to Parliament, debts for high-voltage connections used by industry came to 293.8 million euros, debts for medium voltage (35 percent from the broader public sector and farmers and 65 from businesses) came to 211.1 million euros and overdue debts for low-voltage connections came to 530.5 million euros and low-voltage clients whose contracts had expired came to 169.9 million euros.

    Of low-voltage clients with overdue debts whose contracts were still in force, 46.51 percent were households, 3.22 percent were industrial concerns and 42.61 percent were commercial enterprises and 7.66 percent were farmers.

    The PPC also noted that it was taking all legal action to collect overdue debts to the power company, including cutting off the power supply, except in cases when agreements had been made to settle debts due to financial inability as a result of the current economic climate.

    [26] Forthnet terminates merger talks

    Forthnet Group on Tuesday announced the termination of exploratory talks to merge with other business groups, saying that exclusive negotiations failed to produce results.

    In a statement to the Athens Stock Exchange, Forthnet said it would continue its organic growth, based on its leading position as provider of combined telecommunication and subscription television services.

    [27] Business Briefs

    -- Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Tuesday said it planned to issue a new bond loan, of a five-year duration with a fixed interest rate, as part of a GMTN program of issuing medium- and long-term securities.

    -- Baupost Group LLC raised its equity stake in OPAP SA to 5.19 pct, or 16,554,553 shares, the Greek state lottery organization said on Tuesday.

    -- Kri-Kri SA, a Greek-listed dairy company, on Tuesday said that one of the management's primary targets was to enter the yoghurt market of the United Kingdom and confirmed it was in exploratory talks with potential customers in the country.

    [28] Greek stocks end moderately lower

    Greek stocks continued falling in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as sellers held the upper hand in the market for the second consecutive day, but the composite index of the market ended above the 1,000-level supported by strong blue chip shares such as National Bank, Coca Cola Hellenic, Eurobank and Viohalco. The index fell 0.84 pct to end at 1,005.28 points, after falling as much as 2.25 pct during the day. Turnover jumped to 116.499 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.78 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.07 pct lower. The Technology (0.70 pct), Food (0.48 pct) and Banks (0.42 pct) sectors scored gains, while Raw Materials (4.57 pct), Constructions (4.20 pct) and Financial Services (3.35 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    National Bank (2.59 pct), Viohalco (2.19 pct) and Eurobank (0.64 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (4.87 pct), Titan (4.68 pct) and Mytilineos (4.46 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 127 to 50 with another 18 issues unchanged. Levenderis (29.75 pct), AEGEK (19.67 pct) and Perseus (19.62 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzikraniotis (21.33 pct), Boutaris (19.90 pct) and Varagis (19.82 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.19%

    Commercial: -0.59%

    Construction: -4.20%

    Oil & Gas: -1.25%

    Personal & Household: -0.04%

    Raw Materials: -4.57%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.66%

    Technology: +0.70%

    Telecoms: -0.15

    Banks: +0.42%

    Food & Beverages: +0.48%

    Health: -2.33%

    Utilities: -2.64%

    Financial Services: -3.35%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurodrip, OTE, OPAP and PPC.

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.29

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.57

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.13

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.74

    National Bank of Greece: 1.19

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.63

    OPAP: 6.41

    OTE: 6.54

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.29

    Titan: 13.45

    [29] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds continued shrinking to 8.49 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 8.69 pct on Monday. The Greek bond yielded 10.17 pct and the German Bund 1.68 pct. Turnover totaled 8.0 million euros, of which 7.0 million were sell orders and the remaining one million euros was a buy order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.58 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.47 pct, the six-month rate was 0.35 pct, the three-month rate was 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [30] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.70 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 20.115 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,345 contracts worth 10.769 million euros, with 36,648 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 35,321 contracts worth 9.346 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (10,562), followed by National Bank (8,017), Piraeus Bank (2,322), MIG (2,593), OTE (2,114), PPC (2,870), OPAP (2,005), Cyprus Bank (471), Eurobank (280), Hellenic Exchanges (545), Sidenor (144), Mytilineos (929), Ellaktor (271), GEK (602) and Intralot (597).

    [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.363

    Pound sterling 0.866

    Danish kroner 7.571

    Swedish kroner 8.740

    Japanese yen 123.34

    Swiss franc 1.260

    Norwegian kroner 7.522

    Canadian dollar 1.371

    Australian dollar 1.305

    General News

    [32] Google-supported study details Internet use in Greece

    Figures related to the spread and uses of the Internet in the Greece - increasingly essential for gauging a country's development - were detailed at a Google-supported presentation on Tuesday in central Athens.

    Key findings included in a wide-ranging study showed that roughly half of Greeks use the Internet, while major domestic companies were also investing more for their online presence and activities. In fact, 93 percent of businesses quoted in the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) study said they have Internet access, yet only 4 percent said they make orders online.

    The study, released in December 2012 and entitled "Making the Internet Thrive in Greece: Social & Economic Barriers", vigorously reiterated that the Internet can make a significant contribution to the recession-battered country's economy and society, "as long as Greek businesses and the public sector adopt specific practices, looking to the online era."

    To stress the point, the study cited a figure of 13 percent for Greek citizens using e-government services, as opposed to a 32-percent figure EU-wide.

    According to the study, the "slower than anticipated ... growth of Internet use in Greece" is mainly due to lagging commercial trust in the medium for security in transactions, social background, an often inferior quality of domestic e-services and still lingering concerns by professionals and businesses in the country over intellectual property rights and privacy issues.

    The event, which included a panel discussion with the participation of the finance ministry's new general secretary-general secretariat of information systems, Harry Theoharis, as well as the head of the general secretariat for consumer affairs at the development ministry, George Stergiou, was presented by IOBE research director Aggelos Tsakanikas and Google Hellas public policy manager Dionysis Kolokotsas.

    Asked directly how the Greek government intends to improve its tax collection processes via the Internet, Theoharis cited an overall policy that includes an e-invoices system, greater credit card use in private and public sector transactions, increased transactions through banking networks as well as easier access to public services and agencies in order to reduce "red tape". He cited the recently (2012) system of online payment and registration of vehicle toll fees and the system for allocating heating oil subsidies to individual consumers as efforts to boost e-government services.

    On his part, Stergiou said one sector where the Greek state appears as a "trend-setter" in the E, in terms of online services is the use of "observatories" to monitor and relay petrol rates at stations, certain super market prices and tuition fees at private tutorial schools. He added that collected data by his agency is "open accessed", whereas a consumer complaints platform to be inaugurated by the development ministry will feature a smart phone application, and possibly will not even require the submission of text.

    The IOBE study recommended that Greece's often creaky public sector alter public policies in favour of e-businesses and entrepreneurship, raise awareness of online opportunities, facilitate the greater development of high-speed broadband access networks and provide incentives for using e-government services.

    [33] Search for missing hiker continues

    Greek authorities continued to search for a missing mountain climber for the second day on Tuesday, combing the area around Mount Lapatos near the village of Papigos, in Ioannina's Zagorohoria district in northwestern Greece. The 30-year-old had been missing since Monday morning when he fell into a gorge.

    A Super Puma search-and-rescue helicopter, as well as a private helicopter hired by the missing man's family, have been searching all day but failed to find any trace of him. An EMAK rescue team assisted by experienced mountain climbers have also mounted a search on the ground but their efforts were seriously hampered by the rugged terrain and great depth of the gorge, which exceeds 500 metres, as well as the deep snow that in some places is more than three metres deep.

    A small glimmer of hope emerged when the hiker's mobile phone service provider used managed to locate the signal from his phone by strengthening the intensity of its signal in the area. The resultant information is now being carefully examined though it is still unclear how it will be used.

    Meanwhile, in a statement concerning the incident on Tuesday, the national defence ministry denied trying to charge 30,000 euros for the use of the Super-Puma helicopter in the search-and-rescue mission. The ministry noted that the reports were a result of a mistake in the initial request for the helicopter made by the Epirus Regional Authority, which had asked for help to extricate an injured mountain climber instead of specifying that it was for a search-and-rescue mission. In the first case, the costs would have burdened the regional authority while in the second case the cost is borne by the state.

    The 30-year-old and two companions had called authorities for assistance after becoming trapped on Mount Lapatos near Papigo in heavy snow. The two other hikers were later found safe and well but the third man was reported missing after falling into the gorge.

    [34] Hospital doctors complain of staff shortages ahead of strike

    The hospital doctors' union OENGE and the national hospital staff union federation POEDHN on Tuesday complained of acute staff shortages in the state hospital system, claiming these run as high as 6,500 doctors and 20,000-plus nursing and support staff. They were speaking during a press conference ahead of a 24-hour strike to be held on Thursday.

    They also complained of unpaid overtime for emergency duty rosters, which they said had been cut to the bare minimum even though patient arrivals had increased by 28 percent.

    They further accused Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos of manipulating figures for hospital occupancy rates artificially, in order to justify mergers and further reduction of the national health system.

    "We have been informed that the ambulance service EKAB has been instructed not to take cases of Agia Varvara hospital but to Attikon and to the General State hospital in Nikaia, while at the same time they are cutting staff from Agia Varvara," the head of OENGE Dimitris Varnavas said.

    [35] Aiginio residents take over toll post, wave drivers through without charge

    Protesting residents of Aiginio in northern Greece took over a new toll post opened on the national highway in their area shortly after 4:00 p.m. and were waving drivers through without charge.

    Pydna-Kolyndros Mayor Vaggelis Polyzos said the protestors will keep the toll post open for about two hours in protest at the decision to open the toll post without making alternative provisions for local residents forced to pass through them several times a day in order to carry out their daily business.

    Police are on the scene but the protest is so far taking place peacefully, without incidents.

    Earlier on Tuesday, 11 protestors arrested in clashes with police at the Aiginio toll post the day before were released after appearing before a court after a prosecutor was assigned to carry out a preliminary investigation into the incidents.

    At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, PAME trade unionists affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will organise a protest outside the Katerini police station over Monday's arrests.

    Pydna-Kolindros municipal services remained closed and schools in the area stopped classes for three hours in protest.

    [36] Female English teacher arrested for child porn

    The Greek electronic crime squad on Tuesday reported the arrest of a 52-year-old woman working as an English teacher in Athens for possession of child pornography. She is also alleged to be a member of several international paedophile groups that has actively sought to promote paedophilia in Greece.

    The case was uncovered following a report by a journalist on a Dutch television programme, who said her colleagues investigating a known paedophile in Holland had come into contact with a 52-year-old resident in Athens via e-mail.

    The journalist said that she had then visited Greece posing as a paedophile and met the 52-year-old teacher, who encouraged her to have sexual contact with minors.

    Investigating the case, the electronic crime squad was able to locate the suspect's home and conducted a raid there on Monday night in the presence of a public prosecutor. They found dozens of magazines containing child porn, a manual on sexual contact between children and adults and a notebook containing hand-written notes concerning the paedophile movement in Athens, along with the names of those participating in its sessions.

    With the evidence against her, the 52-year-old was led before an Athens public prosecutor to be charged on Tuesday and authorities are continuing to investigate her possible further involvement in paedophile activities within and outside of Greece.

    The Greek police noted that members of the public wanting to report similar incidents can contact the electronic crime squad at the telephone numbers 210 6476464 and 210 6476461.

    [37] Bank employee faces embezzlement charges

    A 51-year-old bank employee in Thessaloniki is to face charges of misappropriating than half a million euros over a period of two years, by forging the signatures of a number of clients and taking money out of their accounts.

    Police said the man, who held the position of head of executive works at a bank branch between 2010 and 2012, pulled out various sums from bank accounts and transferred them to accounts belonging to other bank clients, as well as to accounts opened by him in the names of the victims themselves without their knowledge.

    [38] Contraband merchandise destroyed by authorities in Piraeus

    More than 13,000 articles of contraband, including sunglasses, shoes, handbags, belts, household items, clothing items and watches, seized by the Municipal Police in Piraeus, were destroyed on Tuesday in the presence of the responsible municipal authorities.

    A foreign national was arrested as the owner of the contraband merchandise and was led before a Piraeus prosecutor.

    [39] 4.3R quake in sea region between Crete and Karpathos

    A light earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was recorded in the early hours of Tuesday in the sea region between the islands of Karpathos and Crete.

    According to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute, the quake struck 403 kilometers southeast of Athens, with its epicenter 18 km west of Karpathos.

    No damage was reported.

    Weather forecast

    [40] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort.

    Temperatures between -1C and 16C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 5C and 15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 2C and 11C.

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

    AVGHI: "Government demolishes real estate and pensions".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Troika (EC, ECB, IMF) tightens the noose".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Pupils in despair".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New massacre in civil servants' pensions".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Two-speed taxation for houses and land".

    ESTIA: "The Americans on Mr. Tsipras (Alexis, main opposition SYRIZA leader)".

    ETHNOS: "The plan for a single tax on real estate".

    IMERISSIA: "15 bln euros returned from banks abroad - Vote of confidence in the economy".

    KATHIMERINI: "Single tax on real estate".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Implementation of the single tax on real estate with hurdles".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggles with radical demands aiming at radical political change".

    TA NEA: "Time bomb to pensions".

    6 DAYS: "Government 'auctioning off' the country's real estate property".

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