|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-10-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 11 October 2013 Issue No: 4483
 PM meets chairman of Chinese telecoms giant ZTEPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday met the chairman of the Chinese telecoms giant ZTE, Hou Weigui, who is visiting Athens.
The head of the Chinese firm said that after establishing a distribution centre in Piraeus for its products, ZTE would also set up a repair centre.
"We believe that these will help the country's economy and offer 400-600 new jobs," said Hou, adding that the project had the support of the Greek prime minister.
Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis, who was also present at the meeting, stressed that ZTE is one of the five largest telecoms firms worldwide and that the deal reflects the confidence shown in Greece by investors.
"The sacrifices of the Greek people are starting to bring results. The effort now is for other good news to follow, and the prime minister is in charge of that," he said.
Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis, on his part, noted that Greece's image abroad is changing and the country was once more "on the map for big invest-ments".
 Samaras chairs meeting on real estate taxationPrime Minister Antonis Samaras is currently chairing a meeting with Government Vice president and Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras at the Maximos Mansion.
According to information the main issue on the agenda is the real estate uniform tax, whose final draft has to be finalised before the troika's next visit to Athens.
 New property tax to be more fair, proportional, FinMin saysA new property tax, to be introduced from 2014, will be more fair and proportional, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss a plan to replacing two existing property taxes, Stournaras said the government wanted to collect less from most people. The meeting agreed to a milder tax burden on agricultural land, while the target for revenues from this new tax was set at 2.85 billion euros. The government's economic team plans to bring the new legislation into public consultation next week ahead of the troika's expected arrival in Athens in October 18. The Greek finance minister is expected to have a teleconference with representatives of the troika over the future of Greece's defense industries.
He added that taxes on farming land and land in agricultural areas will be very low.
Stournaras rejected the possibility of new across-the-board measures being introduced. Commenting on a recent IMF report claiming that Greece will need more loans, he referred to the report's page 14, which said that in developed countries the criterion used must be either the cyclical deficit or surplus."
"Greece has a 4.5 percent primary surplus for 2013 and possibly over 6 percent in 2014," Stournaras noted. "It's self-evident there will be no across-the-board measures," adding that the measures that will be implemented will be infrastructural in nature.
 SYRIZA leader again calls on PM to respond to press report in Parliament; gov't spokesman respondsMain opposition Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday called again on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to appear in parliament and provide explanations in response to an article by Avghi newspaper on Thursday according to which high-level government entities are planning a provocation against the party.
Tsipras also noted that Syriza does not carry out policy based on press reports but it tables questions in parliament and requests answers from the government.
He also added that the ministers and prime minister himself do not appear in parliament and called Mr. Samaras to give answers and reminded that SYRIZA has asked for an off the agenda discussion on leaders' level, without having received an answer.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou denied the Avghi report and said that "even the most unbelievable ridiculousness, the most extreme fancifulness, has limits" and questioned the report's ulterior motives.
Criticising Tsipras for "his communications games" that have "gone overboard," Kedikoglou said. "We've lived to see this too - first they supply their newspaper with imaginary plots, and then have Tsipras deny them," he added.
 Tsipras says tax in heating oil 'silly and irrational'SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called the government's persistence in maintaining the special consumers tax in heating oil "silly, irrational and criminal" and asked the government to abolish it immediately.
After his meeting with the Gas Owners Federation on Thursday, the main opposition leader noted that last year, due to the tax, the heating oil consumption fell by 70 percent, resulting in a 240-million-euro loss in state revenues. This situation, he said, placed a large number of the population into energy-related poverty.
Tsipras rejected the government's stance that the measure aims to tackle the oil smuggling, noting that it only created a huge vacancy filled by black marketeering with shipping oil.
 Parliament to vote on lifting immunity of six GD MPs next WednesdayThe Special Permanent Committee on Parliamentary Ethics decided on Thursday to recommend that Parliament lift immunity from prosecution for six Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) MPs facing charges of forming a criminal organisation and other offences. According to a decision announced by the Parliamentary presidium earlier the same day, a discussion and roll-call vote using a ballot box on lifting immunity for all six MPs will be held next Wednesday.
For three of the deputies in question - Georgios Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and Stathis Boukouras - prosecuting authorities have asked that their immunity be lifted so that they can be tried for criminal activities conducted within the framework of a criminal organisation and criminal action that acts as an insult to the polity through preparatory actions that tend to harm democratic institutions.
The requests to lift immunity for GD MP Ilias Kasidiaris relate to incidents that occurred in Iraklio, Crete, while the MP Ilias Panagiotaros is to be charged with disturbing public order and GD MP Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos for operating a pirate amateur radio station.
Germenis and Alexopoulos both appeared before the Parliamentary Ethics Committee during Thursday's discussion, with Germenis claiming that he was being persecuted for his ideology and talked of a "witch hunt" targeting those supporting Golden Dawn. Alexopoulos presented documents to show that the amateur radio station had a legal licence.
Meanwhile, new requests asking Parliament to also lift the immunity of GD MP Eleni Zaroulia, the wife of the party's leader Nikos Michaloliakos who is being held on remand, and a second request for Boukouras on additional charges were sent to the justice ministry from the Supreme Court prosecutor on Thursday. The ministry is expected to forward the new requests to Parliament later in the day.
The case against Zaroulia concerns the bullet found in a travel bag she was carrying when she visited her husband in a police jail after his arrest by the counter-terrorism squad. If her immunity is lifted, she will face charges for illegal possession of ammunition and bringing ammunition into a jail.
The new charges against Boukouras are for abuse, intimidation and malicious blasphemy and relate to an attack by GD supporters on Corinth Mayor Alexandros Pnevmatikos in Examilia, Corinth in 2012, which was led by the GD MP.
 Dev't Minister meets with head of Task Force ReichenbachThe head of the Task Force for Greece, Horst Reichenbach, declined to comment on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report which points out the need for new austerity measures, at a press question on Thursday after his meeting with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis.
It is reminded that IMF said in its report that additional measures up to 3.5 percent of the GDP will be necessary for Greece until 2016.
The two officials' meeting focused on the restoration of liquidity in the market, supports of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the planning of the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF). Hatzidakis said the government is ready to present its positions to the EU.
On his part, Reichenbach noted that it is essential that new ways to support the SMES be included in the new NSRF, in cooperation with banks.
He said that the Task Force has submitted specific proposals, which he did not reveal, to the Greek government on VAT collection. Reichenbach, however, admitted that taxation in Greece is very high compared to other EU country-members.
Hatzidakis noted that the key word from now on is "the total restoration of credibility. The government must continue its work, the opposition parties should show the essential responsibility and troika must trust the Greek government."
 PM Samaras' condolences over death of EPP's president, Wilfried MartensGreece lost a true friend and Europe a leader who combined realism with vision, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday, after learning of the death of co-founder and president of the European People's Party (EPP), Wilfried Martens.
The EPP family mourns the loss of its president and Belgium's former prime minister, Samaras said, adding that "we Greeks will be grateful for his philhellenism and support and will honour his memory."
Samaras sent his condolences to the family of Martens, who was 77.
Martens had been prime minister of Belgium from 1979 to 1992 and president of the EPP since 1990. He had co-founded the group in 1976.
On Tuesday, October 8, he informed the EPP presidency that he was unable to fulfill his duties due to health reasons and delegated his responsibilities to the EPP Group chairman in the European Parliament, Joseph Daul.
The centre-right EPP currently includes 74 member-parties from 40 countries, the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, 13 EU and 5 non-EU heads of state and government and 13 members of the European Commission. It is the largest Group in the European Parliament.
 Parliament President Meimarakis offers condolences for the death of Wilfried Martens"The news of the loss of Wilfried Martens, a friend and ally of Greece, filled me with grief," Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis said on Thursday.
"He was a great leader, who played a serious and decisive role in the efforts to overcome the economic crisis, both as the president of the European People's Party (EPP) and as the prime minister of Belgium," Meimarakis underlined offering his condolences to the family of the deceased.
Martens, 77, had been prime minister of Belgium from 1979 to 1992 and president of the EPP since 1990. He had co-founded the group in 1976.
 Foreign minister addresses event on overcoming crisis in the EUThe Greek government considers that the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2014 will coincide with the start of the country's exit from the economic crisis after six years of deep recession, government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday at a conference entitled "To overcome the crisis, the EU must move ahead".
"Greece is a laboratory in which the resilience of the euro and the European endeavour was tested and where the resilience of democratic institutions is also being tested," Venizelos said, pointing out that the first encouraging signs, such as the achievement of a structural surplus, were starting to appear.
According to the minister, the crisis had highlighted a number of major structural problems on a European level, including 'political deficits' and certain 'provocative inequalities' that were now being propagated by disparities in the cost of money and the cost of energy.
Venizelos also noted that, without overlooking the colossal loan and debt haircut given to Greece, European solidarity had come with some very harsh conditions attached and the initial 'rescue' plan had resulted in the current high levels of unemployment, persistent recession and a high social cost.
The minister called for an "honest discussion" with Greece's European partners on a political level and stressed that the country - while it must not relax efforts for structural reform - could not survive additional austerity measures. According to Venizelos, Greece's EU presidency could be an opportunity to outline a "new narrative" for Europe, with a return to the basics and a "repoliticisation" of the discussion about the future that focused on tolerance and "raises our resistance to racist views".
"As we cannot allow a murderer to hide behind the eurosceptic, so we cannot allow violence to hide behind the crisis," he added.
He also called for a major discussion on the economic challenges facing Europe and ways to make the European economy competitive.
Referring to the boat disaster in Lampedusa, he said the Greek presidency was working with the Italian presidency in the second half of 2014 to make this a 'Mediterranean year' and to promote a comprehensive maritime policy, with the assistance of Greece's European Commissioner Maria Damanaki.
The two-day conference was organised jointly by the Greek Centre of European Studies & Research (EKEME) and the Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA), ahead of the upcoming Greek presidency of the EU.
 Government spokesman Kedikoglou on the temporary digital signal settlement with private TV channelsGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Thursday underlined that the government is in line with the guidelines of the National Committee of Telecommunications and Post Offices (EETT), an independent watchdog, and temporarily meets the needs of remote Greek regions, making sure that "they will not be left without a television signal" until the soon-to-be-launched broadcasting licensing procedure for television channels is completed.
Kedikoglou referred to the temporary settlement allowing private television channels to switch from analog platforms to digital-only platforms, noting that the government is attempting to counterbalance the operation of the mass media in the context of the transition to a digital signal platform, and shape a proper institutional environment.
"However, certain parties choose to engage in misinformation by misrepresenting reality," Kedikoglou said.
He also said that the state will have millions of euros in revenues that will come from the digital TV signal provider, the television channels and the deregulation of the digital dividend, namely, the spectrum released in the process of digital television transition.
 Venizelos meets with NATO SG Rasmussen"Greece is an old, reliable and active member of NATO and will always play this role," government vice president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in statements made on Thursday evening after the end of a meeting with visiting NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Discussion during the meeting focused on the prevailing situation in the wider region, with an emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa.
Cooperation between the European Union and NATO was also on the table, in view of Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2014, while Venizelos briefed the NATO chief on Greece's political, economic and social conditions, as well as on the repercussions of the current economic crisis and the latest developments with regard to the judicial process against the ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party.
Rasmussen spoke of a very constructive discussion, stressing that Greece continues to support NATO in spite of the economic difiiculty.
He underlined that increasing threats should be dealt with only in cooperation, and made special reference to cooperation between both NATO and non-NATO member countries and international organisations.
Greece plays an important role in all the sectors, Rasmussen said, adding that it contributes to what he called "smart defence," with an especially constructive role in the Middle East and North Africa.
 Defence Minister to meet with NATO chief on FridayDefence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will have a working breakfast on Friday at 9:30 am with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the Defence Ministry in Athens.
The two officials will make statements to the press after the meeting.
Party funding suspension amendment to be appended to energy bill
A draft amendment suspending state funding to parties under criminal prosecution will be appended as a rider to a Ministry of the Environment bill on renewable energy sources expected to be discussed and voted on at the Parliament's plenary session next week, Justice Ministry Charalambos Athanassiou announced Thursday.
The minister explained that the government wanted the amendment to be voted on quickly, thus it didn't include it in the draft bill on electronic surveillance by judicial permission of those under trial or already sentenced because it will be voted on in two weeks' time.
Nikos Voutsis, the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group's secretary, tabled an amendment which calls for the right of Parliament to decide - following a question by the Parliament president - on increasing the majority vote needed to suspend state funding for parties whose leading members have been sentenced for setting up a criminal organisation. Currently the number of votes necessary is 180. If the officials' sentencing is irreversible the party's funding would be permanently stopped, wheareas if they are found innocent in the appeals process, the suspended funds will be returned retroactively and without interest.
SYRIZA's decision to table a separate amendment provoked the reaction of Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis on Wednesday, who called the government's rider "simple, clear and effective" while the main opposition party has called the government's amendment "problematic in various ways."
 SYRIZA rider proposes 'enhanced majority' for suspension of parties' state fundingIn a rider tabled in Parliament on Thursday, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) has proposed that motions to suspend state funding for political parties accused or found guilty of forming a criminal organisation must be approved by an 'enhanced' Parliamentary majority (usually at least three fifths of the plenum) in order to be passed. SYRIZA also suggested that the enhanced majority vote clause be included in any future Constitutional amendment.
SYRIZA Parliamentary group secretary Nikos Voutsis rejected criticism that his party is essentially opposed to the government-sponsored rider that would stop state funding for ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD), dismissing such criticism as a "cheap publicity stunt" that has nothing to do with reality.
He said that no discussion on the issue was carried out between the government and the political parties and the issue was not discussed in any of the Parliament's bodies.
A draft amendment suspending state funding to parties facing criminal prosecution will be appended as a rider to an environment ministry bill on renewable energy sources, which is expected to be discussed and voted on at the Parliament's plenary session next week, Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou announced earlier.
The minister explained that the government wanted the amendment to be voted on quickly and didn't include it in the draft bill on electronic surveillance by judicial permission of those under trial or already sentenced to be voted on in two weeks.
 DIM.AR on the suspension of political party state fundingOpposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) on Thursday commented on the confrontation between the government and main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on the issue of "the funding of criminal organizations like Golden Dawn," noting that "it cannot become the field of unproductive confrontation between the democratic political forces".
A DIM.AR announcement underlined that "in such crucial times, democratic sobriety and a united front against the Nazi phenomenon are necessary. Petty political party expediences have no place."
 SYRIZA slams government for 'giving away' broadcasting frequenciesMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday underlined the "need to clear up the radio & television landscape," and said that adopting new rules for issuing licences to private television channels will be a priority for the party.
SYRIZA also raised an issue of corruption over the government's use of summary procedures to "arbitrarily legalise" temporary broadcasting licenses issued to private TV channel owners 23 years ago, thus allowing them to switch to a digital signal platform illegally and without any charge, offering them what SYRIZA called "the biggest gift".
According to SYRIZA, the closure of the state broadcaster ERT in the summer was another gift from the government to the private mass media, creating a monopoly in the new digital environment through the Greek digital TV signal provider Digea, behind which are the owners of the private television channels.
SYRIZA underlined that "the government has virtually legalized contribution dodging by writing off the debts of private TV channel owners, who have paid nothing all these years in return for using the broadcasting frequencies".
According to SYRIZA, the bankers, who continue to control the banks despite the fact they have undergone recapitalization with the taxpayers' money, approve high risk loans for TV channel owners, when small and medium-sized enterprises in need of cash are being turned down and forced to shut down.
 Government claims again contradicted by IMF, Ind. Greeks party leader saysThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has once again contradicted the claims of the Greek government, Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos said on Thursday, commenting on the IMF's report that disputes the government's claim of a primary budget surplus.
"The IMF with its report about a zero primary surplus once again contradicts the coalition government and the prime minister, who will now hand out 70 percent of nothing to poor pensioners," he said.
 KKE on economic policyThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday issued a statement charging that the "measures of the government and its allies, whether they are called structural or horizontal, have one permanent and clear target: to create new fields of action and offer new 'breaks' to monopolies, for an exit from the crisis that benefits their profits, while at the same time the people will be burdened by unemployment, salary cuts and inflation."
 ND marginally leads SYRIZA, poll showsThe New Democracy (ND) party retains a lead of 0.2 percent over main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by Marc, commissioned by the Athens-based television station Alpha.
The ND would be preferred by 22.7 pct "if elections were held today" (as compared with 21.6 pct last May), while SYRIZA garnered 22.5 pct (20.7 pct last May)
Third place was taken by the ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party with 7.1 pct (9.4 pct last May), followed by PASOK 5.3 pct (4.8 pct), Independent Greeks 5.2 pct (5.6 pct), Communist Party of Greece 4.9 pct (4.5 pct) and Democratic Left 4.6 pct (4 pct).
The Eco-Greens garnered 1.2 pct and Accord for New Greece (A. Loverdos) 1 pct.
 Financial Crime Unit, Information Service heads to brief parliamentParliament will summon the heads of the Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE) and the Greek Information Service (EYP) to be briefed about issues related to their jurisdiction, a decision that follows a proposal by main opposition Syriza MP Zoi Konstantopoulou to the Institutions and Transparency Committee on Thursday.
SDOE head Stelios Stassinopoulos will be asked to brief the committee members about the progress of the "Lagarde list" issue, investigating the liability of Greek large-scale bank deposit owners for tax evasion, while EYP head Thanassis Dravillas will be asked to brief parliament about phone tapping, following media reports about such an activity against the Syriza party.
 Parliament to post more documents online, for greater transparencyParliament approved in its plenum session on Thursdasy a series of amendments that will introduce greater transparency, by uploading decisions and memos, project and procurement contracts and the number of its staff on its site.
The State Budget Office, which provides data to parliamentary committees, will present quarterly reports on progress in the state budget's execution, among others, and forecasts about public revenues and expenditures; a note on the public debt after 2014 has already been publicised.
Amendments voted were part of the administrative section of the parliament's rules of order. Parliament's secretary general, Thanassis Papaioannou, asserted that "everything will be published."
 General Secretariat for Transparency and Human Rights unveils first reportThe General Secretary for Transparency and Human Rights Giorgos Sourlas on Thursday unveiled the General Secretariat's annual report, one year after he took office. Sourlas noted that national plans for transparency and human rights had been outlined for the first time, laying the foundations for a systematic and methodical approach to these issues.
According to the report, the general secretariat opened 11 files over the past year dealing with transparency, offshore companies, fuel, fake invoices, customs offices, contraband tobacco sales and their impact on health and the economy, the installation of x-ray screening in customs offices, transparency in the mass media, the writing-off of financial crimes through continual adjournments, corruption in the health sector, bequests and bribes given by multinationals in Greece.
The cost of the activities outlined above to the Greek state is estimated to exceed 12 billion euros a year.
 Independent authority for public contracts fully operational, development minister saysDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday said that an independent authority for checking public contracts is now fully operational and staffed with 80 high-quality staff. The minister made the statement when the Authority's new regular members presented themselves to the Parliamentary Institutions and Transparency Committee. The minister added that the remaining 15 cadres will also be hired very soon to enable the Committee to be able to cope with the task assigned to it unimpeded.
Replying to a question by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Zoe Constantopoulou on why certain defence contracts were excluded from the independent authority's control, Hatzidakis clarified that the government raised objections to the relative request by the troika on the grounds that not all contracts should be treated the same way, since certain defence systems need special handling for national security reasons.
 European Maritime Affairs Commissioner wants citizens to vote for more Europe in Euro-electionsEuropean Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos and the head of the European Commission's delegation in Greece Panos Karvounis noted that the European Union must make crucial decisions during the first half of 2014, when Greece is in the rotating EU presidency. They were speaking to the ANA-MPA on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Greek Centre of European Studies and Research (EKEME) and the Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) on the topic "To overcome the crisis, the EU must move ahead".
Damanaki expressed the hope that citizens will vote for more Europe during the Euro-elections that will be taking place during the Greek presidency, thus helping European organs to proceed with economic, monetary and political unification.
Pangalos expressed optimism that despite the crisis in Greece and Europe, the Greek presidency will place its seal in a positive way, pointing out that Greece has belied pessimists many times in the past and has a good track record with difficult situations. He also said that the EU must take crucial decisions concerning revenues, the budget and the its finances, as well as for banking and tax unification.
Karvounis said that the EU's agenda for the coming months is to proceed beyond monetary union to economic, fiscal and banking and lastly political union.
 Maritime Affairs commissioner says EU being called on to take leap forwardMaritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, addressing a conference held by the Greek Centre of European Studies and Research and the Trans European Policy Studies Association EKEME/TEPSA on the European crisis, said that "the European Union is being called on today to take a leap forwards with bold options, with cost and consequences".
She added that "and in the Euroelections that are coming, we citizens will be called on to choose whether we shall have more or less Europe. We shall choose, we shall live with the consequences of our options".
Referring to the crisis that struck the EU, Damanaki said that it found Europe with structural problems and with deficits in main planning (such as in the functioning of the euro). "The good news is that we realised that we must combat the crisis united and we mobilised over 700 billion euros to distance the euro from the edge of the cliff".
Stressing the need for further integration, the commissioner said that "the banking union is already in the making, fiscal union has also begun (with the enactment of the assessment of the performances of each country every six months), the next step is economic union (for growth, employment and the handling of the rift in competitiveness) and lastly political union with increased democratic legalisation".
 WJC leader on Golden Dawn's cracking downNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in an article published this week in the Jewish World Review, noted that two events in Europe last week "cheered" those who "are fighting to beat back the growing Neo-Nazism there".
"First, Greek authorities arrested leaders of the extremist Golden Dawn Party, charging them with criminal activities. Then, a top Hungarian official declared that his government would use all available means to crack down on the country's burgeoning anti-Semitism," he indicated.
Referring particularly to developments in Greece regarding operations for cracking down on the far-right Golden Dawn party, Lauder says: "Last week, the Greek authorities acted with force, arresting the Golden Dawn leadership and charging it with forming a criminal organization. The raid discovered weapons and Nazi propaganda at the homes of several Golden Dawn leaders. In New York, the prime minister promised to implement a law against hate speech soon. No one has yet faced trial, and we must see whether the crackdown will last and whether Golden Dawn will lose its popularity. But the tide may have turned. Greece has shown that violent neo-Nazis are not acceptable, and I thank Prime Minister Samaras and his government for keeping their word."
 Roupakias receives extension to Tuesday to testifyGeorge Roupakias asked and received from the magistrate investigating the extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party for an extension to testify until Tuesday.
Roupakias, who is being remanded in custody in Malandrino jail for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, was summoned to testify on Thursday before the investigating magistrate on charges of participation in a criminal organisation.
 IMF did not call for new horizontal measures, Lagarde saysNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
IMF's managing director Christine Lagarde on Thursday said the International Monetary Fund did not call for new horizontal measures, focusing its attention to the need for a sustainability of the Greek debt and negotiations between the IMF, European partners and Greek authorities.
Speaking to reporters, here, during a news conference on the occasion of the annual summit of the IMF and the World Bank, Lagarde said it was premature to talk about new measures since assessment of the Greek programe was needed first, while it underlined that the troika officials will return to Athens by the end of the month. She disagreed with the view that new horizontal cuts in wages and pensions will be recommended, adding that a Fiscal Monitor report by the IMF referred to a fiscal gap, equal to 3.5 pct of GDP in the 2014-2016 period.
Finannly, she stressed that a Greek primary surplus will exceed expectations and repeated with emphasis that she awaited initiatives by the IMF's European partners to resolve the Greek debt problem.
 Labour Minister announces important changes for socially weaker strataLabour Minister Yannis Vroutsis on Thursday announced three important changes for the protection of socially weaker strata in Greek society, after his meeting with the head of European Commission's Task Force for Greece, Horst Reichenbach.
"We discussed the new and important changes that will be applied to protect the socially weaker groups", said Vroutsis after the meeting and referred to the establishment of a guaranteed lower income, the re-organisation of the labour inspectors bureau and the need to return to the labour market in order to tackle youth unemployment.
"These changes will change the image of the social state in Greece", he added, asking for the Task Force's technical assistance to implement the measures.
Reichenbach in his statements pointed out the necessity of institutionalising the minimum wage, noting that Greece is the only country in Europe that has not institutionalised it. It will be applied however in 2014, he said, and urged Greece to follow the succesful examples of Finland, Austria and France in this.
 Finance ministry tables rider extending period for prosecuting tax offencesA rider tabled in Parliament on Thursday by the ministry of finance extends the time available for prosecuting tax offences and imposing any sanctions and related fines by two years,for cases that otherwise would have been written off on December 31, 2013.
Mostly, it concerns cases that are under investigation based on evidence forwarded to the Greek authorities from abroad, like the so-called Lagarde list (an electronic file with the names of Greeks with sizeable accounts at a Geneva bank) and also, cases under investigation following orders by a prosecutor.
 FinMin discusses defence industries restructuring plan with Alternate DMFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras held a meeting with Alternate Defence Minister Fofi Yennimata at the Finance ministry on Thursday evening, focusing on the restructuring plan for the country's defence industries.
According to a senior Defence ministry official, a complete review took place during the meeting as well as preparation of Greek positions in light of the teleconference with the heads of the troika that, according to the same official, will probably be taking place next Thursday.
 Tourism Minister Kefalogianni to visit Moscow on SundayTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni will depart for Moscow on Sunday, October 13 where she will meet with Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinskiy and senior government officials, it was announced on Thursday.
Kefalogianni's contacts will focus on further strengthening bilateral cooperation in tourism.
In meetings with the head of the Federal Agency for Tourism Aleksandr Radkov and the agency's deputy head Evgeniy Pisarevskiy, she will underline that Greece offers an alternative option for religious, marine, sports and health tourism.
Kefalogianni will also meet with tourism sector representatives and give interviews to the Russian media.
 Russian Railways interested in buying TrainOSE, Rosco and Thessaloniki PortMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th.Avgerinos)
Russian Railways wants to participate in an international tender for the privatisation of Hellenic Railways (TrainOSE) on the precondition that the tender also includes Rosco (the rolling stock maintenance company) and the Thessaloniki Port, Vladimir Yakunin, chairman of Russian Railways and close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Thursday.
"The issue is under the control of the head of the Greek government; we are cooperating. We submitted our proposals and we hope that if these are taken into account, we will have the opportunity to participate in the privatisation of Greek state assets," Yakunin said.
 Agriculture Minister Tsaftaris announces actions in support of young farmersThe agriculture & foods ministry plans special actions and programmes to financially support young farmers and those who wish to enter the primary production sector, Agriculture Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris underlined during his visit to Anuga trade fair, a leading food and beverage fair, that took place in Cologne, Germany on October 5-9.
Tsaftaris noted that the ministry's policy focuses on boosting extroversion of Greek enterprises and quality Greek farm products.
 Greek authorities dismiss reports of shutting down regional airportsGreek authorities on Thursday categorically dismissed press reports alleging there were plans to shut down 22 regional airports in the country.
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund in a statement said that the Fund was promoting an international open tender for the exploitation of two groups of airports -comprising of 14-20 regional airports- through their accession to private investors. The remaining regional airports will be transferred to a new body, Regional Airports Management Company, fully owned by the Greek state, which will take over the operation, maintenance and development of these airports.
 Google official says technological innovation key factor for Greece to exit crisisGoogle chairman Eric Schmidt said on Thursday evening technological innovation will be the key factor for jobs to be created and Greece to exit from the crisis.
The leading American manager addressed a large audience at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) on the issue of "Technology as fuel for growth" and called on the Greek government to create a friendlier environment for entrepreneurship, particularly of young people.
"The crisis is an opportunity for you to find new ways and means of growth", he said and underlined how important it is for the Greeks to realise the focal role of innovations which, at global level, constitute the lever and the motive force of growth.
"For Greece the bad news is behind it and the good news ahead of it", he further said and called on Greece "to become a Mecca of high innovation". He pointed out in an optimistic spirit that "every crisis creates an opportunity" and called on Greece to dare "to expose itself to global competition", creating innovation centres and new employment opportunities through close cooperation between the state, enterprises and big universities.
 Registered unemployment down in AugustRegistered unemployment fell by 0.9 pct in August, compared with July, but remained unchanged compared with the corresponding month in 2012, the Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) said on Thursday.
In a report, OAED said that the number of registered unemployed totalled 861,279 in August, down from 869,193 in July, but up from 787,035 compared with August 2012, while the number of registered unemployed people not seeking jobs fell by 4.36 pct and the number of unemployed people receiving benefits grew by 5.59 pct in the month.
More than 90 pct of registered unemployed people are Greek citizens, with six out of 10 belonging in the age group 30-54, while around 60 pct of registered unemployed people are women.
A 62.88 pct of registered unemployed people belong in the 30-54 age group, a 26.68 pct in the below 30 age group and 10.43 pct in the above 55 age group. A 45.60 pct of registerd unemployed people are out of work for more than 12 months.
Among unemployed people not seeking job, 40.76 pct are men and 9.24 pct women, 25 pct are aged below 30 and 25.7 pct in the 30-54 age group.
The number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefit totalled 145,865 in August, up from 138,142 in July but down from 178,449 in August 2012.
 Greek unemployment rate up to 27.6 pct in JulyGreek unemployment rate rose to a new record high of 27.6 pct in July this year, up from 25 pct in July 2012 and 27.5 pct in June 2013, with the number of unemployed people totalling 1,374,054, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that 55.1 pct of young people, aged 15-24, were unemployed in July, while the unemployment rate in the 25-34 age group rose to 36.2 pct, up more than four percentage points in 12 months.
However, it noted signs of stabilisation in the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate, although it stressed that several additional such observations were necessary to confirm any significant change in unemployment trends.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose to 27.6 pct in July, from 27.5 pct in June and 25 pct in July last year. The number of unemployed people totalled 1,374,054, up 10.1 pct compared with July 2012, but only 0.1 pct up from June 2013.
The number of employed people totalled 3,610,549 in July, down 3.6 pct from July 2012 and down 0.4 pct from June.
Women are mostly hit by unemployment, with their unemployment rate at 31.1 pct (28.8 pct in July 2012), compared with a 25 pct among men (22.1 pct in July last year).
Unemployment in the 15-24 age group was 55.1 pct, followed by the 25-34 age group (36.2 pct), 35-44 age group (24.1 pct), 45-54 age group (20.5 pct), the 55-64 age group (14.8 pct) and the 65-74 age group (12.5 pct).
Epirus-Western Macedonia recorded the highest unemployment rate among the country's regions (26.5 pct in July last year), followed by Macedonia-Thrace (29.9 pct), Attica (27.9 pct), Thessaly-Central Greece (26.2 pct), the Peloponese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands (24.9 pct), Crete (24.8 pct) and the Aegean Islands (22 pct).
 Greek budget state down sharply in Jan-Sept.Greek state budget deficit plunged to 2.667 billion euros in the January-September period, from a deficit of 12.719 billion euros in the same period last year, down from a budget target for a deficit of 8.273 billion euros, the Finance ministry said on Thursday.
A ministry report said that the state budget showed a primary surplus of 2.624 billion euros in the nine-month period, from a primary deficit of 2.069 billion euros last year and a budget target for a primary deficit of 2.873 billion euros.
Net budget revenues totaled 38.721 billion euros, up 5.5 pct compared with a budget target (36.696 billion euros) for the nine-month period. Net regular budget revenues totaled 34.709 billion euros, 4.1 pct higher from a budget target (33.346 billion). Tax returns totaled 331 million euros, up 30 pct from a monthly target of 231 million euros.
State budget spending totaled 41.388 billion euros, down from a budget target of 44.968 billion euros, while regular budget spending fell by 17.2 pct to 38.622 billion euros compared with the same period last year.
 Greek exports down 5.7 pct in AugustGreek exports fell in August, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
In a report on the provisional estimates over the country's merchandise trade, the statistics service said that the value of export-deliveries totalled 2.085 billion euros in August, from 2.211 billion in August 2012, for a decline of 5.7 pct, while the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.915 billion euros, down 5.1 pct from the same month last year.
 Industrial production down 7.2 pct in AugustIndustrial production fell by 7.2 pct in August, compared with the same month in 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the industrial production index dropped 7.2 pct in August, after a 2.9 pct increase recorded in August 2012, reflecting a 16.4 pct fall in mining production, a 3.8 pct decline in manufacturing production (wood -24.5 pct, metal products -14.5 pct, electric equipment -24.2 pct, food -11.7 pct, beverages -18.1 pct and textiles -37.3 pct, while tobacco productin grew 29.8 pct, clothing rose 8.4 pct and leather/footwear products rose 23.9 pct in the month). The electricity production index fell 13.3 pct and the water production index eased 4.2 pct.
The average industrial production index in the January-August period fell 3.8 pct, compared with the corresponding period last year.
 Greek leather industry shrinkingThe Greek leather processing industry suffered a further shrinking of its production in 2013, after losing 90 pct of its production levels since 2005, a survey based on official statistical data showed on Thursday.
The survey showed that leather producton from cattle and equines fell 57.7 pct in 2013, while leather production from goats and sheep fell to zero just as in 2012.
The termination of operation of the biggest leather production industry, owned by Spanish investors, Leather Processing Industry SA, in Patra left the industry with only small enterprises focusing mostly on fur processing and production of fur clothes. A sample of 10 enterprises, which have released financial results, showed that EBITDA grew 9.0 pct in 2012 to 5.75 million euros, or 15.9 pct of total income (36.2 million euros, up 15 pct from 2011).
These 10 enterprises had assets worth 62 million euros and reported gross earnings of 5.8 million euros in 2012, up 33 pct from the previous year, pre-tax and interest earnings of 2.7 million euros, up 31 pct, pre-tax earnings of 1.2 million euros, up 1.3 times and net profits, after tax provisions, of 1.0 million euros, 3.3 times more than in 2011.
 Greek stocks extend rally for sixth consecutive sessionGreek stocks continued moving higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, extending their rally for the sixth consecutive session and pushing the composite index of the market to its highest closing since May 20.
The index rose 1.13 pct to end at 1,124.28 points, off the day's highs of 1,1127.70 points. The index is up 11.11 pct in the last six sessions, gaining a spectacular 40.48 pct from its 2013 lows of 800.32 points recorded in July 15.
Turnover was a strong 131.06 million euros. The Large Cap index rose 1.19 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.84 pct higher.
The Financial Services (2.81 pct), Raw Materials (1.71 pct), Oil (1.70 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Travel (0.54 pct) and Commerce (0.01 pct) suffered losses. Piraeus Bank (5.63 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (5.15 pct), Motor Oil (3.73 pct), Mytilineos (3.04 pct) and Metka (2.20 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Korinth Pipeworks (3.95 pct), MIG (1.43 pct) and OPAP (0.65 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 89 to 53 with another 25 issues unchanged. ANEK (20 pct), AXON Holdings (19.78 pct) and Perseus (19.28 pct) were top gainers, while Motodynamic (26.7 pct), Kordellous Bros (9.35 pct) and Voyatzoglou Systems (9.08 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.70%
Personal & Household: +0.57%
Raw Materials: +1.71%
Travel & Leisure: -0.54%
Food & Beverages: +1.68%
Financial Services: +2.81%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Folli Follie, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.638
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.71
Coca Cola HBC: 20.79
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.12
National Bank of Greece: 3.66
Eurobank Properties : 7.74
Piraeus Bank: 1.50
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 7.22 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.50 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 9.08 pct and the German Bund 1.86 pct. Turnover was a thin 6.0 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate was 0.53 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.44 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 October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 15.795 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,131 contracts worth 7.712 million euros, with 52,927 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 30,445 contracts worth 8.083 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (11,131), followed by National Bank (4,409), Piraeus Bank (7,139), MIG (1,025), OTE (1,178), PPC (1,119), Mytilineos (1,441), GEK (387), Intralot (290), Ellaktor (344), OPAP (267), Hellenic Exchanges (256), Eurobank (188) and Jumbo (170).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.373
Pound sterling 0.860
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.954
Japanese yen 134.36
Swiss franc 1.249
Norwegian kroner 8.312
Canadian dollar 1.426
Australian dollar 1.456
 WebDocs, a new ANA-MPA service of TV research and productionThe ANA-MPA is inaugurating WebDocs as of Friday, October 10, a new service that will facilitate the distribution of TV research and reports to its subscribers and collaborating international news agencies.
WebDocs will include high-interest topics related to current affairs analysis in politics, society and the economy of Greece. It will provide in-depth reports and follow-ups on current affairs events, interviews of Greek citizens, documentaries on political, cultural and environmental issues, sports, women's issues, migration, historical topics and tourism issues.
ANA-MPA clients will also be able to commission production on issues of interest, including live streaming of events or congresses throughout Greece, and full press coverage of any sort. The agency also has a fully-equipped television studio for TV productions and debates.
The agency's crews use all television formats, from Full HD to standards SD, mini DV, and DVCPRO25-50. ANA-MPA also provides fully-equipped ENG and a TV van for use in Athens and beyond, and uses the GV Edius an Avid programmes for editing (montage). It also provides a special service for processing graphics.
For more information, please contact Giorgos Kouvaras, Yiannis Panteliadis or Dimitra Letsa at (210) 6405700, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Culture Ministry staff pickets at Acropolis siteMinistry of Culture staff, picketing at the entrance to the site of the Acropolis to protest layoffs, are also holding a work stoppage from 12 noon to the end of their shift on Thursday.
The action was called by the unified association of Attica and island staff of the Culture Ministry.
"We are here at the entrance to the site to inform people about what is happening at the Culture Ministry now," union president Stathis Gotsis said, and condemned the layoff of 200 staff throughout Greece during a time when the ministry has need of more staff. "Meanwhile, the government continues to hire, to cover these needs, staff of various specialities through non-governmental organisations," the union president said.
 Special guard arrested for brutally abusing former girlfriendA 30-year-old special guard was arrested by the police internal affairs department for reportedly abusing his 22-year-old former girlfriend repeatedly, it was announced on Thursday. A search in the suspect's house, who is also accused of tax evasion and other crimes, revealed a 25cm-long dagger decorated with a Nazi swastika and a laptop which were seized.
The suspect was arrested on Wednesday after a complaint filled by the woman and was charged with causing physical harm, illegally holding a person, violence, intimidation, causing damage to private property, illegal gun possession and tax violations.
The defendant was arrested after his former girlfriend reported to police that in the early morning hours on Tuesday he had threatened and assaulted her. According to her testimony, he forcibly led her to his house where he kept her against her will until noon on Tuesday. During her captivity she was physically mistreated.
Since July, the defendant had repeatedly used violence on the 22-year-old, threatened her and a member of her family and damaged the young woman's personal property. According to the victim, she had been again held captive by the defendant in late September.
 Syrian migrants swim to Kastellorizo from Turkish coastFour Syrians swam the roughly 1.25 nautical miles from the Turkish coast to Kastellorizo island, the easternmost part of Greece, where they arrived in the early morning hours on Thursday.
The four were arrested after they were spotted on a remote shore by local police.
The number of illegal migrant arriving on Kastelorizo and the rest islands of the Dodecanese archipelago, despite the heightened security measures and coastguard patrols.
 Man remanded in custody for migrant-traffickingA 51-year-old Georgian man was remanded in custody after testifying to a Thessaloniki examining magistrate on Thursday, on charges of migrant-trafficking.
The suspect is accused of being the mastermind of a ring that brought illegal migrants into Europe from Somalia, packing them into a special compartment built into the roof of a tourist coach destined for Italy.
Another four alleged members of the gang were released with restrictions, along with the Greek nationals travelling as fake 'tourists' on the coach, for which they each received 100 euros.
Two more individuals are being sought in connection with the case, including the 40-year-old owner of the travel agency used as a 'front' for the traffickers.
 Tax office department head arrested for accepting bribesThe head of an Athens tax office department was arrested by Internal Affairs officers on Thursday, after she was caught accepting a bribe in order to speed up the processing of a company's tax rebate.
Acting on a complaint that the 61-year-old department head had demanded 2,300 euros in order to speed up the return of 23,505 euros in taxes to a company, the IA department arranged for the bribe to be given at a specific time in the suspect's office, using premarked notes that were found on the premises when a search was carried out.
Among her responsibilities was to check the reports of tax office inspectors concerning applications for tax rebates from companies.
The suspect was led before an Athens misdemeanours court prosecutor and charged with accepting bribes and breach of duty, which due to her capacity as a finance ministry employee are considered criminal-level charges.
 NATO vessels in Piraeus port on FridayThe Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group-2 (SNMCMG2) is scheduled to pay a visit to main Piraeus port from October 11 to 15, the Navy General Staff announced on Thursday.
The force, under German Commander Matthias Seipel, consists of the Italian vessels ITS Aliseo and ITS Crotone, the German FGS Rottweil and the Turkish TGC Erdemli as well as of the British HMS Penzance.
The SNMCMG2 is the main corps of the mine counter-measure task group.
 Turkish Minister of State carries out private visit to ThraceTurkish Minister of State Egemen Bagis, who carried out a private visit to Thrace, held meetings in the city of Komotini with representatives of the moslem minority before leaving for his country by road.
The Turkish minister called at the same time on the minority's members to aim at being equal citizens of Greece, to learn the language, the customs, "without being assimilated".
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 12C and 27C. Possible local showers in Athens with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 15C and 26C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 17C and 24C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Seal of failure with three signatures.
DIMOKRATIA: The same again.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Digital 'gift' to channel owners.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: New gift to corruption- Government gave away TV licences to channel owners.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Troika (ECB, EC, and IMF) lays off 5,000 civil servants who were in the reserve labour list.
ESTIA: Left growth does not exist.
ETHNOS: Hospitals mafia in an iron grip.
IMERISSIA: Reversals in shares' taxation.
KATHIMERINI: Bargaining with the troika in Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras' absence.
LOGOS: The country is sinking.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Red company loans threaten the eurozone.
RIZOSPASTIS: Pupils arrested because they participated in their school's sit-in.
TA NEA: That's how the universities will open.
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