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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 Issue No: 4415


  • [01] PM urges ministers to accelerate public sector reform effort
  • [02] Greece has met all prior actions agreed with the troika, Finance ministry officials say
  • [03] Debate on bill to extend store hours on Sundays opens in Parliament
  • [04] Opposition parties criticise draft bill on small stores opening on Sunday
  • [05] Cyprus tops national policy agenda, Venizelos tells visiting minister
  • [06] SYRIZA spokesman to ANA-MPA: We are ready to govern
  • [07] Budget figures illustrate failure of fiscal policy, SYRIZA's economic policy head says
  • [08] SYRIZA says "government is worse than governors of African states during colonialism"
  • [09] Gov't council decision to bring staff changes at Education Ministry
  • [10] DIM.AR on administrative reform, taxation
  • [11] Independent Greeks MPs slams government over revenues, public-sector layoffs
  • [12] Environment and Energy Minister holds talks with Turkish ambassador in Athens
  • [13] SYRIZA on the restoration of democracy anniversary
  • [14] PASOK message for 39th anniversary since democracy restored
  • [15] DIM.AR: 'We must all fight to defend democracy'
  • [16] Political system class-dominated, KKE says in message for 1974 junta collapse
  • [17] President receives General Inspector for Public Administration, European Ombudsman
  • [18] Venizelos meets outgoing European Ombudsman Diamandouros
  • [19] Public Order Minister Dendias says immediate measures in correctional system necessary
  • [20] Twenty doctors suspended by minister over 'fakelaki' charges
  • [21] Labour Minister: Greek pension systems among 'most transparent' in Europe
  • [22] Athens Mayor bans food hand outs by ultra-right Chryssi Avgi in Attiki Square
  • [23] Military cadets graduation gets top-level attendance, including president and visiting officials
  • [24] National Defence General Staff Chief honours outgoing US ambassador
  • [25] CoS ruling temporarily "freezes" removal of antiquities from metro works in Thessaloniki
  • [26] Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in Q1
  • [27] Travel foreign exchange receipts up 15.4 pct in Jan-May
  • [28] Greeks pessimistic over economy and personal prospects, Eurobarometer shows
  • [29] Greece ranks fourth in EU funds' absorption rate
  • [30] Greek consumer confidence index up in Q2
  • [31] Greek gastronomy exhibition in TIF
  • [32] State sells Ermou St building for 5.9 mln euros in cash
  • [33] Greece examines plans to build luxury homes for Chinese investors
  • [34] Greek stocks end flat on Tuesday
  • [35] Greek bond market closing report
  • [36] ADEX closing report
  • [37] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [38] Shipowner Victor Restis arrested for embezzlement
  • [39] British teen arrested as suspect for the stabbing death of another young Briton on Crete
  • [40] Man charged over bombing of building housing public prosecutor in Larissa
  • [41] Police make migrant-trafficking bust; seeking one man and woman
  • [42] Mystery woman wanted in connection with major real estate fraud
  • [43] Bus routes to change in southern Athens when new metro stations open
  • [44] Fair on Wednesday
  • [45] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] PM urges ministers to accelerate public sector reform effort

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday gave clear instructions to his ministers to accelerate reforms and adhere to timetables for the implementation of a mobility scheme in public sector.

    The prime minister was chairing a meeting of the Government Council for Administrative Reform held to examine progress in implementing the commitments undertaken by the government toward Greece's creditors, in order to prevent delays.

    The meeting was attended by Government Vice President Evangelos Venizelos, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Education Minister Costas Arvanitopoulos, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis.

    In a statement, Mitsotakis noted that directions were given on ways to accelerate the government's reform effort in terms of both qualitative and quantitative elements.

    On his part, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras stated that the deadlines will be observed and that no problems will arise.

    According to sources, the meeting decided against further 'horizontal' cutbacks and also to examine the possibility of changes within ministries, particularly the ministry of education.

    The government recently announced the first wave of public-sector employees that will enter a 'mobility pool' and be suspended from their jobs on reduced pay for eight months, until they are either tranferred to another position in the public sector or finally laid off. They included some 2,000 secondary education teachers in state vocational training high schools, health system workers and all municipal police forces.

    [02] Greece has met all prior actions agreed with the troika, Finance ministry officials say

    A draft bill tabled to Parliament on Tuesday envisaging the introduction of a Tax Procedure Code -expected to be voted on Thursday- the Greek government is implementing all 22 prior actions needed for the disbursement of the next instalment of a bailout loan, Finance ministry officials said on Tuesday.

    They were commenting on press reports alleging that the German Finance ministry noted that the disbursement of the loan tranche to Greece would be delayed because the country has not approved five of the 22 prior actions agreed with the troika.

    A Euro Working Group is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to approve the disbursement of the instalment worth 2.5 billion euros. The IMF will meet in July 29 to approve its part of the loan.

    [03] Debate on bill to extend store hours on Sundays opens in Parliament

    Small stores may open seven Sundays a year, while the vice-prefect of each region will decide on up to 45 additional Sundays, according to amendments tabled late on Tuesday to a draft bill on extending store hours, in discussion that opened in Parliament the same day.

    The seven obligatory Sundays include two days at Christmas, one at Greek Orthodox Easter, and one Sunday each during the four sales periods of the year. The additional Sundays will be observed on a voluntary basis. All regulations relate to stores not larger than 250 square metres.

    According to the amendments, the vice-prefects - including those responsible for Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki - must issue their decisions three months from the publication of the law, once it is voted in, or face sanctions. They will be able to revise their decision once annually, starting in 2015.

    The store hours on Sundays will extend from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., excepting popular tourism areas that already follow an extended schedule.

    Addressing Parliament, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis cited OECD figures according to which Greece was one of five European countries out of 47 where stores were not open on Sundays, and the law would expand consumers' choices and give the opportunity to tourists to shop.

    The measure has drawn furious opposition from most parties, which have vowed to vote it down.

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party charged Hatzidakis with neoliberal obsessiveness, saying, "The transgression of Sunday as a day of rest is the most violent alteration in the market's operation, at least during the post-junta period."

    "The most important argument against this comes from store owners themselves," Democratic Left (DIMAR) party said, "and it is that the operation of their businesses for even just one more day raises their cost of operation and will not lead to price reductions."

    Independent Greeks parliamentary spokesperson Notis Marias called for "a ceiling on prices of basic foodstuffs," and said that the bill gives that opportunity "only in those cases where there is no competition."

    The draft bill is "anti-Greek and anti-Christian," was the charge levelled at the government by Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi), adding that "eating out, entertainment and theatres will be most affected, as what you give one sector you remove from another."

    PASOK rapporteur Michalis Kassis defended the draft bill, particularly article 16, saying that the obligatory openings related to only seven Sundays, while the rest were on a voluntary basis.

    [04] Opposition parties criticise draft bill on small stores opening on Sunday

    Thousands of small stores will go bankrupt under the new draft bill debated in Parliament on staying open on Sundays, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas told a rally on Tuesday at central Athens' Omonia Square.

    A draft bill on the issue is being discussed in Parliament and is expected to be voted on on Wednesday.

    The measure will bring "greater exploitation, intensification and unpaid work for thousands of workers, and the government's excuse of strengthening the market is very cheap," he added, calling on people to fight it.

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP responsible for health Pavlos Haikalis said that the ruling parties of New Democracy and PASOK "are listening to the wishes of lenders instead of those of merchants and people in the know," and charged that the measure will "bring an end to every hope for recovery and development of family-run and medium-sized enterprises."

    [05] Cyprus tops national policy agenda, Venizelos tells visiting minister

    The Cyprus issue is the top priority of Greek national policy, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday after his meeting with visiting Cyprus Minister of Defence Fotis Fotiou.

    Cyprus' existence, security, independence and international legal character are fundamental to Hellenism and Greece will protect them under any circumstances, Venizelos said at the Ministry press briefing.

    The two ministers discussed recent developments in the Cyprus issue and the island republic's recent admission to NATO's Partnership for Peace, while Venizelos briefed Fotiou on his recent meetings in Ankara, Majorca and Brussels.

    [06] SYRIZA spokesman to ANA-MPA: We are ready to govern

    "SYRIZA now has its own political and ideological identity, its own decisions, its own charter. This is now binding for all after the conclusion of the Congress," stated main opposition SYRIZA press spokesman and member of SYRIZA's Political Secretariat Panos Skourletis in an interview with ANA-MPA webTV on Tuesday.

    Skourletis expressed his conviction that SYRIZA is ready to govern and "ready, together with a majority of the people, to overturn this policy, to put a halt to this downhill slide and to table an alternative proposal for the country's exit from the crisis, for Greece and for Europe".

    Noting that questions had been asked about whether SYRIZA was ready to govern a year ago, before the 2012 elections and that the answer, both then and now, was yes. "Of course, today, one year after the general elections, we are much more ready and every day that passes we are getting readier."

    Referring to the now unified SYRIZA party, Skourletis noted that "all births are difficult but what is born fills everyone with joy. It couldn't work otherwise for SYRIZA". He stressed that the party had emerged as a more united, concrete and structured single entity and had proved that it was able to arrive at a synthesis of its differences through open democratic dialogue, "having greater confidence in ourselves and appearing more reliable to our members, friends and society".

    [07] Budget figures illustrate failure of fiscal policy, SYRIZA's economic policy head says

    The figures released on the execution of the state budget in the first half of 2013 "illustrate in the clearest possible way the failure of the fiscal policy being followed," said main opposition SYRIZA's head of economic policy Efklidis Tsakalotos on Tuesday.

    "As might be expected, the biggest problem arises in state revenues, which fall short of the target by 1.6 billion euros," Tsakalotos pointed out, while stressing that the government was seeking to alleviate the situation by not disbursing tax rebates, having paid out less than 50 percent of the target amount.

    He appeared unconvinced by government assurances that the shortfall was temporary and a result of extending deadlines for tax returns, pointing to a significant shortfall in revenue from indirect taxation for which no extension had been given.

    Tsakalotos also slammed the government for having collected only 25 percent of revenues from a programme to reinforce banks - only 117 million euros of a targeted 479 million euros - of not executing spending in order to present a lower deficit and for cutting public investment spending significantly below the target 1.1 billion euros, so that it was actually 260 million euros less than the previous year.

    He stressed that failure of austerity and the memorandum policies was also highlighted by the deterioration of Greece's public debt, which remained unsustainable and was not only the highest in Europe as a percentage of GDP but also showed the highest increase relative to the previous year.

    [08] SYRIZA says "government is worse than governors of African states during colonialism"

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday accused the government of engaging in a pogrom of layoffs and transfers of public sector employees, in comments on a meeting at the government headquarters focusing on public sector reform issues.

    SYRIZA noted that "the pogrom of layoffs and transfers of public sector employees is an expression of the government's strategy of complete submission to the demands of the country's troika of creditors and a contradiction of the pledges (the government) made a few months ago".

    According to SYRIZA, "what the government calls administra-tive reform is in essence a complete disorganization of the state and its structures, the wasting away of the services offered to the citizens and destruction of all prospects for reorganization and economic recovery".

    "Those who declare that they are saving the country by taking apart OTA (local administration organizations), the public broadcaster, the state schools and hospitals are worse than governors appointed to African countries during colonialism," SYRIZA underlined.

    [09] Gov't council decision to bring staff changes at Education Ministry

    The Government Council for Administrative Reform approved the restructuring plan for the Ministry of Education on Tuesday.

    The Council, chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with the participation of government Vice President Evangelos Venizelos, approved staff management related to the ministry's central and regional services, to grade-school- and high-school-level education, and to technical/vocational schools. The plan accounts for 165,000 staff out of 187,000 currently hired by the Ministry.

    The university and technical/vocational schools' restructuring, which would affect 10,200 staff, have not been evaluated yet, but the institutions are required to do so by October 15.

    [10] DIM.AR on administrative reform, taxation

    Opposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) on Tuesday repeated its call to the government to renegotiate crucial administrative reform issues with the EU-IMF troika, including a dissociation of the public sector employee "mobility scheme" from layoffs.

    A DIM.AR announcement in response to the administrative reform council meeting held earlier, noted that the government should abandon "sudden death" practices in public sector organizations.

    Referring to layoffs, DIM.AR underlined that they can be justified only in the case of employees found guilty of unethical practices based on disciplinary council decisions, if they produce forged qualification documents, are unjustifiably absent from work or found to be unfit for a job position following evaluation.

    DIM.AR warned that "this is the only way to avoid a complete disorganization of the public sector and the collapse of the services provided to citizens".

    In response to figures announced by the finance ministry General Secretariat for Information Systems, according to which wage earners and pensioners shoulder most of the tax burden, DIM.AR noted that a fair tax reform has not been accomplished yet.

    DIM.AR noted that the general secretariat announcement on household income reduction and parallel taxation increase, confirms in practice the fact that the finance ministry policy focuses on fiscal management and not on the promotion of reforms aimed at combating tax evasion.

    [11] Independent Greeks MPs slams government over revenues, public-sector layoffs

    Sharp criticism of government policy with respect to slumping revenues and public-sector layoffs was voiced by Independent Greek MPs Notis Marias and Marina Chrysoveloni on Tuesday.

    "After the black screen on [the frequency of the public broadcaster ERT], the new government success story is the black hole in revenues, which proves that the destitution of the much tested Greek people is without return, since the finance ministry figures confirm that the reduction in wages and pensions and the increase in taxes have brought no result, whetting the troika's appetite for new measures," said Marias, the party's Parliamentary spokesman and head of economic affairs.

    According to Chrysoveloni, the party's head for public administration, the "coalition government is struggling day and night to exterminate Greek citizens" and "with mutual consent decided today at the government headquarters to indiscrimi-nately, unashamedly and ruthlessly throw tens of thousands of public-sector staff out onto the street".

    [12] Environment and Energy Minister holds talks with Turkish ambassador in Athens

    The choice of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to carry natural gas from the Azeri gas fields to the European Union was the main topic discussed by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Turkey's Ambassador in Athens Kerim Uras in a meeting on Tuesday.

    The TAP pipeline will be an extension of the TANAP pipeline crossing Turkey and will end in Italy, going via Greece and Albania. The ministry considers that the pipeline will bring Greece and Turkey closer and mark the start of closer cooperation between the two countries.

    Maniatis referred to the great developmental prospects opening up for both countries through investments relating to constructi-on work for the pipeline, saying that it will significantly boost the economy, and offered assurances that the work will be carried out within the set deadlines.

    The ambassador said the selection of the TAP was a stabilising factor for the region.

    Their discussion additionally covered matters of bilateral cooperation relating to the environment and energy, ahead of the 3rd Greek-Turkish High-level Cooperation Council due to take place at the start of 2014. They agreed to activate an Energy Coordination Committee foreseen under a memorandum of cooperation signed by Greece and Turkey.

    Maniatis also accepted an invitation to visit Turkey extended by Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz.

    [13] SYRIZA on the restoration of democracy anniversary

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday noted that the "day of the restoration of democracy, is a day for paying homage to the thousands of people who fought, were imprisoned and sacrificed themselves for dignity, freedom and democracy".

    In an announcement marking the 39th anniversary of the restoration of democracy after a seven-year dictatorship in Greece, SYRIZA noted that "our duty as the Left, just as it was back then, is to fight next to the people for a better future".

    "Thirty nine years after the restoration of democracy, the memorandums targeted labour relations, public wealth and the social state, brought layoffs, wage cuts and skyrocketing unemployment and poverty," SYRIZA underlined, noting that "the rise of the neo-Nazi ultra-right and the continuing fascist attacks on fellow citizens are a reminder of the fact that the struggle for democracy is more timely than ever".

    [14] PASOK message for 39th anniversary since democracy restored

    In a message for the 39th anniversary since the restoration of democracy and the fall of a military junta then ruling Greece, the PASOK party on Tuesday issued an announcement noting that this period "for all its distortions and problems, became identified with the most important and progressive social changes and entitlements of our people, with rapid growth and prosperity, and the establishment of democratic institutions and the rule of law".

    "PASOK left an indelible stamp on all these years and is proud of its contribution and its role in the great effort to establish democracy and the social state of law in our country," the announcement added.

    Noting that many of these institutions and entitlements now appeared to be called into question as a result of the economic crisis, PASOK stressed that "we must not allow the economic crisis to become a crisis of values and institutions".

    [15] DIM.AR: 'We must all fight to defend democracy'

    The Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party on Tuesday urged all Greeks to fight to defend democracy in a message to mark the 39th anniversary since the fall of a military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974 and the restoration of democratic rule:

    "Tomorrow, on July 24, it will be 39 years since democracy was restored to our country. A day to remember all those who fought and sacrificed themselves for freedom, dignity and democracy.

    Today, in the difficult days our country is going through, with the economic crisis, the rise of the far right and the continuing racist attacks, the fight for social justice, freedom and equality before the law remains timely."

    [16] Political system class-dominated, KKE says in message for 1974 junta collapse

    In an announcement marking the 39th anniversary since the collapse of a military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 until 1974, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday stressed that the class-dominated nature of the political system that replaced it.

    "The compromise made 39 years ago between the junta and bourgeois political world, as well as the experience of those decades, can leave no room for doubt for any worker that the democracy established after the collapse of the military dictatorship is based on class, is another form of dictatorship by monopolies," the announcement said.

    "The treatment shown by the government, from state mechanisms and their media to striking workers and employees, to the 1.5 million unemployed, the workers in local governments and thousands of others in the 'hard labour' of so-called 'private initiative' confirm the extent of existing democracy and for whom it works," the announcement adds, noting that the rights of workers and the masses exist "only on paper".

    [17] President receives General Inspector for Public Administration, European Ombudsman

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received the General Inspector for Public Administration Leandros Rakintzis, who presented the key points of his annual report on the state of public administration.

    Rakintzis said the report contained both "good news and bad news", especially stressing a rise in the reports of corruption filed by the public.

    "It appears that corruption is being revealed. The number of reports has increased ten-fold. This means that citizens are taking action and reporting it. This is very positive," he said.

    Earlier, the president had also received the outgoing European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros, whose term in office expires in October, who presented him with the European Ombudsman's annual report on the rights of citizens in the European Union.

    Diamandouros said he was leaving the European Ombudsman's office after 10 years because he wants to once again be "an active citizen and spend time on his research and academic interests".

    [18] Venizelos meets outgoing European Ombudsman Diamandouros

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos met outgoing European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros on Tuesday, congratulating him on an exceptionally successful term in the office, which he said had done credit to the institution and to Greece.

    He also referred to Diamandouros' term as the first Greek Ombudsman and his service to independent agencies that were the foundation of the rule of law in Greece, stressing the need for their protection.

    Venizelos also commented on the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday and bilateral meetings that he held on its sidelines.

    He said the EU foreign ministers had discussed the Middle East and held a conference call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, taking what he described as a "very significant" decision for Lebanon and the need to maintain contact with all forces in the country. He referred to the need to "complete the transition to democracy" in Lebanon.

    Venizelos also met his counterpart from Azerbaijan to discuss the development of strategic-political relationship between Athens and Baku, which had been brought very close by plans for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline. He noted that this relationship can also include energy policy and investment plans.

    Finally, Greece's foreign minister reaffirmed Athens's support for the Euro-Atlantic course of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), on condition that it is founded on a healthy and clearcut basis for the mutual benefit of both countries.

    [19] Public Order Minister Dendias says immediate measures in correctional system necessary

    Public Order & Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday visited the special forces officer, who is treated in an Ioannina hospital after being injured in the leg during a shootout in the early morning hours on Sunday between police and two Albanian fugitives, hiding in the mountains of northwest Greece.

    Dendias repeated that "the country's correctional system is in a volatile state" and responding to a relevant question by ANA-MPA, he said that "this is the truth and not an insinuation. It is known and established that the situation in the correctional system is volatile and measures will have to be taken quickly because things will become even worse than they already are."

    He said that he has spoken about the problem repeatedly, noting that it is not something new and that the Greek society is already aware of it.

    "We should take action," he said, adding that "the new minister (of justice) Haralambos Athanassiou is well aware of the situation, is an experienced member of the judiciary and has what it takes to deal with the problem".

    The minister of public order also announced that the police operation for the arrest of all Trikala Prison escapees, launched four months ago, will continue.

    [20] Twenty doctors suspended by minister over 'fakelaki' charges

    Twenty doctors in the National Health System (ESY) were suspended pending completion of a disciplinary process to determine whether they are liable for accepting bribes (known in Greece as "fakelaki") and other transgressions, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday.

    By decision of Minister Adonis Georgiadis, the doctors will not be able to practice until their cases are completed, an announcement said.

    [21] Labour Minister: Greek pension systems among 'most transparent' in Europe

    Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis on Tuesday noted that, as of 13 June 2013, Greece has one of the most transparent pension systems in Europe. "We now know the pensions spend and the number of pensioners" he said, speaking before Parliament's Public Utilities and Organisations Committee.

    The committee had earlier approved the appointment of Xenophon Verginis at the helm of OGA (Farmers Social Fund).

    Verginis announced that 15 million euros from pending EU programmes will be used to help increase of farmers' incomes.

    [22] Athens Mayor bans food hand outs by ultra-right Chryssi Avgi in Attiki Square

    Athens Mayor George Kaminis on Tuesday announced that he is banning a planned handout of food and clothes by opposition ultra-right Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) in Athens' Attiki Square on Wednesday afternoon. He said the party had failed to obtain the necessary permission and that the party's handouts - which exclude all but Greek nationals - were "politically unacceptable".

    The ban will be implemented in cooperation with police.

    An announcement issued by the mayor's office noted that "it has been made clear by the City of Athens that the distribution of goods in a public space needs the permission of the municipal authorities. Therefore, the planned for tomorrow hand out of food and clothes by Chryssi Avgi in Attiki Square is illegal because no such permission was given and politically unacceptable because it consciously promotes racism and xenophobia. In any case, and in compliance with relevant legislation, the City of Athens, in cooperation with the competent state authorities, will not tolerate such an event taking place".

    [23] Military cadets graduation gets top-level attendance, including president and visiting officials

    Graduating cadets at the Evelpidon Military School in Vari on Tuesday received their ritual swords from President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and the Defence Ministers of Greece and Cyprus Dimitris Avramopoulos and Fotis Fotiou, on an official visit to Greece, during a ceremony in this northern suburb of Athens.

    Graduates from Libya were given their swords by major general Salem Masoud Ahmed Al-Dnaidy, Libya's armed forces chief, who is on an official visit to Greece.

    A total of 249 second lieutenants - including 23 women - graduated. They hailed from several countries besides Greece, including Albania (2 graduates), Armenia (7), Burundi (1) Cameroon (4), Cyprus (29), Jordan (2), Libya (3), Montenegro (2), Nigeria (2), Serbia (1), Syria (2), Popular Republic of Congo (1) and Uganda (1). Graduates include 23 women (22 Greek nationals and one Cyprus national).

    The ceremony was also attended by government secretary general Panagiotis Baltakos, Parliament Vice-President Yiannis Tragakis, Alternate and Deputy Defence Ministers Fofi Gennimata and Athanasios Davakis. SYRIZA deputy Theodoros Dritsas represented the main opposition and other parties also sent representatives.

    [24] National Defence General Staff Chief honours outgoing US ambassador

    Outgoing US Ambassador to Athens Daniel Bennett Smith on Tuesday was awarded the Hellenic Commendation Medal Star of Merit and Honour by National Defence General Staff Chief, Gen. Mikhail Kostarakos in a special event at the National Defence General Staff headquarters.

    The event attended National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    [25] CoS ruling temporarily "freezes" removal of antiquities from metro works in Thessaloniki

    An order issued by the Council of State (CoS) summer session presiding judge on Tuesday will temporarily "freeze" the removal of antiquities unearthed at the construction site for the Thessaloniki metro in downtown Venizelos Station.

    The temporary ruling was issued ahead of a pending final ruling on an appeal made by Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris to the supreme administrative court. The mayor demanded that work to remove the antiquities found at the Thessaloniki Metro Venizelos Station, currently under construction, be stopped "to prevent irreversible damage from being caused to the findings".

    Boutaris wants a relevant culture ministry decision issued on January 24, 2013, suggesting that the antiquities be showcased elsewhere, to be suspended and declared void.

    The Thessaloniki mayor noted in his appeal that the solution suggested by the ministerial decision was the most unfavourable for the protection of the cultural environment and will effectively destroy the specific historical monument.

    The dispute began after construction works in downtown Venizelos Station unearthed a well-preserved marble-paved road and remains of shops and public buildings dating from the Byzantine Period.

    Financial News

    [26] Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in Q1

    Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in the first quarter of 2013, for an increase of 4.6 pct compared with the corresponding period last year, offering a a first clear evidence of an increased tourism trend in Greece in 2013.

    Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a report published on Tuesday, said that tourist arrivals in the January-March period grew by 4.6 pct to 1,023,354, form 978,559 in the same period last year. Arrivals from Europe (which accounted for 78.9 pct of all arrivals in the country) fell 2.6 pct, while arrivals from the European Union fell by 3.3 pct in the three month period.

    Arrivals from Bulgaria, Spain, Russia and Germany grew significantly in the January-March period, while on the other hand, arrivals fell from the UK, Cyprus, Holland and Belgium.

    Bulgaria (14.6 pct), Albania (12.5 pct), Germany (8.1 pct), Cyprus (5.9 pct), UK (4.5 pct) and Italy (4.2 pct) recorded the biggest shares in tourist arrivals.

    [27] Travel foreign exchange receipts up 15.4 pct in Jan-May

    Travel foreign exchange receipts grew by 15.4 pct in the January-May period this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2012, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank, in a report, attributed this positive develop-ment to a 9.5 pct increase in tourist arrivals in the country during the five-month period. The report said that tourist arrivals surpassed 3.0 million visitors in the first five months of the year, with visitors from the EU-27 totaling 1.75 million (up 2.1 pct), while arrivals from countries outside the EU totaled 1.3 million euros (up 21.1 pct). Arrivals from Eurozone member-states rose 7.7 pct, while arrivals from the EU-27 -excluding the Eurozone- fell by 5.4 pct.

    Travel receipts grew by 15.4 pct, reflecting a 33.8 pct jump in receipts from visitors outside the EU-27 to 721 million euros, while receipts from EU-27 totaled 1.012 billion euros, down 5.2 pct.

    [28] Greeks pessimistic over economy and personal prospects, Eurobarometer shows

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    A striking 98 pct of Greeks consider the state of their national economy to be poor, as compared with 72 pct of European Union citizens as a whole, according to the findings of a Eurobarometer poll released in Brussels on Tuesday. The survey was carried out in EU member-states in spring, while the survey in Greece was carried out from 11-25 May.

    With respect to their own household, 78 pct of Greeks and 35 pct of EU citizens considered the financial outlook "bad" and 58 pct of Greeks versus 39 pct of EU citizens said their job situation was poor.

    Regarding their expectations in the next 12 months, 62 pct of Greeks said the country's economic situation will deteriorate (a 14 pct improvement since the 2012 autumn survey), whereas only 11 pct of Europeans expressed the same opinion (a 6 pct improvement since the previous survey). Greeks were also pessimistic about their own personal job situation, with 35 pct seeing a decline in their job prospects as opposed to 11 pct of those in the EU as a whole.

    Greeks saw unemployment (65 pct) and the economic situation (49 pct) as the two most important issues facing the country, when EU-wide these issues concern 51 pct and 33 pct, respectively. On a personal level, Greeks said their most pressing problems were the economic situation (31 pct versus 18 pct in the EU), high taxes (30 pct versus 16 pct in the EU), unemployment (27 pct versus 22 pct in the EU) and high prices (28 pct versus 41 pct in the EU).

    An overwhelming 90 pct of Greeks tend not to trust their government, compared with 71 pct of Europeans, while a similar view is held by 89 pct concerning the Parliament (68 pct in the EU). Only 4 pct of Greeks trust the political parties, as compared with 16 pct of EU citizens, while 80 pct of Greeks do not trust the EU, compared with 60 pct of EU citizens.

    At least two thirds (68 pct) of Greeks consider that the worst is yet to come in terms of the impact of the crisis on the job market, while 55 pct of EU citizens express similar views. A further 68 pct of Greeks and 35 pct of EU citizens state that the current situation does not allow them to make plans for the future and forces them to live day by day.

    [29] Greece ranks fourth in EU funds' absorption rate

    The Greek market is suffering from a funding gap worth 15-18 billion euros despite a high EU funds' absorption rate, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Tuesday.

    Speaking in television, Hatzidakis said that Greece ranks fourth in absorption rates in the EU, up from 18th last year, with an absorption rate of 67.5 pct. The Greek minister noted that "the money goes where is should according to European Commission estimates and there are checks and double checks...I say again the money is 4.0 billion euros annually and we need much more".

    Hatzidakis added that the government was working hard and was preparing supplementary measures as the country was still suffering from a badly-hit banking system and deep economic recession.

    [30] Greek consumer confidence index up in Q2

    Consumer confidence in Greece rose in the second quarter of 2013 but still remains at very low levels, a survey by Nielsen showed on Tuesday.

    The survey, conducted among 29,000 consumers who are making online purchases in 58 countries, said that the consumer confidence in Greece rose by seven points -the biggest percentage increase along with Colombia and Pakistan- to 47 points, the fifth lowest level after Portugal (33), Italy and Hungary (41) and Croatia (45).

    Nielsen's global consumer confidence index grew by one point to 94 points in the second quarter of 2013. The US, UK and Japan recorded significant quarterly increases in the index, while the consumer confidence index remained unchanged in Germany. Consumer confidence fell in 14 out of 29 European markets in the survey, as cuts in state budgets, rising taxation and high unemployment continued burdening European households.

    [31] Greek gastronomy exhibition in TIF

    A thematic Exhibition on the Greek gastronomy entitled "Greece, a variety of tastes" will be organised for the first time in the framework of the 78th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) from 7 to 15 September. The exhibition that will be hosted in a special pavillion will include food, beverages and wines aims to bring together Greek and foreign visitors. The exhibition will be organised by "Butterfly Communication" company in cooperation with TIF-Helexpo.

    "This exhibition which is an innovation of Helexpo-TIF will offer the opportunity to Greek producers to promote and to sell directly their products to over 200,000 visitors from Greece and abroad that are expected to visit TIF" said the organisers announcement.

    [32] State sells Ermou St building for 5.9 mln euros in cash

    The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED), responsible for privatisations of state property, sold a 715-sq.m. building on high-end Ermou Street in central Syntagma Square for 5.9 million euros in cash to an institutional investor after a bid, it announced on Tuesday.

    The building was unclaimed inheritance before coming under state ownership; it is currently rented out.

    It is the third such building to be sold through the online platform TAIPED runs, All three buildings have brought in a total of 7.4 million euros.

    [33] Greece examines plans to build luxury homes for Chinese investors

    Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis on Tuesday met with representatives of Jao Design, headed by chief executive James Jao, and discussed plans to build a high-quality housing complex for the sale of real estate property to Chinese citizens.

    The plan is linked with the provisions of a new investment law offering visas to foreign investors. The two sides also discussed incentives for direct foreign investments and a licensing system in Greece.

    JAO Design International was founded in New York in 1984 and has built more than 1,000 projects in China, such as the Shishi Yangneiting skyscrapers complex, the Seaview Gardens in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, etc.

    [34] Greek stocks end flat on Tuesday

    Greek stocks ended flat on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors found few incentives to open new positions in the market. The composite index rose 0.02 pct to end at 842.33 points, off the day's highs of 853.40 points. Turnover fell to 20.54 million euros, a new 2013 low, while investment interest focused on blue chip stocks such as OPAP, OTE and PPC. Banks came under pressure and eased.

    The Large Cap index fell 0.02 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.57 pct lower. OPAP (2.87 pct), OTE (2.37 pct), Terna Energy (2.07 pct) and PPC (1.99 pct) were top gainers, while Piraeus Bank (3.40 pct), Frigoglass (2.61 pct) and National Bank (1.54 pct) were top losers among blue chip stocks.

    The Travel (2.53 pct), Telecoms (2.37 pct) and Utilities (1.34 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Banks (2.20 pct) and Commerce (1.58 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 72 to 51 with another 26 issues unchanged. NEL (19.35 pct), Alpha Grisin (18.33 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farms (15.79 pct) were top gainers, while Pairis (29.92 pct), Dionic (27.27 pct) and Geniki Bank (19.78 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.04%

    Commercial: -1.58%

    Construction: +0.18%

    Oil & Gas: -0.50%

    Personal & Household: -0.58%

    Raw Materials: -0.47%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.53%

    Technology: -0.70%

    Telecoms: +2.37%

    Banks: -2.20%

    Food & Beverages: -0.39%

    Health: -0.50%

    Utilities: +1.34%

    Financial Services: +0.16%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.434

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.67

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.82

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.61

    National Bank of Greece: 2.55

    Eurobank Properties : 6.87

    OPAP: 6.45

    OTE: 6.48

    Piraeus Bank: 0.908

    Titan: 12.99

    [35] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 8.51 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 8.81 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.06 pct and the German Bund 1.51 pct. Turnover totaled 12 million euros, of which 8 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 4.0 million euros were buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.53 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 rose slightly to 0.128 pct from 0.125 pct.

    [36] ADEX closing report

    The July contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.98 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining a low 5.183 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,162 contracts worth 3.142 million euros, with 48,925 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,527 contracts worth 2.041 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (1,406), followed by National Bank (1,036), Piraeus Bank (498), OTE (662), PPC (751), OPAP (282), Mytilineos (90), Hellenic Petroleum (147), Jumbo (102), GEK (104), Intralot (56) and Frigoglass (58).

    [37] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.337

    Pound sterling 0.872

    Danish kroner 7.570

    Swedish kroner 8.680

    Japanese yen 133.89

    Swiss franc 1.257

    Norwegian kroner 7.933

    Canadian dollar 1.382

    Australian dollar 1.448

    General News

    [38] Shipowner Victor Restis arrested for embezzlement

    Shipowner Victor Restis, charged with embezzlement at the expense of First Business Bank (FBB) bank, was given until Friday, July 26, to prepare his defence and led back to jail on Tuesday.

    He was arrested the same day on a warrant related to a 5.8 million euros loan from FBB that ended up with a former business partner of his and gave his testimony before investigator Rea Katsiveli, specializing in corruption.

    Three people involved in the case are wanted.

    According to sources, Restis is denying the charges and claiming that he has sued his business partners over the loan case. Meanwhile, other reports claim that two more arrest warrants have been issued for former business partners of his.

    Katsiveli ordered his arrest following press reports that initiated an investigation in January on bad loans made by FBB. The case file includes two reports by the Bank of Greece and a third one by the Authority for Fighting Money Laundering, while the exact loan amount is still being determined.

    Meanwhile, the National Bank of Greece, which acquired FBB, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it had "absorbed only the healthy part of FBB" and that it was "in no way responsible for actions or oversights by the previous administration of FBB."

    The National Bank said it had taken over FBB's 19 branches as of May 13, 2013 and the former FBB had been placed under liquidation proceedings, which was still being carried out by an independent liquidator appointed by the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank.

    [39] British teen arrested as suspect for the stabbing death of another young Briton on Crete

    Police arrested a 19-year-old Briton, who is allegedly responsible for the fatal injury of another 19-year-old, also from Britain, during a violent brawl in the early morning hours on Tuesday in the summer resort town of Malia, near Iraklion on the south Aegean island of Crete.

    The suspect allegedly stabbed the victim in the chest with a knife or another blunt object. The victim died shortly afterward.

    A total of 17 individuals are in custody for their involvement in the violent altercation, all British nationals, and more are still wanted by police.

    The 19-year-old suffered fatal injuries during a brawl involving tens of youths that erupted at 03:30 on Tuesday outside a nightclub in a Malia pedestrian zone after they had consumed large quantities of alcohol.

    As soon as they realized that a person was lying on the ground in a pool of blood they fled the scene. The victim died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.

    According to information, the victim had arrived on the island a few days ago and the specific individuals involved in the brawl were reportedly responsible for a number of incidents in recent days.

    [40] Man charged over bombing of building housing public prosecutor in Larissa

    A 39-year-man was remanded in custody on Tuesday over charges of being involved in a bomb attack against a public prosecutor in the central Greek town of Larissa early on Saturday.

    The man was arrested the same day near the explosion site and testified in Larissa.

    He is the second man to be arrested over the incident. A 44-year-old, who police sources said has a record for extortion, was arrested on Sunday in Athens, where he will give his testimony.

    In comments on the attack, Justice Minister Haris Athanassiou stressed on Saturday that a criminal attack on a public prosecutor "is an attack on democracy and the institutions and, as such, condemned by society as a whole."

    The explosion shook the apartment building, which included the apartment of a local public prosecutor who had handled the case of a well-known criminal. The judge, who was not at home at the time of the attack, is now under police protection.

    The blast caused extensive damage for an 80-metre radius around the building, bringing down shop fronts, causing damage to parked cars and to surrounding homes. No injuries were reported.

    [41] Police make migrant-trafficking bust; seeking one man and woman

    Police on Tuesday announced that they are seeking a man and a woman, and possibly other suspects, in connection with a migrant-trafficking outfit discovered when 31 illegal migrants were arrested in the town of Aitoliko on Monday, shortly after they were let off a coach that had taken there from Athens. According to police, each migrant had paid between 500 and 1,500 euros for their passage to Italy.

    Also arrested as migrant traffickers were two Greek nationals, an Albanian and two Iraqis aged 49, 38, 36, 41 and 38 years old, respectively.

    The five under arrest and the two sought by police are suspected of having formed a gang that transported illegal migrants from Greece to Italy. The bust was made by Messolonghi security police and the Aitolikos police department, who were acting on a tip-off. Based on the information at their disposal, police identified a hired coach driven by the 49-year-old, which had earlier let off the 31 migrants in a remote area at the Acheloos River estuary.

    They also found two passenger vehicles driven by the other four suspects, which were driving before and behind the coach.

    Based on a police investigation, the 49-year-old had made arrangements with the woman now being sought to pick up the 31 migrants at a central metro station in Athens on Monday afternoon. He then drove them to the Aitolikos region and, with the other suspects under arrest, led them to the Acheloos estuary. Their final destination was Italy, so police are also conducting an investigation to determine whether arrangements had been made and with whom to take them there by boat.

    [42] Mystery woman wanted in connection with major real estate fraud

    The picture of a woman involved in a major case of real estate fraud was released by Athens Police on Tuesday.

    The woman, whose identity remains unknown, is wanted as a member of a ring that set up a 900,000-euro real estate fraud in April 2009, selling the unlucky buyers a piece of land that did not actually belong to her in the seaside suburb of Voula, on Attica's southeastern coastline.

    The unidentified woman was able to pose as the owner of the property after getting hold of a police identity card that was issued bearing the real owner's name but with her own picture on it. Earlier, the ring had somehow managed to steal the original identity card.

    Anyone with information about this woman can contact police at 210-6476183 or 210-6411111. Anonymity will be guaranteed.

    [43] Bus routes to change in southern Athens when new metro stations open

    The Athens public transport organisation has announced imminent changes to bus routes serving the city's southern suburbs from next Saturday, when the new metro stations on the extension of line 2 are open for use by the public. The new stations are in Ilioupoli, Alimos, Argyroupoli and Elliniko.

    Based on the new plan, buses previously starting from Agios Dimitrios or Dafni stations are transferred to Elliniko, while other lines will be merged or abolished.

    The changes include:

    Bus E22 will be renamed E22 Elliniko Station-Saronida (Express) and start/end at Elliniko.

    Bus X97 will be renamed X97 Elliniko Station-Athens Airport (Express) and start/end at Elliniko.

    Bus 171 will be renamed 171 Elliniko Station-Varkiza and start/end at Elliniko

    Bus 124 will be renamed 124 Glyfada-Agia Triada-Elliniko Station and start/end at Elliniko

    Bus 141 will have a new route and be renamed 141 "Dafni Station-Kalamaki"

    Bus 247 will have a new route and be renamed 142 "Argyroupoli Station-Kalamaki"

    Bus 155 will be merged with bus 216 and renamed 155 "Elliniko - Alimos Station - Agia Marina" and start/end at Alimos station

    Bus 101 is renamed 101 "Elliniko-Alimos" and its route modified to serve local movements in the Elliniko and Alimos area and to link these areas with Alimos station.

    Bus 210 "Terpsithea-Elliniko-Agios Dimitrios" is suspended since the area is served by other buses

    Bus 202 "Dafni Station - Synggrou Station- Fix" is also suspended due to low passenger traffic.

    Bus B2 "Acadimia-Agios Kosmas (via the coastal road)" will be made more frequent.

    Weather Forecast

    [44] Fair on Wednesday

    Generally fair, with some cloudiness at high elevations from midday on. Winds mostly north-northwesterly (variable in Macedonia and Thrace), ranging from 3 to 5 Beaufort on land and rising to 7 Beaufort at the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Temperatures from 19C to 35C, with lower starting temperatures in the north of Greece and 22C on the islands. In the Athens area, fair with westerly winds 3 to 5 Beaufort and temperatures ranging from 23C to 34C, starting lower in the east. In Thessaloniki, generally fair with northwesterly and gradually southeasterly winds 3 to 4 Beaufort and temperatures from 22C to 34C.

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

    AVGHI: Useless sacrifices; Public debt at 160, 5 pct of GDP!

    DIMOKRATIA: Road tax every month

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Express-sell off of LARKO (General Mining Company) ELVO (Hellenic Vehicle Industry) and EAS (Hellenic Defence Systems).

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA" Suspension: When, how many and where.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Five-month employment for 50,000 jobless.

    ELLADA AVRIO: New scam against bondholders.

    ESTIA: Mr. Prime Minister try to get into Taxis website.

    ETHNOS: Salary earners suffer from...Tax Bureau

    IMERISSIA: BlackRock carries out checks in Greek Banks.

    KATHIMERINI: Another 5,000 civil servants wanted for suspension.

    LOGOS: The number of unemployed continues to increase.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: European South 'sinks' in public debt.

    RIZOSPASTIS: People's health before the firing squad.

    TA NEA: Prisons a time bomb.

    VRADYNI: Work for 50,000 unemployed.

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