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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-02

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

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

Tuesday, 2 July 2013 Issue No: 4395

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek government seeks rapid conclusion in talks with troika
  • [02] Admin Reform minister asks troika for extension on mobility scheme
  • [03] Ministers wrap up meeting at finance ministry, ahead of troika's return
  • [04] Democratic Left party on government's talks with troika
  • [05] KKE comments on troika's return, urges stop 'to downhill slide'
  • [06] By PM's decision two deputies returning to ND party
  • [07] Independent MP Soldatos announces return to coalition leader New Democracy
  • [08] Independent MP Markopoulos returning to ND party
  • [09] Government presents proposals for former public broadcaster ERT
  • [10] Health minister holds meeting with Task Force head
  • [11] New Health minister pays unannounced night visit to Gennimatas hospital
  • [12] Citizen Protection Minister: All Greeks should help with crisis exit struggle
  • [13] SYRIZA: 'New measures planned to cover up failures of previous ones'
  • [14] SYRIZA-EKM spokesman Panos Skourletis says "elections are possible in 2013"
  • [15] SYRIZA leader to visit Moscow
  • [16] Foreign Minister to visit Cyprus on Friday
  • [17] Foreign minister on Croatia's accession to EU
  • [18] Deputy foreign minister meets German State Secretary for European Affairs
  • [19] ND on SYRIZA-EKM's stance toward terrorism defendants
  • [20] FM Evangelos Venizelos replies to allegations concerning Pomaks in northern Greece
  • [21] SYRIZA calls for extension of Parliament session, extra time for 'Lagarde list' investigation
  • [22] 'Lagarde list' investigation committee concludes sessions
  • [23] FM spokesperson on media reports of intelligence monitoring by US agencies
  • [24] Defence ministry's civil leadership holds talks with Iraqi delegation
  • [25] FYROM President says he held first meeting with Greek counterpart on Sunday
  • [26] No news on fate of abducted Orthodox clerics in Syria, Moscow Patriarchate says
  • [27] Tourism Minister: We must present our best face to tourists
  • [28] Piraeus to host European Commission's 2015 European Maritime Days
  • [29] Greek unemployment rose slightly in March
  • [30] Subsidized jobs' programme underway by OAED
  • [31] Greek enterprises remained loss-making in 2012, Icap
  • [32] Greece successfully introduces new Taxis system in tax agencies
  • [33] National Bank to join race to buy Hellenic Postbank
  • [34] Japonica renews tender offer to buy Greek state bonds
  • [35] Larco says liquidity problems are threatening its viability
  • [36] Aegean Airlines adds more flights to London
  • [37] Greek PMI slightly up in June
  • [38] Greek economic sentiment index unchanged in June
  • [39] Greek stocks end moderately higher
  • [40] Greek bond closing report
  • [41] ADEX closing report
  • [42] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [43] Greeks still pessimistic about economy, ACCI 'Economic Barometer' reveals
  • [44] MPs of Greek descent from abroad convene in Athens June 2-4
  • [45] Scorpions to perform at Lycabettus Theatre in September
  • [46] Hospital server with X-ray database stolen from Larissa hospital
  • [47] Buses to allow passenger front-boarding only as of Monday, July 1
  • [48] Fair on Tuesday
  • [49] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek government seeks rapid conclusion in talks with troika

    The Greek government on Monday expressed its confidence that the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders will agree with its plan over the way of collecting a special property tax this year and calculating a new single property tax for 2014.

    A Finance ministry official told ANA-MPA, after completion of a two-and-a-half-hour meeting between ministry officials and the troika, that "tax collection in five tranches and the 33 factors of calculating a property tax next year have been locked".

    The troika initially demanded a reduction in the number of tranches to four this year.

    [02] Admin Reform minister asks troika for extension on mobility scheme

    A meeting between the leadership of the Administrative Reform ministry and the heads of the troika of Greece's international lenders will resume on Wednesday, with the main issues on the negotiating table being the 4,000 layoffs from the public service and a mobility scheme for 25,000 public servants to be effected by yearend.

    Administrative Reform minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis described Monday's two-and-a-half-hour meeting with the EC-ECB-IMF troika as a "creative discussion," saying negotiation between the two sides will continue.

    The ministry argues that the recent shutting down of the public broadcaster ERT provided 2,656 layoffs, leaving some 1,400 to be carried out by the end of the year.

    As far as the mobility of public servants is concerned, Mitsotakis requested an extension for the first 12,500 staff to be moved by the end of September, instead of the original deadline by the end of June 2013, saying that the government intends to fill existing vacancies in the public service.

    [03] Ministers wrap up meeting at finance ministry, ahead of troika's return

    A meeting of the cabinet ministers that are to deal directly with the troika representing Greece's creditors - the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) - concluded at the finance ministry on Monday afternoon, just hours ahead of the troika's return to Athens to resume a review of Greece's economic programme.

    According to a senior finance ministry source, things "are truly difficult" but all sides should wait until the Eurogroup on July 8. Asked whether the 8.1-billion-euro loan tranche will be given in 'installments' depending on the completion of prior actions, the same source said "we hope not".

    Health ministry sources, meanwhile, said they will propose any excess spending charged by private clinics and diagnostic centres are an 'equivalent measure' for plugging the budget gap at Greece's health service provider EOPYY.

    "The system is ready, we will fill in the numbers," they said, adding that they were "happy" with a decision made by Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras to place inspectors within EOPYY and its predecessor social insurance funds.

    According to administrative reform ministry officials, they are "well prepared" for the meeting with the troika later in the afternoon and they stressed that all statements concerning an extension of the deadline for concluding the placing of 12,500 public-sector staff on suspension continues to apply.

    The noon ministerial meeting at the finance ministry was attended by Stournaras and Staikouras, Administrative Reform and e-Governance Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Deputy Adm. Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou, Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis, Vroutsis, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis and Deputy Health Ministers Antonis Bezas and Zeta Makri.

    [04] Democratic Left party on government's talks with troika

    An announcement by the Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party on Monday stresses that in the current talks with the troika the government must definitely rule out the taking of new measures that will cut the citizens' income.

    DIM.AR added that they must also "achieve now the return of VAT in food services to 13 percent" and "repel the extension of the 'tax' for 2014 as well and the demand on the abandonment of the new real estate tax".

    [05] KKE comments on troika's return, urges stop 'to downhill slide'

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in comments on the return of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika to Athens, on Monday stressed that people should not stand by as "idle spectators" to the continued measures targeting the masses.

    "[The people] can stop the downhill slide if they strengthen their struggle and turn their backs on the governments and parties supporting the European Union and the capitalist path to development. Those claiming that there can be an exit from the crisis that benefits the workers and business groups are misleading the people," a KKE announcement said.

    The party warned of further privatisations, unfair taxes and a rolling back of labour and social insurance rights, as well as further attacks on the self-employed, in order to boost the profits and competitiveness of big capital, saying that the only option benefiting working classes was the KKE proposal for breaking free of the EU and socialising monopolies.

    [06] By PM's decision two deputies returning to ND party

    By decision of Prime Minister and New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras on Monday evening, Evia deputy Costas Markopoulos and Lefkada deputy Theodoros Soldatos are rejoining ND.

    According to an announcement by the prime minister's press office, Antonis Samaras with a letter to Parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis notifies of the two deputies' accession to New Democracy's Parliamentary Group.

    The two former independent deputies had expressed earlier in the day in separate statements their decision to rejoin the ND party.

    [07] Independent MP Soldatos announces return to coalition leader New Democracy

    In a letter to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday, the independent MP for Lefkada Theodoros Soldatos announced his decision to respond to an invitation to rally around New Democracy, made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the ND's 9th congress, and return to the ranks of Greece's ruling coalition leader.

    "Responding to the invitation you addressed from the podium of the 9th ND Conference and actuated by a belief that you are leading the struggle for a stronger homeland, for the renewal of the country, for a New Greece, I feel it my duty to rally to this struggle and assist the effort being made by every member of the party," Soldatos said, adding that "the battle is even more effective for each of us within the ranks of ND."

    Soldatos was the second independent MP to return to ND ranks, after the MP for Evia Costas Markopoulos.

    [08] Independent MP Markopoulos returning to ND party

    Costas Markopoulos, an independent deputy from Evia, will be returning to New Democracy party, according to a letter send to Prime Minister and party leader Antonis Samaras released Monday.

    Markopoulos, a former minister and a doctor by training, left New Democracy for the Independent Greeks (Anexartiti Ellines) party in February 2012. In December of the same year he became an independent deputy.

    [09] Government presents proposals for former public broadcaster ERT

    Deputy Minister for Public Broadcasting Pantelis Kapsis on Monday submitted a written proposal for redundancy pay and other issues relating to the former public broadcaster ERT, during a meeting with representatives of the former broadcaster's workforce. ERT staffers had asked the minister to present proposals in writing in order to "avoid misinterpretations".

    The four-point set of proposals clarifies that redundancy pay will be calculated on the basis of an 'amending measure' to the June ministerial 'Act of Legislative Content' shutting down the public broadcaster, with the rates of pay under a new uniform pay scale passed in March 2013 that involves substantial pay cuts.

    The government also promised to include former ERT staffers in incentive programmes for early retirement offered to civil servants, in the framework of a 'staff mobility' system that will place many on suspension with reduced pay. Their past service at ERT provide additional points in applications for jobs at the new broadcaster to be founded at the end of a transitional period.

    In the meantime, 2,000 ERT employees will be temporarily employed at an interim broadcaster with temporary two-month contracts that can be extended until the new public broadcaster is ready, with salaries based on the uniform public-sector pay scale or the special uniform pay scale for journalists.

    In statements to the ANA-MPA, Kapsis said that there were no margins for long-drawn-out negotiations with ERT staff, adding that it was "an opportunity for them to prove they are part of the solution".

    The proposals will be discussed by ERT staffers on Tuesday.

    [10] Health minister holds meeting with Task Force head

    A meeting between Health minister Adonis Georgiadis and the Task Force head Horst Reichenbach on Monday afternoon focused on the free access to public hospitals by all citizens, including the uninsured and the poor.

    The Health minister told the Task Force head in Greece that it was non-negotiable that all citizens, even those having no money, should have access to hospitals and be offered health care.

    Discussion also focused on the existing potential for better utilisation of human resources in public hospitals.

    "The health of citizens will be protected in a much better way than in the past," Georgiadis said in view of Task Force actions to be announced soon.

    On his part, Reichenbach said he was pleased with his cooperation with the new Health minister so far.

    [11] New Health minister pays unannounced night visit to Gennimatas hospital

    New Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis paid an unannounced visit to the Giorgos Gennimatas state hospital on Sunday, according to a tweet he posted.

    "Just completed my first night-time assault on a hospital, the G. Gennimatas. The staff is fighting a noble fight. I thank them," he tweeted.

    According to sources, Georgiadis plans to conduct unannounced visits, occasionally accompanied by health inspectors.

    At the major Gennimatas hospital, on Messoghion Avenue, he visited several wings and spoke with doctors and nursing staff, including patients. Despite the lack of staff coordination and dearth of materials he noted, he said that staff in public hospitals were putting in a superhuman effort, and that patients' complaints related mostly to long waiting lines rather than services rendered.

    [12] Citizen Protection Minister: All Greeks should help with crisis exit struggle

    We aim for a Greece where "all Greeks will help in the great effort to exit the crisis", Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias said in an interview with ANA-MPA WebTV on Monday.

    "All of Greek society is optimistic after New Democracy's (ND) congress and particularly Prime Minister and ND leader Antonis Samaras' positions that indicate how we envisage the new Greece", noted Dendias.

    [13] SYRIZA: 'New measures planned to cover up failures of previous ones'

    Following a weekend of reviews and so-called fights over the past of a rotten bipartisanship, the return to the normalcy of destructive memorandum measures is bringing the ruling coalition together to dismantle anything left standing from the so-called success story, the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party said on Monday.

    In remarks made following the conclusion of a meeting on the economy involving several ministers called earlier in the day, the main opposition party said that (Prime Minister Antonis) "Samaras 'neglected' to mention the new demands by the troika of lenders and to the new memorandum being prepared for this autumn."

    Closing down schools and hospitals, broadcaster ERT and other public agencies, tens of thousands of public servant layoffs, the collapse of social insurance funds and the new reductions in wages and pensions "are seen as 'collateral damage' in Samaras' national effort to hand over the country to the lenders," SYRIZA charged, adding, "As the failures of each memorandum's policies are accumulating, new measures are being planned to cover up for the failures of the previous ones...Unfortunately, the people have caught on and will soon show them the door."

    [14] SYRIZA-EKM spokesman Panos Skourletis says "elections are possible in 2013"

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) spokesman Panos Skourletis on Monday expressed the view that "the moment when we shall witness the momentum of the democratic removal of the (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras' government is very close and this is most likely to happen before the end of 2013".

    In an interview with ANA-MPA, Skourletis said that the New Democracy (ND)-PASOK government that resulted from the recent reshuffle, after Democratic Left (DIM.AR) withdrew from the government coalition, "is the epilogue of the two-party political system." Skourletis added that "in essence, it operates as a safety net for political personnel directly linked with scandals - involving politicians and others - associated with the once mighty two-party political system".

    Referring to ND, Skourletis said that "essentially, it has abandoned the moderate strategy and is reorganized on the basis of a new extreme-right alliance."

    Commenting on the confrontation between PASOK and New Democracy MP Makis Voridis, SYRIZA's spokesman said that "the row with references to the Papandreous has a historical background" and "the ideological differences between ND and PASOK now have only historical value".

    "Things have gotten underway that essentially signal a merger of the old two-party political system - being apparent in the composition of the new government - into a united front on the grounds of an extreme anti-social policy; that of the memorandum," he noted.

    Referring to developments in DIM.AR, Skourletis underlined that it needs to complete the step it made defining its policy vis-a-vis the memorandum policy "otherwise, it is at risk of having very serious existence problems".

    [15] SYRIZA leader to visit Moscow

    Main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras is to visit Moscow on Tuesday, in his capacity as vice-president of the Party of the European Left, participating in a planned European Left mission. While in the Russian capital, he will have bilateral meetings with the leadership of parties in the State Duma.

    According to sources, Tsipras is expected to visit Moscow again in September as head of SYRIZA for talks with the Russian government.

    [16] Foreign Minister to visit Cyprus on Friday

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is to carry out his first official visit abroad in his new capacity as foreign minister on Friday, when he visits the Cyprus Republic.

    Venizelos is to be received by Cyprus Republic President Nicos Anastasiades and meet Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides and the leaders of the political parties.

    He will also be received by Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II.

    [17] Foreign minister on Croatia's accession to EU

    Greek Government Vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, commenting on Monday on Croatia's accession to the European Union, said that "the EU's Enlargement Policy even in the period of economic recession we are going through is continuing to produce results and contribute to the consolidation of peace and stability in Europe and, in particular, in the region of the Western Balkans. A region of direct neighbourliness with which we are bound with close political, cultural and economic bonds".

    Venizelos added that "the present day is very important, for both Greece and the European Union, since we are welcoming Croatia as the 28th member of the European family".

    He also said "the consolidation of democratic institutions and of the state of law, the observance, in practice, of relations of good neighbourliness and the facilitation of economic cooperation constitute unbreakable elements of the enlargement procedure with evident importance for Greece".

    Lastly, Venizelos said that with Croatia's accession the EU is confirming that it remains faithful to its promises, when the candidate countries fulfill commitments and prerequisites in full.

    [18] Deputy foreign minister meets German State Secretary for European Affairs

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Monday met Emily Haber, State Secretary for European Affairs of the German Federal Foreign Office.

    During their meeting they discussed Greece's upcoming EU Presidency, developments in the Western Balkans (Kosovo, Serbia, Albania), FYROM, Turkey, and the situation in Syria. There was also an exchange of views on the recent developments in the energy sector and the Shah Deniz II Consortium's choice of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

    Haber is in Athens for the third round of meetings of the Greek-German Partnership.

    [19] ND on SYRIZA-EKM's stance toward terrorism defendants

    A New Democracy (ND) press office announcement on Monday referred to the stance adopted by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) toward defendants in a terrorism case.

    "SYRIZA-EKM MPs have formally requested to visit a defendant accused of participating in the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" terror group apparently to express their support," the ND announcement underlined, adding that "now, Mr. Tsipras and his comrades openly state their political choice to incorporate terrorism enthusiasts".

    "We wonder. How they can be a political party represented in parliament and regard themselves as part of the democratic spectrum when, at the same time, they defend and associate with individuals accused of terrorism," the ND announcement concluded.

    [20] FM Evangelos Venizelos replies to allegations concerning Pomaks in northern Greece

    Efforts to alter or impose a specific cultural identity are unacceptable and will be dealt with in the framework of the law, Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a document presented to Parliament on Monday, following a question on allegations "Pomaks are denouncing attempts to turn them into Turks, through bribes."

    Venizelos replied in writing to Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) MP Christos Pappas, who quoted the Greece 2012 Human Rights Report as saying that members of the Pomak community in northern Greece claimed that "members of the Turkish minority pressured them to deny their Pomak identity as being separate from the Turkish one. Pomaks claimed that members of their community were given monetary incentives to self-identify as Turks."

    "Such reports are always studied by the Foreign and other related ministries and services, and are evaluated overall within the framework of international relationships," the Foreign minister said.

    "References and conclusions related to the Muslim minority in Thrace in the above report show the efforts by certain circles to impose the cultural identity of the largest group of the Muslim minority (those of Turkish origin) on specific cultural groups, that is, on Pomaks and Roma," he added.

    "The cultural or other unique features of the three groups of the minority, including the Pomaks and Roma, are absolutely respected," Venizelos asserted. "Every group can freely develop - through its cultural or other associations, publications, etc. - initiatives and actions to preserve and promote its beliefs and customs, traditions and in general its unique cultural features, as befits a free and democratic country."

    As he clarified it, "Efforts to alter or impose a specific cultural identity on them are unacceptable and are dealt with in the framework of the law."

    Venizelos underscored the fact Greece is consistently observing its obligations, as they are defined by the Lausanne Treaty and related international laws, following a policy of full equality and equal treatment before the law, with absolute respect of the rights and religious freedom of Muslims.

    "The effort to deal with problems of the minority, in order for it to become better incorporated in local and national frameworks and for its well being is continuous, within the freamwork of a cohesive and multi-faceted policy," he added.

    [21] SYRIZA calls for extension of Parliament session, extra time for 'Lagarde list' investigation

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) MPs on Monday demanded that Parliament's current session should be extended to give a Parliamentary committee investigating the so-called "Lagarde list" additional time to collect crucial evidence.

    The parliamentary committee is investigating former finance minister George Papaconstantinou's handling of the so-called"Lagarde list" - an electronic file sent to the Greek government by French authorities, containing a list of Greeks with sizeable accounts at the Geneva branch of HSBC bank.

    SYRIZA parliamentary group secretary Nikos Voutsis, parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis and the three SYRIZA members of the parliamentary committee - Zoi Konstantopoulou, Thodoris Dritsas and Stavros Kontonis - have already made a relevant request to Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis.

    In a meeting with the Parliament president, the SYRIZA MPs raised additional issues, insisting that these cannot be discussed in the Parliament's summer sessions, making continuation of the current Parliament's session imperative.

    They referred to pending discussion on a draft bill sponsored by SYRIZA-EKM, designed to abolish the Legislative Act that took the ERT public broadcaster off the air, the establishment of a Parliamentary committee to investigate the ERT issue, and planned off-the-agenda debates concerning the economy, European developments and social problems.

    According to SYRIZA, if the Parliamentary committee investigating the "Lagarde list" case ends its proceedings later on Monday, it will bring those involved one step closer to writing off of the crimes under investigation.

    [22] 'Lagarde list' investigation committee concludes sessions

    A request by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputies in the investigating committee of the "Lagarde list" affair that an extension be given to the committee's proceedings was on Monday evening rejected by deputies from the New Democracy, PASOK and DIMAR parties.

    The decision gave rise to tensions in Monday's committee meeting, with SYRIZA members repeating what they told Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis in the morning, namely that there were serious outstanding issues calling for the extension of the committee's work.

    The outstanding issues, according to SYRIZA deputies, related to the Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE) not having issued an overall conclusion on the total amount of tax evasion on the part of depositors included in the Lagarde list, which means that the full loss incurred by the state is not determined.

    Speaking after the end of the committee meeting, SYRIZA deputies Zoe Konstantopoulou, Theodoros Dritsas and Stavros Kontonis charged that "the outcome was predetermined" by the parties forming the government majority.

    The committee will meet once again to discuss the proposals of the parties on the findings.

    [23] FM spokesperson on media reports of intelligence monitoring by US agencies

    Necessary data is still not available in order to comment on news reports on the monitoring of Greek and other diplomatic missions abroad, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Koutras said on Monday.

    Replying to press questions concerning media reports alleging worldwide monitoring of communications by US intelligence agencies, the spokesman said that "Greece fully respects the provisions of international law that govern the operational status of diplomatic and consular missions. For this reason, Greece cannot comprehend the media reports regarding monitoring of Greek and other diplomatic missions by the services of a country that is a friend and ally."

    He added, "The content of the media reports in question - the investigation of which has already been initiated by the competent Greek services - will be examined closely. It goes without saying that, depending on the findings, the necessary explanations will be requested."

    [24] Defence ministry's civil leadership holds talks with Iraqi delegation

    The Defence ministry's civil leadership on Monday expressed to the Iraqi delegation visiting Athens, at the Greek ministry's invitation, Greece's support in the effort to reorganise the Iraqi armed forces, with the provision of know-how in the sectors of the defence industry and training.

    These issues were discussed, following instructions by Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, in the meeting between Alternate Defence Minister Fofi Yennimata and the Iraqi delegation, which was headed by the Iraqi ministry's secretary general, general Mohan Hafith Fahad Al Frage.

    Greece, due to its experience, not only has the possibility of providing considerable know-how in the field of analysing armaments needs, but also in the management and exploitation of defence systems certified by NATO, Yennimata said.

    Avramopoulos extended an invitation to his Iraqi counterpart Saadoun Al-Dulaimy to visit Athens, during his courtesy meeting with the Iraqi delegation.

    National Defence General Staff chief general Michael Kostarakos also participated in the meetings.

    [25] FYROM President says he held first meeting with Greek counterpart on Sunday

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA - N. Fragopoulos)

    The president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Georgi Ivanov on Monday said that he held a first meeting with Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias in Zagreb on Sunday night, on the sidelines of celebrations for Croatia's European Union accession. He stressed that this was the first-ever meeting between a Greek and FYROM president.

    "At my initiative, we met for the first time with the President of the Hellenic Republic and openly discussed the two societies, our citizens and how we, as presidents, can enhance the cooperation of the two societies, given that we have an obligation to follow the good trend established by the citizens. It now remains to continue our talk. Mr. Papoulias has promised that there will be another opportunity to talk. For me, this meeting marks significant progress given that, since my country's independence, there has been no other meeting between the presidents of the two countries," he said in statements to the media.

    [26] No news on fate of abducted Orthodox clerics in Syria, Moscow Patriarchate says

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA / Th. Avgerinos)

    The Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia on Monday said it had received no information concerning the fate of two Syrian Orthodox clerics abducted by armed men on April 22.

    "Unfortunately, we have no information on the fate of the abducted archbishops," a Patriarchate representative told the online "Interfax-Religion" news agency.

    A number of Russian and international media had reported earlier that according to unofficial information, Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi and Grigorios Yohanna Ibrahim, respectively, had been executed by rebels, most likely Chechens, who fight as mercenaries next to the Syrian opposition.

    The Russian foreign ministry and the Patriarchate of Moscow have stated that efforts are being made for the release of the two archbishops, while repeatedly have expressed concern over the persecution of religious minorities in Syria.

    Financial News

    [27] Tourism Minister: We must present our best face to tourists

    The VAT reduction in food services "is the best way to have a competitive product", but there is nothing new on the issue yet, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni told ANA-MPA WebTV on Monday.

    "We do not have news regarding the VAT reduction in food services. As you already know it is one of the issues that Tourism Ministry has requested, because we believe that it is the best way to have a competitive product," said Kefalogianni.

    The Tourism Minister made a plea to all professionals involved in tourism to present "Greece's best face", to keep prices down and to offer good accomodation and cleanliness.

    "We are in the middle of the tourism period and we must all have in mind that if we want the very good tourist flow to our country and the optimistic messages we have been receiving from the start of the year to be realised, all professionals of tourism and anyone coming in contact with visitors to our country must show the best face of Greece," Kefalogianni said.

    [28] Piraeus to host European Commission's 2015 European Maritime Days

    Greece will host the 2015 European Maritime Days (EMD) in the city of Piraeus, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said on Monday following a meeting with government vice president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in Athens on Monday.

    The European Council's EMD programme was established in 2008 to celebrate Europe's maritime community, heritage and economy, and includes an annual conference in May that brings together citizens, public institutions, business and civil society organisations. In 2013 the EMD was hosted by Malta's port of Valetta, and in 2014 it will be hosted by Germany's Bremen.

    Damanaki noted that Greece could take a leading position in maritime policy and Blue Growth, especially during its presidency of the European Council during the first half of 2014.

    The designation of Piraeus as EMD host coincides with Greece's decision to place maritime policy in the top of its presidency's agenda, Venizelos said, and pointed out the multiple aspects the policy included, such as security, energy, tourism, fishing and natural resources.

    [29] Greek unemployment rose slightly in March

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    The Greek unemployment rate rose to 26.8 pct of the workforce in March, from 26.7 pct in February, Eurostat said on Monday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report released here, said that the average unemployment rate in the Eurozone rose slightly to 12.1 pct in May from 12 pct in April, while in the EU-27 the unemployment rate was unchanged at 10.9 pct.

    The unemployment rate in Greece was 24.1 pct among men, 30.4 pct among women and 59.2 pct among young people aged below 25 years. The average unemployment rate in the Eurozone was 12 pct for men, 12.2 pct for women and 23.8 pct for young people aged below 25 years.

    In May, the EU-27 had 26.4 million unemployed people, of which 19.2 million were in the Eurozone. The number of unemployed people rose by 1.34 million in the eurozone and by 1.32 million in the EU-27.

    Cyprus (16.3 pct from 11.4 pct), Greece (26.8 pct from 22.2 pct) and Slovenia (11.2 pct from 8.6 pct) recorded the highest percentage increases in 12 months.

    [30] Subsidized jobs' programme underway by OAED

    Private companies interested in receiving subsidies for the appointment of "disadvantaged" and "very disadvantaged" job seekers can apply for access to a relevant Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) programme, it was announced on Monday.

    The programme aspires to create 1,000 full-time job positions. Job-seekers defined as "disadvantaged" are those who were not employed in a regularly paying full-time job in the past six months, have no secondary education diploma or vocational training, are over the age of 50 or are single parents.

    "Very disadvantaged" are individuals who have been registered as unemployed for the past 24 months.

    The companies that will be included in the programme will have to hire the individuals in the "disadvantaged" category for 12 months, while those characterized as "very disadvantaged" will have to be hired from 12 to 24 months.

    People hired by private companies in the context of the OAED programme will receive a monthly wage of up to 600 euros, or 24 euros a day.

    [31] Greek enterprises remained loss-making in 2012, Icap

    Greek enterprises reported losses in 2012, with all sector remaining loss-making with the exception of the commerce sector which returned to profitability last year, a survey by Icap Group showed on Monday.

    The survey was based on a sample of 4,462 enterprises, of which 918 industrial, 1,264 commercial, 328 construction, 1,640 services (non-financial) and 312 from the tourism sector.

    The survey, based on an analysis of balance sheets released by June 10, 2013, showed that 2,157 (48.3 pct) were profitable in 2012 with total pre-tax profits of 3.83 bllion euros. Loss-making enterprises reported accumulated loss of 4.77 billion euros.

    Sales fell 0.66 pct to 82.8 billion euros in 2012, gross earnings fell 9.8 pct, while losses totaled 935.9 million euros, down 5.6 pct from 2011. EBITDA remained almost unchanged at 130.6 billion euros last year, while own capital eased 1.8 pct to 57.2 billion euros. The top five most profitable companies in 2012 were: OPAP (644.4 million euros in 2012 from 702.6 million in 2011), Cosmote (461.2 million euros from 388.8 million euros in 2011), Aktor ATE (184.6 million euros from -95.8 million euros in 2011), Hellenic Petroleum (133.5 million euros in 2012 from 156.8 million in 2011) and Motor Oil (114.06 million euros in 2012 from 177.07 million in 2011).

    [32] Greece successfully introduces new Taxis system in tax agencies

    The Greek Finance ministry on Monday said a new Taxis system has been introduced to 51 tax agencies around the country, overshooting a memorandum target of 50 tax agencies which represented 70 pct of the country's tax revenues by June 30, 2013. The ministry, in a report, noted that the 51 tax agencies operating under a new updated Taxis system had accumulated revenues of 27.5 billion euros, or 80.4 pct of total tax revenues.

    The 51 tax agencies are located in Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Crete, Evia, Korinth, Kalamata, Volos and Rhodes.

    Commenting on the news, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said this project was very significant for state revenues and noted that all tax agencies were expected to be included in the new Taxis system by October.

    [33] National Bank to join race to buy Hellenic Postbank

    National Bank will join a race to buy Hellenic Postbank after it successfully completed an ADS buy back programe. The bank said the success of the programe raised its Core Tier I rate to 9.3 pct, or by 150 million euros.

    Bank officials told ANA-MPA that a successful share capital increase plan, which raised 1.08 billion euros from the private sector, paved the way for a restructuring of the group. The same sources said that National Bank will move towards buying Hellenic Postbank. Alpha Bank has already announced plans to buy Hellenic Postbank.

    [34] Japonica renews tender offer to buy Greek state bonds

    Japonica, a US-based investment company, on Monday submitted a new proposal seeking to buy more Greek state bonds at a lower price.

    The company raised its offer for the purchase of Greek state bonds up to 4.0 billion euros at 40 pct of their nominal price, down from a 45 pct in its previous offer. Japonica had submitted a tender offer to buy Greek state bonds in early June, with a deadline which ended on July 1, seeking to buy Greek bonds worth up to 2.9 billion euros.

    It said its new lower offer price reflected the possibility of a new haircut of Greek debt, as the country's creditors were likely to use this way to covering a funding gap of 3-4 billion euros in a support programe agreed by the IMF and the EU. The company said that large fluctuations and limited liquidity in the Greek bond market were distorting Greek bonds' real value.

    Greek state bond prices have fallen by an average 12 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market since Japonica submitted its tender offer in early June.

    The new tender offer has a deadline of August 1.

    [35] Larco says liquidity problems are threatening its viability

    Larco, a troubled Greek mining industry, on Monday sent an alarm signal saying a severe credit crunch was threatening its viability. "There is a serious danger for the viability of the company," said a resolution jointly issued by workers' unions, the company's management, local authorities and parliament deputies who participated in a meeting in Atalante.

    The resolution noted that Larco was been treated with hostility by its own shareholders, the Greek state, Public Power Corporation and National Bank. The meeting said that a decline in nickel prices in international markets to 14,000 US dollars per ton created a viability problem for Larco as the average production cost of the factory was 18,000 US dollars per product ton, according to medium estimates. Larco said that outstanding debt by PPC was rising while the company has not yet collected any VAT return from its exports.

    Larco said it was urgent to find a solution to the VAT returns issue so it can continue its production activity and resolve an electricity price issue, to avert the risk of shutting down operations.

    [36] Aegean Airlines adds more flights to London

    Aegean Airlines on Monday announced new scheduled flights to London to meet increased passenger demand during the summer period.

    The Greek airline said it will add three flights to its weekly flight schedule to London, linking the Athens International Airport with Stansted airport in London. Flights will operate on Monday, Thursday and Saturday from July 11 until September 16, 2013.

    Aegean Airlines said passengers will have access to cheaper fares in the period from July 1 to July 10. Aegean Airlines already operates scheduled flights from Athens to London (Heathrow) and Manchester.

    [37] Greek PMI slightly up in June

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose slightly to 45.4 points in June, from 45.3 points in May, recording the highest average quarterly reading (45.2 points) since the second quarter of 2011, although it remained below the 50-point level separating growth from recession.

    Greek manufacturers recorded lower levels of new works in June, but at the slowest rate in the last two years, while export orders fell rapidly in the month, recording the highest decline rate since February.

    Production levels fell again, reflecting a rapid decine in capital goods production, while job position losses were the lowest since June 2011. Greek manufacturing enterprises maintained low levels of inventories in the month while average supply delivery times rose in June. Average import prices grew in the month, reflecting higher raw materials prices.

    The PMI index, compiled by Markit, measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.

    [38] Greek economic sentiment index unchanged in June

    Greek economic sentiment index dropped slightly in June to 93.5 points from 93.8 points in May, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.

    In its monthly economic sentiment survey, IOBE said that even though these continue to be among the highest levels of the past five years, the trends recorded in individual indices are mixed.

    A big improvement in expectations is recorded in the hotel services sector due to the increased bookings compared with last year's tourism season, allowing for optimistic forecasts leading to a strong improvement in the overall services index.

    Positive, but to a lesser degree, are the prospects in the construction sector. Consumer confidence is down, having a direct impact on retail commerce, two sectors that are highly sensitive to political changes. A similar trend is recorded in the industry sector as well.

    According to IOBE, the political insecurity experienced by the country in mid June has slowed the optimistic trend which, however, continues as a result of the positive messages coming from increased bookings in tourism, the activation of National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) programmes, bank recapitalization and the shift in rhetoric in the international environment.

    [39] Greek stocks end moderately higher

    Greek stocks ended moderately higher in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market surpassing the 850-point level to end at 851.42 points, up 0.45 pct. The index was down 1.51 pct early in the session and ended off the day's highs of 859.29 points. Turnover remained a low 39.9 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 1.17 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 2.16 pct. Coca Cola HBC (6.03 pct), Jumbo (5.13 pct), Athens Water (2.33 pct) and Folli Follie (1.78 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Intralot (8.89 pct), Piraeus Bank (7.32 pct), Titan (4.12 pct) and Eurobank Properties (3.93 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Food (5.92 pct), Health (4.71 pct), Personal Products (4.17 pct) and Commerce (1.76 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Constructions (2.02 pct) and Banks (1.87 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 52 with another 22 issues unchanged. Attica Bank (28.71 pct), Crete Building (19.23 pct) and Kathimerini (17.78 pct) were top gainers, while Sato (19.79 pct), Selman (19.74 pct) and NEL (18.52 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +0.15%

    Commercial: +1.76%

    Construction: -2.02%

    Oil & Gas: +1.10%

    Personal & Household: +4.17%

    Raw Materials: -1.05%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.13%

    Technology: -0.17%

    Telecoms: +1.33%

    Banks: -1.87%

    Food & Beverages: +5.92%

    Health: +4.71%

    Utilities: +0.26%

    Financial Services: +1.06%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, National Bank, OTE, Titan and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.43

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.89

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.65

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.10

    National Bank of Greece: 2.46

    Eurobank Properties : 6.85

    OPAP: 6.43

    OTE: 6.08

    Piraeus Bank: 1.14

    Titan: 12.81

    [40] Greek bond closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 9.06 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 9.11 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.78 pct and the German Bund 1.72 pct. There was no turnover in the market. News that Japonica -a US-based investment firm- renewed its tender offer to buy Greek state bonds at a lower price did not have any effect on the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.53 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.44 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.34 pct, the three-month rate increased to 0.22 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.12 pct.

    [41] ADEX closing report

    The July contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.65 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 10.876 million euros.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,367 contracts worth 7.690 million euros, with 48,989 open positions in the market, while volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,201 contracts worth 3.186 million euros, with investment interest focused on Alpha Bank's contracts (4,751), followed by National Bank (1,611), Eurobank (1,862), MIG (622), OTE (1,345), PPC (1,035), OPAP (107), Hellenic Exchanges (106), Mytilineos (170), Hellenic Petroleum (325), Jumbo (107), GEK (153) and Ellaktor (244).

    [42] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.323

    Pound sterling 0.869

    Danish kroner 7.571

    Swedish kroner 8.826

    Japanese yen 131.94

    Swiss franc 1.252

    Norwegian kroner 8.017

    Canadian dollar 1.392

    Australian dollar 1.440

    General News

    [43] Greeks still pessimistic about economy, ACCI 'Economic Barometer' reveals

    There is still widespread pessimism among Greeks about the prospects of the economy and the efficiency of both the previous and current coalition governments ruling Greece, according to an 'Economic Barometer' survey commissioned by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), whose results were unveiled on Monday. In spite of this, those with a pessimistic outlook about the country's economic prospects were significantly reduced relative to June 2012.

    Nearly seven in 10 (67 percent) of those responding to the ALCO phone survey, conducted on June 25-27 using a sample of 1,000 individuals over 18 throughout the country, had a negative opinion of the work done by the previous three-party coalition government. About 63 percent said that the two-party government arising from a recent reshuffle will not be more successful than its predecessor. Roughly 28 percent replied that the new government will be successful and 9 percent did not offer any opinion.

    Public opinion was divided on the third question put by ACCI, concerning whether the new government will succeed in reducing the public sector within the deadline set by the country's creditors and the EU-IMF troika. Of those responding, 49 percent replied that this was not possible and 36 percent believe that the new government is capable of achieving the target set by the troika, while 15 percent refused to reply.

    Replying to standard questions about the future course of Greece's economy, 70 percent say they continue to be pessimistic, down from 84 percent in June 2012. Those optimistic about the prospects of the economy doubled from 8 percent in June 2012 to 16 percent in June 2013, while the remainder refused to reply.

    Replies to the second standard Economic Barometer question referring to personal finances similarly showed a slight improvement, with 70 percent pessimistic about their personal financial future relative to 85 percent in June 2012. With respect to personal finances, the percentage of those believing that they will improve increase by 6 percentage points to 14 percent, upf rom 8 percent last year. There was also an increase in those refusing to reply, from 7 percent to 13 percent.

    Unveiling the survey, ACCI Chairman Constantine Mihalos said it revealed that society was at the end of its tether and this was the main cause of the negative judgement of the present and former governments, while citizens also doubted whether necessary reforms will be carried out. He called for "measures with an immediate result that will boost the climate in the market and society".

    [44] MPs of Greek descent from abroad convene in Athens June 2-4

    Parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis will open the 9th General Assembly of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA) at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, at the Greek Parliament.

    In an announcement, the Parliament said that the association would meet over July 2-4 in Athens.

    The WHIA was founded in 1996 in Athens, when an international delegation of elected members of Parliament of Greek descent living in non-Greek-speaking countries convened for the first time. Its purpose is "to organize this unique association, which created a network of top-level government officials and parliamentarians from around the globe who are of Hellenic heritage," according to a description on its web page.

    WHIA acquired legal status in Greece in June 2005. Further information is available at www.whia.gr.

    [45] Scorpions to perform at Lycabettus Theatre in September

    Tickets are on sale for Scorpions, the German heavy metal band that decided to give a series of three concerts in Greece at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens on September 11, 12 and 14 despite a recent decision to stop large-scale touring.

    Explaining their decision, lead singer Klaus Meine said that "Greeks are our greatest admirers, that's why we decided to do the Athens project. We are returning to show that the Greeks have been in our hearts all these years" and that they chose the smaller theatre because they wanted a cozier space.

    The group was founded in Hanover in 1969 and have sold over 80 million albums worldwide. Their "Scorpions Best" is the top-selling album in Greece and the number of Greeks who have attended their past concerts number 200,000.

    Tickets are on sale for 38 euros (30 for students and the unemployed), while for the September 14 concert tickets will be sold for standing room only, in front of the stage. They can be purchased at www.viva.gr, Ticket House, the Public and Papasotiriou stores, and www.weticket.gr.

    [46] Hospital server with X-ray database stolen from Larissa hospital

    A server storing X-ray images was stolen from the University Hospital of Larissa this past weekend, putting the department out of operation as of Sunday and forcing staff to send patients to the main hospital in the main city of Central Greece.

    The theft was carried out on Saturday afternoon and was discovered Sunday evening by the hospital, which notified the police.

    [47] Buses to allow passenger front-boarding only as of Monday, July 1

    Passengers boarding city buses in the Athens area as of July 1 will have to do so through the front door only and present their ticket or monthly transit card to the driver, the Transport and Infrastructure Ministry announced Monday.

    The measure to combat fare dodgers will be gradually introduced to all city bus lines, from central Athens routes to those extending to northern suburbs like Kifissia and southern ones like Voula, and will include port of Piraeus routes.

    For more details, information is available (in Greek) by calling the bus organisation helpline at 185, or online at http://www.oasa.gr.

    Weather forecast

    [48] Fair on Tuesday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 15C and 33C. Fair in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 17C and 32C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 19C and 29C.

    [49] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: "The truth that hurts PASOK!"

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Full speed to the Right"

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Lock-outs coming - Layoffs easier"

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "200,000 bank and public utility/organisation staff eligible for full pension"

    ELLADA AVRIO: "Samaras' call for exit from the crisis"

    ESTIA: "Final blow to real estate"

    ETHNOS: "The new 8.1-bn-euro tranche of the loan coming in...installments"

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "New income tax code with radical changes in all areas"

    TA NEA: "VAT: Who and how is robbing us"

    VRADYNI: "PM Antonis Samaras: Together we can build New Greece"

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