|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-10-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 4 October 2013 Issue No: 4477
 Golden Dawn leader, MP and party members taken to prisonThe leader of ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) Nikos Michaloliakos, along with GD MP Yannis Lagos were transferred to Korydallos Prison from the Greek Police (EL.AS) head-quarters on Thursday. Both have been remanded in custody pending their trial on charges of forming a criminal organisation.
Two more members of the party that are to be jailed on remand, the head of the Nikea district party offices Giorgos Patelis and a female police officer from Piraeus, are to be taken to the Malandrinos Prison in Volos and the women's prison at Elaionas, Thiva, respectively.
Streets in downtown Athens were off limits to motorists for security reasons during the transfer of Mihaloliakos and Lagos and the other two party members to prison.
According to sources, Michaloliakos and Lagos are to be taken to the specially-designed cells in the women's wing of Korydallos and will exercise in the yard at different times.
According to parliament sources, meanwhile, case files on other possible criminal actions involving GD MPs will be forwarded to Parliament from the Supreme Court Prosecutor's Office so that procedures can begin for their prosecution for other offences, for which they cannot be arrested and held on sight and for which their Parliamentary immunity from prosecution must be lifted.
Such offences include illegal gun possession, on which a ruling by the Special Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Ethics is required before the MPs' parliamentary immunity is lifted in order to face justice.
 Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas remanded in custodyGolden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party MP Christos Pappas will be remanded in custody pending trial, following his testimony on Thursday afternoon, which lasted for about seven hours.
Pappas, like GD leader Nikos Michaloliakos, is facing charges of directing a criminal organisation.
Sources said that the judicial authorities' decision was based on the fact that Pappas had been wanted for more than 24 hours on arrest warrant, before turning himself in last Sunday.
 Woman wanted in the Golden Dawn case turns herself inA woman wanted with other nine suspects in the Golden Dawn case, one the 32 individuals on prosecutor Haralambos Vouliotis' list, turned herself in on Thursday morning.
According to information, she is the wife of a suspect, against whom an arrest warrant is also pending, involved in the Keratsini incident that resulted to the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.
 Coast guard officers under investigation for illegal actions linked to Golden DawnHellenic Coast Guard chief Dimitris Bantias on Thursday ordered an urgent inquiry within the force following an anonymous tip-off that two non-commissioned officers in the Patras coast guard were involved in illegal activities linked to the far-right Golden Dawn party.
One of the officers was arrested on the spot after boxes of contraband cigarettes were found in his home, during a search conducted by the Hellenic Coast Guard Internal Affairs Department in the presence of a public prosecutor.
Raids on the two officers' houses also turned up privately-owned firearms for which they had a valid licence but which were confiscated for ballistics testing.
The officer arrested will appear before a Patras Misdemeanours Court prosecutor.
 Evidence given by Golden Dawn leader, Nikea branch chief 'not convincing', sources sayThe evidence given by far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and the head of the party's local Nikea branch Giorgos Patelis failed to convince the magistrates investigating the case, sources within the justice system said on Thursday.
The two men gave conflicting accounts of the sequence of events following the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas in Keratsini on September 17, the same sources said, while in some cases their claims were "contrary to common sense".
The main contradiction, according to reports, is the GD leader's claim that he did not know Patelis, even though the Nikea branch head worked at the party's central offices and manned security at their main entrance.
Concerning the calls exchanged with the party's MP Yannis Lagos prior to the killing of Fyssas, Patelis claimed these were made to arrange a speech to be given by Michaloliakos in Nikaia two days later and the publicity for the event and how to prevent clashes with the party's opponents.
His defence lawyers asked the magistrates to seek the lifting of their client's phone privacy for the last two or three weeks, in order to demonstrate that the frequency and hours of the calls he made and received were not unusual.
Meanwhile, the wife and mother-in-law of key defendant Giorgos Roupakias, the man charged with stabbing Fyssas, appeared before the magistrate on Thursday of their own volition and are to testify on Friday. Both are among those wanted for forming a criminal organisation.
 Golden Dawn: Investigating judges decision unfair, unconstitutionalGolden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) in an announcement on Thursday after the investigating judges' order for Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos jail detention noted "The decision for our secretary general is totally unfair, unconstitutional and has been dictated by foreign power centers".
According to the same announcement "Golden Dawn remains powerful, united and continues the legal political struggle against a corrupted and obedient to foreign powers regime".
 White House on Biden's meeting with SamarasWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/ S. Goutzanis)
US government's support to Greece's efforts to make its economy more open and competitive expressed US Vice President Joe Biden after his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday in Washington.
According to White House official announcement "Vice President Biden met on Wednesday with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and discussed a series of bilateral and regional issues. The Vice President noted Greece's strategic importance as a country ally in NATO and as a valuable partner in the promotion of peace and stability in the region. Biden praised Samaras on his continuous commitment to implement the harsh but necessary reforms that will set Greece again on stable economic bases as well as for the progress achieved. Finally the two leaders agreed that they will continue to support the reconciliation efforts in Cyprus and within this framework Biden welcomed Greece-Turkey's recent decision to meet respectively with the Turkish-Cypriot and the Greek-Cypriot negotiator, as a positive step towards the direction of the establishment of mutual confidence"
 Investors know that Greece is making a big effort, Dep. Minister Mitarakis saysNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
The atmosphere for Greece has changed compared with previous trips to the United States, according to Deputy Development & Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis, who was present in the meetings Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had here with investors and senior executives of major companies.
He told ANA-MPA that investors are aware of the big effort made in Greece, noting that there is restrained optimism. He pointed out that the prime minster met with bond investors, underlining that an effort is being launched for Greece to be able to return to the bond markets in 2014.
Mitarakis said that there various US investments in Greece and it is important to keep the communication channels open, underlining that new projects currently underway in the country are being financed to a large degree by US investors.
He said that an effort is being made to preserve this environment, adding that this was the purpose of the trip to the United States.
Mitarakis also said that the new investment law passed in parliament in April has generated very positive comments.
Referring to unemployment and real economy, he pointed out that new projects are being launched in Greece financed by US investors, adding that the unemployment rate is stabilized.
He said that he is optimistic adding that the work done is starting to give results and underlined that investments need time, therefore, "we are now working on the 2014 and 2015 investments".
 Prime Minister Samaras demonstrates continued leadership, US Senator Menendez saysWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA / Sp. Goutzanis)
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) expressed support to Greece welcoming Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to Congress on Wednesday saying "we stand shoulder to shoulder with Greece; our ally, partner and close friend".
Senator Menendez underlined "the relationship between the United States and Greece is an important one, historically rooted in shared values and principles. Prime Minister Samaras is demonstrating continued leadership during trying times as the Greek people confront a severe economic crisis with determination and resilience. It is an honor to welcome Prime Minister Samaras to the United States Senate today. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Greece; our ally, partner and close friend."
 Justice should be left undistracted to do its work, government spokesman Kedikoglou saysGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Thursday said that there was "obviously a surprise" on behalf of the prime minister referring to the release of the three Golden Dawn MPs pending their trial.
Speaking on the private television station ANT1, he noted that justice should be left undistracted to do its work, stressing that this is also the prime minister's position.
The government spokesman rejected rumours that the prime minister was dissatisfied with the stance adopted by the ministers of justice and public order, saying that "they are among the prime minister's closest associates. We have worked together on this case both government-wise and politically" and called on all sides to assist the justice work, noting that moves are made strictly within the institutional framework.
He also underlined that the government will not allow the trivialization of institutions and parliamentary democracy, noting that there are ways to respond.
 Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias says "the democratic state will not stop fighting against the neo-Nazis"The Greek Police (EL.AS) did everything they were asked to do by the justice servants and if more or supplementary evidence was requested they would have asked for more time and would have carried out their orders, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said in a newspaper interview on Thursday.
Speaking in Eleftherotypia newspaper, he said that the Greek Justice decided on a supreme level who will be charged and for what crimes.
Referring to the release of three GD MPs pending their trial, he wondered "why are they celebrating when they are faced with such serious charges," adding that the investigation does not stop here but it continues and will be spreading further.
Commenting on the reactions of GD MPs who were released with conditions, Dendias said that their reactions "were repulsive, vulgar and indicative of their neo-Nazi mentality," adding that "they are Nazis and act like Nazis".
He warned that the democratic state will not stop fighting against the neo-Nazis, noting that this is a democratic duty.
 Draft bill against racist violence to be tabled in a week, justice minister announcesJustice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou on Thursday announced that a planned draft bill against racist violence is to be delayed but will be tabled in Parliament within a week, at the latest. The draft bill will combine four proposals that have been submitted by parties in Parliament (ruling coalition partners New Democracy and PASOK, opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) and main opposition SYRIZA) as well as a European Council framework resolution for fighting racism and xenophobia, he said.
 SYRIZA leader expresses concern over spreading of neo-Nazi phenomenonBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras met here on Thursday with European Parliament president Martin Schulz and expressed concern "over the spreading of the neo-Nazi phenomenon and of the criminal organisation Golden Dawn in particular".
Speaking to reporters, Tsipras said he had the opportunity of discussing with the European Parliament president the causes giving birth and swelling the phenomenon, stressing that one of the main causes are the tough, antipopular and neoliberal options applied in Greece in the past years with the programmes.
"The common history of the peoples of Europe proves how essential it is for us to raise an obstacle for the development of fascism, as well as how dangerous and historically inaccurate is the theory equating the victims with the perpetrators, the theory of the two extremes which is being heard in our country lately, unfortunately," Tsipras said.
As regards the issues of the economy, the SYRIZA leader referred to the consultations he had with Schulz, saying: "We had the opportunity of discussing both the economy and the deadlocks of austerity in Europe. He said we are leftist politicians, having certain differences between us. I do not know who of us two must be corrected. It is certain, however, that the policy being implemented in Greece must be corrected and indeed radically. I had the pleasure of agreeing with the President that austerity is not the solution for the exit from the crisis, that the solution is not loading with loans to enable the previous ones to be paid off. Growth, strengthening social cohesion and combatting unemployment is the solution".
On his part, Schulz said that he agrees with the president of SYRIZA that Greece needs growth and the fairer distribution of wealth.
Referring to the issue of the Golden Dawn party, he said that Nazism always brought and brings misery and that all democrats must mobilise to handle the Nazi phenomenon.
 'Tsipras a Golden Dawn advocate', gov't spokesman Kedikoglou saysCommenting on an interview given by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Euronews channel on Thursday, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that "(leader of the Golden Dawn part) Mr. Michaloliakos and the (far-right) Golden Dawn have found their best advocate and defender in the face of Mr. Tsipras. Congratulations!"
Kedikoglou also noted that according to Tsipras, the government's decision to take the initiative to refer the issue of Golden Dawn to justice, "legitimately created a public opinion feeling that the judicial decision to arrest Mr. Michaloliakos was not consistent with the sense of justice."
The main opposition had earlier said that the Greek government was "accountable" for the handling of the far-right Golden Dawn (GD) party issue, after three GD deputies were released on bail on Wednesday.
Speaking in an interview with the Euronews channel, and responding to a relevant question, Tsipras said that he did not want to comment on the examiner's decision regarding the release of GD high-ranking officials.
He added that the government was politically accountable, not the judges' decisions. The government, he noted, was accountable precisely because for a long time Public order minister Nikos Dendias and the government did not respond to their obligation to hand the prosecutor the files they possessed until the murder of Pavlos Fyssas two weeks ago in the Piraeus district of Keratsini.
 Government had turned 'blind eye' to Golden Dawn crimes, SYRIZA spokesman saysThe government had for a long time turned a blind eye to the well known criminal actions of far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi), main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis asserted on Thursday in statements to the private "Vima" radio station.
"The government and ministers responsible turned a deaf ear, covered up, take your pick. And then we have this sudden turnaround, with this communications deluge, while at the same time it appears things are done that bind justice's hands, such as with the request to lift the Parliamentary immunity of the MPs facing charges," he said.
 SYRIZA calls for 'comprehensive' proposal on Golden Dawn's presence in ParliamentMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) wants a comprehensive proposal dealing with all aspects arising as a result of the current unprecedented situation, where MPs of a legally elected political party that was under investigation as a criminal organisation were in Parliament, SYRIZA Parliamentary spokesman Nikos Voutsis said on Thursday.
Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary presidium, Voutsis said the proposal put to Parliament plenum must be comprehensive in its scope, covering all the individual problems that arose, and be discussed as a whole when regular Parliamentary sessions begin rather than being dealt with piecemeal. he noted that individual issues such as stopping the Parliamentary salaries on MPs facing trial had not been discussed.
 DIM.AR says steadfast political front and determination necessary to handle neo-NazismThe Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, in an announcement on Thursday concerning the rapid judicial developments concerning the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party, stressed that a steadfast political front and determination are necessary for the handling of neo-Nazism. The announcement was issued after GD's leader Nikos Michaloliakos and the MP Yannis Lagos were imprisoned on remand on charges of forming a criminal organisation, while three more of GD's deputies were also charged and released with restrictions.
DIM.AR's announcement referred to "government contradictions that do not help in the handling of the fascist organisation. The dismantling of the Golden Dawn criminal organisation and of its parastate apparatuses is a paramount necessity for democracy," and stressed that Golden Dawn's cadres prove with their actions that they have nothing to do with political action but with criminal actions.
DIM.AR further stressed that when the anti-racist law's is discussed in Parliament, it will insist that such a law is passed and called on all democratic forces to join ranks on this issue.
 Far-right GD party popularity drops, poll showsAn opinion poll carried out by the VPRC company and publicised in the website "rizopoulospost. com" shows the far-right Golden Dawn (GD) party's popularity dropping.
According to the poll GD garners Golden Dawn 8.5 per cent of preferences from 14.5% last July.
The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) is leading the ruling New Democracy (ND) party by 0.5 percent. SYRIZA garners 29.5 percent of preferences, ND 29, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 7.5, PASOK 7, Independent Greeks 6 and Democratic Left (DIM.AR) 4.
On the question of which party is expected to win the next elections, ND is leading with 37 percent and SYRIZA follows with 21.7, while "none" was the response of 15.5 percent of respondents.
 FM Venizelos, UN special envoy Downer discuss Cyprus issueGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos held talks on Thursday with UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, focusing on a review of the latest developments on the Cyprus issue.
According to the UN envoy, the discussion was "very useful and constructive," in a period marked by "expectations as well as determination" from both sides on Cyprus, as well as in Greece and Turkey and from the UN secretary general, for a solution to the Cyprus issue.
Replying to a question on the process for the talks, Downer said that in the coming week the form of the talks will be shaped, stressing that the process as well as the content of the talks was important.
 Maritime zones to be central priority for Greek EU presidency, Venizelos says at book presentationMaritime zones will be the central priority of the upcoming Greek presidency of the European Union, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday. The minister was speaking at a presentation at the foreign ministry of a book written by former deputy foreign minister Christos Rozakis on exclusive economic zones and international law.
Venizelos said that he had agreed with the Italian government, which will take over the EU presidency after Greece, to turn 2014 into a "Mediterranean year" for the EU presidency, with emphasis on maritime policies and initiatives to highlight maritime and Mediterranean aspects of European policy.
He particularly emphasised the hugely significant start of hydrocarbon exploration in the region and also a law passed in 2011 that delineated the farthest limits of the Greek continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone, subject to final agreement with Greece's neighbours.
The foreign minister stressed that maritime zones and energy policy will be the key priority in foreign policy issues, linked not just to territorial rights but also to promoting growth. He noted that Greek-Turkish exploratory talks had now been expanded and concerned all maritime zones and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Saying that all zones had their own added value, Venizelos also underlined Athens' readiness to accept a judicial process for delineation.
Speaking at the same even Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas pointed out that a unilateral definition of the EEZ was not foreseen under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
 DM Avramopoulos says Armed Forces guarantee of Greece's integrity, security and independenceNational Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday assisted to the final stage of the Regular Exercise With Troops "PARMENION 2013" in the presence of the civil and military leadership.
Speaking in the Evros region, Avramopoulos said that "the country's Armed Forces constitute a guarantee of Greece's integrity, security and independence. On the other hand, however, they are always ready to contribute to every effort for the consolidation of peace, cooperation, stability in our wider region".
Avramopoulos added that all these decades, "with great sacrifices the Greek people have armed the Greek Armed Forces with the most modern weaponry systems and today we admired the infrastructures of our National Defence System through this exercise."
"In this difficult conjuncture that Greece is going through, the Greek citizens, who at this moment are contributing with great sacrifices to overcome the crisis can feel safe," the minister said, adding with emphasis that Greece is strong and its National Defence System is the guarantee for the country's security and independence, as well as for defending Democracy itself.
The national exercise "Parmenion 2013" started on September 30 all over the country and within the Athens FIR and will be concluded on Friday.
 New board appointed to new public broadcaster NERITThe new board of the new public broadcaster NERIT held its first meeting on Thursday, following the appointment of its members by the Supervisory Council.
George Prokopakis, a business advisor, was appointed president of the Board and managing director, while Katerina Evangelakou, Theodoros Karounos, Nikolaos Xanthoulis and Konstantinos Polyzogopoulos.
President of the Supervising Council Theodoros Fortsakis told ANA-MPA that the NERIT board selection was based on the criteria stipulated in the law among 130 nominations.
The NERIT board's term of office will be one year and its responsibilities include mapping out an organizational chart, appointment of advisors, setting the hiring procedures and organizing the broadcaster's programme with the aim to prepare the basis for starting normal operation in the early days of next year.
Deputy Minister of Public Radio and Television Pantelis Kapsis told the ANA-MPA in an interview that NERIT should be a member of the European broadcasting family. "The European Broadcasting Union is coming to Greece next week, and I hope that we will have a close cooperation to create a broadcaster that will be open to our era's horizons," Kapsis said.
 Dep. Minister for Public Radio & Television Kapsis' interview"The government's political will is to put an end to the Nazi phenomenon in Greece, which is an insult to our culture," Deputy Minister for Public Radio & Television Pantelis Kapsis said on Thursday.
In an interview with ANA-MPA Web TV, Kapsis said that laws are necessary to combat the phenomenon but, at the same time, that people will also have to be on the alert and above all "we need to show all those who supported this political party that we cannot tolerate such barbarity in the democratic Greece of today".
He stressed that ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) is nothing like other parties, those belonging to the so-called "constitutional arc," even though there are extremist voices in many political parties and extremist views that have an appeal to the Greek society.
"We should realize this and show a measure of responsibility at this phase, reaching a consensus at least on this issue. A consensus not only in words but in deeds and behaviours as well. We should all think twice about the tolerance we have shown toward phenomena of violence...and through self-criticism as a political system and as mass media, to try and overcome this problem," he said.
Commenting on the problems of the center-left, he said that a "strong political Center is necessary" but "an alternative center-left proposal on reforms and the social state is also needed".
On the new public television, Kapsis said that it will be a new television organized on a completely different basis, beyond political party or other political interventions, that will use the Greek taxpayers' money in a proper way.
Addressing the former public broadcaster ERT's employees, who still broadcast an online programme from former ERT's building, he said that they are following the wrong path and excluding themselves from participation in the new public television.
He also underlined that the new public television should be a member of the European radio & television family, noting that EBU representatives will visit Greece next week.
 Admin. Reform minsitry to reword controversial article for 'diavgeia' websiteIn an announcement issued on Thursday, the administrative reform sought to clarify points of controversy relating to a draft bill referring to the operation of the government's 'diavgeia.gov.gr' website, denying that the proposed measures would undermine the website's aim of promoting transparency.
Among others, it promised to reword a specific article that had prompted the most objections so that it was not subject to misinterpretation. Other clarifications concerned the posting of government service payments and other measures.
Due to the high level of interest shown in the draft bill, the period of public consultation is to be extended until October 9.
 Expenditure approved for local administration debts to EYDAP and EYATHThe Interior ministry on Thursday approved an expenditure totalling 162,320,000 euros for the funding of debts owed by primary and second stage local administration bodies and their legal entities to the Athens water supply company EYDAP and EYATH (Thessaloniki).
The payment of state debts to EYDAP and EYATH constitutes a precondition for the disbursement of the tranche for one billion euros in October.
 DIMAR leader meets with University staff associationsDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis met on Thursday with representatives of Universities associations to discuss the problem with the implementation of the mobility scheme in university staff and the university rectors' argument with the Education Ministry.
Kouvelis said that his party is against the way the measure is implemented adding that its aim should be the rational redistribution of the redundant staff.
 Greek unemployment rate to reach 34 pct in 2016, survey saysGreek unemployment rate is projected to shot up to 34 pct of the workforce by 2016, from 27.4 pct in March, a survey by the Labor Institute of GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella- said on Thursday.
The survey said that around one million jobs have been lost since 2008 when the crisis began and noted that the March figure (27.4 pct) was the highest ever recorded by a western world country in the last 30 years.
The survey noted that "a continuation of the same policy by the Greek government and the troika will continue to have painful consequences to GDP and to employment in the coming years". On the other hand, the survey stressed that implementation of a growth plan, comparable with a "Marshall Plan", funded by EU organizations such as the European Investment Bank, could lead the Greek economy back to recovery course.
 Strict controls bear results in labour marketGreek authorities on Thursday reported the highest number of new job hirings in a monthly basis in the last 14 years, in September.
A monthly report by "Ergani", Labour ministry's IT system, showed that hirings totaled 63,122 in September. This development coincides with the introduction of new stricter fines for unregistered labor announced by Greek authorities in September 12. The September figure is the highest since hirings in 2001 (6,161), 2002 (7,818) and 2006 (5,138).
"A whole city of 63,122 workers appeared in the official labor market in September because of stricter controls and new fines," Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said commenting on the results, adding that controls will continue as authorities will be upgraded becoming more efficient.
"We are determined to effectively combatting uninsured labor in the country," Vroutsis said, adding "we still have a long way to go".
 Tourism minister visits U.S.Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogiannis, during a visit to the United States, held meetings with senior executives of the U.S. tourism industry and major media groups to highlight Greece's new tourism identity, comparative advantages and the relative security it offers as a tourism destination.
According to ministry press release issued on Thursday, she pointed to improvements of the Greek tourism product via changes in the legislative framework made during the summer, while placing special emphasis on theme tourism such as spa tourism, religious tourism, conferences and 'senior' tourism packages. She also outlined the government's strategy, saying this seeks to attract and facilitate investments in the country.
While in New York, Kefalogianni gave interviews to major newspapers, such as the "Washington Post" and "Wall Street Journal", in which she stressed that the tourism ministry sought to make Greece an attractive destination for Americans, and met the publisher of "ForbesWoman" Moira Forbes.
 Municipality of Athens says credit rating downgrade by Moody's 'unjustified"'The Municipality of Athens on Thursday reacted to a decision by Moody's to downgrade the city's credit rating, saying the move was unjustified and that it was based on the delay in refinancing a loan signed in 2003 as part of funding for works of the Olympic Games.
"The downgrade is unjustified because it is dictated more by technical commitments and less by the real economic situation of the municipality," a statement said.
The initial loan was signed in 2003 ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, with the guarantee of the Greek state, and estimated repayment in August 2010. Municipal authorities sought to refinance the loan but failed in its timely repayment. The current authority agreed to a refinancing of the loan through a tender in 2012 "with better terms and despite a deteriorating economic climate", the statement noted.
 EC to decide on Olympic Air, Aegean merger until Oct. 16BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The European Commission will decide on Olympic Air merger with Aegean Airlines until October 16, said on Thursday European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's spokesman Antoine Colobani.
According to information, the two airlines' merger is expected to be approved by the European Commission.
 September budget revenues higher than expectationsPre-tax return budget revenues totaled 4.083 billion euros in September, up by 313 million euros or 8.3 pct compared with budget targets, or 614 million euros and 17.7 pct compared with the corresponding month last year, a Finance ministry report said on Thursday.
Commenting on the report, Finance Alternate Minister Christos Staikouras said the figures enchanced a consolidation trend of public finances and noted that the September budget figures were better than budget targets.
Staikouras, in a statement, said the government was reaching its goal step-by-step: the general government's budget for 2013 will end with a primary surplus. "This estimate is the result of realistic analysis of all data and not a tendency for celebrations. Of course there is no room for complacency. We need consistency of efforts. We have the duty to justify the huge sacrifices of Greek society," he noted.
 Japonica becomes one of the biggest Greek bondholdersJaponica, a US-based investment fund, on Thursday said it was one of the biggest holders of Greek state bonds after completion of a public tender which began in June.
Speaking during a teleconference, P. Kazarian -owner of the fund- said that Greece has made the biggest "rebirth" of its debt and underlined that the market continued to undervalue Greece, particularly in comparison with its Eurozone partners. He added that Greece has managed what most people thought it was impossible. Kazarian predicted that Greek bond yields will fall below 5.0 pct in early 2014. He declined to reveal the exact sum of bonds that Japonica acquired through the public tender. The initial pledge was to buy Greek bonds worth up to 4.0 billion euros.
 Elais-Unilever Hellas announces changes in boardElais-Unilever Hellas on Thursday announced that its chairman and chief executive, Spyros Desyllas -the longest serving chairman of Unilever in Europe- will retire at the end of November and will be replaced by Mrs Iro Athanasiou.
Desyllas, who served as chairman and CEO for 17 years, will remain as non-executive chairman of the board until the end of March 2014. Mrs Athanasiou works as vice-chairman of Unilever Food Solutions for Central and Southern Europe and South America.
 Viohalco shareholders to discuss cross-border merger planViohalco's shareholders are expected to examine a board plan for a cross-border merger between Viohalco SA and the Greek-listed Viohalco Hellenic Steel and Aluminium Industry SA in an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting scheduled for November 12.
Viohalco has unveiled a cross-border merger with its Brussels-based Viohalco SA and the relocation of its base to Brussels. The group will seek a dual listing of its shares in the Euronext and the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Karamolegos Bakery to issue 2.3 mln euros bond loanKaramolegos Bakery extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday approved a board plan to issue a bond loan worth up to 2.3 million euros. The proceeds of the mortgage-backed loan will be used to cover the company's investment needs and to refinance its existing debt.
 Greek stocks end 2.13 pct higherGreek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, changing direction for the fourth consecutive session this week, pushing the composite index of the market to its highest closing since May 28. Buying interest focused on blue chip stocks, such as Alpha Bank, Viohalco and National Bank. The composite index of the market rose 2.13 pct to end at 1,033.25 points, while turnover rose to 59.31 million euros.
The Large Cap index ended 1.83 pct higher and the Mid Cap index ended 1.65 pct up. OPAP (5.23 pct), Viohalco (4.70 pct), Alpha Bank (4.68 pct), Terna Energy (4.46 pct) and Piraeus Port (3.45 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (0.54 pct), Coca Cola HBC (0.47 pct) and Metka (0.16 pct) suffered losses.
The Food sector was the only one to end lower (-0.45 pct), while Travel (4.68 pct), Raw Materials (2.86 pct) and Telecoms (2.72 pct) scored the biggest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 80 to 47 with another 21 issues unchanged. Kathimerini (19.38 pct), AEGEK (19.05 pct) and PC Systems (18.87 pct) were top gainers, while Sato (18.89 pct), Boutaris (18.64 pct) and Epilektos (14.43 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.39%
Personal & Household: +0.18%
Raw Materials: +2.86%
Travel & Leisure: +4.68%
Food & Beverages: -0.45%
Financial Services: +2.15%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Jumbo, OPAP, OTE, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.581
Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.49
Coca Cola HBC: 21.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.05
National Bank of Greece: 3.11
Eurobank Properties : 7.55
Piraeus Bank: 1.24
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 7.51 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.40 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 9.32 pct and the German Bund 1.81 pct. Turnover was a strong 17 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were 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 0.225 pct and the one-month rate was 0.129 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.32 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 9.512 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,149 contracts worth 5.430 million euros, with 49,779 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,188 contracts worth 4.082 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (2,342), followed by National Bank (1,724), Piraeus Bank (1,460), MIG (392), OTE (833), PPC (1,149), OPAP (788), Hellenic Exchanges (143), Mytilineos (262), Intralot (156) and GEK (244).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.379
Pound sterling 0.851
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.750
Japanese yen 134.8
Swiss franc 1.246
Norwegian kroner 8.230
Canadian dollar 1.426
Australian dollar 1.471
 Lack of justice and unemployment the two 'spectres' most feared by Greeks, survey showsA lack of justice and rampant unemployment are the two top 'spectres' that people the nightmares of Greeks, according to a survey carried out by Kappa Research on behalf of the National School for Public Health that was unveiled on Thursday.
A staggering 91.7 percent of Greek people expressed fears over the lack of justice in the country, while next in line were unemployment (84.4 percent), poverty (83.6 percent), crime (82.6 percent) and ill health (81.4 percent).
The results were announced at a conference on "High Risk News: Mass Media and Public Health".
The survey also revealed alarming evidence concerning the impact of the economic crisis on people's health, with 60 percent of those taking part saying that their health had been affected as a result of the crisis, 56.9 percent reporting an impact on their psychological health and 52.6 percent on their relationships. A further 55.7 percent reported that they were struggling to buy medication and 28.4 percent said that they had resorted to cutting down their dose of medical treatment.
Asked where they obtained information concerning health issues, 76 percent said they were advised by a doctor, 53.5 percent by a pharmacist, 58.8 percent consulted websites, 25.4 percent the social media and 24 percent from newspapers. A total of 79.7 percent said they were very or quite well informed on health issues.
The survey also revealed high rates of 'self-diagnosis' without consulting a doctor on medical issues, with 61.6 percent saying they used the Internet, 35.2 percent via television programmes and 34.2 percent saying they trusted diagnostic methods used on the Internet.
 Sgouros threatens to close Fyli landfill indefinitely, unless police interveneAttica regional authority governor Yiannis Sgouros on Thursday proposed an indefinite closure of Greek capital's main landfill site in Fyli, unless measures are taken by the Greek Police to stop scavengers entering the site.
In an announcement, he accuses specific persons he does not name of seeking "to turn the Attica basin into a vast rubbish dump".
He claims that "certain people that I have named in the recent past, as well as further back, have decided to close the Fyli landfill. Using marginal groups of gypsies and illegal immigrants as the apparatus for their plans, they are intensifying their efforts to penalise management at the Fyli landfill through one more human sacrifice".
Sgouros criticised the Greek Police because "it was unable to intercept even one vehicle of the marginal groups" and wondered "who notified the gypsies and the illegal immigrants today, who entered the landfill at the same time as the vehicles carrying content destined for destruction".
The landfill has been shut twice in the past week after scavengers infiltrated the facility, with Sgouros appealing for police intervention to stop what he called a major health and safety risk for staff and those entering the landfill to work alongside heavy machinery and vehicles.
 ECHR rules against Greece over firing of HIV-positive employeeThe European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ruled against Greece in the case of an applicant who had been dismissed from her job because she had contracted HIV and later had her dismissal upheld by the Supreme Court in Greece.
The ECHR found that the woman's rights had been violated by the Greek Supreme Court's decision, which accepted the employer's arguments that he had been forced to dismiss the HIV-positive employee in order to preserve harmony among his workforce and the smooth running of his business.
Specifically, the court said that the act of dismissal was counter to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and that Greece had violated articles forbidding discrimination and the right to protection of private and family life.
It ordered Greece to pay damages of 14,340 euros.
 Four individuals in custody for illegal possession of guns, ammunition, untaxed tobaccoFour men aged 31, 39, 43 and 64 are in police custody in Patras, southern Greece, accused of illegal possession of weapons, ammunition and tobacco, it was announced on Thursday.
Police searched their houses in the presence of a prosecutor acting on information that ultra-right Chryssi Avgi members had in their possession guns and ammunition.
An air gun, two iron batons, a wooden bat and a wooden baton, four shin guards and a pockets' vest were found in the house of the 31-year-old.
A hunting rifle, a "Samurai" sword, knives, printed material of a specific political party and a number of cartridges, were found, among others, in the houses of the 39-year-old and the 64-year-old.
Roughly a kilo of untaxed tobacco and a wooden bat were discovered in the 43-year-old's house.
Police search in other four houses found nothing illegal.
 First four suspects in Halkidiki gold mining case testify with memorandumsThe first four of a total 27 suspects listed in reports and incidents linked to the reactions against planned gold-mining operations in Halkidiki, northern Greece over the past months, submitted memorandums to Thessaloniki police on Thursday in which they deny any involvement in actions punishable by law.
The four suspects, all inhabitants of northeastern Halkidiki and including a pregnant woman, did not appear at the Thessaloniki Police headquarters and were represented by their lawyers.
The remaining 23 are expected to follow suit when they testify on Friday.
 Macedonia-Thrace region acquires first recycling centreThe first Centre for the Management of Recyclable Materials within the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region began to operate on a pilot basis near the northern Greek city of Drama on Thursday. There is already a private company operating within the facility, which has made an agreement with the Macedonia-Thrace Region Waste Management Company for its operation.
Its operation will coincide with the launch of a recyclables collection programme using the blue bins for mixed recyclable materials, which will be distributed throughout Drama.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 6C and 25C. Local showers in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 10C and 18C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 9C and 17C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' dangerous handlings.
DIMOKRATIA: Terrible blunder with Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi)
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Golden Dawn's criminal attitude continues.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Disgrace for operation of Justice
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Unrepentant and provocative.
ETHNOS: Korydallos Strasse for the leader (Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos)
IMERISSIA: Return to profits.
KATHIMERINI: Shock and questions.
LOGOS: The country plunges in depression.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Six times up increase in real estate taxes
RIZOSPASTIS: Prime Minister targets the popular movement with dangerous theories.
TA NEA: The leader in jail, the gang free!
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