|Saturday, 20 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-09-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 13 September 2013 Issue No: 4459
 Greek unemployment rose to new record high of 27.9 pct in JuneGreek unemployment rate jumped to a new record high of 27.9 pct of the workforce in June, with the number of unemployed people totalling 1,403,698, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
A total of 787,129 people lost their jobs since the first year of the implementation of a fiscal consolidation programme agreed with the troika.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the unemployment rate among young people reached 58.8 pct, while among the 25-34 age group the unemployment rate was 37.4 pct.
Epirus-Western Macedonia led in unemployment among the country's regions (29.7 pct), followed by Maceconia-Thrace (29.5 pct), Attica (27.7 pct), Thessaly-Central Greece (27 pct) and the Peloponnese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands (25.8 pct). Crete (22.9 pct from 24.1 pct) and Aegean (21.6 pct from 22.7 pct) recorded a decline in unemployment rates compared with June 2012.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June was 27.9 pct, from 24.6 pct in June 2012 and 27.6 pct in May 2013. The statistics service noted that the unemployment rate fell by 1.2 percentage points in June (non-seasonally adjusted estimates).
The number of people still at work was 3,628,421, down 3.4 pct compared with June 2012 and by 0.1 pct compared with May 2013. The financially non-active people (not working, not seeking work) totaled 3,334,690, down 0.7 pct from June 2012 but up 0.4 pct from May this year.
Unemployment among women rose to 31.9 pct in June from 28.4 pct in June last year, while among men it rose to 24.9 pct from 21.9 pct, respectively.
 Registered unemployment up in July, reportRegistered unemployment totaled 869,193 in July 2013, of which 138,142 people are receiving unemployment benefits, the Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) said on Thursday.
OAED, in a report, said that the July figure is up by 87,000 compared with the same month in 2012, when registered unemployment stood at 782,493. The majority of unemployed people are Greek citizens, aged 30-50 years old, while unemployment mostly hit women. A total of 388,494 people registered in OAED (44.7 pct) are unemployed for more than 12 months, while the remaining 480,699 people are registered for less than 12 months (55.3 pct).
Greek citizens accounted for 93.61 pct of registered unemployment, EU citizens accounted for 1.39 pct and third country citizens 5.0 pct.
The total number unemployed people receiving unemployment benefit was 138,142 at the end of July, of which 134,602 (97.44 pct) are ordinary unemployed, while 3,540 (2.56 pct) were seasonal workers in the tourism sector.
 PM Samaras to attend ONNED youth group event on FridayPrime Minister and New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras will be attending an event at 3 p.m. on Friday of the New Democracy party-affiliated youth group ONNED, focusing on young people's employment, in which youth representatives from Southeastern Europe will be also participating.
The event will be taking place at the National Research Foundation and cabinet members are also expected to attend.
 PASOK party delegation holds meeting with Labour ministerA PASOK party delegation held a meeting on Thursday with Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and Deputy Minister Vassilis Kengeroglou, in the presence of secretary generals Anna Stratinaki and Panagiotis Kokkoris, focusing on the course for the implementation of the programmes to tackle unemployment, as well as issues existing in light of the programme's evaluation by the troika.
According to PASOK party sources, specialised proposals will also be submtted in the coming days on certain issues that were discussed, while special proposals on measures to curb unemployment and relieve sensitive groups of the population will be discussed in a new meeting.
 KKE party calls for protection measures for the unemployed and their familiesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Thursday, called for substantive measures of protection "for the millions of unemployed and their families".
"Contrary to the government's promises, unemployment cannot be tackled with the various recycling programmes for the unemployed and subsidisation of capital that utilise unemployment to provide free labour for the big businessmen and a temporary starvation salary for the unemployed," the announcement said about ELSTAT data on unemployment that were published on Thursday.
"The explosive unemployment rates confirm that the right to stable work for all with rights does not go together with the capitalist growth path that all of the system's management proposals and its crisis serve," KKE further said, adding that "the right to stable work can be secured in the framework of a radically different organisation of society and the economy that will be based on the socialisation of the big enterprises and focal planning".
 Troika's technical teams in AthensThe technical teams of the troika of lenders - ECB,EC, IMF - will visit on Thursday the Ministries of Administrative Reform, Interior, Labour, and Health, as well as the state's General Accounting Office, ahead of the three troika representatives, who are scheduled to arrive in Athens on September 22.
The review by the technical teams will indicate to the heads of the troika the country's progress on implementing prior actions that will lead to the disbursement of a 1billion-euro tranche in early October.
The Greek side is expected to promote the positive results of this year's state budget as well as signs leading to achieving primary surplus for 2013 by the end of the year.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will leave on Thursday for Lithuania to participate in the unofficial Eurogroup meeting where he will brief his European counterparts on progress in the fiscal adjustment programme.
Regarding prior actions, the government, among other requirements, must present a detailed catalogue with the taxes that the state receives from third parties in order to either abolish them or transfer them to the central governement's budget.
Additional requirements are as follows: to introduce new legislation on real estate taxation; meet the three-month goals in revenues and in managing public finances; ensure that the banks update their restructuring plans and submit them for ratificaiton to the European Commission's General Directorate of Competitiveness; based on the mobility scheme, to complete the transfer of 12,500 civil servants by the end of September and of another 12,500 by the end of December; take final decisions on restructuring or liquidating the Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS), Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO) and metallurgical company LARCO in order for the appropriate procedures to be completed by the end of December; to pay the state's debts to the Athens and Thessaloniki water and sewage companies (EYDAP and EYDATH) by the end of September; and, finally, to institute the new Tax Procedure Code.
 IMF mission to arrive in Athens on September 23, IMF spokesman saysNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
The heads of the International Monetary Fund's mission to Greece are due to arrive in Athens on September 23, IMF sources said on Thursday, correcting an earlier announcement. During the regular press briefing on Thursday, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice had originally announced that the IMF mission was due to arrive on September 17.
Lower-ranking technical teams from the IMF will be visiting Athens before September 23 to prepare for the mission's arrival, the source clarified.
Replying to questions during the briefing, Rice said that Poul Thomsen will continue to head the mission and its members, in cooperation with the Greek authorities, will examine the current state of the Greek economy.
The IMF spokesman refrained from answering a question on whether he shares the position that the next IMF report on Greece will be "hell". He noted that according to July's report, Greece has made "commendable progress", adding that there is still a lot to be done in the sector of structural reforms.
Rice did not comment in response to a question on the statements made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as regards using part of any primary surplus to relieve the recipients of small pension. Instead, he underlined that the goal is to overcome the crisis, improve economic growth and help the jobless, noting that the IMF is concerned about the problem of unemployment.
He underlined that the efforts made seek to help Greece return to economic growth and solve the unemployment problem with the creation of new jobs, particularly for the young.
Responding to a question on the commitment undertaken by Europeans as regards Greece's public debt, Rice repeated that they have pledged to help Greece by offering adequate support on the precondition that the country will implement the agreed-upon programme. Relevant developments will be examined during the revision discussion, Rice noted.
Responding to a question on Cyprus, he said that the first IMF report will be discussed on Monday, September 16.
 Samaras congratulates Japanese PM for Tokyo's hosting of 2020 Olympic GamesPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday spoke on the phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and congratulated him for Tokyo's success in becoming the host of the 2020 Olympic Games.
The two premiers agreed on a cooperation between their countries for the best possible preparation of the Games and Samaras invited Abe to visit Greece in 2014.
Finally, they also agreed to have a fruitful cooperation within the framework of the free trade agreements between Japan and EU ahead of Greece's presidency in EU the first six months of 2014.
 Prime Minister Samaras receives former Italian prime minister AmatoPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday met at Maximos Mansion, government headquarters, in Athens with visiting former prime minister of Italy, Giuliano Amato.
Their talks focused mainly on the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.
 Venizelos meets with Russian Ambassador to AthensBilateral relations between Greece and Russia and the situation in the Middle East dominated a meeting that government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos had at the foreign ministry on Thursday with Russian Ambassador to Athens Vladimir I. Chkhikvishvili.
The Russian ambassador said after the meeting that they discussed bilateral issues ahead of a visit to Athens on Monday by the Chairman of the Federation Council, the Upper House of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matvienko, who will be received by Venizelos.
He said that they discussed developments in the Middle East, focusing on Syria and responding to a question on whether he briefed Venizelos on the Russian proposal for Syria, he noted that he (Mr. Venizelos) is already aware of the specific proposal.
 FM Venizelos meets G. AmatoGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos met at the foreign ministry on Thursday with former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato.
According to a ministry announcement, talks focused on Europe's economy, developments in the Western Balkans and the Middle East, especially the situation in Syria, as well as on the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.
 Venizelos meets European Commissioner DamanakiEuropean Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki expressed certainty that the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014 will be "exceptional" after meeting GovernmentVice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos at the foreign ministry on Thursday.
Damanaki underlined that "Greece can really make a difference," adding that they discussed a number of issues pertaining to the Greek EU Presidency, as well as issues falling under her authority.
She also expressed hope that specific decisions will be reached "during the Greek EU Presidency as regards maritime policy, Blue Growth, maritime security and the delineation of maritime zones in the Mediterranean Sea, all issues of major importance for the country."
Damanaki said that "Greece has made very great progress" that is recognized by everybody in Europe, noting, however, that "we still have a long way ahead".
On his part, Venizelos underlined that preparations for the Greek EU Presidency are at a very good point, noting that "the crisis tormenting Europe in recent years can only be overcome through more Europe...a Europe based on the institutional equality of its member-states."
 Deputy FM Kourkoulas outlines Greek EU presidency prioritiesDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Thursday presented the priorities of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2014 at the Athens Academy, before representatives of the European Academics Science Advisory Council (EASAC).
Noting that Greece was taking over the presidency at a crucial and difficult time for the EU, Kourkoulas referred to the economic crisis and stressed that this was not just Greek but also European, requiring a large number of important steps in Greece, in the other EU member-states and on a European level.
He particularly emphasised the need to reduce soaring levels of unemployment in the European south and to improve the fiscal outlook of the member-states.
Kourkoulas noted that this deep, structural crisis that had shaken the faith of European citizens in both the EU and the traditional political forces, warning that this loss of confidence could put the entire European project at risk. He pointed out that this will be a major issue during the Greek presidency as it will coincide with the European elections, which could act as an opportunity to explain to voters that the EU was not the cause of the crisis.
The minister said the EU needed to take steps to strengthen fiscal and monetary union in order to support the common currency by coordinating policy in public finances on a macroeconomic level. Stressing Greece's achievement in reducing its public deficit from 15 pct of GDP in 2009 to nearly 2 pct in the current year - with the country set to achieve a primary surplus for the first time at the end of the year - Kourkoulas also warned that the country's debt could not be made sustainable without growth.
At the same time, he noted that hopes for reducing unemployment did not rest solely on growth and that the priority policies for the Greek presidency, apart from the emphasis on growth and jobs, is to complete the legal framework for economic and monetary union.
Greece will also place emphasis on a more cohesive EU migration policy, with EU member-states tackling the burden in common, and a comprehensive approach to border management with enhanced preventative action, he said.
Another key area will be maritime policy relating to the EU - such as security, energy, migration, marine safety, growth and tourism - where Greece intends to promote specific actions in close collaboration with both the previous Irish presidency and the current Lithuanian presidency on the vast, comprehensive programme of legislative and other activities underway. Kourkoulas stressed that, due to time pressures and the upcoming European elections, these and other major legislative issues must be completed and sent to the European Parliament by the end of March.
He did not conceal his fears that the forces making up the new European Parliament will include anti-democratic political extremes "we are not used to hearing in Europe".
EASAC is an advisory body that joins together all EU member-state scientific academies, including the Athens Academy.
 UAE minister of state to meet with Avramopoulos, Venizelos on FridayVisiting United Arab Emirates Minister of State, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, is scheduled to meet with National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos at 11:00 am on Friday morning.
Al Jaber will also meet with government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos at 12:00 noon.
Each meeting will be held at the respective ministry.
 SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras on Thessaloniki visit Sept. 13-15Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras will visit Thessaloniki and the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) between September 13 and 15, holding meetings with local officials and trade union representatives, among other commitments.
The main opposition's leader will begin his visit on Friday, Sept. 13, by addressing a rally at the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrgos) at 7:30 pm.
His schedule on Saturday will be as follows:
10:00 am, meeting with TIF board members on the fair's premises (central offices)
10:30 am, meeting with TIF employees' union (central offices)
11:00 am, visit of the fair's grounds and pavillions
12:30 pm., meeting with Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris (town hall)
1:30 pm, meeting with Central Macedonia prefect Apostolos Tzitzikostas (prefecture, 198 Vass. Olgas)
6:30 pm, speech and consultation with production sector representatives (Vellidis congress centre, Hall 2/"Ellopia")
Tsipras will wrap up his visit on Sunday with a press conference at 1:00 pm at the same Vellidis hall as above.
According to the party's press release, news feeds for the White Tower speech (Friday), the 6:30 pm speech (Saturday) and the press conference (Sunday) are available at the following satellite coordinates: Hellassat / 11150,75 vertical / 3300 sr fec3/4
 DIMAR leader meets with TIF-Helexpo board"The Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) can truly offer and serve extroversion as well as growth, overall," Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis said on Thursday at his meeting with the board of TIF-Helexpo.
"The institution of TIF is necessary for all Greece and it is very important that you choose this extroversion towards all directions. We want TIF to become the greatest economic event in the wider region," he added.
Kouvelis is in Thessaloniki on an official visit in the framework of the TIF and is giving a press conference at this time.
 DIMAR leader: We can't cooperate with SYRIZA under its current policyDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis said main opposition SYRIZA's present-day policy "precludes cooperation on a government level," at a press conference during his visit to Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Thursday.
Asked whether his party would participate in a government with PASOK and New Democracy but without Antonis Samaras as prime minister, Kouvelis said that the problem does not lie with the personalities but with the essence of the policy followed, adding that if the prime minister decides to go for elections, the present parliament can form a government.
Kouvelis said he said he feels 'proud' of DIMAR's position and of its participation in and the subsequent resignation from the coalition government. Referring to the DIMAR's low figures in recent opinion polls, he said that the people have started to understand the correctness of his party's decisions.
He charged the ND-PASOK government with moving in a conservative direction and that the memorandums policy has proven socially unjust and financially futile.
DIMAR's leader also expressed his belief that the government's sense of optimism over the primary surplus issue is wrong and presented his party's proposal on the creation of a third political pole, but until this majority is formed, he is willing to participate in other government options, based on policy agreements.
 Very few teacher shortages in schools, minister saysThere are only a few schools with staff shortages, and those are of temporary nature and covered by other staff, Education and Religion Minister Constantine Arvanitopoulos told private Vima radio station.
"There are 41,458 teachers," he said, "there are 33,463 school classes in the morning, and 4,409 in the evening. There are spot vacancies - because of transfers, illnesses, etc - and they are being covered within the next three or four days... This is the image we have from all directorates and it's very good."
Arvanitopoulos also said that it's obvious that mobilisations in education are being incited by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party. "The main opposition, in statements by all its officials, outstanding among whom is its leader, is calling on students to shut down schools," he charged. "This is taking advantage of the education sector, while the hostage-holding of students, parents and educators is a mistake. Whom does a closed school benefit? It harms society," the minister added.
"We are using the sector of education to overturn the government. It is a political choice, an unprecedented one in history, and the Greek people will judge it," he concluded.
 Gov't spokesman: 'It is clear who wants closed schools'Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Thursday criticised main opposition SYRIZA, implying that the party is inciting teachers to strike.
"It is crystal-clear who wants closed schools, and who preannounced it," said Kedikoglou, in comment to private SKAI TV, adding that "closed schools means a return to the Middle Ages".
The government spokesman noted that the government will uphold the laws, but did not give further explanations on what would happen in the case of school sit-ins.
Referring to the economy, he noted that "whatever measures they asked us to apply, we have implemented them" while on the debt issue he said that, based on the Eurogroup 2012 decision, any possible alleviation of the debt is linked directly with the achievement of a primary surplus.
 Teachers call 48-hour strike on September 18-19Teachers have called a 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday September 18-19.
The decision was taken following a marathon session of teachers' local unions with the board of the Teachers Federation of Greece (DOE). Local unions will be holding new general assemblies on September 19 to make a new evaluation of the situation.
 Gov't closer to abolishing 2,000 statutory posts in public sectorApproximately 2,000 statutory posts are expected to be abolished by next week by ministerial decisions coordinated by the Administrative Reform Ministry.
The positions were on lists forwarded by eleven ministries and will partially fulfill the placement on reserve of 12,500 civil service staff by the end of September, ahead of the arrival in Athens of the troika of lenders.
According to the Administrative Reform Ministry, the 2,000 include statutory posts and posts created for specific individuals (intuitu personae) at various ministries.
The Cabinet's Council of Administrative Reform is expected to meet on Friday, while the ministerial decisions including the 2,000 posts are expected to be signed by Monday the latest.
Obstructing the completion of the process however is the refusal of university provosts to turn over names of 1,765 administrative staff to the Ministry of Education, which has vowed to proceed with staff reduction.
So far, from June to the present, there have been 4,300 school guards and high school technical course teachers placed on reserve and 1,700 staff of the Health Ministry, the latter added to the roster a few days ago. These will be joined in the next few days by 3,000 municipal police personnel, about 2,000 staff from ministries (the abolished posts above), and 1,700 administrative staff from universities and technical schools.
Also, by the end of October, municipalities are expected to have completed their evaluations to identify surplus staff that will be placed on the second wave of reserve staff.
Under a plan to reduce the civil sector, those placed on reserve will be suspended from their duties with pay and either be transferred to fill vacancies elsewhere in the civil sector or laid off.
 EU Task Force meets with Environment Ministry leadershipMinistry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change officials met with members of the Task Force for Greece on Thursday to discuss issues related to the former's jurisdiction and progress on changes being implemented.
Minister Yiannis Maniatis, Alternate Minister Stavros Kalafatis, Deputy Minister Makis Papageorgiou and secretaries general were in the meeting with the Task Force, which has been set up by the EU to help Greece implement structural reforms.
Topics they covered include progress on the land registry, waste management and recycling, renewable sources of energy, management of water resources in relation to the new regulatory agency, and privatisations.
 Exclusive interview: Health minister talks to AMNA WebTVPatients that opt for generic over patent drugs will pay a smaller contribution toward their cost, while doctors and pharmacists will be given incentives to prescribe and sell them, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said in an interview with AMNA WebTV on Thursday, outlining the ministry's plans to increase the use of generic medication in Greece until it reaches 60 percent of the total market.
"We will not have new medicines if we do not prefer generic drugs," he stressed, noting that patients who choose the cheapest generic drug will only contribute 12.5 pct of its cost instead of the normal 25 pct.
The minister also referred to the public-sector 'mobility' plan, clarifying that workers who did not apply for this were at risk of losing their jobs. He predicted that it would not lead to a higher shortage of hospital beds but actually reduce shortages.
"We will make the changes that need to be made in health centres and regional hospitals," he said, adding that the Errikos Dunant hospital will be privatised "so that it can be saved".
According to the minister, a bumper year for tourism in 2013 had given the National Organisation for the Provision of Health Services (EOPYY) a 500-million-euro 'breather' due to higher contributions from the tourism sector.
He also noted that the "party" of wasteful spending in health had been restricted but was still continuing.
Georgiadis emphasised the importance of achieving a primary surplus so that the country can return to borrowing on the market and end its dependence on bailouts and accompanying memorandums:
"As soon as the year is up, we will have a primary surplus, whatever settlement is to take place for our debt will be made and the country will acquire partial access to the markets. The separation between memorandum and anti-memorandum will then be without meaning. This era of the memorandums is coming to an end, we are going through the last days of this period. Now we must go to a new era," he said.
Regarding the targets set by the programme, he pointed out that these aimed to shore up the stability of the system.
"How can you have a national health system without money?" he asked, adding that it was a mistake of the domestic political system to attribute unpopular policies to the troika in a bid to protect itself, saying this had made things worse. Georgiadis stressed that he had nothing against the heads of the troika since they represented Greece's creditors - "the only people on the planet who are interested in giving us money because, as you have realised, there were never any Russians, nor Chinese, nor...[anyone else]".
"In the real world, they are the only people that would give us money and these are the people we are talking with. But why are they here? They are anxious to return the money to those that they took it from. That is what interests them. This is not what interests us, however. We are interested in fixing this country so that it can survive by itself, without needing anyone," he added.
The full interview with Georgiadis in Greek is available on ANA-MPA internet television at http://www.amna.gr/webtv.php?id=39617
 Stabilization of the available household income is necessary, says Prof. HardouvelisThe economy shows signs of stabilization but what primarily needs to be stabilized is the available household income, Piraeus University economics professor Gikas Hardouvelis said in an interview with AMNA WebTV on Thursday. Hardouvelis, who teaches at the university's Financial and Bank Management Department, stressed that there should be no further austerity measures nor reductions in pensions and wages.
He expressed optimism as regards the course of the economy, saying that "the odds are in favour, the signs are here".
He warned, however, that "stopping recession does not mean that our poverty will end. Stopping recession means that the fall and deterioration will stop, that things will not get worse; it does not mean that the situation will automatically improve. For things to improve, we need to implement structural reforms and identify with the specific programme".
 Labour Minister calls meeting to deal with illegal hirings by employersA meeting was called on Thursday morning by Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis to coordinate the new inspections and fines system going in effect on September 15 to catch employers who have hired unregistered and uninsured workers.
Besides Labour Ministry officials, the meeting includes representatives of the Greek Police's financial and electronic crimes division, labour inspection agency and insurance funds.
 Opinion polls shows SYRIZA lead over ND; Samaras most suitable for PMMain opposition SYRIZA leads by 1 percent over New Democracy (ND), according to an opinion poll conducted by Public Issue for private TV SKAI.
According to the poll results, SYRIZA was leads with 29 percent, followed by ND with 28 percent, ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 13 percent, PASOK with 7 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.5 percent, Independent Greeks with 5.5 percent and Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 2.5 percent, while 8.5 percent of the respondents said they will vote another party.
In response to who would be most suitable for prime minister, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (and ND leader) was preferred by 35 percent of the respondents, followed by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras with 31 percent while 32 percent said none of above.
51 percent of the respondents were in favour of Greece remaining in the eurozone.
The geographic coverage of the opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between 5 and 10 September 2013.
 SYRIZA party spokesman Panos Skourletis says opinion polls are "encouraging"Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party spokesman Panos Skourletis on Thursday said that recent released opinion poll results are "encouraging" for his party.
Speaking to VIMA FM private radio, he said that "they have great value for us because they confirm, though to a lesser degree, what we experience on a daily basis by being in touch with the people."
Skourletis said that SYRIZA sees a "complete absence of trust toward the implemented policy but, what is clearly evident, is the people's desire to get rid of the present government".
He said that "our sense is that SYRIZA has a clear lead," adding that the government should be overturned as soon possible and that this means having elections.
Asked to comment on industrial action in the sector of education, he said that "a society that does not invest in education has no future," adding that "we support the teachers' demands, we feel for the parents and the schoolchildren and we put forward our own proposal for the new lyceum."
As regards the country's financing and the debt, he said that "obviously, if we are elected in government we will stop the troika evaluation. We have undertaken a commitment before society that a step in a new direction is associated with the abolition of the memorandums...".
He added that "the interruption of the country's financing means that for the first time, the path to renegotiation will be cleared," noting that "this will be the first time, because there was no renegotiation in the past. The specific financing serves to pay the debt and only a very small part is used to meet operational needs of the Greek public sector, wages or pensions".
 Greece represented at NATO chiefs of staff meetingChief of the Greek National Defence General Staff, Lieut.-Gen. Michael Costarakos, will be in Budapest from September 13 to 15 to attend NATO's Military Committee Summit of all national defence chiefs.
 Prosecutor seeks guilty verdict for Tsohatzopoulos, 16 defendants in kickbacks trialPublic prosecutor Georgia Adilini on Thursday asked for guilty verdicts against former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and 16 of his 18 co-defendants, who are on trial on charges of money-laundering and taking kickbacks for armaments' procurements programmes carried out when Tsohatzopoulos was in office.
The prosecutor asked for the acquittal of the defendants Pantelis Zahariadis and Spiros Hatzinikolaou, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to convict.
She sought a guilty verdict on aggravated felony charges of money laundering for Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Asterios Economidis, Efrosini Lambropoulou, Nikolaos Zigras, Giorgos Sapchasidis, Areti Tsohatzopoulou (Tsohatzopoulos' daughter), Ioannis Sbokos, Vassiliki (Vicky) Stamati (Tsohatzopoulos' wife), Maria-Talita Tsekoura, Oratios Melas, Konstantinos Antoniadis and Giorgos Konstantatos, noting that "it was an act repeatedly committed for their own personal gain". She said that the methods they used and their long involvement in the companies owned by the former minister show that they committed the crime repeatedly for their own personal gain.
The prosecutor asked for a guilty verdict on a lesser money laundering charge for Nikolaos Georgoulakis, Panagiotis Stamatis (brother of Tsohatzopoulos' wife), Fotis Arvanitis, Gudrun Tsohatzopoulos (Tsohatzopoulos' ex-wife), and Nikolaos Karatzas, saying that "their involvement in Tsohatzopoulos' crimes was circumstantial".
In her closing arguments, Prosecutor Adilini referred extensively to the main defendant and said that "he could have been a prime minister," adding that he has an "arrogant attitude", "defies institutions" and "even tries to mislead, alleging that he was framed".
She spoke about overwhelming incriminating evidence against Tsohatzopoulos, saying that "the size of the bribes he received was such that even he was unable to count them".
The prosecutor said that authorities discovered only a part of the bribes, underlining that "certain bank accounts have been found but they are nothing compared to what the former minister had illegally gained," saying that Tsohatzopoulos in his notes mentioned the need for his own money transferring service.
Addressing the court judges, the prosecutor said that they shouldn't listen to his excuses and quoted Jean-Paul Sartre by saying that "a man is fully responsible for his nature and his choices".
The trial continues with the arguments of deputy prosecutor Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos.
 Former Cyprus minister extradited to Greece on armaments kickback chargesNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Former Cyprus Interior minister Dinos Michailides is being extradited to Greece this evening to face charges of complicity in the money laundering and armaments kickbacks trial of former Defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos.
The charges Michailides is facing relate to money received as kickbacks from Greece's purchase of Tor-M1 missiles. His son, Michalis, is also facing similar charges and extradition, with his case being currently appealed at Cyprus' Supreme Court.
Dinos Michailides, whose similar appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, is expected in Athens at 6:00 pm on an Aegean Airlines flight coming from Nicosia. He will be immediately taken before a prosecutor, who will decide on whether he will be detained or set free until his trial, although it is likely he will be held at the Korydallos jail, where Tsochatzopoulos is also held.
Related to the case, a European arrest warrant has been issued for Syrian businessman Fuad Ziyad, a resident of Cyprus, but he has not been located so far.
 Exports of agricultural products up 10.3 pct in H1Agricultural products remain at the top of Greek exports, recording a steady export trend, and when combined with exports of cotton and tobacco products offer added value to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Exports of agricultural products grew 10.3 pct in the first half of the year, led by virgin olive oil (3rd place), farmed gilt-head bream (5th), vegetables (7th), cheeses (8th), oranges (12th), tobacco (14th) and cotton (19th), according to figures released by Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
The Panhellenic Federation of Exporters, in a report noted that a reapproachement of European partners combined with rising shares in Arab countries created a new export model for Greece, based on international and domestic financial developments which favoured new market-targets and boosting agricultural product exports.
"We will continue investing in the quality of Greek agricultural products, once again (serving as) a 'passport' to foreign markets," Rural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris said.
 Greece introduces new tax penalty code, matching offence to penalty betterGreek authorities on Thursday unveiled a new tax crime sheet aimed at streamlining fines imposed by tax agencies - for a more feasible collection of fines - and imposing stricter penalties for small tax-evaders, where tax evasion rates are higher.
A circular issued by Haris Theocharis, secretary-general for Public Revenues, also envisaged asset seizure and their auctioning off with fast-track procedures.
The new tax crime sheet envisages fines of up to 1,200 euros for non-issuance of tax papers (retail receipts, invoices, etc) of purchases or services rendered of up to 5,000 euros. This fine will be raised to up to 2,500 euros from January, 1 2014. For sums over 5,000 euros, the fine will be equal to 40 pct of the value of the transaction, or a minimum fine of 2,500 euros, over the same periods, respectively.
In cases of fake tax data, the fine will be up to 100 pct of the sum, or from January 1, 2014, a fine of 2,500 euros for each fake tax element issued. In cases of virtual VAT data, the fine will be equal to 50 pct of the tax.
In an interview with ANA-MPA, Theocharis said that the new tax code procedures will largely facilitate collection of tax fines.
"The fines imposed under the previous tax code were excessive, compared with the type of the offense - hiding VAT or income," Theocharis said, adding that with the new tax code the government was introducing a streamlining of fines. "We hope that now we will have a larger possibility of collecting these fines," he said, adding that citizens will be able to see that fines are in closer proportion to the offense.
He noted that focus was placed on retail receipts and virtual invoices. "We have several cases where data are completely irrational - i.e. for a tax evasion case of 100,000 euros, someone could be burdened with a total debt of 10 million euros. Fines were out of proportion, leading medium or larger enterprises to extinction, and we think this is not right. Tax justice must be the same for small, medium and large taxpayers. This streamlining moves towards the right direction," he noted.
Theocharis underlined that the reason that most fines could not be collected was that they were unfair, "and that's how people saw them". He noted that several cases reached the State Council and stressed that a second big advantage of this reform was that it would contribute to reducing the burden of backlogged legal cases, which have been pending at tax and civil courts for several years now.
 UAE investment interest in Greece in energy, natural gas, real estate, food and tourismThe United Arab Emirates' interest in investments in Greece focuses on energy, natural gas, real estate, food and tourism.
Apart from private investments, interest also exists in the energy privatisations (ELPE, PPC, DEPA), as well as for the Development Fund.
This appeared in the meeting held on Thursday between Deputy Development Minister Notis Mytarakis and a delegation of the the UAE government, headed by Minister of State Dr. Soultan Al Jaber, while for the Development Fund in particular they asked for the maturing of the idea and focused their interest on its management.
Al Jaber said after the meeting that the economic situation in Greece is becoming stabilised, the conjuncture is very good and the two countries' bilateral relations are at an excellent level.
He stressed that there is strong investment intrerest in quite a few sectors of the Greek economy and especially in tourism as regards hotel units, marinas, real estate and energy and natural gas in particular.
"It appears that the problems of the past for investments are being overcome," he said.
 Shipping minister visits LondonLONDON (ANA-MPA/I. Karipidis)
Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, addressing a press conference here for Greek reporters, stressed that "we clarified to all that we remain steadfast in our position that global shipping needs a regulatory framework. The best possible organ for issuing such regulatory orders is the International Maritime Organization (IMO)".
Varvitsiotis visited the British capital in the framework of the 1st International Maritime Week. He met with IMO secretary general Koji Sekimizu, with British Undersecretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond and with the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee.
With Sekimizu the Greek minister discussed issues relating to global shipping and the IMO's better promotion in the EU. Varvitsiotis invited the IMO secretary general to visit Greece, at some time in spring, when Greece, in the framework of the EU presidency, will be organising an informal council of EU Transport ministers responsible for shipping issues.
The discussion with Hammond focused firstly on the need for the effort being made by the EU on changing ship fuel from oil to LNG (natural gas) to be strengthened.
The second major issue that the two politicians discussed was the issue of illegal immigration and changes that are expected from the turning of the external borders fund into a border security fund. Varvitsiotis stressed to his British counterpart that it is necessary for expenditures for the upgrading and maintaining of equipment to be anticipated as well and not only for the purchase of new equipment.
The steadfast position for good cooperation was expressed by both sides in the meeting with the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee. The ministry's aim with its re-establishment is to be able to provide "full services for ships bearing the Greek flag," the Greek minister said.
 Seven cruise ships arrive in Piraeus on ThursdaySeven cruise ships arrived at the port of Piraeus on Thursday, carrying more than 18,400 passengers, while cruise ship market officials claim that the benefit for the Greek economy could be great if cruise companies chose to use Piraeus for home porting.
According to the operations vice president of Louis Cruises, George Koumbenas, Greece could constitute one of the top destination countries for cruise passengers, however greater revenues for Greece can be secured mainly by the cruise companies that are active in Greece and back the Greek economy in many ways.
As regards visitors to ports, Greece is in third place with 4.79 million and a percentage of 16.4. Italy comes first with 6.22 million and 21.2 percent and Spain second with 5.175 million and 17.7 percent. Norway is fourth with 2.4 million and 8.5 percent and France fifth with 2.3 million and 7.9 percent.
Meanwhile, the Piraeus Trade Society, in an announcement on the occasion of the arrival of over 18,000 cruise ship passengers in Piraeus, hails their arrival and stresses that it is an event that gives the commercial world a tone of optimism, but also rewards the joint systematic efforts being made by the Piraeus Port Organisation, the municipality and the Trade Society of Piraeus for the creation of all the necessary infrastructures that will attract cruise tourists.
 Environment minister holds talks with SOCAR representativesEnvironment Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Deputy Minister Makis Papageorgiou held a meeting on Thursday evening with representatives of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), that is the highest bidder for the buyout of DESFA.
The meeting was held in the framework of informatory contacts that Socar's group in Greece to be briefed on DESFA's current commercial and operational issues.
Socar's delegation, accompanied by the ambassador of the Azeri Republic Rahman Mustafayev, also discussed with the deputy minister issues concerning the procedures that have been determined by the tendering's terms until the final completion of the sale, for as long as the approval of the Auditing Council and the European Commission is expected following the granting of the tender to Socar.
According to reports, the efforts of the Greek government were discussed at the meeting on the restructuring of the local energy market and the possibilities for its development with emphasis on DESFA's considerable contribtion in this direction.
 Environment ministry opens the way for new Cruise Centre at Piraeus portPiraeus port is on its way to acquiring a "Cruise Centre" for larger cruise ships after Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis signed an order approving the environmental terms for its construction on Thursday.
The new cruise centre will built on a new extension of the southern side of the port and is the largest port infrastructure project for cruises ever approved for Piraeus, as well as the biggest construction project involving the passenger terminal, budgeted at 120 million euros.
It is expected to greatly enhance the country's tourism "product" and make Piraeus a privileged player in the rapidly growing cruise market, which saw arrivals in Piraeus boosted by 43.22 percent in August 2013 compared with the same month in 2012. At the orders of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, all procedures for building the new centre will be rapidly processed in order to make the port an even more attractive destination for cruises and marine tourism.
 TUI Travel PLC Chief Executive Peter Long visits the island of KosThe extension of the tourism season until the month of December starting this year, was suggested by South Aegean Regional Governor Yiannis Maheridis addressing an event on the island of Kos attended by TUI Travel PLC Chief Executive Peter Long, heading a company delegation of senior executives, as well as, local authorities and entrepreneurs.
In his brief address during the event on Wednesday, the travel company's chief executive noted that Greece offers safe vacations to its foreign visitors, underlining that the south Aegean islands can develop even more considering the high level of infrastructures and services offered.
He pointed out that this summer season ends positively and referring to next year he expressed great optimism.
TUI Travel is one of the world's leading leisure travel companies, with over 240 brands in 180 countries and more than 30 million customers.
 Coca Cola HBC listed in the FTSE 100 and FTSE All Share indicesCoca Cola HBC on Thursday announced the list of its shares in the FTSE 100 and FTSE All Share of the London Stock Exchange.
An FTSE statement said that Coca Cola HBC will be included in the FTSE 100 and FTSE All Share indices after the closing of session in September 20.
Coca Cola HBC was listed in the premium category of the official market of the UK Listing Authority and its shares began trading in the main market of the London Stock Exchange in April 29, 2013.
The company's shares are also listed in the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, while American Depository Receipts are traded in the New York Stock Exchange.
Dimitris Lois, chief executive of Coca Cola HBC, commenting on the news, said: "It is another significant landmark for the company and a significant day for everyone in the family of Coca Cola HBC".
 Greek stocks resume upward trendGreek stocks resumed their upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, following Wednesday downward correction, pushing the composite index of the market closer to the 1,000 level. The index ended 0.82 pct higher to 997 points. Turnover shrank further to 46.1 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.80 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.88 pct higher. MIG (7.21 pct), Mytilineos (2.95 pct), Intralot (2.45 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (1.99 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (1.14 pct), Titan (1.11 pct) and Eurobank Properties (0.85 pct) were top losers.
The Financial Services (2.27 pct), Raw Materials (2.08 pct) and Travel (1.92 pct) sectors were top gainers while Personal Products (0.72 pct), Constructions (0.36 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 70 t0 48 with another 26 issues unchanged. Boutaris (19.12 pct), Druckfarben (18.85 pct) and Spider (18.75 pct) were top gainers, while Atti-kat (20 pct), Varvaresos (18.42 pct) and Pegasus (17.74 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.34%
Personal & Household: -0.72%
Raw Materials: +2.08%
Travel & Leisure: +1.92%
Food & Beverages: +0.52%
Financial Services: +2.27%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank, OTE and Mytilineos.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.585
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.99
Coca Cola HBC: 22.88
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.70
National Bank of Greece: 3.23
Eurobank Properties : 7.03
Piraeus Bank: 1.33
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.348
Pound sterling 0.853
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 8.822
Japanese yen 134.16
Swiss franc 1.255
Norwegian kroner 7.973
Canadian dollar 1.392
Australian dollar 1.458
 800 kg of hashish found on beach in NW PeloponneseA massive quantity of hashish was found early Thursday at a beach in Kyllini, facing the Ionian Sea in the northwestern Peloponnese.
According to police, 56 packets totalling approximately 800 kg of hashish were located in the Kyllini area of Kastro.
Police are investigating with the port authorites.
 Forty-six to be tried over Golden Dawn-PAOK fans incidentForty-six people arrested for throwing objects at the offices of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) in central Thessaloniki were let free on Thursday after being read charges of breaking the peace and violating the law on flares.
The magistrate set December 9 as their trial date.
The 46 launched an attack on the offices on Wednesday afternoon, with stones and flares, which resulted in minor damages.
During the past few days, tension flared between PAOK football fans and Golden Dawn followers over the photograph of an Albanian player of PAOK that was posted on Facebook.
About 100 PAOK fans gathered outside the court while charges were read earlier on Thursday, to support the 46.
 Man arrested, police confiscate inscribed 3rd century BC funerary steleA 30-year-old man was arrested at Istiea, northern Evia, on Thursday for illegal possession of antiquities.
Police confiscated a marble funerary stele (70 cm high and 55 cm wide) showing two women, one sitting on a thronos (a formal seat used in funerary monuments), with the inscription "Nikarete Stratokleous". The object is dated to around the 3rd century BC (Hellenistic era).
They also found and confiscated 20 ancient silver coins, mostly dated to the classical era down to Roman times (from the 4th century BC to the 5th century AD).
The man was led before the misdemeanours court magistrate in Chalkida for charging.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 12C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 21C and 32C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 18C and 29C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: The Memorandum closes the schools.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Education without teachers.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Two opinion polls of reversal: Main opposition SYRIZA leads over New Democracy (ND).
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The changes in Tax Bureau's fines.
ESTIA: Major mistake of the Constitution.
ETHNOS: Recognition of buyable pension years deadline the end of 2013.
IMERISSIA: 1,000 euros' fine to those businesses that do not issue receipts.
KATHIMERINI: SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' extreme strategy.
LOGOS: Tourists with empty wallets.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Troika (EC, ECB, IMF) will check figures on the primary surplus immediately.
RIZOSPASTIS: Good and fighting year for working classes education.
TA NEA: Crime and punishment.
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