|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-06-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 26 June 2014 Issue No: 4692
 Prospective BoG chief Stournaras promises immediate measures for 77-bln-euros of non-performing loansThe Bank of Greece intends to take immediate action for non-performing loans amounting to 77 billion euros, the prospective new central bank governor Yannis Stournaras told Parliament on Wednesday.
"The problem of handling the loans currently 'in the red' is major. The Bank of Greece will take immediate initiatives. The government and shareholders must coordinate on this issue," he said.
Appearing before Parliament's Committee for Public Utilities during the hearing for his appointment as Bank of Greece governor, Stournaras said that the losses for Greek banks in the first quarter of 2014 came to 600 million euros and were chiefly the result of the large number of such NPLs, which had risen to 33.5 pct of total loans from 32 pct in the same period last year.
He said the total amount of NPLs was 77 billion euros, of which 42 billion euros were business loans, 25 billion euros were mortgage loans and 10 billion euros were consumer loans.
On the bright side, he added, an improvement in the climate of confidence in the country had helped boost deposits by 11 billion euros.
Both Stournaras and the new Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis appeared confident about the prospects of a "significant recovery of the Greek economy" and said all the signs were encouraging, while stressing the need to continue the stability programme and reforms.
Stournaras noted that the Greek economy was starting to stabilise after four years of fiscal adjustment and was now near the turning point where the negative climate would be reversed and growth would recover. "All the indices are encouraging, they show signs of growth, and if we correct the deficits then the country will perform the miracle. No other OECD member-state has achieved a cyclically corrected deficit of 21 pct. This is a real achievement of the Greek people," he stressed.
At the same time, he emphasised the need for "macroeconomic stability" and to continue the adjustment programme and reforms, possibly at an even faster rate than before, while pointing to encouraging signs of a recovery in employment and exports of services, especially in tourism, and predicting a recovery within the year for exports of goods. He also claimed that a recovery of business investment as "feasible" provided the interest of foreign investors was maintained.
Hardouvelis, on his part, made his first appearance in Parliament and strongly supported Stournaras' candidacy for central bank governor, as well as praising his decisive contribution as finance minister to restoring Greece's credibility and ensuring its successful exit to the markets.
 Parliament approves appointment of Yannis Stournaras as new Bank of Greece governorParliament's Committee on state-owned enterprises, banks, public utility enterprises and social security agencies on Wednesday approved the appointment of Yannis Stournaras as the new governor of the Bank of Greece. The former Greek finance minister's candidacy was approved with 10 votes in favour, seven against and one abstention.
Votes in favour were cast by the two ruling coalition parties, New Democracy and PASOK, while main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Golden Dawn and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against. The Democratic Left (DIM.AR) MP Yiannis Panoussis abstained and independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos was not present.
 PM Samaras meets with Dow Chemical Company and IBM headsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday met with Dow Chemical Company and IBM heads.
The discussion focused on the cooperation between the two companies in order to create a service centre in the field of information systems in Greece.
The Dow Chemical Company will initially focus on the exploitation of support services operations and information systems infrastructure management, while these services will be provided by the IBM headquarters in Athens and will be operational later in 2014.
This investment could be anywhere in Europe, but Greece was chosen because the prime minister and his team have created an environment friendly for investments in the country while "in order to bring growth you need investment," the chairman of Dow Chemical Company, Andrew Liveris said.
The general manager of IBM in Europe Rich Hume said that this partnership would strengthen the technological capabilities and the talent that exists in Greece.
Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi noted that this cooperation would create a number of quality jobs.
"Everyday the quality investment climate is changing. Foreign investments are important," he stressed, reffering to the strong interest of foreign companies to invest in Greece, due to the high level of education of young people.
 Premier Antonis Samaras' speech at AJC event in BrusselsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras gave the following speech on Wednesday, at an AJC event in Brussels:
Two decades ago, a simplistic, but very attractive, theory prevailed world-wide: As the world comes closer, as the international markets and the internet bring people together, this will resolve, almost automatically, all problems of the past: There is not going to be any war, any bigotry, any discrimination against anybody...
As societies become more dependent on each other, the theory went on, people will come to know and appreciate more their peers across the borders; in many occasions even the borders will become irrelevant; and the negative stereotypes will be brushed away by better communication and better understanding. Or so the story had it...
But things didn't work that way...
Nations didn't disappear. On the contrary, today we have about 50% more national states around the world, than what we used to have twenty-five years ago!
Indeed some national states integrated with others, especially in Europe. But even this did not change their basic priority of defending their national interests. They only adopted to do so collectively, along with others, rather than on their own, against each other...
They realized that it was in their national interest to provide for better security collectively, rather than individually. They realized they had much better prospects of long lasting growth and prosperity, if they integrated their economies, rather than trying to compete in the world individually. And they would improve their world influence, if they pulled their resources together, rather than try to do it separately, each state on its own.
So democratic states remained committed to their national interest! They only reshaped their agendas, to allow for new opportunities and to face new perils, in a new, more demanding, competitive world environment.
But the old menaces of humanity are still here: Wars still happen and they are very bloody. Civil wars are, unfortunately, high on the agenda and they are getting really ugly. Societies still fall apart. Borders are still disputed. Racism is here, reappearing in its old ugly face or taking new faces, equally repulsive. Economic crises torment nations or whole regions. Waves of refugees still threaten to destabilize societies around the world...
Is History repeating itself? Are we still getting some of the same? Is there no prospect for a better world? Is there no glimpse of Hope?
My understanding is that the world is changing, but nothing good will come automatically. Yes, there is room for Hope! But we have to fight for it. We have to win it every step of the way. Not just pray and wait for it. We have to build a better world, not just expect it to happen...
So did we learn something in the last few decades? Yes, we did:
We learned that globalization is not going to solve all our problems on its own. We need to establish our new world on a number of founding principles, that should not be taken for granted.
Firstly, democracy! It is much more than a word. It is certainly more than a list of constitutional principles. It is based on respect for the individual, trust to the collective will of each society, with universal rules of justice applying to all. It is also based on incentives for ethical standards: honesty, responsibility, sincerity.
Secondly, solidarity: We have common enemies to fight: Populism, extremism, racism of all kinds, terrorism and social deprivation. And we specially have to act together to save our middle class.
From Aristotle, to Diderot and Max Weber, there is a unanimous understanding that a strong middle class is the stable social basis for a functioning democracy. We cannot let our middle classes be wiped out. We cannot be indifferent even when this happens to our neighbors. Because when middle classes collapse, the foundations of democracy are undermined. And this can be detrimental to any individual democracy, but also contaminating beyond any country' borders.
Last century, in the 20's and the 30's, democracies in Europe started falling one by one. Eventually, they were completely wiped out by a new devastating War in the aftermath of a world economic Depression.
European nations found themselves trapped in a vicious cycle, of less hope, more hatred, less trust to each other, more fear from their neighbors, less self confidence and more mutual suspicion. We all know where this leads to. This pattern should never be allowed to swallow us up again.? ?
Thirdly, of all the evils, three are the most deadly we should relentlessly defend ourselves against: Extremism, racism and terrorism.
Democratic societies are based on individual freedom. We cannot even attempt to sensor peoples' beliefs or peoples' emotions.
But there is no tolerance for racism! There is no tolerance for terrorism. And there is no tolerance for extremists advocating the break of the rule of law.
Democracies persecute actions, not convictions. And democracies are strong enough to fight their enemies without becoming like them.
We know how racism starts: Firstly, with the emergence of negative stereotypes against a specific group of the population. Then, we have abusing such stereotypes to systematically treat members of this group as "scapegoats for all evils". Then we have extensive discriminations against them. Then we have open persecution and incrimination of their identity. And lastly, we have holocausts!
We cannot allow things to evolve is such a hideous manner. We have to stop racism, before it starts and certainly before it gets out of control. All kinds of racism are unacceptable. Anti-semitism is intolerable! Equally intolerable and unthinkable are all kinds of genocides. We owe, at least that much, to the memories of the victims of Auschwitz and Dahau: never to allow such horrendous crimes to take place again. And never to forget them!
By the way, we are now enhancing our law against racism in Greece, with strict references to Genocides and the Holocaust. Such bitter memories should be carved on stone! So our societies never forget. It is not only an obligation to the innocent who perished then. It is also an obligation to the present and future generations who have to remember and protect themselves, from the repetition of such atrocities. ?
In short, there is absolutely no tolerance for racism. As simple as that...
There is no tolerance for terrorism either! Citizens cannot live under fear. Democracy is based on Freedom. And public security is a necessary prerequisite of Freedom; because there is no Freedom where fear prevails.
Whoever advocates terrorist acts, or defends them, is not upholding the responsibilities of Democracy. We have to be clear about it...
And finally, there is no tolerance for breaking down law and order. Democracy is about the rule of law, binding for everyone, with no exceptions: Reach and poor, "big shots" and ordinary citizens alike, the opposition and the government! Nobody is above the Law!
If the rule of law is not observed by everyone, it breaks down. If it does, democracy is seriously fractured. Upholding the law is not a legalistic exercise. It is an ethical attitude: reflecting respect for the democratic order and trust to society's collective will. Democracy cannot stand without such a public ethos.
Socrates taught us a lot of things. Probably the most precious is the one he taught us with his own life: While in prison, waiting for his execution, he was offered a chance to escape. He refused it outright! And he drank the poison. He died once. But his example became immortal for eternity, as an ethical foundation of democracy.
There is a fourth requirement: sustainable, long term growth! Without it, democracies and open market economies will not last long. You can certainly have growth without democracy for some time. But you cannot have democracy without growth for a long time. Growth is the breeding ground for democracies to prosper. The opposite allows enemies of democracy to emerge.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Seventy years ago, Greece fought passionately against the Nazis. It paid a very high toll in human casualties, let alone the devastation of hundreds of villages and provincial towns across its territory. 10% of our population lost their lives in just a few years! It was a nightmare, and we will always remember it as such.
We have recently gone through a prolonged recession that hit hard on our society, in particular on our middle class and its prosperity. It generated unprecedented levels of unemployment, especially youth unemployment. It impoverished a large part of our population. It has been tough for most citizens and very bitter for all of our society.
Just two years ago, many "outsiders" were predicting a Weimar Republic type of collapse in Greece; with extremism gaining over and crushing liberal democracy.
But we proved them wrong! Extremism gained some ground, but never gained the momentum. Today, extremism of all kinds has started losing steam.
Social cohesion, although seriously traumatized, eventually withstood the pressures. Democracy, although taking a lot of beating by populism of all kinds, stood on its feet. Recovery has started! Unemployment reversed its trend and growth is approaching. Greeks withstood very trying moments with courage and dignity.
The fight is still on. We are not done yet. But we are gaining ground.
This is a fight of hope against fear; this is a fight of liberal democracy against extremism and populism. This is a fight of our new United Europe against the ghosts of our past. This is the fight of human freedom and dignity against terror and tyranny. This is an uncompromising fight: Democracy will prevail.
But to do so, we have to convince our peoples about four things:
Firstly, that democracy is not a breeding ground for extremism. It is what guarantees freedom, justice and social cohesion.
Secondly that Democracy is not the breeding ground for populist opportunists; it is the home of free citizens practicing democratic ethos.
Thirdly, that Democracy is not the breading ground of social deprivation, but the launching pad of growth and prosperity.
And lastly, that reforms keep democracy alive and the economy functioning. Reforms are not an "ordeal" for the people, but a salvation for the society.
Four words sum up our agenda for the "brave new world" we are facing:
Freedom, justice, social cohesion and growth promoting reforms!
Or alternatively: Democracy and solidarity among democracies, fighting together against extremism, against racism, against terrorism, against stagnation! ?
We cannot choose some of those "enemies"...
We must fight against all of them!
And we cannot do it separately. We can only win them together!
This is the roadmap to our future. It is not easy...
We have to fight every step of the way. And we can win it! ?
By the way, this is not lying ahead of us. It is already happening!
We are in the middle of this battle.
We are gaining ground..
And we will win it to the end!
 Foreign Minister Venizelos' statement on NATO enlargement policyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The NATO enlargement policy was at the center of the alliance's foreign ministers' working dinner held here on Tuesday evening.
Government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos stated on Wednesday that NATO decided to propose to Georgia a bundle of measures for upgrading its external relations with the alliance. "Moreover, we decided, with regard to Montenegro, to begin intensive negotiations, so that, by late 2015, the foreign ministers can assess what is the right time for Montenegro to be invited to meet the Alliance," he said.
Venizelos noted that he briefed his counterparts on the decisions taken at the EU-Montenegro Intergovernmental Conference, underlining that it opened three new chapters among which is the chapter on Common Foreign and Security Policy. He said that the discussion also focused on Bosnia-Herzegovina, "where the main thing is for there to be a state, for there to be state unity and security, so this comes first, and not Bosnia's accession perspective".
Venizelos underlined that the problem of FYROM was also discussed "reiterating the Bucharest framework, but I had the opportunity to explain once again that we are not talking here about a bilateral dispute, but a pending international issue, within the framework of the Security Council resolutions." He also reminded his colleagues that, during his latest visit to Skopje, in his capacity as chair of the Council of the EU, he talked with FYROM premier Nikola Gruevski and agreed to intensify the process under the UN Secretary-General's special envoy for the issue Matthew Nimetz; a process that is provided for by the Security Council resolutions. "And that is what we are doing - the process under Mr. Nimetz is the right and appropriate process," he said.
"Moreover, we always need to explain that there is not a name problem - there is a problem of substance. The name codifies a substantive problem of regional stability, democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law, respect for the Ohrid Agreement, respect for the March 2013 Agreement amongst the main political parties of our neighbouring country, in which we have a great interest: we have a strong economic and investment presence, we always have our doors open to visitors from our neighbouring country," he added. "But it has to be understood that the Greek position is specific, moderate, responsible, and in accord with international law, and we are waiting for the other side to respond accordingly," Venizelos concluded.
 FM Venizelos meets his Turkish counterpart DavutogluBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday met with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on the sidelines of the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels.
In statements after the meeting, Venizelos said that they made a political review of the bilateral relations and a brief reference to the regional situation "because we face many open problems that concern us" related to migrants, but "they also concern us because there is an issue of regional stability and international peace."
Venizelos also stressed that they talked about all open issues and agreed to use the channels of political and diplomatic communication to deal with practical issues, but mainly in order to prepare very specific steps in the context of international law and in particular the international law of the sea.
 Deputy Foreign Minister at SEECP summit notes Greece's support on Balkan states' EU accessionDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos represented Greece on Wednesday at the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) summit in Bucharest, within the framework of the Romanian Chairmanship.
During the summit, the issue of Balkan states' EU accession was discussed, with Gerontopoulos noting, that "Greece has always been an avid supporter of EU accession of the Balkan states. Something which remained a priority during the Greek Presidency of the EU, whose initiative led to the ministerial meeting at Thessaloniki on May the 8th , where EU confirmed its strong commitment to the European perspective of Western Balkans".
Gerontopoulos also stessed, that the Greek Presidency focused on growth, employment and social cohesion, attaining "significant progress" in the completion of the banking union and the harmonisation of fiscal policies within the EU. The deputy minister underlined, that Greece will support and stand by Albania, which succeeds Romania in the SEECP chair.
 2014 World Cup: Greece lives the dreamGreece in a do or die match won Ivory Coast and advanced to the 16 best teams of the world for the first time in its football history.
Andreas Samaris scored for Greece three minutes before the end of the half time. Ivory Coast returned the goal with Bony in the 74'. A late Giorgos Samaras penalty send Greece to the knock out stage of the World Cup that is held in Brazil.
"The best team won" said Greece's coach Fernando Santos after the end of the game. "The one with the best strategy, most desired and most chances...We scored twice and we hit the bar three times...We showed we know how to attack to. I told the players this morning that this would not be our last match. We are very happy and know that everyone in Greece is delighted."
Greece on Sunday will face Costa Rica in the knock out stage.
 Greek President, political leaders congratulate Greek football teamGreek President Karolos Papoulias congratulated the players of the national football team for their victory over Ivory Coast and their qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sent a telegram to congratulate the team, pointing out that they made Greeks proud.
"Your victory filled all Greeks with joy. Your determination and team spirit is an example for all of us," SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said in his telegram.
"The Greek National team, that has made us proud so many times, has once more managed to fill us with joy, to move us and unite us," PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement.
"The qualifying for the 16 best teams of the world is still a resounding demonstration of the quality of our players and the great potential of Greek football," deputy Culture and Sports Minister Yiannis Adrianos said in a statement.
 KKE's Koutsoumbas congratulates national team on Brazil victoryOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas congratulated the national football team on its qualification for the final "16" of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
In a congratulatory telegram, Koutsoumbas wished even more successes to the players and the coaching team.
 'It is not only degrees that make a good manager,' Admin.Reform minister saysIt is not only degrees that make a good manager, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday regarding the new way of selecting managers in the public sector, adding that more opportunities are given to younger public sector employees, who can claim a position of responsibility.
In an interview with radio station "Athens 9.84" Mitsotakis stressed that the selection process will be based for the first time on the combination of the candidate's skills and the job requirements and not the traditional point system for advancement.
He reiterated that "the new method of choosing managers in the public sector is under the authority of the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP)" adding that "anyone who participates in the interview committee has been trained so as to make sure he or she is aware of the selection process for a position of responsibility."
 SYRIZA on the new procedure for the selection of public-sector managementMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Wednesday accused the government of launching a "fierce attack" on positions of responsibility in order to completely control the administrative hierarchy and impose total submission to memorandum designs affecting the public sector while continuing and further expanding partisan practices.
Responding to the new institutional framework for the selection of public-sector supervisors, the SYRIZA public administration sector underlined that the government introduces a new exam procedure, used as a pretense, and an unreliable interview procedure that is given an unjustifiably large weight in the selection process for general directors and directors (70 pct and 60 pct respectively).
SYRIZA also noted the participation of private sector experts in the selection committees and the absence of employee representatives, underlining that the government's declarations "on meritocracy, transparency and objectivity are not convincing".
 GD MP Eleni Zaroulia temporarily placed under house arrestUltra-right Golden Dawn (GD) MP Eleni Zaroulia, one of the defendants in the GD criminal organisation case, was temporarily placed under house arrest until a definitive decision is reached by the Judicial Council on whether she will be held on remand, as suggested by the prosecutor, or under house arrest, which is the examining magistrates' position, it was announced on Wednesday.
Zaroulia testified through a memo in which, according to her defence attorney, she denied all charges against her, stressing that she has no participation in criminal acts. She also pointed out that her name is not mentioned in the case file, characterising as unfounded the charges against her.
 Golden Dawn MP Barbaroussis released on 20,000-euro bailFar-right Golden Dawn party MP Constantinos Barbaroussis was released from custody on Wednesday after posting a 20,000-euro bail but forbidden to leave the country, after testifying to an examining magistrate.
In his testimony, Barbaroussis denied the charges of joining and running a criminal organisation and other offences.
The magistrates are expected to announce a decision later in the day concerning the release of GD MP Eleni Zaroulia, wife of party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos, who is currently jailed on remand.
 EU Commissioner Damanaki organises conference on restoring oceans' productivityBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
A conference focusing on the restoring ocean health and sustainable productivity will be held in Brussels on Monday, co-hosted by European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki and the UN's Global Ocean Commission.
 AN.EL-Nikolopoulos formalise cooperationOpposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) leader Panos Kammenos and Christian-democratic party president and independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos on Wednesday formalised their parties' cooperation, launched soon after the European elections.
Nikolopoulos will head the efforts to further expand the initiative through meetings and talks with independent MPs and formations not represented in parliament.
Kammenos underlined that "the patriotic, anti-memorandum alliance created will respect the autonomy of its members and serve a common cause," while Nikolopoulos noted that "the anti-memorandum front is absolutely necessary".
The new political formation will be presented in a press conference at a central Athens hotel on Thursday.
 EU-US ministerial meeting on data protection held in AthensThe strengthening of cooperation on issues of common interest in the sectors of justice and home affairs dominated in the EU-US Ministerial meeting on Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) held in Athens on Wednesday.
Data protection was among the key issues and discussion focused on the progress of negotiations on the data protection Umbrella Agreement, with the US announcing the intention to seek legislative action giving European citizens the right to judicial redress in the US in case of wrongful disclosure of their data.
Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou underlined that the announcement on judicial redress is welcomed and is being considered a crucial step in promoting bilateral cooperation.
On the data protection reform underway in the US and the EU, the justice minister said that the reform is aimed at reinforcing the rights of European citizens and businesses inside as well as outside the EU borders.
Both sides referred to the joint efforts in cybersecurity and in fighting cybercrime. At the forefront of the discussion were the findings of the EU-US Working Group on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime and the so-called "Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online".
The meeting also focused on developing a creative framework of action against transnational organized crime.
The meeting, held in the context of the Greek EU Presidency, was chaired by Athanassiou and Public Order & Citizen Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias, and was attended by US Attorney General Eric Holder, US Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom and Director-General for Justice at the European Commission Francoise Le Bail.
 Five ND deputies set preconditions to vote for magistrates' salaries amendmentFive New Democracy deputies on Wednesday said they would not vote for the amendment on magistrates' salaries, unless the injustices with the wages of Armed and Security Forces staff are restored.
The five deputies said in a statement the development was a positive one, but added they expected for a similar move that would restore wage injustices in Armed and Security Forces so as to vote for the amendment.
 Athens and Thessaloniki's mayors statement on crematoriesAthens and Thessaloniki's mayors George Kaminis and Yiannis Boutaris called on the government to incorporate a legislative proposal on the creation of crematories outside cemeteries in the Development ministry's omnibus bill.
"We are surprised once again to find out that invisible forces prevent the country's adaptation to the international reality and respect for the choices of the people. Greece must not be a laggard in fundamental rights issues," they said in a statement.
 Bill on land, town planning reform ratifiedParliament's First Summer Recess Section ratified, with votes of the New Democracy and PASOK parties, the bill on land and town planning reform. The government's assurances that urgent procedures on the bill's discussion and ratification meet the country's commitments to its lenders did not convince the opposition, since the parties reserving their ultimate stance on the bill voted against it.
Provisions concerning the Special Land Plans that are being prepared to enable regions to become suitable for receiving large scale investments or in general "organised development and production activity" were the most indicative points in opposition criticism. The priority that the bill gives to this target, combined with the simplification of the existing control procedures, led to the opposition denouncing the bill.
Environment Minister Yiannis Manaiatis stressed the need for investments and pointed out that "for investments to be made, however, the question of 'where can I invest, how and when' must be answered".
 Arrears to State increased by 5.2 bln euros in Jan.-May 2014Arrears of due payments to the State saw a fresh increase of 873 million euros in May 2014, bringing their overall total to a hefty 66.37 billion euros, equivalent to about 36.6 pct of Greek GDP in 2013.
According to figures released on Wednesday by the General Secretariat for Public Revenues, new arrears towards the State increased by 5.2 billion euros during the first five months of 2014.
During the same period, the Secretariat managed to collect 852 million euros in arrears created prior to 2014, plus another 585 million euros in due payments for the first five months of the current year.
Tax authorities have conducted 153 audits of large businesses up until end-May, against a set target of 250 audits for the first half of 2014. The percentage collection of taxes and fines ascertained in the first five months of 2014 stood at 32.43 pct, against a target of 65 pct.
 EU proposes 6 bln euros from EGF to support jobs after closure of bakery manufacturer NutriartBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
The European Commission has proposed to provide Greece with 6 million euros from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 508 former workers of the bakery manufacturer Nutriart and its providers and downstream producers to find new jobs, as well as 505 young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). The proposal will be sent to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for approval.
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor commented: "I am happy the Commission has responded positively to Greece's request for EGF support to provide occupational guidance, counselling, training, and further support to the redundant workers, along with young people not in employment, education or training". He added: "Today's decision will help to prepare over 1,000 people for new jobs and first job opportunities".
Greece applied for support from the EGF following the redundancies of 484 workers in Nutriart S.A. and AR. ZIGAS & SIA, and the cessation of activity of 24 self-employed persons whose activity was directly linked to Nutriart.
The measures co-financed by the EGF would help the workers and the NEETs to find new jobs by providing them with occupational guidance, vocational training, specific counselling services towards entrepreneurship, contributions to business start-up and a variety of allowances.
The total estimated cost of the package is ? 10 million, of which the EGF would provide ? 6 million.
 Greece will need 25 years to create the necessary jobs under current conditions - Endeavor Greece reportGreece will need 25 years to generate the necessary jobs considering its current pace and the enterprises mix, according to a survey by Endeavor Greece, the international non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurship.
"In order to accomplish that in less than a decade, it would have to triple the efforts focused on value-added sectors and double their success rates. Above all it would have to create the appropriate entrepreneurship ecosystem which will create, support and connect quality entrepreneur projects," said the survey, which will be presented in the 3rd International Conference of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation on Filanthropy (June 26-27).
Greece has lost 1,000,000 jobs in the last five years, according to the survey. More than half come from three sectors - constructions, retail/wholesale and manufacturing - while whole sectors such as real estate have been practically vanished. Only three sectors managed to maintain or even increase their labour force: agriculture, food manufacturing and technology.
The survey pointed out that young Greeks were affected in a disproportionate way by the unemployment rise, with more than 500,000 jobs lost. Nevertheless, only half of the unemployment rate is a result of the economic slowdown and recession. The rest is a result of the traditional disadvantage of young people who are "outside the market", a disadvantage that intensified during the crisis. Certain sectors, such as agriculture, food and specific professions - doctors, lawyers, bank employees, accountants - have made youth jobs obsolete, although they maintained or even increased positions for older professionals. In this context, more than 200,000 Greeks have left the country and have found a job abroad.
The survey pointed out that it takes a huge change and definitely bigger than the one usually described. It is clear that Greece has to focus on specific sectors (agricultural produce, food, manufacturing, tourism, logistics, technology) where it has the structural advantages of basic or human resources or geographical positioning.
Apart from major reforms and infrastructure upgrade, this shift of economic activity takes time, new skills and entails the natural movement of hundreds of thousands. It is estimated that more 640,000 people will have to change professional sectors and more than 500,000 will have to move outside Athens and Thessaloniki.
The question is who can create high quality jobs in the Greek economy's sectors. Unfortunately, the report says, the majority of existing businesses is in no position to do this.
Most of the existing enterprises are structurally unable to increase employment. Furthermore, most of the small businesses are mainly self-employment companies and do not generate any more jobs apart from the entrepreneur-owner.
There is a minority of 3,000 existing companies that show high growth margins, invest in their personnel and are well placed to develop fast and create quality jobs. Those companies can create up to 200,000 new jobs. The rest of 800,000 jobs need to be created from new businesses. Some 10,000 new high-growth enterprises are needed, while the recent increase of startups is a good start.
The survey noted that the 200 startups that are established each year but they are not expected to create the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are needed. Young people, the survey says, must lead Greece's transformation. Those people, either entrepreneurs or employees, have the ability to overcome Greece's resistance to change.
 Entrepreneurship culture is important for Europe's development, ACCI head saysOnly 37 percent of workers in Europe prefer self-employment, while in the U.S. and China the equivalent figure exceeds 50 percent, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) president Constantine Michalos said on Wednesday.
According to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, early-stage entrepreneurs in countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, Greece and Spain are around 5 percent of the total adult population. The corresponding figure in the U.S. and China is close to 15 percent, while in Brazil is 17 percent, Michalos said at a Belgian-Greek Chamber event during a conference on entrepreneurship in Brussels.
Michalos underlined that Europe is currently hesitant to innovative enterprises, which grow rapidly, contributing to employment, exports, and the economy.
"The worst is that the existence of so many structural barriers has led to the development of an even greater negative factor: the cultural one. A culture has been created in Europe today which discourages creative entrepreneurship. The example of Greece is typical: the decades before the crisis, we managed to adopt a philosophy that is hostile to private initiative and we made the state intervene significantly in economic activity, thereby increasing bureaucracy and complexity. We did not try to develop entrepreneurial awareness among younger generations...That resulted in even more able young people to averse entrepreneurship," he noted.
The problems are more or less similar throughout Europe but the human capital exists, he said and added: "We cannot afford to leave it unexploited, or to lead it outside Europe in search of better conditions."
Michalos reiterated that the European Commission has drawn up the 2020 Entrepreneurship Action Plan to tackle the problem, with the aim to remove obstacles and develop a new culture of entrepreneurship. The basic elements of the project is the emphasis on entrepreneurship education, the upgrading of the administrative framework and the support of specific groups of the population.
 Greece launches 2014-2015 tourism campaignGreece's tourism campaign strategy for 2014-2015 was unveiled in a special event on Wednesday by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) and the ministry of tourism.
The new campaign, prepared much sooner than usual, targets specific tourism markets abroad with an emphasis on internet tools and the needs of the country's visitors.
Addressing the event, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said that the aspiration is to make Greece a hospitality paradise. She underlined that 2013 was a year of successes for Greece, noting that the ministry's choices were vindicated and was proved that the tourism sector has turned the crisis into opportunity.
EOT general secretary Panos Livadas said that in the new year, Greece expects roughly 20 million tourists and, counting cruise tourism, their number will increase to 22 million.
Referring to the marketing strategy to be adopted by Greece in the next tourism period, he focused on the markets of China, Russia and Brazil.
Commenting on Brazil, Kefalogianni noted that a tourism promotion campaign is already underway in the city of Sao Paulo.
Livadas noted that the messages from China are very encouraging after the launch of a direct flight between Greece and Shanghai, while a direct flight between Athens and Beijing is being considered by tour operators in China.
Prospects, as regards the Russian market, are very promising based on visa issuance requests that record an increase of 65 pct compared with 2012.
The 100th anniversary of the first organised tourism campaign by Greece was also marked during the event with a rare footage screening.
 Tourism minister: 'We hope to break new record in tourist arrivals'ROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, speaking in an interview with the Italian economic newspaper "Il Sole 24 Ore", said "we hope to break a new record in tourist arrivals this year."
Kefalogianni noted, however, that the Greek side was not "obsessed with figures," but sought to "gradually improve and differentiate our tourist product, to raise the value of our 'brand' and visitors' trust, to reach as far as developing markets and increase direct air links."
The Tourism minister confirmed that tourist arrivals in Athens, in the first quarter of 2014, increased by 30 percent and also stressed that "the main concern, at this phase, is for Greece to become established as an international tourist destination, a destination that can offer something special to everyone."
Replying to a relevant question, Kefalogianni said "the decrease in VAT, particularly with regard to restaurants, was a decision that proved really useful."
Lastly, the Tourism minister said "after two years, we believe that there is trust in the Greek economy and the Greek tourist industry again. Tourist agents, travel agencies and airline companies are showing special interest in additional links with Greek airports."
 German Ambassador: 'Intense investment interest' in tourism sector from German companiesIn a meeting with Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Orfanos in Thessaloniki, northern Greece on Wednesday, the German Ambassador to Greece Peter Schoof said German businesses showed strong interest in tourism and other investments throughout Greece and especially in the north of the country.
"In the tourism sector, there is intense [German] interest for investments. Moreover, we are willing to support Greece in other economic activities as well, in order to help overcome the crisis, although the first signs of the return of growth are now visible", said Schoof, who was visiting Thessaloniki for the first time.
Orfanos noted that the number of German tourists has doubled, expressing hope that German arrivals will be restored "to the high levels we were acquainted with in the past."
 GSEE trade union federation to contest CoS ruling on private-sector wages at European courtsThe General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union federation representing private-sector workers, intends to contest a Council of State (CoS) ruling on private-sector wage reductions in the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos revealed on Wednesday.
The CoS, Greece's supreme administrative court, judged that acts of cabinet reducing private-sector wages and abolishing measures for wage maturation and the setting of the minimum wage in Greece to be in line with the Constitution. The measures were among those required by the second memorandum for Greece.
Conversely, the CoS ruled that the abolition of workers' rights to unilaterally have recourse to arbitration when there was no agreement with employers to be unconstitutional.
Panagopoulos pointed to the trade unions' vindication in this area and stressed that the ruling must be immediately implemented, welcoming the ruling as an important step toward the return of collective bargaining and a weakening of anti-labour practices.
 OTE, Forthnet respond to Capital Market Commission on press reportsOTE Telecoms on Wednesday sent a letter to the Capital Market Commission clarifying that "there have been preliminary contacts between OTE and Forthnet's major shareholder, FORGENDO LTD, regarding the NOVA pay-TV operations."
It added that "during the last years OTE has been developing its pay-TV operations, as it believes that pay-TV is an area with growth potential and as would be normal, reviews all business options in this direction."
"While currently it is not the case, if in the near or longer term future events take place, that would require the notification of the investing public according to applicable laws, OTE will proceed promptly with the necessary announcements," OTE concluded.
On its part, Forthnet responded to a Capital Market Commission question and clarified that "it is not negotiating with OTE S.A."
"FORTHNET will inform the investors regarding the content of the publication that concerns Emirates International Telecommunications, immediately after it takes cognizance of the relevant matter," it said.
"FORTHNET does not make any remarks about other publications of the print and electronic media, which are relevant to the aforementioned publication and concern the aims, strategies and planning of its competitors," it added.
 Tender for hydrocarbon exploration in Ionian Sea, Crete to be launched early JulyThe environment, energy and climate change ministry on Wednesday announced that an international tender for hydrocarbon exploration concessions in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete will be launched in early July.
The features of the areas involved, based on seismic survey data collected by PGS last year, will be presented to oil companies at a conference in London on July 1-2 on "Western Greece and South Crete: A new area for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the heart of the Mediterranean".
The areas will be presented by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis, who will outline the government's strategic plan for developing the country's hydrocarbon potential and also have individual meetings with company representatives and investors to answer any questions.
 Four investors short-listed for next stage of ADMIE tender, sources sayThe Public Power Corporation's (PPC) board on Wednesday shortlisted four of five potential investors, who will proceed to the next stage in a tender to acquire 66 pct of its wholly-owned subsidiary Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO or ADMIE). According to sources, one of the five companies that had initially expressed an interest was rejected while the remainder will be invited to submit binding offers.
Once the sale of 66 pct of ADMIE is concluded, the Greek state will acquire the remaining 34 pct at the sale price decided during the tender.
The proposed shortlist was rejected by the two trade unionists representing the workforce on PPC's board, who issued a joint statement expressing the "complete disagreement" with the company's privatisation and their decision not to support any stage in the process toward it. The PPC staff union federation GENOP has meanwhile formed a new board and individual unions within GENOP, such as the PPC technicians' union, the Spartakos union and the Administrative-Financial Staff Union have announced strike action from next week, when a debate on a draft bill for a 'small PPC' begins in Parliament.
 Thessaloniki Port Authority approves 4.0-euro dividend per share for 2011-2013The Thessaloniki Port Authority (THPA S.A.) approved a dividend of 4.0 euros per share for the years 2011-2013 during the annual shareholders' meeting held on Wednesday, based on the proposal of majority shareholder Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), which owns 74.2 pct.
Specifically, the meeting approved 3.4 euros per share from the distribution of profits in the years 2011 and 2012, which will be added to a dividend of 0.6 euros per share approved for 2013 to create a total of 4.0 euros per share.
In total, the company will pay out 40 million euros in dividends and leave untouched the companies reserves of 55 million euros, which are destined to be used in an investment programme for the next three years amounting to 40-45 million euros.
President and CEO Stelios Aggeloudis clarified that, based on a ministerial decision, the dividends earned by HRADF will be paid into finance ministry coffers.
 Eurobank sells 13.47 pct of Eurobank Properties to institutional investorsEurobank announced on Wednesday that it sold a block of Eurobank Properties shares equivalent to 13.47 pct of the latter's share capital to institutional investors, through pre-arranged block transactions at 8.75 euros per Eurobank Properties share. Eurobank still controls 20% of Eurobank Properties' share capital.
Eurobank also announced that its total participation in Lamda Development's share capital has been reduced to less than 5 pct, as of June 19, 2014. Its share in Lamda Development had not changed from 5.92 pct, since June 19, 2013.
 PEA blames strong euro for exports decline in Jan-Apr 2014Total Greek exports suffered a new decline during the first four months of 2014, according to an announcement by the Panhellenic Exporters Association (PEA) on Wednesday, based on provisional data published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). According to PEA, these developments were partly due to a strong euro - during the first four months of 2014 - which made the lives of Greek exporters aspiring to expand to non-EU countries more difficult.
During January-April 2014, Greek exports recorded a 6.5 pct decline excluding oil products, while the decline was even greater (-7.8 pct) when taking oil products into account, with total exports including oil falling to 8.4 billion euros from 9.1 billion euros for the first four months of 2013.
PEA has calculated that Greek exports suffered a sizeable 20.8 pct decline in April 2014, down to 2.02 billion euros compared to April 2013, oil products included. The association noted a significant increase in the percentage share of Greek exports to EU countries (to 47.9 pct, from 45.5 pct a year earlier), as the decline in exports to the EU (-2.9 pct) was smaller than that to non-EU countries (-11.8 pct) during the first four months of the current year.
The drop in exports - especially during April 2014 - combined with the smaller decline in imports, caused an overall 6.8 pct rise in the Greek trade deficit, an increase even greater (+25.4 pct) with oil products excluded.
 Greek trade deficit widens in AprilGreece's trade deficit widened by 6.8 pct (including oil products) or by 25.4 pct (excluding oil products) in April this year, reflecting a significant drop of exports.
The Hellenic Statistical Authority in a report released on Wednesday said that the value of import-arrivals totalled 3.634 billion euros in April from 3.930 billion euros in April last year, recording a 7.5 pct drop (excluding oil products the value of imports fell 3.8 pct).
The value of export-deliveries totalled 2.021 billion euros in April, from 2.553 billion in April last year, posting a 20.8 pct decrease (excluding oil products the value of exports fell 12.4 pct).
The trade deficit widened by 17.2 pct to 1.614 billion euros in April, from 1.377 billion in the year-ago period (excluding oil products the trade deficit widened by 7.8 pct).
The value of import-arrivals in the January-April period totalled 15.507 billion euros, down 1.6 pct compared with the same period last year (excluding oil products the value of imports rose 7.4 pct).
The value of export-deliveries amounted to 8.399 billion euros in the first four months of the year, down 7.8 pct from the same period last year (excluding oil products the value of exports fell by 6.5 pct).
The trade deficit totalled 7.109 billion euros in the January-April period, up 6.8 pct from last year (excluding oil products the trade deficit widened by 25.4 pct).
 Deputy development minister in meetings over Sunday opening for shopsDeputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos has started a round of meetings with unions of merchants and retail traders to hear their objections to Sunday opening for shops in certain areas of Greece.
The pilot measure is to begin immediately, initially in seven areas within the regions of Attica, the Southern Aegean and Central Macedonia, and will apply for all retail outlets regardless of size or type.
Isses relating to Sunday opening and other matters of concern to commerce will also be discussed when Development and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias visits the offices of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce on July 2.
 Civil Aviation Authority staff to strike on Monday, TuesdayThe Federation of Civil Aviation Authority Unions (OSYPA) called a 48-hour warning strike on Monday and Tuesday (June 30 and July 1) protesting against "its degradation by all governments so far."
More specifically, OSYPA said that the degradation of all its sectors, aviation-airports, will possibly lead to its collapse and stressed its need for funds so as to improve the airports' infrastructure.
During the 48-hour strike, OSYPA will provide the following services:
Civil and military aircraft flying over and crossing the Athens-Macedonia FIR
Greek and foreign military aircraft participating in scheduled exercises
Aircrafts in need of emergency landing
Flights carrying heads of state / prime ministers
Flights for emergency reasons
 Air traffic controllers will not participate in 48-hour strike announced for Monday, TuesdayAir traffic controllers will not participate in the 48-hour warning strike called by the Federation of Civil Aviation Authority Unions (OSYPA), their trade union EEEKE announced on Wednesday.
The Greek Air Traffic Controllers' Association noted that it has no relation with OSYPA and therefore, its members will not participate in 48-hour strike on Monday, June 30 and Tuesday, July 1.
OSYPA called the strike underlining that the degradation of all its sectors, aviation-airports, will possibly lead to its collapse and stressed its need for funds so as to improve the airports' infrastructure.
During the 48-hour strike, OSYPA will provide services to civil and military aircraft flying over and crossing the Athens FIR; Greek and foreign military aircraft participating in scheduled exercises; aircraft in need of emergency landing; medical flights; flights carrying heads of state/prime ministers and to flights for emergency reasons.
 'Block train' cargo services to Sofia as of September 3"Block train" cargo services to Sofia, Bulgaria will be launched on September 3 following the signing of a relevant agreement between TRAINOSE rail operator and the Bulgarian State Railways, Thessaloniki Port Authority S.A. (THPA S.A.) president & CEO Stelios Aggeloudis announced on Wednesday.
THPA S.A. in cooperation with TRAINOSE are promoting the gradual launch of regular rail freight transport services from the port of Thessaloniki to Sofia, Skopje, Belgrade and Istanbul.
 GENOP labour union to launch 48-hour rolling strikes over 'small PPC' billThe GENOP labour union federation for staff at the Public Power Corporation (PPC) on Wednesday announced the start of 48-hour rolling strikes when a draft bill on the privatisation of the "small PPC" (Public Power Corporation) is tabled in Parliament, according to a unanimous decision taken by the union's board. The bill is expected to be submitted to the Committee next Wednesday.
In the announcement, GENOP reiterated a demand for a referendum on the proposed privatisation, claiming that "the government does not have the moral and democratic legality to privatise the PPC group", and for the draft bill's withdrawal.
The federation also called for the President of the Republic's intervention, for the enterprise's management to protect the group's interests and for the government to unveil the country's energy planning.
 Three-day 'European Youth Entrepreneurship Conference' to begin in Athens on ThursdayThe 1st European Youth Entrepreneurship Conference will take place at the Athens municipality's Technopolis site in Gazi from Thursday to Saturday, including the Leadership Assembly of European Young Entrepreneurs on Friday and the 5th Greek Startup Forum on Saturday.
Organisers include the Youth Entrepreneurship union representing the European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs in Greece, Innovathens and the Orange Grove initiative run by the Dutch Embassy in Athens.
 Greek stocks continue slide for third sessionGreek stocks continued their downward slide for a third session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with banks coming under pressure and driving the bourse to its lowest level since the end of May. The composite index dropped 1.41 pct to end at 1,226.19 points, for cumulative losses of 6.11 pct over the last three sessions. Turnover was a high 257.31 million euros.
The Large Cap index fell 1.51 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.44 pct lower. The highest gains among blue chip stocks were for Titan (2.46 pct), OPAP (2.10 pct), MIG (1.34 pct) and Jumbo (0.76 pct), with National Bank (-4.73 pct), Piraeus Bank (-4.22 pct), METKA (-4.06 pct) and PPC (-2.94 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses.
The Mass Media (4.67 pct), Travel (1.72 pct) and Construction (1.10 pct) sectors scored the highest gains, while Banks (-3.30 pct), Public Utilities (-2.33 pct) and Foods (-1.87 pct) suffered the biggest losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 74 to 58 with another 18 issues unchanged. ALCO (26.32 pct), Medicon (19.89 pct) and Varvaressos (18.60 pct) were top gainers, while Tiletypos (-17.65 pct), Pasal (-15.15 pct) and Altec (-12.00 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -0.18%
Industrial Products: -1.70%
Real Estate: -0.50%
Personal & Household: +0.28%
Food & Beverages: -1.87%
Raw Materials: -0.41%
Travel & Leisure: +1.72%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank Properties, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.67
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.21
Coca Cola HBC: 16.65
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.96
National Bank of Greece: 2.62
Eurobank Properties : 9.00
Piraeus Bank: 1.59
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 4.63 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 4.53 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.89 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.26 pct. Turnover was a low 41 million euros, of which 32 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 9.0 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates remained largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.487 pct from 0.489 pct on Tuesday, the nine-month rate eased to 0.394 pct from 0.396, the six-month rate stayed level at 0.306 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.2208 pct from 0.211 pct and the one-month rate eased to 0.103 pct from 0.104 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.25 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover easing to 18.01 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 6,314 contracts worth 12.510 million euros, with 59,607 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 17,087 contracts worth 5.504 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,253), followed by Alpha Bank (3,137), Piraeus Bank (3,934), Eurobank (1,659), MIG (500), OTE (792), PPC (942), OPAP (204), Hellenic Exchanges (141), Mytilineos (213), Hellenic Petroleum (347), GEK (206), Eurobank Properties (115) and Terna Energiaki (111).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.361
Pound sterling 0.802
Danish kroner 7.455
Swedish kroner 9.173
Japanese yen 138.73
Swiss franc 1.216
Norwegian kroner 8.358
Canadian dollar 1.462
Australian dollar 1.453
 Three suspects in major heroin case testify on WednesdayA 32 year old Greek, a 47 year old Iranian and a Indian seaman on Wednesday testify on the huge quantity of heroin (over two tonnes) that was transferred by the tanker "NOOR ONE" to Greece and was found in two warehouses in Koropi and in a garage of a mansion in Filothei.
The Iranian was due to testify on Tuesday but requested and received a one-day extension. In his testimony, the Iranian allegedly claimed that he boarded the tanker and the heroin shipment was loaded in international waters between Pakistan and Oman from a supply boat. He also alleged that he was going to receive 50 mln Iranian reals for the job.
According to information the Greek has allegedly helped in the heroin's transfer to Philothei.
On Tuesday, four crew members of the tanker "Noor One", that was used to smuggle into Greece the mammoth heroin shipments of over two tonnes seized by the Greek authorities a few days ago in separate sting operations, were remanded in custody following a unanimous decision by the prosecutor and the examining magistrate assigned to the case.
The suspects, all from India, denied any involvement in the case but were unable to convince the investigating authorities.
 Another three men remanded in custody in relation to huge heroin bustAnother three men involved in the unprecedented bust of 2.12 tonnes of heroin in Greece were remanded in custody on Wednesday. These are a 32-year-old Greek, a 47-year-old Iranian and an Indian crew member of the small tanker "Noor One", which transported the huge drugs cargo to Athens.
The Greek refused he had any prior knowledge of the cargo he was carrying, rejecting any alleged involvement whatsoever in the drugs trafficking case. He actually attributed his entanglement in it, to purely coincidental circumstances.
The Iranian, who seems to hold a key role in the case, claimed in his testimony that he, also, was not aware of the cargo the ship was carrying and that he only needed the money because of his four kids and his destitution. The Indian crew member also refused any knowledge of the cargo, claiming he thought the small tanker was headed to Greece for repairs.
Three more persons were taken to a Piraeus prosecutor, facing charges of fuel smuggling, due to 18 tonnes of diesel found in the tanker which could not be justified by any transaction documents. All three remain in custody and will be led anew to the Piraeus courts on Thursday, this time facing charges of drugs trafficking.
The authorities have already pumped out of the seized tanker the smuggled diesel and will be looking for any hidden vaults inside the ship's eight tanks, in search of more heroin that might have been stashed there.
 Police found two suspects allegedly involved in lottery fraudsFinancial Crimes Police on Wednesday reported uncovering two alleged leading members of a criminal group, who were reportedly involved in thousands of fraud cases in Germany, through fake lotteries.
The two Greek nationals, 36 and 44 years old, were born in Germany and were found by Greek police after German authorities requested the country's police and judicial assistance in the case.
According to a Greek police statement, the members of the criminal group had illegally found the clients' lists of betting firms. Trained personnel would then call up citizens and managed to secure their monthly 29.9 euro contribution to "non-existent" lotteries under the pretext they would win large amounts of money, cars and trips.
They had also set up virtual companies, through which they legitimised illegal revenues and transferred these funds to various bank accounts around the world. In this way they managed to deceive 360,000 citizens in Germany and raise about 36.5 million euros.
The two suspects were involved in those activities between January 2009 and November 2012. The investigation is underway.
 Composer Evgenia Manolidou wins Audience Choice Award in international opera festivalVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Greek music composer Evgenia Manolidou, wife of former health minister Adonis Georgiadis, won the Audience Choice Award in the International Opera Composition Competition in the "Bartok Plusz" International Opera Festival held in the Hungarian city of Miskolc, it was announced on Wednesday.
Her work entitled "La Pisanella, the girl from Pisa" is a lyrical drama of four acts based on Gabriele D'Annunzio's play that refers to a true story unfolding in Medieval Cyprus.
Hungarian composer Szuts Apor won the Jury Prize for his work "A hallei kirurgus".
 Light quake jolts PatrasA light earthquake measuring 4 on the Richter scale was recorded at 12.20 pm on Wednesday near to the port city of Patras.
The quake, which was accompanied by a strong pounding sound, had a 5km depth and it was located north of Patras, said a Geodynamics Institute of Athens Observatory announcement.
 An event against gold mining in Halkidiki to be held in Thessaloniki"Thessaloniki Committee against Gold Mining" on Saturday will hold an event in protest of gold mining in Halkidiki, northern Greece.
The programme includes among others screenings, lectures, a products exhibition, puppetry and painting, photography exhibitions, and music.
 Deadline for installing ABS brakes in HGVs extended to December 31The deadline for mandatory installation of anti-locking braking systems (ABS) in heavy goods vehicles in Greece has been extended until December 31 by order of Deputy Transport Minister Michalis Papadopoulos, it was announced on Wednesday. The extension was deemed necessary because the National Technical University of Athens has not yet submitted a study on whether such conversion is technically feasible for existing vehicles.
 Hot weather on ThursdayHot weather and westerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 19C-36C. Mostly fair in the central and in southern parts, 19C-39C. Sunny over the islands, 23C-34C. Fair in Athens, 22C-38C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 20C-34C.
 The Wednesday edition of the Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Rally for PPC.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Selective treatment of court decisions by the government
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Impoverishment with State Council's approval.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: New salaries and benefits with court decisions.
ESTIA: We must become again a country of creators.
ETHNOS: Magistrates' wages at 2012 levels.
IMERISSIA: 1 billion euro 'bomb' - Government restores magistrates' pay to 2012 levels.
KATHIMERINI: Government seeks hidden parafiscal charges.
LOGOS: Alarm for the heatwave.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Court decisions raise fiscal hurdle.
RIZOSPASTIS: Government reduces funds for kindergartens and social structures.
TA NEA: Changes in the Universities.
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