|Tuesday, 26 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-07-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 3 July 2014 Issue No: 4698
 'The European venture is alive,' PM Samaras saysSTRASBOURG (ANA/MPA-N.Roussis)
"The European venture is alive. It proceeds unevenly, but it does proceed," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Wednesday while addressing the European Parliament in a review of the Greek EU presidency that ended in June.
He estimated that there was rapid progress in Europe from one generation to another and that the EU growth rate has accelerated.
Samaras underlined that efforts have been made to deal with the institutional weaknesses of the euro.
The prime minister congratulated Martin Schulz on his reelection as president of the European Parliament and welcomed the proposal by the European Council to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker as chairman of the new European Commission.
In his rejoinder, Samaras referred to the need for law and order to protect democracy and responded to criticism from far-right MEPs over the prosecution of members of Greece's ultra-right Golden Dawn, saying he was "not obliged to answer to extremists and demagogues, nor to apologise to those that deny everything."
The leader of Golden Dawn was being prosecuted by justice, not the government, for his actions and not his beliefs, he added.
Referring to Greece's efforts to exit the crisis, Samaras said that Europe had lacked the tools when the crisis erupted back in 2010.
"Now we are better prepared to deal with a new crisis, whenever and however this occurs," he added.
On his own efforts, the Greek premier said that his focus two years ago was to save the country: "We changed whatever we could change, achieved the greatest fiscal adjustment in the smallest space of time and emerged much earlier than others expected onto the international markets, and ended a six-year period of recession."
"Yes, we made it due to the determination of the Greek government and the sacrifices of the Greek people," the Greek premier concluded.
 Bill on 'small PPC' to be tabled in parliament later on WednesdayThe management of Greece's state-owned power company Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the network transmission system operator are planning rotating blackouts in different areas from early on Thursday morning, when a strike called by the PPC workers' union federation GENOP is due to begin.
Employees protest against the bill on the so-called "small PPC" which will be tabled in Parliament later in the day.
The rolling power cuts are intended as a precaution against a possible collapse of the system throughout the country if the strike leads to a loss of power from the power stations in the north.
The length of the blackouts and their implementation will depend on the amount of power missing from the system and on the level of demand.
Sources within GENOP said that strikers will seek to take all the power production units in the north offline, something that will seriously disrupt the power supply in the country if they are successful. The trade unionists are seeking the cooperation of local bodies and local government also opposed to the PPC's privatisation and the 'small PPC' bill to assist them in their efforts.
Speaking on SKAI radio, government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi on Tuesday left open the possibility of Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees' civil mobilisation in case they "pull the plug" and plunge Greece into darkness during the summer tourist season.
"Syndicalism cannot interfere in government strategic decisions... They do not own PPC and electricity, they do not have the right to pull switches down. This (the blackout) is sabotage against the state... Twenty million tourists are about to come. How is it possible for them not to have air conditioning? Unionists will not govern, the country will not become a hostage. The government will take all measures to prevent this from happening," she said.
She also reiterated that there would be improvements to the bill to be tabled in parliament on Wednesday, adding that the funds to be raised by the privatisation of a part of PPC will be used for its modernization and development in Southeast Europe.
 Discussion on 'small PPC' bill begins at Parliamentary committeeThe discussion on the bill concerning the "small Public Power Corporation" began at the relevant Parliamentary committee in a climate of tension.
The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) called for the bill's immediate withdrawal and accused the government of having no political legitimacy to go ahead with "the sellout and dissolution of the biggest public enterprise" and added that "this crime" will not remain unpunished in whatever dimension.
The opposition parties also questioned the discussion's procedure, since the signature of new Finance Minister Ghikas Hardouvelis was not on the bill, but that of his predecessor Yannis Stournaras.
The discussion was continuing with party rapporteurs, while relevant agencies will be summoned to state their views on Thursday.
 PM Samaras slams criticism of 'small PPC' privatisation as 'bad joke'Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday slammed opposition party and trade union criticism of the 'small PPC' privatisation plan as a "bad joke", in statements on the issue while in Strasbourg.
"In Greece we are trying to proceed with privatisations that have been done everywhere else in the world and have everywhere paid off," he stressed, citing the case of Greece's former state phone company Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) as an example. Since OTE's privatisation, he pointed out, Greeks had acquired easy access to a phone at far lower prices. With regard to the 'small PPC' bill, he promised that it would come to Parliament and be discussed at length, rejecting allegations that the government was "selling off" everything.
"I will on no account allow fanatical populists and those filling the Greek people with false impressions to deprive us of the right to progress. The right to progress passes through privatisations," Samaras underlined, emphasising that the "state that played at being an investor and destroyed the economy has now died."
"We will not allow the kind of lifestyle conducted at the expense of the Greek people, the lifestyle of trade unionists governing failed state enterprises, to continue," he added.
The government's junior coalition partner PASOK also reacted to critics, especially main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, in a press release on Wednesday that slammed the main opposition leader's announcement that he will seek support for a referendum on the planned privatisation.
PASOK's press office accused Tsipras of continuing down the path of polarisation and division "using lies and insults" and of trying to make the other parties and independent MPs "yet another component faction of SYRIZA".
The press release ended by urging PPC staff and local communities to display the "necessary responsibility" and accept the company's break up since this served the public interest.
 SYRIZA leader to push for referendum on privatising PPCMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday said he was launching an initiative for a referendum on the privatisation of Greece's state electricity provider, the Public Power Corporation (PPC). Tsipras said that he intends to contact the heads of other opposition parties in Parliament in the next few hours, including the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Independent Greeks, Democratic Left (DIM.AR) and independent MPs, in order to collect 120 signatures backing the demand for a referendum, in accordance with article 44 of the Constitution.
"Only the Greek people have the power to make such a decision," he said, attacking the ruling coalition and its leaders, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
"Mr. Samaras and Mr. Venizelos cannot play games with the country's future, nor will SYRIZA be the party that will take on a national disaster. They will not take the decision to break up and sell the PPC in secret. If they have the guts, they must take it in the light of day," he said.
He also accused the government of acting "vengefully" and adopting a "scorched earth" policy against the time when it would hand over the reins to SYRIZA.
Tsipras made the announcement while speaking at an event organised by his party at the Amyntaios arts centre, one of the areas with large PPC power stations, attended by representatives of local organisation and local government.
Replying, government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi said Tsipras, faced with internal opposition within his party, had taken the fight to Amyntaios and virtually repeated George Papandreou's now legendary phrase "There is money" by literally promising that "pensions and wages can be easily restored".
"This is the epitome of 'there is money'," she added.
 The 'small PPC' bill is a 'national crime that needs to be prevented', SYRIZA leader saysThe government's bill on "small PPC" is a "national crime that needs to be prevented", SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday and called on all citizens to put up a social and political front against its "sell-off".
Tsipras addressed employees during a visit at PPC's unit at Amyntaio, Northwestern Greece and lashed out on the government for trying to pass the bill during the parliament's summer session.
He also accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of "trying to tear everything apart before he leaves his post", adding that the bills on the seashore and PPC were the government's "swan song."
"We are before the completion of a premeditated crime against the country," Tsipras said and pointed out "SYRIZA will not compromise with PPC's sell-off."
Moreover, he noted that the liquidation of the public wealth is worse than wage and pension cuts, as the latter can be easily restored but the reinstatement of the former can take decades.
Tsipras said his visit to Amyntaio was not symbolic but an essential one. SYRIZA, he said, is not aiming for political gains but is trying to prevent the "national crime" to be committed. In this context, it is in favor of a wide coalition even with those who voted for New Democracy and PASOK in the elections.
Tsipras is also scheduled to meet with local organizations and officials that have called for a rally in the evening.
 SYRIZA will not accept 'faits accomplis' in PPC 'sell-off', Tsipras saysMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday said that SYRIZA made a "moral and political commitment" not to recognise or accept any faits accomplis with regard to what he called the "sell-off" of Public Power Corporation (PPC), Greece's state electricity company.
"If SYRIZA and I, personally, find ourselves in a position of responsibility, we will not recognise or accept faits accomplis that concern the selling-off of the nation's public wealth, which is called PPC," he told a meeting Western Macedonia organisations and residents at the Amyntaios Arts Centre in northern Greece, organised by SYRIZA against the government's draft bill for the 'small PPC'.
Tsipras said that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his partner in the coalition government, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, were seeking to sell off the PPC "via the back door" when they lacked both the moral and political right to do so, predicting that they would not succeed.
He insisted on the need to form a broad social and political alliance in order to prevent the bill from passing and, in the event that it did pass, from being implemented.
SYRIZA's leader was also scathing about the potential investors that had expressed an interest in acquiring the company, saying they did not really merit that description.
"Investors are those who invest and not those who are given PPC units and wealth in order to make profits. They want to get both the ready-made power plants and the country's mineral reserves for free. These are not investors," he said.
The meeting was also addressed by local government officials and trade unionists, before Tsipras departed for Athens.
 Government spokeswoman criticises SYRIZA leader over PPC issueGovernment spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi on Wednesday accused main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras of deliberately inciting reactions on the issue of the Public Power Corporation (PPC).
She said that the government warned that any sabotage to the Greek economy and at the expense of Greek citizens and the PPC will be attributed to Tsipras personally.
"Tsipras is deliberately inciting the reactions and is behind the threatened power cuts, seeking to benefit through the country's ruin. The responsibility rests with him absolutely," Voultepsi said.
 KKE, DIMAR and Independent Greeks comment on PPC privatisationThe struggle of the PPC employees and the Greek people should aim for the energy deregulation policy so that "the privatization is not slipped in unawares," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Wednesday.
KKE said the people should not take on board the government's theory that employees are not entitled to resist, a theory which would lead to a "dangerous social automatism," he concluded.
The Democratic Left (DIMAR) also expressed its opposition to the break up and sale of PPC.
"Privatisations cannot be based only on book-keeping criteria but must be carried out in a way that defends the public interest and the country's growth prospects," the party said in a statement.
Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos also lashed out on the government, saying that PPC's privatisation was a "gift to their sponsors" and significantly below its real worth, adding the government was "in a political panic".
 Development Minister Dendias calls on PPC staff not to strikeDevelopment Minister Nikos Dendias on Wednesday called on Public Power Corporation's employees not to go ahead with the planned strikes.
"I can see you are considering going on strike and I would like to ask you not to, because it will create additional problems to the struggling entrepreneurship, especially this year that tourism fares well," the minister said on the sidelines of a meeting with the leadership of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE).
The discussion focused on liquidity problems, with the use of existing banking tools or the creation of new hybrid programmes, both for generating new business, and for the survival of the existing ones.
He described this first meeting as the beginning of a cooperation for the plethora of problems the Greek commerce is facing, adding that the government aims at boosting liquidity. "We must try to save businesses. This is the way to prevent an increase in unemployment and even reduce it," he underlined.
Vassilis Korkidis, ESEE chairman, stressed the need to support viable small and medium sizes entreprises so that they can deal with economic difficulties with the help of hybrid small loans.
 Power network operator again warns of possible blackouts due to strike, issues adviceHellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator S.A. (HEDNO) on Wednesday repeated warnings that a strike by Public Power Corporation (PPC) workers on Thursday may make it necessary to impose rolling blackouts, if the system is threatened with collapse.
It appealed to consumers to restrict use of power-hungry appliances, especially at times of peak demand from 11:00-16:00 and from 20:00-22:00.
HEDNO also issued advice to consumers in the event of such blackouts, which it said would be announced at regular intervals. Their duration will be decided on the mainland by the Independent Power Transmission System Operator S.A. (ADMIE) while for the islands not on the main grid, HEDNO will proceed with planned blackouts if there is a reduction in available power.
Among others, HEDNO warned the public to avoid using elevators during the days of the strike, noting that power cuts could occur without warning, and also warned consumers to always consider electrical appliances to be 'live' - even during a blackout - since the power could return at any time. For this reason, consumers are warned not to consider electrical devices "inoperative" or "switched off" and whenever possible to unplug them as a precaution against possible electricity spikes on the return of power.
For those needing electrically-powered life-support systems, HEDNO recommended that they immediately visit their nearest hospital or contact their local area customer service centre for reporting faults, at the number on their bill.
 PPC trade unionist plays down blackout risk, slams civil mobilisation talkA senior trade union official in the Public Power Corporation (PPC) union federation GENOP on Wednesday played down the risk of blackouts during the strike called by PPC unions on Thursday. According to GENOP Vice President Antonis Anagnostou, in statements to the radio station Vima, a blackout was unlikely based on current levels of demand.
He also criticised the possibility of a civil mobisation that would force PPC staff to return to work, describing this as unacceptable since it prevented workers from exercising their constitutional rights to strike.
"As to why the government is 'leaking' this at this time - perhaps it is trying to intimidate PPC employees - we don't know this, perhaps it means it. We will see tomorrow morning," he said.
Regarding the strikes, he said that GENOP will go ahead with the 48-hour rolling strikes that have been announced and appeared confident of a large turnout by union members. On the issue of the system becoming overloaded, Anagnostou said that based on current levels of demand, power from private producers, imports and renewable energy sources could cover the demand for July.
 Government spokeswoman says no trade unionist will take decisions on strategic issuesGovernment spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi, speaking in an interview with the "Vima" radio station on Wednesday concerning the reactions by trade unionists to the possibility of civil mobilisation, said no trade unionist will be allowed to take decisions on strategic issues, adding that if Greece has decided to develop a company, in Europe, or the Balkans, this will happen as it happens all over the world.
Replying to a question on the possibility of mobilisation, Voultepsi said "we shall certainly do what must be done, in order to safeguard public interest and Greece's interest."
She also stressed the strike was happening at the height of the tourist season, when foreigners came to Greece to leave their money. "To be fair, there are 20 unions and they are not all the same; they will realise that they cannot commit sabotage against their country," she added.
 Health sector reforms will continue, Voridis tells Pharma & Health conferenceThe changes and reforms in Greece's health sector will continue, with 49 ministerial decisions now pending, Health Minister Makis Voridis said on Wednesday, addressing the 5th Pharma & Health conference.
"Three years ago, now one could have imagined that they could be carried out," he added.
The president of the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE) Konstantinos Frouzis, however, underlined that the budget for pharmaceutical spending in 2014 should be increased to 2.2 billion euros from the current 2.0 billion euros, adding 100 million euros for vaccines and another 100 million euros to cover the uninsured.
 Political parties condemn attack against professor MarantzidisPolitical parties on Wednesday condemned the attack against professor and Potami member Nikos Marantzidis.
"Acts of violence stem from the extreme and have no place in Democracy. We expect SYRIZA and its partners in Antarsya to condemn this kind of phenomena," New Democray said.
"We express our abhorrence disgust and we condemn the violent attack against Professor N. Marantzidis," SYRIZA noted.
PASOK "unequivocally" condemned the "violent" attack against Marantzidis and underlined that "any use or threat of use of violence, regardless of its alleged ideological pretexts, contributes to the fascistisation of the Greek society."
The Democratic Left (DIMAR) also condemned the attack against the professor by "a group of thugs that have nothing to do with the Left" while communist KKE party referred to an "action that has nothing to do with the positions and demands of the students' movement."
Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Orfanos, Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the Macedonia University rectorship also condemned the attack against professor Marantzis, who was beaten up by unknown assailants on Tuesday night.
 Detained Golden Dawn MPs summoned for supplementary testimonies, Zaroulia to remain under house arrestThe investigators handling the case of the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party have summoned party deputies Ilias Kasidiaris and Nikos Mihos to provide supplementary testimonies on Thursday.
The two will be called on to give supplementary explanations as the additional charge of illegal weapon possession has been pressed against them. Mihos is also accused of violation of the law on drugs.
Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and deputies Christos Pappas and Yiannis Lagos have been summoned to provide supplementary testimonies on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Appeals Court Council ruled that MP Eleni Zaroulia would remain under house arrest. Zaroulia is also banned from leaving the country but is able to attend parliamentary proceedings.
The Council was called to rule on Zaroulia's penal treatment, following a disagreement between the prosecutor and the examining magistrates of the case as to whether the deputy, charged with participating and leading a criminal organisation, should be held in remand or under house arrest.
 Education minister calls on administrative staff 'not to close down the Athens Technical University'Education Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Wednesday he expected the issue of the universities' administrative staff to be settled in a few days.
"I think the decision by part of the Athens Technical University (Polytechnic) administrative staff to close down the institution and risk losing the semester is an unjustified one," he told ANA-MPA WebTV in an interview.
"I would like to send out a message through ANA-MPA. There will be an evaluator in place on Friday. We have given him an one month deadline to evaluate the organizational charts of eight universities that have been facing problems with the mobility scheme. We will ask him on Friday to start with the Athens Technical University, so that there is no pending issue with it the coming week. I don't know what the evaluator will say but at least he will have conducted his evaluation. Therefore, I think this authoritarian move to close down a university is unjustified. This is not about suspending the exams but ending a semester. Losing a semester will cause instability for the university for more than three-four years, even five," he said.
He also called administrative staff to a meeting so as "I can tell all those things to them as well."
"But I ask them not to close down the institution. They have no right to do so, they do not own it; it belongs to the Greek people," he said.
The full interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA website.
 Education Minister calls on Technical University administrative staff to end strikeEducation Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday called on the administrative staff of the National Technical University (Polytechnic) to end their strike and open the university.
"Students risk losing their semester," Loverdos told MEGA TV and called on the university administrative staff to end the strike. "They do now own the universities and they should stop adding fuel to the fire," he warned.
He added that the university administrative staff will meet with the Rector later in the day, adding that there is still room for a solution to be found.
Loverdos concluded that from a political and social aspect, it is a pointless action and the consequences on the university will be significant.
Meanwhile, the head of the first-instance court prosecutor Panagiota Fakou ordered an urgent investigation on the operation of the university following reports that the entrance of its premises remains closed and students are prevented from entering the building.
 ATU resumes full operation, after its administrative staff postpone mobilizationAthens Technical University's (ATU) operation is returning to normality once again, after the decision on Thursday of its administrative staff to postpone their strike mobilization, so as to avoid any risk of students losing their semester.
According to an announcement from the office of the University's Dean Simos Simopoulos, the Zografou Campus resumed its full operation at 17:00 Wednesday evening, while on Thursday all educational activities are scheduled to restart without any disruptions.
The ATU's senate convened extraordinarily to decide that the semester will end as scheduled on August the 1st, offering priority to students facing their final exams, so as to complete their degrees on time.
After the re-opening of the University facilities, some damages where reported to doors, chairs, windows, computers and office equipment.
 Reception for U.S. Independence DayU.S. ambassador to Greece David Pearce, speaking during a reception held at the ambassador's residence on Wednesday night for Independence Day, said "it is in the interests of the United States for Greece to exit from the crisis stronger".
Pearce expressed his admiration for Greek civilisation and Greek culture, in the presence of Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis, ministers, the leadership of the Greek Armed Forces, deputies and representatives of the business world, and stressed that he will do all that he can for the already strong, as he termed them, relations between the United States and Greece to be strengthened.
In parallel, he referred to ground for further cooperation in the sector of tourism and enterprises and expressed his thanks for hospitality bestowed on him by the Greeks since his arrival in the country.
 'Conspiracy of Cells of Fire' terror group claims responsibility for attack on Greek consul's carBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
The terror group "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire - Nihilists Faction" on Wednesday claimed responsibility for an arson attack targeting the car of the Greek consul in Berlin, Aris Rodiopoulos, in a letter to the German website "linksunten.indymedia.org".
The proclamation cited policy brutality during the crisis, the building of new high security prisons and the death of inmate Ilia Kareli among the reasons for the attack and expressed solidarity with inmates on hunger strike in Greek prisons.
German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer noted that all attacks on foreign diplomats in Germany are "a very serious matter for the German government" while police authorities in Berlin, who have jurisdiction over the specific case, stressed that they were treating the group's announcement as very serious.
 Greece could issue a three-year bond at around 2.90 percent- WSJGreece could issue a three-year bond at around 2.90 percent, David Schnautz, rates strategist at Commerzbank told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
In his view, this kind of bond would offer plenty of sweeteners-around 1.30 percentage points-over Portugal's 2017-dated bond, and would probably still leave plenty of potential to perform in secondary markets following the initial issuance.
According to WSJ report, Greece is expected to come back to the markets soon, after a "blowout" five-year bond issue in April that "drew plenty of enthusiastic players" and that a "three-year transaction is seen as likely."
There are three reasons for this, the report says:
Firstly, in the current environment of low interest rates investors are thirsting for relatively higher yields. Greek yields have come down a long way, but still, when compared to their euro-zone peers, Greek bonds fit the bill.
Secondly, Greece' s recent ? 3 billion ($4.02 billion) bond issuance in April was a resounding success. The 2019-dated bond was issued at a yield of 4.95% (the country' s 10-year bonds yielded more than 11% just a year earlier), and now, less than three months later, it' s trading at 4.18%, according to Tradeweb. In other words, investors who bought the bond have made a profit on their investment. Prices rise as yields fall.
Thirdly, following Greece' s ? 200 billion debt restructuring in 2012, where the shortest-dated bond became one maturing in 2023, the country has lacked short-dated bonds. Greece has begun to fill this gap with the 2019-dated debt but analysts say it has always been clear that its intention was to build up the curve again for shorter-dated paper.
 Hellenic American Chamber takes initiatives to attract investments from the USThe Hellenic American Chamber will take a new set of initiatives for the extroversion of the Greek enterprises in the US and the attraction of corporate and other investment from the US, the chairman of the Chamber Simos Anastasopoulos said at a general meeting on Wednesday.
He also referred to the setting up of three new committees - Legal Issues Committee, Cultural Committee and International Commerce Committee - apart from the Informatics and Communication Committee set up in 2013.
"The Chamber is determined to meet the challenge of integration and adaptation of our country to the new economic reality of reforms in public administration and the economic policy for the benefit of the business community and restarting the economy. This will be done not only by promoting the activities and the needs of members of the Chamber and the wider business community in Greece and the U.S., but by proposing specific policies and actions from the competent bodies of the Chamber in conjunction with strong partnerships developed by the Chamber and research institutions," Anastosopoulos said.
 Hellenic Management Association and Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce sign cooperation memorandumThe Hellenic Management Association (HMA) and the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday signed a cooperation memorandum.
The two parties agreed to cooperate so as to boost the competitiveness of the Greek entreprises and the Greek economy in general and help the business climate improve. The parties will also cooperate and support joint positions and recommendations on issues related to the development of the Greek economy.
According to an announcement, there will be cooperation to create the right working environment and boost productivity, which is a key factor for the competitiveness of businesses and the economy.
As regards the strengthening of extroversion, the two parties will cooperate on promoting Greek products in the Turkish market. There will also be cooperation on promoting specific professional certifications and management tools to improve the organizational and effective operation of businesses.
 Greek economic outlook more positive, Piraeus Bank's chairman saysGreek economic outlook is gradually turning more positive, reflected not only in economic indicators but on the function of the public sector, Mihalis Sallas, Piraeus Bank' s chairman said on Wednesday.
Addressing an event in the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, the Greek banker said that liquidity in the market would be smoothly and gradually restored as banks were now significantly stronger and the funds they have to offer were larger compared with the previous period.
"It is obvious there is a change that is gradually noted in the way the state operates as well, such as a successful Greek EU Presidency with a very low cost and a successful management of public order issues," he said, adding that in the economy an improvement was recorded in the performance of several sectors of the private sector, such as tourism, along with investment interest from abroad for large infrastructure projects or in the real estate sector and, of course, the restart of major road projects. Sallas said that supporting agricultural businesses was crucial in an effort towards Greek economic recovery and noted that supporting the agricultural sector and export activity was a priority for Piraeus Bank.
Sallas offered assurances that the issue of non-performing loans was being dealt with responsibly by Greek banks and noted that the strategy needed to be followed in resolving the problem must not create any hurdles for economic recovery. Referring to the issue of non-performing mortgage loans, Sallas said that the problem will be resolved more "mildly" to avoid causing any social turmoil.
 Sarantis Group transfers its production line to GreeceSarantis Group on Wednesday announced it has completed the transfer of its production line from Romania to its Greek factory in Oinofyta in the first half of 2014.
In an announcement, the group said that this move will help Sarantis to consolidate its production capacity and create economies of scale, adding around 5.0 million units to production along with a cost reduction and an improvement of performance by around 500,000 euros annually. Sarantis Group invested around 1.0 million euros to prepare its Greek factory and said that its Romanian subsidiary, Sarantis Romania, will become an R&D centre for cr?me products.
 Greek catering industry turnover down 50 pctThe Greek event and catering business has suffered a 50 pct drop in its turnover in the last few years, hit by the economic crisis, G. Aggelopoulos, president of the Union of Estate and Catering Owners said on Wednesday.
Aggelopoulos said the industry was in full growth just before the crisis erupted, but noted that in the last few years it has suffered a 35-40 pct drop in event numbers, a 30 pct decline in guest numbers and a 50 pct drop in turnover. He stressed that one of the biggest problems facing the Union as the existence of illegal estates and noted that the Union has asked municipal authorities to look into the legality of their operations.
Aggelopoulos said a decision by the government to cut social insurance contributions by 1.5 pct, with a provision for another 3.0 pct cut from July was a positive step but not adequate to offer a relief to the industry. He stressed that Greece lagged by around seven points in social insurance contributions compared with the EU average.
 Street market producers and sellers ask for Parliament deliberationsThe national federation of street market farmers and vendors on Wednesday demanded the immediate start of deliberations in Parliament with all interested parties, so that open markets and outdoor trade will be included in the national planning for the reconstruction of Greece.
Producers and open-air street market sellers said that they do not want to have distinct spatial division in outdoor street markets, while also declaring that they do not intend to give up the current positions of their stalls as they are today. The federation asked for the immediate withdrawal of Law 4264/2014 for street markets, as well as for the complete conservation of the Open Air Market Organisations in Athens and Thessaloniki. They also asked that administrative fines for various infractions in street markets are not increased "by 300-500 pct".
 Revoil to issue 14-mln-euro covered bond loanA Revoil extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday approved a board plan to issue a covered bond loan worth 14 million euros. The loan will be fully covered by Alpha Bank and Alpha Bank London Ltd. The new capital will be used to refinance the company' s existing debt and to finance new business activities.
 Greek stocks rally for third successive sessionGreek stocks continued moving higher for the third successive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, supported by strong buying interest in bank shares. The composite index of the market rose 1.55 pct to end at 1,247.92 points, after rising as much as 1,252.39 points during the session. Turnover was a strong 128.98 million euros.
The Large Cap index ended 1.83 pct higher and the Mid Cap index ended 0.34 pct up. Piraeus Bank (4.24 pct), OTE (3.15 pct), Eurobank (2.69 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (2.58 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (1.10 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (0.68 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end lower. The Media (5.43 pct), Telecoms (3.15 pct) and Banks (2.81 pct) sectors scored big gains, while Personal Products (1.06 pct), Health (0.87 pct) and Real Estate (0.47 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 70 to 41 with another 30 issues unchanged. Medicon (19.82 pct), Dionic (19.70 pct) and AEGEK (18.75 pct) were top gainers, while Pegasus (20 pct), Pasal (17.89 pct) and Perseus (12.73 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +2.00%
Industrial Products: +1.21%
Real Estate: -0.42%
Personal & Household: -1.06%
Food & Beverages: +0.87%
Raw Materials: +1.49%
Travel & Leisure: +0.71%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Lamda Development, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.70
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.10
Coca Cola HBC: 17.09
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.88
National Bank of Greece: 2.80
Eurobank Properties : 9.00
Piraeus Bank: 1.72
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 4.67 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 4.72 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 5.93 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.26 pct. Turnover was a strong 35 million euros, of which 18 million were sell orders and the remaining 17 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate eased to 0.487 pct from 0.488 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.393 pct from 0.395 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.303 pct from 0.302 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.205 pct from 0.206 pct and the one-month rate eased to 0.096 pct from 0.098 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.44 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,476 contracts with 58,690 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,017 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,927), followed by Alpha Bank (2,640), Piraeus Bank (2,325), Eurobank (1,533), MIG (342), OTE (1,081), PPC (590), Mytilineos (276), Hellenic Petroleum (175), Athens Water (131), GEK (219), Intralot (117), Piraeus Port (61), Ellaktor (64), Hellenic Exchanges (85) and Folli Follie (64).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.365
Pound sterling 0.795
Danish kroner 7.456
Swedish kroner 9.157
Japanese yen 138.65
Swiss franc 1.213
Norwegian kroner 8.425
Canadian dollar 1.453
Australian dollar 1.444
 Greeks tend not to barter or buy second-hand goods, Public Issue poll findsA majority of Greeks tend not to barter goods or buy second-hand items, according to a Public Issue survey commissioned by WWF Greece and unveiled in Thessaloniki on Wednesday. This found that only 12 pct of Greeks had barter swapped some item for something else and that only 14 pct had bought used goods. Seven in 10 Greeks, conversely, had given items away, either to their family and friends or to charity.
The survey was conducted to explore the habits of Greeks in terms of reusing, buying second-hand, donating or exchanging goods, as part of WWF's 'Better Life' programme. It was conducted on June 11-19 using a sample of 1,009 people in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Iraklio and Larisa.
Based on the survey, 85 pct of Greeks have not bought used goods in the last year, only 12 pct have exchanged goods and 63 pct appear willing to take a step toward 'barter culture'. A majority of 68 pct has given things away in the last year, chiefly items of clothing but also books and electronic goods. The market for second-hand goods chiefly concerns cars, clothes, electrical appliances and furniture.
Questioned about the lack of a barter culture, 18 pct of Greeks said they don't need it, 14 pct said its not part of their philosophy and 10 pct considers that they don't have superfluous items. Giving or exchanging goods is chiefly restricted to family and friends, while three in 10 that have given something away or exchanged something in the last year have done so with an institution, organisation and church parish in their area.
The "Better Life" programme, funded exclusively by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, is opening up the dossier "Look at it differently" that aims to inform and sensitise the public on issues of reuse, donation and exchange of everyday items. It will include actions such as events on barter swap bazaars, instructions on how to make items using material that would otherwise be thrown away, competitions and a festival on barter and reuse next September.
 Cephalonia's Myrtos beach accessible again in a few days, Infrastructure minister saysThe renowned Myrtos beach on the quake stricken Cephalonia, which was made inaccessible due to rock fall protection works, in a few days will be again open to tourists, Infrastructure, Transport and Network Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis said.
Chryssohoidis visited Cephalonia to inspect the progress of works for the restoration of damages caused by a strong earthquake earlier this year at the Lixouri port and the islands' road network.
"Cephalonia has been restoring damages and healing its wounds day by day. Public infrastructure is restored day by day," Chryssohoidis said after the meeting.
"The Lixouri port has been completed and the new section of the port has been tendered; almost all major projects to restore the road network have been tendered. There has been significant progress with the support and relief of citizens who rent houses or live with next-of-kin. Generally, there has been an enormous effort, the whole state mechanism has been mobilized so as to make Cephalonia a better place than before," he added.
 Civil Protection warns of "very high" fire danger on ThursdayThe danger of fire outdoors will be very high (danger category 4) on Thursday in the regions of Eastern Attiki, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian islands, Chios, Samos, Ikaria and Crete islands, as well as in southern Evia, according to an extraordinary announcement by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.
All state services, regional and local authorities have been informed of the fire danger, in order to remain on high alert.
The Secretariat instructed the citizens to refrain from outdoor activities that could negligently cause a fire, such as throwing lit cigarettes, burning branches and leaves after pruning, using machinery that could cause sparks such as welding devices and disc saws, having a barbecue in open-air etc..
 Thirty-one undocumented migrants rescued off Chios islandThirty-one undocumented migrants on Wednesday were rescued in a sea region near Chios island.
A Coast Guard patrol vessel located the undocumented migrants on a dinghy that took on water.
All migrants will be transferred to Chios port.
 Air Force airlifts patients from two Aegean islandsA C-130 airplane and an A-109 helicopter of the Air Force airlifted patients from Aegean islands to Athens on Wednesday in two separate medical emergencies.
On Wednesday morning a C-130 airlifted to Athens from Santorini island, southern Aegean Sea a 30-year-old pregnant woman with pregnancy complications. Later in the day, an A-109 helicopter airlifted to Elefsina from Syros Island, Cyclades a 4-hour-old prematurely born boy, in an incubator.
Both patients were immediately taken to suitable Athens hospitals with ambulances, after having landed at Elefsina.
 19th Rockwave Festival at Terravibe in Malakasa on July 11-12The Rockwave Festival will be held for the 19th consecutive summer in Athens, returning to the now familiar Terravibe Park venue in Malakasa, northern Attica on July 11-12. It will open its doors for two days of music on two stages (Terra and Vibe) and with a line up of more than 40 acts from Greece and abroad, including Eric Burdon.
This year's festival also coincides with the 30th anniversary since the foundation of Didi Music, the company that organises the Rockwave Festival each year and to celebrate, the company is offering free tickets to 19-year-olds born on the three days of the first festival in 1996, which was held over three days on July 12-14.
 Former Attica metropolitan convicted for embezzlement found deadThe former Attica metropolitan Panteleimon, who was convicted of embezzling 66.5 million euros from a Nea Makri monastery in 1995-1998, was on Wednesday found dead on a beach near Gefi, Keratea in Attica.
His body was found by coast guard officers and taken to the Keratea health centre, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy will take place to determine the cause of death.
 Businessman Lavrentiadis to be tried as normal for Proton Bank caseA Supreme Court prosecutor on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Lavrentis Lavrentiadis for the revocation of the ruling by the Appeals Court Judges Council indicting him to stand trial with another 33 people over bad loans issued by Proton Bank.
The businessman's appeal was rejected by the prosecutor, who judged that there were no grounds for the ruling to be revoked.
Consequently, the businessman will be tried before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court in relation to the 700 million euros in non-performing loans given by Proton Bank to companies in which Lavrentiadis had a share.
 Large number of contraband cigarettes seized at Piraeus portThe drug squad of Attica Financial Crimes Police on Tuesday found and confiscated large quantities of contraband cigarettes in two containers that arrived at the Piraeus Port from Malaysia.
According to travel documents, the cargo contained wooden cabinets. Upon inspection, authorities found 9,840,000 contraband cigarettes of RAY, GOLD MOUND and ROYAL BLUE brands in the first container and 9,980,000 cigarettes of AMERICAN LEGEND brand in the second one. The cargo also included a third container with 45 wooden cabinets in an effort to mislead authorities.
Lost taxes and revenues for the state are estimated at 3,519,419 euros.
 Coast guard to get new patrol vesselThe Coast Guard will be provided with an open sea patrol vessel (OPV) of the DAMEN STAN PATROL 5509 class and with a length of 58 metres, while the contract for its purchase has been completed and signed.
According to an announcement, the total cost of the purchase amounts to 28.8 million euros and the greater part will be financed by the European External Borders Fund.
 Mostly fair on ThursdayMostly fair weather and variable winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair with scattered clouds and even local showers in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging between 14C and 32C. Mostly fair in the central parts and in the south, 16C-35C. Same weather over the islands, 21C-33C. Fair in Athens, 18C-34C; mostly fair with scattered clouds and possibly local showers in Thessaloniki, 18C-31C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: The PPC movement
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: High voltage conflict
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: A big battle over "small PPC"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Surprising threshold scores at university entry exams
ESTIA: The plague of public sector committees
ETHNOS: University entry threshold score falls
IMERISSIA: 40 leading companies for Greek oil
KATHIMERINI: Code of conduct against vested interests
LOGOS: PPC switches are pulled down
NAFTEMPORIKI: Property foreclosures open a new front for the government
RIZOSPATIS: Private clinics amendment temporarily withdrawn
TA NEA: University entry becomes more difficult
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