|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-10-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 17 October 2013 Issue No: 4488
 PM Samaras chairs meeting on economy after meeting Euro Working Group headPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the government's financial team on the economy, following his meeting earlier the same day with the head of the Euro Working Group Thomas Wieser.
The meeting discussed economic developments and analysed the positions recently expressed by Greece's European partners. On the financial gap that is predicted to arise in 2014, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras stressed that there were different possible scenarios in play and that things will start to become clearer toward the end of the year.
Regarding Greece's hopes for rolling over Greek debt, the minister said that "everything is on the table".
Stournaras, replying to questions, also dismissed suggestions that the climate of the talks might be adversely affected by the negative stance shown by the EU-IMF troika to government announcements of a heating oil benefit, saying that this "was not an issue".
 Greek FinMin meets Euro Working Group headGreek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is meeting with president of Euro Working Group Thomas Wieser on Wednesday morning to discuss the four remaining prior actions needed for the disbursement of a support loan worth 1.0 billion euros.
The four prior actions are a restructuring plan for the country's defense industries and LARKO, a mobility scheme for civil servants, a new lawyers' code and repayment of state debt to Athens Water and Thessaloniki Water utilities. Euro Working Group is responsible for the disbursement of the loan, pending since last July.
Finance ministry officials said the main problem remaining among the four prior actions is the issue of the country's defense industries and said that a teleconference was expected to be held on Thursday with troika officials to discuss the matter. Ministry sources said that the troika was demanding the introduction of new measures worth 2.0 billion euros to be included in the final 2014 budget plan. The Greek government wants to reach an agreement with its creditors and a solution to the country's funding gap for next year without any "new horizontal measures", referring to across-the-board cuts.
According to a finance ministry source speaking after the end of the meeting, decisions on how to cover the financial gap that will arise in 2014, which according to ECB official Joerg Asmussen will reach 5.0-6.0 billion euro, will be taken in December. He said the meeting focused on a time plan for the decisions relating to the financial gap and public debt, with decisions on easing the debt burden scheduled for April 2014, after Eurostat ratifies the 2013 budget primary surplus.
The same source noted that the heads of the EU-IMF troika mission have estimated the financial gap at around 2.0 billion euros, adding that there will be new meetings between the troika and the government in which the Greek side will seek an agreement to cover the funding gap without new 'horizontal' measures, such as across-the-board pension and salary cuts.
 Gov't spokesman: Fiscal gap very smallThe fiscal gap is very small and can be covered without horizontal measures, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told private TV ANT1 on Wednesday.
Kedikoglou appeared optimistic that the representatives of Greece's lenders will be persuaded by the government's arguments to release the next loan tranche. "We have the arguments, the data, and we believe that we will persuade them on the rightness of our claims," he said.
Referring to the fiscal gap, he underlined that "our lenders are obliged to deal with it".
 Prime Minister Samaras briefs President on results of Israel, US visitsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday met with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at the presidential mansion, in order to brief him on the results of his trips to the United States and Israel, as well as matters relating to the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2014.
 PM Samaras observes military exercise off Hydra islandPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday observed the armed forces exercise "Pyrpolitis" from on board the frigate Salamis and commended the high level of the military readiness of the Greek military and of officers' training.
"This difficult and demanding exercise in which all the branches of the Greek armed forces took part highlighted the readiness, the high morale, the determination and the efficiency of the military", Samaras said after the conclusion of the exercise.
Navy, Air Force and special units participated in the exercise that took place under harsh weather conditions in the sea region off Hydra island, near Dokos islet.
 Parliament lifts immunity of six Golden Dawn deputiesThe parliamentary plenum on Wednesday decided to lift the immunity of six deputies of the extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party - Efstathios Boukouras, Giorgos Germenis, Ilias Kassidiaris, Ilias Panagiotaros, Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos and Panagiotis Iliopoulos - following roll call voting.
According to the voting results, 246 MP voted in the affirmative, while one vote was found to be invalid.
The request for the lifting of immunity by prosecuting magistrates relates to Boukouras', Germenis' and Iliopoulos' involvement in a criminal organisation, while for the rest to older criminal cases was submitted to parliament.
 New request to strip Parliamentary immunity from GD MPs Panagiotaros, KassidiarisThe Supreme Court Prosecutor, via the ministry of justice, on Wednesday forwarded a new request for the removal of Parliamentary immunity of ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) MPs Ilias Panagiotaros and Ilias Kassidiaris, so that they can be tried in court for using illegal force in an incident targeting Meligala Mayor Filippos Bamis last September.
The Supreme Court Prosecutor acted in response to an earlier request by the Prosecutor's Office in Kalamata, southern Greece.
The incidents were recorded during a memorial for the victims of Pigada in Meligala, killed in September 1944, when Panagiotaros attacked Mayor Bamis and took the microphone from his hands and called him a "clown". The mayor and others attending the memorial left the area and when Kassidiaris took the podium, he referred to the events in Meligala as a "genocide" and launched a verbal attack on the government and government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
 Supreme Court to decide whether former finmin's alleged offences are statute-barredSupreme Court Special Examining Magistrate Iosif Tsalaganidis on Wednesday filed a request with the Supreme Court Justices' Council, asking them to decide whether the offences for which former finance minister George Papaconstantinou faces charges and which related to his handling of the so-called 'Lagarde list' are statute-barred.
The magistrate makes no recommendation, either in favour or against dropping prosecution, but asks for a decision on the issue before the magistrate's investigation begins, to avoid unnecessary actions.
The legal issue has arisen due to the double elections held in 2012 and the "single-day Parliament" convened after the May 6 election, which was immediately disbanded so that elections might be repeated. Based on article 86 of the Greek Constitution, unless a prosecution against a former minister is initiated before two Parliaments have elapsed, any offences are automatically written off and the state loses the right to prosecute in relation to them.
The file on the case has been sent to the Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Anastasios Kanellopoulos, who will make a recommendation on the issue to the justices' council, which will then be called on to make a decision. No date fo the convening the council has yet been set.
The charges against Papaconstantinou concern his handling of CD containing a list of Greek depositors with accounts in a Swiss bank, which was sent to him by French authorities just before he was removed from the finance ministry in a 2011 cabinet reshuffle, to be replaced by Evangelos Venizelos. Apart from taking no action was taken to investigate the names on the list and whether the sums transferred abroad could be justified, Papaconstantinou is also facing charges of the loss of the original CD, which disappeared along with its accompanying documents.
Instead, Venizelos received a flash drive copy that resurfaced almost a year later, after the double elections of 2012, which later proved to have been tampered with when it was compared with the original - which was resent by French authorities. Among the names and entries deleted, were those for accounts held by three close relatives of the former minister.
On July 17, the Greek Parliament voted in favour of indicting Papaconstantinou for three offences, two felonies and one misdemeanour, including breach of faith, dereliction of duty and falsifying an official document.
 Venizelos meets with government ministers of PASOKGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday addressed ministers and deputy ministers representing PASOK in the government and rejected the adoption of new fiscal measures and a new memorandum, PASOK sources said.
Venizelos underlined that the government efforts brought very serious results, adding that a comprehensive discussion on priorities will have to take place focusing on real economy and the diptych of "economic growth-employment".
As regards the course of state debt, he referred to the available options and expressed satisfaction regarding developments concerning the ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) party.
Referring to efforts for the creation of a center-left political force, he characterized the "initiative of the 58" a positive development.
A meeting of the party's Parliamentary group will take place next week, while an new meeting with the government ministers of PASOK will focus on the issue of the National Strategic Reference Programme (NSRP).
 Venizelos to receive Bulgarian FM on ThursdayGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will meet at 10:45 am on Thursday with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin at the Foreign Ministry.
The two officials will make statements at 12:00 noon and afterwards Venizelos will host a working dinner in honour of the visiting Bulgarian official.
 SYRIZA: 'government daily up against impasses created by its policies'The government is daily coming up against the impasses created by its policies, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) said on Wednesday, in an announcement commenting on the government's negotiations with the troika representing Greece's lenders.
SYRIZA referred to a "blatant failure of the programme for all targets that it had set" and said this would lead to new austerity measures that "raze to the ground the 'success story' of the primary surplus".
The answer to the economic and social bankruptcy can only be achieved by overthrowing austerity memorandum policies and those that express them, and charting a new strategy for growth and the redistribution of wealth in Greece and Europe, the party said.
 Greek EU Presidency preparations underway, dep. foreign minister saysThe euro-skepticism issue ahead of the crucial European Parliament elections in May will be among the main issues for the forthcoming Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said on Wednesday.
Responding to a question by a reporter, he noted that a desired goal for the Greek EU Presidency will be making steps that will help to solve the problem of unemployment and deal with the crisis in the European Union, thus boosting the credibility of the European idea among European citizens.
Kourkoulas said that the discussion on the future of Europe will intensify during the Greek EU Presidency and noted that the current rise of euro-skepticism is unprecedented.
According to diplomatic sources, meanwhile, the budget of the Greek EU Presidency will be under 50 million euros - considerably 'leaner' than the 60-80 million euros spent by the more recent EU presidencies - and will cover the expenses of all government ministries involved, while the sponsorship option will also be used.
Greece, as the European Council presiding country, will host 14 informal ministerial meetings and roughly 110 lower-level meetings, such as Coreper, as well as the Informal Council of Foreign Ministers (Gymnich). More than 14,500 visitors are expected during the Greek EU Presidency.
All informal meetings will take place in the Zappeion Building in central Athens, except Gymnich that will be held elsewhere in the greater Attica region.
The personnel of the Permanent Representation of Greece in Brussels will be increased to 150 employees to meet the needs of the Greek EU Presidency, while an EU presidency office has already been set up at the foreign ministry in Athens.
The Greek EU presidency website was constructed by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and will be managed by the General Secretariat of Information under the foreign ministry's supervision.
The political priorities of the Greek EU Presidency will be economic growth and combating unemployment, reinforcement of the Economic and Monetary Union and promoting a more comprehensive European policy on immigration and maritime policy.
The Greek EU Presidency will be of a "new type" and more complex to manage than the EU Presidency hosted by Greece in 2003, diplomatic sources said, adding that due to the European Parliament elections in May 2013, efforts will be made to promote all urgent legislation in the first three months of its term.
 FYROM ready for accession talks, EU Commission report finds; urges action on name disputeThe European Commission on Wednesday proposed the start of accession talks with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for the fifth time, while noting the need to persevere with efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the dispute with Greece concerning the country's name.
In its 62-page progress report, the Commission stressed that FYROM continues to fully meet the criteria for starting accession negotiations with the European Union, though urging further progress in areas such as the independence of justice, freedom of expression, electoral reform and others.
Among others, it notes that the dispute over the name issue with Greece is still outstanding and no solution has been found in the 20 years since FYROM joined the United Nations. It notes that FYROM continues to take part in the UN-sponsored talks and in direct contact with Greece, adding that the UN-mediated negotiations, as well as bilateral meetings and talks, must continued with greater intensity.
The Commission's report also refers to FYROM's relations with Greece and the visits made by UN envoy Matthew Nimetz to Athens, Skopje and the talks in New York.
Among others, it notes that steps have been made but that the issue of the name remains unresolved, emphasising that maintaining good neighbour relations, including participation in negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution, remains essential. It further asks for a "constructive approach" to relations with neighbouring countries and an avoidance of actions or statements that might have a negative impact on good neighbour relations.
Finally, Greece is listed among the biggest sources of foreign investment in FYROM, along with the Netherlands, Austria and Slovenia.
 Greece, fYRoM representatives to meet at UN on Oct. 24-25NEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P.Panagiotou)
The UN secretary general's special envoy for the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) Matthew Nimetz has invited the representatives of the two countries, Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece and Zoran Jolevski of fYRoM, to meetings in New York on October 24 and 25.
According to a UN secretariat press release on Wednesday, the two sides have already accepted the invitation.
The press release indicated that Nimetz will first meet the two countries' representatives separately and then a joint meeting of the three officials will follow, aimed at continuing the UN's mediation in the talks for finding of a "mutually acceptable solution in the issue of the name".
 European Commission releases annual progress report on TurkeyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The European Commission's annual progress report on Turkey, which was released on Wednesday, included extensive references to the continuing efforts aimed at improving Greek-Turkish relations, underlining that Ankara should intensify its efforts to find a solution to bilateral issues that remain unresolved, including border disputes.
As regards issues of Greek interest, the annual report underlined that Turkey and Greece must continue efforts aimed at improving bilateral relations. It underlined that high-level meetings took place in October 2012 and February 2013, while the High-Level Cooperation Council was held at prime ministerial level in Istanbul in March 2013 (three years after the first one). Many cooperation agreements were signed and 55 rounds of exploratory contacts were held since 2002 to find common ground for the start of negotiations on the delimitation of the continental shelf.
On Turkey's obligation to unequivocally commit itself to good neighbourly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes, the report noted that the threat of casus belli in response to any extension of Greek territorial waters, as made in a Turkish Grand National Assembly resolution in 1995, still stands.
According to the European Commission, "Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice. In this context, the European Union expresses once again serious concern, and urges Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a member state, or source of friction or actions, which could damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes".
The European Commission also noted that Greece and Cyprus have made formal complaints about violations of their territorial waters and airspace by Turkey, including flights over Greek islands.
The report referred to Turkey's threats in response to Cyprus' sovereign right to hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, to its refusal to accept Cyprus as the EU Council presiding country and to the fact it has not met its obligations toward Cyprus.
The report underlined that Turkey has not met its obligations stemming from the EU-Turkey Negotiating Framework that concern Cyprus, such as, the implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement, the normalization of its relations with Cyprus and the lifting of its veto of Cyprus' accession into international organizations. The country's active support to the talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem is also requested.
According to the report, "as emphasised in the negotiating framework and Council declarations, Turkey is expected to actively support the negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. Turkey's commitment in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement is crucial".
As regards the Cyprus issue the report underlined that "Turkey continued to express public support for the negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus under the good offices of the UN Secretary-General, for a fair, comprehensive and viable solution. Turkey granted the Committee on Missing Persons increased access to a fenced military area in the northern part of Cyprus, and is encouraged to build on this welcome step and be more accommodating of the Committee's requirements to access relevant archives and military zones for exhumation.
"However, Turkey continued to issue statements challenging the Republic of Cyprus' rights to exploit hydrocarbon resources in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone for the benefit of all Cypriots, and announced retaliatory measures against one EU company awarded an exploration license by Cyprus.
The EU stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member States which include, inter alia, entering into bilateral agreements, and to explore and exploit their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Turkey "has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus. There was no progress on normalising bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus".
The European Commission also noted that Turkey has not lifted its veto of Cyprus' membership of several international organisations.
In conclusion, the European Commission noted that "despite repeated calls by the Council and the Commission, Turkey has still not complied with its obligations as outlined in the declaration of the European Community and its member states on September 21, 2005 and in Council conclusions, including those of December 2006 and December 2010".
 Draft law on renewable energy sources passes first round of votingParliament passed the draft law on renewable sources of energy (RSE) in principle in the early morning hours of Wednesday, through votes of ruling New Democracy and PASOK parties.
The draft law, which will be discussed by article and amendment on Thursday, was voted down by the opposition.
Energy Minister Yiannis Maniatis added to the draft a provision bringing agricultural electrical production units of under 100 kW under the category of sources whose coefficient of variation - related to frequency distribution - will be set by ministerial decision.
The reference in provisions of the draft law to future ministerial decisions was one of the main reasons the opposition voted it down, as it "invests the minister with super-powers". Main opposition SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Dimitris Papadimoulis said "all open issues remain wide open" under the law, and charged that only 40 percent of RSE fees collected would be reinvested in real RSEs, while 60 percent would go for electrical power production to large-scale investors who use natural gas as their primary source.
Maniatis acknowledged the draft law's issues but said it was "a step forward".
 EYP head calls for inspection to dispel phone-tapping rumoursThe head of Greece's National Intelligence Service (EYP) Theodoros Dravillas on Wednesday asked that there be a thorough inspection of EYP's facilities in order to remove all suspicions that the service was involved in illegal phone-tapping and communications surveillance. The request came after a series of rumours concerning EYP's activities were reported by the press and mass media.
In a press release, the public order and citizen protection ministry said Dravillas pointed out that it had been two years since the last inspection carried out by the Authority for the Security of Communications Privacy and that EYP's leadership had subsequently been changed but "taking into account the present conjucture, we need to carry out the relevant inspection as soon as possible".
 ND MPs table question over 'unfair' taxation of farming landSixty ruling New Democracy (ND) MPs, led by Iordanis Tzamtzis and including former minister Dora Bakoyannis, on Wednesday tabled a question for the finance and agriculture ministers against the imposition of "unfair" and excessive taxation of farmers.
The question referred to the start of public consultation on the final version of a draft bill for the Single Property Tax in 2014, which will tax farming land for the first time.
According to the MPs, the tax burden on farmers is excessive, both for farmers that cultivate their plots and those with land that is not economically active, and this will hamper efforts to kickstart the rural economy, while many farmers will have difficulty making the payments.
 ND deputies question minister on former broadcaster ERTThirty-two New Democracy deputies tabled a question to Deputy Minister for Public Radio and Television Pantelis Kapsis on Wednesday, asking him to clarify his intentions and planned initiatives to "overcome the current impasse and bring legality to public radio and television".
The deputies wanted to know how the minister planned to deal with the continued occupation of the premises of the former public broadcaster ERT in the northern suburb of Aghia Paraskevi by its former employees since the government shut the station down on June 11.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrates Mt. Athos centenaryEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was welcomed with great honours at northern Greece's Mt. Athos monasteries on Tuesday on a visit to celebrate the centenary of the religious community's incorporation into the modern Greek state.
According to an announcement late on Tuesday, the Patriarch paid honour to the monks who had signed the resolution a century ago and asked to be briefed about the community's current problems.
Calling Mt. Athos "a unique and living part of Byzantium that has remained unaffected by passing times and changes in history," the patriarch also expressed his sadness over the trials of Christians in the Middle East and called on the monks to pray for the freeing of the two Syrian bishops (of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox communities) who were kidnapped in April and are still missing and "whose fate remains unknown".
 European Commission approves 134-mln-euro state subsidy for natural gas worksBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The European Commission approved Greek state funding of 134 million euros for natural gas infrastructural works in Greece on Wednesday.
The Commission approved the funding of four projects improving and expanding the natural gas network after finding it agreed with the EU's regulations on state subsidies. The funds will contribute towards promoting the EU's energy targets without creating unjustified distortion of competition in the domestic market, it said.
Greece's exclusive transmission system operator, DESFA, which will receive the state funds, is obliged to give equal access to its network to all natural gas suppliers. State funds will be augmented by EU structural funds, bringing the total investment to 414 million euros.
Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for competition Joaquin Almunia said the specific subsidy "will help Greece expand and strengthen its natural gas network, improving competition among gas suppliers and benefitting consumers because of the diversification of energy sources."
 Greece remained in deflationary course in SeptGreece remained in a deflation course in September, with the inflation rate at -1.0 pct, unchanged from August, Eurostat said on Wednesday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said that the average inflation rate in the Eurozone fell to 1.1 pct in September, from 1.3 pct in August, while in the European Union, the inflation rate also fell to 1.3 pct from 1.5 pct over the same months, respectively.
Greece recorded the lowest inflation rate in the EU, on an annual basis from September 2012 to September 2013, (-0.2 pct), followed by Latvia (0.5 pct) and Sweden (0.6 pct), while on the other hand, the highest inflation rates were recorded in Romania (4.1 pct), Estonia (3.7 pct) and Croatia (3.3 pct). The inflation rate was 0.3 pct in Greece, 2.6 pct in the Eurozone and 2.7 pct in the EU in September 2012.
Bulgaria (-1.3 pct), Greece (-1.0 pct) and Latvia (-0.4 pct) recorded deflation figures, while the UK (2.7 pct), Estonia (2.6 pct) and Holland (2.4 pct) recorded the highest inflation rates in September. Tobacco (0.10 percentage points) and electricity energy (0.09 pct) recorded the highest price increases in the Eurozone, while diesel oil (-0.30), telecoms (-0.15) and medical services (-0.07) the biggest declines.
 Actions to simplify exports procedures to be intensified by end of yearActions aimed at simplifying procedures regarding exports will be intensified by the end of the year, while the target of completing export VAT returns to businesses within 90 days will be achieved soon and the functioning of the Greek Investments and Overseas Trade Company is set for the early months of 2014.
Speaking Wednesday at a press conference on the functioning of the new unified extroversion agency, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that the "state already owes less to exporters now", while stressing that the struggle for liquidity is continuing and a new rendez-vous has been set for next week between the minister and the Greek Bank Union where issues concerning extroversive businesses will be raised in particular.
According to Finance ministry data, publicised by Hatzidakis on Wednesday, over the past six months (April-October 2013) the amount owed by the state for VAT returns to exporters decreased from 385 million euros to 282 million euros.
Meanwhile, it was stressed that the agencies merging (Hellenic Foreign Trade Board-OPE and Invest In Greece) are currently understaffed with 30 cadres employed in each and the target is for the new agency to be composed of almost 200 employees.
 Bill slashes electricity price for organisations involved in welfare workOrganisations providing welfare services will qualify for electricity discounts of up to 70 percent based on a new legislation passed by Parliament, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis told MPs on Wednesday.
The bill on renewable energy sources was passed on Tuesday and creates a special discount rate for public and private-sector non-profit organisations involved in welfare work, providing support for vulnerable social groups, running soup kitchens and others, which are defined as having a "vulnerable clientele".
"Simply put, we will give a discount of up to 70 percent in the price rate for electricity to all social, municipal and church soup kitchens, all municipal and social 'pantries' and pharmacies, to all the modern social structures for human solidarity," he said.
As examples, he cited the Child Villages SOS, the Smile of the Child charity, the drug detox centres KETHEA and the mental illness support organisation PSYCHARGO.
With respect to the Church charities, he clarified that the discount would only apply to buildings housing kitchens, refrigerators and other equipment needed to run soup kitchens but not churches and cathedrals.
 New tourism campaign to focus on the internet, starting in Oct.Greece's tourism campaign targeting markets abroad will begin this month, run to April 2014, and focus on the internet, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said on Wednesday.
At a press conference to present the ministry's communication strategy, Kefalogianni reviewed last season's successful change of Greece's image, and noted it would be the first time a new campaign begins this early.
Among initiatives she mentioned were a new tourism office that has opened in Istanbul and the promotion in Turkey of the City Break programme promoting short-term vacation, as well as a special advertising campaign that will be unveiled at the World Travel Market, a leading trade fair taking place in London from November 4 to 7.
Greece will attend world fairs, but on a more selective basis, Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) secretary general Panos Livadas said, noting that the agency's budget was reduced by 40 percent compared to 2012.
 GSEE calls for 24-hour nationwide strike on November 6The private sector umbrella trade union group GSEE on Wednesday decided to call a 24-hour nationwide strike on November 6, while a protest rally will take place earlier on the same day in downtown Athens.
This will be the 35th nationwide strike called by GSEE since the implementation of the first memorandum in the country and according to information, the public servants' umbrella union ADEDY will join the mobilization.
Addressing the GSEE General Council meeting, GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos underlined the need for "strikes with mass participation and dynamic protest rallies".
He said that the rights of the workers and the jobless will have to be equally supported and noted that youth unemployment might be high but represented only 25 pct of the jobless total, whereas those over 50 accounted for a higher proportion of the unemployed and were people with "families and loans".
According to GSEE Consumer Secretariat figures, the number of over-indebted households has increased geometrically in the past two years, skyrocketing to 65 pct from 10 pct two-and-a-half years ago.
The GSEE Consumer Secretariat underlined that those who received housing loans after 2008 were now unable to repay them, warning that foreclosures are imminent.
 HCU participated in China's CIFIT 2013 international fairThe Hellenic-Chinese Union for Economical, Commercial & Cultural Communications (HCU) participated in the 17th China International Fair for Investment & Trade (CIFIT 2013) in Xiamen on September 8-11, the country's only international investment promotion event aimed at facilitating bilateral investment.
The economic growth prospects in Greece in the sectors of tourism, real estate, renewable energy sources and food industry, were highlighted in the HCU organized "2013 Greek Investment & Trade Promotion Event" inviting Chinese businessmen to invest in the country.
Bilateral working meetings (B2B) between Chinese entrepreneurs and HCU representatives focused on the exploitation of investment opportunities in Greece and explored the potential for partnerships between Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs. Meetings with Xiamen local government and institutions' representatives were also held.
During their stay in Beijing, the HCU representatives visited the Capital Normal University (CNU) and the free trade zone area near the city's international airport.
A Cooperation Agreement between the free trade zone management and HCU is expected to be signed soon, allowing the HCU to offer assistance to Greek companies wishing to promote their products in the Chinese market.
 Financing of Greek-Israeli research and technology cooperation increases to 10 million eurosThe interstate cooperation budget between Greece and Israel is increasing from 5 million to 10 million euros to provide the possibility for more Greek and Israeli research centres and businesses to promote their cooperation at research and technology level.
This was jointly decided between the two countries, as was announced by the General Research and Technology Secretariat, following the participation of secretary general Christos Vassilakos in the recent official Greek delegation, under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, to Israel and the contacts it held with the Israeli government's corresponding agencies.
Special emphasis was placed in the framework of the meetings on strengthening bilateral Greek-Israeli cooperation on issues of mutual interest that are included in the priorities of the national research strategy. Emphasis was also placed on strengthening cooperation between Greek companies, research centres and cooperative formations (clusters) with the corresponding public and private agencies in Israel. A new mission to the Israeli capital might be carried out, in this framework, with the participation of Greek research and technology agencies.
As was revealed by the General Research and Technology Secretariat, the tabling of proposals on cooperation between Greece and Israel received an extension until November 7, 2013.
 Greek merchant shipping fleet down in numbers, up in volumeThe Greek merchant shipping fleet fell 2.6 pct in August to 1,912 vessels compared with the same month last year, after a 3.1 pct decline recorded in August 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that total capacity of the Greek merchant shipping fleet grew 0.9 pct in August, after a 2.0 pct increase recorded in the same month last year.
 Greek stocks end moderately higherGreek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, after spending much of the day in negative territory as investors continued taking profits in selected blue chip stocks such as OTE, Piraeus Bank and Hellenic Petroleum, while on the other hand, buying activity focused on Coca Cola HBC, OPAP, Metka and Jumbo. The composite index of the market rose 0.45 pct to end at 1,125.02 points, after falling as much as 1.23 pct during the session. Turnover remained a strong 103.73 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.82 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.51 pct lower. Jumbo (4.60 pct), Metka (3.32 pct), Coca Cola HBC (2.83 pct) and Viohalco (2.43 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (3.11 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.60 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (1.79 pct) and Intralot (1.08 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Personal Products (3.18 pct), Food (2.79 pct) and Financial Services (2.73 pct) sectors scored the biggest gains, while Telecoms (3.11 pct) and Oil (1.28 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 70 to 59 with another 27 issues unchanged. ANEK (20 pct), Tzirakian (20 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farms (19.54 pct) were top gainers, while Athina (15.76 pct), Vioter (14.21 pct) and Akritas (9.74 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.28%
Personal & Household: +3.18%
Raw Materials: +0.54%
Travel & Leisure: +1.56%
Food & Beverages: +2.79%
Financial Services: +2.73%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OTE, OPAP, National Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.639
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.55
Coca Cola HBC: 20.69
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.78
National Bank of Greece: 3.95
Eurobank Properties : 7.75
Piraeus Bank: 1.50
 Greek bond market closingThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 6.96 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 6.43 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.81 pct and the German Bund 1.89 pct. Turnover was 16 million euros, of which 12 million were buy orders and the remaining 4.0 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. 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 at a premium of 0.30 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising sharply to 113.963 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 56,565 contracts worth 105.335 million euros, with 56,076 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,513 contracts worth 8.628 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (7,122), followed by National Bank (3,006), Piraeus Bank (4,607), MIG (757), OTE (2,247), PPC (2,013), OPAP (475), Mytiineos (1,113), Ellaktor (289), Jumbo (183), Motor Oil (174), Hellenic Petroleum (132), Hellenic Exchanges (154) and GEK (446).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.376
Pound sterling 0.858
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.943
Japanese yen 135.38
Swiss franc 1.252
Norwegian kroner 8.258
Canadian dollar 1.427
Australian dollar 1.444
 Disassembled WWII weapon found in container at Piraeus port; police discover small arsenal, Nazi memorabilia in wanted businessman's villaA disassembled collectible WWII weapon that cannot be used was found in one of two containers at the Piraeus port container terminal that appear to be linked to a wanted businessman, it was announced on Wednesday.
According to sources, the specific container has been checked by the financial crimes squad SDOE and was sent to Piraeus from Belgium, via Malta.
Counter-terrorism squad bomb experts will examine the weapon on Thursday to determine its type.
In the second container that had originated from the United States, authorities found an old Chevrolet automobile that most likely belongs to the same individual.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor and Greek Police internal affairs officers who conducted a search in the wanted businessman's villa in the coastal resort of Voula, in Athens, discovered a number of guns and Nazi memorabilia on the premises.
In addition to the 21 rifles, knives, rifle scopes and other items found on Tuesday, police discovered two Walther pistols and eight Glock pistols all registered and licensed.
The search revealed a mortar shell in a metal box, 24 rifle scopes, a large number of magazines and cartridges, a crossbow with aiming sights, two bows and a large number of arrows, a Greek Police shield and a large number of mobile phones, video cameras, photographic cameras, communication devices and radio equipment.
In a specially designed room, police found Nazi symbols, such as flags, military uniforms, statues, photographs of Hitler and other WWII period individuals, helmets, swastikas and various objects kept in display windows.
The villa caretaker was arrested and will be led before a prosecutor.
 Cavafy's poetry celebrated via Athens transportation systemExcerpts from the poems of Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) have been put up since Monday on Athens buses, trams, suburban trains and the Metro to celebrate the Alexandria Greek poet and publicise his work on the occasion of the Onassis Foundation's acquiring of his archive.
The initiative belongs to the Cavafy archive, which is expected to announce more events honouring the poet, while the design of the posters is by the acclaimed Beetroot advertising group.
Towards the end of the month or early in November, the Onassis Foundation on Syngrou Avenue will organise an audiovisual tour in Plato's Academy showcasing eleven Greek and foreign artists' renditions of Cavafy's poems.
Explaining the promotion, Onassis Foundation executive director Afroditi Panagiotakou said that the events "are a move that marks our our stance on Cavafy's work and on how we want the archive contents to be made public. The visuals are rather more pop, and the verses entirely understandable. As they circulate in the city on mass transportation means, the verses can prove to the public that doesn't know his work how familiar he really is, and how well he expresses the spirit of our times."
 Jazzy music performances at the Athens airport on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25The Belleville music group will give two free performances at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport of Athens on Friday, October 18 and Friday, October 25, with jazz, blues and swing songs interspersed with nostalgia and humour, the airport said.
The cabaret-style music playing on well-known themes from musicals will be accompanied by video art. The performances will be given from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm on each day. The event is part of the project "Fly me to the Moon", the International Airport of Athens organisation and the elculture web platform.
 Two migrant traffickers arrested for carrying 77 illegal immigrants to RhodesTwo Turkish migrant traffickers were arrested on Wednesday after carrying 77 Syrian illegal immigrants to the Haraki beach on the island of Rhodes from the Turkish coast in a luxury yacht in the morning, it was announced.
The Turkish migrant traffickers then attempted to return to their country, but the immediate activation of authorities and of the Rhodes Central Port authority in particular resulted in their detection and arrest.
The vessel was confiscated and the two migrant traffickers, aged 30 and 32, are being detained and will be brought before a prosecutor.
 Rainy on ThursdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 10C and 24C. Local showers in Athens with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 14C and 22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14C and 17C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: (Bank of Greece chief Giorgos) Provopoulos' second strike to government's 'success story'.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: On trail of Golden Dawn's (Chryssi Avghi) money.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: 200,000 woodland owners called to hand over their land to the State.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: New ordeal for 300,000 owners of illegal buildings.
ESTIA: 'Heater' State!
ETHNOS: End to money to 'ghost' farmers.
IMERISSIA: Greek bonds gain ground.
KATHIMERINI: 'Civil' war in Greece over the troika (EC, ECB, and IMF).
LOGOS: In search of the gap (fiscal).
NAFTEMPORIKI: Pressure for new measures amps up tension with the troika.
RIZOSPASTIS: The fiscal gap will be covered with antipopular measures.
TA NEA: The secret file for the rebellion in Skouries (clashes in Halkidiki over HELLAS GOLD mines)
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