|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 16 September 2014 Issue No: 4760
 Gov't VP Venizelos urges 'national consensus on the truth' after meeting PM SamarasGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, leader of the junior party in Greece's coalition government, on Monday stressed the need for dialogue to reach a "national consensus" after a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the government's agenda.
"We need a national negotiation, a national consensus and a national duty to the truth that we must all respect," PASOK's leader told reporters as he left the meeting, while accusing main opposition SYRIZA of "having chosen a very easy role, reminiscent of the worst versions of the post-junta era."
"When the government is telling all the difficult truths and struggling, facing our foreign partners, and the opposition is telling easy lies directed at the domestic front and not where the negotiation is taking place, we have an unequal and false image and, in this way, we could be strategically disorientated as a nation," he warned.
He said the meeting with Samaras had focused mainly on coordinating the government's work and the national effort for a final and safe exit from the crisis.
"There is fatigue, of course, among the people, after five years of continuous efforts and sacrifices; now everyone is impatient for immediate, tangible results, for a change in climate," he admitted.
Venizelos was scathing about the approach adopted by opposition parties, saying this was "beneath the occasion and undervalued the sacrifices and concerns of the people." He noted that this left the government to shoulder the entire weight of the tough negotiations alone when "the right, moral and just thing to do would be to promote national unity and act together as a nation to complete this effort."
Asked whether there was also fatigue on the part of the coalition government's MPs, Venizelos noted that the Parliamentary groups of both parties "have an obligation to communicate with the people, to listen to the citizens' concerns and convey these to the government and Parliament, which is what they are doing."
It was very easy to adopt demands that "are reasonable, at the end of the day," he added, but the issue was "what is feasible to do at a conjunction that is very difficult, what can be safely done and what might lead to a demolition of the edifice that we have raised with such effort."
Replying to a question on the demands of Greece's creditors regarding pensions and labour relations, the government vice-president pointed out that Greece needs a modern, competitive state serving citizens and economic growth, one with a new productive model providing jobs and opportunities. These are structural changes "that everyone wants," he added, and on which Greece can build a national reconstruction plan.
He also appeared confident that the government will be able to convince its creditors due to its massive and evident achievements on the fiscal front and in huge structural changes.
Regarding election law, he confirmed that this was among the measures included in the agreements signed by Greece.
During their meeting, Samaras and Venizelos were briefed by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis on the results of the ECOFIN meeting in Milan, while Venizelos also held talks on foreign policy issues ahead of the UN General Assembly and his visit to Madrid on Tuesday for a meeting on Libya.
 Populism and extremism 'failed to gain strength during crisis,' PM Samaras tells forumPopulism and extremism and their dangers were the main focus of the address Prime Minister Antonis Samaras delivered at the "Athens Forum 2014: Democracy under Pressure" event on Monday to celebrate the International Day of Democracy.
The forum is co-hosted by Kathimerini newspaper and the International New York Times and held in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund as its principal global event for the International Day.
Referring to the main opposition party without naming it, Samaras said that "populism and extremism missed the opportunity to gain strength during the crisis; now that we are leaving the crisis they will subside."
"I do not know many societies that could withstand such radical reforms in such a short time," Samaras continued, pointing out that "despite the just complaints, the Greek people did not embrace extremism and populism. There will be no Weimar Republic in Greece."
The premier listed the country's achievements the last two years and said the primary surplus would be achieved for a second year in a row this year, while "Greece will meet its obligations in 2015 and we will have achieved the greatest fiscal adjustment ever taking place... We have made a leap forward in competitive rankings and, according to the World Bank, advanced by 111 positions... Unemployment - unbearably high - is dropping while the debt is also starting to nominally drop, as tourism has registered record levels. We also returned to markets two years prior to expectations."
FM Venizelos addresses 'Athens Forum 2014:Democracy under pressure', underlines need to strengthen democratic institutions amid instability
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday delivered an opening speech at the "Athens Forum 2014:Democracy under pressure" held at the Acropolis Museum.
Venizelos referred to the risks that modern democracy is faced with and the need to strengthen the democratic institutions amid instability and the economic crisis.
"In the Western space, liberal representative Democracy is under the pressure of the economic crisis, the crisis of the model of European competitiveness. It is under pressure from unemployment, shrinking opportunities, the faltering of social cohesion and the European social model," Venizelos said and added that very often, this economic and social pressure manifests as a crisis of political participation and representation.
He claimed the situation leads to a "crisis of legitimacy for political parties and governments. This crisis is unfolding in parallel with the crisis of the sovereignty of the nation state, which is rendered hostage to the markets, without its functions being superseded by corresponding steps in the direction of European integration."
He said the "European Union's democratic and political deficit is mirrored by a corresponding deficit on the level of member states" and that "the rise of the extreme right, of racism and xenophobia, the emergence of various forms of political and social violence are perhaps the most glaring aspect of the pressure Western Democracy is coming under in its own home."
He noted that a great institutional and moral dilemma is being raised; the potential for enemies of Democracy to exploit democratic rights, democratic institutions, democratic processes.
"What is most critical is that we shape democratic political responses to the causes of the economic and social pressure Western Democracy is under in its own home. This concerns the need for policies that safeguard the employment, dignity and prosperity of all citizens. The need for policies that redress inequalities and injustices, and that safeguard social cohesion," he stressed.
"The manner in which the European Union has dealt with the fiscal and financial crisis in many member states over the past seven years, while costing a great deal of money, has not responded to these existential needs. And this is the case because of the sway held by stereotypes that take into account fiscal and macroeconomic models, but not how much societies can bear or political conduct that frequently tends to call democratic values into question. The growth of euroscepticism and the extreme right requires more comprehensive and composite approaches from the governments of countries with a de facto greater responsibility for Europe's course. There needs to be greater historical memory and greater historical intellect in the name of Europe's values, starting with Democracy and rule of law," he said.
He concluded by saying that a new strategy to deal with open international issues is needed while it was important to protect democracy and human rights, which are two sides of the same coin.
"We are living in a period with an unusually high density of crises. When you have so many crises that raise security issues, reacting in a fragmented manner will not suffice. You have to look at the big picture. You need a unified strategy that takes into account all of the open fronts and highlights priorities in relation to risks. Which means in relation to opponents and potential allies, who are not necessarily friends or even likeminded. This strategic mindset increases the probability of real and in-depth achievement of objectives related not only to the demand for security, but also to the demand for Democracy," he said.
"Athens Forum 2014: Democracy under pressure" is a series of events being hosted on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy by the "International Herald Tribune" and "Kathimerini" newspapers and the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).
United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, in a written message, underlined the importance of the forum which coincides with the International Day of Democracy in Athens, the birthplace of democracy and expressed the hope that it would encourage world leaders to hear, respect and respond appropriately to the voices of the people for a better future for all.
 Positive growth rate expected in the third quarter, FinMin Hardouvelis tells CNBCForeign investors show great interest in the Greek investment programme and the privatization of some of the government's assets, as they see there is only upside potential in the country, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis told US network CNBC in an interview and stressed he expected a positive growth rate in the third quarter of the year.
"We have seen that there is a lot of interest in the Greek ports, airports, other companies. People are lining up now to buy assets. We didn't have this experience earlier," he said. "Now we have it. This is because investors do see there is only upside potential in the country. The economy has stabilized after a lengthy, lengthy recession of six years so their bet will succeed."
He noted that many sectors of the economy, such as tourism, perform well and added "We expect that we are going to see positive growth for the first time in the third quarter."
Asked whether Greece needs a new bailout programme, he said: "The (bailout) program did have benefits in the sense that lenders forced Greece to actually do structural reforms. After a point one needs to do this on their own and to me structural reforms is something one ought to be vigilant (on) and the population has to own them."
 Draghi statements did not 'refute'Tsipras, SYRIZA spokesman tells ANA-MPAMain opposition SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis, in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday, accused the government of trying to put words in the mouth of European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi, following his with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.
"The comment made by ECB circles concerning the Tsipras-Draghi meeting in itself was neutral and was not issued to refute Mr. Tsipras," Skourletis said, accusing the government of "clumsily" attempting to put a negative spin on the ECB's comments.
"In fact, late at night Mr. Draghi himself, his environment, felt the need for another leak, saying in so many words that the statements concerning SYRIZA were politically neutral and not negative. But this is high politics, another level of sensitivity that the government does not possess," Skourletis added.
According to SYRIZA's spokesman, the majority of European leaders, whether they said so or not, "have come to terms with the idea that Alexis Tsipras will be the future prime minister [of Greece]. Will [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel or anyone else deny the Greek people [the right] to decide for themselves who will be prime minister? Even if they think it, they should never dream of saying so...Europe has democratic traditions."
The main issue at stake was how to rebuild a modern European social state and how to expand democracy, Skourletis added, predicting that Europe would essentially define its own future through the answer it gave to the Greek problem.
"The rise today of SYRIZA in Greece and all those forces that believe there must be a shift in Europe coincides with a dialogue that has begun on the need to leave behind the extreme, anti-social neoliberal policies of austerity, which are chiefly expressed by Mrs Merkel and embraced and followed by [Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras," he said.
Regarding the programme presented by Tsipras at the Thessaloniki International Fair at the weekend, Skourletis described this as carefully worked out, detailed, with full cost estimates and ready to be implemented.
"We, with great prudence, did not hand out promises but undertook responsibilities....the word 'handouts' is not in our vocabulary. For us there are proposals, a responsible attitude, assessment of priorities, social sensitivity and commitments. On these we will build a new relation of trust with the Greek people and proceed," he said.
 Deputy development minister says SYRIZA leader 'ill-informed' on NSRFDeputy Development Minister Odysseas Constantinopoulos on Monday offered to "personally brief" main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras about Greece's progress in absorbing EU funds from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), suggesting that the main opposition leader had been misled by "bad advisors".
Constantinopoulos made the statement in response to Tsipras' announcement of a programme to create 300,000 jobs in two years using 3.0 billion euros that would arise through a redistribution of NSRF funds, with 1.5 billion euros to be taken from the 2007-2013 NSRF and the remainder from the new 2014-2020 NSRF.
The deputy minister criticised the announcements as "dangerous promise-making" for the country and its relations with the EU, which also put sensitive groups at risk.
He went on to explain that contracts have now been signed for all the projects receiving funds from the 2007-2013 NSRF, which are already in the phase of being implemented by the 13 regional authorities and Greek ministries, with funding that carries legal obligations and has a termination deadline on December 12, 2015.
"We at the ministry are very proud of this result and our aim is to not lose even one euro of this money due to time delays and obstacles," he added, noting that there was nowhere for the 1.5 billion euros to come from since there would be no time to make the necessary arrangements.
Similarly, the next NSRF was deliberately front-loaded and included programmes that were approved three months ago, for 750 million euros that are scheduled to be spent on social cohesion and solidarity actions targeting the weakest social groups. These included 180 million euros earmarked for the young unemployed, 125 million euros for kindergarten/nursery facilities, 112 million euros for the jobless between the ages of 30 and 66 and 200 million euros for community service.
The remainder, he added, was scheduled to provide places in nurseries and kindergartens over the next seven years, the minister said.
 'Tsipras' hidden agenda was revealed at TIF,' gov't spokeswoman Voultepsi saysGovernment spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi on Monday underlined that main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras "has a hidden agenda that was revealed at Thessaloniki's International Fair."
In an interview with ANA-MPA, Voultepsi said that "Tsipras, for example, never referred to the uniformed personnel, the members of the armed forces he cares so much about; he did not say a word. He also did not say a word about the farmers, after the fuss he made about the sanctions on Russia. He was very vague when he referred to real estate property and the law to replace ENFIA (the uniform real state ownership tax) to a point that those directly interested were led to say that ENFIA will be heaven compared to the hell that SYRIZA has in store. The question is will anybody pay taxes? Either he implies it or he has a hidden agenda... On the Church issues, Tsipras is not saying openly that SYRIZA backs Church-state separation so that the priests and the faithful can hear it. He says that the relation will be reformed. Therefore, here we have another hidden agenda."
The government spokeswoman said that Tsipras's speech at TIF was "indulged in a uncontrolled stream of promises, offering everything to everybody, and you know that when you do that, in essence you promise nothing. Meaning that you behave in a way that could be easily be interpreted as an attempt to mislead public opinion and the Greek people".
Voultepsi also said that Tsipras avoided saying that in the case that he confronts Greece's partners there will be no Financial Stability Fund or NSRF to distribute or redistribute.
On Tsipras' proposal to return to a minimum wage of 751 euros, Voultepsi noted that private sector wages are set between workers and employers, adding that if an employer regards an employee as valuable, they will pay him much more. "By saying that he will bring back the minimum wage by law, Tsipras will only manage to cause layoffs," she said.
On ENFIA, she noted that Tsipras says he will replace it with another tax and before that he will make a property registry and change the way real estate property value is calculated. "The question is: will anybody pay taxes? He either implies it or he has a hidden agenda, and wants to say afterward that, until I do all these you will continue to pay this tax because the country has needs."
Commenting on the intervention by European Central Bank sources to Tsipras' statements as regards his meeting with ECB president Mario Draghi, the government spokeswoman said that "Tsipras wishes to create false expectations that Draghi has adopted his views. Namely, he used the name of an international official to fool the Greek people. According to his (Draghi's) associates, he meets with political figures from various countries, the meetings are private, he listens to them but this does not mean that he agrees with them."
Voultepsi also underlined that Tsipras said that SYRIZA's position is against NATO but leaving NATO is not among his priorities, "does this mean that we can leave and re-enter NATO whenever he sees fit?"
On the migration issue, she said that Tsipras avoided saying exactly what he intends to do with the migrants.
On Tsipras' certainty that the country will have early elections ahead of the election of the new president of the republic, Voultepsi said that "the worst thing Tsipras said was that if the necessary alliances that will lead to a clash with the institutional partners are not reached, he will lead the country again to the polls. This means that yesterday Tsipras threatened the Greek people will successive elections."
 Figures refute SYRIZA leader's claim of 'disinvestment' in Greece, deputy minister saysThe figures refute claims that disinvestment in the Greek economy is continuing, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis said on Monday, replying to statements by main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in Thessaloniki over the weekend.
"In 2013, based on the Bank of Greece, foreign direct investment returned to the same level as the average in the five years before the crisis. In the first half of 2014, foreign direct investments more than tripled in relation to the same period in 2013. The Centre for Planning and Economic Research, in a report issued in May, presented in detail investments of 37 billion euros in the Greek economy - a record level - that are being carried out," Mitarakis said.
He also noted Greece's return to borrowing on international markets and new capital entering the Athens bourse.
"In his speech, Tsipras said we promised something globally unprecedented: 'growth of the economy in conditions of fiscal repression'. It is true this is a very difficult goal, but one which through the sacrifices of the Greek people will be achieved in 2014, since we are returning to positive GDP growth rates," Mitarakis stressed.
 SYRIZA lists cost estimates for measures announced by TsiprasMain opposition SYRIZA on Monday issued an announcement providing a detailed, itemised list with cost estimates for each of the measures announced by party leader Alexis Tsipras in Thessaloniki over the weekend. Members of the party also expressed satisfaction over the impact of the announcements, saying that the detailed and serious presentation of SYRIZA's positions had cast the government into confusion.
The list included measures designed to deal with the humanitarian crisis due to rising poverty, a group of measures designed to kickstart the economy (such as 84 installments for paying off state debts, which SYRIZA estimates will lead to 3.0 billion euros in revenues each year), a major programme to increase employment and a reorganisation of state institutions, among others.
The biggest outlay envisaged by the party is a programme to create 300,000 new jobs, at an estimated cost of 3.0 billion euros in the first year and 5.0 billion euros over two years.
In total, SYRIZA expects its total plan to cost 11.362 billion euros in the first year and says this money will be raised via measures ending recessionary pressures on the real economy (3.0 billion euros), fighting tax evasion and financial crime (3.0 billion euros) and a redistribution of existing funds from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and Financial Stability Fund (6.0 billion euros).
 Development minister meets with visiting German MPsThe Institution for Growth in Greece (IfJ), Greece's investment fund, will give out its first loans from October to the end of November on an experimental basis, a Development and Competitiveness ministry official said on Monday following a meeting of Development Minister Nikos Dendias with MPs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The official said that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be funded more easily starting next year (early 2015).
The meeting between Dendias and the MPs focused on reforms in Greece and the German Development Bank's (KfW) participation in IfJ with 100 million euros.
The six deputies include Bernhard Schulte-Druggelte, Alois Karl, Helmut Heiderich, all of CDU/CSU; Ewald Schurer, Sonja Steffen, both of SPD; and Manuel Sarrazin (BU90/GR), all members of the sub-committee of European Affairs of the German parliament Budget Committee.
In comments following the meeting, Dendias said that the IfJ would "help the liquidity of Greek SMEs in order to fight the threat we are facing, which is youth unemployment."
Dendias also asked the German MPs for assistance in changing rules so infrastructural funds can be used to subsidise interest on loans taken out by the SMEs.
According to ministry officials, the minister met earlier with Google officers to provide technical know-how so that young entrepreneurs are supported. They also said an updating of the bankruptcy laws were planned to include individuals besides companies.
MP Schulte-Druggelte, head of the CDU/CSU, expressed satisfaction that the Greek government had included second-chance entrepreurship in its business model.
 Labour Ministry launches programme to support 1,200 homelessDeputy Labour Minister Vassilis Kegeroglou and secretary general of Welfare Efi Bekou on Monday presented the "Housing and Reintegration" welfare programme aimed at helping 1,200 homeless people.
"Greece is entering a period of recovery, but the problems caused by the crisis to the weakest people will continue to exist, that is why social protection is a primary concern for the government," Kegeroglou said and added that today "about 700,000 citizens are facing the risk of poverty. We are making use of all available national and European resources to support the weakest for as long as they need and offer them support that is not limited to food distribution but includes measures for their reintegration."
The programme has a total budget of 9.4 million euros from the primary surplus and includes comprehensive interventions aimed not only at housing but also reintegrating homeless people into society, through services that will help their return to the labour market.
Through the programme, the homeless are encouraged to learn skills that will make it easier for them to return to the labour market while they will also be encouraged to set up small businesses.
Upon its implementation, the programme is expected to benefit 1,200 people facing housing problems.
The programme will be carried out by Local Administration Organisations, Church entities and religious institutions, as well as public and private non-profit corporations.
Interested parties and social organizations can submit funding applications by October 13, 2014.
 Workers will not regain losses under SYRIZA, KKE's Sofianos assertsWorkers should not expect to regain what they have lost under a SYRIZA government, senior Communist Party of Greece (KKE) cadre Nikos Sofianos said in a radio interview with 'Vima FM' on Monday, commenting on the policy proposals outlined by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) over the weekend.
A second conclusion was that SYRIZA might, at best, attempt a better management of extreme poverty than that at present, he added.
According to Sofianos, Tsipras' appearance "was made to measure in the framework of managing this economy, this system, these one-way roads," and a SYRIZA government would lead to an even cheaper labour market. He called the promise to return to a 751-euro minimum wage through a single act of legislation "a joke". He again ruled out all prospects of cooperation between KKE and SYRIZA.
 NERIT Supervisory Board member Chomenidis resignsChristos Chomenidis, member of the Supervisory Board of public broadcaster NERIT, on Monday resigned from his post.
"Following recent events, I am obliged to submit my resignation from the post of the Supervisory Board member," Chomenidis said in his letter.
"This is not about whether NERIT should broadcast live the main opposition leader's speech or his press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). This is about a direct government intervention, which questioned NERIT chairman and CEO's ability to address issues, exclusively under the jurisdiction of a Public - independent of parties and political figures - Radio and Television," he said.
 Potami lashes out at government parties, main oppositionThe main opposition party SYRIZA "is copying" New Democracy (ND) party, while the latter had shown contempt for the Greek constitution, opposition party Potami charged on Monday.
Responding to Sunday's speech by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras at the Thessaloniki International Fair, Potami said in its announcement, "SYRIZA shouldn't celebrate, they're [just] copying ND. And ND shouldn't be so incensed, as contempt of the spirit of the constitution is their practice."
Potami also criticised PASOK, ND ruling partner, for "pretending they are surprised" when Tsipras said in Thessaloniki that "there are funds" for the economy, because "that was the official campaign policy of PASOK, which no one reacted against, not even [current party leader Evangelos] Venizelos, although he knew - in detail - that the country was already half-bankrupt."
Calling all parties members of a "slapstick comedy of the old-party system," it said that "all ND cabinet officials irate with SYRIZA's frivolity should remember that before they became ministers they used to be members of the anti-memorandum front."
 Business fedearation (SEV) chief Fessas meets with Potami leader TheodorakisHellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) chairman Theodore Fessas on Monday underlined that "our partners in Europe and the rest of the country's lenders will enter a serious discussion on the necessary additional assistance, to definitively close the vicious cycle of deficit and recession, only after we all agree on certain facts - for example, the size and potential of real economy - and we cooperate to draw up a National Development Plan".
Fessas made the statement after meeting with Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis, adding that "the message is clear; we need political stability and social consensus in order to have sustainable economic prospect, attract investments, create new jobs and lead the country out of the crisis".
He also said that it is important for SEV to talk with the political parties and build relations of mutual understanding and cooperation.
 Greek-Armenian Economic Forum in Yerevan during President Papoulias' visitThe Greek-Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry invited local businessmen to attend the Greek-Armenian Economic Forum that will take place in Yerevan on September 30-October 1, in the context of the visit to Armenia by Republic President Karolos Papoulias, it was announced on Monday.
The chamber's second participation in Thessaloniki's International Fair marks a new era for the Greek-Armenian trade relations, a chamber announcement underlined. Products highlighted were mainly Armenian pomegranate wines and the renowned Ararat brandies, as well as Awi watches.
 Greek budget reports primary surplus of 2.3 bln euros in Jan-AugThe Greek state budget presented a primary cash surplus of 2.3 billion euros in the January-August period, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that the state budget reported a shortfall of 2.6 billion euros in the eight-month period, from a deficit of 9.0 billion euros in the same period last year. This development reflects an increase in regular budget revenues to 30.2 billion euros, from 28.8 billion euros last year. This included the sum of 1.310 billion euros from the repayment of preferred shares but excluded the 62 million euros from the transfer of Greek state bond yields, held by European central banks.
Regular budget spending totaled 32.9 billion euros in the January-August period, from 38.9 billion euros last year.
 Development Minister Dendias to meet with Google executivesDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday will meet with Nicklas Lundblad, Google's Director of EU Government Relations, and Dionisis Kolokotsas, Google's Public Policy Manager, according to a ministry announcement.
The meeting, which will take place at the Development ministry at 3 pm, will focus on the national strategy for improving the business environment and growth prospects of Google's activities in Greece.
 S&P Dow Jones moves Greek market to emerging statusS&P Dow Jones on Monday said it will downgrade Greece to emerging market status from developing status and said that the country's weight in the S&P Emerging Broad Market Index will be 0.8 pct.
Greek market authorities expect FTSE's decision on the Greek market. Last March, FTSE maintained the Greek stock market to its watch list for possible downgrade to developing from developed markets. Morgan Stanley downgraded the Greek market to an emerging market last November, a decision which has benefited the market as it channelled new liquidity into Greek shares.
 Only 7.69 pct of workers paid with minimum wage in GreeceOnly 7.69 pct of Greek workers are paid with the minimum wage, official figures showed on Monday. A report by Labor ministry, based on data collected by "Ergani" IT system, showed that a 22.86 pct from a total of 1,371,450 wage earners in the country, were paid with a monthly wage of 1,000-1,500 euros.
The report said that August showed positive employment data, with new hirings surpassing dismissals by 1,311 job positions. In the January-August period, a total of 190,883 jobs were created, up from 102,580 in the same period last year and the highest performance since 2001.
Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said he supported higher wages, but noted that these wage increases should follow an increase in productivity and economic performance. "Wages must mirror the power of the economy, the productivity of each sector and enterprise," he said.
The "Ergani" report showed that 52.91 pct of hirings were full-time jobs and 47.08 pct flexible forms of employment, of which 34.09 pct were part-time jobs.
 Sharp rise in numbers visiting 2014 TIF, organisers reportThe number of visitors to the 79th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) increased by 38.1 pct compared with the previous year to reach 255,000 over the nine days of the exhibition, organisers HELEXPO-TIF announced on Monday. They said the upward trend, from 185,000 in 2013 and 110,000 in 2012, had exceeded targets and was an encouraging sign concerning the trade fair's future.
Another encouraging sign was its popularity with younger people in 2014, when seven out of 10 visitors at TIF were between 15 and 38 years old.
Contributing factors to the increase in visitors were judged to be the CERN exhibition, which will remain at the site for another six weeks, the Chocolate Factory and Museum that will stay open until March 6, the Cheap Art exhibition, the Orthodox art exhibit and the Mad North Stage Festival, which brought in several popular performers.
HELEXPO-TIF promised even bigger surprises in 2015, when the fair will have its 80th anniversary.
 Metka signs with ERGOSE to finish Kiato-Rododafni RR section with European fundingMetka SA on Monday announced it was had signed a contract with ERGOSE, the project management subsidiary of Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), to finish the outstanding work on the new railroad line between Kiato, in NE Peloponnese, and Rododafni, further north,(S715), with contributions from European funds.
The full project is budgeted at 273,000,000 euros. It will be assumed by Metka with an average discount of 17.24% on the full cost. The project is jointly sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), under the operational programme "Improvement of Accessibility" for the 2007-2013 programme. Metka will work primarily on the tunnels in the project and has 24 months to complete it.
Metka will collaborate with multinational Thales, which is a global leader in signalling and remote management of railway systems and the Greek company Xanthakis.
The railway line is part of a system connecting Kiato with Patras, a major port city and the third largest economic centre in Greece.
The programme "Improvement of Accessibility" involves Community support for eight Greek regions: Epirus, Thessaly, Eastern Macedonia, Ionian Islands, Western Greece, Peloponnesus, Crete and North Aegean.
According to European Commission's data, the operational programme falls within the framework laid out for the Convergence objective and has a total budget of around 4.976 billion euros. Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund amounts to some 3.7 billion euros, which represents approximately 18.45% of the total EU money invested in Greece under Cohesion policy 2007-13.
 Retail sector employment index down 0.8 pct in Q2The employment index in the retail commerce sector of the economy fell by 0.8 pct in the second quarter of 2014, compared with the same period last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the food store employment index fell 1.4 pct and the other store category rose by 1.1 pct. The index was up 1.1 pct compared with the first quarter of 2014, reflecting an 1.4 pct rise in food stores and a 0.9 pct increase in other stores.
 Turnover in Greek services sector down in Q2Turnover in the Greek services sector fell in the majority of enterprises in the second quarter of the year, compared with the corresponding period in 2013, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the turnover index in the company support and office activities category fell by 37.6 pct in the second quarter, followed by a 37 pct drop in the architect/engineers category, a 13.6 pct fall in data processing, a 9.2 pct decline in legal and account services, an 8.0 pct fall in IT, an 8.3 pct decline in cleaning services and a 7.1 pct fall in telecommunication services.
On the other hand, turnover rose in the professional and technical activities category (14.6 pct), in the publishing business (13.6 pct) and postal services (0.9 pct) in the second quarter of the year.
 Alpha Bank announces voluntary redundancy programmeAlpha Bank announced a voluntary redundancy programme, effective as of September 15 until September 30. All bank employees under indefinite labour contracts are eligible to participate in the scheme while employees under definite labour contracts are excluded from the programme.
 Alpha Bank signs cooperation agreement with China UnionPayAlpha Bank on Monday announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with China UnionPay (CUP), the largest card issuer in the world.
China UnionPay owns more than 4.2 billion payment cards, accepted in more than 140 countries worldwide. The cooperation agreement, includes the acceptance of UnionPay cards by the Greek banks' ATM network and all POS terminals of enterprises in cooperation with Alpha Bank.
 Greek stocks lower on MondayGreek stocks ended moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, remaining in a downward trend for the third successive session and pushing the composite index of the market closer to the 1,150-point technical support level.
The index eased 0.46 pct to end at 1,155.95 points, after falling as much as 1,148.42 points. Traders said the market largely ignored a decision by S&P on Friday to upgrade the country's credit rating.
Turnover shrank further to 46.18 million euros. The Large Cap index fell 0.41 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.08 pct lower.
Jumbo (2.43 pct), Eurobank Properties (0.91 pct), OTE (0.80 pct) and Alpha Bank (0.75 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Athens Water (3.26 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (3.07 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (3.06 pct) and GEK Terna (2.25 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, the Personal Products (1.80 pct), Real Estate (1.77 pct) and Chemicals (1.50 pct) scored big gains, while the Financial Services (2.75 pct), Oil (2.57 pct) and Raw Materials (1.68 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 79 to 49 with another 20 issues unchanged. Dionic (14.75 pct), Pasal (14.29 pct), Altec (12.5 pct) were top gainers, while Pairis (28.0 pct), Naftemporiki (26.45 pct) and SATO (19.42 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -2.75%
Real Estate: +0.14%
Personal & Home: +1.80%
Food & Beverages: -0.63%
Raw Materials: -1.68%
Mass Media: +0.34%
Travel & Leisure: -1.51%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.67
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.16
Coca Cola HBC: 17.28
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.38
National Bank of Greece: 2.81
Eurobank Properties: 8.86
Piraeus Bank: 1.48
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 4.67 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 4.61 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.72 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.05 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros, of which 2.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.349 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.262 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.188 pct from 0.187 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.081 pct from 0.082 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.007 pct from 0.006 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.05 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 20,616 contracts with 48,455 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 102,959 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (55,599), followed by Piraeus Bank (12,684), National Bank (9,598), Alpha Bank (7,166), Terna Energy (4,908), GEK (4,341), MIG (2,154), OTE (1,510), PPC (1,146), Hellenic Petroleum (863), Mytilineos (702), OPAP (487), Frigoglass (338), and Hellenic Exchanges (140).
 Foreign exchange rates - MondayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.291
Pound sterling 0.7949
Danish kroner 7.444
Swedish kroner 9.232
Japanese yen 138.48
Swiss franc 1.209
Norwegian kroner 8.275
Canadian dollar 1.431
Australian dollar 1.431
 PM Samaras attends presentation of repatriated 12th-century manuscriptA rare 12th-century manuscript returned to Greece just a few days ago from the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, will be exhibited at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens until the end of October, before it goes back to the Holy Monastery of Dionyssiou on Mount Athos where it belongs.
The lavishly illuminated parchment-bound codex, the text of which was scribed by Theoktistos, was presented to the museum on Monday by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the Culture ministry leadership.
"Today is a day of joy for all Greeks," the prime minister said and underlined the ministry's ongoing struggle to ensure that cultural treasures illegally taken out of the country will be repatriated. Samaras said that this effort will culminate with the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, which is Greece's "firm demand".
The prime minister also noted that "those Greeks who feel no hesitation in selling off the country's cultural heritage, have no conscience and hurt our historical memory irreversibly while bragging about their crime".
He also referred to a new and effective form of cooperation between the ministries of Culture and Public Order, noting that "those who commit crimes against the country's cultural reserves will have to be ready to face the consequences of their actions".
Culture Minister Constantinos Tassoulas referred to the repatriation of the manuscript in the context of a bilateral cooperation framework signed by the two sides, saying that it is an "act of culture".
The press conference on the manuscript's repatriation was given in the presence of Getty Museum director Timothy Potts and the Dionyssiou Monastery abbot.
The repatriated 12th-century masterpiece was stolen in 1960 from the Holy Monastery of Dionyssiou on Mount Athos and, after appearing in private collections, was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in California in 1983.
It will be on display until October 30, together with another page depicting the busts of the Twelve Apostles, which was purchased separately and was on display at the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum in Athens. Both exhibits will return to the library of the Holy Monastery of Dionyssiou on Mount Athos.
The manuscript was spotted in the context of the exhibition "Heaven and Earth. The Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections" that was organized by the ministry of culture and the Benaki Museum in cooperation with US museums, among them, the J. Paul Getty Museum.
The 12th century is characterised by the production of luxurious manuscripts in Constantinople that were usually destined for members of the Komnenos Dynasty or large monasteries.
In a description of the exhibit, known as "New Testament Ludwing II 4", the J. Paul Getty wrote: "This Greek-language New Testament, containing the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of Saint Paul, was made in the Byzantine monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Constantinople. A scribe's inscription near the end of the manuscript declares: "This book was finished by the grace of Christ in the year 6641 [1133 A.D.]...by the hand of the sinner Theoktistos". An anonymous scribe also worked on the manuscript, copying out the less important parts of the text, and an unnamed illuminator produced the manuscript's painted decoration. In the lavishly illuminated codex, ornamented canon tables open the book, portraits of each of the four evangelists open their Gospels, and decorative headpieces open the major sections of the text."
 PM Samaras visits Byzantine and Christian Museum"I only listen to the head of the excavation works of the Amphipolis and her findings," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Monday during an event for the repatriation of a 12th century manuscript that was stolen in 1960 from the Holy Monastery of Dionyssiou on Mount Athos and was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.
"This finding is of global importance, far beyond our narrow borders. And for this reason we have to be serious and tight-lipped," Samaras stressed.
According to the prime minister, the supporting works at the tomb will continue until Thursday.
Furthermore, Samaras underlined the culture ministry's struggle to support scientifically Greece's demands regarding the return of cultural treasures, which have been exported illegally.
"It is an effort that should be continued and peak with the Parthenon Marbles. A permanent and an indispensable demand for us," the prime minister noted.
The manuscript will be exhibited at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens until the end of October.
 Mobile Initial Reception Units for undocumented migrants in GreeceThe extraordinary migration inflows, in every part of Greece that could be an entry point, are being handled by the public order & citizen protection ministry Mobile Units of the Initial Reception Service, its director Panagiotis Nikas on Monday underlined during the presentation of a project for the reinforcement of the initiative.
He underlined that Mobile Initial Reception Units are a European first and an ideal tool that can operate anywhere there is a need. Their mission is to handle third country nationals entering Greece illegally, while respecting their dignity and rights. Migrants are briefed about their rights, undergo medical examinations, are put on record and their national identity is determined. They are also offered psychological support by specialists with the assistance of interpreters at all the stages of the procedure.
The goal is to ensure that those eligible for international protection will receive it and also, to determine who belongs to vulnerable groups or special categories, like Syrians. Economic migrants are being briefed that based on the existing legislation they cannot stay on European ground and are offered the alternative of participating in International Organization for Migration voluntary repatriation programmes.
The Mobile Initial Reception Units were established on April 14, 2013 and began operating in July 2013. They are two and this year operated on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Samos.
According to official figures, from November 2013 until August 2014, a total of 4,916 people entered the initial reception procedure (4,098 men and 818 women). Of them, only 16 have requested to be granted asylum. A total of 2,099 are from Afghanistan, 1,596 from Syria, followed by Somalia and Eritrea. As regards their age, 1,946 were 18-25, 1,030 were 26-33, 849 were minors, 473 were 34-40, 356 were 41-60 and 24 were over the age of 60. The unaccompanied minors were 358, seven of them under the age of 12, while 23 women were pregnant.
 Thessaloniki to get Holocaust museum, mayor tells councilThessaloniki will acquire a Holocaust museum, mayor Yiannis Boutaris told the municipal council on Monday.
The museum, he said, will include a Nazism-awareness centre; it will not be "dedicated to the obliteration of 55,000 of our fellow-Greeks, but stand as the city's symbol against totalitarianism."
A study on the museum is expected to be presented shortly. It will be located on the premises of the old railroad station and its buildings will cover approximately 7,000 square metres.
 Damning WWF Hellas report deplores runaway development at expense of Greece's natural environmentGreece's current environmental legislation favours large-scale investments, extensive construction and runaway development at the expense of the natural environment and local populations, WWF Hellas said in its July 2013-June 2014 report on environmental laws released on Monday.
"Legalisation of unauthorised buildings, even in areas with protected status such as the Schinias National Park or the promotion of tourist installations in areas such as Kyparissia, where Caretta caretta sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, are typical of the government's developmental model," said WWF's Theodora Natchou in a press conference.
WWF Hellas Chief Executive Dimitris Karavelas said the country's spatial, town planning and forest laws had suffered the first blows when the first Medium-Term Fiscal Framework was passed in 2011. Environmental inspection services were further undermined, he added, with the abolition of the special environment and energy service, the staff cuts in environmental administration, the forestry services and other key positions.
He also referred to "legislative insecurity" due to a "storm" of what he described as 'a la carte' legislation tacked on to unrelated bills to legalise violations and facilitate specific investments.
"On the other hand, if someone tries to set up an environmentally-friendly and legal investment, it is almost impossible due to unclear and labyrinthine rules," he added.
The report welcomed some positive developments, noting significant improvements in national strategy for biodiversity since the first report was issued in 2005 and also the Council State ruling against the diversion of the Acheloos River. WWF officials additionally noted greater public engagement, noting that the planned laws on Greece's coastline were not passed due to the public reaction.
 Court denies Areti Tsohatzopoulou's petition for releaseA Court of Appeals on Monday denied a petition filed by Areti Tsohatzopoulou, daughter of jailed former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, to be released from prison.
The court rejected the prosecutor's recommendation that she be released on compassionate grounds by a majority of three votes to two.
The denied petition, as well as a previous one she had filed, referred to a health problem suffered by one of her three children as a reason for her release. Tsohatzopoulou's lawyers had presented documents in court proving that the child has to undergo surgery immediately and that her presence was necessary.
Areti Tsohatzopoulou is serving a 12-year jail sentence in Thiva Prison for her role in the defense procurement kickbacks and money-laundering case, in which her father and former PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos was one of the defendants.
 Torrential downpour causes flooding in Athens' northern suburbsTorrential rain flooded roads and low-lying areas in Athens northern suburbs on Monday, when the sudden downpour brought traffic to a virtual standstill in many areas. The fire brigade received 33 calls to pump water from properties in Halandri, Maroussi, Neo Iraklio, Nea Ionia and Agia Paraskevi.
Firemen also had to help extricate a driver whose car was immobilised on the Maroussi-Halandri road, where traffic was interrupted for some time, while traffic police also barred passage through the flooded underpass on Spyros Louis Road.
 Chinese, Greek film exchanges discussed by Culture minister and visiting officialGreece and China are expanding cooperation in the film sector, with the first Chinese Film Week being held in Athens currently (September 15-18) at the Greek Film Archive and a Week of Greek Films scheduled in China, Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Angela Gerekou said on Monday, following a meeting with a Chinese delegation.
Gerekou met with Tong Gang, the deputy director of the Chinese press and mass media administration, who headed the visiting delegation.
Among other things, they discussed a bilateral agreement on joint film productions and the exemption on an annual basis of Greek films from the state limit on screenings of foreign films in China, the prospect of state broadcasters of each country exchanging programmes and producing films jointly, and the collaboration of the Greek and Chinese Film Archives, the Hong Kong Film Archive, the Shanghai Film Museum, and the Film Festivals of Thessaloniki, Beijing and Shanghai.
 French deputy mayor and husband honored by local authorities in Hersonissos, CreteDeputy mayor of Laneuveville-devant-Nancy in France, Claudine Florentin and her husband Michel, who visit the municipality of Hersonissos near Iraklio on the south Aegean island of Crete for the past 20 years, were honored on Monday by local authorities.
The French deputy mayor has instituted a "Greek night" event in her municipality, with a population of 6,500 people, celebrated on January 17.
 Court of Audit stops Attica Region grant for refurbishing Panathinaikos stadium in central AthensThe Court of Audit on Monday stopped a grant approved by the Attica Region authority, under the previous regional governor Giannis Sgouros, finding the 7.0-million-euro grant for refurbishing the Panathinaikos FC stadium on Alexandras Avenue in central Athens to be illegal.
The court, after examining the agreement, found it was contrary to the public interest and also violated the principle of cost-efficiency given that the new stadium for Panathinaikos in the Votanikos district is due to be built within five years.
 Decision on joint military, civilian use of Tripoli airport to be signed on TuesdayNational Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis are to sign a joint ministerial decision on Tuesday morning for the combined use of Tripoli airport in the Peloponnese by both military and civilian aircraft.
 Rain, storms on TuesdayRain, storms and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Storms in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 16C-26C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 18C-28C. Rain and storms in the central and the eastern parts with temperatures between 18C-29C. Clouds and rain over the islands, 21C-30C. Rain in Athens, 18C-28C. Storms in Thessaloniki, 17C-25C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Trust the Left.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: (SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras preannounces 18 'breather' measures.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Tsipras has gone crazy offering 17.5 billion euros.
ESTIA: Alexis Tsipras just around the corner.
ETHNOS: Justice will rule on ENFIA's constitutionality.
NAFTEMPORIKI: The Development Bank brings 4 billion euros to businesses.
TA NEA: Blind clash.
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