|Thursday, 18 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 24 September 2014 Issue No: 4767
 Merkel pledges support for Greece; No need for new assistance package, says PM SamarasBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ S. Goutzanis)
"There are positive signs and indications that Greece will soon be able to pass the threshold into growth," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday, following a working luncheon here with the Greek premier.
In his own address, Samaras conveyed his government's confidence that Greece will not need a new financial aid package from its international creditors and will be able to cover its financing needs by borrowing on the markets.
Merkel said that "Greece is working on the next steps of the programme, with the troika and on this it is clear that there are various positive developments that must be confirmed."
Acknowledging that this was a difficult time for Greeks, especially due to the high unemployment, she neverthelesss stressed that "the first signs that the efforts are succeeding are now visible," and promised that Germany "will do whatever it can to further support this effort".
Greece had just had a very good tourism season, Merkel said, and also referred to Germany's contribution to the efforts on a bilateral level, such as an agreement of intent for a Greek-German Foundation for Youth or initiatives to provide loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). She particularly stressed the importance of giving SMEs access to loans in order to boost growth.
"This is very important because there are significant indications certifying the recovery of the economy. This was made possible through structural reforms and the privatisations that are underway," the chancellor added.
Samaras said the meeting had focused mainly on the stability programme and its prospects, while stressing that Greece had met a series of difficult targets ahead of schedule.
"It achieved a primary surplus in 2013, one year earlier than forecast by the programme. And we will do this a second time in 2014, not just within targets but exceeding the targets. We returned to the markets two years ahead of the programme, in April 2014 instead of 2016. And I must tell you that Greek bonds are doing very well. The yield of the five-year bonds in April when we forayed onto the markets was 4.95 pct. Today it has stabilised at 4.20 pct and is tending to fall further. This is a sign that markets trust the prospects of Greece's economy," he said.
The Greek premier also referred to Greece's successful efforts to recapitalise its banks, using smaller amounts than originally forecast and attracting 10 billion euros in private capital, and the fact that, and in spite of harsh austerity, it had managed to exit the recession after six years.
"In the third quarter of 2014 we expect a positive GDP rate, in other words a recovery. Unemployment is falling for the first time. It is still high, especially among young people.. but it is clearly falling," he stressed.
Regarding structural reforms, Samaras said that Greece's position in international competitiveness rankings was constantly improving, rising dozens of positions for a second consecutive year, while this was acknowledged by the EU and the IMF.
"Much remains to be done. But all that has been accomplished with our partners' support and the painful sacrifices of Greeks shows that Greece is leaving the crisis behind it," he said.
Greece was now able to stand on its own two feet and this was the view he had presented to the chancellor, Samaras said.
"It is our view that a new assistance package is not needed. We need some sorts of relief, especially tax relief. We need this to lower unemployment further, to increase public revenues and to successfully meet all reform targets, for fiscal surpluses and structural changes," he explained.
Greece had achieved a lot in conditions of recession and would achieve even more in conditions of growth, he added, but for this reason needed some breathing room to give new impetus to reforms.
"Of course, I want to stress that control and the targets are given for the gradual repayment of the debt. I mean through primary surpluses and privatisations," Samaras clarified, saying that Greece will propose its own framework for continuing reforms in the coming years, after the end of the current programme. At the same time, he emphasised that there was no "turning back" on the path of reform.
"We will not go back to deficits," he emphasised, saying that Greece must continue and complete the reforms that made the country competitive. After the last review for 2014 and once the results of bank stress tests were in, Samaras said that Greece expected "a final settlement for the sustainability of Greece's debt" that would remove the final obstacles to long-term productive investments.
"The forecasts are for 2.9 percent growth in 2015 and 3.7 percent in 2016. We will do our utmost to meet these targets and even exceed them and to bring down unemployment... Greece is entering a new era of reforms with growth," he said.
He also thanked the chancellor for Germany's contribution in this area, especially in the funding of SMEs.
Samaras pointed to a new geostrategic role that was emerging for Greece through its participation in energy infrastructure, such natural gas pipelines to Europe, LNG supply links via Greek ports to the Balkans, and its own energy deposits. The results of surveys in Western Greece and south of Crete far exceeded original estimates for natural gas and oil, he added, while Greece could now become a factor for energy security and a bastion of stability in the area, when at one time it was seen as Europe's weak link. He outlined plans to exploit Greece's energy reserves and participate in the transfer of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, becoming an energy hub for its region. "From Baku to Italy there will be 3,500 kilometres of pipelines, an investment of 50 billion dollars," he pointed out.
Replying to questions about the sustainability of Greece's debt, Samaras said that the country's debt would be sustainable as a result of low interest rates on its loans, a possible extension of the repayment period, through structural reforms and growth, as well as any debt settlements that may given.
Questioned about the prospects of a 'velvet divorce' with the IMF after the last loan tranche was disbursed, Samaras rejected both the term 'velvet' and the term 'divorce' in connection with the IMF.
"Our cooperation [with the IMF] has never been easy but has definitely changed the picture presented by our economy. This cooperation will be concluded ahead of time and this is a sign of success, in my view, not a 'divorce'." He also pointed out that the IMF's charter provides for a different kind of cooperation after the loan programmes are fulfilled, as in the case of Ireland.
"Greece, based on our own estimates and figures, can cope without additional financing. In which case, the course of targets is set on a different basis. We are not, however, giving up the main goal to continue having primary surpluses and to continue reforms," he stressed.
He said the government's aim was for Greece to emerge stronger and finally be free from the bad moments of its past.
"We must become a normal country and we have proved that we can be reliable and stand on our own feet," he added.
Chancellor Merkel, when asked about the prospect of early elections in Greece and whether this was discussed with Samaras, replied that the Greek premier was governing Greece with great decisiveness and in cooperation with the country's partners, stressing that their talks had been confined exclusively to the efforts for an improvement in Greece, the problems that remained and the successes achieved.
She also made it clear that the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was not discussed during the meeting.
 Greece doesn't need new memorandum, gov't source saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ S. Goutzanis)
Greece is standing on its own two feet and will not need new bailouts or memorandums, a Greek government source said here on Tuesday, following a meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"Greece is fiscally strong and will not need a new memorandum," said the official. The source said that the Greek side is satisfied with the results of the meeting, noting that "it went well, since the German leadership acknowledges the ground the country has covered."
Commenting on main opposition SYRIZA's response and the premier's reaction, the source relayed Samaras' remark that "[SYRIZA's] confusion is such that they even mixed up the questions and who these were addressed to."
"Last year we were concerned about the financing gap, this year there are no such issues. If the IMF does depart in early 2015 as Greece wants, the gap that is left will be covered by the country itself without need for further support from the EU," the official said, adding that "nothing is finished, we have set out a framework for the next day."
"Greece is standing on its own two feet and does not need a new memorandum; the need for the IMF to continue is being debated. Based on our calculations it will not be necessary. There will be a period of frequent contact, in order to crystallise the framework for the next months until the end of the year. There is the paradox that the EU will depart from the Greek programme while the IMF remains in an EU country. They had calculated that Greece would not make it and would need additional assistance with renewed participation of the EU. But this did not happen," the source said.
The government team considers that the German chancellor is willing to support Greece precisely because of the progress the country has made. Noting the premier's reference to tax relief during the joint press conference with Merkel, a government source said such tax relief will be included in the draft budget.
 Samaras presented 'pitiful picture' after meeting with Merkel, SYRIZA saysMain opposition SYRIZA on Tuesday attacked Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in an announcement, saying he had presented a "pitiful picture" after his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, "embarrassing himself and the country."
According to a SYRIZA, Samaras had not questioned the memorandum programmes in the slightest but made it clear that "the term 'negotiation' is foreign to his policy and his intentions." There was a huge distance between Samaras and the current "painful social reality" in Greece, SYRIZA added.
The party also commented on the prime minister's refusal to reply, at Merkel's suggestion, whether he was against relaxing austerity and said this made him the German chancellor's most fervent supporter in Europe.
"No handshake with any foreign leader can save him," the announcement concluded.
 New Democracy replies to SYRIZA comment on PM Samaras' Berlin visitNew Democracy, responding to a comment made by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party on the Greek prime minister's joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, said, "It's marginal criticism from a marginal party. What a pity."
SYRIZA spoke earlier of a "sad image of the prime minister, after his meeting with Mrs Merkel" which "exposed himself and the country."
 Potami on Samaras-Merkel meetingPotami party on Tuesday referred to the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, noting that "the much-publicised meeting between the Greek prime minister and Mrs Merkel was proved to be nothing more than words of consolation". It is also underlined that the understanding expressed by the German chancellor is not enough and the country cannot be rescued through begging or false bravado.
The statement also underlined the need for a national action plan "that will have the approval of the overwhelming majority of the Greek society and would make allies and lenders to think differently of Greece".
Also, the big political parties are being accused of making their survival a priority over the country's survival.
 Venizelos attends summit meeting on climate; sends message of cooperation to Jewish communityNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
Government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday will represent Greece in the summit meeting on the climate called by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while he will continue his contacts with heads of foreign missions and participate in multilateral meetings and events in the context of the 69th UN General Assembly here.
He will represent Greece in a ministerial consultation on the Humanitarian and Development Situation in Syria and Neighbouring Countries hosted by the European Union, UK and Jordan and later, he will attend a high-level luncheon in the context of the summit meeting on the climate and participate in the EU foreign ministers' meeting.
On Tuesday evening, he will attend a formal reception hosted by US President Barack Obama and his wife in honor of the heads of the foreign missions.
On Tuesday morning (Greek time), the foreign minister addressed an American Jewish Committee event on antisemitism, underlining that "it is a great pleasure to be here with you again, this year, to once more reaffirm and underscore the great importance of our friendship. The friendship between the Greek and Jewish peoples. The friendship between Greece and Israel. And the friendship between the great Diasporas of our two ancient peoples. I am also here to reaffirm our commitment to the fight against xenophobia, racism and, in particular, antisemitism. Last year, we reassured you that we would take all necessary steps to tackle such sentiments which, I assure you, have no natural place in Greek society."
He referred to the government's policy and the position of the Greek people on antisemitism, pointing out that "earlier this month, the Greek Parliament passed revised anti-racism legislation. And I am pleased to report to you that this new law includes broader criteria and stricter penalties for condoning, trivializing or denying the Holocaust or other Nazi crimes. During the last year, the leadership of Golden Dawn, who, among other things, expressed pro-Nazi sentiments, was put behind bars and brought to justice."
He also underlined that "at the same time, throughout these years the Greek state has been redressing injustices of the past. I am talking, for example, about the legislation we passed three years ago, in 2011, providing for the granting of Greek citizenship to Jewish compatriots of ours who were torn from our homeland during the Nazi occupation, and who are now Israeli citizens.
As you all know, this has been another year of great turmoil in the Eastern Mediterranean - the shared neighborhood of Greece and Israel. In this time of turbulence, Greece is emerging from the crisis and continuing in its role as an anchor of stability and a reliable western partner in the region.
And I assure you that Greece remains committed to further strengthening and deepening its relations with its friend Israel. This process has been under way for some years now. We have reached a number of agreements, we held the G2G in Israel last October. So we are clearly committed to maintaining the growth momentum in our friendship and partnership."
Venizelos underlined the importance of cooperation between Greece and Israel, noting that "Greece and Israel are friends and partners, in a region where such relations are far too scarce, and thus all the more vital. And I am pleased that this relationship is also reflected in the relations between our great Diasporas."
Earlier on Monday, Venizelos met here with representatives of major American Jewish organizations.
During the meeting, he referred to the historical ties of friendship between the Greek and Jewish peoples, as well as to the importance of continued cooperation between the Greek and Jewish Diasporas. Venizelos also outlined Greece's efforts aimed at exiting the economic crisis, set out Greece's stances on main issues in the greater region, and highlighted the prospects for Greek-Israeli relations.
He will attend a luncheon hosted by the UN Secretary General in honor of the heads of delegations and will take part in the UN Security Council debate on the subject of foreign terrorist fighters in conflicts. He will also attend a working dinner of EU and NATO foreign ministers.
Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas, who is accompanying Venizelos, also represented Greece in multilateral meetings and special summits in the context of the UN General Assembly.
 FM Venizelos addresses UN Climate Summit in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos called the UN Climate Summit 2014 "a milestone on the road to Paris" and the meetings on climate there next year, during his address at the meeting.
"Today's meeting constitutes a milestone on the road to Paris," Venizelos said, "It provides us with the opportunity to sustain momentum and capitalise on the work already undertaken to reach an ambitious, legally binding agreement next year, in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius."
Speaking of the environmental challenges increasingly making themselves felt in Europe, Venizelos said Greece supports the European Commission's proposals for the 2030 Framework and added that "energy efficiency measures are effective policy tools aimed at easing the burden of consumers struggling with high energy prices."
The Greek FM noted Greek islands' "vast wind and solar potential" that he said could supply energy to many regions and thus contribute to the EU's overall renewables target.
Greece firmly supports the "Putting a Price on Carbon" initiative, he added, and endorses its launch as one of the collaborative actions of the current summit.
 FM Venizelos' meeting with American-Jewish committees in NYGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday met with the representatives of the most important American - Jewish organisations (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Committee, B'nai Brith, World Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry and American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York.
During the meeting, Venizelos referred to the historic bonds of friendship between the Greek and the Jewish people as well as the importance of the continuation of the cooperation between the Greek and Jewish Diaspora.
Moreover, he also referred to the antiracism law recently voted by the Greek parliament, underlining that Greece now offers a very powerful legislation against the racist and xenophobic attitudes. Furthermore, Venizelos made a special reference to the potential for Greek Jews that live in Israel to reaquire the Greek nationality.
Finally, Venizelos presented Greece's efforts to exit the economic crisis and outlined Greece's position on issues concerning the wider region of the East Mediterreanean with special reference to the prospect of the relations between Greece and Israel.
 FM Venizelos attends Turkish President's reception in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos early on Tuesday (Athens time) attended a reception hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the "Turkish Centre" in New York on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly.
Earlier, Venizelos met with members of major American-Jewish organizations on a series of issues related to the Greek-Israeli cooperation and energy, at the press office of the Greek National Tourism Organisation in New York.
He then addressed an event at the American Jewish Committee on anti-Semitism. "For once more we confirm and underline the great importance of our friendship; the friendship between the Greek and the Israeli people, the friendship between Greece and Israel," he said.
Venizelos referred to "another year of severe crisis in Eastern Mediterranean - Greece and Israel's common neighbourhood" and added that "In these times of turmoil, Greece emerges from the crisis and continues its role as a pillar of stability and a credible western partner in the region."
"Greece remains focused on the further strengthening and deepening of its relations with Israel. This process has started years ago," Venizelos said.
Within the framework of the Ministerial Week of the 69th UN General Assembly, Venizelos met with the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority Riyad Al-Maliki. The two officials discussed the situation in the wider area following the cease fire in the Gaza Strip and the excellent course of bilateral relations.
Venizelos underscored to Al-Maliki the importance Greece attaches to the promotion of the peace process, assuring him that Greece, as an EU member-state and a country that maintains traditionally close relations with the Palestinian people, is always ready to contribute to the efforts to overcome the crisis in the direction of security and regional stability.
 FM Venizelos' schedule for Wednesday in NYGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday at 9:00 (local time) will attend the opening of the general debate of UN 69th General Assembly in New York.
Moreover, Venizelos will hold a series of meetings with top foreign officials. At 11:00 he will meet with the Foreign Minister of Algeria Ramtane Lamamra and afterwards (11.30) with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro Igor Luksic. At noon, the Greek Foreign Minister will meet with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and in the afternoon (17:00) with the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
At 13.15 Venizelos will attend a lunch hosted by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in honour of the heads of the delegations and later (15:00) the Greek top official will participate in a debate at the UN Security Council on foreign terrorist-fighters in conflicts.
Finally, at 19:30, Venizelos will attend a working dinner of the EU and NATO Foreign Ministers. (All meeting times are local).
 Deputy FM meets with Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead MaguireDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Tuesday met at the Foreign ministry with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1976) Mairead Maguire in the context of her visit to Greece as the guest of the Observatory of International Organisations and Globalisation (PADOP).
Gerontopoulos was briefed on her peace actions and her missions in the Middle East, specifically in Gaza and Syria.
The two concluded that they share views on the Cyprus issue, and agree on its need to be resolved based on UN decisions; they also agreed on the Palestinian issue which is the key issue for peace in the Middle East.
Gerontopoulos briefed Maguire on the meeting he had in Evros province, northeast Greece with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is on a formal four-day visit to the region of Thrace until Tuesday (today), and referred to his initiatives for peace and interfaith dialogue.
 FinMin to meet with troika in Athens on September 30, ministry sources sayFinance ministry and troika officials on Wednesday will hold a teleconference as part of the planning ahead of the troika representatives' visit to Athens and the 5th review of Greece's progress, Finance ministry officials said.
According to the agenda so far, the first meeting between the Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and the head of troika has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 30. The two sides will have to finalize the new draft budget which will be tabled in Parliament on October 6.
The annual IMF meeting will take place in Washington on October 10-12.
 FinMin dismisses reports on troika delaying its visit to AthensThe Finance ministry in a statement on Tuesday dismissed reports that the troika's visit to Athens has been delayed at the request of the Greek government saying that they do not correspond to reality.
 Parliamentary majority target is attainable, SYRIZA saysMain opposition SYRIZA's target for parliamentary majority is attainable, the party said on Tuesday citing recently published opinion polls that have been analysed by SYRIZA.
According to a SYRIZA note, recent opinion polls show a clear lead of the main opposition party, confirming that its government programme is becoming increasing popular among citizens.
SYRIZA's clear victory at the Europarliament elections, the party said, has set the stage for initiatives during the summer regarding Public Power Corp (PPC) and the sea shore as well as for forming alliances aimed at defending the public wealth.
SYRIZA estimates that based on opinion poll results "the target of a parliamentary majority is attainable, while we should take into consideration that those measurements were conducted during a non pre-election period and the political questions are less pressing for the citizens."
On the contrary, SYRIZA said, New Democracy's inability to govern even through alliances has become obvious.
The main opposition party concluded by saying that the opinion poll numbers, coupled with data for the popularity of SYRIZA's political proposal, make clear that the "radical left is now the only alternative solution for the citizens."
"The government programme it has presented as well as SYRIZA's international initiatives and contacts render the party the only credible government solution that will defend the interests of society in Greece and abroad," SYRIZA said.
 Measures for cross-checking public-sector staff qualifications added to open data billThe administrative reform and e-Government ministry has included articles for "upholding legality" in public-sector hirings and for checking the validity of degrees, qualifications and other supporting documents affecting hirings and promotions, in a draft bill for open data in the public sector about to be tabled in Parliament.
In addition to the checking of the candidate's documents prior to hiring, the law also calls for the checking of the same degrees and documents in the case of an employee resigning. Ministry sources on Tuesday said this measure was added because the ministry discovered at least 150 cases when employees resigned to avoid sanctions for submitting fake documents.
As a remedy, the ministry will pass a law whereby a permanent public-sector employee's resignation will not be accepted before the authenticity of their qualifications is checked. Similar cross-checks are introduced in the case of employee transfers.
The law also specifies that agencies to which public-sector organisations apply to verify the authenticity of documents must perform this service without delay, replying within five working days of receiving the application.
Finally, it specifies that checking the authenticity and validity of all degrees, certificates and other documents supplied by staff is obligatory for all categories of employees in the broader public sector.
 Athens to host first European Clinton Global Initiative in 2015The 2015 annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference will be hosted for the first time on European soil in Athens, Greece, former US President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton said on Tuesday during the 10th meeting.
The CGI Mediterranean will take place in June next year and aims to "connect leaders from the private and public sector from many countries around the world to discuss the political and economic developments in the wider Mediterranean region," and according to the former president, participating leaders will "seek solutions for the important challenges facing the region, like youth unemployment, social and economic volatility. Through new Commitments-to-Act, they will be able to highlight the vast potential for the development of the entire geographical region."
The initiative for hosting the conference in Athens belongs to Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, a member of CGI, who, in a joint presentation with Bill Clinton said she's particularly proud Athens will be hosting for the first time a CGI event in Europe.
"One of the reasons I want to participate in the Clinton Foundation initiative is the ethos and strategy of turning ideas into actions," Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said.
In the 2015 CGI for Greece and the Mediterranean, participants will suggest and present solutions and proposals for long-term economic growth and competitiveness for the counties of the region, with commitments in sectors like youth employment, economic activity, new job openings and "green" development.
 KKE on the airstrikes targeting the "Islamic State"Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday commented on the airstrikes launched by the US and Arab countries on "Islamic State" group targets in Syria.
A KKE statement noted that "as they had announced, the US and their allies launched airstrikes on Syrian provinces under the pretext of hitting targets of the so-called 'Islamic State' which they had supported and armed in the past," adding that "the raids carried out and the statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who has spoken about the need to create a "no-fly zone over Syria', show the real aims of the imperialists".
"KKE condemns the new designs of the United States and their allies, who use the Islamic State as a pretext in order to intensify their aggressiveness in the region, to reinforce their political-military role, to reconstruct, for their own benefit, the political balance in the region and to gain ground to the detriment of their rivals," a party statement underlined.
"This is the same policy that slaughters the peoples of the region, in order to safeguard the interests of the monopolies, and increases the migrant flow of hundreds of thousands of suffering people, who try to get away from the imperialist wars and intervention," the KKE statement concluded.
 ESEE head calls on gov't to implement the opposition's programmes with no fiscal costThe government should check which programmes of the opposition do not have a fiscal cost and immediately implement them, the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) president Vassilis Korkidis said in an interview with ANA-MPA web TV on Tuesday.
"That is what the market needs. The government knows exactly what is happening right now, what the problems, which we have prioritised and analysed, are; not only to depict the situation, but also to make suggestions regarding liquidity, the settlement of bad loans and arrears. Announcing more installments is not enough if you do not specify their number and the timeline," Korkidis said.
Korkidis underlined that the first thing to be done must be "the settlement, or even better the solution, of arrears to the social security funds."
Regarding the meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, he said that what he would try to do were he in Samaras' position would be to persuade Merkel that the Greek debt must become sustainable in order to render the economy sustainable.
"I think that the extension of the maturity of our external debt is something achievable and costs our lenders, who have won a lot from us, nothing," Korkidis underlined.
The full interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA web TV.
 Supreme Court postpones hearing on Finance ministry's laid-off cleaners case to FebruaryGreece's "Areios Pagos" Supreme Court postponed the hearing on the motion filed by the Finance ministry against a lower court ruling regarding the ministry's laid-off cleaners to February 24, 2015.
The laid-off cleaners on Tuesday morning held a protest outside the court premises demanding their re-hiring.
The Areios Pagos judge Christoforos Kosmidis had recommended to the relevant Labour Department that the laid-off cleaners should not be rehired. In particular, Kosmidis is expected to recommend that the Finance Ministry's motion be accepted and annul the decision of the first-degree court that was in favor of the cleaners.
The postponement of the hearing was requested by the cleaners' lawyers, citing a hiring process, launched by the Supreme Council for Hiring Personnel (ASEP), that was underway.
Public sector union ADEDY also cited its pending motion tabled in the Council of State, which will rule on the constitutionality of the availability scheme.
The Greek state consented to the postponement, but asked that a trial date is set within a short period of time.
The court also decided to sustain the Areios Pagos ruling that temporarily suspended a lower court ruling, which had ordered the ministry to reinstate cleaners laid off as part of a public-sector downsizing plan.
 Independent agency publishes report on Greek EU PresidencyThe Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union made "limited" progress towards transaparency, despite its efforts, a report by a Europe-based nonprofit said on Tuesday.
The comment was part of a report presented in Athens by the Transparency International EU Office (TI) and Transparency International Greece (TIG). TI produces a Presidency Scorecard evaluating each Presidency's commitment to the anti-corruption and transparency agenda. Greece led the Council in the first half of 2014.
The Scorecard shows that despite the efforts of the Greek Presidency, progress by the Council in passing anti-corruption legislation and improving the transparency of EU decision-making remains limited. Notably, it said, EU member states "missed an opportunity to unmask the corrupt and take firm action against secret company ownership. A Council decision in May means that there is no obligation to make public information about who owns and controls anonymous shell companies and trusts."
"The revision of the EU's Anti-Money Laundering rules presents a major opportunity to clamp down on corruption," said Carl Dolan, Director of the TI Office. "Many EU countries continue to lack ambition to tackle secret ownership and risk creating new rules full of loopholes."
According to the report, "the Greek Presidency did succeed in getting agreement on reforms for the financing of European political parties, made progress on establishing a European Public Prosecutor and finalised legislation that requires large European companies to publicly report on their anti-corruption programmes (although in considerably weaker form than the original Commission proposal). The overall record is mixed, however."
Transparency International, it said, "also regrets the fact that the Greek Presidency failed to publish any detailed information on the allocated Presidency budget, denying civil society and the general public the ability to hold it to account for its spending." Although it said this lack of information should not be interpreted as evidence of corruption, "it runs contrary to best practices in budget transparency and government accountability."
In the report's presentation, TIG scientific consultant Fotis Spyropoulos said that in the official web site of the Greek EU Presidency there is an estimate of 50 million euros for the cost of the Presidency, but there is no published budget. In addition, he said, the state budget for 2014 lists 30 million euros for needs of the Presidency, without an itemized list of what they are. "Greece has made an effort to make its actions publicly accessible and transparent, but there are points that need improvement," he added.
Dimitrios Karamitsos-Tziras, Foreign ministery general director and head of the Greek EU Presidency office, said that the negative report is due to lack of proper information and the fact that the researchers did not go beyond data on the web page. He also criticised the methodology used, saying the report "did not take into account certain country-specific parameters of its Presidency's operation," such as Greece's framework of commitments and the financial management operation imposed by public accounting."
According to the TI site, the organisation is an international non-profit under Belgian law (aisbl) based in Brussels, part of the global movement of Transparency International and the Transparency International Secretariat (TI-S) based in Berlin. Its work, it said, entailed engaging with officials and politicians from European Union institutions and a range of other stakeholders in Brussels, trying to influence decisions made at EU level.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew extols Greek Orthodox, Muslim relations in ThraceEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his joy over the harmonious and peaceful coexistence and path of Christians and Muslims, during a visit to Iasmos, a northern Greek town between the cities of Xanthi and Komotini, on Tuesday.
Bartholomew, who is on the last day of a visit that began Saturday, addressed his comments to Iasmos mayor Kadi Ismet and the people who welcomed him at the town's central square.
"I am happy to see that in Thrace you are all working together, jointly, in many sectors and you all want peace, and the honourable Greek State safeguards democratically equality for all its citizens with their special religious and oral traditions," the Ecumenical Patriarch said.
He further said, "Freedom is a requirement for truth and love; oppression is the cancellation of truth," making a passing reference to the experiences of Greeks in Asia Minor and Thrace.
He extolled the Muslim community for their respect of Greek Orthodox priests and the cooperation between the mayor and the Metropolitan Panteleimon of Maroneia in promoting everyone's welfare regardless of religion.
Mayor Kadi Ismet said, "Christians and Muslims live and work together for the common good," and termed Bartholomew "a religious leader of international repute with a spiritual, national, social and philanthropic record" and a special sensitivity to environmental issues.
Bartholomew also paid a visit to the Armenian Church of Saint Gregory of Komotini, in the northern Greek city, and met with Armenian Patriarch Aram I, saying that the churches were separated by "unfortunate historical circumstances" in the 5th century which they are trying to bridge by meeting the last decades.
Patriarch Aram said that they had a long friendship and working in agreement at the World Council of Churches, noting that Greeks and Armenians shared a lot of things. "See, in the same church we have children of the Greek and Armenian people at this time. A church is not the building, it is the people," he said.
Metropolitan Panteleimon, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Orfanos, MP Evrypidis Stylianidis and Komotini mayor Giorgos Petridis were also present.
Earlier in the afternoon Bartholomew had paid a visit to Xanthi, where a celebratory liturgy was held in his honour at the Church of Theou Sofias (God's Wisdom).
 Draft bill on religious communities discussed in Parliamentary committeeThe education ministry-sponsored draft bill on the "organization of the legal entity of religious communities and their associations in Greece" completed its first reading before the appropriate Parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Representatives of interested parties and competent organizations will express their views on the draft bill on Wednesday.
 Greece's privatisation fund transfers seaside land to Nafplio municipalityGreece's privatisation fund (HRADF) completed the transfer of 10,000 square metres of seaside land around the town of Nafplio, in the southern region of Argolida, Greece, to the municipality.
The transfer was a long-standing request of the local community which opposed the sale of the land, saying it could be used to cover other municipal needs.
"It is very important that the municipality finally has free space, so it can build schools, conference buildings and cultural venues to cover its needs," said Dimitris Kostouros, the mayor of Nafplio.
"I want to thank those who helped achieve this goal and wish to praise the decisive contribution and catalytic intervention of our fellow countryman and minister of environment in conceding this land to our municipality," he added.
The agreement was signed between the Environment Minister, Yiannis Maniatis, a representative of HRADF and the mayor of Nafplio.
 Greece reports 1.946 bln euros primary surplus in Jan-AugGreek authorities on Tuesday reported a primary budget surplus of 1.946 billion euros in the January-August period, from a primary surplus of 2.861 billion euros in the same period last year, sharply up from a budget target for a primary surplus of 962 million euros.
A report by the General Accounting Office showed that the general government's deficit totaled 2.849 billion euros in the eight-month period, from a deficit of 2.502 billion euros in 2013 and a budget target for a shortfall of 4.117 billion euros.
Net state budget revenues totaled 32.919 billion euros, down 1.0 pct from budget targets, while net regular budget revenues totaled 29.571 billion euros, down 0.9 pct from budget targets. Tax revenue totaled 27.790 billion euros in the January-August period, down 1.6 pct from targets, with income tax revenues exceeding targets by 9.0 pct, other direct tax revenues surpassing targets by 11.5 pct and other non-tax revenues rising 14.8 pct above targets. On the other hand, corporate tax revenue fell short by 12.7 pct, special categories tax revenues were down 13.6 pct from targets and property tax revenues were down 26.1 pct from targets.
Tax returns totaled 2.177 billion euros in the eight-month period, up 159 million euros from budget targets. Public Investment Programme revenues totaled 3.348 billion euros, down 64 million from targets.
State budget spending totaled 35.769 billion euros, down 1.597 billion euros from a revised budget target, while regular budget spending totaled 32.461 billion euros, down 1.737 billion euros from targets. State budget spending was down 6.9 pct from 2013 levels, while Public Investment Programme spending totaled 3.308 billion euros, up 140 million euros from budget targets and up 764 million compared with the same period last year.
 EU Task Force head presents report on small- and medium-sized enterprisesThe head of the European Commission's Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach on Tuesday presented a report on SMEs, stressing that these were key to the country's economic recovery.
"The economy will suffer if SMEs are unable to thrive in this country and, therefore, growth will suffer as well. So, I appreciate the cooperation that exists between the market sector representatives that seeks to turn into action the recommendations included in this report," he said in a press conference.
He said that Greece has achieved an improvement in indices, noting that the speeding up of reforms that will help small and medium-sized enterprises is necessary.
As regards the contributions to social insurance funds and taxation, he said that such problems cannot be solved in a systemic way, even though there are ideas on how to avoid the accumulation of debt in social insurance funds, among them, the extension of repayment time.
He said that significant effort has been made to increase exports but additional actions are necessary while, as regards red tape, he noted that a lot of work still needs to be done.
Reichenbach said that efforts are being made by public administration working groups to enhance institutions and replace expensive loans with cheaper ones. "The 200 million euros earmarked for this purpose is small but a success in the effort will be encouraging," he said.
SMEs have been hit by taxation and lack of liquidity but this does not mean that something is wrong with entrepreneurship, he noted.
Reichenbach said that the progress made was slower than anticipated and he expressed certainty that the efforts that will be made by the minister of competitiveness will bring results, while stressing that this will take time.
On the measures for facilitating exports, he said that progress was slower compared to initial estimates, adding that SMEs are still faced with excessive red tape.
He underlined that the Eurogroup expects Greece to create its own prospects for the future and expressed hope that the report's recommendations will assist in this effort.
Reichenbach also noted repeatedly that the new financing period for the structural funds has just been launched and this provides an opportunity for a solution to capital guarantees and liquidity in general.
 More than 50 pct of Greek citizens unable to meet tax obligations, report"It is obvious that Greek society has reached its limits, as more than 50 pct of citizens are unable to meet their obligations to the tax agency and social insurance funds, while the vast majority of citizens doubted the possible benefits from a package of measures announced by the government with the aim to lighten households' spending and at the same time they question the effectiveness of the economic program announced by the main opposition political party. However, more and more citizens seem to hope over an improvement in their household finances and in the economy in general," Constantine Mihalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Tuesday.
Presenting the second "Economic Barometer" report for 2014, conducted by Alco on a sample of 1,000 adults around Greece in the period 16-18 September, Mihalos said that only 29 pct of respondents citizens believed that their spending will be reduced following a package of measures announced by the government, while a 26 pct of respondents said the economic programe presented by SYRIZA could be implemented.
A 55 pct of respondents said they were unable to meet their tax and social insurance obligations, while a 22 pct of respondents said they were optimistic over economic developments in the country, up from 18 pct in the previous report.
 Messinia to host UK's leading association of travel agents' annual convention in 2015The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the UK's leading travel association, will hold its annual Travel Convention in Messinia in Peloponnese, southern Greece, on October 12-14, 2015, it announced on Tuesday.
The announcement was made in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the association's 2014 Convention took place. The convention will take place at Costa Navarino luxury resort. ABTA Chairman Noel Josephides said, "I am delighted that the Region of Peloponnese has agreed to host the 2015 Travel Convention. Messinia is a beautiful and historic part of Greece and Costa Navarino's facilities are second to none."
Roughly 600 ABTA members are expected to attend the convention in Messinia, including representatives of Google, Yahoo, TripAdvisor and tourism editors.
 Court of Audit section finds COSCO agreement legalA section of the Court of Audit, in a conference held in camera, on Tuesday ruled that an agreement for COSCO's new investments in the port of Piraeus, amounting to 230 million euros, were legal.
The business plan provides for the construction and exploitation of West Pier III of the Piraeus port container terminal by Piraeus Container Terminal SA, the construction on behalf of the Piraeus Port Authority SA of a new Oil Terminal and the refitting of Pier II and East Pier Container Terminal III with new machinery.
 Eurobank postpones sale of Ukrainian assetsEurobank on Tuesday announced the termination of a contract with companies of Ukrainian Group Delta Bank over the sale of Eurobank' s subsidiary in Ukraine, PJSC Universal Bank, and the transfer of Ukrainian assets.
The Greek bank, in an announcement, said that Ukrainian authorities did offer approvals for the completion of a transaction to sell its subsidiary in Ukraine, PJSC Universal Bank and therefore it decided to terminate a contract with Delta Bank Group.
Eurobank said that its exposure in PJSC Universal Bank and other Ukrainian assets totaled 107 million euros at the end of the first half of 2014.
 Real estate contracts to be forwarded electronically to national cadastre databaseNotaries public, with the use of a digital signature, will forward copies of real estate contracts electronically to the national cadastre (ktimatologio) database via the database of their trade union, it was announced on Tuesday.
The programme, that was unveiled in an event at the auditorium of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) in the presence of Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, will be implemented on a trial basis with the initial participation of 50 notaries public.
Maniatis underlined that through this innovation the state will protect privately-owned real estate from trespassing and non viable uses.
 OPAP named provisional bid winner for horse racing licence in GreeceOPAP Investments Ltd was declared provisional successful bidder for the exclusive right to organise and conduct mutual betting on horse races in Greece, the Greek state privatisation agency, HRADF, announced on Tuesday.
In an announcement, HRADF said that two binding financial bids were submitted on September 19, by the by the Consortium "Intralot (SPV No.1) Ltd" and "Intralot (SPV No.2) Ltd" and betting company OPAP, former state betting agency. The winning bid submitted totalled 40,501,000 euros.
 Building materials' prices down 2.9 pct in AugBuilding materials' prices fell by 2.9 pct in August, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this fall to a 9.1 pct decline in steel pipe prices, a 6.8 pct decline in window prices, a 4.9 pct fall in interior doors, a 4.3 pct fall in elevators, a 4.0 pct decline in plastic pipe prices, a 3.5 pct decline cement and a 3.2 pct fall in mirror prices.
The new home building materials' price index fell 2.9 pct in August, compared with the same month last year, after an 1.8 pct decline recorded in the 2013/2012 period. The composite index fell 0.1 pct in August from July, after an 0.1 pct decline recorded in the corresponding period last year.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks remained under pressure for the second successive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market to its lowest levels since August 18. All blue chip stocks ended lower with Mytilineos, PPC, Ellaktor, MIG and OPAP suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The composite index ended at 1,103.70 points, down 2.59 pct, off the day's lows of 1,102.52 points. Turnover was a moderate 89.06 million euros.
The Large Cap index dropped 2.69 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.09 pct lower. The Raw Materials (4.42 pct), Services (3.57 pct), Financial Services (3.49 pct) and Travel (3.09 pct) sectors suffered heavy losses, while Mytlineos (4.79 pct), PPC (3.95 pct), Ellaktor (3.94 pct), MIG (3.69 pct) and OPAP (3.50 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 89 to 40 with another 18 issues unchanged. Pairis (21.74 pct), Yalco (20 pct) and AXON Holdings (20 pct) were top gainers, while Kreka (19.05 pct), Progressive (18.0 pct) and Elastron (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Service: -3.49%
Real Estate: -0.13%
Personal & Household: -1.90%
Food & Beverages: -2.17%
Raw Materials: -4.42%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Travel & Leisure: -3.09%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.62
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.47
Coca Cola HBC: 17.04
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.27
National Bank of Greece: 2.31
Eurobank Properties: 8.86
Piraeus Bank: 1.33
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 5.01 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 4.81 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.02 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.01 pct. Turnover was a strong 111 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.343 pct from 0.345 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.257 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.185 pct from 0.186 pct, the three-month rate was 0.082 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.005 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 8,428 contracts with 48,782 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 24,158 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracs (6,454), followed by Piraeus Bank (4,693), Alpha Bank (4,650), National Bank (4,107), OTE (846), PPC (696), MIG (496), Mytilineos (491), Hellenic Exchanges (376), OPAP (291), Hellenic Petroleum (276), GEK (114), Ellaktor (94) and Frigoglass (69).
 Foreign exchange rates - TuesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2892
Pound sterling 0.786
Danish kroner 7.4438
Swedish kroner 9.725
Japanese yen 139.87
Swiss franc 1.2069
Norwegian kroner 8.1595
Canadian dollar 1.4185
Australian dollar 1.4481
 Culture Ministry sec. gen. on ancient Amphipolis"The constructors of the Amphipolis tomb had taken high security measures to avoid looting," the secretary general of the Culture Ministry Lina Mendoni told Ant1 TV on Tuesday referring to ancient Amphipolis archaeological excavations.
She also underlined that the need for support to the construction is not because the building is not in a good condition but because it was covered with river sand in an effort to avoid looting.
However, Mendoni clarified that "the excavation needs time" adding that "we do not know yet what is hidden in the third chamber in order to move to the fourth." The excavation is a strictly scientific procedure. You can't push it, but you can accelerate it provided that you take specific precautionary measures for the workers and the monument," she said adding that a modern, fully equipped construction site has been set up next to the monument.
 'Grekalnd Panorama' to be held in Sweden in Feb 13-15The positive impact of Greece in the Scandinavian market is reflected in a report by Related company, which analyzed and evaluated the image of our country to the markets of Sweden and Norway.
On the occasion of North Events' press conference on the organisation of tourism exhibition "Grekalnd Panorama" to be held this year in Stockholm, between February 13-15, it was stressed that Greece holds the seventh place among the most famous destinations.
Moreover, people who travelled to Greece have a very positive image of the country, but the same applies to people who have not visited the country.
According to the report, the number of Scandinavians who are considered potential visitors to Greece exceed 8.1 million people.
As regards the travel habits of Scandinavian visitors to Greece, they tend to spend 1,230 euros per capita, while staying an average of 2-8 weeks. Most of them like to travel in September and more than 60 percent of them prefer package holidays.
The exhibition will be held at the Ericsson Globe exhibition centre and visitors are expected to exceed 10,000. Entrance is free.
 Environment minister holds meeting on recycling issuesEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Tuesday had a meeting to discuss recycling issues with the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HRRC), which was also attended by the head of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece Costas Askounis.
According to a ministry announcement, Maniatis stressed local government's key role in recycling, which he said was a pillar of environmental protection and solid waste management with growth prospects. He also emphasised HRRC's responsibility for achieving national targets in the recycling of packaging in accordance with national and Community laws.
Maniatis said he was open to all positive proposals but ruled out increases in contributions of recycling fees on citizens and businesses.
 53-year-old Albanian on international "Red Notice"Police at Krystallopigi, in the northern Greek region of Florina, arrested on Tuesday a 53-year-old Albanian national, wanted by FYROM authorities for abduction of minors and human trafficking.
When the 53-year-old woman tried to enter Greece, border control authorities found upon inspection that a "Red Notice" from FYROM Interpol had been issued against her.
According to the "Red Notice", the arrested allegedly kept under aged girls captive at an apartment in a city in FYROM and forced them to prostitution under the pretext she would offer them a job at a night club.
The suspect, who authorities believe is a member of a trafficking ring, will be sent to Kozani prosecutor.
 Czech, Slovak nationals rescued at sea by Greek air forceTwo foreign nationals who had gone missing at sea, a Czech and a Slovak national, were rescued with a Super Puma helicopter on Tuesday evening, the Hellenic Air Force said.
The two were found four nautical miles off the greater Posidion area in the Bay of Thermaikos in northern Greece and transported to the Air Force base in Thessaloniki.
 Mostly fair on WednesdayMostly fair weather and mainly northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the northern parts of the country; temperatures between 8C and 23C. Same weather in the central and the southern parts of the country; temperatures 10-28C. Mostly fair weather over the islands, 19-27C. Mostly fair in Athens, 18-27C; same weather in Thessaloniki, 15-23C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Visit of despair.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: At the end the Germans win.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras in Berlin 'goes all in' with (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 6 plus 1 competitions for 3,070 positions in ministries and public organisations.
ESTIA: How a society progresses.
ETHNOS: Supreme Court (Areios Paghos) freezes Tax Bureau's extremities.
IMERISSIA: 'Battle' in Berlin.
KATHIMERINI: Erasmus programme opens ways.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Listed companies dividends remain at low level.
RIZOSPASTIS: Strong Communist Party (KKE) the only guarantee for the people.
TA NEA: Give something and save yourselves. With 50 euros every month, home foreclosures freeze.
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