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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-06-27

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

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

Thursday, 27 June 2013 Issue No: 4391

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece signs host government agreement with TAP consortium
  • [02] Greece's plans supported by construction of TAP pipeline, consortium says
  • [03] Shah Deniz consortium rejects Nabucco pipeline as natural gas conveyor to Europe, press reports
  • [04] PM meets with Shah Deniz natural gas consortium
  • [05] Venizelos meets Shah Deniz II consortium delegation, Azeri ambassador
  • [06] DM Avramopoulos meets Shah Deniz II consortium delegation, Azeri ambassador
  • [07] PM inaugurates new COSCO wharf, invites more Chinese investment
  • [08] Gov't vice-president Venizelos to present medal to COSCO chairman Capt. Wei Jiafu
  • [09] Shipping Minister to meets COSCO's Captain Wei and TAIPED heads
  • [10] SYRIZA on PM Samaras, gov't spokesman's reply
  • [11] KKE party on business group investments in Greece
  • [12] German FinMin Schaeuble to visit Athens on July 18
  • [13] New public broadcaster to open in next three months, minister
  • [14] Ministry to ask troika to extend deadline for 'transfer' of 12,500 civil servants, Admin. Reform minister says
  • [15] New bill in Parliament gives access to bank accounts, minister
  • [16] Defence Minister meets U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defence
  • [17] Gov't 'planning new layoffs, taxes', SYRIZA charges
  • [18] DIM.AR MPs to only support legislation party agrees with
  • [19] PM Samaras meets Russian billionair Rybolovlev
  • [20] Odysseas Constantinopoulos appointed PASOK press spokesman
  • [21] Draft bill against tax fraud and tax evasion approved in its first reading
  • [22] Diplomat David D. Pearce nominated for Ambassador to Athens by President Obama
  • [23] National Health System (EOPYY) director resigns
  • [24] Constantine Tasoulas new president of 'Constantine Karamanlis' Democracy Institute
  • [25] Unknown group claims responsibility for attack on ND offices, in Jan. 2013
  • [26] Vodafone, Wind telecoms present expansion plan to PM Samaras, Dev't Ministers
  • [27] High-speed rail project budgeted at 293.1 ml euros awarded to Aktor, J&P-Avax and Intrakat joint venture
  • [28] Greek bank deposits 'absolutely secure', FinMin Stournaras
  • [29] Piraeus Bank completes share capital increase successfully
  • [30] New page in Greek banking system with four big systemic banks' recapitalisation
  • [31] Shipping & Aegean Minister Varvitsiotis holds meetings on seaport exploitation
  • [32] Development & Competitiveness Minister Hatzidakis to visit Berlin
  • [33] Deputy Development minister on foreign investments
  • [34] Hellas Gold, local labour unions, contest suspension of works in Skouries mining site
  • [35] Canadian MP visits Skouries goldmine area
  • [36] Tax Bureau, Finance Ministry employees strike on Thu., Fri.
  • [37] Cement industry fined for layoffs
  • [38] ASE down 0.49 pct in volatile trade
  • [39] Greek bond market closing report
  • [40] ADEX closing report
  • [41] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [42] Orthodox Interparliamentary Assembly celebrating 20th anniversary in Athens
  • [43] Tourists awarded for years of holidaying on Crete
  • [44] Rainy on Thursday
  • [45] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [46] Greece signs host government agreement with TAP consortium Politics

  • [01] Greece signs host government agreement with TAP consortium

    Greece and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) consortium on Wednesday officially signed the Host Government Agreement initialed last week, at an official ceremony held in Athens. In statements after the ceremony, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras emphasised the invest-ments and jobs that the construction of the pipeline will create, as well as Greece's future position as an energy hub for the region.

    Though the agreement was signed on Wednesday, the final decision for the pipeline's construction is not expected before Friday, when the Shah Deniz II consortium in Azerbaijan will announce the pipeline that is to be supplied first. All signs point to the selection of TAP - which starts on the Greek-Turkish border and goes to Italy via Albania and an underwater section in the Adriatic Sea - but there is no official announcement yet, though there is an announcement that the rival Nabucco West pipeline has been rejected.

    The agreement was also signed by Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Assimakis Papageorgiou, who said he was extremely optimistic regarding the Shah Deniz consortium's final decision. He stressed that the construction of the pipeline will place Greece on the international energy map and bring benefits on a geopolitical level, creating a positive investment climate and boosting competition for the benefit of consumers.

    Speaking on behalf of the TAP consortium, TAP Managing Director Kjetil Tungland thanked the government for its cooperation and especially emphasised the support given by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the Parliament and the ministries involved.

    He said that the agreement was a firm basis for carrying out the 1.5-billion-euro investment for the construction of the Greek portion of the pipeline, noting that he looked forward to long-term cooperation with Greek authorities.

    TAP's country director for Greece Rikard Scoufias stressed that the agreement was "an important component for securing Greece's and TAP's bid for the Southern Gas Corridor, but also constitutes an international benchmark for expediency in terms of establishing a positive investment climate."

    [02] Greece's plans supported by construction of TAP pipeline, consortium says

    The construction of the TAP pipeline will assist Greece's aim to be a "high-speed energy road," the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) consortium said in a statement on Wednesday, following the official signing of the Host Government Agreement (HGA) between the consortium and the Greek government.

    The agreement sets the framework for the project's implementation and operation on Greek territory, from Kipoi, Evros prefecture to Dipotamia on the Greek-Albanian border, stretching over 550 kilometres. The agreement also includes land use arrangements, security issues, as well as technical and environmental standards, etc.

    The consortium points out it already cooperates with Greek businesses and scientists and that it intends to expand such cooperation. According to estimates so far, some 2,000 direct and another 10,000 indirect jobs will be created during the pipeline's construction.

    [03] Shah Deniz consortium rejects Nabucco pipeline as natural gas conveyor to Europe, press reports

    The rejection by the Shah Deniz consortium of Azerbaijan of Nabucco as one of two contenders for transferring natural gas to Europe opens the way for the Trans-Atlantic Pipeline (TAP) as the preferred pipeline conductor, press reports said on Wednesday.

    The consortium's choice between two competing pipelines - TAP, going through Greece, and Nabucco, circumventing it - was expected by the end of the month.

    [04] PM meets with Shah Deniz natural gas consortium

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with representatives of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz 2 Consortium at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday, ahead of the consortium's decision by end June on whether the TAP or Nabucco pipeline will be supplied first.

    A delegation from the Consortium including senior BP and Azerbaijani SOCAR natural gas company executives briefed the premier and the Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry officials on the procedure.

    The Greek government supports the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project that will carry natural gas to Italy through Greece and Albania.

    [05] Venizelos meets Shah Deniz II consortium delegation, Azeri ambassador

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the ruling coalition's junior partner PASOK, on Wednesday held a meeting with representatives of the Shah Deniz II consortium and the Ambassador of Azerbaijan Rahman Mustafayev. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministry general secretary for international economic affairs Panagiotis Mihalos.

    Venizelos was briefed on the completion of a process for the selection, between the rival Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and Nabucco West pipeline, of the pipeline that will first be supplied to transport natural gas from the Caspian fields to Europe.

    The official announcement of the outcome will be on Friday morning.

    The minister thanked the ambassador and the Shah Deniz II delegation for their detailed presentation.

    [06] DM Avramopoulos meets Shah Deniz II consortium delegation, Azeri ambassador

    Representatives of the Shah Deniz II consortium and the Ambassador of Azerbaijan Rahman Mustafayev briefed on Wednesday Greek Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on the completion of a process for the selection, between the rival Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and Nabucco West pipeline, of the pipeline that will first be supplied to transport natural gas from the Caspian fields to Europe.

    [07] PM inaugurates new COSCO wharf, invites more Chinese investment

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) Chairman Captain Wei Jiafu on Wednesday inaugurated Wharf 3 at the Piraeus Container Terminal run by COSCO in Ikonio, Piraeus. During the ceremony, Samaras officially invited the Chinese to carry out further investments in transport-related sectors, such as in trains, ports and shipyards.

    Referring to his recent trip to China, Samaras said he had ascertained unlimited potential for cooperation in various sectors of the economy, noting that the privatisation of TRAINOSE will be announced in a few days.

    "Regardless of the intensity and form the crisis may take, the answer is investments," the prime minister said, noting that the completion of the eastern section of Wharf 3 represented an investment in Greece of 340 million euros.

    "We are in the midst of a negotiation for a new agreement for the west side, which if completed and approved by Community authorities will lead to an additional investment of 224 million euros and 500 permanent jobs, as well as another 200 during the three years of construction," Samaras stressed.

    He also pointed out that, when the investment was fully completed, Piraeus port will have a capacity for seven million tonnes, while the total investment will reach 500 million euros and the number of jobs created will exceed 3,000.

    Piraeus is among the top five ports of Europe and is on its way to becoming the first, Samaras added.

    [08] Gov't vice-president Venizelos to present medal to COSCO chairman Capt. Wei Jiafu

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the ruling coalition's junior member PASOK, is to present COSCO Group Chairman Captain Wei Jiafu with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix medal at a special ceremony to be held at the foreign ministry on Thursday.

    The medal was awarded to Capt. Wei Jiafu by President of Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    [09] Shipping Minister to meets COSCO's Captain Wei and TAIPED heads

    ?The issue relating to exploiting the Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports as well as COSCO's investment plans will be the central focus of a meeting on Thursday afternoon at the Shipping and the Aegean Ministry between minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, visiting COSCO Group President Captain Wei Jiafu, the state privatization agency (TAIPED) president Stelios Stavridis and managing director Yiannis Emiris.

    Varvitsiotis had a similar meeting on Wednesday with Piraeus Port Organisation president Giorgos Anomeritis, TAIPED officials and a representative of prime minister Antonis Samaras.

    [10] SYRIZA on PM Samaras, gov't spokesman's reply

    The main opposition Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) Shipping section stressed in a statement on Wednesday that the prime minister Antonis Samaras, "panic-stricken by the continuous failures of the 'success story' policy is searching in agony for opportunities to promote a false image of optimism."

    It added that Samaras, with his presence at COSCO's location "is preparing the ground for the privatisation of the country's ports, favouring at the same time the demands of the Chinese company on the reduction of the contractual price it pays to the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) on an annual basis."

    Replying to SYRIZA, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that events deny in the most categorical manner the declared enemies of every kind of investment. He further said that "the port of Piraeus is improving steadily, but evidently at SYRIZA they are not interested in the creation of jobs."

    [11] KKE party on business group investments in Greece

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Wednesday, said that "the government's propaganda and celebrations regarding the investments of business groups in Greece, such as COSCO, the construction of the TAP pipeline, the VODAFONE-WIND agreement, are in pace with the escalation of the antipopular policy".

    The announcemernt further says that "at the same time the ND-PASOK government is speeding up privatisations, mergers and abolitions of public organisations, the layoffs and suspension of 12,500 employees, the extension of the tax robbery, as well as new cutbacks in pension and social security rights, due to the huge deficits that the antipopular policy has created in the social security funds and EOPYY (the National Health Services Organisation)".

    [12] German FinMin Schaeuble to visit Athens on July 18

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will be visiting Athens on July 18, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Yannis Stournaras, as he announced himself on Wednesday while addressing a German Parliamentary Committee.

    Among other things, Schaeuble rejected a new restructuring of the Greek debt, while opposing "disaster talk" regarding the course of the Greek economy. "If tourists hear such disastrous news", he said, "they shall cancel their bookings at Greek tourist resorts. For this reason the media must also give a realistic and not ruining image of the country".

    Earlier, government spokesman Steffen Seibert hailed the formation of the new Greek government and said that Berlin will support it in every way in its reformist task on condition of course that it will also fulfill all its commitments.

    [13] New public broadcaster to open in next three months, minister

    "Our aim is the new national broadcaster to be able to transmit within the next three months," Deputy Minister for Public Radio and Television Pantelis Kapsis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to private TV Skai, Kapsis noted, "Our target is to have a good public TV that will meet citizens' needs, that will be freed from any intervention - by government or parties - and that will set out on its own path," noted Kapsis, adding that he cannot give more information on the exact time that the new agency will operate because he has not yet been adequately informed.

    Finally, he said that he will meet with the employees very soon and that he has received from his predecessor a plan on the general structure of the new public broadcaster.

    [14] Ministry to ask troika to extend deadline for 'transfer' of 12,500 civil servants, Admin. Reform minister says

    Newly-appointed Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday said that he intends to ask the troika representing Greece's creditors, the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), for additional time in order to complete measures for moving 12,500 civil servants from public-sector posts.

    Arriving at the ministry on Wednesday morning, Mitsotakis said that he will discuss all outstanding administrative reform issues with the troika and that the aim "is to secure enough time to carry out changes based on criteria of merit".

    In the meantime, because time is pressing and the issue is crucial, Mitsotakis had a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras at the premier's office on Tuesday night, just hours after he was sworn into office.

    According to sources, the government intends to argue that it has carried out more than the required 2,000 public-sector dismissals demanded by the troika by shutting down the state broadcaster ERT and will demonstrate its determination to speed up the evaluation process for staff and state structures, resulting in the transfer of 12,500 employees in a short space of time.

    The staff to be placed on suspension pending transfer will mainly come from two main sources, the teachers employed by the education ministry and staff at local authorities. While on suspension they will be on 75 percent pay for up to 12 months until they are transferred to other positions where staffing needs arise.

    [15] New bill in Parliament gives access to bank accounts, minister

    Banks will be obliged to respond immediately with information to authorities conducting tax reviews, according to a bill under discussion in Parliament, said Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis on Wednesday.

    Addressing Parliament, Mavraganis said the bill incorporates a Council of Europe directive that allows for sharing of tax information between European members states.

    "Greece can request a greater administrative cooperation and the lifting of confidentiality for tax periods from 2011 on, of member-states that refused to disclose information because of conflicting internal regulations," Mavraganis said, who added that for tax periods before 2011 the former laws would remain in effect.

    The banks will have to "respond immediately to requests by reviewing authorities, according to provisions of the current bill, for lifting confidentiality on banking and professional levels," he said. The approval by Hellenic Data Protection Authority rests on the definition of the handler, not the actual access to the information, he said. "We have requested that replies by banks should be very brief to allow checks to proceed quickly," he clarified.

    [16] Defence Minister meets U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defence

    Greek Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met on Wednesday with visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs (ISA) Derek Chollet.

    Talks focused on defence relations between Greece and the U.S.A. as well as security conditions in the southeast Mediterranean.

    According to a ministry announcement, Chollet handed over to Avramopoulos an invitation from his American counterpart Chuck Hagel to visit the United States next month.

    On Tuesday, it was announced that the visit has been set for July 30.

    [17] Gov't 'planning new layoffs, taxes', SYRIZA charges

    Main opposition SYRIZA attacked the government on Wednesday, charging that "the new government, consisting of the well-known and worn-out materials of bipartisanism, which are the product of political disintegration and loss of authority of the participating parties, has confessed from the beginning that it is determined to implement the memorandum with new layoffs, taxes and closures of hospitals and schools."

    In an announcement, the party charged that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' contract with the country's troka of lenders is neither related to fighting unemployment nor to growth, and that "the government's cynical admittance on its own that its priority is to 'avoid' new austerity measures comprises the most blatant admittance of its future plans."

    "The Greek people are the only ones that can put a halt to government's plans. They are the one that will show the way to toppling the government and reversing the memorandum policy and to defend its and democracy's rights," the party concluded.

    [18] DIM.AR MPs to only support legislation party agrees with

    Democratic Left (DIM.AR) MPs on Wednesday confirmed the party's intention to give only conditional support to legislation brought by the government, supporting the draft bills the party agrees with but expressing their objections to those it does not, during a meeting of the party Parliamentary group chaired by party leader Fotis Kouvelis.

    The former ruling coalition partner, which pulled out of the three-party government in disagreement over the closure of the state broadcaster ERT, said its MPs will support government legislation where it agrees and express its objections to legislation where it disagrees.

    A DIM.AR announcement issued after the end of the meeting said that "all priorities of DIM.AR MPs were raised, incluidng the party's outstanding draft legislation." They said they will insist on a proposal for the abolition of the ministerial decree that resulted in shutting ERT and the proposed anti-racism bill and were awaiting PASOK's response.

    Sources said that DIM.AR Parliamentary spokesman Vassilis Economou, who disagreed with the decision to depart from the government, offered his resignation as spokesman to Kouvelis, who did not accept it.

    [19] PM Samaras meets Russian billionair Rybolovlev

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday received Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev at the Maximos Mansion.

    The Russian enterpreneur briefed the premier on his investment on Skorpios islet in western Greece as well as the possibility of future investments in Greece.

    Rybolovlev has bought Skorpios from Athina Onassis Roussel, granddaughter of the late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

    [20] Odysseas Constantinopoulos appointed PASOK press spokesman

    In headline and para 1, line 1 replaces incorrect "parliamentary spokesman" with corrected "press spokesman": Corrected version follows:

    PASOK MP Odysseas Constantinopoulos is the new press spokesman for PASOK, replacing Fofi Gennimata, who assumed a government office, it was announced on Wednesday.

    PASOK Parliamentary Group secretary Yiannis Maniatis, parliamentary spokespersons Mihalis Chryssohoidis and Evi Christofilopoulou, as well as Parliament vice-president Leonidas Grigorakos will also be replaced. All have taken over government posts.

    The parliamentary work sectors will also be restructured.

    [21] Draft bill against tax fraud and tax evasion approved in its first reading

    A finance ministry-sponsored draft bill that incorporates the EC Directive for the adoption of measures to combat tax evasion and tax fraud into the national legislation, was passed in Parliament on its first reading ("in principle") on Wednesday.

    The Greek taxation mechanism is given access to information aimed at facilitating efforts to trace tax evaders, while reinforcing the tax collection system through the assistance of other EU member states.

    The draft bill introduces regulations concerning the Hellenic Accounting & Auditing Standards Oversight Board (ELTE) aimed at creating the proper conditions in the Greek economy that will guarantee security, confidence and transparency.

    The Legal Council of State is also reformed, while a number of regulations included in the draft bill concern the enactment of a bank account register.

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras underlined that the specific regulation puts an end to bank secrecy-caused delays and obstacles by allowing the communication of tax agencies and banking institutions.

    Other regulations concern the improved exploitation of the Church of Greece assets and the promotion of privatizations.

    The draft bill was passed in its first reading with the votes of New Democracy (ND), PASOK and the Democratic Left (DIM.AR), which voted down certain of its articles. The draft bill was rejected by the rest of the political parties.

    [22] Diplomat David D. Pearce nominated for Ambassador to Athens by President Obama

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)

    President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate career diplomat David D. Pearce for US Ambassador to Greece.

    Ambassador David D. Pearce, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister, is Senior Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Department of State.

    His appointment will be approved by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chaired by Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

    Due to pending hearings for roughly 30 individuals nominated to key administration posts by President Obama, Ambassador Pearce's hearing could take place in the autumn.

    The term of incumbent US Ambassador to Athens Daniel Bennett Smith, who took over in September 2010, has already been given an extension.

    Prior to his current role, Ambassador Pearce was Assistant Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012. From 2008 to 2011, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria. From 2005 to 2008, he was the Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, during which time he served on two excursion tours to Iraq in 2007 and 2008 to serve as a Senior Advisor to Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

    From 2003 to 2005, Ambassador Pearce was Chief of Mission and Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. Additional overseas posts include: Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria and Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

    Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1982, Ambassador Pearce worked for nearly a decade as a reporter and foreign correspondent. He was a writer and editor for The National Geographic Society, The Washington Post, United Press International, The Rome Daily American, and the Associated Press in Ohio.

    He received an A.B. from Bowdoin College and an M.A. from The Ohio State University.

    [23] National Health System (EOPYY) director resigns

    The director of the National Health System (EOPYY) Eleftherios Papageorgopoulos resigned from his post, the government announced on Wednesday.

    He will be replaced by the farmer's insurance fund (OGA) director Dimitris Kontos, who in turn will be replaced by Xenophon Verginis.

    [24] Constantine Tasoulas new president of 'Constantine Karamanlis' Democracy Institute

    Ioannina deputy Constantine Tasoulas was appointed, by decision of New Democracy party president and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, new president of the "Constantine Karamanlis" Democracy Institute.

    The Institute's president to date Yiannis Mihelakis was appointed Interior minister in Monday's cabinet reshuffle.

    [25] Unknown group claims responsibility for attack on ND offices, in Jan. 2013

    A new group calling itself the "Group of People's Fighters" has claimed responsibility for an armed attack on the headquarters of the New Democracy party on January 14, 2013.

    In a notice posted on the website "athens.indymedia.org," the group said they attempted to fire a rocket against the ND offices but the launching system failed to work, making them to pull the trigger on a Kalashnikov riffle targeting the office of Prime Minister and ND leader Antonis Samaras.

    The lengthy proclamation refers extensively to the economic and social conditions in Greece and internationally.

    Financial News

    [26] Vodafone, Wind telecoms present expansion plan to PM Samaras, Dev't Ministers

    A plan for an agreement between telecoms companies Vodafone and Wind Hellas to expand activities by sharing parts of their networks was presented to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Deputy Minister Notis Mitarakis on Wednesday.

    According to a joint statement by the two companies, the agreement includes investments worth 150 million euros in construction and telecoms equipment, and will create 650 new jobs, mostly in the construction sector, in the next three years.

    Under the agreement, a new company will be set up for the project, in which Vodafone and Wind Hellas will each have a 50 percent stake and will include staff from both companies, under the same employment contracts.

    Vodafone will continue to operate exclusively the 4G network in Greece and Wind Hellas will continue to modernise the Greek network, 70 percent of which has been completed in major urban centres.

    The 15-year agreement is being reviewed by the National Committee of Telecommunications and Post Offices (EETT) for final approval.

    The ministers hailed the investment agreement as good news, as the companies directors told the officials it will create over 650 new jobs in the next three years.

    [27] High-speed rail project budgeted at 293.1 ml euros awarded to Aktor, J&P-Avax and Intrakat joint venture

    A joint venture comprised of the companies Aktor, J&P-Avax and Intrakat SA on Wednesday signed a contract with Erga-OSE SA for the project titled ?Construction of infrastructure for the new twin railway line in the section Rododaphni-Psathopyrgos marked from 91+500 to 113+000 and the Panagopoulas Tunnel?, budgeted at 293.1 million euros. The announcement was made by J&P-AVAX S.A.

    The project pertains to the construction of the infrastructure for an approximately 21.5-km section of the new high-speed rail line, along with all related railway and road works, bridges, underpasses, sewerage, irrigation and other smaller technical works.

    It also includes the twin Panagopoula Tunnel of roughly 4.4 km in length with intermediary connecting corridors, 0.55 km escape tunnel and associated infrastructure.

    The contract sets a 36-month deadline for completion of works.

    [28] Greek bank deposits 'absolutely secure', FinMin Stournaras

    "The guaranteed bank deposits are absolutely secure," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told parliament on Wednesday, adding that he is sorry for those who speak about another "bank deposit haircut".

    Stournaras lashed out at opposition Independent Greeks (ANEL) parliamentary spokesman Vassilis Kapernaros and underlined that his responses to Parliament were well-documented. "I feel sorry for you, for wanting to intimidate the Greek people by stating that there will be a haircut of bank deposits," the minister said, adding that the Greek state is paying out maturing bonds, in compliance with the law. "We will not make the country go bankrupt. If we had not paid, we would have been bankrupt by now," he underlined.

    The minister also said that Greece can definitely meet its fiscal goals and implement its reform programme, noting that a consensus of the political forces is necessary to meet the goals set.

    Addressing parliament, Stournaras also said that main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) is in a state of confusion and, lacking a proposal, it resorts to populist arguments.

    "We have positive indications that things are going better and that there are responsible political forces like New Democracy (ND), PASOK, Democratic Left (DIMAR), and independent deputies, who have the courage to speak their mind and help us lead the country out of the impasse," he underlined.

    He said that recent political developments showed that economic improvement is directly linked with political stability. "Political stability is the most serious factor in attracting investors and meeting the reform goals," he noted and called for a consensus that will allow the country to succeed. "Our country can meet its fiscal and reform programme goals. The broadest possible consensus in the government and in parliament is necessary for the efforts to succeed," he underlined.

    Responding to the SYRIZA rapporteur on the draft bill currently under discussion in parliament, who said that the memorandum is leading the country to destruction, Stournaras said that he does not see any such thing: "Our country goes through tough times and tries to stand on its feet".

    Addressing the SYRIZA deputies, he wondered "what is SYRIZA all about, after all? Is it a political party opposing the memorandum and what is its alternative proposal? I have been asking this question for a year and I get no response. Do you believe that we can be in the eurozone without a memorandum? The Portuguese, the Irish, the Cypriots who have signed and the Spanish who have partly signed for the banks are all in error? Are you the only ones who are right?"

    He also added that two economists favourably disposed towards SYRIZA, wrote a day ago that the party is anti-memorandum and pro-American, and there was no reaction to that. "Unfortunately, the two economists do not know what they're talking about and you have not decided yet what you want. I just think that you are deeply confused. The last thing the country needs today is populist arguments maintaining that we can be in the eurozone without a memorandum. Well, I would like that myself. But can it happen? Unfortunately, it can't," he said.

    On the compensation that will be paid to the former employees of the shut-down ERT public broadcaster, Stournaras said that it will be paid in full "when we will be able to enter the ERT facilities and get the necessary figures," adding that last Friday former employees with open-ended contracts received two paychecks as a first installment of the compensation they are entitled to.

    Referring to the amendments tabled by SYRIZA and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MPs, he said that the two partners in the government have set a specific framework for an agreement which, pursuant to relevant court decisions, includes the terms and preconditions for the ERT's transitional operation and the establishment of the new broadcaster.

    He added that Pantelis Kapsis, the newly appointed press deputy minister, has undertaken to implement this agreement with the assistance of the ministry of finance.

    [29] Piraeus Bank completes share capital increase successfully

    Piraeus Bank completed on Tuesday successfully its share capital increase plan as part of the bank's recapitalization.

    In an announcement Wednesday, the bank said that it raised private capital of 1.455 billion euros, covering 19.83 percent of its goal of 7.335 billion euros.

    The event will allow the bank to avoid issuing converticle bonds (CoCos).

    A full report on the final coverage of the total recap will be published on Friday, following checks by the bank's board of managers and the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.

    [30] New page in Greek banking system with four big systemic banks' recapitalisation

    A new page is beginning in the Greek banking system with the successful completion of the recapitalisation process of the four big systemic banks that was concluded on Tuesday night with the successful completion of the share capital increase process of the Piraeus Bank. The successful share capital increases of Alpha Bank and the National Bank had taken place earlier, while in the case of Eurobank the bank's recapitalisation was carried out entirely by the Financial Stability Fund.

    The National Bank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank succeeded in overcoming the target set for the coverage of 10 percent of their capital needs with private capital, without the use of the costly, due to their high interest rate, convertible bonds becoming necessary in this way, maintaining their banks' management at the same time as well. In the case of Eurobank, the Financial Stability Fund undertook the increase's full coverage, that also resulted in the changing of its administrative structure that will be announced officially on Thursday during the bank's general assembly.

    As bank officials say, the period starting cannot be compared with the period of easy and mass borrowing with the high rates that existed in the period before the crisis.

    Also considered important is the fact that many foreign institutional portfolios also participated in the banks' share capital increase process with hundreds of millions of euros, something considered a vote of confidence for both the further prospects of the Greek banking system and the economy's course in general.

    [31] Shipping & Aegean Minister Varvitsiotis holds meetings on seaport exploitation

    The issue of exploiting the country's seaports dominated in the meetings chaired by the new Shipping & Aegean Minister Militiadis Varvitsiotis on Wednesday, ahead of a formal visit by Cosco Group President Captain Wei Jiafu for the inauguration of the Piraeus Container Terminal S.A. (PCT S.A.) - a subsidiary of Cosco Pacific Limited - Wharf III facilities in Neo Ikonio.

    A meeting between Varvitsiotis, Piraeus Port Authority S.A. President Giorgos Anomeritis and Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) CEO Yiannis Emiris was held in the presence of a representative of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Earlier, Varvitsiotis had met with the prime minister at Maximos Mansion, government headquarters.

    HRADF, the state privatization agency, presented a seaport exploitation strategy report to the prime minister and the troika of Greece's creditors in early May. A definitive proposal will be ready by the end of July, according to HRADF President Stelios Stavridis.

    [32] Development & Competitiveness Minister Hatzidakis to visit Berlin

    Development & Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis will be on a two-day visit to Berlin on Thursday for a series of meetings with members of the German government and parliament deputies focusing on the establishment of a Greek Development Fund sought by the Greek government.

    Hatzidakis will meet on Thursday with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology Stefan Kapferer and CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group deputies.

    On Thursday afternoon, Hatzidakis and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance Steffen Kampeter will address an event hosted by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

    On Friday, Hatzidakis will meet with KfW Bankengruppe CEO Dr. Ulrich Schroder.

    [33] Deputy Development minister on foreign investments

    Direct foreign investments in Greece amounted to 2.9 billion dollars in 2012, compared to 1.1 billion dollars in 2011, according to annual data provided by the UN's World Investment Report 2013 on direct foreign investments worldwide, with the biggest volume of investments, however, coming from foreign fiscal group inflows to support the share capital increase process of their subsidiaries in Greece.

    Speaking on the course of foreign direct investments in Greece, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis stressed that Greece needs all the foreign investments in Greece, big and small, that respect environmental preconditions and safeguard labour rights.

    Miarakis referred analytically to the basic pylons contributing to attracting foreign direct investments and assessed that the direct foreign investments in Greece from 1.5 percent of GDP currently can reach 7.5 percent in the next seven years, placing emphasis on the importance of restoring the economy's fiscal balance, as well as on the restoration of Greece's international image that has taken place.

    Presenting analytically the data of this year's World Investment Report, Marina Papanastasiou, a Middlesex University professor, who represents UNCTAD in Greece, said that at international level the global inflows of foreign direct investments decreased in 2012 by 18 percent, totalling 1.35 trillion dollars, due to the economic and political instability in many countries.

    As regards Greece, she stressed that the foreign direct investments deposit in 2012 increased to 37.8 billion dollars from 29.1 billion dollars in 2011. The net foreign direct investment outflows in 2012 were 39 million dollars from 1.7 billion dollars in 2011.

    [34] Hellas Gold, local labour unions, contest suspension of works in Skouries mining site

    Hellas Gold S.A., a subsidiary of Canadian-based goldmine operator Eldorado Gold Corp. that operates the Skouries mining site in Halkidiki peninsula, northern Greece, and the local Center of Labour Unions appealed to the Council of State (CoS) on Wednesday to contest an order to suspend works to dig a new mine in the area.

    The company and unions said a decision by a local authority urban planning agency ordering the suspension of works (earthworks etc) for the installation of electrical equipment and machinery in Skouries is unconstitutional and illegal. The local authority agency claimed the decision was taken after an inspection showed extensive earthworks and other constructions that had no legal license.

    Both Hellas Gold S.A. and the Center of Labour Unions in Halkidiki maintain that no building license is required because the goldmine falls under the jurisdiction of the mining regulatory agency in northern Greece.

    [35] Canadian MP visits Skouries goldmine area

    Canadian MP and head of the Green Party Elizabeth May is visiting the Hellas Gold mining area of Skouries in the northern peninsula of Halkidiki today, Wednesday.

    In Greece following an official invitation by the Green party of Greece (Ecologi-Prasini), May attended a Balkan Greens event at the Halkidiki town of Ierissos on Wednesday. She had planned to speak with employees at the Hellas Gold worksite but this was cancelled after the company revoked its permission, according to members of her retinue.

    Company spokesman Constantine Georgantzis told AMNA that the permission to meet at the site was cancelled because of protesters at the nearby Hondro Dentro, and "the company decided it does not want to be part of this PR campaign on behalf of those reacting to the mining activity."

    A bulldozer blocked the road leading to a worksite where gold was to be extracted, so the car with May was turned back. The road had to shut down for half an hour for work to be completed, as the road is under construction, employees said.

    [36] Tax Bureau, Finance Ministry employees strike on Thu., Fri.

    Tax Bureau and Finance Ministry employees will strike on Thursday and Friday, to protest government plans about the future of Finance Ministry services, they said Wednesday.

    According to an announcement, "The dissolution of the services and agencies, the privatisation of the services offered and the incrimination of the employees have prepared the ground. The next stage is layoffs. They are planning a rally on Thursday at 10.30 a.m in central Athens.

    [37] Cement industry fined for layoffs

    The Labour Inspectors' Corps fined AGET Heracles cement industry, a subsidiary of Lafarge Group, 7,500 euros for violating mass layoffs legislation after ruling in favour of former employees recently laid off in its cement factory unit in Halkida essentially shutting down the unit, it was announced on Wednesday.

    By closing the unit and laying off 236 employees, the industry was found in violation of article 4 of Presidential Decree 240/2006 according to which, employees have to be notified and consulted in advance.

    The cement industry had said that it proceeded with the shutdown of its unit in Halkida due to financial reasons, as a result of the plunge in domestic construction activity and after failing to distribute its surplus production to international markets.

    [38] ASE down 0.49 pct in volatile trade

    Greek stocks lost ground in a volatile session marked by low turnover on the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The composite index fell 0.49 pct to end at 836.58 points, with fluctuations covering a range of 32.50 points during the session. Turnover was a very low 35.32 million euros.

    The Large Cap index fell 0.84 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 5.96 pct. OPAP (3.97 pct), Folli Follie (3.48 pct), National Bank (3.27 pct) were the top three gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (-7.59 pct), Intralot (-6.32 pct), and Viohalco (-5.34 pct) were top losers.

    The largest gains among individual sector indices were for Commerce (3.38 pct), Travel (2.59 pct) and Oil (0.89 pct); the sectors that suffered losses were Industrial Products (-3.30 pct), Health (-3.29 pct) and Telecommunications (-2.88 pct). Broadly, decliners led advancers by 56 to 71 with another 22 issues unchanged. Ideal (29.95 pct), Pairis (27.98 pct) and Attica Bank (20.63 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobank (-28.57 pct), Nafpaktos Yarns (-28.54 pct) and Eurobrokers (-20.00 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -3.30%

    Commercial: +3.38%

    Construction: -1.21%

    Oil & Gas: +0.89%

    Personal & Household: -3.55%

    Raw Materials: +0.49%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.59%

    Technology: -0.05%

    Telecoms: -2.88%

    Banks: -0.39%

    Food & Beverages: -2.69%

    Health: -3.29%

    Utilities: -1.56%

    Financial Services: -1.75%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.383

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.710

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.300

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.520

    National Bank of Greece: 3.160

    Eurobank Properties : 7.0

    OPAP: 6.550

    OTE: 5.390

    Piraeus Bank: 1.330

    Titan: 12.500

    [39] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, to 9.44 pct from 9.41 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.23 pct, up from Tuesday's 11.22 pct and the German Bund 1.79 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.

    [40] ADEX closing report

    The July contract was trading at a premium of 1.06 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 12.44 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,196 contracts worth 8.761 million euros, with 48,647 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 8,902 contracts worth 3.679 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (2,152), followed by MIG (1,477), PPC (1,282), GEK (1,053), OPAP (602), Hellenic Exchanges (468), Mytilineos (357), Eurobank (319), Intralot (257) and Hellenic Petroleum (169).

    [41] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.321

    Pound sterling 0.860

    Danish kroner 7.571

    Swedish kroner 8.892

    Japanese yen 129.24

    Swiss franc 1.244

    Norwegian kroner 8.066

    Canadian dollar 1.385

    Australian dollar 1.424

    General News

    [42] Orthodox Interparliamentary Assembly celebrating 20th anniversary in Athens

    The Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of its founding with its Plenum's General Assembly in Athens and many parallel events from Wednesday until June 30. This year's Assembly will be held with the participation of representatives of Parliaments from 21 countries and with the focal theme being "Parliamentary Democracy-Christianity-Orthodoxy: values and meanings".

    The Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy began an ambitious effort from Athens in 1993, supported by Russia's dynamic presence and succeeded in being transformed from European to a living presence on the international scene, as was said at the organisation's press conference at the Parliament by Secretary General Anastasios Nerantzis.

    It is a purely Parlimentary movement which, as he explained, is trying to contribute to the shaping of a world with a peaceful resolving of differences on the basis of the principles of Christian Orthodox culture, calmness and rapprochement.

    [43] Tourists awarded for years of holidaying on Crete

    Three tourist couples were honoured on Wednesday for their long preference on visiting and holidaying in Hersonisos, Iraklio, on the island of Crete, by the region's mayor Zacharias Doxastakis at the Hersonisos city hall.

    The mayor awarded the faithful friends of Hersonisos the municipality's diploma of honour for their trust and love.

    The couples, two from Britain and one from the Netherlands, have been visiting Hersonisis over a number of years and prefer small lodgings for their holidays. One of them has been visiting Hersonisos since 1982.

    Doxastakis said the visitors' preference does special honour to the municipality and stressed that tourism helps people develop strong bonds of friendship, in turn creating cultural ties and cooperation..

    Weather forecast

    [44] Rainy on Thursday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 18C and 34C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 21C and 34C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 19C and 29C.

    [45] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras admits new austerity measures"

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "The first crackings" in government.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 'surgeons' summoned urgently to Maximos Mansion" (government's headquarters)

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Record drop in university entrance exam base marks"

    ELLADA AVRIO: (Vice president, Foreign Minister and PASOK leader) "Evangelos Venizelos: I will coordinate you"

    ESTIA: "Political experiment of major importance"

    ETHNOS: "Huge drop in university entrance base marks"

    IMERISSIA: "Two-front battle over the 8.1-billion-euro tranche of the loan"

    KATHIMERINI: "Samaras, Venizelos send similar message"

    LOGOS: "Greeks ready to immigrate"

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Layoffs and new measures in government's agenda"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "No compromise with drugs" (refers to World Day Against Drugs)

    TA NEA: "University entrance base marks down!"

    VRADYNI: "Samaras: The country's rescue is our ideology"

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    [46] Greece signs host government agreement with TAP consortium

    reece and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) consortium on Wednesday officially signed the Host Government Agreement initialed last week, at an official ceremony held in Athens. In statements after the ceremony, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras emphasised the invest-ments and jobs that the construction of the pipeline will create, as well as Greece's future position as an energy hub for the region.

    Though the agreement was signed on Wednesday, the final decision for the pipeline's construction is not expected before Friday, when the Shah Deniz II consortium in Azerbaijan will announce the pipeline that is to be supplied first. All signs point to the selection of TAP - which starts on the Greek-Turkish border and goes to Italy via Albania and an underwater section in the Adriatic Sea - but there is no official announcement yet, though there is an announcement that the rival Nabucco West pipeline has been rejected.

    The agreement was also signed by Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Assimakis Papageorgiou, who said he was extremely optimistic regarding the Shah Deniz consortium's final decision. He stressed that the construction of the pipeline will place Greece on the international energy map and bring benefits on a geopolitical level, creating a positive investment climate and boosting competition for the benefit of consumers.


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