|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-05-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 15 May 2013 Issue No: 4359
 PM calls on the citizens to help in the upgrading of the country's image abroadPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday made a plea to every citizen to assist in the upgrading of Greece's image during the tourist season.
Samaras said at a meeting on tourism held at the Maximos mansion that 17 million tourists are expected to visit Greece in 2013, something that as he said, is a vote of confidence to the country and will bring money and liquidity to the market and will offer new job positions.
Moreover, Samaras noted that the country's image abroad is not only the government's responsibility adding that if we want to have the same number or more tourists next year, we must be careful of the quality of our services and of our products, the prices and the visitors' safety along with cleanliness in cities and beaches.
"I ask all Greek professionals, local authorities and every Greek citizen to help and give our best for our country. Greece's natural beauty, its quality and culture along with its hospitality and politeness must be recognised and aknowledged," underlined Samaras and expressed his certainty that Greeks can succeed.
 PM Samaras to visit China and Azerbaijan, May 15-19Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will leave on Wednesday May 15 for an official visit to China and Azerbaijan, according to a press release from his office.
The prime minister will be in Beijing on Thursday May 16 where his schedule includes addressing the Chinese Social Sciences Academy, meeting with the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China Mr. Li Keqiang and attending a dinner given in his honour.
On Friday May 17, the prime minister will address the Greek-Chinese Business Forum, meet the President of the National Popular Congress of China Mr. Zhang Dejang and be received by the President of the People's Republic of China Mr. Xi Jinping.
On Saturday May 18, Samaras will be in Hangzhou where his schedule includes a meeting with the Governor of the Region and addressing the World Cultural Forum. He will then travel to Shanghai for a meeting with the city's Mayor and addressing a Business Forum.
During his China visit, the prime minister will be holding a large number of private meetings with state officials and heads of Chinese business Groups.
On Sunday May 19, the Greek premier will leave China for Baku, Azerbaijan for a working visit. He will be holding a meeting with the country's political leadership.
Samaras will return to Athens late on Sunday night.
 PM continues Cabinet meetings ahead of visit to ChinaPrime Minister Antonis Samaras is holding a series of consecutive meetings on Tuesday with Cabinet members ahead of his visit to China (May 15-19).
Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyanni have already met with Samaras as of this writing while a meeting with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is also on schedule.
 Social cohesion and growth the new priorities, DIM.AR saysActive support for those worst hit by the crisis and restoring economic growth will the next goals for the government, according to an announcement issued on Tuesday by the Democratic Left (DIM.AR), one of the two smaller parties in the ruling coalition government.
"Restoring social cohesion is the immediate priority," DIM.AR underlined in an announcement.
The announcement was issued in response to a European Commission report acknowledging Greece's progress in fiscal adjustment and the Eurozone's decision to approve disbursement of a 'double dose' of bailout tranches to Greece, amounting to 7.5 billion euros.
According to DIM.AR, these served to confirm that the country was on a steady course of recovery without this meaning that there was room for complacency or for "dressing up" the current situation.
The party stressed that the margins for further wage and pension cuts had been exhausted and called for immediate measures to fight unemployment, speed up reforms and promote major structural changes needed by the Greek economy and public administration.
 SYRIZA-EKM responds to PM's statements, European Commission reportMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) on Tuesday issued a scathing response to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' statements on tourism and a European Commission report, underlining that "a prime minister who blackmails and intimidates Greek society cannot pretend that he lives in a different country and comes from another planet."
SYRIZA-EKM noted that the prime minister "cannot talk about tourism without saying a word about the infamous VAT reduction in the food catering sector, promised until recently by his government. It is unacceptable to invest in a factitious picture of optimism, which is negated by reality. The European Commission report dissolves any expectations of recovery and announces the adoption of new measures to correct the failure of those already adopted".
"For as long as Greece is bound to a catastrophic memorandum that razes all sectors of economy and leads the people to destitution, there can be no tomorrow with dignity and hope," the SYRIZA-EKM statement concluded.
 Tsipras requests immediate reply on reason for withdrawal of antiracist draft lawMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday tabled a verbal question to Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis regarding the withdrawal of the antiracist bill, calling on the minister to brief Parliament on whether the three parties of the ruling coalition government have all agreed on its withdrawal and who and for what reason asked the withdrawal of the draft law.
Under Greek Parliament rules, the question was tabled verbally ex agenda and requires an immediate reply.
"The withdrawal of the bill for the tackling of racism and xenophobia signals the country's retreat from its international obligations as well as the obligation to protect democratic and human rights," said Tsipras, and called on Roupakiotis to inform Parliament when he intends to reintroduce the draft of the law to open debate and what actions he will take in order for the country to be politically and legally shielded before the incidents of racist violence and the hatred against differentness.
 SYRIZA leader holds meeting with OLME boardMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, speaking after his meeting with the board of the Secondary Education Teachers Organisation OLME on Tuesday, called on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to recall the decision on mobilising teachers and proposed a start to a dialogue on upgrading the public school after the nationwide examinations.
Tsipras criticised the government and the prime minister for the pre-emptive mobilisation of teachers, speaking of a method that deprives constitutional liberties.
The SYRIZA leader said that the teachers' demands are fair, stressing that the government's "intransigent stance jeopardises social cohesion, creates huge problems for thousands of pupils who are currently on the final stretch of an important struggle they are waging before the examinations and, mainly, creates conditions than cannot be implemented in lawabiding democratic states."
OLME's president said on his part that public education "is in a state of dissolution and the government must realise that it cannot play with the children of the Greek people. Also, it cannot play with the families of thousands of teachers, it cannot dissolve the families of 5,000 permanent teachers and lay off 10,000 contract employees."
 SYRIZA leader will visit Croatia on Wed., also meet Oliver StoneRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras will pay a two-day visit to Croatia on May 15-17.
The main opposition party leader will attend an event also attended by leader of the Left Front in France Jean-Luc Melenchon and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.
On Wednesday, Tsipras will meet with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and in the evening he will speak at an event on "The role of the European Left".
On Thursday noon the SYRIZA leader will have lunch with US film director Oliver Stone.
 AN.EL leader Kammenos lashes out at PM SamarasOpposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) leader Panos Kammenos on Tuesday lashed out at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in response to a European Commission report and the prime minister's statements on the economy.
"The prime minister lives in his dreamworld, when the European Commission talks about new measures of 8 million euros in 2015 and says that tens of years will pass before Greece will be able to return to the markets. In a country of 1.8 million unemployed he talks about Greece's success story," Kammenos said.
Referring to Samaras and his predecessor George Papandreou, he noted that Samaras "shares the same world with George Papandreou, free to move under the protection of the prime minister around Las Vegas together in the company of speculators, those who led the Greek people to bankruptcy."
 Public Order Minister discusses migration with EU Commissioner in AthensMethods and funding of programmes dealing with migration in Greece were the focus of talks between Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias and EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who met him at his office in Athens on Tuesday.
Dendias said after the meeting that he had briefed the commissioner on the government's plan of action on granting asylum, and gave her a tour of the new asylum facilities near the ministry on Mesoghion Avenue. He added that they had reached agreement on solutions that would help Greece cover costs through EU funding.
"It is very important that the Asylum Service go into operation soon," Malmstrom said, "and that those requesting asylum will be able to submit applications and have the right avenues to submit their claims." It was a real achievement, she added, and thanked Dendias for his commitment.
"We are, of course, aware of the huge difficulties Greece is facing, as well as of the pressure of migrant flows that Greece is dealing with," the Commissioner further said. "However, despite the crisis, there are clear-cut European laws and models that must be observed."
She added that she planned to hold immediate talks with ministers of other EU member-states about Greece's progress and about the way the EU overall, including member-states and services like Frontex (responsible for EU border security) and the European Asylum Support Office could help Greece with this difficult situation.
"The EU wants the others to become involved in helping Greece, even though the daily work must be done by our friends the Greeks," she noted.
There are still problems, Dendias replied, but he expressed the hope that "I hope to have greater progress still at June's Council of Ministers on issues of our concern," and thanked the Commissioner for her support of Greece.
"The country aims at having the most updated system of handling migration flows in all of Europe," Dendias said, "which, by respecting human rights and human dignity fully, can guarantee the rights of migrants, along with guaranteeing the right of the Greek state and Greek society to a normal life."
 Public Order minister's statement on the attack on a 14-year-old immigrantCommenting on an attack on a 14-year-old migrant, the minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday evening "that those using mafia-style cowardly methods to strike against individual migrants, even kids of an age of 14, will find before them a state that fights for human rights, and the consciousness of Greek citizens."
 Greece and the Greek people must step up efforts in migration issue, EU commissionerThe European Union is very concerned about the incidents of violence in Greece, but a new law might be able to help out, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom said Monday in press conference at the European Commission offices in Athens.
"We are hugely concerned about the incidence of violence in Greece," she said. "Justice Minister (Nikos Dendias) informed us that a new law - similar to what other European member-states have - can improve the situation." She warned however that "a law is not enough to deal with the problem. The Greek society has the first say. At any rate, it shows that on stateside there is a consistent stance against the rhetoric of violence."
Malmstrom again referred to the role of Greek society when she mentioned "improper conditions of custody" of migrants and asylum-seekers, as "all are being held, with no discrimination or selection, instead of hosting the asylum-seekers at open reception centres". Some of these centres "were fortunately shut down, and that is good news," the Commissioner said, but the process of reviewing applications for asylum are time-consuming and access to services is difficult. The Commission "offers its solidarity and is prepared to help Greece, but the Greek society has the central role," she said.
On funding, Malmstrom said there were funds Greece could draw on from the Solidarity Fund that had not been absorbed.
She also recognised that Greece had come under great pressure with illegal immigrants, but insisted that the numbers did not vary greatly among countries. "Of a total of 427,000 illegal immigrants entering the EU last year, 72,000 came to Greece, 65,000 to Germany and 50,000 to Spain," while "at some holding centres in Greece conditions were horrific. Maybe we were late in responding too," she said, but "Greece did not have a very helpful stance in the beginning and it must now adhere to international standards."
The issue of repatriation was still a problem, the Commissioner said: "What happens to people who do not wish to return to their countries, or those whose countries will not issue the necessary travel documents?" In the case of land borders, migration pressure has let up, but it has risen at sea.
For example, she said, the EU was concerned about refugees from Syria, who wanted to escape "the atrocities in their country"; although Greece did not have a surge in migrants from the Middle Eastern country, she was assured by Dendias that those reaching Greece will not be turned back.
 Deputy FM holds meeting with Iraqi delegationDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas held a meeting with an Iraqi delegation, headed by the president of Iraq's Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Humam Hamoudi, focusing on strengthening bilateral relations between Greece and Iraq, as well as latest political developments in the Middle East.
Hamoudi told the press after the meeting that the European presidency Greece will assume in January 2014 is an opportunity for improvement in bilateral relations, given the cooperation agreement that Iraq has signed with the EU as well.
The two sides agreed to hold business missions and strengthen tourist cooperation, while the Iraqi side raised the issue of visa facilitation.
Hamoudi addressed an invitation to Greek businessmen, saying Greeks were always welcome, referring to examples of Greek companies that have already been assigned projects, such as METKA for the construction of a power station in Anbar and others in Basra and the Kurdish region of Arbil.
Referring to situation in Syria, Hamoudi said his discussion with the Greek deputy minister focused on a peaceful settlement of the conflict, stressing that Iraq supports the peace proposal made by international mediator Lakdar Brahimi.
As regards Iran's nuclear programme, he said we aim at cooperation with Greece for a solution to the problem and the building again of relations of trust between Iran and the West, with the prospect of peace prevailing in the region.
Lastly, the Iraqi official thanked Greece for the support provided for Arab affairs and the Palestinian issue, while he expressed conviction Greece will overcome the economic difficulties soon.
 Foreign ministry spokesman on statements by Turkish Deputy PMForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras, replying to questions by the press on statements by Turkish government Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, made the following statement on Tuesday:
"We hold from the statement by Mr. Arinc the assurance that the government of Turkey is disposed positively about the reopening of the Halki School of Theology. And we are waiting. The reopening of the Halki School of Theology will be a positive sign for the intentions and the expressed political will of Turkey.
"As regards mutuality, the tens of thousands of Moslems of Thrace, because exactly they live under the principles of a State of Law, equality before the law and equality of rights, can give an answer. Not, however, the few hundreds of Greeks, that have remained in Constantinople, from the hundreds of thousands who lived there as well. It would be good for such statements, which in no way contribute to maintaining and strengthening the climate of understanding that exists in the relations between our countries, to stop".
 Kedikoglou blasts ESIEA for news 'blackout' by ERT during PM Samaras' China visitCommenting on the Athens Journalists Union (ESIEA) proposed "blackout" by the state broadcaster ERT, aimed at boycotting news during Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' four- day official visit to China (May 16-19), government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou spoke of a "crafty idea" on the part of ESIEA's board.
"Such action by ESIEA board cannot conceal its attempt to impose a news "blackout" on the prime minister's international moves," Kedikoglou said, reminding of similar action taken during German chancellor Angela Merkel's and French president Francois Hollande's visits to Athens.
"Once again, they (ESIEA) want to hurt the country's image in order to serve petty partisan interests. We will not allow them to do so," the spokesman said.
 Opinion poll gives ND marginal lead over SYRIZANew Democracy (ND) leads by a marginal 0.2 percent over main opposition SYRIZA, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Statistics school of the Economic University of Athens presented on private TV 'Extra'.
According to the poll results, ND was leading with 21.6 percent, followed by SYRIZA with 21.4 percent, ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 12.4 percent, PASOK with 6.3 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.2 percent, Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 5.1 percent, Independent Greeks with 4.2 percent while 5.5 percent of the respondents expressed support for other parties and 8.2 of the respondents said they have not decided yet.
The geographic coverage of the opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between 18 April and 12 May 2013.
 ADEDY, PAME hold rallies in support of public high school teachersTwo separate protest rallies were held on Tuesday by the umbrella union of civil servants (ADEDY) at Propylea in downtown Athens and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE)-affiliated PAME labour organization at Omonia Square both in a show of solidarity to public high school teachers currently in a standoff with the government.
ADEDY vice-president Antonis Antonakos was jeered by teachers in response to the union federation's decision to reject a request by OLME, the union representing state high school teachers and call a strike on Friday, first day of the nationwide entrance exams. Instead ADEDY chose to call the strike action on Tuesday.
OLME President Nikos Papachristos told ANA-MPA on Monday that public high school teachers will not participate in the strike called by ADEDY on Tuesday, characterizing its stance a "mockery".
 Athens Mayor Kaminis in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
Visiting Athens Mayor George Kaminis will be meeting with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday, while earlier he is scheduled to be received by Archbishop Demetrios of America.
Kaminis together with a group of accompanying aides will also have a separate meeting with the head of the "Cities of Service", a body founded by Bloomberg in 2009 to stimulate cooperation of municipal services with volunteer groups and active citizens to effectively address problems associated with the international economic crisis.
On Tuesday evening, Kaminis will be a guest of honour in a round table discussion on "Redefining Athens." The event was organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, which brings together academics, diplomats, businessmen, heads of organizations, etc.
During his stay in New York, Kaminis is also scheduled to meet Greek-American state senator Michael Gianaris, as well as other members of the Greek American community.
 Greece's ambassador to Canada meets CTC presidentOTTAWA (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli)
Greece's ambassador to Canada Eleftherios Angelopoulos met at the tourism professionals exhibition "Rendez-vous Canada 2013" in Ottawa with the president of the Canadian Tourism Commission, Michelle McKenzie and exchanged views on issues concerning cooperation, methods and possibilities of promoting tourism, in both Greece and Canada.
On the part of Greece, a list was requested containing the tour operators who are active in Canada, while the possibility of holding a meeting with professionals in the tourism sector was discussed.
McKenzie stressed, among other things, that Canada has tourism offices in the USA, Mexico, Australia, Germany, France, the UK, Japan, South Korea, China and India.
The president of the board of the CTC Steve Allan, the embassy's trade adviser Pelagia Sousiopoulou and the press attache Athanasia Papatriantafylou also participated in the meeting.
 Funds to build Athens mosque will be allocated by end SeptemberThe transfer of funds for the construction of a mosque in Athens is scheduled for the second and third quarter of 2013, according to a document forwarded to Parliament by Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, it was announced on Tuesday.
"The transfer of 946,000 euros from the ministry of education to the ministry of development will take place after the education ministry public investment programme for 2013 is approved. The amount of 500,000 euros will be transferred in the second quarter of 2013, followed by the sum of 446,000 euros in the third quarter of the year," Arvanitopoulos clarified.
His document was forwarded to Parliament in early May in response to a question by opposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) MP Marina Chryssoveloni on the construction of a new Muslim mosque in Athens.
A relevant document signed by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos was forwarded to parliament on May 8, it was announced Monday.
Avramopoulos outlined the government plans to convert an old naval base building in the Votanikos area of central Athens into a mosque with the capacity of 350 people, in a letter read out in parliament in reply to a question tabled by independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos.
The ministry of development, infrastructure, transport & networks will be responsible for the construction of the project and the conversion of adjacent buildings into auxiliary facilities, such as lavatories, he said, adding that a minaret will not be built in order to ensure that the whole construction will blend harmoniously with the surroundings.
"The state authorities have pondered on the issue of the mosque construction for some time in order to find the best possible solution while preserving domestic balance and security. At the same time, it is a long-standing demand of the Muslims living in Greece," Avramopoulos said, who added that the govern-ment's decision to found a mosque in Athens is based on national interest.
He also pointed out that the relevant legislation concerning the project (Law No 4014/2011) was passed in parliament on Sept. 7, 2011.
 Fitch Upgrades Greece to 'B-'; Outlook StableFitch Ratings has upgraded Greece's Long-term foreign and local currency IDRs to 'B-' from 'CCC'. The Short-term foreign currency IDR has also been upgraded to 'B' from 'C' and the Country Ceiling upgraded to 'B' from 'B-'.
In an announcement issued on Tuesday, Fitch also noted "the Outlook on the Long-term IDRs is Stable."
"The upgrade reflects Greece's economic rebalancing. Clear progress has been made towards eliminating twin fiscal and current account deficits and 'internal devaluation' has at last begun to take hold," Fitch added.
 Finance ministry officials say possible fiscal gap in 2015-2016 lower than estimatedGreek Finance Ministry officials on Tuesday lowered significantly the estimates of a possible fiscal gap in the period 2015-2016 to 4.2 billion euros - from an 8.0 billion euros estimate by analysts - and said this sum would be much more easily covered, without need of additional fiscal measures.
Ministry officials said the accumulated fiscal gap, based on the European Commission's latest report, would be 2.2 pct of GDP in the two-year period from 2015 to 2016, not 1.8 pct of GDP in 2015 and 2.2 pct of GDP in 2016. The officials noted that if permanent measures worth 1.8 pct of GDP were taken in 2015, then the additional measures for 2016 would only be 0.4 pct of GDP.
They said that this fiscal adjustment (4.2 billion euros) accounted for a closer to 5.0 pct increase in the general government's revenues in the two-year period, stressing that this increase was feasible since liquidity had been restored in the economy following a recapitalization of Greek banks, the economy had stabilized and a restructuring of the tax collecting mechanism had begun bearing fruit.
 Three employer groups sign General Collective Labour AgreementThree employer groups representing hoteliers, traders and craftsmen on Tuesday signed the National General Collective Labour Agreement (NGCLA) with Greece's main umbrella trade union organisation for the private sector, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).
A conspicuous absence at the talks was the influential Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), which represents Greece's industrialists and the country's largest employers. SEV did not sign the new NGCLA but has counter-proposed a "protocol of agreement on basic issues and principles" on the grounds that the new terms imposed by austerity memorandums have greatly restricted the role of the social partners and "made the signature of an NGCLA a parody".
The employer associations signing the new NGCLA, which is valid for the next six months until December 31, 2013, include the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) and the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE).
The agreement's effect has been backdated to the start of 2013, in order to cover the period that the residual duration of the previous agreement was still in force, while it allows the signatories to extend its duration for another year without new round of negotiations if they wish.
The final agreement does not address wage-related issues, given that the minimum wage is now set by law, but the parties agreed to preserve the 10-percent marriage bonus and other features of the previous CLAs.
Despite SEV's refusal to sign the new agreement, members of the association decided to continue paying the marriage bonus in a resolution passed by SEV's annual general assembly on Monday, waiving their right to unilaterally cut the extra pay under new labour laws.
Other employer organisations were highly critical of SEV's stance and said it had lost its leading role in this way. GSEVEE President Panagiotis Theodoropoulos called for a maximum limit to wage reductions, asserting that up to 80 percent of private-sector employees would see their wages slashed to 586 euros a month without the agreement signed on Tuesday, reinforcing the economy's downward spiral.
SETE General Secretary Giorgos Vernikos said that the market did not need any further reduction in unit labour costs but structural reforms that required cooperation from the social partners.
GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos hailed the signature of the NGCLA, which he said gave thousands of workers a "safety net" and ensured that previous worker rights and benefits - such as training leave, maternity leave and others - will continue to exist.
Rejecting the criticism levelled against it, SEV repeated its position that the agreement signed on Tuesday was a "parody" of a CLA without any real legal force or substance for workers, adding that "we have no interest in saving face for the professionals of trade unionism".
"The institutional [measures] are trumped by the existing legal framework and the marriage bonus, as the only wage-related item, is the exclusive concern of the members of each organisation and on our part has already been secured. This so-called NGCLA is tantamount to negating the institution in itself. For this reason, SEV refuses to participate," the announcement added.
Instead, SEV counter-proposed that the parties sign a protocol of agreement for the start of negotiations leading to the signature of a "new model NGCLA" effective from January 1, 2014, which it said would strengthen institutional entitlements and support for family.
 SYRIZA, KKE on collective labour agreement issueThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday reacted strongly to the stance of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) on the issue of the collective labour agreement.
A SYRIZA deputy said "the refusal by SEV to sign, even this agreement of limited results between GSEE (the General Confederation of Workers of Greece) and the three other employers agencies, and then its provocative announcements, prove once again who the real 'hooded persons' were who showed the (EC-ECB-IMF) troika what it must demolish together with the memorandum governments from labour legislation and mainly from the salaries and the collective labour agreements."
KKE's statement also stressed that "the capitalists do not want Collective Agreements, established rights and trade unions" and placed "great responsibilities on the compromised leaderships of GSEE and in other bodies of the trade union movement because they have abandoned the struggle to defend the elementary achievements of the working class".
 PASOK criticises SEV refusal to sign new collective labour agreementThe signing of a National General Collective Labour Agreement (NGCLA) between GSEE, the umbrella trade union for the private sector, and three employer groups representing hoteliers, traders and craftsmen on Tuesday is "without doubt, a positive event," PASOK party said the same day, while it criticised the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises' (SEV) refusal to cosign it and called on it to revise its stance. The new NGCLA will be valid for six months.
The Panhellenic Socialist Party's press secretary, Fofi Gennimata, said in a statement that "the agreement is, without doubt, a positive event," noting that "in conditions that are difficult for Greece and its economy, the new NGCLA creates a de jure security to workers over important financial issues (like the marriage bonus) and guarantees a series of institutional issues, in their labour status."
She also said "SEV's refusal to cosigning the agreement...is an act completely at odds with (Monday's) grand pronouncements by its president that have proven to be without any substance."
PASOK, one of two junior members of the ruling coalition, is calling on SEV "to reflect on the consistency of words and actions....and revise its stance, cosigning the agreement.
 Development minister on Aegean motorway workDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Alternate Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis on Tuesday declared that the full development of workshops in all the big assigned motorways is a matter of a few weeks. The two ministers, together with Alternate Agricultural Development Minister Maximos Harakopoulos, visited works on the Aegean motorway in Thessaly. The ministers clarified that an increase in tolls is not expected.
"We have today yet more proof that the engines of the big projects, of the motorways, have gone into motion.There were of course those who had doubts. Criticism is always welcome, but what counts is the result, and the result is positive," Hatzidakis said.
The project has been completed by up to 75 percent and the big tunnels of the detour of Tempi valley have, already, opened. They are ready at the level of civil engineer works and the electromechanological work is being completed, which is ready by up to 75 percent.
As regards tolls, Hatzidakis said that what is anticipated by the contracts that were ratified by Parliament will be implemented and there will be no adjustment upwards.
The Aegean motorway (Maliakos-Imathia Key), that is being implemented with an assignment contract, includes the construction of the new Evangelismos-Rapsani and Platamonas-Skotina parts.
With the construction of the Evangelismos-Rapsani part, having a length of 11 kilometres, the Tempi valley will be sidestepped through the double tunnels T1 (having a length of 2,000 metres) and T2 (having a length of 6,000 metres).
With the construction of the Platamonas-Skotina part, having a length of 14 kilometres, the dangerous curves in the region of Panteleimonas, in the prefecture of Pieria, will be sidestepped through the T3 tunnels (having a length of 2,700 metres).
 Greek exports to Turkey up 54.16 pct in Q1Greek exports to Turkey jumped 54.16 pct in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the same period last year, a report by the Greek emassy in Ankara said on Tuesday, citing data released by TurkStat, the country's statistics service.
The report said that Greek exports to Turkey totaled 793.47 million euros in the January-March period, up from 514.69 million euros in the same period in 2012.
During the same period, Turkish exports to Greece rose 2.07 pct to 244.54 million euros, from 239.58 million euros in the same period last year.
A 79.67 pct of Greek exports to Turkey in March, worth 277.92 million euros accounted for exports of fossil fuel and oil products. The rest were plastics, aluminium, cotton, wheat and copper.
Turkish exports to Greece totaled 90.78 million euros in March, of which 75 pct accounted for 15 product categories such as fossil fuel and oil products (15.67 pct), aluminium (11.37 pct), plastics (6.54 pct), textiles (5.6 pct) and iron/steel (5.23 pct).
 Turkish Airlines, MidEast travel agency promote Greek tourism with foreign operatorsTravel agents from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the Ukraine were flown through Istanbul to the Aegean Island of Mykonos recently by Turkish Airlines and the Athens-based MidEast International Tours, celebrating its 30th anniversary, to promote tourism to Greece.
The agents travelled to Greece on the initiative of Turkish Airlines, which has also brought to Greece agent representatives from Canada, China, India, Korea and Turkey in the past. The airline has undertaken a series of initiatives to acquaint foreign tour operators with the natural beauties of Greece and to promote the Greek tourism product in their countries.
Turkish Airlines general manager Gulay Ozturk noted the importance the airline gives to Greek tourism destinations, while Attica prefect Yiannis Sgouros noted the value of the Greek tourist product in his address to the visitors.
 Third Point buys equity stake in Energean Oil & GasThird Point Hellenic Recovery Fund will buy a share in the equity capital of Energean Oil & Gas, the company operating the hydro-carbon fields in Prinos/Kavala.
Third Point, the manager of the newly set-up fund, is the company which recently earned 500 million US dollars by investing in Greek bonds when their valuations were extremely low. Third Point Hellenic Recovery Fund will contribute 60 million US dollars to Energean. The new capital will be used to finance four new drillings aimed at doubling production to 4,000 barrels per day by the end of the year and to begin a plan to develop the Epsilon Field in 2014 (a field with an estimated size of 32 million barrels) through a non-manned drilling platform.
An Energean Oil & Gas statement said the company is planning a new research programme around Greece, while it is participating in an Open Door process for three research regions in Western Greece (Ioannina, Katakolo and Patras Gulf).
Daniel S. Loeb, founder and chief executive of Third Point said that "the opening of the Greek market for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons will significantly and substantially benefit the recovery of the economy and Energean, as sole owner of production and exploitation rights of oil fields in the country, has a significant advantage in exploiting similar opportunities. This development makes us part of a unique Greek success story".
Mathios Rigas, chairman and chief executive of Energean Oil & Gas, said the deal "not only strengthens our financial position and ability but offers unique access to the international energy sector and to possible cooperations, facilitating the way to achieving our business goal: developing Energean Oil & Gas into a top, independent company of research and production of hydrocarbons in Southeastern Europe".
 Ferryboat owners' dispute with shipping ministry continues with layoffs, changes in Salamis island routesRepresentatives of the two ferryboat consortia servicing the Attica coast-Salamis island routes of Perama-Paloukia Salaminas and Faneromeni Salaminas-Perama Megaridos will meet on Tuesday with Ministry of Shipping and the Aegean officials to settle a dispute over mandatory customer insurance for ferry passengers that led on Monday to the suspension of their licenses.
The shipping ministry demanded, in compliance with a relevant European Commission directive, that ferry route operators provide travel insurance to passengers in case of an accident while at sea and cover damages in case of sea pollution.
As of Tuesday morning the route is being serviced by two ferry boats that belong to other shipping companies, with another ten to be added soon.
Any inconvenience the passengers may experience is temporary, according to the shipping ministry. For more information passengers can contact the port authorities in Salamina 210-4677277 and in Perama 210-4410441.
On their part, the ferry consortia in Salamina insist that the specific directive concerns only large seagoing ships and not coastal shipping vessels and are demanding a two-month extension until a court ruling is issued on their case.
Hellenic Union of Merchant Fleet Seamen (PENEN) President Antonis Dalakogiorgos told ANA-MPA that roughly 210 seamen, the crews of the 30 ships that belong to the consortia servicing the route, were laid off on Monday.
He noted that seamen and passengers are "hostages and victims of a dispute between the shipping ministry and shipowners. He also underlined that the ferries assigned to service the specific route cannot meet the increased needs considering that the summer season will open soon.
 Greek import price index down 4.3 pct in MarchGreece's import price index in the industrial sector fell 4.3 pct in March, compared with the same month last year, after a 6.6 pct increase recorded in March 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to the so-called imported inflation basically to a 7.6 pct decline in the import price index from countries outside the Eurozone, reflecting lower international oil prices.
The import price index fell 1.2 pct in March from February, after an increase of 1.3 pct recorded in the corresponding period last year.
 Developments in hydrocarbon research the focus of meeting with Cyprus Energy ministerMinister and Deputy Environment Minister Evangelos Livieratos and Asimakis Papageorgiou held meetings on Tuesday with the Energy Minister of Cyprus George Lakkotrypis, focusing on developments in research for hydrocarbons in Greece and Cyprus.
Livieratos briefed his Cypriot counterpart on the government's handlings in the sector of hydrocarbon research, excavation and utilisation, while also referring to the next steps Greece is scheduling regarding the managing of its energy sources.
On his part, Lakkotrypis referred to the initiatives that the Republic of Cyprus has undertaken for the exploitation of deposits and provided a briefing on the international contacts he had recently with counterparts of his in the wider region.
The two ministers expressed their commitment on the continuation and intensification of the close bilateral cooperation between Greece and Cyprus in the energy sector.
Tripartite cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, that has started at technical level on energy infrastructures issues, was examined in the meeting with Papageorgiou.
 Titan Group reports higher losses in Q1Titan Group, a Greek-listed cement company, on Tuesday reported losses of 27 million euros in the first quarter of 2013, after losses of 19 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
Consolidated turnover totaled 243 million euros in the January-March period, up 8.0 pct from last year, while EBITDA fell by 29 pct to 24 million euros in the three-month period. Foreign exchange changes had a 4.0 pct negative effect on turnover and by 7.7 pct on EBITDA. Titan cement its business recovered in the US market, continued shrinking in Greece, showed resistance in Egypt and was stable in Southeastern Europe, while it grew further in Turkey. The group said its Greek business was trying to safeguard its operations through higher exports. The Greek and Western Europe sector reported a turnover of 51 million euros, up 11 pct in the first quarter, reflecting higher cement exports. EBITDA showed a loss of 3.0 million euros after earnings of 13 million euros last year. Net borrowing rose by 35 million euros to 630 million euros, compared with the fourth quarter of 2012, but fell by 158 million euros compared with the same period in 2012.
Parent turnover rose 19 pct to 51 million euros, EBITDA showed a loss of 2.0 million euros and net results showed a loss of 17 million euros in the first three months of 2013.
 Frigoglass completes book-building process for bond issueFrigoglass on Tuesday announced the completion of a book-building process for the issue of a bond loan worth 250 million euros through its subsidiary Frigoglass Finance BV.
The five-year bond issue, maturing on May 15, 2018, carries an annual interest rate of 8.25 pct. The proceeds from the bond issue will be used to refinance some of the group's existing loans, while the new bonds will be listed for trading in the Euro MTF market of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
 Government sends evidence on illegal tobacco trade to financial prosecutorJustice ministry general secretary for transparency Georgios Sourlas on Tuesday sent a file of evidence on the illegal tobacco trade and its repercussions on the Greek economy to financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis, urging the start of an investigation.
Based on the ministry's figures, illegal trade in cigarettes and other tobacco products may cost the Greek state up to 800 million euros in lost revenues per year, representing up to 20 percent of the legal trade.
Sourlas additionally highlighted the higher health risks from the contraband products, which often exceed legal limits for carbon monoxide (by 100 percent), tar (by 70 percent) and nicotine (by 15 percent). Contraband cigarettes also tend to contain low-quality tobacco or even tobacco industry wastes and other by-products, which thus require the use of uncontrolled chemical additives of unknown origin, while they may contain heavy metals, foreign matter or chemical fertilizers and use substandard filters.
 Jumbo Group says nine-month sales slightly upJumbo Group is expanding its activities with the launch of e-shop services in May 15 and the opening of two more Jumbo shops in Greece, while the group is preparing its entry in the Romanian market.
Under the group's plan, Jumbo is scheduled to launch at least two super-shops in Romania, a new shop in Paphos (Cyprus) and an additional store in Greece. Jumbo said its sales grew by 0.41 pct in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, affected by the impact of a crisis in Cyprus.
Jumbo's subsidiary in Cyprus suffered a net loss of 20 million euros from a haircut in its unsecured bank deposits, totaling 58 million euros. This development is expected to reduce the Group's profitability by around 29 pct, to around 48 million euros, compared with the same period last year. Group turnover grew slightly, helped by higher sales in Bulgaria.
 Open-market vendors to strike on Wed., May 15The union of open-market vendors has called a strike on Wednesday, May 15, to protest a draft law "changing the rules" for the operation of open markets in the country, it was announced on Tuesday.
An announcement by the National Federation of Open Market Vendors noted that the new law will require a renewal of licensing every three years, instead of being permanent.
According to the sellers' union, the new law will have a negative effect on its members' entrepreneurship, stressing that three years are not enough for its members to write off their debts. Also, it will not allow them to budget ahead of time since their work is not guaranteed and it will prevent sellers from developing direct relationships with their costumers considering that they will change every three years.
 Greek stocks end moderately higherGreek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, after a nervous and volatile trading in the market. The index ended at its highest closing since August, 4 2011 to 1,073.47 points, up 0.77 pct, after falling as much as 0.92 pct during the session. Turnover remained a strong 108.442 million euros.
The Big Cap index ended 0.94 pct higher and the Mid Cap index rose 0.46 pct. Eurobank (21.05 pct), MIG (14.24 pct), Piraeus Bank (9.23 pct) and National Bank (2.65 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (5.14 pct), Jumbo (2.74 pct), Terna Energy (2.82 pct) and Mytilineos (1.36 pct) were top losers.
The Financial Services (4.57 pct), Health (2.75 pct) and Telecoms (2.54 pct) sectors scored gains, while Personal Products (1.96 pct) and Technology (1.10 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 85 to 64 with another 31 issues unchanged. Eurobank (21.05 pct), Pasal (20 pct) and Douros (19.77 pct) were top gainers, while Domiki Crete (18.61 pct), Hellenic Fish Farms (18.37 pct) and Compucon (17.65 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.66%
Personal & Household: -1.96%
Raw Materials: -0.51%
Travel & Leisure: +0.70%
Food & Beverages: +0.30%
Financial Services: +4.57%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Alpha Bank, OTE and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.59
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.85
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.75
National Bank of Greece: 1.16
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.41
Bank of Piraeus: 0.41
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 8.11 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 8.45 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.47 pct and the German Bund 1.36 pct. Turnover rose to 10 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.49 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.40 pct, the six-month rate was 0.30 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.50 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover falling to 12.861 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,551 contracts worth 8.386 million euros, with 40,219 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,912 contracts worth 4.475 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (4,813), followed by MIG (4,262), OTE (1,732), PPC (1,467), OPAP (294), Hellenic Exchanges (306), Mytilineos (787), GEK (404), Ellaktor (213), Intralot (917), Sidenor (151) and Jumbo (105).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.317
Pound sterling 0.860
Danish kroner 7.564
Swedish kroner 8.762
Japanese yen 133.86
Swiss franc 1.260
Norwegian kroner 7.653
Canadian dollar 1.335
Australian dollar 1.327
 All Greek museums free on Saturday, International Museum DayThe International Museum Day will be celebrated in Greece by free entrance to all museums on Saturday, May 18.
The day was established in 1977 by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and is annually celebrated in the middle of May. (Some institutions, like the National Archaeological Museum, observed it last weekend.)
This year's theme for the celebration is "Museums (memory and creativity) = social change."
The following museums will also offer special events to celebrate the day, free to the public (all in Athens, unless noted):
The Acropolis Museum (free entrance from 8:00 a.m. to midnight on Saturday) will offer a concert given at the forecourt of the museum at 9 a.m. by the Dion Centre for Arts and Letters Youth Orchestra, directed by Nikos Patris. They will perform traditional and modern Greek works.
From May 16 to 19, the museum will be presenting copies of its collections for sales at the Art Athina international art exhibit held at the Tae Kwon Do stadium in Paleo Faliro, south of Athens (paid entrance). It will also be selling souvenir medals, made jointly with the National Mint, depicting a cock, which for ancient Greeks personified readiness in battle. The cock will also be the theme in several activities offered by the museum for families throughout the exhibit halls.
On May 17, at 7:30 p.m., the Epigraphical Museum will be holding a music recital.
GOULANDRIS NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM (Othonos 100, Kifissia, tel. 210-8015870)
Along with its Gaia Centre, it will hold several programmes for children on topics ranging from climatic change to art workshops and a shadow puppet theatre show (at 12 noon). Scientists will speak about the collections and their preservations and visitors will be able to peruse the exhibit "Hippocrates' Medicine Throughout the Centures", including samples of medicinal plants.
NATIONAL HISTORICAL ARCHIVE (NATIONAL BANK)
Concerts at the facilities of the Archive, at Diomidis Hall, Tritis Septemvriou 146. They are organised by the Archive, the Academy of Athens (Centre of Greek Folklore Studies) and the drug detox (KETHEA) centre "Strofi".
Their schedule includes a puppet-making workshop for children (10:00 a.m.-12 noon) on Friday, May 17; film screenings and art exhibits, 6:00 p.m. to midnight (including tours, to 7:00 p.m.), theatre in the atrium (7:30 p.m.), art workshops; and a concert with the Strofi band at 9:00 p.m.
The Museology Department at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki graduate school will be offering two different routes is putting together a series of activities in the second largest city of Greece commemorating the day.
Students will give guided tours to the city, stopping at seven monuments or spots in the city, of historic or social importance. There will be two routes to choose from of about two hours' duration each, every hour on the hour starting at 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on May 17-19.
The city Folk and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace will also be free to visitors, from Wednesday to Sunday, with various activities and an exhibit on the city's history.
ZAKYNTHOS MUSEUM REOPENS
Meanwhile, the Museum of the island of Zakynthos (Zante) announced on Friday it would reopen to the public with a skeleton staff of locals, after it was forced to shut down on May 1, prompting strong protests from the local community. The municipality of Zakynthos and the peripheral authorities provided the staff after agreement of the Byzantine Ephorate that supervises it.
 'Doctors of the World' condemn near arrest of teen reporting racist attackThe Greek branch of the aid organisation 'Doctors of the World' on Tuesday condemned the near arrest of a 15-year-old Afghan boy when he went to report a racist attack against him to the police.
The general secretary of the aid organisation's chapter in Greece, Nikitas Kanakis, said the boy's arrest and deportation as an illegal migrant was averted only at the last minute, through the intervention of the organisation and of the head of UN High Commission for Refugees' office in Greece George Tsarbopoulos. The teenager had gone to the police department for incidents of racist violence earlier on Tuesday, in order to report the attack against him.
"The question is raised. If the person reporting [an incident] is not protected by the state, then how can the victims report the attacks against them?" Kanakis pointed out.
Tsarbopoulos said the incident highlighted a gap in Greek legislation for the protection of victims of racist violence and said that the UN High Commission other bodies in the Racist Violence Recording Network have repeatedly had to ask for detention orders to be suspended and for arrangements to be made allowing the victims of racist attacks to have temporary residence in Greece.
The youngster was attacked by six black-clad men in Attiki Square in central Athens on Easter Monday, who hit him and slashed his face with a broken beer bottle. The 15-year-old was the taken to a hospital for first aid but according to the "Doctors of the World" centre, the examination conducted at the hospital was incomplete and the incident was not logged. Two days later, the boy had resorted to the 'Doctors of the World' medical centre suffering from acute pain.
"I proceeded to go public with this because I have not seen such barbarity in a while. What they did to the boy was brutal," Kanakis said.
The aid organisation has taken action to help reunite the boy with his family, which is currently in Switzerland seeking asylum.
His story will also be recorded on video by 'Doctors of the World' later on Tuesday and posted on the organisation's website.
In an announcement issued later on Tuesday, the police Racist Violence unit said that an investigation into the attack on the teenager was underway, in collaboration with the Attica Security Police Protection of Minor department. They also denied press reports that the 15-year-old had been detained shortly before his departure for Switzerland with his family, saying that there was no record that the specific foreign national had been detained by Greek authorities.
 Mechanical failure caused thick smoke in metro station; metro services restoredAthens metro trains are running on schedule after a brief upset early on Tuesday afternoon caused by thick smoke that filled the downtown Panepistimiou Station, as a result of a mechanical failure in one of the metro trains.
According to experts, the smoke came from the overheated wheels of one of the trains.
 Arrest for unpaid debts to the stateA 43-year-old man was arrested in Thessaloniki on Tuesday for millions of euros of unpaid debts owed to the state.
The man, active in the market of home products and paper tissue, was arrested for debts exceeding 6.8 million euros for the period between September 2009 and June 2012.
 Fair on WednesdayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures between 10C and 27C. Fair in Athens with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 13C and 27C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14C and 25C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: "Black clouds again," it says, over the threat of additional austerity measures in Greece.
ETHNOS: "Foreign capitals reconsidering Greece", on important investing groups sending cash to the Greek market.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Lower insurance contributions for 400,000 professionals", for those who do not owe to the state; they may select lower insurance grades and reduce - up to 100 euros - the cost of their contribution to social security funds
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "We are getting on fine... with 8 bln- euros' worth of additional measures," after a European Commission report presented to the Eurogroup says imposing of 7.7 billion euros in new measures is mandatory.
ESTIA: "Uncontrolled unionism" reflects the government's clash with the secondary education teachers' union over their planned strike.
AVGHI: "Colonel Antonis Samaras' military camp" parodies the prime minister's civil mobilisations in transportation, seafaring and, more recently, teachers.
VRADYNI: "Tourism as a diving form to recovery" refers to prime minister
Antonis Samaras' stressing of the sector this summer.
ELLADA AVRIO: "Memorandum to the measure of (main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras ", referring to his plans to replace the memorandum by another plan.
KATHIMERINI: "Eurogroup ministers give kudos to Greece, approve dual tranche to Greece" at their meeting Monday.
RIZOSPASTIS: "Social insurance based on the working class' needs" calls for refocusing of austerity measures.
TA NEA: "Sudden love between Tsipras and industrialists" after the main opposition leader's talk at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEVE) annual meeting.
IMERISSIA: "A bank explosion" in share rates, which skyrocketed on Monday at the Athens Stock Exchange, mostly from foreign investors.
NAFTEMPORIKI: "7.7 bln euros additional austerity measures for 2015-2016" it warned, following a memo by the Commission issued after a report by the troika of lenders to Greece.
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