|Wednesday, 17 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-06-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 27 June 2014 Issue No: 4693
 PM Samaras, in Belgium for EU summit, speaks on energy, illegal migrationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras focused on issues of the European Union's energy policy and ways of dealing with illegal migration, in his interventions at the twod-day EU summit meeting that opened at Ypres on Thursday and will continue in Brussels on Friday.
On Thursday, European leaders met at Ypres to commemorate the bloody 1917 World War I battle named after the city. On Friday in Brussels they are expected to discuss who will be the next European Commission president.
According to diplomatic sources, the premier noted the need to differentiate and guarantee the energy sources and transportation routes in Europe, and ensure that energy is provided under price rates beneficial to for both businesses and consumers.
In terms of how to deal with illegal migration, which he termed an urgent issue, Samaras said the current situation was a Europe-wide problem, especially in terms of the EU's external borders, while he stressed the necessity of the implementation of agreements the EU has made with third-party countries.
 Greece won't need third bailout package, PM Samaras tells 'Handelsblatt'BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Greece is leaving the recession behind it and will not need a third bailout package, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras apparently asserted in an interview with the German financial newspaper "Handelsblatt", excerpts of which were published on the newspaper's online version on Thursday.
According to the article, Samaras also sees progress in terms of reducing Greece's debt but noted that the country must continue with reforms.
The Greek premier expressed confidence that there will be no financing gap over the next two years that would necessitate a third package of loans, once the last of a financial aid package to Greece comes to an end this year, but was banking on the Greek economy returning to growth and an end to the recession.
In terms of reducing debt, Samaras was reported as saying that Greece will reduce the debt from 175 pct of GDP at present to under 110 pct of GDP by 2022, as agreed with the country's creditors, "provided that all participants meet their commitments".
For Greece, this mean continuing reforms and the successful fiscal policy, while Greece's creditors must come through with a commitment to discuss ways of relieving Greece's debt, the prime minister added.
"One might imagine lower interest rates, longer repayment periods and additional periods of grace," Samaras was reported as saying.
In terms of relaxing the stability pact, Samaras appeared to be in favour of preserving its basic structures and noted that "competitiveness and growth go together. I do not see this as a dilemma."
 PM Samaras expresses support for Juncker candidacy on arrival at EPP summit"Greece has been among the first countries supporting Jean - Claude Juncker's candidacy for the Presidency of the European Commission. In fact, my party, New Democracy, has provided one of the two signatures proposing his candidacy," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday, as he arrived for a European People's Party (EPP) leaders' summit in Kortrijk, Belgium.
"I am optimistic about the final outcome and I am also optimistic that his appointment will solidify, will enhance the European orientation towards more growth. And more growth is absolutely necessary for the problem of unemployment in Europe and especially in my country," Samaras added.
 New FinMin priorities include 'adhering to fiscal targets', liquidity and online services, among othersThe government is setting up a "toolkit" to help in negotiations with the troika of lenders in the autumn and in the drafting of a new budget, to be also used long term, a top-level official at the Finance ministry said on Thursday.
The unnamed official said the government "insists on the fiscal targets... but we must know of alternative routes leading to the same target," saying that a fine line had to be drawn between convincing Greek citizens that better times are coming and balancing the budget.
In order for Greece to improve its negotiations with the troika, Greece needs to fulfil the 12 prior actions. Greece's progress on these will be presented at the next Euro Working Group on June 30 (Monday) by Christodoulos Stefanadis, head of the Council of Financial Experts. The Eurogroup is scheduled to meet on July 7.
The new leadership of the ministry plans to also focus on the "great recession during the lack of liquidity in the economy and on how the banks will resolve their problem loans," the official said.
In terms of fighting tax evasion, the ministry said the ministry was concerned about fighting it in order to bring revenues in and lighten the load of the Greek people. Of help in this, he said, would be further extending online services to cut down time spent by individuals at tax offices.
 FM Venizelos to present the priorities of the Hellenic Chairmanship of BSECGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday will present the main priorities of the Hellenic Chairmanship of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) at an event being held by the Foreign Ministry, at Zappeion Conference Centre, in celebration of "BSEC Day" .
According to a Foreign ministry's announcement, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, the Secretretary General of the BSEC Permanent International Secretariat, Ambassador Dr. Victor Tvircun, MPs, Ambassadors, and representatives of Ministries will also be participating in the event.
The Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is the main economic cooperation platform in the Black Sea region. Greece is a founding member of BSEC and will be holding the Chairmanship of the Organization for the second half of 2014.
 FM Venizelos to meet with Russia and Cyprus' ambassadors on FridayGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday will meet with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation Vladimir Chkhikvishvili and the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus Phaedon Anastasiou, ahead of their departure from Greece.
According to a ministry's announcement, the meetings will take place at the Foreign Ministry, at 09:15 and 12:30 respectively.
 Parliament ratifies an amendment restoring judges' wagesThe Parliament's first summer recess section ratified by majority vote on Thursday an amendment for the restitution of judges' wages, as well as an additional amendment which allows for the medical coverage of uninsured citizens by the state's uniform health services organization, EOPPY.
During the parliamentary discussion on the wage restitution amendment, the opposition parties criticized the government for not automatically including in it the state's uniformed personnel wage scheme, as well as those of other groups that have been affected by the crisis.
The parliamentary representative of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party Panagiotis Lafazanis underlined that the austerity policy has to be rejected in its entirety, not only because it concerns all those who undergo its consequences, but also because it affects the economy and the country's perspective. "You have to move politically to stop these austerity policies", was the harsh advice of Lafazanis to the coalition government.
Theodoros Karaoglou, parliamentary representative of the senior coalition government partner New Democracy party noted that "our country is exiting a painful cycle and we are in a period in which the deficits of yesterday now become surpluses and are given back to Greek citizens in the form of a social dividend".
Yiannis Koutsoukos, the parliamentary representative of the junior coalition government partner PASOK party, underlined that "respect towards court decisions is an inviolable rule for us", although he added that the government must weigh the total economic effect of these decisions on the budget.
 Gov't considering amendment on uniformed staff backpay, Alternate FinMin saysThe government is considering submitting soon an amendment for the back pay and future wage increases to uniformed staff so as to align with the Council of State ruling, as it was the case with the magistrates, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said in parliament.
The government is mulling ways to cover the fiscal gap in order to give back pay to the defense and security personnel, he said, as the Council of State ruling was issued in 2014 and the necessary amount has not been included in the state budget.
Staikouras added that as regards the judiciary back pay, the government complied with the court ruling issued in 2013 so the amounts were included in the 2014 budget.
 Deputy Health Minister Papakosta's message on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit TraffickingThe problem of drugs is a global threat with social, medical, economic and cultural consequences, Deputy Health Minister Katerina Papakosta on Thursday underlined in a message marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
She noted that drugs, arms and human trafficking are the three forms of organised crime with the biggest turnover internationally, adding that the drug trade has taken on unprecedented dimensions in Greece.
Papakosta said that the number of students who have used drugs once or more times in their life has increased, as well as the number of young people using one or different kinds of drugs. The number of young people using controlled substances for recreational purposes has increased, while the use of drugs has become more acceptable among the young and the sense of risk as a result of using drugs like cannabis, has been reduced. Meanwhile, drugs have become more accessible through the internet, while new kinds of drugs that are cheap and dangerous are readily available.
The deputy minister said that a National Coordinator against Drugs and a National Coordinating & Planning Committee against Drugs are being established to draw up a National Action Plan against drugs, which is in the process of being completed.
Papakosta underlined that the overall annual cost of drug abuse in the country is estimated at 1.2 billion euros, corresponding to 0.7 pct of GDP, without counting the drop in productivity, the high mortality rate among young people and the indirect burden on public health.
 Lightening tax burden the most serious issue for Greek society, PASOK press spokesman tells ANA-MPARelieving the tax burden and helping the vast majority of employees and small businesses with arrears in taxes and to social insurance funds was "the most serious issue preoccupying Greek society" at present, said the press spokesman for the ruling coalition's junior partner PASOK, Dimitris Karydis, in an interview with ANA-MPA on Thursday.
"The creditors must understand this. I believe that now is the time for the Greek government to press this issue more urgently and for us to get a result," he said.
Regarding recent court decisions revoking pay cuts for judges and "special pay scales", the spokesman noted that such rulings were binding and could not be ignored but admitted that the ran counter to the public's sense of fairness and that this had to be addressed.
Karydis also answered questions on the privatisation of the PPC and initiatives launched by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) against this, he criticised the main opposition party for throwing its lot with "political opportunists that did not hesitate to jump from one party to another" and whose sole concern was to ensure their political survival.
The full interview in Greek is available on the ANA-MPA website.
 Regional Governor Tzitzikostas meets with visiting German Ambassador to Athens Peter SchoofThe first signs of recovery from the crisis are visible in Greece, which has the preconditions to become a competitive economy by utilizing its specialised manpower and its comparative advantages in sectors like energy, tourism and shipping, German Ambassador to Athens Peter Schoof on Thursday said in Thessaloniki, in a meeting with Central Macedonia Regional Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas.
He also spoke about cooperation prospects between Greece and Germany focusing on the interest of German investors in the sectors of tourism and renewable energy sources (RES).
On his part, Tzitzikostas presented the key-points of the regional development strategy focusing on the sectors of tourism, farm production, exports and transit trade. He also referred to the cooperation agreement between the German embassy and the Central Macedonia Region aimed at boosting exports of local farm products to Germany.
 Legislation allowing crematoriums in Athens, Thessaloniki to be tabled soon, environment minister saysEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Thursday revealed that the government will soon be tabling draft legislation that will allow the issue of planning permission for crematoriums outside cemeteries.
Contacting Athens Mayor George Kaminis and Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, the minister informed them that the measures will be added to the draft bill on the Athens-Thessaloniki regulatory plans, along with a measure on the licensing procedure for machinery installations.
 Mayors of Athens, Thessaloniki issue joint statement in favour of crematoriumsThe mayors of Athens and Thessaloniki, the two largest cities in the country, on Thursday issued a joint statement in favour of building crematoriums in Greece.
Athens Mayor George Kaminis and Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris underlined that the assurances given by Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis that a clause for the creation of crematoriums will be tabled in Parliament in the context of an omnibus draft bill, is on the right track.
They noted that this way, the central government will have the opportunity to make amends for years of stalling and regain its credibility on important rights issues, aligning the country with international standards.
 Development minister Dendias to visit BrusselsDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias on Thursday will travel to Brussels, according to a ministry statement.
Dendias will accompany Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the European Council meeting.
 NGOs, archaeologists and Ombudsman call for reexamination of coastal zone draft billThe finance ministry-sponsored draft bill on the delineation, management and protection of the coastal zone has prompted the strong opposition of the "Coasts Zero Hour" nationwide environmentalist network that called on citizens to support a petition drawn up by 130 organizations already signed by 147,500 people.
Environment & Sustainability Chamber board member Maria Karamanov noted on Thursday that the draft bill in question has caused an unprecedented mass reaction in Greece and abroad, underlining that its clauses directly and irreversibly affect the core of the country's natural and cultural wealth, its coasts, lakefronts, wetlands, sensitive ecosystems, antiquities found on the shores or underwater, the landscape and natural formations. She underlined that, for the first time in history, the citizens will be deprived of their right to have free access to the country's beaches.
The implementation of the draft bill will deliver a fierce blow to the country's archaeological wealth, according to Greek Archaeologists Association board member and culture ministry Underwater Antiquities Division archaeologist Despina Koutsoumba.
The Nationwide Ecological Organizations' Network with 80 member-organizations described the draft bill as a "time-bomb", noting that "if it is not withdrawn in its entirety a large part of Greece, as we know it, will be lost for ever".
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) member Eleni Kamberi focused on the imminent environmental disaster and underlined that the centre was never invited to present its scientific experience.
The "240 km for the coasts" super marathon, an initiative by marathon runner Agis Emmanuil is among the protest actions undertaken aimed at raising public awareness on the issue. It will start in Kehries, near Isthmia in southern Greece, on July 8 and will be completed on July 12 in Schinias, near Athens.
The Greek Ombudsman office has also expressed concern and reservations as regards the coastal zone draft bill, noting in observations forwarded to the Finance minister that the controversial draft bill will have be reexamined, taking under consideration the protection of the environment and the preservation of the public character of the coastal zone.
The independent authority also underlined that a comprehensive approach in the coastal zone management will have to take under consideration the recommendations of the European Council, the UN Mediterranean Action Plan, the EU environmental legislation and the Council of State (CoS), the country's supreme administrative court, decisions.
 SYRIZA leader calls for 'wide, popular front' against PPC bill; gov't spokeswoman respondsMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing an event of his party's parliamentary group on Thursday called for a "wide and open popular front" to oppose a bill on the partial privatisation of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) through a spinoff "small PPC" and prevent it from passing.
Tsipras stressed that "we are attempting today to achieve the widest possible social and political rallying on the most basic of targets: to prevent the sale of PPC, an enterprise of strategic importance for the Greek economy and the country's security. To prevent the looting of our country's mineral wealth. To protect the citizens, the consumers from a new raid on rates".
SYRIZA's leader further said "and in order to achieve all this, it is self-evident it is necessary for us to leave what separates us and focus on what unites us, forming a wide open popular front with the aim of the bill on the so-called small PPC not passing".
Tsipras exlained that what is necessary is "a big and strong PPC that will operate under the guidelines of making the country self-sufficient in energy and of the needs of the Greek people. It requires the implementation of a national energy plan that will take into consideration both the economy but respect the environment as well".
He also pointed out that the government's options for PPC did not secure any job at all over the next five years while there would be no economic benefit whatsoever for the consumer, as international experience shows.
Moreover, he said "it would be well for them to explain to the dissolution of social infrastructures, closure of hopitals and schools, sellout of public property, non-existence of energy planning, smaller salaries and pensions combined with an increase in the price of goods and the selloff of coastal zones and infrastructures. Are all these related to an actual state, or a banana republic?".
The event was attended, among others, by independent deputies and trade union representatives.
Government spokesman responds
Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi commented, in response, that the only one to respond to the rallying call against the "small PPC" bill was the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, some trade unionists under heavy criminal charges and whatever has been left over from the era of former premier George Papandreou.
It's not the first time Tsipras declares war on any investment planned or carried out in Greece, she added, and charged him of being "provocatively incorporating the remnants of an outdated trade unionist system and inciting those who are threatening to sink Greece in darkness by pulling the switch down."
She concluded that the SYRIZA leader "remains desperately alone, in the mire of lies."
 SYRIZA MP Voutsis suggests the establishment of a front against PPC privatisationMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group secretary and MP Nikos Voutsis on Thursday suggested the establishment of a front against the privatisation of Public Power Corporation S.A. (PPC S.A.).
Speaking on the private radio station Vima FM, he said that "the government continues the sell off that started with the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) to be followed by the country's coastal zone and the prior actions; all major issues that were left to be passed in the parliament's summer session".
Voutsis underlined that it will be interesting to see if "the simple people, the consumers, will be mobilised, particularly those who have special interests and sensitivities as regards the energy giant," noting that if pressure is exerted a decision can be reconsidered.
 SYRIZA against chemical weapons destruction in the MediterraneanMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) in a resolution publicized on Thursday expressed its opposition to an international agreement to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in the Mediterranean Sea.
SYRIZA's resolution stressed the party's opposition regarding the weapons destruction in the Mediterranean and demanded that the rights of health, life, environment's protection and protection of the citizens be respected.
The party suggested that the only solution, besides the ban of chemical weapons, would be to implement measures to prevent the manufacture of chemical and nuclear weapons in all countries around thee world, with no exceptions.
The main opposition party also reiterated its participation in the movement against chemical weapons destruction in the Mediterranean and called on the Greek government and the European Parliament to protect the Mediterranean and its people.
 DIMAR will not attend SYRIZA's event on 'small PPC'Democratic Left (DIMAR) parliamentary group secretary Dimitris Anagnostakis sent a letter to SYRIZA party, responding to an invitation by the main opposition's parliamentary group to participate in an event on the so-called "small PPC" and try to agree on a common stance.
The letter dominated a DIMAR parliamentary group meeting that was held in Parliament. According to sources, deputies expressed different views. As a result, it was decided that the party would not attend the event and would send a letter to SYRIZA on the issue.
DIMAR thanked SYRIZA for the invitation and said it opposed the privatization of utilities as well as the transfer of the shares to the country's privatization fund TAIPED so that they can be sold.
"More particularly, on the privatization - sale of ADMHE's (Independent Power Transmission Operator) networks, it voted against the amendment, claiming it violated all agreements on public networks, which are still under public control in the majority of EU countries," the letter said.
"On this issue, the parliamentary group is still open to public discussion so as to prevent the further disintegration, breakup and privatization of PPC," it concluded.
 Citizens without any social security coverage can now get medicine for freeThe Parliament's first summer recess section ratified on Thursday an amendment which caters to the medicinal coverage of uninsured citizens by the state's uniform health services organisation, EOPYY.
The law governing EOPYY's operation did not allow it to provide free medicine to citizens not covered by any social security scheme.
This is addressed by the ratified amendment, which now authorizes EOPYY to extend its medicinal coverage to citizens left without any access whatsoever to social security schemes, in the framework of the rapid rise of unemployment due to the economic crisis.
 Defence minister visits troops on Chios, SamosDefence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday promised that "both the civilian and military leadership are taking action for a restitution of all injustices as soon as possible" in a meeting with military personnel stationed on and around the islands of Samos and Chios, where the minister was on a two-day tour.
Avramopoulos also repeated messages to Turkey's leadership, saying that the "people of neighbouring countries should be particularly careful" and "respond to the peace-loving, warm and honest policy that our country has adopted for many years now."
"Things have changed and the things that peoples now seek are peace, security and prosperity. I would like to remind you that no one expected, a few years ago, that millions of our neighbours would visit our country peacefully to share with us our hospitality and the beauty of our country," he added.
Avramopoulos visited units and military outposts on Chios, Oinousses, Panagia, Ikaria, Agathonissi and Samos.
 'I am against populism' Potami leader Theodorakis saysPotami is taking the course people wanted it to, that is to become a player of the political system, party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Thursday told Ant1 TV ahead of its first conference to be held in Lavrio, eastern Attica on June 27-29.
"We chose Lavrio to put emphasis on 'tomorrow," Theodorakis said and referred to the high election rates of the party.
"To Potami is a party that came out of nowhere, it did not have any partisan background," he said. "We are a progressive movement that wants the country's progressive liberals and leftist reformists to join it."
"I am clear. I am against populism," he noted and said he was in favour of reforms and criticized the government of fatigue.
 Court postpones ruling on 'November 17' convicted terrorist's request for house arrest to Oct 14A felonies appeals court on Thursday postponed the ruling on a request by convicted 'November 17' terrorist Savvas Xiros to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest and said it would issue a decision on October 14.
The court examined the Xiros' medical file, containing documents and details on his health condition and his 93 percentage disability and asked the additional medical expert opinion of three university professors, mainly on the issue of multiple sclerosis and poliomelytis.
His lawyers Spyros Fytrakis and Anny Paparousou said that the fact the court was still examining the petition is positive. They said, however, the latest "decision that delays the final ruling is unusual."
 ADEDY calls nationwide public-sector strike on July 9 over new selection system for managersThe civil servants' union federation ADEDY on Thursday announced its decision for a 24-hour nationwide strike for all Greece's public sector on July 9, demanding that the government withdraw draft legislation for a new system to select public-sector senior managers, as well as measures for staff availability and layoffs.
ADEDY stressed that the new system abolished "every objective and quantifiable criterion for selecting supervisors" and said that a series of labour mobilisations would lead up to the July 9 strike, starting with the occupation of public-sector managers' offices on Monday and rallies by public-sector staff in the afternoon. An ADEDY board resolution asks public-sector workers to abstain from all procedures relating to the measures.
The rally in Athens will be held outside the finance ministry.
 Commission extends support measures to Greek banks until end 2014The European Commission on Thursday announced it was extending until December 31, 2014 its support measures for Greek credit institutions, initially approved in November 2008.
These measures include a guarantee status which covers the signing of a new loans and state securities' status, used as a basis to offer state bonds to selected credit institutions with the aim to strengthen their access to liquidity.
The Commission said that these measures were compatible with its directives on state support offered to banks during the crisis and stressed that these measures were focused and limited over their duration and targets.
 E-commerce provides enormous opportunities to Greek companies, ESEE head saysThe head of the Greek commerce confederation ESEE Vassilis Korkidis on Thursday called on Greek companies that want to differentiate from their competitors to collaborate and trust their online shopping presence to professionals so that consumers can also trust them.
"The factor of the trust is key to the success of e-commerce," Korkidis said at the 3rd Conference of e-business World 2014.
Korkidis noted that e-commerce provides enormous opportunities to Greek commercial enterprises, while mobile channels open new markets for on-line business. Based on the latest data, Greece is an important market for the development of the "PayPal" payment method as online stores have increased to 63 percent from 29 percent in 2012. The adoption of solutions that make payment easier for the buyer and simultaneously ensures that the merchant can accept payments from abroad is still under development for the Greek online stores.
He reiterated that the Internet is an opportunity for ?start uppers & follow uppers? since it is now estimated that more than 5,500 new Greek companies' business models are based on this. However, the Internet in Greece contributes only 1.2 percent to the GDP, according to a recent survey of the Boston Consulting Group, while the equivalent figure in Europe reaches 3.8 percent. European internet sales are forecast to have risen to 323 billion euros by 2018.
E-business turnover in Greece increased by 600 million euros in 2013.
Finally, he stressed that the European Union has created a new investment fund of 10.4 billion euros to help small and medium sized entreprises (SMEs) develop thought the use of digital technologies.
 National Bank presents strategic prioritiesAlexandros Tourkolias, National Bank' s chief executive officer, on Thursday called for a combination of actions aimed to safeguard the stability of the banking system - particularly in the next six months - and linking tax policy with the need to boost and expand investments.
Addressing a general shareholders' meeting, Tourkolias urged the country's political and economic leaders to make every effort to safeguard the dynamism of exports which could lead to a new model based on production and not consumption.
"My partners and I see that the Greek economy is moving towards a positive cycle. And National Bank will be present during that tomorrow," the Greek banker said.
Tourkolias presented in detail the Group's strategic priorities:
a liquidity boost in the market by offering capital to attractive domestic business sectors ("Greece does not need leverage, it needs equity," he said).
further improvement operating performance of National Bank Group and
make an efficient management of loans in delay, through a newly-set up corporate credit management unit.
"The big challenge is supporting sustainable enterprises," Tourkolias said, adding that enterprises need to implement generous restructuring programs and the country to promote new, fast bankruptcy legislation.
He said that another strategic priority was actions aimed to rationalise National Bank's activities abroad, focusing on its core banking business.
 Overfishing still a major problem in the Mediterranean, Commissioner Damanaki reportsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Fish stocks are gradually recovering in north and west Europe but overfishing remains a serious problem in the Mediterranean, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said in a 2014 report on the state of Europe's fish stocks released on Thursday.
Based on the findings of the report, the European Commission will submit specific proposals in the autumn on fishing quotas and capability for 2015.
This is the first consultation document after the start of the new common fisheries policy in January, through which the Commission aims to gradually eliminate overfishing or the dumping of unwanted catches back into the sea.
 Transport Minister Chryssohoidis on the suburban railway project in ThessalonikiThe public transport network that is being created in Thessaloniki will revolutionise commuting, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis underlined on Thursday.
Chryssohoidis is currently in Thessaloniki for the signing of a cooperation agreement to include the construction of the suburban railway in the 2014-2020 programming period.
The 10-million-euro project will link the regions of Sindos, Kordelio, Evosmos, Stavroupoli, Ampelokipi and Menemeni with the port of Thessaloniki by utilizing the OSE railway network, which is currently not in operation. The construction of 11 new stations is also included in the project.
Referring to the Thessaloniki metro project, he underlined that it will be completed by the end of 2017.
 Romanians and Greeks work the hardest in Europe, report showsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The EUobserver internet portal, in a report titled "Romanians and Greeks work the hardest in Europe", presents the results of research carried out by the Coe-Rexecode, a Paris-based research institute that examines real working hours in every EU country over the past four years, meaning the actual hours that someone works in contrast to official working hours, including leave of absence due to health, child care, holidays, strikes and travelling time.
The research reveals that the Romanian full-time workers work 2,099 hours, the most in Europe. They are followed by the Greeks, Hungarians, Bulgarians and Croatians (sharing fourth place), Polish, Latvians, Slovacs, Estonians and Cypriots.
On the other hand, the Finns work the fewest hours (1,648), followed by the French, Swedes, Danes and Belgians.
 ACCI president Michalos addressed event on arbitrationThe institution of arbitration is an alternative solution to problems faced by enterprises as a result of a justice administration system that is inaccessible and time-consuming, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) president Constantinos Michalos underlined on Thursday.
He noted that this alternative service, provided by ACCI to its members since last year, helps the parties involved to reach a mutually acceptable solution to a dispute through an agreement that will satisfy their interests.
Michalos addressed an event on "alternative ways to settle disputes, arbitration and mediation at the service of businessmen and citizens" hosted by ACCI with the support of the European Commission representation in Greece.
 Dow Hellas reports better results in 2013Dow Hellas, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Group, on Thursday reported a further increase in sales and a significant profitability in 2013. The company said its sales grew in 2013 despite a collapse in domestic building activity and demand for its products. Dow Hellas said revenues totaled 67.20 million euros last year, from 61.8 million euros in 2012, up 8.4 pct, helped by strong export activity. The Greek industry supplies large quantities of polysterene to other group subsidiaries in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Holland and Hungary, where Dow Chemical has shut down its industrial units.
Gross profit margin eased to 14.9 pct in 2013, from 15.1 pct in 2012, while gross earnings totaled 10 million euros, from 9.33 million euros a year earlier, for an increase of 7.1 pct.
Pre-tax profits totaled 5.27 million euros in 2013, down 5.9 pct from the previous year, while net profits dropped 21.9 pct to 3.52 million euros.
 Hellenic Petroleum to issue 5-year bondThe Hellenic Petroleum on Thursday announced it would issue a bond. Following the successful 400 mln dollars bond issuance in May 2014, the Hellenic Petroleum Finance PLC, a subsidiary of the Company, mandated Barclays Bank PLC and Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Limited as Global Coordinators and Alpha Bank A.E., Citigroup Global Markets Limited, Deutsche Bank AG London Branch, Eurobank Ergasias S.A., NBG Securities S.A. and Piraeus Bank S.A. as Joint Lead Managers to arrange the issue of a five-year Eurobond.
The Issue will be guaranteed by Hellenic Petroleum and the noteswill be listed on the Luxemburg Stock Exchange while the size and coupon of the Issue will be determined upon pricing of the transaction.
The proceeds of the Issue will be used to refinance existing facilities, aiming at reducing funding cost and improve the debt maturity profile of the Company.
 Greek investing in Turkey the focus of event held in ThessalonikiA seminar on investments in Turkey focusing on briefing Greek entrepreneurs on bilateral cooperation and banking and taxation issues in the neighbouring country was held in Thessaloniki on Thursday.
The event, "Doing Business in Turkey", was hosted by the Greek International Business Association (SEVE) and the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Northern Greece, with the support of KPMG consulting firm.
The keynote speaker was KPMG Turkey alternate general director Buyuksekban Eray.
 'Athens hotels occupancy rates downtrend has stopped,' Athens Hotel Association head saysThe occupancy rates of Athens' Hotels rose 25.4 percent to 64.1 percent in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year, the head of the Athens-Attica Hotels Association Alexandros Vassilikos told ANA-MPA.
After noting that these numbers are not for celebration, he underlined that the downtrend of the past five years, which culminated in the shutting down of 87 hotels in Athens, has stopped.
The occupation rates in Athens have returned to the levels of 2004. For example today, Thursday, most of the hotels in Athens are full, a result of a large religious conference, with thousands of participants, he said.
Hotels in urban tourism destinations, Vassilikos noted, cannot achieve 100 percent occupancy rates throughout the season, but only some days of the year.
In any case, the rise of Athens as a tourist destination is obvious, he noted, adding that there are estimates for a further rise. He also referred to the prices of the hotels in Athens, which are the lowest in Europe. This year, for example, an average price for a room in Athens is 75 euros per night compared to 77 euros last year.
 HATTA disapproves of new Greek tourism marketing campaignThe Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) announced on Thursday it was displeased with the new marketing and promotional campaign of Greek tourism, which was presented on Wednesday by the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT).
HATTA is concerned its members might lose revenue due to a novelty EOT will be adopting in the official www.visitgreece.gr promotional site, allowing redirection to on-line travel platforms such as expedia.com, lastminute.com, tripadvisor.com, travelocity.com, travelzoo.com, yahoo.com and orbitz.com.
 Greek stocks end flat on ThursdayGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as selective buying put an end to a three-day decline during which the composite index lost 6.11 pct. The index rose 0.02 pct to end at 1,226.45 points, after rising as much as 0.88 pct during the session. Turnover was a strong 106.33 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.03 pct higher and the Mid Cap index ended 0.63 pct up. MIG (3.75 pct), National Bank (2.29 pct), Metka (1.65 pct) and Terna Energy (1.29 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Folli Follie (3.39 pct), OPAP (1.60 cpt), Jumbo (1.58 pct) and Motor Oil (1.14 pct) were top losers.
The Media (2.60 pct), Industrial Products (1.52 pct), Health (1.08 pct) and Food (1.02 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Commerce (3.36 pct), Chemicals (2.41 pct) and Travel (1.32 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 53 with another 17 issues unchanged. Pegasus (19.51 pct), Selonda (19.15 pct) and Athina (18.56 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (17.54 pct), Sato (15.76 pct) and Vioter (14.88 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +0.72%
Industrial Products: +1.52%
Real Estate: -1.04%
Personal & Household: -1.15%
Food & Beverages: +1.02%
Raw Materials: -0.01%
Travel & Leisure: -1.32%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index
closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.68
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.28
Coca Cola HBC: 16.82
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.02
National Bank of Greece: 2.68
Eurobank Properties : 8.90
Piraeus Bank: 1.59
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 4.62 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 4.53 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 5.86 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.24 pct. Turnover was a thin 20 million euros, of which 11 million were sell orders and the remaining 9.0 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to 0.488 pct from 0.487 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.395 pct from 0.394 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.305 pct from 0.306 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.209 pct from 0.208 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.103 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a small premium of 0.22 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 8,757 contracts, with 60,504 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 8,208 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (2,000), followed by Alpha Bank (1,756), National Bank (1,334), MIG (440), OTE (471), PPC (398), OPAP (202), Hellenic Exchanges (102), Motor Oil (286), GEK (302) and Eurobank (292).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference rates per euro released
by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.360
Pound sterling 0.799
Danish kroner 7.455
Swedish kroner 9.184
Japanese yen 138.49
Swiss franc 1.216
Norwegian kroner 8.356
Canadian dollar 1.457
Australian dollar 1.446
 International meeting on return of Parthenon Marbles concluded at Athens' Acropolis MuseumAn international meeting launching a new campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece was concluded at Athens' Acropolis Museum on Thursday, with Culture and Sports Minister Constantinos Tassoulas and Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni in attendance.
"The purpose of this international meeting is to shed light on a major issue of culture and morality, the integrity of a monument-symbol, the Parthenon, the reunification of its sculptures, which remain dismembered although they constitute an integral part of a whole, " UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis said in her welcome speech at the event launching the "Return (the marbles), Restore (Parthenon), Restart (history)" campaign.
The conference entitled "The Parthenon, the integrity of a monument-symbol, the role of citizens, an international campaign" was organised by the Marianna Vardinoyannis Foundation, in cooperation with the Melina Mercouri Foundation.
"You have started this campaign for a monument, which is certain to lead to vindication in the end. They say there isn't a more powerful weapon than an idea whose time has come. And you are preparing this idea so that its time will come. And this happens, you will see that things will happen smoothly, as more-or-less self-evident," Tassoulas said.
Kefalogianni, on her part, noted that the Parthenon and its sculptures were a "monument-symbol," not only of Greece's classical culture but for the whole of the western world. "This is the symbol we are asking to see reunited and to act as a monument of the unity of our fragmented world," she added.
Also among those attending were main opposition SYRIZA MP Theano Fotiou and the head of the Independent Greeks party Panos Kammenos.
The campaign seeks to continue and intensify efforts for the return of parts of the Parthenon Sculptures currently in the British Museum to Greece and for the reunification and integrity of Parthenon Sculptures.
The first part of the conference focusing on "The necessity of Reunification - the theoretical basis" featured Acropolis Museum President Prof. Dimitrios Pandermalis, a special adviser to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, London University senior research fellow William St Clair and other speakers, who strongly supported the marbles' return. Some also pointed out that, following the building of the new Acropolis Museum, Athens possessed the right facilities to protect the sculptures. St. Clair also pointed out that the Parthenon was unique in being the only monument to democracy predating the 19th century.
The second half of the meeting on "The campaign for the Marbles - the role of citizens" was addressed by the head of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, the head of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures David Hill, the head of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles Eddie O'Hara, his Swiss counterpart Prof. Dusan Sidjanski, the head of the Benaki Museum Aggelos Delivorias, journalist Pavlos Tsimas and Athens University Social Theory and Sociology Prof. Ilias Nikolakopoulos.
 Another seven suspects taken to Prosecutor in relation to huge heroin bustAnother seven people allegedly involved in the unprecedented bust of 2.12 tonnes of heroin transferred to Greece on Thursday were brought before the Piraeus Prosecutor. Heroin was supposed to be transferred to Europe via Belgium.
These are the remaining five crew members of the small tanker "NOOR ONE" - four sailors and the 42-year-old captain - all of them Indian nationals, a 41-year-old Turkish national with Belgian passport and a 53-year-old Greek woman, allegedly managing the tanker.
All of them face charges of setting up a criminal organisation and possesion and trafficking of drugs. Some of them also face charges of fuel smuggling due to 18 tonnes of diesel found in the tanker which could not be justified by any transaction documents.
Sixteen people have been remanded in custody so far in relation to the huge heroin bust.
 Contraband cigarettes trade in Greece has increased, KPMG study saysContraband cigarettes trade in Greece has increased, according to a study conducted by KPMG in all European Union countries commissioned by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International.
The main findings of study for Greece are among others:
Illicit trade of cigarettes was up 4.4 percentage points to 17.8 percent in 2013
The majority of contraband cigarettes are illicit whites (7 out of 10), which were up 63 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. According to KPMG's 2013 SUN study, illicit whites are an emerging type of illegal branded cigarettes manufactured for the sole purpose of being smuggled
Lost taxes in 2013 amounted to 565 million euros.
On a European level, one out of 10 cigarettes consumed were illegal, 33 percent of which were the so-called illicit whites. Overall, 58.6 billion illegal cigarettes were consumed in the EU; this is equivalent to the total legal cigarette markets of Spain and Portugal and represents a total tax revenue loss of 10.9 billion euros.
KPMG found that while the number of of 'illicit whites' consumed increased by 15% compared to 2012, overall, the illegal trade of cigarettes in the EU stabilized, declining slightly from a record high of 11.1% in 2012 to 10.5% in 2013. This stabilization was due to a significant decrease in contraband cigarettes, legal cigarettes typically smuggled from low tax countries to high tax countries, as industry, governments and law enforcement increased efforts to curtail this illegal activity.
Despite the overall decline in the illegal market in 2013, the EU's black market for tobacco remains a significant source of revenue loss for governments and a resilient competitor to the legitimate manufacturers and trade. This illegal activity not only comes at a financial cost, but it fosters criminality in local communities. British American Tobacco plc (BAT), Imperial Tobacco Group plc (Imperial), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) continue to devote significant resources to combat this problem - above the requirements set out in their Cooperation Agreements with the European Commission - underpinned by the conviction that effective solutions require solid cooperation between governments, law enforcement agencies, manufacturers and retailers.
The full report is available at http://www.kpmg.co.uk/email/06Jun14/OM014549A/PageTurner/index.html
 Nineteen power companies officials to be tried at Athens court over tax collection caseNineteen officials of the "Energa" and "Hellas Power" companies facing criminal charges will be tried at the Athens Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court, following a decision by the Supreme Court's (Areios Pagos) criminal section.
The Supreme Court rejected a retraction appeal made by the a prosecuting authority against the ruling under which the 19 had been referred to trial.
The 19 - out of a total of 25 involved in the controversial case - were referred by the Appeals Court Judges Council to be tried for embezzlement against the state, smuggling and the legalisation of revenues coming from criminal activities (money laundering).
These companies, as electric power providers, collected the special tax for electric power consumption and the real estate duty (tax) on behalf of the Public Power Corporation, but did not hand over this money to the state, resulting in the creation of a loss estimated at 270 million euros.
 Seven police officers convicted on drug trafficking charges are releasedSeven police officers allegedly involved with a drug trafficking ring were given jail sentences of 2 to 8 years by the Thessaloniki Three-member Court of Appeals on Thursday, while charges against an eighth fellow officer were dropped.
All convicted police officers were released, as their sentences were suspended following time served in custody.
The case was opened in December 2012 as the police officers were tried on possible collaboration with drug dealers. The case involved a total of 68 individuals, including three Albanian nationals who were the ring leaders. Most of the 68 were outright found innocent, while the rest got lengthy sentences, except for the three Albanians who got life.
Among the seven police officers the longest sentence was imposed against the head of the Volos, central Greece, police department anti-drug squad and a police officer at northern Greece's Thessaloniki unit for foreigners; they were each convicted to eight years prior to being released on Thursday.
Other charges against the two included among other charges participation in criminal organisation and drug trafficking and possession. The rest of the police officers were convicted on misdemeanor counts, while the suspect who was cleared of all charges was the director of Dimokratias Square, Thessaloniki police station.
 Prison officers' union declares work stoppages until July 1The Greek Union of Prison Officers (OSYE) board on Thursday have declared eight three-hour work stoppages in all of the country's prisons, starting Thursday (today) until July 1, in protest against the poor staffing of the Greek correctional facilities.
OSYE stressed that beside the Greek prisons' tragic condition, the Justice ministry appears unaware of the situation and the fact that there is a 1 to 500 proportion between correctional employees and convicts.
Although relatives' visits will not be allowed during the work stoppages, internal operations and convicts' transfers will not be affected.
 Wildfires being fought by the Fire Department at Malesina, Galataki, PolydendriThe Fire Department was fighting three independent wildfires on Thursday evening, at Malesina (north-west of Athens), Galataki (at Korinthos) and Polydendri Aghias (at Larissa).
The two-front Malesina fire broke out at about 14:00, with the Fire Department using two PZL and two Canadair planes to water-bomb fire-stricken areas, as the fire is moving towards a pine forest. The firefighters' work is hindered by strong winds and high temperatures.
The Galataki fire broke out on Thursday evening and has grown in size with the help of strong winds blowing in the area. Its front is burning undergrowth, as well as pine trees, being close to a residential area, threatening civilian properties. At least 17 Fire Department vehicles and 34 firefighters are entangled in fighting this fire from the land, with the help of two Canadair planes and two helicopters from the air.
The Polydendri fire broke out on Thursday morning at a forest area of Larissa, burning olive, apple and walnut trees. The Fire Department responded immediately, sending a total of 18 vehicles, three firefighting squads and four planes. The receding wind strength has helped contain the fire.
 Fireman slightly wounded in Galataki wildfireA fireman was slightly wounded during the struggle to extinguish the wildfire in Galataki, in the prefecture of Corinthia in the Peloponnese, which has been contained in a ravine. He was taken to the hospital in Corinth, where he was given first aid and was declared out of danger.
A total of 72 firemen, backed by 36 fire engines, are making efforts to place under complete control the blaze, which raged in the afternoon, burning a house and a car.
 Two teens injured in fight at Kamatero school; two arrestedTwo teenagers were injured, possibly with a knife, in a fight that broke out between three Greek and two Albanian high-school students at a school in Kamatero on Thursday.
During an altercation between the two Albanian students, aged 17 and 19 years old, and three Greek students aged 16, 17 and 18 years old, one of the two Albanians injured two of the Greek students with a sharp object.
The two were taken to KAT hospital and police have arrested the two Albanians, who along with the third Greek teen have been taken in for questioning at Kamatero police station.
 Scattered clouds on FridayScattered clouds and possibility of rain is forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Cloudy and rainy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging between 18C and 32C. Scattered clouds in the central and in southern parts, 20C-38C. Fair weather over the islands, 22C-34C. Scattered clouds and possibility of local showers in Athens, 21C-37C. Scattered clouds and possible rain in Thessaloniki, 22C-30C.
 The Thursday edition of the Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: The fight for PPC, a catalyst for developments
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Small" PPC, big resistance
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: They are selling off the Thermopylae
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Total mess" with high school exam topics
ESTIA: There is nothing positive, according to Tsipras
ETHNOS: Waterloo for high school first graders
IMERISSIA: Foreign leading companies come to Greece
KATHIMERINI: Employment in a different sector and city
LOGOS: A shocking survey for everlasting unemployment
NAFTEMPORIKI: A plan for companies' "bad loans"
RIZOSPASTIS: Fight against all drugs
TA NEA: They are looking for 1 bln euros for judiciary and uniformed personnel
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