|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-08-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 30 August 2013 Issue No: 4447
 PM Samaras chairs meeting on privatisation plansThe government's plans over the privatisation of state companies Greek Defence Systems (EAS), Greek Weapons Industry (ELVO), as well as the mining company LARKO were central to a meeting Thursday afternoon at the government headquarters (Maximos Mansion) between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.
"We briefed the premier and the government vice-president on the alternative plans for the privatisation of the country's defence systems companies. We shall reach a final solution in the next few days," Stournaras told reporters upon leaving the government building.
He also gave a positive reply to a question regarding whether LARKO was to be privatised as a single company.
Venizelos told reporters that the meeting discussed developments in Syria, defence industry issues and "many other issues."
 Defense ministry meeting in preparation of Syria developmentsA meeting will be held on Friday at the National Defense Ministry to examine ways to deal with any likely repercussions for Greece, in case the situation in Syria deteriorates.
The meeting will be attended by the general secretaries of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Citizen Protection, Health and Shipping, as well as the chiefs of staff of army, air-force, navy, national defense (GEETHA, GES, GEN, GEA), the Greek Police, the Coast Guard, the Fire Brigade and the Intelligence Service head.
 Philip Morris investment a strong vote of confidence to Greek economy, PM says"An investment made by Philip Morris, upgrading its tobacco warehouse facilities in Agrinio into a pan-European logistics centre for eastern-type tobacco, is a powerful vote of confidence to the Greek economy, which we believe is of importance on many levels," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday.
Speaking during a meeting with Philip Morris' chief officer in Greece, Nikos Theofilopoulos, the Greek premier said this business decision is a great, substantial and symbolic investment that will help establish the sense that everything is changing in Greece. Samaras also reiterated that the Greek government signed an agreement with the multinational company six months ago, under which Philip Morris will raise its supplies by 20 pct, compared with the previous three years.
This investment meant new job positions, he underlined, international transport of products and boosting exports of a very strong sector with a big demand all over the world.
"Greece does not stop here. We will exploit all of our comparative advantages to make our homeland a healthy investment destination, with solid new job positions, particularly for our youth," the Greek premier noted.
Agricultural Development and Food Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris, who was also present at the meeting, said that the agreement signed with Philip Morris six months ago has already offered significant results in tobacco cultivation.
Theofilopoulos said that for Philip Morris, Greece was a country of strategic significance for eastern-type tobacco and believed that with the investments made by the company in Greece - worth more than 600 million euros in the last decade - "we will help the country to exit the crisis".
 Foreign, Defence ministers conclude meeting on SyriaGreece is watching the situation in Syria "with great concern and composure" but with "a full understanding of international correlations", government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday following a meeting he held with Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Syria at the Foreign Ministry.
Venizelos noted the historical relations and special interests of Greece in the area, including the Greek Orthodox communities and churches and Greek businesses, and condemned again the "hideous crime" of use of chemical weapons. He also expressed support for the Geneva II process in producing a permanent and viable solution.
Avramopoulos said the situation in Syria and environs was "particularly dangerous", and said Greece is looking for a political solution and is on the side of the area's peoples who are fighting for democracy. He also stressed Greece's consistency in keeping its contractual duties with international organisations.
 Gov't spokesman dismisses SYRIZA leader's proposal on Syria briefing as 'populism' and 'ill-timed'Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou dismissed a renewed call by the main opposition party leader on Thursday for a briefing in Parliament on Syria by the prime minister as "populism at the expense of national interest, to serve his petty party politics."
Responding to statements by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, Kedikoglou said that "developments in Syria are extremely serious and no demagoguery is allowed. While the picture has not cleared yet, Tsipras asks that we hold a public dialogue about the future of the crisis. SYRIZA's proposal is entirely ill-timed, to say the least."
 DIMAR against military action in SyriaThe Democratic Left (DIMAR) party said on Thursday that no military intervention in Syria was jutified without a prior United Nations decision, adding that priority should be given to the finding of a political solution.
A press release issued after a meeting of the party's Executive Committee chaired by its president Fotis Kouvelis also called on the Greek government to abstain from any miltary actions in Syria and to brief the Greek Parliament on developments.
DIMAR also called on the International Community to "intervene and put an end to the massacre of innocent citizens and to punish the criminal use of chemical weapons."
 KKE's Koutsoumbas strongly against Greece's involvement in Syria conflictCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsou-mbas on Thursday said his party uttered "a categorical 'No' to the [likely] imperialist military operation in Syria," asking at the same time that "Greece not be involved in any way whatsoever," in the conflict.
Koutsoumbas was speaking during a rally organised by KKE at central Syntagma square, followed by a march to the U.S. Embassy.
"Only the Syrian people are responsible to determine developments in their country, not the multifaceted imperialist, military, political, and economic strikes, whatever they are called, whatever form they take, either of an imperialist war or -like now- of an imperialist peace", Koutsoumbas added.
 Sixty communist, workers' parties on Syrian developmentsOn the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), sixty communist and workers' parties from all over the world issued on Thursday a joint statement condemning "the military attack being prepared by the imperialists against Syria."
"We, Communist and Workers' parties, express our solidarity with the Syrian people and we condemn the military attack which the Imperialists of the USA, NATO and the EU together with their allies are preparing against Syria to promote their interests in the region," the joint statement said.
"We reject the imperialist pretexts which, as it has been proven, were also used in the war against Iraq and the other imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya...We call on the working class, the peoples of the entire globe to oppose and condemn the new imperialist war, to demand from the governments of their respective countries to abstain from any involvement and support to the criminal military attack," the statement added.
 No new austerity measures, no elections, Interior minister says in interviewThere will be no new austerity measures, as the prime minister has repeatedly said, as neither society nor the real economy can stand any more, Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis said in an interview to ANA-MPA on Thursday.
Michelakis said that "in order for the country to get to development, it must fix the public sector. This is our obligation, not a demand by third parties. It is our obligation for future generations, if we want to have a future."
Calling across-the-board cuts "unjust", he added that they had been necessary once "we had done nothing on this issue and we got to the point of no return".
The minister said he understood protests and strikers in the public sector, "because they had paid for sacrifices in blood" but added that nobody should overlook the fact that these sacrifices would start showing results, as they now did, and by 2014 the reversal of the economic situation would begin.
On the issue of national elections, the Interior minister said no social group wanted elections, with the exception of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and some other opposition parties. "We must not be afraid of elections. When the people speak, we should not be afraid," he said, adding that early elections would not solve any problem, and would most likely "waste all efforts by the people's sacrifices."
 PASOK leader chairs political council meetingPASOK party president Evangelos Venizelos chaired a meeting of the party's Political Council on Thursday afternoon, which according to sources, focused on current political developments, as well as issues pertaining to a two-day scientific-political convention on the party's foundation anniversary of September 3, and Venizelos' visit to Thessaloniki International Trade Fair next month.
Speaking during the meeting, Venizelos referred to a number of issues, including the updated policy agreement between PASOK and New Democracy parties, the stance kept by opposition parties and the debate on Greek debt in Germany's pre-election campaign.
According to sources, Venizelos told the political council that "the reasons which led the party to be a junior partner in the liberal New?Democracy government in June 2012, confirming our choice in June 2013, are all still in effect and valid." And, "ambivalence kills PASOK," he warned.
 PM Samaras orders unblocking major irrigation projectPrime Minister Antonis Samaras has requested from all involved bodies to speed up procedures for unblocking the Anavalos irrigation project, considered important for the country's effort to achieve economic growth.
The specific project, which concerns irrigation of the Argolic field in Argolida, eastern Peloponnese, was the focus of a meeting the premier had on Thursday at the government headquarters (Maximos Mansion), attended by State Minister Yiannis Stamatis, Rural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris and a number of deputy ministers and local authorities heads.
 Dev't Minister: Home foreclosures issue to be discussed with troika in NovemberThe discussion with the troika of Greece's creditors on home foreclosures issue for defaulted housing loan borrowers will open in November, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis told private MEGA TV on Thursday, adding that the regulation will be applied at the end of the year.
Hatzidakis reiterated that a family' s main home remains fully protected legally and referred to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' statements, underlining that "a protective framework exists for all our fellow-citizens who are in financial straits, wage earners and pensioners, all of whose main home is fully protected....Nobody should worry about their first home.
On the business leases and the issue of their total deregulation, the minister noted that a special team examining the issue and its findings will be discussed by New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, probably next week.
 Regular staff in public sector number 612,414, Admin. Reform ministry saysRegular staff in the public sector currently total 612,414, while those on temporary contracts amount to 67,568 - both numbers as of July 2013, the Administrative Reform Ministry announced on Thursday.
Responding to allegations in press reports that 850,000 people were hired from 2004 to 2009, the ministry said "they do not reflect reality".
According to the ministry, the number of regular staff on December 31, 2009 totalled 692,907, while the contractors amounted to 183,000. It said the July 2013 figures it gave were the latest available.
In its announcement, the ministry also said it was the first time it had at its disposal a mechanism to get a detailed view of how many employees the public sector had, and it was also the first time in the public sector that all educational documentation for jobs (such as university degrees and language competency certificates) along with other supporting documents were being verified by the public administration internal audit service (SEEDD).
The results of disciplinary actions against public sector employees would be released to the public at regular intervals, as it had begun to do already, it said, and these would be the only reliable data available.
European Commission opens the way to Greek-based initiative to exclude education funds from state deficit calculations
The European Commission has accepted the request to register an EU-wide citizens' initiative to change the fact funds spent on education are included in the deficit calculations of member-states.
Citizens' initiatives in Greece, France, Germany, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Portugal and Luxembourg filed the request to exclude education funds, which means under the established process that now they have collect a total of at least a million signatures in order to be allowed to formally submit the petition to the Commission.
In Greece, the organisation handling the collection of signatures is called "Network for reformation of Greece and Europe" (To Diktyo, for short), and accessible at www.todiktyo.eu.
In an announcement, To Diktyo said that the initiative, under the banner of "Education is worth it! Don't include it in the deficit!", began in Greece in order to push for legislative reforms in the EU that would give priority to education, especially during a time of crisis. It explained that the proposal calls for excepting from state deficit calculations the percentage of expenses for education.
For Greece, it said, it would mean the possibility of increasing expenditures for education by about 1.5 percent of the GDP, which would correspond to a nearly 50-percent rise of the current budget spent at present on education. The revenue must come from a change in the allocation of funds from the European support frameworks, the European Investment Bank, and possibly even special loan arrangements that are linked to specific targets and indicators in educational policy.
The initiatives committee for the project will be announcing the opening of signature collection and details on the campaign within the next few days.
 ISTAME and PASOK symposium in AthensThe Andreas Papandreou Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME) and PASOK party will hold a symposium entitled "From post-dictatorship to crisis and from the crisis to the restructuring: PASOK and the Greek reality 1974-2014" on September 3 and 4 in Athens.
The symposium, held on the occasion of the 39th anniversary from PASOK's foundation, will be hosted by the Culture Center "Ellinikos Kosmos". PASOK leader and government Vice President Evangelos Venizelos and ISTAME president Christos Dervenis will deliver addresses on the opening day.
 Six Turkish aircraft interceptedA formation of six Turkish aircraft entered the Athens FIR on Thursday, in the region of the northern and central Aegean carrying out one infringement (FIR) and two violations (national airspace), according to an announcement by the Greek National Defence General Staff.
"All the aircraft were intercepted and identified in accordance with international regulations as usual," the announcement added.
 FinMin : 'We will succeed, figures are working out'Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras expressed optimism on Thursday on the course of the Greek economy saying, "There is hope, we shall succeed; the figures are working out, and we have covered two-thirds of the course."
Speaking in Parliament during the discussion on state lotteries, Stournaras said, "We will face any problems that appear and we will push back, if necessary, amortisations and installments in order to secure the country's rescue."
Stournaras charged criticis of the fiscal programme as "speculators who don't want Greece to be saved" and added that in the case of Greek offshore companies "we will nothing standing in this area".
 National Bank says net profits totaled 317 mln euros in Q2National Bank on Thursday said it remained on a profitable path for the third consecutive quarter, with net profits totaling 317 million euros in the March-June period -including extra results from deferred tax worth 208 million euros and a further write-down of its participation in Eurobank worth 17 million euros.
The bank said its profits totaled 344 million euros in the first half of the year, after a loss of 1.894 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2012. Excluding non-repeated profits and losses, net profits totaled 312 million euros in the January-June period.
National Bank said Finansbank, its subsidiary in Turkey, contributed heavily in this performance, with profits of 332 million euros in the six-month period, while its subsidiaries in Southeastern Europe contributed with profits of 6.0 million euros after losses of 13 million euros in the same period last year.
New bad debts totaled 1.2 billion euros in the first half, down from 2.3 billion euros in the same period in 2012 at the height of the bad debt crisis. Bad debt provisions totaled 853 million euros in the six-month period, down from 1.2 billion euros last year. Deposits grew by 10 pct on an annual basis, while loan portfolio -after provisions- fell by 4.0 pct in the same period, with the bank's cashflow rate rising to 120 pct, from 116 pct in June 2012.
National Bank said its pro-forma Core Tier I index was 9.2 pct following the successful completion of a share capital increase scheme which included the participation of private investors.
Net profits from domestic activities totaled 5.0 million euros in the first half, from a loss of 2.133 billion euros last year.
Alexandros Tourkolias, the bank's chief executive, commenting on the results said that a successful completion of a share capital increase scheme by the bank, with an 11 pct participation of private investors, placed the bank on a new course. "National Bank will undertake significant initiatives to further restructuring its loan portfolio, boosting its capital base and further improving its efficiency. Achieving these goals will help the bank to contribute in a business recovery in the country," he said.
 Foreign participants at the Thessaloniki trade fairOver 20 countries are expected to show their products and services, either singly or in groups, at the 78th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in the north, running from September 7 to 15.
The overseas participants located at Kiosk 15 will include Albania, Australia, Brazil, Cyprus, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, United States, Vietnam.
Bulgaria, Egypt, India, Nepal, and Pakistan will be at Kiosk 5.
Independently standing national participants number eight, while the rest will be part of group showings through chambers of commerce or private organisations.
Also attending will be the Hellenic-Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Greece-Australia Business Council, the Greek-African Chamber and the Greek-Italian Chamber.
 Piraeus Port-Cosco reach agreement on new investment programeA process of friendly settlement talks between Piraeus Port Organization and the Cosco over the renewal of terms included in an agreement on the management of the port's cargo terminals is expected to be successfully completed later in the day, Shipping ministry officials told ANA-MPA on Thursday.
Final decisions are expected to be officially announced on Friday as the two sides seemingly overcame all legal hurdles and reached a formula to finalizing the agreement and avoiding seeking arbitration.
The officials said that the issue was at the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's office from Wednesday and noted that an agreement has been reached which will create a positive image over investment climate in the country and at the same time it will confirm the impecable climate of cooperation with the Chinese company.
Cosco demanded a change in the terms of the contract signed with Piraeus Port in a tender to build a new cargo pier in the port's west side -budgetted at 224 million euros- along with building a new oil terminal in Piraeus. Cosco said that the project will raise the port's capacity to 6.7 million TEUs, from 3.7 million currently, making the port more competitive and more attractive. The company said that container traffic in the port totaled 1.369 million containers in the period from January to July this year, up from 1.222 million in the corresponding period last year, for an increase of 12 pct.
 Tax evasion remains strong in tourist destinations, avg rate is 46.18 pctTax evasion remained strong in most holiday regions around the country, with the average rate of tax breaching totaling 46.18 pct, a report by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) said on Thursday.
The agency said a series of inspections made August 22 to 26 showed that tax evasion practices thrived in Karpenisi and Ikaria (100 pct), while the lowest rate was recorded in Sifnos (12.5 pct). SDOE made a total of 550 inspections in 30 tourist destinations.
Regions with the highest tax evasion rates:
1. Karpenisi-Ikaria 100%
2. Mykonos 82.14%
3. Evia 81%
4. Rhodes 72.22%
5. Kardamili-Finikounta 69.23%
6. Loutraki 66.67%
7. Nafplio-Tolo-Drepano 64.29%
8. Mytiline 60%
9. Lamia 50%
10. Santorini 48.89%
Regions with the lowest tax evasion rates:
1. Sifnos 12.5%
2. Milos 14.29%
3. Githio-Elafonissos 23%
4. Thessaloniki-Chalkidiki 28.5%
5. Leros 40%
 State lottery vote opens way to privatisationParliament's plenum passed the draft bill turning state lottery management over to the privatisation process, with 56 votes for and 35 against.
The vote was held by roll call at the request of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), which objected to the emergency procedures used on the state agency. The party representatives had walked out of the committee reviewing a draft law on state lotteries in protest on Wednesday.
The draft law on the "ratification of the concession contract of the exclusive right of production, operation, promotion, distribution and administration of the state lottteries" was tabled in Parliament late on Tuesday and sent to the parliament's economic affairs committee on Wednesday.
Summer session's plenum also voted for an amendment assigning to the shipyard of Neorio on Syros island the repair of two floating tanks belonging to the Navy. The votes were 58 for, 10 against and 23 declaring "present".
 Interior minister meets World Bank officialInterior Minister Yiannis Michelakis met on Thursday with Dirk Reinermann, head of the Europe and Central Asia office at the World Bank, with talks focusing on cooperation between the two sides in growth projects in the Greek regions and municipalities.
 PPC reports sharply improved profits in H1Public Power Corporation (PPC) on Thursday reported improved profits in the first half of the year, with pre-tax earnings soaring to 170.2 million euros, from 52.5 million euros in the corresponding period in 2012 and net profits jumping to 127.1 million euros from 22.9 million euros over the same periods, respectively.
EBITDA rose 19.9 pct in the January-June period to 586.3 million euros, reflecting lower cost of PPC's energy mix, while EBITDA margin grew to 19.9 pct from 16.6 pct in the same period in 2012.
Electricity demand fell by 3.5 pct in the first six months of the year, with demand falling by 2.0 pct in the second quarter after a 4.9 pct drop in the first quarter.
Electricity energy sales, including exports, fell 1.9 pct, although revenue rose by 1.9 pct due to higher electricity rates. Turnover grew 0.4 pct to 2.951 billion euros in the six-month period.
PPC said production and import of electricity energy covered 63.8 pct of total demand, up from 67 pct in the first half of 2012. Production by lignite and natural gas power units fell in the first half, although hydro-electric production rose and production from alternative energy sources by third parties rose significantly, raising their share in the country's energy mix to 14.3 pct from 9.8 pct last year.
Spending on liquid fuel, natural gas and electricity energy fell by 17 pct in the January-June period, while spending on CO2 emission rights totaled 106.2 million euros.
PPC said payroll cost fell by 1.9 pct in the first six months of the year.
 Thrace Plastics says H1 results slightly lowerThrace Plastics on Thursday said its turnover eased 1.4 pct in the first half of the year to 133.6 million euros, from 135.5 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
Gross earnings totaled 24.7 million euros, down 7.7 pct from 2012, while consolidated EBITDA dropped 27 pct to 10.6 million euros. Consolidated pre-tax earnings fell 33.3 pct to 4.4 million euros, while consolidated after tax and minorities earnings fell 40 pct to 2.8 million euros. Net bank borrowing was 40.7 million euros at the end of June.
Thrace Plastics said sales volume in the packaging sector grew by 17.4 pct and the volume of sales in technical fabrics fell 11.3 pct.
 Energean Oil & Gas and Grekoil jointly bid for oil field in KatakoloEnergean Oil & Gas and Grekoil agreed to submit a joint bid in a tender for the exploitation of an oilfield in Katakolo, western Peloponese.
Energean Oil & Gas, in a statement issued on Thursday, said it has submitted a joint bid with Grekoil Energy Ventures Limited within set deadlines in the framework of an "open door" process launched by Greek authorities and under the international practice of "forced marriage".
The new bid has taken in mind all maximum parameters for each separate bid aiming to safeguard the fullest and most efficient exploitation of the oilfield in Katakolo. The new joint venture will comprise of: Energean Oil & Gas SA (42.5 pct), Trajan Oil & Gas Ltd (15 pct) and Grekoil Energy Ventures Ltd (42.5 pct). Energean Oil & Gas will act as operator of the joint venture.
 Folli Follie says op earnings up 32.3 pct in H1Folli Follie Group on Thursday said its operating profits rose 32.3 pct in the first half of 2013 to 79.5 million euros, while sales from repeated activities rose 4.2 pct to 434.4 million euros.
EBITDA jumped 27.4 pct to 89.6 million euros.
Folli Follie said that sales of jewelry-watches-accessories grew 4.8 pct to 322.8 million euros, sales by department stores rose 7.0 pct to 61 million euros, sales (wholesale/retail) of clothing and footwear fell 1.9 pct to 48.9 million euros and sales in other departments totaled 1.5 million euros.
 Elton International reports higher H1 resultsElton International Trade on Thursday said its consolidated turnover totaled 50.33 million euros in the first half of the year, up 16.5 pct from the same period in 2012. Parent turnover grew 13.37 pct to 36.63 million euros.
Gross earnings grew 11.37 pct to 8.29 million euros, while parent gross earnings rose 10.15 pct to 6.10 million euros.
Consolidated EBITDA jumped 33.33 pct to 3.84 million euros, while parent EBITDA rose 31.78 pct to 2.82 million euros.
Elton said pre-tax profits rose 46.36 pct to 3.05 million euros in the first half of the year, whle parent pre-tax profits jumped 49.23 pct to 2.25 million euros.
Consolidated after tax earnings rose 42.26 pct to 2.33 million euros and parent after tax earnings rose 45.88 pct to 1.67 million euros.
 Greek PPI down 0.5 pct in JulyGreece's producer's price index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell 0.5 pct in July this year, compared with the same month in 2012, after an increase of 3.8 pct recorded in July 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 0.3 pct decline in the domestic market index and an 1.4 pct fall in the external market index.
The producer's price index was up 0.8 pct in July from June.
 Greek stocks end 1.45 pct higherGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as the market recovered after a three-day decline which pushed the market 4.7 pct lower. The composite index rose 1.45 pct to end at 893.77 points, after rising as much as 2.25 pct during the day. Turnover, however, remained a disappointing low of 28.96 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 1.67 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.92 pct higher. Piraeus Port (5.40 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.94 pct), OTE (2.86 pct), Coca Cola HBC (2.74 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (2.73 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.66 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (2.64 pct), Folli Follie (1.66 pct) and Frigoglass (1.50 pct) were top losers. The Telecoms (2.86 pct), Food (2.75 pct) and Construction (2.18 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Commerce (1.66 pct), Industrial Products (0.25 pct) and Technology (0.19 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 87 to 40 with another 14 issues unchanged. Euromedica (19.93 pct), Perseus (19.89 pct) and Kathimerini (19.20 pct) were top gainers, while Pegasus (20 pct), AAA (19.96 pct) and Sidma (18.95 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.47%
Personal & Household: +0.03%
Raw Materials: +0.85%
Travel & Leisure: +1.13%
Food & Beverages: +2.76%
Financial Services: +0.53%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, Piraeus Bank, OTE, PPC and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.501
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.30
Coca Cola HBC: 20.60
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.14
National Bank of Greece: 2.86
Eurobank Properties : 6.88
Piraeus Bank: 1.05
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened again to 8.58 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 8.44 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 10.43 pct and the German Bund 1.85 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates remained largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.55 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.45 pct, the six-month rate was 0.34 pct, the three-month rate was 0.226 pct and the one-month rate was 0.127 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.38 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 7.723 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,592 contracts worth 5.540 million euros, with 46,533 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,091 contracts worth 2.138 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (1,917), followed by National Bank (1,042), Piraeus Bank (700), OTE (723), PPC (694), OPAP (180), Motor Oil (80), GEK (75) and Ellaktor (50).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.346
Pound sterling 0.867
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.848
Japanese yen 132.3
Swiss franc 1.249
Norwegian kroner 8.169
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.506
 Author Petros Markaris receives Goethe-Institut medal at Berlin ceremonyBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Author Petros Markaris was honoured with the Goethe Medal 2013 by the German state for his "distinguished contribution to the German language and international cultural relations" at a ceremony in Berlin on Wednesday evening.
The event was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Cornelia Pieper, and included awards handed out also to Iranian translator and author Mahmoud Hosseini Zad and Indian publisher Naveen Kishore.
Goethe-Institut President Klaus-Dieter Lehmann called the prize recipients "passionate ambassadors of books in the German language" and said he could not conceive of better colleagues in the Goethe-Institut's literature sector.
Organisers said that Markaris was recognised for his role as an intermediary in Greek-German relations, and for "maintaining a clear, analytic eye on both countries, even at times of crisis."
At the presentation of the award to Markaris, Sueddeutsche Zeitung's Athens and Instabul correspondent Christiane Schloetzer spoke about Greek-German relations, saying that many Germans have forgotten that while they went soul-searching in Greece, like Goethe did, they left catastrophes behind them, and she referred to World War Two destruction of the town of Kalavryta, Kommeno and Distomo.
"The fact that Greeks were among the first labourers to help Germany create its economic miracle in the 60s seems unbelievable, given the historic events. But many Greeks also wanted to forget; they didn't have another choice, after all" and citing Markaris as saying that "Greeks understood the culture of poverty very well, but are missing the culture of affluence."
Accepting the prize, Markaris spoke of his 65-year-old love and devotion to the German language and literature, thanks to his father who pressed him to learn German. He also expressed appreciation for Istanbul, his city of origin, as a meeting point of cultures which "awoke my interest in building bridges between cultures" and for Athens, which he has called home for the last 50 years, a place where his two languages, Greek and German, come together.
"I consider myself a liaison between Germany and Greece and between German and Greek literatures, and this would not have been possible without Athens," he added, where his identity as a writer and intermediary was shaped.
The Goethe Medal was first awarded in 1954 and was adopted as an official state award in 1975. The official award ceremony used to be held on the anniversary of Goethe's death (March 22), but as of 2009 it has been awarded on August 28, Goethe's birthday.
 Wildfire in Oinofyta not threatening buildings in the areaA wildfire is raging Thursday evening in a forested expanse in Oinofyta, Viotia, Mainland Greece, but the Fire Brigade said the situation is improving.
Water-bombing aircraft have been recalled, as there is no reason for concern for a number of factory plants located in the area.
Efforts to put the blaze out were continuing in evening by 20 firemen and nine fire engines.
 New metro station in Haidari to be delayed 2 mos.The new metro station "Aghia Marina" at the western Athens suburb of Haidari that was scheduled to be ready in December will be delayed by two months due to technical miscalculations.
Attiko Metro president Christos Tsitouras said to ANA-MPA on Thursday that the problem may be solved earlier, doing away with the delay.
 Fair with some rain in the north on FridayGenerally fair weather with some passing clouds mainly in northern parts of the country is forecast for Friday. Northerly winds 6 to 7 Beaufort, up to 7 in the southeastern Aegean. Temperatures between 19C and 34C.
Fair in Athens with a few clouds and northerly winds 3-4 Beaufort, up to 6 in the east; temperatures between 24C and 34C.
In Thessaloniki, it will be cloudy in the morning with a shower or two. Northwesterly winds 4 to 6 Beaufort, temperatures ranging between 19C and 31C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: 'Blind' blow.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Why they are preparing a war.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Shame on you Mr. Venizelos (Evangelos,
Government's Vice President and Foreign Minister)!
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Tax traps for 500,000 professionals.
ESTIA: Political moratorium necessary immediately.
ETHNOS: With the finger on the trigger for Syria.
KATHIMERINI: Time race for 500,000 tax payers.
LOGOS: Zero hour for Syria.
RIZOSPASTIS: All on Thursday in Syndagma square (downtown Athens) and demonstration to the American Embassy.
TA NEA: Debts' set-off between privates and public sector.
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