|Saturday, 20 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 23 July 2013 Issue No: 4414
 Venizelos in Brussels: Egypt needs EU's supportBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)
Egypt's first transitional phase was not completed, but its second attempt must be supported by the EU, government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in Brussels on Monday.
Following the conclusion of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which focused on Egypt and its transitional government, Venizelos said, "The first phase of the transitional phase could not be completed. Now a second phase has begun which we must support. It is necessary to help stabilise the situation and prevent the heightening of violence and a slipping into some form of civil war."
In its conclusions, the Council said "the armed forces should not play a political role in a democracy; they must accept and respect the constitutional authority of civilian power as a basic principle of democratic governance" and called on Egypt to "embark on a transition, allowing a transfer of power to a civilian-led and democratically elected government."
Venizelos said he had spoken with the new foreign minister of Egypt, "and he briefed me on the situation and the timeline of initiatives to restore the democratic order decided by the transitional government." He also said that he had discussed the situation in Egypt with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglou during his official visit in Ankara last Friday.
"The principles that govern the European view on democracy, the rule of law and the respect of human rights must be observed. But we ought to see how they are linked practically with a complicated country like Egypt, with its internal conflicts and religious interweavings," Venizelos said.
In terms of Syria, Venizelos said there was a humanitarian aspect to it and Greece might have to face a surge of refugees. For Lebanon and the Council's decisions on Hezbollah, he said the issue required very careful and delicate handling by the EU.
In Brussels, the foreign minister also met with his Azeri and FYRoM counterparts, and with the EU commissioner responsible for enlargement, Stefan Fule, with whom he discussed issues related to Greek foreign policy, such as Greece's relationships with the EU, FYRoM, Turkey, Serbia and Kosovo, and the Cyprus issue.
 Gov't V-P and FM Venizelos meets FYROM counterpartGovernment vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos had a meeting in Brussels on Monday with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski, on the margins of the EU foreign affairs' council.
Venizelos and Popovski reviewed issues of common interest, within the framework of the familiar stances of the two sides, a foreign ministry announcement said.
 Greece guarantees Cyprus sovereignty, Greek defence minister tells visiting counterpartDespite its difficulties, Greece is guaranteeing the territorial integrity, the sovereignty and the independence of Cyprus, Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said after meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Fotis Fotiou, in Athens on Monday.
He also called on Turkey, ahead of the restart of talks on the Cyprus issue, to exercise discretion and be realistic, and to avoid statements that do not contribute to resolving the Cyprus issue; this would help promote the sense of security in the area. He also said that nothing could prevent Cyprus from exercising its sovereign rights in the exlusive economic zone.
Fotiou, in his statements, asserted that the development of Cyprus' natural resources constituted its sovereign right and could not be challenged by anyone. He stressed that its plans would not succumb to any questioning or blackmail; Cyprus may be at a sensitive point right now, but would not sell out on its sovereign rights.
Avramopoulos said he would visit Cyprus soon.
Following a church service, Fotiou laid a wreath at the memorial commemorating those who died during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus 39 years ago and later was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. On Tuesday, Fotiou will attend the graduation ceremony of army cadets.
 Health Minister: Doctors not included in mobility scheme"Doctors are not included in the health ministry's mobility scheme" Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said to ANA-MPA on Monday, providing clarifications on figures released about planned mergers of state hospitals.
Georgiadis said that the figures concerning a merger plan that was made public had also included the doctors but he had made it clear in contat with the administration reform ministry that doctors are not included in the mobility scheme.
 Health Minister calls state hospitals staff not to strike on Wed.Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Monday made a plea to the doctors and the hospitals' medical staff to cancel their 24h strike on Wednesday, speaking to private TV ANT1.
Georgiadis said that they should reconsider their decision to strike because they will "cause distress to the people without any reason", and noted that no hospital will shut down and no employee will be laid off.
Finally he said that he will visit again "Attikon" Hospital and reiterated that every week he is going to visit hospitals.
 SYRIZA: Gov't policy of hospital mergers is 'callous policy'The government "is continuing its callous policy" by shutting down hospitals in mergers, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) charged on Monday.
"In order to meet its memorandum obligations and reduce expenses in the health sector from 10.5 pct of the GDP to 6 pct, the government is continuing its callous policy, applying its plans to shut down dozens of hospitals through mergers and new structural changes already introduced to many hospitals," the party's health section said.
SYRIZA called on people to fight the measures by joining the national health sector strike called for July 24 and demonstrating outside the Health Ministry at 11:00 a.m. the same day.
 Teachers' protest rally in AthensThe federation of secondary education school teachers OLME was holding a protest rally in downtown Athens on Monday afternoon, with protestors gathered outside the finance ministry and asking to meet with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.
The teachers were protesting against the suspension and entry into a "mobility scheme" from Monday of 2,000 teachers employed at the country's 53 technical/vocational high schools after their subjects were dropped from the curriculum. Similar protests are planned in other towns and cities.
OLME president Themis Kotsifakis said it was a "black day for education given that 2,500 school teachers have been suspended from their jobs" under the mobility scheme starting Monday.
"We will resist this policy and we will continue to struggle, both in the summer and in September," he said, announcing a meeting of all teacher unions in the public and private sectors at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening at OLME's headquarters to coordinate labour action, both now and in September when schools start.
Under the mobility scheme, public-sector staff are suspended from their jobs on reduced pay for a period of eight months, after which they are laid off unless another position in the public sector has been found for them in the mean time.
 SYRIZA slams government decision to include teachers in 'mobility scheme'Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Monday lashed out at the government's decision to include teachers in the public sector employee "mobility scheme". A total of 2,000 teachers specializing in 53 technical courses in the country's vocational high schools were suspended and placed in a 'mobility pool' on Monday, with Tsipras noting that this "will be known as a 'dark day' in the history of education because of the authoritarian and undemocratic decision".
A SYRIZA education sector announcement also noted that the "government condemns thousands of educators and their families to unemployment and destitution and, at the same time, launches a direct attack on 21,000 students, who will look for their schools in September and will be unable to find them. It abolishes vital sectors and skills in the public technical/voca-tional education and delivers them on a platter to the voracious private sector".
The SYRIZA announcement strongly criticized Education Minister Costas Arvanitopoulos, noting that his "actions are in violation of law and legality because he set into motion the mobility scheme process before the relevant law was passed in
Parliament, just as he did by issuing a back-to-work order before a strike was called".
SYRIZA pledged that "such illegal and unconstitutional actions will not be recognized and will be abolished in practice," noting that "all educators are necessary in the major education reform that will be implemented by the government of the Left" and "for this reason they will be reappointed".
 'Gov't looking for free labor,' in eduation and health, KKE chargesThe placement of 2,000 teachers suspended pending their gradual layoffs as of Monday "is a harbinger of the reactionary changes in vocational schools with pseudo-career guidance and free labor to employers," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged on the same day the measure went into effect.
The teachers on the mobility scheme are employed at the country's 53 technical/vocational high schools in subjects dropped from the curriculum.
"This is a plan of the government in collusion with the EU and plutocracy to create a state that is more hostile to employees, one that is totalitarian, class-based, and serving capital," it added, calling on teachers, parents and students to fight the decision.
Also criticising the planned mergers of state hospitals, KKE said that the plan was "a dangerous plan for the people's health."
It said that the moves were again aimed at cheaper labor, that was why the government was "stigmatizing and removing the last remnants of services in public health and medication provision" and "strengthened monopolies in health."
 DIMAR criticises linking of mobility scheme to layoffsThe Democratic Left (DIMAR) party on Monday stressed its objections to the way the government was linking public-sector layoffs to a mobility scheme.
"Mobility must be fully disconnected from layoffs and exclu-sively concern a rationalised distribution of staff," a DIMAR announcement stressed, criticising 'sudden death' tactics and the scrapping of entire branches of state school technical education as "not constituting public-sector reform".
The former coalition partner urged the government to "change course, renegotiate for the needed time," and to turn its attention to "ensuring results in its work, fighting bureaucracy and stamping out corruption".
"Administrative reform must be carried out to increase the benefit for citizens, not satisfy the ideological prejudices of the troika," it said.
The party also issued an announcement commenting on the increase of debt in the European Union and Greece, saying this indicated the deadends of the policy being implemented.
"Only if there is an end to austerity policies and major initiatives for a joint management of debt are taken can there be a new economic policy with a growth logic, can there be a sustainable future," DIMAR said.
Otherwise, the party warned, debt will continue to choke the real economy and constantly propagate a recessionary course, exacerbating the problems.
 Correctional facilities in "highly volatile" state, Dendias saysPublic Order & Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday blamed the failures of the correctional system as being ultimately responsible for the events that led to Sunday's shootout between police and fugitive escaped inmates in northwestern Greece. During the exchange of fire, the fugitive Albanian Marian Kola, one of a group of inmates that broke out of Trikala Prison, was shot dead by police following a four-month-long manhunt. Kola's accomplice Ilir Kupa, another escapee from Trikala Prison, managed to evade police and flee.
In a press conference, the minister thanked the Greek Police, coastguard and army officers taking part in the operation in Vrissina, in the mountains around Souli, and conveyed to them the prime minister's congratulations.
Referring to the causes of the jailbreak four months ago, Dendias underlined that correctional facilities nationwide are in an "highly volatile state". He noted that all past governments have a share in the responsibility for the current situation and appeared certain that Justice Minister Haris Athanassiou, who is very familiar with the issue, will soon find a solution to the problem.
He underlined that the current state of correctional facilities could be a threat to law and order. He also noted, however, that the successful police operation showed that the country is not unprotected. "The protection of Greek society remains our goal," he said.
Referring to Sunday's police operation, the police leadership stated that the two fugitives, Kola and Kupa, were called to give themselves up but instead opened fire using Kalashnikov assault weapons. In the ensuing shootout, Kola was shot dead while Kupa disappeared in the thick fog that covered the area at the time. There is no evidence suggesting that he was injured in the exchange of fire.
Dendias and the police leadership noted that between 580 and 750 officers took part in the police manhunt launched on March 22 when the Albanian inmates escaped from Trikala Prison.
According to police, a Kalashnikov rifle, a hand grenade and a police pistol taken during a bloody shootout with police at Distomo, Viotia on June 17 were found next to Kola's body. A portable radio was also recovered.
Police have not ruled out the likelihood that the fugitives are being offered assistance by people living in the region.
According to investigating officers, the two fugitives had stolen three cars in their attempt to reach the Albanian borders. They were among five sought by police since June 17, when they shot and killed a police officer at Distomo. A manhunt for all five ended at the mountains, where police located them through the use of thermic cameras. The fugitives split into two groups and two of them were shot dead, while the three escaped - among them Kola and Kupa.
A police manhunt is underway in the area to locate Kupa. A search in the Zaloggo River ravine, about 600m from where Kola was shot, revealed a bullet-proof vest and a rucksack full of food, believed to belong to Kupa. The search is now focusing on the villages of the Kato Zaloggo area, with the assistance of a coastguard helicopter.
 Greece announces plans to restructure EAS, ELBO and LarcoThe Greek government on Monday announced plans to restructure three loss-making public sector enterprises ahead of their privatization in 2014.
A government statement said that Greek authorities will seek the help of specialized independent advisors to proceed with a radical restructuring of Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS), Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELBO) and Larco.
"With the help of advisors and in cooperation with the management and workers of these enterprises we will examine feasible restructuring plans," the statement said, adding these plans were necessary for the enterprises to become viable ahead of their privatization in 2014 or/and facilitating the sale of part of their assets. "These plans must minimize these companies' cost for Greek taxpayers and be compatible with EU regulations over state support".
The government expects to reach final decisions on the issue by the end of August and to implement these plans by the end of the year.
 Main opposition SYRIZA releases full text of founding conference's 'Political Resolution'The main opposition SYRIZA party press office on Monday released the full text of the 'Political Resolution' adopted by the founding conference that unified left-wing SYRIZA, converting from a loose alliance of 'component members' into a single political organisation.
The 'Political Resolution' was one of three significant texts adopted during the conference, in addition to the Founding Declaration and the Party Charter.
 PASOK's leader Venizelos to address ISTAME event on restoration of democracyPASOK's constitutional revision proposals will be outlined by party leader, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in the context of an event to take place at 13:00 on July 24 at the foreign ministry's "Yiannos Kranidiotis" amphitheater, it was announced on Monday.
The host of the event, marking the anniversary of the restoration of democracy in the country, is Andreas Papandreou Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME).
 PASOK communication secretary Karydis interviewed by ANA-MPAPASOK is gaining ground with voters because "it has registered that it contributed in a very significant way to the political stability of the country," PASOK secretary for communication Dimitris Karydis said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday. PASOK is the junior partner in Greece's coalition government.
"This is what the latest political developments say and this is what PASOK is 'earning' politically. We are going through a period that is difficult, painful and we have hard roads ahead but we believe there is a plan and that we can make it," he added.
Referring to the public-sector "mobility scheme" and layoffs, Karydis noted that, while layoffs were not reforms in themselves, the change in climate in public administration to make it more efficient and to offer what it should to Greek citizens "surely is included in reforms".
He said that a mobility scheme that had not been implemented in the previous period must now be carried out conscientiously, leading the government to take measures that it might possibly have avoided.
"We have before us until September based on what was passed by Parliament and it is necessary for all ministers to work conscientiously, seriously and with unity in order to meet the demands of the time," he said.
Commenting on the positions presented by main opposition SYRIZA at its last conference, Karydis said they appeared not to have moved the majority of the people nor created any momentum.
 Deputy health minister calls new meeting over West Nile virus controlGreek health services are on alert and in a state of readiness to deal with a possible increase in West Nile virus cases, according to the agencies summoned to attend a meeting called by Deputy Health Minister Zetta Makri on Monday. Those attending included the president and director of the Greek Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO), Tzeni Kremastinou and Theodoros Papadimitriou, respectively, the head of the National Health Operations Centre (EKEPY) Margarita Bebi and other officials.
State services stressed that epidemiological monitoring, a systematic and prompt programme to control mosquitos and briefing the public on the need for protection against mosquitos are necessary measures to deal with the virus.
They particularly stressed the need for personal protection measures against the virus, such as mosquito repellent on exposed skin, use of screens and mosquito nets and not allowing still water to collect in gardens and balconies as a result of watering pot plants, etc.
The public is advised to avoid watering plants or lawns during the evening or at night when mosquitos are most active.
Three cases of West Nile virus infections have been reported so far, two in east Attica and one in Thessaloniki.
The virus is carried by birds and transmitted to humans and animals via mosquito bites. Most cases remain either asymptomatic or display mild symptoms, with more serious cases affected the elderly or those with pre-existing health problems.
 Environment minister briefs UK ambassador on energy projectsEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Monday briefed UK Ambassador to Greece John Kittmer on developments related to hydrocarbon exploration, the privatisation programme in the energy sector, and investment opportunities linked to the natural gas Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project.
Maniatis briefed Kittmer on the completion of the final phase in hydrocarbon exploration at Ioannina, the Western Patras Gulf and Katakolo, all in western Greece, following a tendering by the ministry. He also spoke of the privatisation process for DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) and DESFA (Greece's gas grid operator), and accepted a proposal by the ambassador that ministry representatives attend a briefing in London in the near future related to the two gas agencies' privatization.
The two also discussed Greece's priorities in the forthcoming presidency of the EU, starting January 2014, and the issue of renewable energy resources.
 Opinion poll shows SYRIZA lead over NDMain opposition SYRIZA leads by 2 percent over New Democracy (ND), according to an opinion poll conducted by Pulse RC for EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON newspaper.
According to the poll results, SYRIZA was leads with 21 percent, followed by ND with 19 percent, ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 13 percent, PASOK with 6.5 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 5.5 percent, Independent Greeks with 4.5 percent and Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 3.5 percent, while 9.5 percent of the respondents said they haven't decided yet.
The geographic coverage of the opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between 11and 17 July 2013.
 European Ombudsman presents 2012 report to DIMAR leaderEuropean Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros on Monday presented his office's annual report for 2012, relating to cases concerning the rights of citizens and the functioning of public administration, to Democratic Left (DIMAR) party president Fotis Kouvelis.
The two men also held an extensive discussion on developments within the EU and its further course.
Kouvelis particularly emphasised reinforcement of relations between EU agencies and European citizens, referring to the important work done by the ombudsman in Greece. He also expressed his appreciation for the role of the office in general, stressing the need for institutional support of the society of citizens, especially on issues relating to transparency and rights.
 KKE leader meets with European OmbudsmanCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas met on Monday with the European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros at KKE's headquarters in Athens.
According to KKE's announcement, Diamantouros briefed Koutsoumbas on the activities of the institution and gave him the European Ombudsman report for the year 2012.
 U.S. Treasury Secretary's visit 'not about meeting popular needs,' KKE saysThe visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew "shows that the U.S.-German controversy over the managerial mix and especially with regard to a haircut of Greek debt is not concerned with meeting popular needs," a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announcement said on Monday.
It noted that Lew, like the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, supported government reforms leading to a total disruption of labour relations, lower wages and privatisations.
"Jack Lew's visit and his meetings with the prime minister and finance minister are part of the competition of imperialist centres to exploit energy sources and signal the Greek government's preparation for even closer involvement in U.S. plans for the eastern Mediterranean," the party said.
 New public broadcaster personnel hiring process launchedThe personnel hiring process in the new Public Television (DT) will begin on Monday afternoon, when job applications can be filed online at the finance ministry website.
According to sources, a total of 589 people will be hired initially to operate the new public broadcaster during an interim stage, while the remaining 1,500 vacancies will be covered at a later stage after the applications filed go through evaluation.
 President Papoulias meets with Administrative Reform Minister MitsotakisPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, ahead the Administrative Reform Council meeting to take place at the government headquarters on Tuesday.
The administrative reform ministry is assigned to oversee public-sector reform but the assistance of all government ministers is necessary to meet the qualitative and quantitative goals set, Mitsotakis underlined after meeting Papoulias.
He said that his ministry has a dual role: namely, to meet the obligations defined in the memorandum and to go even further based on meritocracy and justice.
Arriving at the President's office, Mitsotakis said that "we move with consistency, justice and transparency...efforts focus on building a public administration that will meet the demands of the times and the citizens".
"You referred to justice and this is very important," President Papoulias noted, with Mitsotakis responding that "our efforts, even if sometimes they include elements of indiscriminate interventions, should be and are as fair as possible".
 Former defence minister Tsohatzopoulos to testify in his trial on July 29A court in Athens rejected a request made by former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, on trial for money-laundering and taking kickbacks for armaments' procurements programmes while in office, to testify on September 2 instead of July 29, it was announced on Monday.
The three judges, in the Court of Appeals trying the case, ruled against his request saying that the testimonies of the defence witnesses will be completed on July 25 and the former minister has enough time to prepare his own testimony.
 PPC employee union leader to resign, criticises union membersPresident of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees union GENOP, Nikos Fotopoulos, declared his intention to resign in a letter to the union late on Monday.
Fotopoulos, head of the most influential union in public utilities, warned that the federation was not going to survive. "GENOP is dying," he said, adding that he plans to resign this week but remain a member of the PPC board, a position he was elected to recently.
He said GENOP's problems stemmed from member unions that did not pay their fees, including members on the federation's board that made use of privileges such as paid leave for union activities but did not contribute their subscriptions as they should. Federation employees had not been paid for three months, he charged.
He also criticized members for "the unbelievable hate, meanness, small-mindedness, unpolitical behavior and plans towards undermining and dissolution."
On a rise in the fee for renewable energies passed on to consumers, he said that it was another hardship for millions of poor and unemployed fellow-Greeks and was meant to "cover the massive deficits...created by the unacceptable decisions of all governments of the past 13 years in the market's electricity sector."
 Greek public debt rose to 160.5 pct of GDP in Q1Greece's public debt grew by 1.4 billion euros in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the fourth quarter of 2012, to reach 305.3 billion euros, or 160.5 pct of GDP, Eurostat said on Monday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said that Eurozone's public debt grew to 92.2 pct of GDP in the January-March period, from 90.6 pct, while in the EU-27 the public debt grew to 85.9 pct of GDP from 85.2 pct.
Greece had the highest public debt to GDP ratio in the first quarter followed by Italy (130.3 pct), Portugal (127.2 pct) and Ireland (125.1 pct), while Estonia (10 pct), Bulgaria (18 pct) and Luxembourg (22.4 pct) recorded the lowest rates.
Ireland (7.7 percentage points), Belgium (4.7) and Spain (4.0) recorded the biggest quarterly increases in public debts, while Latvia (1.5 percentage points), Denmark (0.8) and Germany (0.7) the biggest declines. On an annual basis, Greece (24.1), Ireland (18.3) and Spain (15.2) recorded the biggest percentage increases.
 Ind. Greeks Notis Marias: 'Samaras' real success story is increasing debt'Commenting on the announcement that Greece's debt had risen to 160.5 pct of GDP, opposition Independent Greeks party head for economic affairs Notis Marias said that this was the government's real 'success story'.
"In spite of the social Armageddon of the memorandum, whose victims are the millions of unemployed, wage-earners, pensioners and self-employed, Greece's public debt finally reaches 160.5 pct of GDP, thus proving that the real 'success story' of [Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras is the increase in public debt," he said.
 KKE on public debt riseThe people are "constantly called to new sacrifices," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged on Monday, "when the public debt rises and gets a 'haircut', even though the people are not the ones creating it or benefitting from its expansion."
Commenting on the Eurostat figures on Monday showing a rise in Greece's public debt for the first quarter of 2013, the KKE said that "developments in Greece and the eurozone prove that there is no people-friendly solution within the fort of capitalist development, the EU and the rule of monopolies" and called on the populace to organize and fight for the cancellation of the loan, the disengagement from the EU and for turning monopolies over to public control.
 Greek budget deficit sharply down in H1The Greek state budget deficit fell to 4.991 billion euros in the first six months of 2013, from 12.477 billion euros in the same period last year and down from a budget target for a deficit of 7.194 billion euros, the Finance ministry said on Monday.
In a report, the ministry said that the budget's primary deficit was 1.511 billion euros, in the January-June period, down significantly from a primary deficit of 3.316 billion euros last year and a budget target for a shortfall of 3.877 billion euros..
The Finance ministry said that state budget net revenues totaled 22.572 billion euros in the six-month period, down 3.6 pct from budget tagets, while net revenues of the regular budget was 20.842 billion euros, down 4.1 pct from targets.
The report said that income tax proceeds were down by 39.1 pct compared with budget targets in June, because of an extension given to deadlines for tax income statements. Direct tax proceeds were down 39.2 pct, while consumption taxes fell short by 18.9 pct. Non-regular revenues fell 64.7 pct reflecting a delay in collecting a special tax on financial institutions and a 3.0 pct decline in VAT proceeds. On the other hand, tax collection surpassed budget targets in property taxes (+17.5 pct) in June.
The Finance ministry said that state budget spending totaled 27.564 billion euros, down by 3.053 billion euros compared with budget targets. Regular budget spending totaled 25.792 billion euros, down by 1.975 billion euros compared with budget targets. Regular budget spending were down by 23.3 pct compared with 2012 reflecting an 11.5 pct fall in primary spending and a 62 pct drop in interest payments.
 GEK Terna signs strategic alliance deal with Qatar Petroleum Intl.GEK Terna -a Greek-listed construction and energy group- on Monday announced the signing of a strategic alliance agreement with Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) which envisages joint investments in Greece and in the wider Southeastern Europe.
The agreement, in a first stage, envisages the acquisition by QPI of a 25 pct equity stake in an "Eron II" energy power unit for 58 million US dollars. This acquisition will be the first international equity particiation for QPI in the electricity production sector.
The agreement signals the first investment of the Qatari state company in Greece and offers a vote of confidence to the Greek energy market and the Greek economy in general.
QPI was founded in 2006 and it is a subsidiary of Qatar Petroleum, the state petroleum group in Qatar.
VAT reduction should be reflected in prices, Deputy Development Minister Skordas says
Entrepreneurs active in the restaurant and catering sector will have to show a sense of social and national responsibility and pass a recently agreed VAT reduction (from 23 pct to 13 pct) on to consumers, Deputy Development Minister Thanassis Skordas said on Monday.
In an interview with ANA-MPA, he underlined that the measure will become permanent only if there is tangible proof by the end of the year that it had a positive effect on public revenues.
The restaurants and other catering outlets will display special signs notifying customers whether the VAT reduction is passed on to them entirely or partially after a relevant agreement is reached with sector representatives by the end of the week, Skordas clarified. He also said that the participating outlets will issue new price lists for their products.
The deputy development minister noted that Greece is now among the EU countries with the lowest VAT rate in the specific sector.
 Ericsson Hellas reports lower revenues, profits in 2012Ericsson Hellas, a subsidiary of Ericsson Group, on Monday reported a decline in revenues and lower profits in 2012.
According to its balance sheet, Ericsson Hellas -which was founded in Athens 35 years ago- reported a decline in revenues to 63.32 million euros last year, from 81.12 million euros in 2011, a drop of 22 pct. Pre-tax earnings dropped 78.4 pct to 1.68 million euros in 2012, from 7.78 million euros in 2011, although the 2011 earnings were bloated by extraordinary, non-repeated revenues.
Gross profit margin rose to 19.5 pct in 2012, from 16.7 pct in 2011. Net earnings were 620,000 euros.
 Greek paint industries report losses in 2012Greek paint and polish industries suffered losses in 2012, hit by shrinking domestic demand and intensifying competition in the market, an analysis by ANA-MPA showed on Monday.
The analysis, based on figures released by Hellenic Statistical Authority, showed that the volume of paint production in Greece recovered in the first five months of 2013, reflecting higher export activity. Paint and polish production (based on acrylic and vinyl polymers) rose 10.7 pct in the January-May period, compared with the same period last year (it was down 37 pct compared with 2005 figures), while production based on polyester grew 7.1 pct in the five-month period (down 51.4 pct compared with 2005).
Sales fell to 307.39 million euros, down from 345.95 million euros in 2011, for a decline of 11 pct. Gross earnings by 25 Greek paint industries fell to 97.37 million euros in 2012, from 113.64 million in 2011, a decline of 14 pct, while gross profit margin fell to 31.7 pct from 32.8 pct. EBITDA fell to 34.12 million euros, down 18 pct from the same period in 2011.
Pre-tax earnings totaled 2.54 million euros in the five month period, down from 13.48 million euros in 2011, while net results showed a loss of 1.78 million euros in 2012, from net earnings of 6.85 million euros in 2011.
 Home building works index down 0.6 pct in Q2New home building works category index fell 0.6 pct in the second quarter of 2013, compared with the same period last year, after a decline 0.5 pct recorded in the second quarter of 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the index was down 0.1 pct in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of 2013
 Building materials prices down 1.5 pct in JuneBuilding materials' prices fell 1.5 pct in June this year, reflecting a decline in international fuel prices, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said however that rising electricity prices burdened building material prices.
The report said that diesel oil prices fell by 8.6 pct, steel pipes fell 5.3 pct, iron prices were down by 4.2 pct, cement prices fell 3.1 pct, plastic pipes fell 2.8 pct, lifts fell 2.3 pct, windows prices were down 1.8 pct, while electricity prices rose 12.3 pct, brick prices rose 5.4 pct and locks rose 1.5 pct.
The building materials price index fell 1.5 pct in June, compared with the same month last year, after a 0.7 pct increase recorded in June 2012. The index was down 0.1 pct in June from May, after a 0.2 pct decline recorded in the corresponding period last year.
 Three bidders in e-ticket tender for Athens Urban TransportThree companies submitted binding offers in an international tender for an e-ticket project for the Athens Urban Transport Organization.
The three bidders are Intrasoft International-Intrakat, ATESE-METKA and Terna Energy-LG CNS. The winner of the tender will undertake to cover 50 pct of funding (the other 50 pct will be covered by community funds), the survey, construction, maintenance and technical management of the project for a period of 12 years. At the end of 12-year period, the system will remain under the ownership of Athens Urban Transport Organization.
The project aims to drastically limit widespread fare dodging and improve services to citizens. The project is scheduled to be gradually in operation in the period 2014-2015.
 Friday figures on those 'faking' blindness on Kalymnos inaccurate, IKA announcesThe IKA social insurance fund on Monday issued a correction to an announcement concerning the number of benefit recipients 'faking' blindness on the Aegean islands served by a Kalymnos testing centre, saying that a careful re-examination had shown that the original figures were wrong.
Based on the revised figures, only 89 benefit recipients had been summoned for a repeat examination at the Kalymnos testing centre, of which 80 had appeared and only 28 (or 35 pct) were judged not to be blind.
The announcement originally issued last Friday had claimed that 156 had been summoned for repeat testing, of which 152 had been examined and 100 (or 65.79 pct) were found not to be blind.
The testing centre covers benefit recipients on the Aegean islands of Kalymnos, Astypalaia, Lipsi and Patmos.
IKA's management said the publication of the inaccurate figures was the result of "mistaken calculations by the services involved" and said that an inquiry had been launched into whether there was a need for disciplinary proceedings.
 Greek stocks end flat on MondayGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday in very thin trading conditions as the market is entering its typical summer lull. The composite index rose 0.62 pct to end at 842.16 points, off the day's highs of 845.22 points, with turnover shrinking to 28.19 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.75 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.92 pct higher. METKA (4.98 pct), PPC (2.99 pct), Folli Follie (2.73 pct) and Intralot (2.67 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OPAP (2.49 pct), Alpha Bank (2.22 pct) and National Bank (0.38 pct) were top losers. The Commerce (2.59 pct), Utilities (2.40 pct) and Industrial Products (2.21 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (1.90 pct), Technology (0.38 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 62 to 52 with another 20 issues unchanged. Marak (19.75 pct), ALKO (19.43 pct) and NEL (19.23 pct) were top gainers, while Akritas (30 pct), Mihaniki (15.56 pct) and Lavipharm (12.93 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.71%
Personal & Household: -0.07%
Raw Materials: +1.58%
Travel & Leisure: -1.90%
Food & Beverages: +1.20%
Financial Services: +0.40%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Titan, PPC, Alpha Bank and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.44
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.54
HBC Coca Cola: 18.90
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.65
National Bank of Greece: 2.59
Eurobank Properties : 6.83
Piraeus Bank: 0.94
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 8.81 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 8.60 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.32 pct and the German Bund 1.51 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.52 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.43 pct, the six-month rate was 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.22 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe July contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.46 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to a low 7.724 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,212 contracts worth 5.986 million euros, with 37,905 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,022 contracts worth 1.738 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (2,045), followed by National Bank (859), Piraeus Bank (465), OTE (339), PPC (871), Hellenic Petroleum (113), GEK (627) and Mytilineos (86).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.336
Pound sterling 0.871
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 8.686
Japanese yen 133.44
Swiss franc 1.255
Norwegian kroner 7.940
Canadian dollar 1.382
Australian dollar 1.448
 Fossil conifer from China the prize new exhibit at Lesvos Nat. History MuseumA fossilised conifer trunk from China dating from the Jurassic period, some 150-200 million years ago, is a prize new exhibit at the Lesvos Petrified Forest Natural History Museum in Sigri. The rare new acquisition, to be permanently displayed in the museum's "Evolution of Life" exhibition, was donated by the deputy mayor of the Chinese county of Yanqing near Beijing, Zhang Suzhi, during a visit to the island.
According to a museum announcement on Monday, the recently discovered fossilised conifer is representative of plant life during an age when dinosaurs walked the earth.
During the Jurassic, the area around Beijing was covered in forest, as a wealth of fossilised tree remains has revealed, in addition to fossilised footprints of several herbivorous dinosaurs and their predators. Due to the importance of the remains, the Yanqing Geopark is among the most visited of China's parks.
 Two charged in connection with Larissa bomb blastTwo suspects were led before a public prosecutor on Monday in connection with a bomb blast that shook the city of Larissa on Saturday, charged with conspiring to cause explosions, causing damages and breaking laws concerning explosives.
The two suspects are a 39-year-old man arrested shortly the explosion on Saturday and a 44-year-old picked up in Athens on Sunday afternoon.
A public prosecutor living in the building that was targeted by the attack has been handling a case concerning the escape of the prisoner Panagiotis Vlastos from Trikala prison, as well as the escape of another 11 foreign inmates from the same correctional facility.
Larissa police are investigating the involvement of a third individual in organising the bomb attack.
According to a statement issued on Monday, police believe the two suspects in custody arrived in Larissa from Athens in the early hours of Saturday and placed a makeshift explosive device on the ramp leading to an underground parking garage under the building. The bomb is estimated to have been made with more than five kilos of explosives, which were detonated to cause a powerful explosion.
The blast caused extensive damage to surrounding shops, homes and cars for a radius of roughly 150 metres, with up to 30 apartments, 10 shops and 16 vehicles reported to have suffered damage so far.
Regarding the 39-year-old, he was spotted by a local resident near where the explosives were set and picked up soon after the blast as a suspect. Police later found the 44-year-old's car parked near the site of the explosion and believe it was used to transport the explosives, hidden in a car speaker.
The site of the explosion has been examined by special forensic teams from the northern Greek police, the Thessaloniki bomb squad, the Thessaloniki Criminal Investigations department and the Larissa bomb squad.
The two suspects will testify before a Larissa examining magistrate on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
 Terror group claims responsibility for letter-bomb sent to Judges UnionThe group "Unsubordinated Desires" claimed responsibility for the letter-bomb sent to the Judges and Prosecutors' Union at the Athens first-instance court compound in Evelpidon on July 16, in a notice posted on the website indymedia.
The group said the motive for the attack was to support a hunger-striking prisoner and self-declared anarchist Costas Sakkas, who has been held on remand as a suspected member of the terror group "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" since December 4, 2010.
 Marfin executives found guilty for 2010 fire deaths during protestsAn Athens court on Monday convicted three of four Marfin managers, finding them responsible for the tragic deaths of three employees and injuries sustained by 21 others in a fire set in the bank's Stadiou Street branch in May 2010, during violent anti-austerity protests. Guilty verdicts were passed for Marfin CEO Konstantinos Vasilakopoulos, branch manager Anna Vakalopoulou and the head of building safety Emmanouil Velonakis but acquited the deputy branch manager Anastasia Koukou.
The court found that the bank's management had failed to ensure adequate fire safety measures were taken, given that the Stadiou bank branch was a frequent target of arsonist attacks, and should have promptly evacuated the employees as a precaution during the protests, as other banks in the area had done.
The court handed down prison sentences of 22 years for the first two defendants and five years, one month for Vakalopoulou, on a charge of manslaughter through negligence of three employees, including a pregnant woman, and injuries sustained by another 21. It admitted no extenuating circumstances for the three defendants, though it has suspended the sentences pending appeal on condition that the first two defendants each post bail of 30,000 euros within 40 days.
Adopting the public prosecutor's recommendation, the court will sent copies of the case file to the first-instance public prosecutors' office to investigate whether other bank executives are responsible for the tragic incident in 2010. The prosecutor asked for guilty verdicts for all four defendants, finding that they could have predicted the events that followed and taken precautions against them whereas they refused to evacuate the building "up to the last minute".
 Trial for 11 million-euro IKA scam beginsThe trial of six former Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) employees and two of their husbands for scams costing the social insurance fund upward of 11 million euros began before an Athens Criminal Appeals Court on Monday.
At the start of proceedings, one of the defendants announced her intention to return to the state a property in her possession, in addition to 150,000 euros in cash, as an expression of her remorse and to seek more lenient treatment from the court.
The trial is being with a narrow time margin, given that the 18-month period for which the defendants can be held on remand is due to expire at the end of September.
The charges against them include forming a criminal organisation, forgery, money-laundering and fraud. The six are accused of approving welfare benefits to applicants who were not entitled from 2003-2012.
 157 kilos of hashish seized by police hunting the fugitive KupaA 21 year-old man attempted to smuggle into 157 kilos of hashish Greece from Albania but was intercepted by a strong police force deployed in the region to catch the Albanian fugitive Ilir Kupa, an escaped prisoner.
In the incident on Sunday afternoon, the suspect abandoned his car with the drugs and fled on foot when he saw the double police block. He was later arrested in Kypariso village, Filiata near the Greek-Albanian border.
Police were scouring the mountains along the Greek-Albanian borders on Sunday to locate Kupa, who had escaped after a shootout with police that resulted in the death of his accomplice, a second fugitive from Trikala prison, Marian Kola.
The Igoumenitsa Drugs Squad is conducting an investigation.
 Fire on Samos under partial controlA wildfire that has been raging uncontrollably on the Aegean island of Samos since 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, in a region known as Zoodochos Pigi, on Monday was set under partial control. Two water-bombing aircrafts and a fire-fighting helicopter, based at Samos airport, have been deployed to put out the flames, assisted by a strong fire-fighting team on the ground. An additional two aircrafts sent from Elefsina in Attica joined the effort from 7:00 p.m.
Forces on the ground have been largely unable to approach the flames, however, apart from a small team of firemen and volunteers that sought to contain a front heading toward Zoodochou Pigi nunnery. As a precaution, the nunnery was evacuated and the icons were taken away.
 Reigning champion Gianniotis wins men's 10-km Open Water Swimming event in Barcelona"Unbelievable, but true." With these words reigning world champion Spyros Gianniotis described his victory in the 10-km Open Water Swimming world championship event held in Barcelona on Monday.
Gianniotis, who defended the title he had won in the FINA Swimming World Championships in Shanghai two years ago, noted that the race had come on a good day for him. "It was a crazy race, especially in the last 2.5 km before the finishing line. I used both mind and soul, realizing what I had lost in last year's Olympics. I dedicate my success to my coach (Nikos Gemelos), who is always next to me, my parents and of course to all the Greek people. What I wanted to do last year, I was finally able to do a year later," the 33-year-old champion said soon after finishing the race.
The leading Greek athlete won his fifth medal in the last four swimming championship events, leaving behind Germany's Thomas Lurz and Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli.
"By winning the gold medal, Spyros Gianniotis proved once again that he is the world champion in his sport," Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Yiannis Andrianos said, commenting on Gianniotis' victory in Barcelona's 2013 15th FINA World Championships.
"It is a great honour for Greek sports, the fact that such a great athlete keeps our flag high in every event he participates. All Greeks are thankful that he continues to make us proud and we wish him health and more successes," the deputy minister concluded.
 Sunshine followed by showers on TuesdaySun with scattered clouds is forecast on Tuesday, with clouds massing and a possibility of rain from the afternoon. Sunny on the Aegean islands and Crete. Winds will blow from mainly northerly directions, ranging from 3-7 Beaufort. Temperatures will be between 16C and 33C. Sunny in Attica, with temperatures from 22C to 31C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 20C to 31C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Panic over tax statements' deadline
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Opinion poll conducted for newspaper gives lead to main opposition SYRIZA
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Guide for early pension with factitious years".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: The 15 hidden surcharges.
ELLADA AVRIO: Additional surcharge in Public Power Corporation rates.
ESTIA: The early elections scenarios.
ETHNOS: Chopping and changing in Tax Bureau's penalties.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Stranglehold controls in VAT targeting revenues and high prices.
TA NEA: Mistakes with ... interest in tax statements.
VRADYNI: Credits with asterisks for Economy.
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