|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-05-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 21 May 2013 Issue No: 4364
 Greece can be China's gateway to Europe, MP Samaras saysGreece, given its geographic location, can be China's gateway to Europe and Europe's to China, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told an event on Monday evening at Athens' Intercontinental hotel, hosted by the Union of Greek Ship Owners and the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, on the occasion of the European Maritime Day and Hellenic Maritime Day.
Samaras said Greece could play this role as it has a pioneer commercial fleet worldwide. He reiterated that there should be interest in investing in this sector and referred to the successful investment model of China's Cosco in the port of Piraeus.
He added that Greece has now consolidated its position in Europe and the country should be placed on the world map, guided by shipping and tourism. But there should be interest for investments in other sectors, too, he said.
Addressing the same event, minister of Shipping and the Aegean Kostis Mousouroulis said that in conjunction with the outcome of a successful Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2014, Greece will create a dynamic current of partnerships for the promotion and progress of the maritime economy and related sectors.
President of the Union of Greek Ship Owners Theodoros Veniamis told the gathering that Greece is the world's power of shipping and this can be one of its bargaining assets.
On his part, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping said the country's geographic position provided immense growth potential, allowing for its prosperity and development into a shipping and economic centre in the Eastern Mediterranean by attracting international investments.
The "Greek Merchant Marine Day" is an initiative of the Union of Greek Ship Owners and the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation, which in 2006 decided in collaboration with the state to honour in this way the contribution of shipping and the sector's employees to the Greek economy.
The European Union adopted May 20 as the "European Maritime Day", and this year it will be hosted in Valletta, Malta.
 Meeting chaired by PM focused on China visit endsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras chaired a meeting of cabinet ministers on Monday late afternoon to assess the results of his China visit last week at the head of a large government and business delegation.
The meeting also focused on mapping out a strategy to be followed from now on, aimed at implementing agreements signed in China and enhancing cooperation between the two countries.
Upon decision of premier Samaras, a Coordination Group was formed, which will be in constant contact with all ministers involved for the speedy implementation of these agreements.
Participating in the group are Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis, the head of the Hellenic Real Assets Development Fund (HRADF) Stelios Stavridis, Invest in Greece Managing Director Stephanos Isaias and the prime minister's office for Digital Planning head Dimitris Ptohos.
 PM Samaras to brief President Papoulias on his China, Azerbaijan visits TuesdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras will brief President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on his official visit to China and Azerbaijan on May 15-19 and on the government's progress at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, it was announced Monday.
 Development minister on PM Samaras' visit to ChinaThe Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' official visit to China last week "was not a visit just for public relations, and today's (Monday) meeting under the premier was aimed at following up the moves decided," Development minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Monday after the end of the specific government meeting to assess the outcome of the visit.
"I strongly believe that it is up to us to go even beyond what was agreed... and proceed to action," the minister said, adding that premier Samaras has made it clear Greece is interested in moving forward in an organized way.
 KKE party on PM's visits to China and AzerbaijanThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Monday on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's visits to China and Azerbaijan last week, stressed that "the people must not be led astray by the climate of 'national success' which the government is cultivating, because the agreements he signed are part of the current growth path that continuously worsens the life of the people to support capital.They must not have illusions that their living standard will return to the levels prior to the crisis".
KKE added that "the government's agreements have the exclusive target of securing the profit-making of the business groups, both local and foreign. They shall gain from the further privatisation of the ports, airports and the railways, as well as from the agreements on the building of ships of Greek shipowners in China".
KKE further pointed out that "these agreements do not solve the aggravated problem of unemployment, while they pave the way for a new attack on labour rights and very costly services for the people".
 Defence minister visits President Papoulias ahead of Russia visitNational Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday, for talks ahead of the minister's visit to Russia.
The president noted that Russia is a "major European power" and referred to its traditionally close ties with Greece. According to Panagiotopoulos, Papoulias also stressed the importance of the minister's visit in helping to 'rekindle' Greece's relations with Russia.
In statements during his meeting with the president and to reporters afterward, Panagiotopoulos stressed that Greece honoured its signature as a member of the NATO alliance and the West but that did not prevent it from having relations with Russia.
He said that he also briefed the president on his planned visit to Israel in June, adding that the government had made it a priority to further strengthen ties with Israel and Russia.
Other issues covered during the meeting with the president included the new structure of the Greek armed forces, which is to be discussed one more time by the appropriate Parliamentary committee before it is submitted to the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) for approval.
The minister stressed that the reorganisation will reinforce combat units and reduce administrative structures and the "military bureaucracy" that in recent years had expanded a great deal more than necessary, following a pattern of laxity and clientelist politics established in the rest of Greek society.
"I think the time has come to have a lean military, adapted to the requirements of strategy in the 21st century, to the country's national defence doctrine, with the necessary administrative structures but chiefly with emphasis on combat units," Panagiotopoulos said, adding that the changes would also result in significant cuts in expenditure.
 Not bearing arms in Parliament 'self-evident', parliamentary sourcesDeputies should be "fully and definitively" prohibited from bearing arms in Parliament, New Democracy deputy Fotini Pipili said in a written request to Parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis on Monday.
"On the occasion of the presidium's decision to fully observe the Parliamentary rules of order and impose strict sanctions on members of Parliament who undermine parliamentary democracy," she said in her letter, "I request the full and definitive ban of gunbearing by deputies in Parliament."
She added, "Just the opportunity representatives of the nation have to bear arms within the Temple of Democracy and free will constitutes a heavily offensive action," and pointed out that "nobody in Parliament is under threat and needs to carry guns. On the contrary, with extreme events occurring lately, the Parliament is itself in danger."
She was referring to the controversial and volatile climate created after extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) deputies walked out following the expulsion of one of its deputies from Wednesday's session.
Parliament president Meimarakis has conveyed to secretaries of parliamentary groups that no one is in danger in Parliament, sources from his office said, and therefore there is no reason to bear arms in the building. Deputy Pipili "is requesting what is self-evident," they said. "In addition, the president of Paliament has never received a specific charge about any deputy bearing arms in Parliament."
 Antiracism bill must be promoted, DIM.ARThe antiracism bill will provide a wall against extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party and must therefore be promoted, the Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party said on Monday, as "every day we are made to witness the bigotry and extreme behaviour of Golden Dawn."
In an announcement, DIM.AR was commenting on the latest incidents - including Golden Dawn's walk out of Parliament on Wednesday when one of its deputies was expelled from the session for his behaviour - and "the arms-bearing of deputies even on Parliament premises, the effort to turn the Parliament into a sports arena, the racist behaviour, the illegal activities and the violent acts against unarmed immigrants" which it said "were sadly perpetrated by the deputies of the neo-Nazi spinoff themselves."
 SYRIZA criticises ND party on its stance on antiracist billThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) in an announcement on Monday criticised the New Democracy party "of doing all it can to keep the liberal party's door open to the Nazi gang (i.e the ultra-right wing Chryssi Avgi -Gonden Dawn- party), and this is the reason why it is exhibiting provocative tolerance for fascist violence."
The announcement referred to the stance of the government party on the anti-racism bill, stressing that "it was tabled to be withdrawn and then to be tabled again, then be referred to the Law Processing Committee and afterwards maybe somewhere, somehow, sometime we shall see it again..."
SYRIZA added that the government farcical comedy with the anti-racism bill just shows the absolute chaos of the government functioning.
 SYRIZA leader addresses pensioners' rally, government spokesman repliesMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing a pensioners' rally on Monday evening, stressed the need for the creation of a nationwide pensioners' solidarity network, and announced a series of SYRIZA policies to strengthen social insurance funds.
Tsipras said it was time to set up a network, a pylon of solidarity and action in the pensioners' sector of a nationwide structure that will comprehensively support pensioners and make SYRIZA's work in this age group more effective as well.
Replying to statements by the prime minister and government officials on optimistic evaluations regarding the country's exit from the crisis, the SYRIZA leader said that they have failed in all of their predictions. "The internal and external troika and the apparatus of their propaganda are trying to convince us that things are getting better."
The proposals Tsipras made included, the enactment of new public funds for social insurance that will not burden the lower and medium-level incomes.
A social clause in public projects: A percentage of the value of the project undertaken, to be paid by the contractor in every case of contracts for the assignment of public works and state procurements contracts.
Moreover, a contribution on the total number of transactions effected through public, private or cooperative-credit foundations of all types. This contribution will burden exclusively the credit foundations and will be limited to a small percentage on the value of the transactions.
Contribution on stock exchange transactions: This contribution must burden both participants in the transaction. Tsipras used the example of the recent rally in the Athens Stock Exchange, saying that social security funds could have made large revenues.
Replying to Tsipras, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the main opposition leader is appealing to pensioners, doubting whatever good thing is taking place in Greece, promising to impose taxes and more taxes that lead to recession and more recession.
"By telling lies and more lies in a delirium of disaster talk, he is aiming once again to divide the Greek people into Left and Right. We are struggling to unite and recover Greece," Kedikoglou said.
 SYRIZA spokesman on reasons for scrapping party's 'alliance' structure in ANA-MPA interviewMain opposition SYRIZA-EKM press spokesman Panos Skourletis on Monday elaborated on the party's decision to 'graduate' from a loose alliance of affiliated component parties and movements to a single, uniform 'multi-tendency' party, in statements to the ANA-MPA one day after SYRIZA's Central Political Committee reached the decision.
Skourletis stressed that the change was necessray in order to achieve the party's strategic goals, which were to overthrow the memorandum and take over the governance of the country, he said.
"SYRIZA has no ambition to become another version of a personality-driven party, in which the voice of the leader is that which imposes the terms of dialogue and any different voice is cast out. On the contrary. Our strength lies in being different," he said.
He also noted that the decision was not a new one but one of the commitments and directions adopted at the party's national conference in November, reflecting the wishes of the great majority of its members. He denied that the decision had prompted a clash with SYRIZA's left wing, saying that press reports to the effect were greatly exaggerated.
Skourletis also commented on the results of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' visit to China, noting that Greece's major strategic advantages - such as the port of Piraeus - "are not hard to discover".
"The issue is how the Greek state uses these advantages. Every deal that is struck must benefit the domestic economy, benefit Greek society and not lead to leonine agreements that favour so-called investors," he added.
According to Skourletis, the government was "trapped in a dogmatic approach" to privatisations, which it was determined to carry out at all costs, regardless of the terms.
He also accused the government of trying to cultivate an "artificially rosy" picture about the Greek economy, which none of the real figures concerning the economy and society could justify.
An audio recording of the full interview with Skourletis is available at the address ftp.ana-mpa.gr (without the http:// preface) with the access codes: username : radioUser password : r@d!0
 Greece-Turkey Cooperation council meets in Istanbul TuesdayForeign Affairs Secretary General Anastasios Mitsialis will meet with Deputy Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu in Istanbul on Tuesday for consultations.
According to a ministry announcement, the consultations are part of the meetings held for the 2nd Conference of the Highest Cooperation Council of Greece and Turkey, with the agenda including bilateral and European issues of mutual interest and a review of regional and international developments.
On Wednesday, Ambassador Mitsialis will visit Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
 Independent Greeks leader to visit Washington, DCIndependent Greeks (AN.EL) leader Panos Kammenos will leave on Monday evening for Washington, DC following an invitation by the American-Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA) to address an organisation event.
The AN.EL leader will also have a series of meetings with members of the Greek-American community and US officials during his stay.
 DIM.AR leader meets with Iraqi ambassadorDemocratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis met in Athens on Monday with Iraqi Ambassador to Greece Burhan Jaf. They discussed issues of mutual interest in strengthening cooperation between the two countries.
DIM.AR is one of two junior members of the ruling coalition, along with PASOK.
 Supreme Court appoints two new financial prosecutors to fill vacanciesTwo new financial prosecutors were appointed by decision of the Greek Supreme Court (Areios Pagos), Panagiotis Athanasiou (chief prosecutor) and Galinos Bris (alternate prosecutor), it was announced on Monday.
The two replaced Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis, who had requested that their term of office not be renewed, saying that their duties were covered by the newly-created position of corruption prosecutor, Eleni Raikou, to whom they had forwarded all case files they had handled at the appeals court.
Athanasiou, born in 1955, has handled several cases, including the Siemens bribery case, the armaments procurement cases, the Interamerican insurance company branch investment contracts, among others.
Bris, born in 1953, had recommended the prosecution of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos (currently on trial on armament procurement kick-back and money laundering charges) over an incorrect "source of wealth" statement for 2009. He had also recommended that two Greek Olympic Games athletes charged for perjury and anti-doping test obstruction in 2004 be declared innocent and businessman Pavlos Psomiadis be declared guilty over a false letter of guarantee of over half a million euros submitted to the capital market commission.
 Trial of former minister Tsohatzopoulos continues with finance ministry official's testimonyThe trial of former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and another 18 defendants, charged with money-laundering and taking kickbacks for armaments' procurements programmes, continued on Monday with the testimony of witnesses, with his lawyers saying they would provide evidence refuting the charges.
The trial opened with the continuation of testimony by finance ministry financial crime squad (SDOE) official Nikos Maitos and his cross-examination by defence lawyers. Criminal Appeals court president Christos Katsianis chastised SDOE for not trying to locate the real owners of the American offshore Nobilis, which transferred ownership of a neoclassical house located at the foothills of the Acropolis to Tsohatzopoulos' wife Vicky Stamati. He also criticised SDOE for the lack of thoroughness in its reports on the case.
Tsohatzopoulos' wife and daughter were both present at today's trial session.
 Archbishop Ieronymos satisfied with U.S. visitNEW YORK (ANA-MNA/P. Panagiotou)
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Monday evening expressed satisfaction with his visit to the U.S. and his contacts in the Greek American community, saying "I now return to Greece being more of a Greek and more of an Orthodox Christian, having more hope and the certainty that all difficulties will be overcome."
Following a visit earlier on Monday to the Cathedral of Aghios Demetrios and the local community in Astoria, during which he was accompanied by Archbishop Demetrios of America and members of his entourage, Ieronymos thanked the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America for his "care." He also thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch Vatholomeos for his blessing.
Referring to his visit to the U.S., mainly Boston and New York, the Archbishop said his impressions were too many, "but I would like to summarise them in songs and dances. Listening to the songs and watching the dances and the children's faces, I thought that this is what will always live and this is the soul of Greece."
 Greece in 'final sprint' to make TAP first choice for Shah Deniz natgas, ministry official saysGreece is now in the "final sprint" of the race to ensure that the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is the one selected by Azerbaijan in June as its first choice for transporting natural gas to Europe, the foreign ministry's general secretary for international economic relations Panagiotis Mihalos said to the ANA-MPA on Monday.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' working visit to Baku, during which he underlined the Greek government's determination to support the project, took place in the framework of this effort, he added.
Referring to premier's trip to Azerbaijan on Sunday, the head of the TAP consortium in Greece Rikard Scoufias stressed that the visit was very successful, adding that the premier had given his support to the project from the start.
"The strong but also broad support that we have for the project in Greece is an important element for the competitive offer we have submitted for the Greek route. We are grateful for this and feel confident and certain about TAP's prospects," he said.
Mihalos, on his part, also noted the regional benefits of the pipeline and the prospects of supplying the western Balkans with natural gas via Greece. He said the foreign ministry was working with Italy and Albania to promote the project, as well as with Balkan countries in order to more fully exploit the pipeline's potential, while Greece's environment, energy and climate change ministry was near to concluding the host government agreement.
The political support for the pipeline, considered crucial for its implementation, is seen as its main advantage over the competitor pipeline Nabucco. This political support was confirmed through the trilateral Greece-Albania-Italy agreement signed last February, recent visits by top government officials to Baku and lastly by the premier's visit there on Sunday.
Sources also pointed to practical steps taken in support of the project, such as the approval of a preliminary environmental assessment for the western branch of the pipeline (from Thessaloniki to the Greek-Albanian border) in April and the progress in the process for signing the Host Government Agreement.
The TAP consortium is made up of the Swiss firm Axpo (42.5 pct), Norway's Statoil (42.5 pct), and the German company E.ON (15 pct), while a discussion is underway on whether the state will also participate with a symbolic 1 pct share.
The TAP is designed to transport natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field to Europe, creating diversity and improving the security of supply. The final decision to proceed with construction will depend on which pipeline is chosen by the consortium operating the gas field, in which BP, Total and Azerbaijan's SOCAR have shares.
The pipeline will start at the Greek-Turkish border and end in Italy, via Albania and an undersea pipeline in the Adriatic. If carried out, the project is expected to bring investments of about 1.5 billion euro to Greece, creating 2,000 jobs directly and 10,000 jobs indirectly.
TAP's main rival is the Nabucco pipeline running through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
 Greek FinMin chairs meeting on bank recapitalization process reviewGreek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Monday chaired a meeting with the leadership of the Bank of Greece and the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund to discuss the progress of a banking system recapitalisation plan, currently underway.
According to the timetable, the recapitalization plan is expected to be completed by the first week of June. Completion of the plan will allow the country's systemic banks to focus on how to contribute more in an effort to restart the Greek economy's growth.
Meanwhile, the finance ministry on Monday said that the country paid 5.6 billion euros to repay a series of maturing Greek state bonds, mainly to the European Central Bank. Ministry officials said the repayment was made using a tranche of 4.2 billion euros received by the Eurozone and cash reserves from state coffers.
 Dep. FM urges shift to exports at event for Go InternationalDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Monday underlined the need for Greece to become more export-oriented, with growth powered by export activity rather than domestic consumption, while speaking at a Eurobank event to present the next Go International initiative to send a business delegation to Russia.
Go International is a programme set up by Eurobank in collaboration with Greek exporters, under the aegis of the foreign ministry.
Kourkoulas, who will accompany the mission to Moscow, praised Go International and said its success was reflected in the strong participation of Greek bodies, noting that it had "come to cover real needs."
He pointed out that improvements in the competitiveness of the Greek economy had also led to an improvement in exports, which increased by 14.3 pct of GDP in 2012.
The minister also announced that an effort will be made during Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2014 to improve the EU's current visa regime for Russians.
According to the organisers, the Go International mission to Moscow will take place on May 27-28 with the participation of roughly 150 Greek export companies. It is the fourth business mission organised by Eurobank in the framework of the programme, in collaboration with the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece, the Panhellenic Association of Exporters, the Crete Exporters Association and other export-sector bodies.
Some 2,000 B2B meetings with 250 Russian firms have been scheduled during the two-day visit, while a 'Real Estate Workshop' organised in collaboration with Invest in Greece will be held on May 27, allowing Greek companies to make brief presentations of current real estate investment opportunities in Greece.
During the event, Eurobank also announced that 'Exportgate', an Internet portal set up in collaboration with exporters and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and the support of the development ministry has started up a partnership with Google since May 13 in a bid to promote the portal in Greece and especially in foreign markets, such as Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Russia.
The event was also addressed by the chairman of the Greek-Russian Chamber of Commerce Christos Dimas and attended by Russian embassy and Greek foreign ministry officials.
 Slight improvement in labour market in Q1Conditions in Greece's labour market have recorded a slight improvement in the first quarter of the year with an increase in hirings and in full employment contracts, as shown by Labour Inspection Squad data publicised on Monday.
More specifically, new hirings in the first three months of 2013 rose by 7.79 percent for the first time since 2010, compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
Moreover, employers who hired personnel in the specific period chose full employment of staff (an increase of 19.25 percent), compared to flexible forms of employment.
On the other hand the change in employment contracts from full-time to part-time and in-turn employment forms decreased by 23.37 percent as compared to the same period last year.
At the same time, the readjustment of salary levels with individual and business contracts is continuing.
In the first quarter of 2013, 110 businesses employing a total of 8,875 employees proceeded with business employment contracts with an average salary decrease of 14.69 percent. Over the same period, 11,655 businesses lowered individual salaries for 33,187 of their employees, with an average decrease of 20.14 percent.
Undeclared employment rates remain at especially high levels, amounting up to 39.4 percent of inspected businesses.
During the first quarter of 2013, the mixed delegations of the Special Insurance Control Service of IKA, SEPE and SDOE carried out inspections of 17,189 businesses and found 6,765 uninsured employees.
 Ministry orders more frequent labour inspections in tourism sectorLabour inspectors are to step up the number of inspections of tourism-sector firms over the summer period, following instructions given to the Labour Inspection Corps Special Secretary Mihalis Kandarakis, Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis announced on Monday.
"Upholding labour laws and legality in the workplace are a main priority of the labour ministry," the minister added, stressing that failure to declare labour and contribution evasion were not minor offences but "social and economic crime." He also underlined that the crisis could not be used as a justification for such delinquency.
 Greek budget deficit down sharply in Jan-AprilGreek fiscal deficit shrank sharply to 2.425 billion euros in the first four months of 2013, from a deficit of 9.148 billion euros in the corresponding period last year and a budget target for a shortfall of 5.740 billion euros, the Finance ministry said on Monday.
In a report, the ministry said that net state budget revenue totaled 15.743 billion euros in the January-April period, up 5.3 pct from a budget target, while net regular budget revenue rose 0.9 pct to 14.027 billion euros.
The report said that both direct and indirect taxes achieved goals set, with proceeds from indirect taxes achieving their goal for the first time this year. More analytically, income tax proceeds surpassed targets by 9.4 pct, property taxes exceeded budget targets by 50.5 pct, while other consumption tax proceeds (especially tobacco) surpassed targets by 19.1 pct. On the other hand, VAT proceeds fell 5.1 pct short of budget targets along with proceeds from special consumption tax on energy products (-2.2 pct).
The Public Investment Programme's revenues totaled 1.715 billion euros in the four-month period, up 655 million euros from targets.
State budget spending totaled 18.168 billion euros, down 2.529 billion euros from budget targets. Regular budget spending were down by 1.615 billion euros reflecting a 1.451 billion euros decline in primary spending, compared with budget targets. Budget spending were down 28.2 pct compared with the same period last year.
 Greek enterpreneurs to participate in business forum in TunisGreek enterpreneurs will participate in an international business forum to be held in Tunis on 15 June, aiming to gain access to the markets of North Africa and the Arab world in general.
Moreover, Macedonia and Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou met on Monday with the Tunisian ambassador in Greece Tarek Saadi, who discussed the possibility of ways to enhance Greece-Tunisia's investing, trading and tourism relations. Saadi expressed Tunisia's interest in reinstating the direct air link from Tunis to Athens, something that will facilitate the relations between the two countries.
 Production of ginned cotton falling steadilyProduction of ginned cotton is projected to fall in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 ginning periods in Greece, as several enterprises are not in a position to continue operations because they lack bank funding, a report showed on Monday.
A report by the US Department of Agriculture said that production of ginned cotton in the period 2012-2013 fell to 242,767 tons, from 289,578 tons in the 2011-2012 period, a decline of 16.2 pct that reflects a decline in cotton cultivation (260,000 hectares in 2012 from 285,000 in the previous year).
The highest level of production was recorded in the 2001-2002 period (455,705 tons of ginned cotton), while the lowest level was recorded in the 2009-2010 period (204,664 tons).
The report said it expected this decline to continue in the 2013-2014 period.
Stamatis Kouroudis, head of the Thrace Ginning company in Komotini, in statements to ANA-MPA said the decline in production was smaller than expected and attributed this decline to the fact that international cotton prices were less competitive for farmers compared with other farm products. Kouroudis said the volume of ginned cotton production could fall to 220,000 tons in the 2013-2014 period.
 National Bank to launch share reverse split schemeNational Bank's share capital increase plan -part of a recapitalization process- was in full swing after a general shareholders' meeting approved -on April 29- a reverse split of its shares at a ratio of 10 to 1.
The reverse split scheme will precede a share capital increase and was expected to be completed by Friday when a two-week period of a rights' issue official begins.
Bank officials estimate that the rights' issue period will begin on Friday, 24 May and will last until Friday, 7 June. The offering price of a new share -in a share capital increase plan- will be 4.29 euros. Existing shareholders will be free to enlist in a share capital increase scheme without any limits on acquiring new shares.
According to market regulation, trading in National Bank's shares will suspended for a few days during the implementation of the reverse split scheme.
 Piraeus Bank reports Q1 resultsPiraeus Bank Group on Monday said its after tax results totaled 3.6 billion euros in the first quarter of 2013. The group said assets totaled 85.9 billion euros at the end of March, while including funds from a capital boosting scheme pro-forma assets totaled 94.4 billion euros. Pre-provision loans totaled 71.9 billion euros, of which corporate loans were 66 pct, housing 23 pct and consumer loans 10 pct. Deposits totaled 53.3 billion euros, of which saving deposits accounted for 38 pct (up from 30 pct in March 2012). The loan/deposits rate rose to 114 pct in March from 158 pct a year earlier. The delayed loans rate rose to 31 pct, while the accumulated provision/loan rate was 16 pct.
Piraeus Bank said its branch network totaled 1,630 units at the end of March, of which 1,186 in Greece and the 444 distributed in nine countries abroad, while its workforce was 23,574 (17,408 in Greece and 6,167 abroad).
Including Millennium Bank, loans after provisions totaled 64.9 billion euros, deposits were 56.3 billion euros, the loan/deposit rate was 115 pct and the provisions to loans rate was 15 pct. Its branch network totaled 1,750 units with a workforce of 24,756, while the group enjoyed a market share of 29.6 pct in loans and 28.9 pct in deposits.
 ELBO participating in 'Global Village On The Move' programme in ShanghaiThe Hellenic Vehicle Industry S.A. (ELBO) hopes to gain "inside" knowledge about doing business in the markets of the Far East, especially China, through its participation in the Iacocca Institute programme "2013 Global Village on the Move" in Shanghai in June and July.
One of the activities of the Iacocca Institute at Lehigh University in the United States, the GVOTM is a moving programme of global entrepreneurship skills and business knowledge, focused on building business alliances in Asia.
The programme will also help ELBO come into contact with noteworthy Chinese businessmen and contribute to its already intensive activity in emerging markets.
 Euromedica in talks with strategic investorEuromedica, a Greek-listed clinic company, on Monday confirmed it was in talks with a strategic investor.
In a statement, Euromedica said talks were at an early stage with no final agreement been reached yet. It noted that the entry of a strategic investor was expected to boost the liquidity of the group and facilitate the expansion of its activities in Greece and abroad.
 Industrial new orders, turnover indices down in MarchGreece's industrial new orders' composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) plunged 12.7 pct in March this year, compared with the same month in 2012, after a decline of 1.9 pct recorded in March 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this decline to a 14 pct drop in the domestic market new orders index and a 12.7 pct fall in the external market index.
The statistics service, in another report, said that the turnover composite index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) dropped 11.5 pct in March, after a 4.8 pct decline recorded in March 2012. The statistics service attributed this decline to a 51.1 pct plunge in mining turnover, and a 10.7 pct fall in manufacturing turnover.
The domestic market index dropped 21.6 pct in March while the external market turnover index rose by 3.8 pct.
 Greek stocks end lower on profit takingGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as investors took profits after last week's spectacular gains. Bank shares were at the focus of selling activity after a 68.55 pct jump in the bank index last week, while Coca Cola HBC offered support to the market.
The composite index fell 1.46 pct to end at 1,135.83 points -only the second loss-making session of May- with the index rise 16.60 pct so far this month. The index ended off the day's lows of 1,109.96 points. Turnover remained a heavy 181.451 million euros.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.87 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 4.55 pct lower. Coca Cola HBC (2.87 pct), Titan (2.26 pct) and Metka (1.60 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (29.51 pct), Eurobank (25.04 pct) and National Bank (14.21 pct) were top losers. Alpha Bank's share price fell 1.22 pct to 0.57 euros, while its rights price fell 24.19 pct to 1.41 euros.
The Food (2.80 pct), Construction (0.62 pct) and Oil (0.34 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (14.32 pct), Financial Services (3.70 pct) and Personal Products (3.45 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 112 to 46 with another 22 issues unchanged. Teletypos (17.89 pct), Compucon (14.29 pct) and Douros (13.82 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Bank (30 pct), Piraeus Bank (29.51 pct) and Eurobank (25.04 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.34%
Personal & Household: -3.45%
Raw Materials: -1.09%
Travel & Leisure: +0.32%
Food & Beverages: +2.80%
Financial Services: -3.70%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.57
Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.20
National Bank of Greece: 1.57
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.49
Bank of Piraeus: 0.46
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 6.85 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 7.0 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.19 pct and the German Bund 1.34 pct. Turnover in the market was a thin 1.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.48 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.39 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 discount of 0.72 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover at 21.535 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 7,461 contracts worth 14.772 million euros, with 39,028 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,402 contracts, worth 6.763 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (3,994), followed by MIG (3,316), OTE (2,184), PPC (895), OPAP (2,969), Mytilineos (774), Sidenor (292), GEK (802), Ellaktor (703), Intralot (560) and Hellenic Exchanges (342).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.304
Pound sterling 0.858
Danish kroner 7.564
Swedish kroner 8.704
Japanese yen 133.84
Swiss franc 1.264
Norwegian kroner 7.627
Canadian dollar 1.341
Australian dollar 1.333
 City of Athens unveils rich arts programme, from May to NovemberAthens Mayor George Kaminis on Monday unveiled a rich arts programme planned by the Athens municipality in various venues around the city, spanning the period from May until next November 2013, under the banner 'Centre and neighbourhoods all one stage".
The events include concerts, theatre, dance, art exhibitions, trade fairs and even international festivals that are organised by the Athens 'Technopolis' at Gazi, the Athens Municipality Organisation for Culture, Sports and Youth and the Athens Artists' Network.
As Kaminis pointed out, the aim is to provide an "answer to the crisis" and make the city an attractive destination for visitors and tourists, while providing much-needed relief to local residents, with an emphasis on events that are either low-cost or absolutely free.
Among the highlights are the 36th Book Festival at Pedion tou Areos from May 24 to June 9, an international jazz festival at Technolopolis on May 31- June 2, the Athens Garden Festival on June 15-18 at the National Gardens, the 2nd World Music festival on July 15-19, and a month-long street theatre festival taking place in Athens' squares and pedestrian roads starting on September 7.
 Financial police and cybercrime unit handled 5,000 cases from summer 2011, ministerThe Financial Police and Cybercrime Unit has handled over 5,000 cases as of its founding in July 2011, according to Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias, who forwarded the data to Parliament in writing on Monday.
The data came in response to a query by Independent Greeks deputies Yiannis Dimaras and Gavriil Avramidis, who said the abolishment of the independent cybercrime unit created delays in dealing with illegal Internet transactions and a dramatic reduction in solving child pornography cases.
Dendias explained that the unit's activity extended throughout Greece and did not depend on the Athens headquarters, which only dealt in functional matters. Of the 5,000 cases investigated, he said, 25 pct were based in northern Greece. In relation to child pornography, the minister said that 230 criminal files have been drawn up, of which 68 relate to individuals based in northern Greece, from Thessaloniki to Larissa and Limnos island to Grevena.
The Financial Police and Cybercrime Unit is part of the Greek Police and reports directly to the chief of police.
 March in the Peloponnese to commemorate politician Grigoris Lambrakis on May 26A peace march will be held on Sunday, May 26, in memory of politician Grigoris Lambrakis, who was assassinated 50 years ago.
The march will start from Lambrakis' birthplace in Kerasitsa after the laying of wreaths at his statue on the Tripolis-Sparta national highway at 5:00 p.m. It will conclude at the major city of Tripolis, where they will be addressed by Giorgos Lambrakis, vice-president of the Greek Committe for International Detente and Peace, the organiser of the event, at 7:30 p.m.
 Archaeological tour by bike on Sunday highlights theatre of AcharnesResidents of Acharnes, north of Athens, have organised a bicycle tour on Sunday, May 26 to promote the city's ancient theatre.
Episkinion, the residents' group promoting the tour, said it was the second year they held the tour and would be joined by other cultural and nature groups, including the local Boy and Girl Scout groups.
The tour will start off at 11:00 a.m. at downtown Athens' Kotzias Square (the ancient Acharnian Gates and Road) and go by the tumulus tombs of Acharnes (Kokkinos Mylos area) and of Sophocles in the town of Varybobi, concluding at the ancient theatre of Acharnes on 21 Archaiou Theatrou St. (formerly Salaminos), where a local committee will greet them.
Archaeologists will be giving information on the monuments at each stop, and the group will be escorted by traffic and municipal police, an emergency technician, and technical support, including a van to transport bikes.
More information is available at www.episkinion.org
 S. Korean journalists, tour operators visit picturesque Monemvasia in PeloponneseA group of South Korean journalists and tour operators on Monday paid a visit to the dramatic and picturesque medieval town of Monemvasia, on the eastern shore of the Peloponnese, as guests of the Peloponnese Regional Authority.
The visit was organised in the framework of efforts to promote the Peloponnese as a tourist destination in new markets.
The S. Korean delegation, accompanied by the managing directors of Turkish Airlines in Athens and Seoul, were received by local authority officials
 Young Dutch national remanded in custody over stabbing of boy on CreteThe 20-year-old Dutch national who is being charged with stabbing a Russian boy at a hotel on the island of Crete was remanded in custody pending trial, on Monday.
The young man was employed as an entertainer at the hotel, when the 11-year-old boy, staying at the hotel with his mother, confronted him on Wednesday with stealing his laptop and mobile phone. The man stabbed the boy repeatedly and left him for dead at the hotel parking lot, where he was found by police in a coma. The 11-year-old remains in serious condition at an Athens hospital, where he was transferred.
The Dutch man's lawyer said his client had a serious mental condition for which he had been hospitalised in the Netherlands, and had stopped taking his medication while on Crete. The prosecutor has ordered a psychiatric evaluation and his condition monitored by the psychiatric ward of the jail he is being held at.
His mother and sister have turned over to court his medical file, according to which he has autism and has previously been hospitalised in a psychiatric ward, while his mother said that she had informed officials at the first hotel he was staying that he had autism and needed to be under supervision.
 Court finds 21 guilty in Thessaloniki loan shark trialA Thessaloniki Criminal Appeals Court on Monday handed down guilty verdicts for 21 out of 24 defendants on trial for the activities of a loan shark ring operating in the northern Greek city. Among those convicted were three brothers considered to be the 'masterminds' of the operation, who were found guilty without any extenuating circumstances.
The case was related to the first of four extortion and loan-shark rackets dismantled by police in January 2012. The charges were for usury, extortion, money-laundering and setting up and running a criminal organisation.
Others found guilty in the case included the mother of the three brothers, one of the spouses and a former police officer expelled from the force.
Two of the defendants were acquitted, while a third is a fugitive and will be tried when he is apprehended.
The court has adjourned in order to determine the sentences to be imposed.
 National Bank donates 11 vehicles to Greek PoliceThe National Bank of Greece (ETE) has donated five cars and six motorcycles to the Greek Police (ELAS). The vehicles' delivery took place during a special ceremony held at noon on Monday at the installations of the former Officers School of the Greek Police.
The Deputy Chief of ELAS said that "these initiatives improve the morale of policemen, strengthen the feeling of duty and back our conviction regarding the expectations of Greek society of the function we are performing".
 Hospital doctors on work stoppage Tuesday, strike on June 7Doctors at Athens and Piraeus hospitals will hold a work stoppage from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Tuesday to protest a court move by Evangelismos hospital administrators to suspend a ruling for back payment of medical interns at one of its clinics.
Further actions by doctors on hospital staffs include a rally on Thursday over collective work agreements, and a national strike on June 7.
The doctors said public sector health hospitals and health centres were about 6,500 doctors short nationally, while the national health service was 10,000 doctors short, a situation they termed "tragic", as services available were undermined, especially in regional hospitals.
 Contraband cigarettes found in truck at Patras portPatras port authority located a large number of contraband cigarettes in a truck parked at south port area on Monday.
The 17,742 packs of cigarettes of three different brands were hidden in wooden boxes and included aluminum foil wrappings.
Coast Guard officers arrested the 35-year-old truck driver, a foreign national, and have launched an investigation.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures between 14C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with variable 2-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 18C and 33C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 18C and 31C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: One-billion-euro black hole in major social security fund IKA.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Endurance test.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Golden dawn (Chryssi Avghi, ultra right party) deputies carry guns in parliament!
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Trap that leads women to take their pension at the age of 67.
ELLADA AVRIO: SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras makes a party of leadership
ESTIA: China opens huge prospects
ETHNOS: The labyrinth of tax statements.
IMERISSIA: Dynamic return - Greek shares a magnet for Greek and foreign investors.
NAFTEMPORIKI: 20 percent increase in real estate objective rates.
TA NEA: Tsipras'... Chinese torture
VRADYNI: The traps in tax statements.
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