|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-08-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 1 August 2014 Issue No: 4723
 Greeks, other nationals boarding 'Salamis' frigate off Tripolis as evacuation efforts continue in LibyaThe Greek frigate "Salamis" reached off shore of Tripolis, Libya, on Thursday in preparation of evacuating Greek nationals and citizens of other countries following the escalating violence in the country.
Greek nationals, according to sources, have already been transported from the Greek embassy to the port, and are currently being conveyed to the frigate with the assistance of the Libyan Navy, to speed up the process.
Expected to be transferred on board, so far, are about 90 Greek nationals (including 7 members of the Greek diplomatic mission), 13 Cypriots, 12 British, 79 Chinese, 1 Russian and 1 Albanian. The frigate will set sail as soon as they are all aboard.
International missions and member-states of the European Union and United Nations have been moving their staff out of the country.
 PM Samaras on Crete to meet with Estonian PM RoivasPrime Minister Antonis Samaras and his spouse Georgia are currently on Thursday at Agios Nikolaos, on the northeastern coast of the island of Crete, to meet with Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, 33, who is vacationing with his family at Kalo Chorio in the Lassithi area.
Both men will meet for dinner with their spouses, and hold a private meeting to discuss European Union developments.
 PM Samaras to meet with Admin. Reform minister, deputy minister on FridayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet at 12:00 noon on Friday with Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Deputy Minister Evi Christofilopoulou.
The meeting will take place at Maximos Mansion and will also be attended by Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Earlier in the day, Samaras will have met with Education Minister Andreas Loverdos, in a meeting also attended by Venizelos and Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.
 PM Samaras, Education minister Loverdos to meet on Friday on universities' financial situationPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday will hold a meeting with Education Minister Andreas Loverdos to discuss the financial situation of the country's universities and technological educational institutions (TEI).
Government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos as well as Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras will attend the meeting, aimed at finding ways to deal with issues related to spending cuts, which amount to 12-18 percent for universities and TEIs and are even higher for research centres.
The Education minister informed the Parliamentary Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs of the imminent meeting, outlining the proposal he would submit. He said the ministry aims to find self-financing options for universities and TEIs so that the educational institutions can overcome the problems caused by spending cuts.
 Greek govt determined to introduce measures towards reducing energy costsThe Greek government is determined to take measures towards reducing energy costs regardless of any objections raised by community authorities, Development Minister Nikoloas Dendias said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, after an Inter-ministerial Commission meeting on Industrial Policy, Dendias said: "We seek an honest dialogue for the reduction of energy cost, but if we disagree with our partners on the measures, as a sovereign country we can vote legislation and then if anyone wanted it could take us to community bodies," the Greek minister said. He added that "We do not always agree with the European view. Measures such as return from DEPA and others included in a package for the reduction of energy cost in the industrial sector will be on the agenda of talks with Mr. Juncker when he arrives in Athens as new President of the Commission, as we believe that some measures must be introduced. The state places to operation framework of the economy to help reduce the cost so that producers and manufacturers could be competitive. There is a clear planning by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras aimed at strengthening business activity," Dendias said, adding: "I don't see European partners as rivals but not as excessive policy force killing every effort the country does to become competitive".
Theodoros Fessas, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises, speaking to reporters, said that interventions in labor costs were more than enough and stressed that the Federation has not asked for additional interventions. "The members of the Federation pay well over the average wage," Fessas said, adding that the non-payroll cost has a big impact such as high labor taxation.
The meeting agreed to form a three-party commission to monitor the course of planned interventions and implementation of actions towards reducing energy cost. The Inter-ministerial meeting will convene again in October.
 KKE comments on government's industrial policyCommunist KKE party on Thursday issued a statement regarding the inter-ministerial meeting held earlier in the day on industrial policy.
"The government has offered new privileges and support to industries, such as the reduction of energy costs - an issue that also SYRIZA agrees to; at the same time households have kneeled under the pressure of unbearable taxation and increased electricity bills, as this is what the monopolies' competitiveness requires," KKE said.
 Argentina reference causes political strife between the coalition gov't and oppositionThe financial dire straits of Argentina triggered an unexpected verbal confrontation in Parliament between the coalition government and the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on Thursday.
Senior and junior coalition government partners New Democracy and PASOK, respectively, jointly attacked SYRIZA, accusing it of expressing a "catastrophic reasoning", while SYRIZA responded that nobody can stand by "black speculative ravens which manipulate people". As SYRIZA's parliamentary secretary Nikos Voutsis put it, "There has to be undivided support of and solidarity to the people, without footnotes, against these black ravens", in reference to some of Argentine's creditor investors.
New Democracy parliamentary representative Adonis Georgiadis accused SYRIZA of "living in an imaginary world" and of being "dangerous". "Let us see in the real world, with Argentina bankrupt and solidarity absent, what happens", noted Georgiadis.
PASOK parliamentary secretary Panagiotis Rigas had earlier described SYRIZA as "a party of catastrophe, with its MPs safely posing as bullies".
The Democratic Left (DIMAR) parliamentary representative Nikos Anagnostakis attacked Georgiadis for "moving under cynical conditions", while also describing his comments as "provocative and deviating from any political decency".
"Greece and Argentina have a common component: serving the interests of the mighty capitalists", commented the parliamentary representative of the Communist Party of Greece, Nikos Karathanassopoulos.
In a separate statement, government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi commented that SYRIZA is in confusion as regards the latest development in Argentina. "Each...[SYRIZA] Argentinologist presents his own version: They confuse dates, sums, facts, people involved, creditors", added Voultepsi.
She noted, that if the comments by SYRIZA MPs do not constitute "heavy seas of the brain", then they form a provocation of intentional bewilderment.
Voultepsi underlined that "No one is being malevolent [with the Argentina issue]. Quite the opposite: Greece is grieved by the suffering of the people of Argentine, to which it was led through the choices of its government".
 SYRIZA, DIMAR hold initial meeting at Parliament officesThe secretaries of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Dimitris Vitsas and opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) Thanassis Theocharopoulos agreed to continue talks, following an initial meeting of representatives from each party, at the Parliament building on Thursday.
The DIMAR initiative is based on the collaboration of centre-left forces in formulating an alternative progressive proposal to rule. One of the issues discussed was the election of the next president of the Republic, following the expiration of the present term in March 2015.
Both sides expressed the wish to meet again early in September.
 Draft bill increases transparency and legality of political parties' funding, reducing their State dependenceA draft bill limiting the State funding parliamentary political parties receive, as well as abolishing anonymous donations they collect via coupons, was posted on Thursday in the electronic system of internal distribution of the Parliament.
The draft bill, tabled under the title "Auditing of political parties and of the elected representatives of the [Greek] Parliament and the Europan Parliament", has been signed by the Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis, the Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos and the Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou, and is based on the suggestions made by the "Greco Committee" in 2009, following extensive inquiries.
In the bill's preamble, it is mentioned that "In Greece the high State funding resulted in the dependence of most [political] parties by the State".
The draft bill reduces the parties' state funding to 0.05 pct of the realized net revenue of the annual State budget report of the previous year - on the grounds of fiscal adjustment - down from 0.102 pct of the regular revenue of the current year's State budget. The State funding the parties will be receiving will henceforth be calculated against realized, not suspected economic figures.
State funding to political parties and coalitions for electoral purposes will be reduced to 0.008 pct of the realized net revenue of the annual State budget report of the previous year, down from 0.022 pct of the regular revenue of the current year's State budget.
In view of safeguarding the transparency and legality of transactions between private individuals and political parties or coalitions, all such transactions will hereby only take place through one to three bank accounts to be held at banks chosen by the parties and coalitions themselves. No anonymous donations coupons will be allowed anymore.
 Foreign ministry re-launches hospitality programmes for young Greek expatriatesFifty young Greek expatriates, aged between 15 and 17, from five continents have arrived in Athens under the hospitality programme of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad aimed at getting them acquainted with the homeland of their ancestors.
The hospitality programme, which runs until August 11 and was re-launched after five years of inactivity by decision of Deputy Foreign Minister Akis Gerontopoulos, will give young Greek expatriates the opportunity to visit archaeological sites and museums, watch and participate in cultural events and educational activities and get acquainted with modern Greece.
It aims at strengthening the Greek cultural identity of young expatriates, rewarding students with good academic record and apparent interest in the Greek language and people and developing friendly relations among young Greek expatriates from different countries of origin with common cultural roots.
This Greek Diaspora hosting programme is not the only one that was re-launched this year; a camp site in Malessina, central Greece, will reopen by decision of Gerontopoulos and until August 7 will accommodate Greek Diaspora children aged 9-13, from several countries.
"It is with pleasure that we re-launch those programmes," Gerontopoulos told ANA-MPA. "These programs will reaffirm the bonds of the Greek diaspora with the homeland and will give the opportunity to our young compatriots to become better acquainted with Greece from antiquity until today," he added.
Moreover, a pilot training programme for Greek language Diaspora teachers will run from July 31 until August 12 in Thessaloniki, aimed at supporting the Greek-language education in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Personnel evaluation will not be the pretext for layoffs in public hospitals, Alternate Health Minister Grigorakos says
Alternate Health Minister Leonidas Grigorakos on Thursday assured that there will be no layoffs in public hospitals under the pretext of personnel evaluation.
Responding to relevant press reports, Grigorakos assured public hospital staff nationwide that there will be no layoffs in hospitals, in the health sector or in the public administration sector in general.
The sense of insecurity among public sector employees should come to an end, he said, and added that the government will proceed with the necessary moves to ensure the unobstructed operation of the public sector.
He also said that the employee evaluation is a procedure necessary to improve the public sector operation, noting that "the rights of the employees are protected by the Constitution and are respected by the government".
 Environment minister comments on Athens Urban Plan voting, AEK football stadiumWith the legislatives amendments that the parliament adopted, AEK football club will have its own stadium in the northwestern Athens suburb of Nea Filadelfia, while PAOK, in cooperation with Thermi municipality in Northern Greece, will be able to have its own modern training center, Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis said after the voting of the Athens-Attica Urban Plan by the parliament.
"Thursday was a good day for the Greek sports and particularly for two of the oldest clubs of the country, AEK and PAOK," the minister pointed out.
He also pledged that the ministry would stand by the two clubs until building licenses were issued and the necessary urban arrangements were made.
 Back-to-work order for fixed-rail transport employees is liftedThe back-to-work order issued for the Urban Rail Transport S.A. (STASY) fixed-rail transport employees - including the Athens Metro, tram and electric railway - was lifted almost 18 months after it was imposed on January 24, 2013, it was announced on Thursday.
The ministry of Transport announced that after a decision by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, published in the Government Gazette, and following a recommendation by Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, the back-to-work measure for STASY employees is lifted.
According to employee representatives, the move is a positive development, considering that negotiations for a new collective labour contract is under way at STASY.
 Greek GDP to grow by an average rate of 0.6 pct this year, KEPEGreece' s annual average growth rate of real GDP this year is estimated to reach 0.6 pct, the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) said on Thursday.
In a report on short-term outlook of Greek GDP, the research institution said that this estimate "confirmed a previous forecast that 2014 will become a transition year from a long-term recession - which lasted six years - to growth. This confirmation reflects stabilising conditions prevailing in the Greek economy, as a result of a gradual introduction of fiscal discipline, the implementation of a series of crucial structural reforms and a progressive return to normal operations of the domestic financial sector".
An estimated rise in real GDP this year could expand further based on a more favorable course of exports, a return to positive growth rates of investments and a gradual improvement in the labour market, the report added.
On the other hand, KEPE said that adverse conditions could emerge from geopolitical developments, such as the Ukraine crisis and hostilities in the Middle East, while domestic developments could delay structural reforms, undermining fiscal discipline, higher liquidity in the market and political stability in the country.
Greek enterprises lobby pushes for drastic cost reductions in electricity and natural gas, requesting NSRF priority
The drastic cost reduction of electricity and natural gas down to European levels constitutes a "survival condition" for the Greek productive units, emphasized the representatives of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) during Thursday's inter-ministerial committee on industrial policy, headed by Development Minister Nikos Dendias.
To SEV's view, any delays in the reduction of energy cost in today's uneven competition framework jeopardizes the viability of businesses and employment. SEV also called for a bundle of energy measures worth 150 million euros announced in February to be immediately applied, noting that relieving energy products from tax burdens is in line with the European guidelines, while also constituting one of the basic measures of aiding domestic industry in times of crisis.
SEV supports that businesses with a large number of employees which face the risk of closing down should be offered priority in receiving funding by the new National Strategic Reference Framework, as long as their viability prospects can be proven.
 Forestland draft bill heading to per-article vote on FridayA draft bill on forestland in Greece was voted in principle on Thursday, based on the votes of coalition partners New Democracy and PASOK and following assurances by Alternate Minister Nikolaos Tagaras that he would introduce improvements taking into account proposals and comments tabled.
All opposition parties voted it down, charging the government with serving specific private interests at the expense of protecting the forests and natural resources of Greece.
Tagaras said that the bill may not resolve all issues and chronic problems of the past decades, but it has dared release thousands of citizens from regulations blocking building. "We all have the same sensitivity to the public interest, but we must guarantee and protect private interest as well," he said.
An amendment tabled Thursday morning by the minister drew the ire of the main opposition party, SYRIZA, concerning the legalisation of construction cooperatives. "We are giving the opportunity to 7,500 construction cooperatives - 6,500 of whom are located in rural Greece - to build on one-fourth of the land through legal procedures and under very strict terms," Tagaras said.
The amendment allows construction cooperatives built on forestland before 1975 to become legal or to commence building if their licences have not been recalled on part of forestland, without any permission necessary from the forestry agency.
Discussion on the bill will continue on Friday, to be followed in the same session with a vote per article.
 Opposition objection to forest land draft bill is rejectedThe government majority on Thursday rejected the objection tabled in parliament by the opposition that questioned the constitutionality of articles included in the forest draft bill.
The objection was tabled by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and Independent Greeks (ANEL) with the support of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Democratic Left (DIMAR) and the independent MPs.
In response to SYRIZA's position that forests, forest lands and areas undergoing reforestation, as well as, protected regions and archaeological sites will not be protected from land development practices, the New Democracy (ND) rapporteur Giorgos Georgantas underlined that for the first time "safety valves" are introduced that protect forests and forest lands, as well as, all archaeological sites.
 Commission offers Greek exporters alternative export routesIn a letter to the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, the Panhellenic Exporters Association (PSE) expressed its deep concern over the grave consequences the European sanctions against Russia can have on Greek exporters.
In a formal reply to PSE, the Commission confirmed the readiness of the European Council to agree on additional significant sanctions against Russia, if this proves necessary.
Bearing with the Greek exporters' focus on their exports to Russia, the Commission provided them with what could be an alternative route for their products, reminding them that on June 27 new trade agreements were signed with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia "which could offer new prospects to the European industry, including the Greek exporters".
 Passenger traffic up 0.8 pct, cargo traffic up 6.5 pct in Greek portsPassenger traffic in Greek ports grew 0.8 pct in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, after an 1.3 pct decline recorded in the corresponding period in 2012/2011, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that cargo traffic in Greek ports also rose 6.5 pct in the fourth quarter, after a 15.7 pct rise recorded in the 2012/2011 period.
 Port fees to rise for professional & private yachts and boatsPort fees will rise for all tourist vessels at Greek ports and marinas, according to a joint decision by the Ministries of Shipping & the Aegean and Finance, it was announced Thursday.
According to an official statement, raising the existing low fees will provide more income for each port fund to use for infrastructure improvements, attracting more yachts and shoring up the local economy.
The fees will affect yachts under professional and private licenses, small boats and professional tourist day-trip boats and yachts.
 Greek property owners face huge tax burden, POMIDA saysGreek home property owners will be forced to pay taxes up to 5.0 billion euros, almost double from the tax collection target expected by the government (2.65 billion euros), due to the introduction of a new tax on property, Hellenic Property Federation (POMIDA) said on Wednesday.
POMIDA said that property owners who will be unable to meet their huge tax burdens were threatened with a series of severe consequences, such as denial of a request to issue a tax update report, foreclosure of rent, confiscation of bank accounts, property foreclosures and auctions. Property owners with a debt surpassing 50,000 euros will also face court prosecution, POMIDA said.
 Greek retail sales down 3.8 pct in MayGreek retail sales volume fell by 3.8 pct in May, after a rise in April helped by the Easter holiday period, offering more evidence that households' available income remained very limited.
Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a report released on Thursday, said that only two shop categories recorded higher sales in May, due to a 10-day offer period, the clothing-footwear (+3.0 pct) and bookstores (3.3 pct). On the other hand, the volume of sales fell 17.8 pct in food/beverage/tobacco stores, 11 pct in furniture/electrical appliances/home equipment, 9.7 pct in department stores, 7.3 pct in supermarkets, 5.2 pct in pharmaceutical/cosmetics and 4.4 pct in fuel/lubricants.
The retail sales volume index fell 3.8 pct in May, compared with the same month last year. The index was down 5.1 pct from April 2014. The retail sales turnover index dropped 8.5 pct in May, for a decline of 7.2 pct from April 2014.
 Summer sales shopping activity remains subdued, turnover down, ESEE survey showsRetail sales were lower during the second week of the summer discounts compared to the first week of the season, according to a Greek commerce confederation ESEE survey.
ESEE said that 29 percent of traders that participated in the survey were not satisfied with their sales, while only 8 percent of them were content with the week's turnover. ESEE used a sample of 227 shops in Athens, Thessaloniki and other major shopping districts of Attica.
Overall, turnover during the summer sales season was at the same levels or marginally lower compared to last year. Half of the traders (51 percent) said sales remained at last year's levels, 44 percent of them had lower turnover and only 5 percent of participants, mainly apparel and footwear shop owners, saw their sales rising.
According to regional commerce associations, ESEE said, retail sales in big cities such as Piraeus, Patras, Heraklion and Larissa fell by 10-20 percent, while in tourist destinations like Crete, Rhodes and Corfu retail market activity was subdued despite expectations for higher sales due to the increased number of visitors.
Commerce sector performance has not yet managed to keep up with tourism activity, ESEE pointed out citing the income tax that citizens were called to pay during the summer sales period as one of the reasons that "froze" the market.
ESEE reiterated that summer sales would last until the end of August and expressed its optimism that tourism and shopping activity would gear up by the end of the season.
 Thessaloniki municipality and trade association plan to cooperate on 'open mall' projectThessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the Thessaloniki Trade Association head Pantelis Filippidis on Thursday agreed on principle to sign a memorandum of cooperation for the setting up of an "open mall" in the city in a bid to boost market competitiveness.
The two officials also discussed issues related to the opening of shops on Sundays. Moreover, they referred to the 79th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, which will be inaugurated on September 6, 2014 and acknowledged that it was a major event for the city and should not be used as a cause of controversy and demonstrations.
 Real estate's Trastor reports H1 lossesTrastor, a Greek-listed real estate company, on Thursday reported after-tax losses of 500,000 euros in the first half of 2014, from after-tax earnings of 11,000 euros in the same period last year.
Group revenues from leasing contracts totalled 2.1 million euros in the January-June period, from 2.3 million euros last year, while operating expenses rose to 1.0 million euros from 800,000 euros over the same periods, respectively, burdened by higher property taxes.
Trastor said its property asset portfolio was valued at 74.6 million euros at the end of the six-month period, from 76 million euros at the end of 2013. The Group reported pre-tax losses of 400,000 euros in the January-June period, from earnings of 300,000 euros last year. Cash flow totalled 1.7 million euros and debt obligation was 7.6 million euros. Trastor said its shares were trading at a discount of 23.74 pct on June 30, 2014.
 Titan Cement reports improved H1 resultsTitan Cement Group on Thursday said its net after-tax and minorities earnings totalled 2.9 million euros in the first half of 2014, from 21.8 million euros in the same period last year.
Net after-tax provision and minorities earnings totalled 3.0 million euros in the January-June period, from a loss of 22 million euros last year. Turnover totalled 571 million euros, up 4.0 pct from 2013, while EBITDA was unchanged at 89 million euros.
In an announcement, Titan said foreign exchange fluctuations had a negative impact on six-month results and noted that in a stable FX environment turnover and EBITDA would have risen by 7.0 pct and 4.0 pct, respectively. In the second quarter, turnover grew 2.0 pct to 319 million euros, remaining on an improving trend for the ninth successive quarter. All markets with established activities grew in the first half.
Parent turnover grew 13 pct to 134 million euros, while operating earnings totalled 12 million euros, up from 7.0 million euros in the first half of 2013.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks came under strong selling pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a strong decline in other European markets which fell under the pressure of negative international developments, such as the collapse of Banco Espirito Santo in Portugal, the new default by Argentina and geopolitical developments in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Market analysts said the domestic market was basically more worried over the impact of EU sanctions against Russia on Greek enterprises and exports.
The composite index of the market fell 2.16 pct to end at 1,169.01 points, after falling as much as 2.49 pct during the session. The index ended July with a loss of 3.73 pct, for a net gain of 0.54 pct so far this year. Turnover was a moderate 84.44 million euros.
The Large Cap index fell 2.37 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.32 pct lower. All blue chip stocks ended lower, led by MIG (4.71 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.71 pct), OPAP (4.02 pct), Mytilineos (3.46 pct) and OTE (3.29 pct). The Media (9.72 pct) and Insurance (1.56 pct) sectors were the only ones to end higher, while Travel (3.69 pct), Financial Services (3.57 pct), Telecoms (3.29 pct) and Raw Materials (3.22 pct) suffered losses.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -3.57%
Industrial Products: -2.68%
Real Estate: -0.02%
Personal & Household: -0.86%
Food & Beverages: -2.13%
Raw Materials: -3.22%
Travel & Leisure: -3.69%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.95
Coca Cola HBC: 17.43
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.87
National Bank of Greece: 2.41
Eurobank Properties : 9.49
Piraeus Bank: 1.58
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 4.78 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 4.7 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 5.97 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.19 pct. Turnover was a strong 100 million euros, of which 57 million were sell orders and the remaining 43 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was unchanged at 0.489 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.399 pct from 0.398 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.306 pct from 0.305 pct, the three-month rate was 0.209 pct and the one-month rate was 0.098 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe August contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.40 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 3,873 contracts, with 57,756 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 13,064 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (3,537), followed by National Bank (2,228), Piraeus Bank (2,377), Eurobank (767), OTE (1,234), PPC (793), OPAP (331), Hellenic Exchanges (129), Mytilineos (236), Hellenic Petroleum (228), Motor Oil (132), GEK (487), Ellaktor (75) and Eurobank Properties (93).
 Foreign exchange rates - ThursdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.337
Pound sterling 0.792
Danish kroner 7.456
Swedish kroner 9.226
Japanese yen 137.66
Swiss franc 1.216
Norwegian kroner 8.405
Canadian dollar 1.461
Australian dollar 1.439
 Man murdered in Roma settlement in west Thessaloniki; two injured before arrest, one criticallyTwo men were arrested over the murder in cold blood of a 60-year-old man with a heavy criminal record who was shot on Thursday morning in his house in a Roma settlement in Dendropotamos, west Thessaloniki.
Initial police reports mentioned the two perpetrators, who are in the hospital, were Georgian nationals but a formal report by the Greek Police said one is a Kazakhstan national of Greek descent, 52, and the other is a Greek national, 57.
Police said that two men forced their way into the victim's house and shot him at close range, fatally injuring him. While fleeing the scene both were shot at and injured by the victim's neighbours, who opened fire against them using hunting rifles.
A strong police was dispatched to area and the two injured assailants were rushed to a hospital where they are being treated under guard. The Khazhaki national is in critical condition.
Police are examining the motives of the crime.
 Foreign nationals with forged travel documents arrested at Kalamata AirportTwo Syrians, aged 34 and 37, were arrested at Kalamata Airport, southern Greece, in their attempt to board a plane by displaying forged travel documents, it was announced on Thursday.
They were apprehended during passport control before boarding a flight to Germany when they displayed forged Hungarian and German passports.
Both will be led before a prosecutor in the city of Kalamata.
 44-year-old Albanian arrested on outstanding warrant for drug traffickingA 44-year-old Albanian national was arrested in Patras, western Peloponnese on an outstanding warrant for drug trafficking.
According to the police, Tripolis investigating authorities in 2009 issued an arrest warrant against the 44-year-old, accusing him and his accomplices of cultivating cannabis for drug trafficking reasons.
The arrested was taken to the Patras Misdemeanor Prosecutor.
 Relatives of Farmakonissi shipwreck victims demand the reopening of the caseRelatives of the victims of the Farmakonissi shipwreck in which 11 people drowned, 8 children and 3 women all from Afghanistan, demanded on Thursday that the case be reopened following a decision by the Naval Court in Piraeus to shelve it.
The relatives of the victims, who drowned when a fishing boat carrying migrants capsized off the islet of Farmakonissi, in the southeast Aegean, on January 20, 2014, want the investigation into the case to resume and "those responsible for the deaths of their loved ones to be led before justice", based on allegations made by the shipwreck survivors according to which, the Coast Guard that rushed at the scene was, in a way, responsible for the deaths.
In a press conference called by the Group of Lawyers for the Rights of Refugees and Migrants, it was underlined that the Piraeus Naval Court prosecutor who decided to shelve the case "ignored the testimonies of the survivors, undermined their right to legal protection and violated fundamental rights and guarantees in favour of the victims in the context of a criminal court trial".
It was underlined that it is mandatory to hold an investigation into the circumstances of a shipwreck when most of the victims are children and it was announced that a recourse to the European Court of Human Rights is being considered.
As regards the prosecutor's decision, it was underlined that it takes under consideration only the regulations for the protection of the country's sea borders from illegal migration and not the international and European rules for search and rescue operations.
The head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Greece, George Tsarbopoulos, underlined the fact that his office was not called to be present in the shipwreck investigation process. He also noted that the testimonies of the survivors to a UNHCR representative - received before the testimonies to Leros Port Authority - coincided with the testimonies the survivors gave soon after they were transported to Athens.
 15 Albanians arrested for entering Greece illegally, collecting 4.5 tonnes of mountain herbsPolice confiscated 4.5 tonnes of herbs collected on Tsamantas mountains, at the borders of northwestern Greece with Albania, and arrested 15 Albanian nationals who had been collecting them.
The men had crossed from Albania to Greece through the mountain paths, without travel documents, and the last few days had been collecting an herb known as "osfakidi" related to mountain sage.
The 15 told the police they wanted to transport the herbs, which would be used as therapeutic teas, to Albania on mules and then sell them. They were led before the prosecutor.
 Bulgarian, Greek arrested for alleged involvement in assault case on Zakynthos islandA 42-year-old Bulgarian national was detained on order of the misdemeanours court prosecutor of the Ionian island of Zakynthos on Thursday, on charges that include blackmail and grievous bodily harm against a 36-year-old Australian, a businessman living on the island.
A Greek national, 47, was also arrested on Thursday over the same case involving the Australian, who was assaulted by three men with masked faces three days ago. They hit him with a club and one of them shot him on the right foot. He was released from the Zakynthos hospital today, Thursday.
Police are still looking for other people related to the incident.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and mainly northwesterly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Cloudy weather and rain in the afternoon are forecast for the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging between 16C and 30C. Clouds and local showers in the central and the southern parts with temperatures between 16C and 33C. Mostly fair weather, with scattered clouds and possibly local showers over the islands, 23C-33C. Mostly fair weather, with scattered clouds and local showers in the afternoon in Athens, 21C-33C; cloudy weather and local showers in Thessaloniki, 22C-30C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "Blind" justice in the Manolada migrant case
DIMOKRATIA: Possible wave of retirements from Armed and Security Forces
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: A world disgrace (over Middle East developments)
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Put an end to the atrocities (in the Middle East)
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 2.5 million of pensioners in the dire straits
ESTIA: Threats over the President
ETHNOS: Banks call up borrowers to offer debt settlements
IMERISSIA: The way for (National Natural Gas System Operator) DESFA sale is now open
KATHIMERINI: Universities dismantled
LOGOS: The new real estate tax "genocide"
NAFTEMPORIKI: Surpluses are now a requirement for municipalities and regions
RIZOSPASTIS: Omnibus bill meets the capital's demands
TA NEA: "Russian missile" hits Greek exports?
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