|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-10-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 22 October 2013 Issue No: 4492
 PM Samaras says joint actions with Italy 'particularly important'ROME (ANA-MPA/T.Andreadis)
Visiting Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday termed as "particularly important" the undertaking of "joint action with Italy" in view of the two countries' successive EU presidencies in 2014, so that "Europe changes" direction.
Speaking during a joint conference after one-hour talks with his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, Samaras also said that a bilateral cooperation aiming at bringing changes in EU's policies regarding illegal immigration, was equally important.
The Greek premier further noted that after many years of crisis, Greece's economy was now "restarting", while underlining that "what is at stake for Europe and Greece is to achieve growth."
On his part, Italian premier Letta indicated that one of the main issues of talks in view of the October 24-25 European Council meeting will be the major problem of illegal immigration, especially after the important wave of migrants arriving in Italy during the past months and the series of deadly shipwrecks off the Italian coast.
Letta also called for the reinforcement of Frontex for the control of European frontiers, the activation of the EuroSur programme, while noting that the Italian military-humanitarian mission 'Mare Nostrum' wil be completed on December 2, through the start of the EuroSur programme.
He added that the process of granting political asylum will be among top issues on the agenda.
As regards Greece, Letta recognised the country's "significant efforts and the positive results achieved by the Greek government and by Antonis Samaras personally" in handling the economic crisis.
The two prime ministers stressed that there should be clearer from the countries answers of origin of the waves of illegal immigration, such as Libya.
"We discussed the two main important issues of illegal immigration and youth unemployment. Illegal immigration is not merely a problem and a challenge, as tragedies do not occur only when shipwrecks occur, but also when these people arrive on the land," said Samaras.
"These are people without a future and without a past, who arrive in our countries leaving behind warring states and states facing financial problems. But we are not in a position to absorb them and this causes instability," the Greek premier added.
He set as priorities new policies for the repatriation of illegal immigrants, as well as new identification procedures and strengthening Frontex.
"All these must be done humanely, Europe should be a reference to values and hope for these people," he said.
 Samaras in Malta: Common European front to deal with immigrationVALETTA (ANA-MPA/N. Armenis)
Europe must devise a common policy to deal with illegal immigration, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in Malta on Monday, following his meeting with his Maltese counterpart Joseph Muscat.
Samaras noted the importance of southern European countries forming a common front, especially for Greece, "as unemployment is 27 percent and we have a lot of unemployed and many illegal immigrants, something that cannot continue."
Greece is doing anything it can, he noted, going through tough times, to "achieve fiscal health and significant infrastructural changes that will bring Greece back to economic normalcy."
Muscat also referred to a common front to face illegal immigration and referred to the successive presidencies of the EU by Greece and Italy in 2014.
"There is no magical solution," he said, "but we are showing results, and this issue cannot be left on its own or us hope that winter is coming and traffic will change."
 Greek minister stresses migration issues in Mediterranean at EU General Affairs CouncilLUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday asked the EU General Affairs Council for a show of "active and immediate solidarity" for the EU member-states of the Mediterranean struggling to cope with migration pressures.
Venizelos raised the issue of migration flows in the Mediterranean, especially in light of the tragic events in Lampedusa, stressing that this was "an extremely urgent matter".
The minister said the EU must make an active display of solidarity based on the principle of an equal sharing of burdens and called for a comprehensive European plan that fully respected the sovereign rights of the member-states.
He also highlighted the great difficulties faced by Greece, due to its extensive coastline and position, noting that it was under constant and disproportionate pressure from migration and thus fully able to understand the situation facing countries such as Italy and Malta.
Venizelos also contacted Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is visiting Valetta and Rome to discuss the issue of migration ahead of the European Council meeting on October 24.
With respect to Egypt, Venizelos agreed with a presentation made by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on the need for an EU contribution to preserving stability in the country, briefing his counterparts on the results of a trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt held in New York on September 22.
Regarding Syria, Venizelos stressed the importance of the 'Geneva II' process as a lever for achieving a political solution but also said that immediate mobilisation to deal with the humanitarian problems was a "separate priority".
Referring to the upcoming Greek presidency of the EU, the minister said that Greece is ready to work with Ashton and the European Commission for the implementation of the decisions of the Vilnius summit on November 28.
 Achieving primary surplus 'gives us choices', cabinet gen. secretary tells Vima FMSpeaking to the local radio station Vima FM on Monday, cabinet general secretary Panagiotis Baltakos stressed that achieving a primary surplus was the paramount goal, to which the government was directing the bulk of its efforts.
"The troika and the memorandum are a 'black' page in the history of the country and the entire effort underway is for us to stand on our feet and be able to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Everything is being done to achieve a primary surplus. Without it we are erased from the map. With it we can pay salaries and pensions and we have choices. Without a surplus, we have no choice," he said.
Baltakos noted that the country now appeared to be on the way to achieving this goal, which would create other options that were not available before.
"Consequently, and based on the abilities that [Prime Minister Antonis Samaras] has shown until now - for we should not forget that he has been governing the country for a year and a half with 29 percent and achieved things that other prime ministers could not imagine, never mind achieve, with 44 percent - I think that everything is possible," he added.
Baltakos noted that the troika came to Greece as a result of actions and policies implemented over decades, adding that it was not a question of pinning the blame on one side or the other.
"What is certain is that we brought [the troika] here ourselves and we will force it to leave by achieving our goals. This is what's needed," he stressed.
On the prospect of early elections, the cabinet general secretary underlined that there was no such intention and that the government wanted to run to the end of its four-year term in 2016. He did not rule out the possibility of early elections as a political "accident," however, and he refused to speculate on the possible outcome of the European elections in May.
"The government has a four-year horizon - as the prime minister has said. This is reasonable. First growth and then elections. No one is a fool to hold elections in the midst of this sort of crisis. It's not good for the country nor for the one holding elections. And if the troika insists on this, so much the worse for them," he added.
Baltakos also appeared confident that the prime minister will be able to resist the troika's demands and pressures, especially once the country achieved a primary surplus and had more options. He emphasised once again that Samaras had led what was possible the most difficult prime ministerial term ever to exist, governing Greece with 29 percent during one of the deepest crises since the foundation of the Greek state.
 SYRIZA on economic policy; shipyards, Tsipras for EU Commission presidencyMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Monday lashed out at the government, strongly criticizing its economic and communications policy and underlining that "the only neo-liberal 'success story' is that of the economic oligarchy of bankrupt bankers and the governments at their service".
The SYRIZA economic policy sector noted that for workers, the "success story" translates into high unemployment, low salaries and a destruction of labour relations, as well as punishing taxation and foreclosures.
According to SYRIZA, an exit from the crisis that benefits the greater social majority can be achieved through an overthrow of neo-liberal policy and abolition of austerity and its replacement by the Left's alternative proposal, which suggests the country's productive reconstruction and a re-foundation of Europe focusing on the ideals of real democracy and on solidarity between equal partners.
SYRIZA also raised questions regarding to the stance of the ruling coalition leader New Democracy (ND) on the Hellenic Shipyards' contract for the building of six submarines signed by Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the junior coalition member PASOK, when he was a minister of defence. SYRIZA asked the party to state its position to a SYRIZA proposal for a Parliamentary investigation committee into the 'scandalous' contract. According to the main opposition, both Venizelos - currently government vice-president and foreign minister - and former finance minister George Papaconstantinou are both liable for the affair.
If ND refuses to vote in favour of a Parliamentary investigation committee it will be absolutely clear that it is "covering" for Venizelos "for the sake of political and government balance".
SYRIZA based its arguments on statements made in April 2012, a few days before the May 6 elections, by the then ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis - now the minister of interior - who had referred to Venizelos' involvement. SYRIZA also referred to comments made in 2010 by the then ND sector head Theofilos Leontaridis, as regards the economic impact of the direct contract for the construction of two more submarines amidst unprecedented economic and fiscal constraints experienced by the country.
SYRIZA also accused ND and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of being unable to understand the importance of a proposal naming SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras as a candidate for the European Commission presidency, responding to a relevant statement made by ND spokeswoman Anna Assimakopoulou who said that he "best expresses the marginalized political parties, the Marxist and Trotskyist parties that are fanatically set against the euro and the eurozone".
 ND comments on Tsipras' nomination as European Commission president"Show me your friend so I can tell you who you are, is the popular saying," New Democracy press spokeswoman Anna Assimakopoulou commented after the presidents council of the European Left Party announced it will nominate Greek main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for the seat of European Commission president.
The proposal of leftist parties will be formally presented at the European Left's Congress in Madrid on December 13-15.
"Fringe parties, and Marxist, Trotskyist, and fanatically anti-euro and anti-eurozone parties, see Tsipras as their genuine spokesperson," she added.
 SYRIZA on gov't stance before troikaThe government is trapped in the memorandum policy of austerity and destruction, main opposition SYRIZA said on Monday, adding that whatever leaks to the press about so- called negotiating with the troika of lenders to Greece cannot reverse the subordination of Greece to its lenders and the memorandum's commitments.
In an announcement, the party said that there can be no negotiation when the core of the memorandum's policy - namely the austerity and the dissolution of labour rights - is not challenged.
"The real change in the policy applied means the reversal of the memorandums within the framework of a real negotiation, aiming at a European arrangement to repay the debt and support growth," it said. "That's something that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's obedient pupils do not want to and cannot do, becoming every day that passes more unreliable and isolated not only in Greece but abroad as well," it added.
 Independent Greeks on gov't negotiations with troika"After the public relations storm with the governement's 'success story' and the primary surplus, the hour of the truth has come and troika of lenders now demands the implementation of the harsh measures that the well-known guardians of the memorandum have co-signed, sinking the Greek people into extreme poverty," Independent Greeks parliamentary group spokesman Notis Marias said on Monday, warning that "the Greek people will not accept their fate without reacting.
 KKE on government-troikaThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) commented Monday on the upcoming talks between the Greek government and the country's EC/ECB/IMF troika of lenders, saying that "the so-called confrontation between the government with the troika seeks to claim facilitations that will allow even greater support for the interests of Greek capital," and not to stop the barbarous antipopular measures.
The KKE announcement also criticised the government of "obscuring that fact that a multitude of antipopular measures have already been agreed upon....while new 'structural' measures, such as new taxes on property, privatisations, lay offs etc, are ante portas."
 Parliament to decide on removing immunity from AN.EL leader Panos KammenosA Supreme Court Prosecutor on Monday forwarded to Parliament the case file against the leader of opposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) party Panos Kammenos, compiled by a Thessaloniki First Instance Court prosecutor in response to comments made by Kammenos, who said local residents in Halkidiki should "lynch Aristotelis Mayor Christos Pahtas".
Parliament will now have to decide whether Kammenos' immunity should be lifted so he can face charges for an act allegedly committed on September 11 in Thessaloniki in the margins of the 78th TIF in violation of article 184 of the Criminal Code.
Based on the article mentioned, "anyone in any way instigating or inciting a felony or misdemeanour can be faced with a prison sentence of up to three years".
The party leader's comments followed revelations that the water in a local village had become contaminated by arsenic and was unfit to drink - amidst speculation that this was linked to controversial gold mining operations in the area, which are opposed by several individuals in Halkidiki, but the contamination was later proved to be unrelated to the mining activity.
 Interior min. Michelakis meets with Bavarian counterpart HerrmannInterior Minister Yiannis Michelakis, whose is currently in Germany, met on Monday with his Bavarian counterpart Joachim Herrmann in view of the fourth Greek-German assembly opening on Tuesday in Nuremberg, a Greek Interior Ministry announcement said.
Michelakis referred to the traditionally good relations between the two counties that have been upgraded even further in recent years. He placed special emphasis on large the reform effort of the Samaras government and to the Greek premier's will to advance reforms without considering the political cost.
Michelakis told his counterpart that based on the reform efforts and the sacrifices of the Greek people, which have already produced their first faint results, there should be a new discussion early next year on the already articulated commitment by EU partners on the sustainability of Greek debt.
"Greece owes to its next generations to continue the reform work, but it is the adjustment of debt the main factor that will pave the way for growth as it is the main vehicle to bring new investments in Greece," Michelakis underlined.
The Bavarian minister referred to the recent election results in Germany, describing the results as fully satisfactory and as a confirmation of the policy Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Herrmann added that Germany was closely monitoring developments in Greece and knows how big the sacrifices of the Greek people are. "Greece's return to growth is a decisive factor and Germany, provided that reforms will continue, is determined to offer any possible assistance."
 Justice minister holds meeting with EC Task Force for Greece head ReichenbachEuropean Commission Task Force for Greece head Horst Reichenbach held his second meeting with Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou on Monday.
According to an announcement by the Justice ministry, the meeting was held in a very positive climate and Reichenbach expressed "satisfaction once again over cooperation between the two sides concerning the transfer of know-how and technical support on Justice issues, as well as over the outcome resulting from this cooperation over the past two years."
The issues discussed during the meeting - examining also the possibility of further cooperation between the Justice ministry and the Task Force, included electronic justice (E-justice), justice statistics, mediation and communication and publicity programme and revision of the civil code judicial procedure.
 Kyriakos Gerontopoulos leaves tomorrow for a two-day visit in LebanonDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos is to depart on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Lebanon, where he will meet with Patriatch Ioannis I, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and Greek expatriates in Lebanon.
Gerontopoulos is meeting on Tuesday with Mansour, the board of the Greek Community of Beirut and the association of Lebanese Greek university alumni. The assistant secretary will meet on Wednesday with Greek Othodox Patriarch of Antioch and the East Ioannis I to discuss the issue of the two abducted clerics in Syria.
The minister will also visit Agios Ioannis Damaskinos University to hold talks with professors and students, as well as 'Agios Georgios' Greek Orthodox Hospital in Beirut.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits Roma community in western ThessalonikiEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Monday inaugurated an intercultural school in a Roma community in the district of Dentropotamos, western Thessaloniki, noting that there is "no comparison between prevention and treatment", referring to the education received by children today and the threats they are faced with, including drug and alcohol abuse, among others.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, currently on a visit to Thessaloniki, used a quote by Saint Nektarios noting that "young people are the Church's and the nation's hope," adding that "we should all be on alert to give the great battle of education".
Deputy Education Minister Kostas Gioulekas, who attended the event, underlined that education is the government's top priority and referred to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's role in the nation's education through the centuries. He also underlined the Ecumenical Patriarch's "struggle" and "lasting interest" in the reopening of the Theological School of Halki.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was declared honorary citizen of the Municipality of Ampelokipi-Menemeni. Earlier, he had addressed the faithful in the Saint Nektarios Church in Dendropotamos.
On Monday morning, he inaugurated a community health clinic and visited Metropolis of Neapolis and Stavroupolis welfare organizations. He also visited the Saint Panteleimon Church in Amplelokipi, where he met with Health Minsiter Adonis Georgiadis.
 Ministers head mayoral delegation to Greek-German Convention in NurembergNUREMBERG (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
A delegation of two ministers and over 60 mayors from Greece are departing for Nuremberg on Tuesday to attend the two-day proceedings of the 4th Greek-German Convention.
Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis and Rural Development and Food Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris will be attending the meetings that will look at options of collaboration between agriculture and local government in Greece and Germany under the general title of "The Municipality of the Future".
Federal Deputy Labour Minister Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, who was in Greece early in October to add the finishing details, will be representing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the event that is organised by the Hanns-Seidel (HSS) Foundation.
Tsaftaris will speak on the promotion of farm products and the strengthening of local farm economies, and will meet with politicians and agricultural experts of Bavaria, while the delegation will visit the agricultural company "Guenther Felsner", belonging to the president of the agricultural cooperative in Mittelfranken, Bavaria.
The Convention involves the exchange of experience and cooperation between specialists, businesses and local representatives of the two countries. The first three meetings have been held in Greece.
 Health Minister Georgiadis' interviewHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Monday referred to the generic medicine vs the patent drug option available to patients under public health insurance coverage and to the increased contribution they will have to pay if they choose the patent drugs instead of the generic, a measure effective as of today.
In an interview with ANA-MPA Web TV, he said that public health services provider EOPYY "will give to patients good medicine for which they will pay only half of the contribution toward its cost if they opt for it".
"If the patients choose a less expensive medicine, compared with the reference price, they will pay half the contribution, namely, 12.5 pct from 25 pct," he said.
"But if they choose the expensive patent drug because they think - and not the medical scientists - that it is better, then they will have to bear the cost of their choice," the health minister said, adding that "if they want to be extravagant they should pay the cost".
According to Georgiadis, the measure will correspond to 150 million euros in annual savings for EOPYY.
Responding to a relevant question on whether the amount of 1.5 billion euros in state funding will be earmarked for EOPYY allowing it to repay part of its overdue debts to pharmacists and other health services providers dated before December 31, 2011, he said that the organization's debts are being covered by the state.
 Evangelos Meimarakis on 'isolating' inappropriate behaviour in ParliamentParliament President Evangelos Meimarakis on Monday stressed that Parliament must itself "isolate" behaviours and actions that are inconsistent with the office of a Parliamentary deputy and punishable by law.
Meimarakis pointed out that citizens must vote for politicians who they believe are worthy to represent them, during a meeting with Hellenic Navy warant officers from the Palaskas navy training centre. He admitted, however, that there had been some bad behaviour on the part of MPs, "which did not do credit to the Parliamentary office and the trust placed in us by the citizens that elected us to represent them."
"Citizens must not only vote for parties and their programmes, but also the most suitable, in their opinion, politicians to lead the country," added Meimarakis.
 Ombudsman proposes ceiling for seizure of rents when sole source of incomeThe Greek Ombudsman on Monday suggested in a document to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras that the ministry set a ceiling of 1,000 euros as the minimum limit for seizing income from rents by the public sector, when this was the sole source of income.
Citizens with rent property as their only income had already filed complaints protesting over the seizure of the total amount of rent they receive for public debts, as a result depriving them of their only income.
The Ombudsman found that in these cases, the seizure of the total amount of rents implies the inability to meet the basic needs of the debtor and deprives the debtor of the ability to maintain a decent standard of living. As a result, it conflicts with article 2 par. 1 of the Constitution and the principle of proportionality.
 FinMin Stournaras stresses importance of tourism for Greek economyFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras, addressing the 12th Conference of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) "Tourism and Growth", stressed the importance of tourism in the Greek economy's spine.
The minister pointed out that over the past decade tourism produces directly and indirectly about 16 percent of GDP and employs 19 percent of the country's workforce. He added that tourism's net revenues cover a third of the deficit of the country's trade balance, a role that is considerably important particularly in the present period, as he said.
Stournaras said that this year arrivals are expected to exceed 17 million, while over the January-August eight-month period incoming travel movement increased by 14.7 percent, net tourist revenues increased by about 18 percent. Greece, as he said, in 2013 and out of 140 countries ranked 32nd as regards competitiveness of the tourist sector, but 3rd from as regards tourist infrastructures, behind Austria and Italy.
 Greek banks to meet target for boosting market liquidity this year"We cannot offer loans where there is no viability. We don't want to create more red loans. Loans are the savings of citizens. We must be careful. We all want money. The question is whether all of us being depositors would grant a loan to all those seeking a loan," George Zanias, president of Hellenic Bank Association told reporters after a meeting with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Monday.
The focus of the scheduled meeting was to set measurable targets in boosting liquidity in the market. Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, the Development minister said: "a necessary precondition to restore liquidity is restoring confidence. The main opposition should demonstrate more responsibility and the troika should show its confidence in deeds," while he added that banks too have to adhere to their commitments. "We watch how programmes are evolving. We do not have any illusions that with a disbursement of money the liquidity problem will be resolved in magic," Hatzidakis noted.
Zanias said there was a tendency of lower interest rates "as long as the country's risk was being reduced and savings were returning to the system," adding that "things need attention but the prospect is clearly better". Zanias said a target of disbursing 2.0 billion euros this year would be achieved, adding that Greek bankers were in favor of a scaled solution in home foreclosures.
He added that loan disbursements for co-funded programs grew 25 pct in September compared with August.
 Greek public deficit at 9 pct, public debt at 156.9 pct in 2012, Eurostat reportsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
Greece's public deficit was running at 9 percent of GDP in 2012, while the country's public debt came to 156.9 percent of GDP in 2012, according to figures released by Eurostat on Monday.
On a European-wide basis, Eurostat's figures record a reduction of public deficits but an increase in public debt both in the Eurozone and the 28 EU member-states.
 Agricultural Development ministry gives 'green light' for 717 improvement plansA total of 717 new improvement investment plans, having a public expenditure amounting to 50.9 million euros, have been given the green light by Community Resources and Infrastructures Special Secretary Dimitris Iatridis, in the framework of the "Modernisation of Agricultural Operations," one of the measures of Greece's Agricultural Development Programme for the period 2007-2013.
Out of a total of 7,735 applications to date, 6,540 improvement investment plans have been approved that fulfill the terms and preconditions for their accession to the programme, having a public expenditure amounting to 488.5 million euros.
 Eurobank wins tender for sale & leaseback of 14 state propertiesEurobank Properties REIC won the bid of the tender for the sale and leaseback of 14 buildings occupied by the government worth 145.81 million euros, Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) said on Monday.
These buildings occupy a total space of 189,000 sq.m. and include the Education and Health ministries buildings in Maroussi, the Justice, Transparency and Human Rights ministry in Goudi, the general Police Bureau of Attica and other buildings located in central locations in Athens and around Greece.
Eurobank Properties will pay a total of 145.81 million euros while annual revenue from leasing contracts will exceed 14 million euros, annually adjusted. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Eurobank Properties REIC manages one of the most important commercial property portfolios in Greece and Eastern Europe. Its total property portfolio is valued at more than half a billion and is listed in the Athens Stock Exchange. Its shareholders include among others Eurobank Ergasias, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, Fidelity and important foreign investors.
 Fairfax Financial Holdings becomes 3rd largest shareholder in Mytilineos GroupFairfax Financial Holdings Ltd is the third largest shareholder in the Mytilineos Group of Companies after raising its equity stake in the Greek-listed group to 5.02 pct, or 5,872,383 voting rights on October 18, 2013.
This strategic partnership agreement will be sealed with the representation of Fairfax to Mytilineos Group's board.
Wade Burton, vice-president and portfolio manager of Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel Ltd, a subsidiary of Fairfax, will become an independent member of the Mytilineos board, while Dimitris Papadopoulos, executive manager of corporate and investment relations in the Group will take over as independent member of the board, representing Fairfax in the board of Eurobank Properties.
Prem Watsa, chairman and chief executive of Fairfax Financial Holdings, commenting on the agreement, said: "We continue supporting Greece and believing that the country has made great progress in its efforts to deal with serious economic issues, encouraging at the same time foreign investors and creating a positive momentum which will give a boost to labour and the development of infrastructure. In this framework, we decided to enhance our alliance with Evangelos Mytilineos, chairman and chief executive of Mytilineos Group, one of the best-known industrial groups in Greece and the wider region. We believe that Mytilineos Group, under the guidance of Evangelos Mytilineos, is one of the best managed companies in the heavy industry sector and will continue to be a driving power in the development of the Greek economy and of domestic infrastructure".
Evangelos Mytilineos, in a statement, said that "the Group, with a long-term vision of growth and the support of the Greek economy, signed a strategically important partnership with Fairfax. We welcome Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd to the Group and express our satisfaction for proceeding with a long-term highly-esteemed investor, managed by Prem Watsa, one of the best-known business leaders in the world, and for the fact that Fairfax has became the third largest shareholder in Mytilineos Group. This move signals Fairfax's confidence in the dynamism and value of the Group and the prospects of the Greek economy".
Mytilineos Grup is a leader in metals, energy and EPC projects. Founded in 1990, it is listed in the Athens Stock Exchange and has a consolidated turnover of more than 1.5 billion euros. It employs around 2,500 workers directly and a lot more indirectly in Greece and abroad.
 Mid-season sales to run November 1-9The first mid-season sales will open on November 1 and run through to Saturday, November 9, the National Confederation of Greek Trade (ESEE) said on Monday.
ESEE said that it was the first time mid-season sales were introduced and that according to the amended law (4177/2013) there will be four sale seasons annually: the second Monday of January to end-February; the second Monday of July to end-August; the first ten days of May; and the first ten days of November. The first two are the regular sales, and the last two are mid-season sales.
The mid-season sales include all regular store days, therefore the November sales will end on November 9 (Saturday). Bargains are allowed before sales, but promotion of sales outside the sales season is prohibited. Also, in non-sale seasons, stores are prohibited from listing or promoting the percentage of price cuts on items and must list only the old and new prices.
Stores throughout Greece are also given the option of opening on the first Sunday of the mid-season sales (Nov. 3).
Whoever violates the regulations will be fined with an amount equal to 0.5 percent of their annual turnover, with a minimum of 5,000 euros in any case. If it is a repeat offence within 5 years, the fine will increase to 3 percent of the annual turnover of the specific business.
If sales or listed prices include some sort of misleading information or aim at misleading the consumer, businesses will be fined with 1 percent of their annual turnover, and not less than 10,000 euros. A repeat offence within 5 years will raise the fine to 3 percent of annual turnover.
The secretary general of Decentralised Authority is responsible for levying the fines. Inspecting authorities include the Development and Competitiveness ministry's three secretariats general (of trade, consumers, and industry), the directorates of regional development, and the Port Authority services, within the zone of their jurisdiction.
 Polish business delegation expresses interest in Cretan products and tourismLeading representatives of the Polish market visiting the island of Crete and headed by the Greek ambassador to Warsaw Tasia Athanasiou and the Polish ambassador to Athens Macei Kriech on Monday expressed special interest in Crete and its local products and tourism.
Th Polish delegation visited Crete regional governor Stavros Arnaoutakis on Monday, while meetings are also expected with Cretan businessmen.
The 21-member Polish delegation is composed of leading commercial representatives of companies importing fruit and vegetables, food and super market chains, as well as representatives of four big tourist agencies specialising in incoming tourism to Greece from Poland.
The delegation is also accompanied by three Polish journalists representing big tourist magazines in the country.
 Motor Oil's shares to be traded with new nominal value from November 4Motor Oil Hellas SA said its shares will be traded from November 4 with their new nominal value of 0.75 euros per share and without the right of participating in a capital return scheme worth 0.10 euros per share.
An annual general shareholders' meeting in June 19 decided to reduce the company's share capital by 11,078,298 euros and to lower the share's nominal value from 0.85 to 0.75 euros per share, combined with a cash return to shareholders worth 0.10 euros per share. The capital return will be made in November 12 by Piraeus Bank.
 Pegasus raises equity stake in Teletypos to 32.73 pctPegasus Publications SA on Monday said its participation in the equity capital of Teletypos SA rose to 32.73 pct following completion of a share capital increase plan by Teletypos.
In a statement, Pegasus said its participation in Teletypos grew to 32,991,879 common nominal shares or 32.73 pct, from 14,071,313 shares or 27.92 pct.
 Tourist arrivals in first half of 2013 reach 5.5 millionRoughly 5.5 million tourists visited Greece in the first half of 2013, up 12.3 pct compared with the same period in 2012, according to figures released by the Bank of Greece (BoG) on Monday.
Based on sea cruise tourism figures released by the BoG for the first time, in 2012 each sea cruise passenger spent in the country an average of roughly 100 euros. A total of 4,737 sea cruise arrivals with 5.4 million passengers were recorded in 2012 with overall revenues at 519.4 million euros.
In the first half of 2013, the overall revenues were 185 million euros, up 9.5 pct compared with the same period in 2012 (169 million euros in the period January-June 2012).
The increased tourist arrivals in the first half of 2013 resulted to an increase in tourism revenues of 18.1 pct compared with last year. This was due to a 7.7 pct increase in revenues from the EU 27 countries that reached 1,960 million euros, corresponding to 56.1 pct of the total revenues, and also to an increase in revenues from countries other than the EU 27, reaching 1,377 million euros in January-June 2013 up 37.7 pct.
 Greek food and beverages promoted in Anuga 2013 trade fair in Cologne180 Greek exhibitors as well as representatives from Chamber of Commerces from four Greek peripheries participated in the food and beverages Anuga 2013 trade fair that was held in Cologne, which promoted a wide range of Greek products.
Moreover, the culinary team of Aldemar Hotels group prepared and presented the menus of the local cuisines of the four participating Greek peripheries in the framework of the campaign "Greece on a Dish", and in cooperation with the Greek Organisation of Foreign Trade (OPE).
 Industrial new orders index up 2.7 pct in AugThe new orders' index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew 2.7 pct in August compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 6.3 pct recorded in August 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to an 8.4 pct increase in the domestic market index and a 10.9 pct rise in the external market index.
 Industrial turnover index up 1.7 pct in AugThe turnover index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew 1.7 pct in August this year, compared with the same month in 2012, after an increase of 2.8 pct recorded in August 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 67.4 pct jump in the mining turnover index and an 1.1 pct rise in the manufacturing turnover index. The domestic turnover index fell 8.1 pct in August, while the external market index rose by 16.7 pct in the month.
 Greek stocks extend rally for sixth consecutive sessionGreek stocks continued their rally to new year highs for the sixth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market to its highest closing since July 2011. The index rose 2.64 pct to end at 1,196.84 points, the highest since July 29, 2011 (1,204.15 points). The index broke above the 1,200 level during the day and now stands 7.90 pct higher in the last six sessions, for a gain of 18.02 pct so far in October. It is up 31.83 pct since the beginning of the year and 49.55 pct higher from its 2013 lows of 800.32 points in July.
Turnover remained a massive 193.37 million euros. The Large Cap index jumped 2.63 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.48 pct higher. Eurobank Properties (9 pct), National Bank (8.11 pct), Piraeus Bank (6.92 pct) and Alpha Bank (5.74 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OPAP (2.0 pct) and Athens Water (0.59 pct) were top losers.
The Travel sector was the only one to end lower (-1.62 pct), while Banks (6.94 pct), Raw Materials (3.91 pct), Industrial Products (3.24 pct) and Commerce (3.19 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 101 to 46 with another 22 issues unchanged. Pegasus (19.69 pct), Parnassos (19.66 pct) and Varvaresos (19.63 pct) were top gainers, while Atti-kat (20 pct), Dias Fish Farms (19.90 pct) and Boutaris (19.23 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.86%
Personal & Household: +1.69%
Raw Materials: +3.91%
Travel & Leisure: -1.62%
Food & Beverages: +0.71%
Financial Services: +2.61%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Alpha Bank,OTE and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.70
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.28
Coca Cola HBC: 21.08
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.52
National Bank of Greece: 4.40
Eurobank Properties : 8.60
Piraeus Bank: 1.70
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was almost unchanged at 6.53 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 6.51 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.37 pct and the German Bund 1.84 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, equally distributed among buy and sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates remained 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 0.224 pct and the one-month rate was 0.129 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a small premium of 0.26 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 24.66 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,231 contracts worth 14.319 million euros, with 51,488 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 32,563 contracts worth 10.341 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (9,901), followed by National Bank (7,596), Piraeus Bank (6,165), MIG (1,473), OTE (1,213), PPC (1,060), OPAP (807), Mytilineos (1,153), GEK (546), Ellaktor (246), Intralot (767), Jumbo (155) and Viohalco (147).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.387
Pound sterling 0.859
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.916
Japanese yen 136.18
Swiss franc 1.253
Norwegian kroner 8.213
Canadian dollar 1.428
Australian dollar 1.435
 Roma couple remanded in custody for abduction of baby MariaA Roma couple that had falsely presented themselves as the parents of five-year-old Maria, a young girl found living with them in a Roma settlement in Farsala, central Greece, were on Monday remanded in custody after testifying to an examining magistrate concerning the child's origins.
The 39-year-old Roma man and his 40-year-old Roma partner face charges of abducting a minor and extracting false documents. According to sources, the woman will be taken to Korydallos prison and the man to the prison facility in Larissa.
No statements were made by their counsel after the decision was announced.
According to sources, the 39-year-old claimed in testimony to the magistrate that the child was given into their care voluntarily by its birth mother and a Bulgarian man, both of them Roma, when it was still a baby. He said the child had been left with the family at a time when he was absent and was there when he returned after 15 days.
In fact, he said that he had not wanted to keep the girl because he has a criminal record but that his partner said that she had grown too fond of the child to part with it, so it stayed with the family.
According to earlier statements by the couple's lawyers, they have asked the authorities to locate a cell phone that they say belonged to the man that delivered the child, in order to shed light on the case.
In fact, the 39-year-old's testimony was interrupted for approximately 15 minutes so that this request could be considered but then resumed because it could not be acted upon without an order from the Misdemeanour Court Justices' Council.
Sources said the 39-year-old referred to both the Bulgarian man and the birth mother by name, so that they can be sought and found and has also claimed that the child's real mother is living in Greece.
The case emerged after police conducting a routine raid in the Roma settlement in Farsala spotted the blonde, green-eyed little girl and became curious about her origins, due to the scant resemblance to the couple presented themselves as her parents. Their suspicions were further aroused when the couple gave conflicting accounts about how she came to be in their care and by irregularities in the registration of their other children (with six births registered within a few months of each other), while a DNA test proved conclusively that Maria was not their child, as they had claimed at first.
A statement released by the 'Smile of the Child' charity where Maria was taken after she was removed from the couple said the girl was slightly older than originally thought, being around five or six based on a dental examination, was in very good health, and was now in hospital for medical tests ordered by a public prosecutor.
Thousands of calls have been made to the charity from all over the world since the case first hit the headlines, while information is arriving from Greece and abroad via social networking sites and is being forwarded to the appropriate authorities for evaluation, so that the girl's family can be found. As the head of the charity Costas Giannopoulos said, the search for the girl's biological parents is continuing.
 Mystery baby Maria given by birth parents, Roma couple father claimsIn testimony to an examining magistrate on Monday, the 39-year-old Roma man who had custody of little Maria, the blonde and green-eyed girl found living with him and his 40-year-old Roma wife in Farsala, claimed that the girl had been turned over into their care by a Bulgarian Roma and her birth mother, also a Roma, when she was still a baby.
According to his lawyers, the couple have asked the authorities to locate a cell phone that they claim belonged to the individual that intervened for the delivery of the child, possibly belonging to the Bulgarian man referred to in the suspect's testimony, in order to shed light on the case.
When the request was made his testimony was interrupted for approximately 15 minutes so that it could be considered but resumed shortly afterward, since it could not immediately be acted upon immediately, requiring an order from the Misdemeanour Court Justices' Council.
The magistrates are now hearing the testimony of the 40-year-old woman that had presented herself as the child's mother.
According to sources, the 39-year-old referred to both the Bulgarian middle-man and the birth mother by name, so that they can be sought and found and has also claimed that the child's real mother is living in Greece.
Regarding the rest of the couple's numerous children, the 39-year-old said offered to undergo DNA tests to prove that at least five are his own children, while the rest he said belong to his partner.
Once both have testified, the examining magistrate and public prosecutor will confer to decide on whether they should be remanded in custody or released.
The case emerged after police conducting a routine raid in the Roma settlement in Farsala spotted the little girl and became curious about her origins, due to the scant resemblance to the couple presented themselves as her parents. Their suspicions were further aroused when the couple gave conflicting accounts about how she came to be with them and by irregularities in registration of their other children (with six births registered within months of each other), while a DNA test proved conclusively that Maria was not their child, as they had claimed.
 Over 40 cases concerning trading of minors, illegal adoptions pending in Greek courtsEvidence at the disposal of the Court of Appeals prosecutors nationwide show that the phenomena of trading of minors and illegal adoptions have taken up alarming dimensions, based on relevant case files forwarded to Parliament in late August by Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou, it was made public on Monday.
The document referred to more than 40 case files concerning illegal rings engaging in such practices, most of them in the northern city of Thessaloniki and on the eastern part of the island of Crete. Ten lawsuits concerning trading of minors and illegal adoptions cases were filed with the First Instance Court Prosecutor in Thessaloniki, while an equal number of lawsuits concerning illegal adoptions were filed on Crete.
Other case files include a medical doctor in Kavala, northeastern Greece, involved in an illegal adoption and a lawsuit filed against a private clinic in Kozani, northwest Greece, while illegal adoption cases are also pending in courts in Larissa, central Greece and in Athens.
The information was forwarded to Parliament on August 30 in response to a question tabled by independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos.
 DNA testing to be used when hospital birth certificates are not available, minister saysDNA will be used to establish the identity of a baby not born in a hospital or materinity clinic, legally and formally, prior to registering with Greek authorities Alternate Health Minister Leonidas Grigorakos told ANA-MPA in an interview on Monday.
The interview was given as the issue of illegal adoptions and missing children hit international headlines when a couple living in a Roma camp om Greece was found to have collected child benefits for claiming to have given birth to several children, including a girl whose DNA did not match theirs.
Grigorakos said that the measure of DNA and maternity or paternity testing would be established by law and be part of legislation for immigrants, in terms of birth certificates available in their documentation. "This regulation will pass into the new registry regulations. We have already done it for the Immigration Code, and we shall also pass it for Greek citizens also. Whoever is not born in a hospital or in a maternity clinic, where a child's birth can be certified legally and formally, we shall proceed to maternity or paternity and DNA testing," the minister said.
Asked about a practice of parents showing up with their children and two witnesses to establish their legal parentage, the minister said, "They will not be able to do this, as this regulation will be abolished."
 Caretaker of fugitive businessman released with conditions pending his trialThe caretaker of the villa of fugitive entrepreneur Anastassios Pallis was released on Monday with conditions after testifying before an examining magistrate on aggravated felony charges for possession of firearms.
The defendant, who was forbidden to leave the country and will have to report to a police station twice a month until his trial, was arrested a few days ago at Pallis' house during a police search for illegal guns.
He denies all charges against him and, according to his defence attorney, the defendant used to pick up the mail and bills from his employer's house every 10 days and delivered it to his lawyer.
He also told the examining magistrate that no suspicious activity on behalf of his co-defendant and employer, such as illegal transactions or illegal gun trade, had come to his attention.
As regards the seized collectible firearms and the guns of the fugitive's personal guard, he said that as far as he knows, they were all legally purchased in the United States.
He also said that he hasn't seen any of the ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) party MPs and members at Pallis' house or at his weapons' museum, noting that he had last seen his employer on July 19 or 20.
 Rally to start in Aghia Paraskevi and march to Parliament on TuesdayThe union of local government (POE-OTA) employees called a three-hour work stoppage for Tuesday (10:00 am - 1:00 pm), in support of school guards who are expected in Athens on a protest march, against layoffs and mobility.
School guards protesting layoffs and "the primary surplus, unemployment and poverty" started from Thessaloniki on foot on September 28 and are expected to reach Marathon in Attica on Monday morning. Once they arrive at the premises of former broadcaster ERT in the northern suburb of Aghia Paraskevi, they will be joined by POE-OTA members who will march with them to Syntagma and Parliament, starting at 8:00 am.
 Secondary school teachers to participate in nationwide strike on November 6; protest rallies on October 31The federation of state secondary education school teachers OLME on Monday announced that it will participate in the nationwide 24-hour strike called by the private-sector umbrella union GSEE and the civil servants' union ADEDY on Wednesday, November 6 and its members will hold protest rallies nationwide on Thursday, October 31.
In a press conference, OLME president Themis Kotsifakis underlined that the sector's mobilisations will continue "until the policy implemented by the government and the country's troika creditors is overturned".
According to OLME, more than 1,200 schools have been closed since 2011 and the salaries of newly appointed teachers are down 45 pct.
 Illegal migrants transported to Athens inside concrete mixerDrivers and passengers of private cars and buses were stunned to see illegal migrants getting out of a concrete mixer truck during a brief stopover at a motel along the Lamia - Stylida highway in central Greece, it was announced on Monday. The migrants stepped out of the truck when its driver was forced to stop in compliance with traffic restrictions on the inbound lane to Athens.
When police arrived on the scene in response to citizens' calls, the 66-year-old driver abandoned the migrants and continued his trip to Athens until his vehicle was immobilized and he was arrested.
A total of 30 illegal migrants were apprehended, 21 Syrians and nine Somalis (18 men, seven women and five children, three boys and two girls aged 4-15)
According to police, the suspect, who was the driver and owner of the concrete mixer truck, had agreed with a Syrian national to transport the migrants from Soufli, northeast Greece to Athens for a fee of 4,000 euros.
The truck was seized and an investigation into the case is underway.
 Patras police dismantle ring of arms dealersPatras Security police on Monday announced the dismantling of a criminal ring trafficking and trading in weapons and ammunition, during an operation carried out in three Athens neighbourhoods and in the district of Keratsini in Piraeus.
Posing as prospective buyers, police succeeded in contacting and then arresting a 35-year-old ethnic Greek man from Albania and two Albanian nationals aged 55 and 45 years old. They also confiscated nine firearms and 459 cartridges.
Using information concerning the group's activities, police first approached the 35-year-old and, after negotiations lasting several days, set up a meeting on Sunday at Amerikis Square in Athens' Patissia district. The 35-year-old led them to the area of Kato Patissia to his 45-year-old accomplice, where a deal was struck for the sale of seven firearms and 350 bullets for the sum of 9,000 euros.
The suspects were arrested on handing over the weapons in an operation organised by Patras Security police that took place in Keratsini on Sunday. During the meeting, two of the suspects picked up the weapons from the home of the 55-year-old in the area and handed them over to the undercover police, whereupon both were arrested, along with the 55-year-old house owner.
In a search of the latter's house, police also found two more guns, a silencer and 291 cartridges.
Patras police are continuing to investigate the possible involvement of the three in other cases.
 Two Syrian traffickers and eight illegal immigrants were arrested in AlexandroupolisTwo Syrian traffickers, aged 26 and 19, were on Monday accused of smuggling eight illegal immigrants into the country after their arrest in the region of Agriani, Evros by policemen of the Orestiada special illegal migration prosecution squad.
The traffickers were found in possession of 140 Turkish lira and a cell phone, which were seized. In order for the traffickers to hide from police checkpoints on the roads, they led the eight Syrian nationals through the woods, aiming to take them to an intercity bus station to go to Athens.
The two traffickers will be brought before the public prosecutor of Orestiada.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures between 8C and 26C. Fair in Athens with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 10C and 25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 10C and 22C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Dark river. Climate of war.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Earlier to pension.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: The insured in major social security funds can recognise 2-7 fictitious years.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pensions 'breather' for 55 year-old unemployed.
ESTIA: Lazy State in total inertia.
ETHNOS: Tax discount with receipts of new type.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Eight billion euros additional measures from troika's (EC, ECB, IMF) mistakes.
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