|Friday, 20 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-06-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 26 June 2013 Issue No: 4390
 PM to new cabinet: Stability more necessary than everThe new government's aim is the completion of its tenure, as stability is now more necessary than ever, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at the first meeting of the new cabinet on Tuesday.
Samaras also noted that steady steps are needed in order for the necessary reforms to move forward and pledged to improve coordination on current issues and on in-depth planning.
"We must meet the targets we have set and complete institutional reforms", he noted, and mentioned the necessity of also reforming the Greek Constitution.
"Greece does not have any time to lose. We must speed up. Everyone may retain his own views but the paramount ideology is the country's rescuing," Samaras said.
Speaking of the government's priorities, he said that it has to complete negotiations with the troika of lenders (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) on the new loan tranche. "A lot has been done but we still have outstanding issues," he said, adding that Greece must accelerate the preparations for the Greek presidency of EU starting on January 2014.
Referring to the country's primary surplus, Samaras underlined that Greece must meet its targets in order to be able to relieve lower-income classes who have suffered the most.
The government's immediate priority is economic recovery, resolving unemployment and attracting investments, to prevent new austerity measures. "I believe we are close to these targets", he said.
The prime minister also addressed the new cabinet after the cameras departed, stressing that they must rise to the challenge of their new duties and fulfill the hopes and expectations of the Greek people, sources said.
"They are not interested in anyone's party background or origins," Samaras was reported as saying. He also expressed confidence that the government can succeed, overcoming party and personal priorities that must now be relegated to second place.
"On this I am immovable; I work all day, the whole 24 hours, and I expect the same from you. I want good relations and coordination. You must grab the bull by the horns," the prime minister said. He asked ministers to keep him abreast of developments at all times, reply to questions tabled in Parliament, support the government and keep all sides informed about planned legislation, so that the MPs supporting the government might be promptly briefed.
He further urged ministers to be circumspect in their behaviour and ways of thinking, "avoid theatricality" and advised against excessive exposure on television.
Samaras stressed that any problems that arose must be nipped in the bud, pointing out that the minister of state and the government general secretary were at the disposal of ministers at all times, in addition to himself.
"This is not a government only for difficult issues. It is an ordinary government in extraordinary conditions that has a major target," he underlined.
The cabinet was also addressed by the new vice-president and foreign minister, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who expressed complete agreement with the prime minister's statements and said that the government must make the maximum use of its new beginning and complete its four-year term, as well as updating the two-party coalition's policy agreement and paving the way for a constitutional revision with social considerations.
"Everyone has understood the message of the times. Our differences are many but we must overcome them in order to give people what they expect," Venizelos said.
 PM's speech an 'epitaph' for New Democracy and PASOK, Ind. Greeks party leader saysThe speech made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to the new cabinet was "an epitaph for the New Democracy and PASOK [parties]," the opposition Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos commented on Tuesday.
Kammenos said that the "marriage" of the two coalition government parties came with a write-off of party debts and crimes as a "wedding gift" and its aim was "the birth of a Greece without national sovereignty in a federalist Europe".
He ended by stressing that they were "not taking Greeks into account" and that "we will not allow it".
 KKE on PM's address to cabinetThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a statement commenting on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's address to his newly appointed cabinet, on Tuesday said that when the prime minister and the parties representing capital talk about saving the country "they mean the salvation of the interests of big business, shipowners, bankers, industrialists."
"Our people need no saviours, old, new or presumptive," the statement noted, adding that the people "should, without delay and confident in their power, rally with the KKE and reinforce the People's Alliance for an exit from the crisis that is in their own benefit."
 New Cabinet sworn in TuesdayThe members of the new Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, was sworn in Tuesday at the Presidential Mansion.
The sole junior member of the ruling coalition is PASOK, with its party leader Evangelos Venizelos assuming the position of vice-president and foreign minister.
Cabinet members were announced Monday evening following a meeting between Samaras and Venizelos, and after the resignation of Democratic Left (DIMAR) as the second junior member of the coalition.
Changes in posts include former Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, now heading National Defence, while his predecessor, Panos Panagiotopoulos takes over the Culture and Sports ministry, among others, while Kyriakos Mitsotakis is taking over Administrative Reform and e-Governance.
Ministers retaining their portfolio include ministers Yannis Stournaras (Finance), Kostis Hatzidakis (Development), Labour (Yiannis Vroutsis), Public Order (Nikos Dendias) and Tourism (Olga Kefalogianni), among others.
Pantelis Kapsis, an experienced journalist and former government spokesman, will take over the issue of public broadcasting and the founding of the new agency as Deputy Minister for public radio and television.
Deputy Foreign Minister Akis Gerontopoulos, who is in a mission in Dublin, will be sworn in before the end of the week.
 PM Samaras chairs broad ministerial meetingA broad ministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras ended on Tuesday evening with participating Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras telling the press that "all the hot issues were examined, in view of the (EC-ECB-IMF) troika's arrival, aimed at regaining lost time."
The meeting was also attended by Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Administrative Reform and E-Governance Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis.
 Foreign ministry handover from Avramopoulos to VenizelosNewly appointed Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the junior ruling partner PASOK, on Tuesday took over the reins of the foreign ministry from his predecessor Dimitris Avramopoulos in a handover ceremony at the ministry.
Venizelos described the foreign ministry as the "third in line advanced outpost for defending national sovereignty" after the national defence and finance ministries and expressed his determination to promote a national reconstruction plan "that will finally lead our country out of the crisis".
Departing from the foreign ministry, the former diplomat Dimitris Avramopoulos also stressed that during his term "the country's international image had been reorganised" and a perception cultivated of "institutional duration in the continuity of the state".
Venizelos was exceptionally warm in his praise of Avramopoulos' "excellent work" at the foreign ministry and said he looked forward to their close cooperation as the two ministers in charge of the "pillars" of national sovereignty. He repeated that the two parties in the coalition government will update their policy agreement so as to ensure "full coordination on a daily basis".
He noted that Greece now had the smallest structural fiscal deficit "on the scale of the Eurozone" and that there must therefore be a declaration "that our people and national economy cannot withstand additional fiscal measures that fuel recession and unemployment."
Venizelos said that the government's priorities must be growth and employment, combined with reforms. He stressed the urgency of reforms in public administration and the tax system, as well as the need to revise the Greek Constitution "with the greatest possible consensus".
The new minister also addressed a "brotherly" greeting to the "Cypriot people going through the major trial of crisis, parallel to experiencing the country's political problem," and expatriate Greeks throughout the world and praised the good work done by outgoing deputy minister for expatriate affairs Costas Tsiaras.
At the end of the ceremony, Avramopoulos left for the national defence ministry - which he will take over from Panos Pana-giotopoulos - thanking the staff at the foreign ministry for the support and assistance and stressing that the "party friends" had disappeared in the operation of the foreign ministry and underlining the importance of the government's top priority of "cohesion, cooperation, consensus" and the fact that "we are seeing political consensus in action".
 Defence ministry handover from Panagiotopoulos to AvramopoulosNewly appointed National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday took over the reins of the defence ministry from his predecessor Panos Panagiotopoulos in a handover ceremony at the ministry.
Avramopoulos, after reiterating his view that he was always in favour of national understanding and consensus "for the country to go ahead", clarified that "party interference in the operation of the Armed Forces will not be allowed."
He also underlined that he would safeguard the cohesion of the Armed Forces and announced that he would be undertaking initiatives so that military personnel keep their dignity at the highest levels. Avramopoulos also thanked outgoing minister Panagiotopoulos for his contribution to the ministry's operation.
Panagiotopoulos, who takes over the culture ministry, said on his part that during his twelve-month term at the ministry he carried out the task of implementing "a very difficult but indispensable policy for the country, with success."
Referring to the work done during his term in office, Panagiotopoulos pointed to the upgrading of relations with the USA, announcing at the same time that a visit by a Greek National Defence minister to Washington has been arranged for July 30.
He also pointed to an upgrading of strategic relations with Israel "without harming the traditional ties that Greece maintains with Arab countries."
New Alternate National Defence Minister Fofi Gennimata, the first woman ever to assume a ministerial post at the ministry, pointed in a statement to the need for national understanding and consensus.
 New Administrative Reform & e-Governance Minister Mitsotakis takes over from outgoing ManitakisNew Administrative Reform & e-Governance Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday noted that his goal is to create an "effective public sector", while taking over from outgoing minister Antonis Manitakis. In a reference to the country's memorandum obligations while handing over to his successor, Manitakis said that he "cannot imagine 15,000 rash layoffs" in public administration.
Mitsotakis said that the work of the outgoing ministry leadership was important and was not promoted the way it should have been, adding that the discussion over a small or a large public sector is obsolete. He underlined the importance of having an "effective public sector for the service of the people and economic growth, without red-tape and corruption."
Referring to the public sector's workforce, he said that most of the staff were able employees and that "public sector structures and procedures are the weak link, not the people."
He underlined his determination to take "tough but fair decisions," expressing confidence that Greek society will support them if they are properly explained.
Outgoing minister Manitakis said that Greece will not get a flexible public sector by indiscriminately laying off 15,000 people, stressing that civil servants should be evaluated based on their productivity.
He urged the new minister not to accept the transfer of 12,500 employees as a prerequisite, noting that hasty moves of a punitive nature should be avoided to ensure the success of reform efforts.
A few hours before the new government was sworn in, Manitakis delivered a new, revised draft bill on "Organisation of Public Administration and other directives" to the representatives of the political parties in Parliament, following the conclusion of a period of public consultation.
 Transport & Networks portfolio handed over to ChryssohoidisDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday underlined that the privatisation of rail operator TRAINOSE can be launched in two weeks at the latest, while handing over the ministry's transport and networks portfolio to the new minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis. The transport and networks portfolios, previously merged with the development and competitiveness ministry, have once again become a separate ministry in the latest Greek cabinet reshuffle.
Referring to the road axes, he said that European Commission will have to approve the agreement reached with the concessionaire companies and the banks before the contracts are ratified in parliament. He noted the progress made in the privatization process concerning regional airports, adding that the Athens metro extension projects will be ready before the end of summer.
Chryssohoidis underlined that a national efforts is necessary to have tangible results.
 Reestablished Culture Ministry handover ceremonyOutgoing alternate Education minister responsible for Culture, Kostas Tzavaras on Tuesday welcomed new Culture Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, following the government's decision to reestablish the ministry, previously part of the Education Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports ministry.
Tzavaras used especially warm words to welcome Panayiotopoulos, wishing him every success with his work.
"The reestablished Ministry of Culture is starting on a new route, hopefully exciting, fruitful and beneficial amidst the highly turbulent times of financial and economic crisis," Panayiotopoulos said.
 Founding new 'ERT' an opportunity for Greece, new ministerFounding a new public television is an opportunity for Greece to "make a leap forward to create a new broadcaster that answers to the needs of citizens beyond interventions and party interests", said Pantelis Kapsis, Deputy-Minister-to-be for Public Radio and Television, on Tuesday.
Speaking at Mega private channel, Kapsis, who is to be sworn in as part of the new Cabinet at midday Tuesday, said that the project would not be an easy one. "I cannot tell how we will handle this, right now. I think that employees will be part of the solution, and I hope that they will see it this way eventually," he said.
Kapsis, an experienced journalist who has served as government spokesman in the past, agreed with the need to do away with the "black screen" on TV, or the lack of transmission, and said "it will be the first thing we must do to iron things out, and then proceed to plan the new ERT," a reference to the now-defunct public radio and television entity.
He also said that the solution he will work on in the near future will follow the general outlines of the agreement reached between main New Democracy party and its ruling partner PASOK.
 U.S. State Department on Greek developmentsNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
The United States and Greece are cooperating closely, a State Department statement said on Tuesday, on the occasion of Monday's Greek cabinet reshuffle, also noting the need for reforms in the country.
"We cooperate closely with our Greek friends and allies in a series of international issues and we are looking forward to cooperating closely with them in the future. We acknowledge that Greece is going throuh a very difficult period and that Greeks are making sacrifices. We understand the need for reforms that will make Greece more competitive and prosperous in the future," the statement noted.
 SYRIZA: 'Samaras government's days are numbered'The new government under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will be short-lived, main opposition SYRIZA said in an announcement on Tuesday. It described the government as a 'memorandum temporary contract-style' government, whose sole aim was to escalate the austerity memorandum's assault on the rights of workers and young people.
"Unfortunately for Mr. Samaras, the days of his government are numbered," the announcement said, noting that the new government was composed solely of the "old and worn-out materials of the two-party system."
Commenting on Samaras' statements, SYRIZA said these were indicative of the present government's pro-memorandum intentions and the huge distance that separated the government from the expectations of the majority of society.
With an excess and cynicism and audacity, Samaras had assured Greece's creditors that the implementation of the bailout memorandum will not stop anywhere, the party announcement stressed.
 DIMAR leader reiterates support for Greece's EU path despite party's withdrawal from ruling coalitionGreece must remain in the eurozone and the Democratic Left (DIMAR) will support this, party leader Fotis Kouvelis said after an executive committee meeting on Tuesday.
"The country must wage a battle to remain in Europe," Kouvelis said, "and DIMAR will be present at this battle with its own distinctive position. It will not deviate at all from the policy of democratic reforms carried out with social sensitivity".
Kouvelis said that the party would stand against any authoritarian and anti-democratic actions, including populistic views, and warned against a revival of bipartisanship and bipolarism in politics, which "the country paid for dearly in the past".
The leader of the former junior coalition member said that the party left the government because it was not tripartite in its operation while the handling of certain issues did not respect the inclusion of DIMAR at a time when the widest possible agreement was necessary, especially in negotiations abroad. Remaining in the ruling coalition would have meant supporting the government without any input in dealing with the country's and society's problems, he added.
 DIMAR meets to review latest developmentsThe Democratic Left (DIMAR) executive committee convenes on Tuesday - chaired by party leader Fotis Kouvelis - to evaluate the latest developments and the government's reshuffle as well as to determine the main direction of the policy it will follow from now on.
It will also prepare a proposal for the party's Political Central Committee convening on Saturday.
 SEV chairman on new governmentHellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos said on Tuesday that the greatest challenge the new government now faces "is to consolidate conditions of political stability and speed up reforms."
Addressing an International Labour Organisation (ILO) seminar on employment in Greece and commenting on Monday's cabinet reshuffle, Daskalopoulos wished the new government success, noting that after four years of unprecedented austerity and recession, the Greek economy is still in stagnation, while society does not see any outcome.
"Despite all that has been done and despite all that we have suffered, the crisis does not show any signs of substantial reversal," he underlined.
In his address to the seminar, SEV's chairman reiterated the views of his federation regarding the National General Collective Labour Agreement and asked for the ILO's contribution towards preparing a new model of agreement that "would embrace the wider problems of labour, economy and growth."
 Prime Minister Samaras, environment minister, to meet visiting Shah Deniz Consortium delegationPrime Minister Antonis Samaras and the environment, energy & climate change ministry leadership will meet with a delegation of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz Consortium on Wednesday, ahead of the announcement of the pipeline that will carry natural gas to Europe, ministry sources said on Tuesday. The announcement was made in the context of a handover ceremony between outgoing minister Evangelos Livieratos and new minister Ioannis Maniatis.
A final decision by the Shah Deniz Consortium is expected before the end of June on whether the TAP or Nabucco pipeline will be supplied first.
The Greek government supports the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project that will carry natural gas to Italy through Greece and Albania.
The visiting Shah Deniz consortium delegation comprises senior BP and Azerbaijani SOCAR natural gas company executives.
Speaking in the handover ceremony, the new minister Ioannis Maniatis noted that the policy to be implemented will focus on combating unemployment through economic growth that will be based on sustainable development practices and the country's comparative advantages.
 Visiting European Commissioner Andor meets VenizelosNewly appointed Greek government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the junior ruling coalition partner PASOK, on Tuesday had a meeting with European Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion Laszlo Andor for talks on stemming the tide of unemployment, especially among the young.
A PASOK announcement said that the key focus of their discussion was the need to transfer financial resources from the structural funds to the European Social Fund. They also discussed new initiatives that might be undertaken, in the framework of European Council decisions, and initiatives relating to the social economy that might present significant employment reserves.
Also present at the meeting was PASOK MEP Silvana Rapti, who is on the EuroParliament's Social Affairs Committee.
 DIMAR leader meets with EU Commissioner Andor in AthensThe Democratic Left (DIMAR), up to last week a junior party member of the ruling coalition, will continue to support Greece's European path, party leader Fotis Kouvelis told the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor on Tuesday.
"Democratic Left, which is not participating in the new government, continues to support the European course of the country and the need to continue reforms in order for Greece to overcome the deep crisis," Kouvelis said during their meeting at the EU offices in Athens.
Moreover, Kouvelis also expressed his belief that Europe will soon be able to proceed on the path to development, leaving austerity and recession policies behind.
On his part, Andor focused on the unemployment problem, particularly of young people, something that should best use any available EU infrastructural funds along with pushing reforms in the public sector.
Both parts agreed on the need to promote a substantial dialogue among social partners.
 'Left Initiative' group mulling ending PASOK collaborationThe Left Initiative group which cooperates with PASOK is examining the possibility of leaving the party after the latter's decision to participate in the new government and to co-govern with New Democracy(ND), it said in an announcement on Tuesday.
"PASOK's leadership decision has no social and party-wide legalisation and is in total contradiction even with the decisions of PASOK's recent congress," the announcement said, adding that the new developments will be discussed in a meeting. But it said that "we will not follow those who want to operate as (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras' life vest".
Commenting on PASOK's collaboration with ND, the Left Initiative charged that "it was a choice that politically, strategically and morally leaves PASOK exposed in the eyes of the party members, friends and the Greek people overall".
 Sofia Voultepsi declines post of deputy Health ministerNew Democracy party deputy Sofia Voultepsi in the early hours of Tuesday turned down her appointment as Health deputy minister, following Monday evening's government reshuffle.
The post of deputy Health minister will be taken up by Zeta Makri.
 Parliament President Meimarakis to be named PACE honorary memberParliament President Evangelos Meimarakis will be named a honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in recognition of his notable contribution as a member of the Greek parliamentary delegation, at a ceremony to take place in the context of the summer plenary session of PACE in Strasbourg on June 24-28, it was announced on Tuesday.
The organisation's president Jean-Claude Mignon will award a honorary diploma to Meimarakis at a special event on Wednesday, June 26, attended by the chairpersons of the national delegations.
Within the framework of his visit to Strasbourg, Meimarakis will meet with the PACE president and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Judge Alexandros Sicilianos.
 Head of Socialist International congratulates Albania's RamaSocialist International (SI) President and former premier George Papandreou on Tuesday evening telephoned Albanian Socialist Party leader Edi Rama to congratulate him on his electoral victory.
The two men exchanged views on latest developments in the region and agreed to meet soon to discuss their cooperation in the Socialist International.
 FinMin certain of disbursement of 8.1 rescue loan trancheFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras has expressed certainty that the new government will be supported by more political forces and that in parliament it will enjoy more votes than the number of New Democracy and PASOK parties' deputies.
Addressing a Eurobank Investor Forum, entitled "A new beginning for Greece's economy," on Tuesday, the minister said Greece now has a new government that is fully committed to reforms and the necessary changes, as the two parties that support it are fully aware that stagnation equals disaster.
Stournaras spoke of mistakes in the implementation of the fiscal programme, both from the Greek side and by the troika of its international lenders, but argued however that "the way in which we are now seeking to remain in the eurozone is, in my opinion, more effective under the present circumstances and with the least cost to the population and mostly the lower incomes."
Referring to the imminent return to Athens of the heads of the troika, Stournaras said that the two rescue loan tranches totaling 7.5 billion euros which were disbursed in May and June "were clear confirmation that Greece is doing well, which was also recognized by the recent European Commission and IMF Progress Report for the second fiscal programme."
The finance minister added that the next tranche of 8.1 billion euros is expected to be released towards the end of July, provided the country fulfills certain prerequisites. He said a tranche of 3.3 billion euros was already deposited on Tuesday in a special account with the Bank of Greece.
 FinMin Stournaras meets with US deputy FinMinFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras met on Tuesday with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Treasury Christopher Smart at the Finance Ministry in Athens.
US Ambassador to Greece Daniel Bennett Smith was also present at the meeting.
 Cosco's captain Wei to meet with PM SamarasThe Head of China's Cosco group, Captain Wei Jiafu, who is currently on visit to Athens and expected to attend the opening of Wharf III installations in New Ikonio, Piraeus, is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and other government officials on Wednesday.
Five of the world's most modern cranes - Super Post Panamax - were installed on May 17 in the Wharf, and another two are expected to arrive to enable Cosco subsidiary SEP S.A. to fully operate Wharf III as of July 1, much sooner than 2016 stipulated under a contract with the Greek state.
The new cranes have a lifting capacity of 65-85 tonnes, can handle vessels of up to 360 metres and unload 4,000 containers within 24 hours.
 TAIPED asks OPAP, Intralot to sign contracts required for sale of OPAPThe state privatisation agency TAIPED on Tuesday invited a consortium headed by the state gaming company OPAP to sign a contract for state lottery, asking also for the signing of a contract between OPAP and Intralot relating to OPAP's technological provider.
TAIPED emphacised that the above contracts are essential to the sale of a 33 percent stake in OPAP, and called on all side involved to assume their responsibilities.
 EC report says 4.1 pct of Greeks considering emigration in next 12 monthsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
Moving to another country is an option that could become a reality for 4.1 pct of Greek people in the next 12 months, based on the European Commission Quarterly Review on EU Employment and Social Situation made public on Tuesday.
According to the report's June edition, skyrocketing unemployment in certain EU members over the past four years has contributed to increased mobility within the EU.
The mobility of Greek citizens increased 170 pct, compared with the Spanish (107 pct) and the Irish (64 pct). A decline in mobility is recorded for Poles, Dutch, Romanians and Portuguese.
As regards the migration of EU citizens to Germany, it showed an increase in the period 2008-2012, with the number of Greek migrants increasing fourfold.
In the period 2010-2013, the Greek migrants in Germany increased 25 pct, corresponding to 25,000 people. A total of 123,700 Greeks are currently working in Germany.
A notable increase of 45 pct was recorded in 2008-2012 in the number of Europeans migrating to Canada. The largest increase was recorded among the Spanish (301 pct), the Irish (158 pct), the Greeks (155 pct), the Italians (96 pct) and the Portuguese (69 pct).
According to the report, EU unemployment reached the historic high of 26.6 million people in April 2013, corresponding to 11 pct of the economically active population in the EU and to 12.2 pct in the eurozone. Long-term unemployment increased in most countries at the end of 2012, with 11.6 million long-term unemployed (4.9 pct of the economically active population).
The largest percentage of long-term unemployed is recorded in Greece (16.8 pct in 2012), as well as the highest youth unemployment rate (60 pct) in February 2013.
The biggest drop in the unit labour cost in 2012 (-5.5 pct) compared with 2011 was recorded in Greece. In the same period, the average unit labour cost in the EU increased 0.4 pct.
Based on the European Commission report, the Greeks have the longest working week (42.6 hours) compared with the EU average of 40.6 hours.
 One fifth of Greek youth not in education or employment, report findsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)
Roughly 20 percent of young people aged 15-29 in Greece and other southern European countries were neither in work nor in education or vocational training during 2011, according to the 2013 report 'Education at a Glance' issued on Tuesday. The percentage throughout the EU was 15 percent. Figures for 2012 also indicated that the situation was deteriorating further for three countries in southern Europe
The report is issued by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in collaboration with the European Commission and analyses education systems in 34 OECD member-states, including the 21 EU member-states. The report aims to identify challenges faced by European educational systems that can be faced jointly by the EU and its member states.
Based on the report, per capita spending on education is dropping in most EU countries though still slightly higher than the OECD average.
Five EU countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Slovakia and Romania) combined low-level investment in absolute figures and a falling trend in spending on education since 2008-2009.
 EC-ILO seminar focuses on high unemployment in GreeceInternational Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder on Tuesday said the Greek economic crisis was "without precedent for a country in a period of peace".
Addressing a joint European Commission-ILO High-Level Seminar in Athens, he said the percentage of unemployment in Greece was "unacceptable." EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion L?szl? Andor, on his part, spoke of a possible European social crisis that will hit the euro further.
The Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Athens Bob Traa said he favoured a simplification of entry as well as exit processes in the labour market, demanding at the same time a wider opening of closed pofessions.
Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos demanded the readjustment of the National General Collective Labour Agreement's framework, saying that SEV would have no reason to enter discussions otherwise.
General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos blamed employers for the unfavourable changes made in labour relations for working people.
 Rural Development & Food Minister Tsaftaris attends EU Agriculture CouncilRural Development & Food Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris is in Luxembourg for the two-day EU Agriculture Council meeting that opened on Monday with a view to moving closer to a political agreement on CAP Reform.
Ahead of the council meeting, the last under the Irish EU Presidency, Tsaftaris referred to Greece's contribution to the efforts aimed at adopting a new CAP that will respect the fundamental principles of sustainability and quality, while taking under consideration the country's special characteristics. "Dealing effectively with structural weaknesses in the primary production sector and adopting the right planning can be the solution to youth unemployment," Tsaftaris underlined.
A meeting between Tsaftaris and European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) president Joris Baecke was held in the margins of the council.
 Tax revenues 3.5 pct below target in Jan-MayTax revenues were 3.5 percent lower than the target for January-May 2013, based on a report unveiled by the General Secretary for Public Revenues on Tuesday. It attributed the deviation to an extension of the deadline for submitting tax statements for firms, businesses and other legal entities.
Tax offices received 2.04 billion euros in May, or 14 percent less than the target of 2.37 billion euros, while for the January-May period total revenues were 10.17 billion euros, below a target of 10.54 billion euros.
More specifically, income from VAT was 4.9 percent higher than targets in May and net total revenue was 3.4 billion euro, 3.11 percent lower than net revenues in May 2012. The finance ministry expects that this will be corrected in coming months once the deadline for this category of tax-payers has expired. Overdue debts to the state in May came to 37.780 billion euros, up from 35.386 billion euros in December 2012.
The number of individuals with overdue tax debts to the state was 2,017,987 in May, with a total debt of 21.379 billion euros. The number of individual tax payers with overdue debts to the state was 2,548,071 in December 2012, with a total debt of 20.718 billion euros.
General Secretary for Public Revenues Haris Theoharis, in a statement, noted that the ministry's "constant and persistent effort to stay within the budget's revenue targets is given. The continued reduction of tax payers with overdue debts this month, before new measures are activated, makes us believe that a recovery in revenues will be the springboard for achieving the desired primary surplus and the rapid restart of the Greek economy."
 Trade balance deficit shrinks 20.9 pct in April 2013Greece's trade balance deficit shrank by 20.9 pct in April this year, as exports (especially oil and gas) rose sharply and imports declined, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.
The value of import-arrivals totalled 3.916 billion euros in April 2013, down 1 pct from 3.995 billion euros in April 2012 (excluding oils, the value of imports increased by 157.6 million euros or 6.4 pct).
The value of export-deliveries totalled 2.499 billion euros, rising 15.6 pct from 2.162 billion euros in April 2012 (excluding oils, the value of exports rose by 7.9 pct or 107.7 million euros).
The trade deficit dropped 20.9 pct to 1.416 billion euros against 1.792 billion euros in April 2012 (excluding oils, the trade deficit rose by 4.6 pct or 49.9 million euros).
The value of imports-arrivals for January-April 2013 amounted to 15.675 billion euros over 16.675 billion for the same time in 2012, at a decline of 6 pct (excluding oils, it dropped by 5.3 pct or 545.4 million euros).
The value of exports-deliveries rose to 9,045 billion euros for January-April 2013 over 8,339 billion euros for January-April 2012, showing a rise of 8.5 pct (exluding oils, it rose by 0.8 pct or 44.3 million euros).
The country's trade deficit fell to 6.629 billion euros in the first quarter over 8.335 billion euros for the first quarter of 2012, a decline of 20.5 pct (excluding oils, it declined by 12.1 pct or 589.7 million euros).
 Hellenic Vehicle Industry reports losses of 19.51 million euros in 2012Hellenic Vehicle Industry S.A. (ELVO) on Tuesday reported losses of 19.51 million euros before tax in 2012, the second consecutive year of high losses for the state-run company. Losses before tax in 2011 came to 23.09 million euros.
The company's net losses after tax came to 19.08 million euros, down from 23.29 million euros in 2011 and 21.82 million euros in 2010.
ELVO said that annual income declined by another 21.2 percent on an annual basis in 2012, to just 5.82 million euros down from 7.39 million euros in 2011.
The company's gross income has declined steadily in recent years, from 40.60 million euros in 2008 to just 22.15 million euros in 2010 and 7.39 million euros in 2011.
ELVO is the only Greek firm manufacturing wheeled and tracked vehicles for military and civilian uses in Greece, is among those pegged for privatisation. It has reduced its workforce to 376 employees in 2012, from 493 in 2010 and its best results in the last decade were in 2004, when gross annual income was 178.73 million euros and net profits came to 7.59 million euros.
 Stabilitly Fund becomes AEGEK shareholderThe Hellenic Financial Stability Fund became a shareholder in construction firm AEGEK by 19.39 percent of its share capital, the company told the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in a corrective announcement Tuesday.
The Fund now has an indirect voting right of 19.39 percent, from 0 percent, it said, correcting a June 21 announcement stating the percentage stake as 17.75 percent. The corrected stake corresponds to 6,455,351 common shares with voting rights, out of a total of 33,301,715 shares in the issuing company, after the Fund acquired Alpha Bank shares when the bank completed a share capital increase recently.
 Recovery for stocks on ASE; index up 1.29 pctGreek stocks recovered on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, after three stormy sessions and net losses of 9.69 pct in the previous week, buoyed up by the swearing-in of a new government and greater confidence of sustained political stability. The composite index rose 1.29 pct to end at 840.71 points, rising as much as 3.17 pct at its peak during the session. Turnover was a low 51.16 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 1.04 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 4.58 pct. Viohalco (11.08 pct), Corinth Pipeworks (10.95), PPC (8.80 pct) were the top three gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (-5.85 pct), Eurobank Properties (-3.69 pct), and Motor Oil (-2.08 pct) were top losers.
The largest gains among individual sector indices were for Public Utilities (7.44 pct), Industrial Products (4.97 pct) and Raw Materials (4.39 pct); the sectors that suffered losses were Oil (-1.41 pct) and Banks (-0.93 pct). Broadly, advancers led decliners by 74 to 52 with another 25 issues unchanged. Motodynamic (28.67 pct), Proodeftiki (27.93 pct) and Q&R (27.62 pct) were top gainers, while G.E. Dimitriou (-28.99 pct), Ideal (-25.94 pct) and Intertek (-25.81 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.41%
Personal & Household: +0.65%
Raw Materials: +4.39%
Travel & Leisure: -0.28%
Food & Beverages: +1.52%
Financial Services: +1.48%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, National Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.385
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.800
HBC Coca Cola: 17.790
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.350
National Bank of Greece: 3.060
Eurobank Properties : 7.050
Piraeus Bank: 1.320
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, to 9.41 pct from 9.44 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.22 pct, down from Friday's 11.35 pct and the German Bund 1.81 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.52 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.43 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe July contract was trading at a discount of 0.22 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 8.968 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,123 contracts worth 5.877 million euros, with 48,059 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,954 contracts worth 3.091 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (1,547), followed by PPC (1,339), GEK (1,076), MIG (888), Eurobank (768), Intralot (537), Mytilineos (488), Hellenic Exchanges (199), Hellenic Petroleum (162) and OPAP (161).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.333
Pound sterling 0.861
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.899
Japanese yen 129.71
Swiss franc 1.245
Norwegian kroner 8.099
Canadian dollar 1.397
Australian dollar 1.436
 World Congress of Philosophy in Athens on August 4-10The World Congress of Philosophy will be held in Athens for the first time on August 4-10, organised by the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP) and the Greek Philosophical Society under the aegis of UN-UNESCO and the Greek President's Office.
The XXIII World Congress of Philosophy entitled "Philosophy as Inquiry and Way of Life" will be a return to the classical roots of philosophy, considering that 2013 marks the founding of the Academy of Plato 2,400 years ago.
Over 2,000 philosophers from 105 countries will grapple with the problems absorbing people in the 21st century and convey messages concerning the values, positions, spiritual orientation and the stance of modern-day philosophers.
The congress will be attended by leading figures in contemporary philosophy including Jurgen Habermas, Umberto Eco, Tomas Calvo, Enrico Berti, Alexander Nehamas, Georgios Anagnostopoulos, among others, and will invite discussion of the nature, roles, and responsibilities of philosophy and philosophers today. Its agenda is focused on the problems, conflicts, inequalities, and injustices connected with the development of a planetary civilisation that is at once multicultural and techno-scientific.
The formal opening will take place at Athens Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Irodion), with a major music event in honour of the participants.
The congress will be launched on Sunday, August 4 at the University of Athens School of Philosophy, while certain of its sessions and symposiums will be held at the archaeological site of the Academy of Plato, at the Pnyx - the hill in central Athens where as early as 507 BC the Athenians gathered to host their popular assemblies - at Aristotle's Lyceum and at Agia Fotini at Ilissos, the site where Plato's Phaedrus dialogue takes place.
Those interested in attending the congress sessions can contact email@example.com.
 Fire in northern Evia under partial controlA wildfire that broke out at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday in pine forest near Prokopi in northern Evia, was reported under partial control later in the evening. According to the fire brigade, the fire is not a threat to inhabited areas and winds in the area are light.
A force of 33 firemen, 14 fire-engines, seven ground crew and two fire-fighting aircraft and a helicopter have been sent to put out the blaze.
 Caretta caretta turtle found dead at Amvrakikos GulfA Caretta caretta sea turtle was found dead by a fisherman early Tuesday at western Greece's Amvrakikos Gulf. It was the fourth sea turtle of the endagered loggerhead species to be found dead in June in the Ionian Sea area that is considered their natural habitat and contains their hatching locations.
The Amvrakikos wetlands authority issued a call to fishermen and citizens to notify authorities immediately when they find any injured turtles.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: "Agonizing experiment in New Democracy's (ND) grassroot level"
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "PASOK in government, the conservative party in power"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "ND in government, (PASOK leader Evangelos) Venizelos in power"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They key people in the fronts with EC, ECB, IMF lender troika"
ELLADA AVRIO: "PASOK's 'Total Recall', after Venizelos' blackmailing"
ESTIA: "Now growth comes first"
ETHNOS: "In deep waters, with new faces and surprises"
IMERISSIA: "The great wager - Sweeping changes in government and message for radical reforms"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The 'refreshed' government before the deep crisis"
TA NEA: "Compromises, wagers and surprises"
VRADYNI: "Two-party government of total responsibility".
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