|Friday, 22 March 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 26 September 2014 Issue No: 4769
 FM Venizelos attends the UN Security Council meeting on foreign terrorist fighters in NYNEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday attended the debate at the United Nations Security Council on foreign terrorist-fighters in conflicts.
US President Barack Obama chaired the meeting, as his country holds the Council's rotating presidency for September. At the end of the debate, the Council unanimously approved a Resolution, under which country-members must "prevent and suppress" the recruiting and the entry or transit of extremist fighters.
As for Venizelos, he held contacts and participated in multiparty discussions in the framework of the 69th UN General Assembly.
The Greek Foreign minister had a "meaningful", as he said, discussion with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a dinner hosted by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. The two officials touched upon the "major problems" on a regional and international level and referred to the exports of Greek agricultural products.
Venizelos also met with the Secretary of State (prime minister and Foreign minister) of the Vatican Cardinal Parolin at a reception hosted by Obama.
The Cardinal expressed his content over Greece's new law that recognizes a "legal personality" in religious entities. He also referred to Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Within the framework of his participation in the Ministerial Week of the 69th UN General Assembly, in New York, Venizelos will host a working breakfast for the Foreign Ministers of the member states of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), of which Greece holds the rotating chairmanship for this semester.
Venizelos will then meet with the UN Secretary General's new Adviser on the Cyprus Issue, Espen Barth Eide, and will attend a working luncheon being hosted by the Albania Chairmanship of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP).
He is also scheduled to meet with the President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Hadi al-Bahra, and with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
 FM Venizelos meets with Espen Barth Eide, UN's special envoy on CyprusNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos outlined Greece's position on the Cyprus issue during a meeting he held on Thursday with the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, in New York in the framework of the 69th Ministerial Week of the 69th UN General Assembly.
"I set out for him Greece's positions on the Cyprus issue, which are firm, well known, very clear. We agreed to be in collaboration, and I await his visit to Athens, Venizelos said following meeting, "For us, the solution to the Cyprus issue can be only a viable and functional solution that is accepted, via referendum, by the Cypriot people, the two communities."
In addition, he said that the solution "must be accepted, democratically, by the people themselves," and must be in accordance with the UN resolutions, the high-level agreements, the joint Communique of February 2014 and the European community acquis. "We must ensure the international legal entity of the Republic of Cyprus, which is a safeguard not only for the Greek Cypriots, but for the whole of the Cypriot people, for all of the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus," he added.
On his part, Eide said that some very constructive ideas were being developed currently, which were hoped to add a new dynamism to a very long-term issue. He said that "we are now moving to the substantive structured negotiations on Cyprus and I am happy that Greece is supporting the efforts."
He said that "although the Cyprus issue has divided Cyprus, in New York it is seen uniformly, in the sense that the UN Security Council has a single viewpoint," which he said included support for the resolution through negotiations for the reunification of the island. "This is significant," he added, "because although there are disagreements on other issues, such as Ukraine and Syria, on the Cyprus issue the five members of the Council are united."
International support is important, he said, but the support of both communities on Cyprus was even more so, and said he had been in contact with several people, including religious leaders.
 FM Venizelos' statement regarding the execution of a French nationalGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos made the following statement regarding the execution of the French national Herv? Gourdel, in Algeria, by the jihadist terrorist organization Jund al-Khalifa:
"We condemn in the most unequivocal manner, and express our profound sadness and outrage at, the barbaric and inhuman execution of the French national Herv? Gourdel, in Algeria. We express our condolences to the family of Herv? Gourdel, as well as our solidarity with our friends the French people. We assure the French government that Greece will remain a firm ally in the fight against terrorism, and that we will continue to stand by those who defend human rights and religious freedom against the horror of fanatical jihadists."
 FM Venizelos' schedule for Friday in NYGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos within the framework of his participation in the Ministerial Week of the 69th UN General Assembly, in New York, on Friday, September 26 at 10:00 (all times local) will take part in the Ministerial Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) participating states, on the subject of "The crisis in Ukraine, the OSCE and the future of European security."
At 10:30 he will participate in the Summit Meeting on Strengthening Peacekeeping Operations, according to a Foreign ministry statement.
Venizelos will then have successive meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Luiz Figueiredo; Andorra, Gilbert Saboya Suny?; Egypt, Sameh Hassan Shoukry; San Marino, Pasquale Valentini; and Georgia, Maia Panjikidze
Finally, within the framework of the trilateral cooperation inaugurated on the margins of last year's Ministerial Week at the UN General Assembly, Venizelos will have a trilateral meeting, at 14:15, with the Foreign Ministers of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, and Egypt, S. H. Shoukry.
 Greek Foreign ministry spokesperson reponds to media reports on PM's Berlin visitGreece's Foreign ministry on Thursday rejected media reports alleging that the Greek embassy in Berlin had recommended the cancellation of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' visit to the German capital.
"Among other nonsense heard, like the reports of the alleged existence of recommendations for the cancellation of the Prime Minister's visit to Berlin, we want to point out that no recommendation with such content was submitted to the Foreign ministry by the embassy in Berlin," Foreign ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Koutras said.
Samaras visited Berlin on September 23, and met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 IMF's loan agreement with Greece expires in March 2016, says spokesmanGreece's loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expires in March 2016, the Fund's spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.
Asked during a regular press conference in Washington, Rice said the IMF has not been notified on an official level by the Greek government of a "possible early termination" of Greece's fiscal programme at the end of the current year.
"As far as I know the issue was never raised," Rice said, adding the emphasis is now placed on the programme's sixth review and that the issue of an early exit for Greece will not be discussed in the upcoming meetings of the troika of Greece's lenders with Greek officials.
He also said the participation of countries in the IMF's programmes is voluntary.
Asked whether Greece could proceed with its reform programme alone, he said the IMF wants to do what's best in cooperation with the Greek government, so that the people of Greece can exit the crisis "as soon as possible."
Rice reiterated the Fund's position that it has seen progress in some areas of the programme and that emphasis is now placed on the new review.
Outlining the upcoming milestones, Rice said an IMF team, headed by Rishi Goyal, will begin talks in Athens on "key issues" - the 2015 budget and non-performing loans - on September 30, and that "later in autumn" the "full IMF team" will return to Greece (after the annual IMF meeting in Washington) for the sixth programme review.
Asked if Poul Thomsen would be part of the team, Rice said Thomsen has been appointed Director of the IMF's European department and his plans do not include a trip to Athens, adding he's ready to help if needed.
Commenting on a recent interview of the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, where she claimed she received "threats" against her life when she spoke of tax evasion in Greece, Rice said threats appeared in social networks a few years ago, after which Lagarde strengthened her security measures.
He also confirmed Lagarde received a letter by Greek justice minister requesting for more information on possible threats received.
Asked to comment on Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos' view that the IMF's interest rate paid by Greece on its loan is higher than the rate offered by markets, Rice said he was not ready to comment on the issue and promised to reply soon.
 Alternate National Defence minister Gennimata meets with US Secretary of the Army McHughAlternate National Defence Minister Fofi Gennimata on Thursday met with visiting US Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, who was accompanied by US Ambassador to Athens David D. Pearce.
Gennimata referred to the role Greece can play on diplomatic level in Ukraine and the Middle East and also to its geostrategic position that makes the country an important ally in the promotion of peace, stability and security in Eastern Mediterranean and in meeting important goals of mutual interest in the greater region.
She spoke about the contacts she will have in Washington, DC in October on the margins of AUSA 2014 (Association of the United States Army) Annual Meeting & Exposition, one of the largest land warfare expositions and professional development forums in the world.
On his part, the US Secretary of the Army thanked Greece for the lasting and multifaceted cooperation, stressing that the two countries are historical allies and share common principles and friendship ties. He noted that Greece, due to its geostrategic position, can play a special role in developments in the greater region.
He underlined the prospects of cooperation on the level of training and defence industry and invited Gennimata to visit the United States for further talks.
 Gov't withdraws three amendments tabled earlier on Thursday in ParliamentThe government on Thursday withdrew three amendments tabled earlier the same day, following an outcry from the opposition over their late submission. The withdrawn amendments had been attached to the draft bill on logistics currently being processed by Parliament.
Ministers insisted on keeping a fourth amendment tabled on Wednesday, however, which was also submitted after the deadline. Through the specific amendment, the state is to pledge to defray Greek banks' deferred taxes if they do not stay profitable in a period of 30 years.
The opposition parties accused the government of "rushing to wrap up all loose ends" ahead of elections while even ruling coalition MPs criticised ministers for a "deluge of last-minute amendments" that were inexplicably delayed and served as fodder to the opposition's arguments.
The amendments withdrawn concerned a further opening of the natural gas market and allowed industrial companies to participate in auctions for natural gas at lower prices, an amendment allowing private-law employees in the public sector to take over managerial positions at general directorates, or graduate civil servants to take up managerial positions in other departments. The third amendment related to an extension of the deadline given to Paraktio Attiko Metopo SA to submit the approval of a bank loan covering its investment plans.
 SYRIZA representatives meet with central banker StournarasThe conditions in the banking system, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HSFS) and the statements by government officials, mainly Adonis Georgiadis, on deposits fleeing the country in case SYRIZA forms a government, were the main issues raised by SYRIZA representatives during a meeting with Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras.
SYRIZA sources noted that all party departments hold and will intensify their contacts with institutional bodies so that the society realizes that "each institutional body will be monitored" as SYRIZA is an "awaiting government."
One of the main issues of the meeting between Stournaras and SYRIZA representatives - the vice president of the Parliament Yiannis Dragasakis and deputies Giorgos Stathakis and Efklidis Tsakalotos - was the possibility of the country making use of the remaining HFSF funds. The SYRIZA delegation presented the party's position which is in favor of the HFSF being under state control. Dragasakis also referred to the party's proposal for the country to make use of the 10 billion euros that were not used in the recapitalization process for fiscal reasons, saying that that government had kept those funds "stagnant" in the HFSF coffers.
Moreover, SYRIZA representatives asked that the Bank of Greece intervene in relation of statements by government officials.
The same sources said plans for the meeting had already been known, as the presiding board of the party's parliamentary group had hold deliberations on the issue.
 SYRIZA accuses PM Samaras of scare-mongering tactics over bank depositsMain opposition SYRIZA on Thursday accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and members of his government of scare-mongering tactics through their statements regarding a run to withdraw bank deposits if SYRIZA came to power. The main opposition, in an unofficial announcement, called them "dangerous" for the interests of the Greek people.
"In a panic, Samaras and his henchmen do not hesitate to spread terror even by exposing the deposits of the Greek people to danger," the party stressed.
This sort of behaviour made the democratic change proposed by SYRIZA imperative, so that the alternative government policy presented by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) might be followed, SYRIZA said.
This policy consisted of a social and economic reconstruction of Greece and tough negotiations with the country's EU partners and creditors by a government with a fresh mandate, the announcement said.
To this end, SYRIZA announced the launch of a major campaign to make the necessity for such a change clear to voters, including through legislative initiatives that will continue and through the organisation of 13 regional conferences to discuss and finalise SYRIZA's policy platform, making it regionally specific to each area.
 Greek gov't spokeswoman criticises opposition leader for 'distributing promises' during talks with unionGreece's government spokeswoman on Thursday accused the leader of main opposition party SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, of "distributing promises" during his meeting with the union of National Intelligence Service (EYP) employees.
"One day before the union elections at the National Intelligence Service, Mr Tsipras distributed promises again and served his own party interests, taking advantage of a service which is key to protecting national interests," Sofia Voultepsi said.
Voultepsi also said Tsipras "explained his vision for EYP and questioned the democratic legitimacy of EYP, thus repeating the view expressed by his party, offering to democratize it."
She said SYRIZA's view on EYP officers is known: "The presence of secret service policemen in protests and rallies should be banned."
"It would be very interesting to see the anti-authoritarian SYRIZA leading EYP among hooded individuals. Thankfully this is a crime novel we will never read. We deliver another dangerous chapter of Tsipras' secret agenda to the judgment of the Greek people," she added.
In his visit to EYP earlier on Thursday, Tsipras outlined his party's agenda for the institutional restructuring of its services in order to allow full transparency, place them under parliamentary scrutiny and better serve the national interest.
Union representatives discussed with Tsipras their demands and the serious problems the agency is facing.
 Shipping Minister on World Maritime DayShipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on the occasion of the World Maritime Day celebrated on Thursday sent a message on behalf of the government.
"On behalf of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the Greek government, I send a message to all Greek seamen and every member of the Greek shipping family," he said adding that "that this day is dedicated to the effective implementation of the agreements that have been adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)".
Moreover, Varvitsiotis stressed that "Greece has always been a supporter of IMO's mission" adding that "the fact that we are in position today to look the future of the international and the European shipping with optimism is a result, in a high degree, to IMO's work from the mid 20th century until today that through the development of a complete and effective legal framework for the international shipping has set the roots for a safe and enviromental friendly and with quality shipping on international level".
 Gov't working on resolving court case backlog of debts to the stateThe Finance and Justice ministries are working on resolving the backlog at courts related to outstanding tax payer debts to the state, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis told a one-day conference in Athens on Thursday.
Speaking at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Mavraganis said the cases did not relate to tax evasion. One possible solution being considered is extending the deadline for the issuing of a ruling, which in certain cases is 60 days.
Another act, effective August 1, 2013, has relieved some of the pressure on courts by allowing for the administrative resolution of tax differences in any administrative decision challenged by a tax payer, regardless of the amount.
 Deputy FM Kourkoulas at high-level event on Minamata Convention on MercuryDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas participated in a High-Level Event on the Minamata Convention on Mercury held on the margins of the 69th UN General Assembly in New York, it was announced on Thursday.
The event, held on Wednesday, featured a signing ceremony for new countries acceding to the Convention and a discussion on the timely and effective implementation of the Convention.
Greece has already signed the Minamata Convention which is up for ratification by the Greek parliament. The Convention is aimed at protecting the environment and public health from the harmful effects of mercury.
 Rural Dev't Minister Karasmanis meets with Task Force head ReichenbachRural Development Minister Giorgos Karasmanis on Thursday met with head of the European Commission's Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach, in the context of the latter's contacts with government ministers.
They discussed issues concerning the facilitation of the trade of farm products and the reduction of administrative burden in exports of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Regarding technical assistance, the minister briefed the head of the Task Force on the problems faced by Greek producers exporting peaches and nectarines as a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine that caused their prices to plunge long before the Russian embargo.
 Greek-German joint research programme presents findings on socioeconomic impact of debt crisisBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
A Greek-German research programme on the socioeconomic impact of the debt crisis presented its first findings here on Thursday, at a seminar organised by the German education and research ministry.
The research pivoted mainly on the role of the mass media in both countries since the start of the crisis, action on a local government level and the mobilisation of civil society in innovation, as well as the impact of the crisis on society.
In opening remarks to launch the seminar, German State Secretary for Education Thomas Rachel stressed the need for an objective examination of the fiscal and economic crisis and the differing situations in Germany and Greece. He said support for such research programmes was aimed at analysing the causes and repercussions of the crisis.
"If we both understand the crisis and its impact, this will help in tackling it together," he added.
The programme, which in Greece has been undertaken by the education ministry, examines 23 separate sectors that include health, the environment and energy. The programme is jointly funded with 10 million euros.
 EU Commission urges Greece to implement rules on a Single Permit and a clear set of rights for legal migrant workersBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission has requested Greece to implement rules for single permits for non-EU nationals to reside and work in the territory of an EU member state.
According to Commission, Greece has not taken sufficient action to implement the so-called "Single Permit Directive" (Directive 2011/98/EU) , which had to be implemented by December 25, 2013.
The Directive introduces a single application procedure for single permits for non-EU nationals to reside and work in the territory of an EU Member State, and a common set of rights for non-EU workers legally residing in a Member State. Despite a letter of formal notice sent in January this year (the first step of an infringement procedure), the Greek authorities have not yet notified any measure of transposition.
That is why the Commission decided today to address a 'reasoned opinion' to Greece. Greece has two months to notify the Commission of measures taken to bring national legislation into line with EU law. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer Greece to the EU's Court of Justice.
 Commission requests Greece to bring national rules in line with EU legislation on rail safetyBRUSSELS (ANA- MPA / V. Demiris)
The European Commission has requested Greece, Estonia and Hungary to bring their national rules in line with Directive 2004/49/EC on railway safety. According to the Commission, in both Greece and Estonia, this concerns in particular the independence and status of the investigating body.
The Commission opened infringement proceedings against Estonia in May 2014, against Greece in April 2013 and against Hungary in February 2014. Reasoned opinions (the second stage in EU infringement proceedings) are now being sent. The three countries have two months to reply to the Commission. If Estonia, Greece and Hungary fail to react satisfactorily, the Commission may refer the matter to the EU Court of Justice.
Additionally, in Estonia safety certification and the reporting of accidents and incidents to the investigating body are affected. In Hungary, the Commission's request in particular concerns the independence of the national safety authority, the right of the national safety authority to request the technical assistance of infrastructure managers and railway undertakings or other qualified bodies, and the obligation of the national safety authority to report accidents and incidents to the investigating body.
The directive aims at developing a common European approach to railway safety, in particular at establishing safety requirements on the rail system, including safe management of infrastructure and traffic operation, roles and responsibilities of railway undertakings and infrastructure managers and their interaction, common safety regulatory framework, regulation, management, supervision of safety and independent investigation of accidents. The legislation should have been in place since 30 April 2006. It is important that EU legislation on railway safety is applied so that all EU rail networks demonstrate consistent high safety levels.
 EU Commission asks European Court of Justice to fine Greece for inadequate management of hazardous wasteBRUSSELS (ANA- MPA / V. Demiris)
The European Commission is referring Greece back to the European Court of Justice for poor treatment of hazardous waste and is asking the Court to impose fines, proposing a lump sum of 14, 904, 736 euros and a daily penalty payment of 72, 864 euros until the obligations are fulfilled.
Five years after the first ruling, Greece is still failing to comply with EU standards. The 2009 ruling noted the absence of a management plan to deal with various types of hazardous waste, such as medical waste and chemicals, which persist in the environment for a long time and are likely to cause cancer (polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) and polychloroterphenyls (PCTs).
According to the Commission, in order for Greece to comply, it has:
- To adopt an adequate management plan for hazardous waste
- To create adequate facilities to deal with the hazardous waste generated. By way of example, Greece lacks installations for the regeneration of oils, treatment of end-of-life vehicles, recycling of batteries, recuperation of some metals.
- To tackle the issue of "historical waste which has been temporarily stocked until it can be efficiently managed.
Greece was expected to comply in full in 2013. However, the first step necessary to solve the problem, the adoption of an adequate national management plan for hazardous waste, has still not been taken and to date the Commission has not received any credible calendar of compliance.
Education minister unveils new online programme protecting students from sexual predators
A new interactive programme for safe online surfing at schools was presented on Thursday at the ministry of Education by Minister Andreas Loverdos, Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias and the head of the Greek Police's cybercrime unit Michalis Sfakianakis.
The programme is being implemented at 600 schools, and will be gradually introduced to the rest of public and private schools in Greece, or a total of 12,500 schools. The programme aims at protecting students from sexual predators.
In a related action, five teachers charged with child pornography will be officially relieved of their duties on Friday pending a final decision on their court cases. Another two who have been irrevocably charged will be formally fired on Friday.
Speaking earlier on Thursday at Mega private TV, Loverdos said he would initiate the process for a change in the law on child pornography by educators because as it stood now ("activity unbefitting an educator"), it carried the same weight as somebody who mishandled school finances. "There is no chance to forgive any of them," he pledged, adding, "If any of them believe their rights are violated, they can go to the Council of State."
At the press conference following the unveiling of the online programme, Loverdos said the ministry is "not meting out justice," but stating that "we do not want such people in the educational system."
Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis on the refusal by mayors to accept crosschecking of public sector staff qualifications
"The rule of law has no shades, it is not blue, green or pink," Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday said, commenting on the refusal by certain mayors to implement the law on crosschecking the validity of certificates that were submitted by local government organisation OTA employees in order to have their status converted from temporary to permanent.
Speaking on VIMA FM, he also underlined that "the Supreme Court Prosecutor will decide how the mayors, who refused the inspection, will be treated".
Referring to the conversion of labour contracts, Mitsotakis said that "the Pavlopoulos Presidential Decree was implemented in 2005 and the last conversions of labour contracts from temporary to permanent was done in 2009. Random checks showed clearly irregularities in the conversion of the contracts".
A total of 35,000 employees, of the 75,000 who applied to take advantage of the Pavlopoulos Presidential Decree, received permanent status, he said, noting that legality should be restored and any irregularities should be traced.
Mitsotakis reiterated that by the end of the year he will introduce a new evaluation system for public sector employees and added that "the mayors, who say that 15 pct of the employees will be fired, are lying".
 Potami party says firing civil servants with fake certificates is 'an act of social justice'Potami party on Thursday said removing employees from the civil service who were hired using fake certificates is "an act of social justice."
In a statement commenting on the government's evaluation plan for civil servants, the party said, "We don't have a dilemma. Until yesterday they were protected by the favoritism state created by New Democracy and PASOK, now they are protected by others in the name of SYRIZA. But our society needs justice as much as it needs solidarity."
 Justice Minister Athanassiou meets with delegation of Chinese judgesJustice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou on Thursday presented the legislative initiatives that have been taken to decongest the courts and attract foreign investment in Greece to a delegation of Chinese judges headed by the Vice-President of the Supreme Court of the People's Republic of China, Jiang Bixin.
"In Greece, we can boast of the independence of Justice. However, what we are still trying to correct with legislative measures and initiatives are delays in the administration of justice, in order to attract new investors, such as our friends the Chinese businessmen who show great interest in our country. We are ready and willing for closer cooperation in view of increasing investments and trade between Greece and China," Athanassiou said.
 President Papoulias to pay official visit to ArmeniaPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias will pay an official visit to Armenia from Monday, September 29 to Wednesday, October 1, following an invitation by the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
During his visit to Armenia, Papoulias will attend an economic forum with the participation of Greek and Armenian businessmen aiming at Greek exports in Armenia.
 Protest in Thessaloniki against bus fare hikes; SYRIZA launches public awareness campaignWorkers, students, unemployed and members of labour organization PAME, affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), on Thursday demonstrated outside the Organisation of Urban Transportation (OASTH) offices in Thessaloniki, protesting against an increase in public bus fares as of October 1.
The demonstrators demanded a 50 pct reduction in ticket prices and free transport for unemployed, schoolchildren and students. They also called for no reductions in the wages of OASTH personnel, no reductions in bus routes and the renewal of the company's bus fleet.
In a press conference in Thessaloniki, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MPs called for the withdrawal of the ministerial decision that increases the single-journey ticket by 25 pct and the 90-minute two-journey bus ticket by 33 pct. The price hikes raise the price of the single-journey ticket to 1.00 euros from 0.80 euros and the price of the two-journey ticket to 1.20 euros from 0.90 euros. According to SYRIZA, the decision guarantees the profits of the OASTH shareholders.
The SYRIZA MPs also spoke about discriminatory terms in the subsidy contract between the state and OASTH, which is in effect since 1957 and is renewed each year in favour of the company's major shareholders.
SYRIZA announced the launch of a campaign against the increase in bus fares and called on the people, the labour unions and the local administration to take a stand on the issue.
 ANEL party calls for clarifications on ambassador's resignationOpposition Independent Greeks (ANEL) party asked for explanations on the resignation of Greek Ambassador to Germany Panagiotis Zografos and criticising the government over its exercise of foreign policy.
Party spokesman Terens Kouik, in a statement, asked for the release to the public of Zografos' resignation letter, saying that the ambassador's resignation "honours him and the diplomatic service, but at the same time shows up the sick way that foreign policy is being exercised by the coalition government of Samaras and Venizelos."
He further said that "not even in absolutist regimes" is the relevant ambassador "ostracised from the prime minister's delegation and is at the same time denounced in an unacceptable and provocative way by an official who is unrelated to the Foreign ministry."
 KKE on the negotiations with the troika; KKE general secretary meets with Cypriot ambassadorOpposition Communist Party (KKE) on Thursday commented on the "new negotiations" with the troika of the country's lenders.
"The 'reforms' the government says it is determined to complete are on the agenda of the next discussions with the troika and they concern a new blow to labour and social insurance rights, the gradual 'liberalisation' of property auctions, the abolition of the right to strike action and other 'prior actions' to support the profits of the capital holders," KKE underlined.
KKE general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday received Republic of Cyprus Ambassador Kyriakos Kenevezos at the party offices in Perissos district in Athens.
The Cypriot ambassador briefed Koutsoumbas on the course of the Cyprus issue and exchanged views on developments in Cyprus and Greece, a KKE announcement said.
 KKE to hold event on 100-year anniversary since World War I on Oct 2Communist KKE party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas on October 2 will address an event on "Europe: 100 years since World War I. Capitalism: crisis, fascism, war. The struggle of communist and labour parties for the Europe of socialism, peace and social justice."
The event is organized by KKE at the European Parliament building in Brussels and is expected to be attended by representatives of 35 European communist and labour parties.
 Catholicos Aram I meets with Macedonia-Thrace minister and local authorities in ThessalonikiMacedonia-Thrace Minister George Orfanos on Thursday met with visiting Catholicos Aram I of Cilicia of the Armenian Church, who appealed to all nations and religions to confront jihadists.
"We believe that all nations and religions, civilized society, the international community, should join forces and oppose this global evil," the Armenian Patriarch said, adding "what's taking place in the Middle East does not concern only the specific region. It is a humanitarian issue and I do not believe that there is a nation or religion that accepts violence."
"Just three days ago an Armenian church was destroyed in Syria, as well as other churches that belonged to other communities. It is unacceptable. All nations, all religions, will have to coexist in the world by respecting, understanding and accepting each other," he said.
The meeting with the minister of Macedonia-Thrace focused on the economic crisis in Greece and the country's efforts to recover, as well as the local Armenian community, developments in the Middle East and the actions of jihadists.
The Armenian Patriarch welcomed the results of the Greek government's efforts and the steps made toward economic recovery, while he praised the important role played by Greece in the greater region, noting that it is a "bridge" linking East and West and has good neighbuorly relations with the Muslims.
Catholicos Aram I also visited Central Macedonia Regional Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas and city Mayor Yiannis Boutaris.
 Public hospital doctors, staff to rally on Oct. 1, strike on Oct. 2Public hospital doctors and staff will rally on October 1 against what they called lack of funding and personnel in hospitals, and will hold a 24-hour national strike on October 2, including a protest outside the ministry of Health.
The Federation of Unions of Hospital Doctors of Greece (OENGE) and the National Federation of Public Hospital Staff (POEDIN) charged that hospitals were unable to get supplies of pharmaceutials and equipment, as their operational budgets were reduced by 60% from 2009 to the present, while one in three permanent positions at hospitals remained vacant.
There was a need of 33,000 staff and doctors, while the 2,900 positions announced had not even been opened to applications yet. According to the presidents of the two federations, 15,000 staff had gone on pension the last four years, with another expected to leave by end-year. Eleven hospitals have been shut down, including 880 clinics, 10,000 beds and 30,000 permanent positions, they said.
OENGE's president said that the National Health System needs 6,500 doctors, and noted that Greece is under threat of being fined with 150 million euros by the European Court for violating the European directive on shift limits for hospital doctors, who are being forced to double their shifts.
 Environment ministry tables amendment aimed at the further liberalisation of natural gas marketEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Ministry on Thursday tabled an amendment in Parliament under the bill on logistics, aiming at the further deregulation of the natural gas market.
According to the amendment, as of October 1, 2014 all non-residential natural gas customers (namely businesses), in areas of Central Greece, Central Macedonia and Eastern Macedonia-Thrace where Gas Supply Companies (EPA) will launch their activities, will have the right to choose their supplier of preference.
With these changes, about 150 industries in those areas will be able to participate in the natural gas tenders conducted by natural gas company DEPA, which means they will have access to cheaper energy.
Moreover, the amendment allows all non-residential natural gas consumers outside areas where Gas Supply Companies (EPA) already operate or will operate - Attica, Thessaloniki, Thessaly, Central Greece, Central Macedonia and Eastern Macedonia-Thrace - to choose their own supplier. Residential customers in those six areas will continue buying natural gas exclusively from local Gas Supply Companies.
Under the legislation, Gas Supply Companies are obliged to allow suppliers access the Distribution Networks they manage, provided this is required for the supply of customers that have been given the right to choose whichever company they prefer.
 Greek Parliament passes amendment on bank tax creditThe Greek Parliament on Thursday passed with a majority vote an amendment tabled by the Finance ministry on Greek banks' tax credit. The amendment was presented procedurally overdue, causing a strong reaction by opposition political parties in Parliament.
Speaking during a parliament debate, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said that from a sum of 10 billion euros of tax credit acknowledged by the government following the PSI program and the banks' losses, a total of around 3.0 billion euros was officially acknowledged as the four systemic banks' supervisory capital, ahead of a stress test round.
He added that the amendment was mostly theoretical: "In the extreme case that in the next 30 years banks won't present any profits, the state will pay the related sum with the tax credit." The Greek FinMin was adamant in stating that "this money is not free. Banks will have to deliver shares of equal value to the state", while he noted that Greek banks were becoming more attractive, probably raising the future price of selling the state's equity stakes in them and reducing the possibility of activating the 11.4 bln euros of reserve capital held by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.
 Construction of Athens metro Line 4 to start end 2015, Transport Minister saysThe construction of the first phase of the Athens metro Line 4 is expected to start at the end of 2015, Transport Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis said in a press conference on Thursday.
The length of the new line will be about 13 km, with 14 stations, and not nine as originally announced, while the train will run without a driver, he added.
Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, Deputy Transport Minister Michalis Papadopoulos and Attiko Metro operation company chairman Christos Tsitouras attended the press conference.
The new line is expected to be completed in seven years.
Chryssohoidis said that the first part of the new line, which will start from Veikou Park and will end at Goudi, passing through populated areas of Athens, such as Galatsi, Exarheia, Kolonaki and Zografou, will serve 220,000 passengers daily.
The project has important environmental benefits, as it is estimated to reduce the number of cars in the wider Athens area by 53,000 a day.
 EU Commission asks Greece to amend legislation on duty free service stations on land bordersBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission has formally requested Greece to modify its legislation on duty free service stations on land borders.
In a Reasoned Opinion, the Commission has requested Greece to modify its legislation which allows service stations at its land borders with Kipi (Turkey), Kakkayia (Albania) and Evzoni (FYROM) to sell fuel without excise duties.
The Commission believes that when a vehicle is tanked, the fuel should be considered as having been sold for consumption, and therefore cannot remain under a duty suspension regime.
According to Commission, excise duties should therefore be charged on the sale of that fuel, in line with the European Directive on Excise Duties. In the absence of the necessary measures to comply within two months, the Commission may refer Greece to the EU's Court of Justice.
 EU Commission calls Greece to stop discriminatory taxation for foreign-flagged shipsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission has officially asked Greece to amend its discriminatory taxation rules for foreign-flagged ships.
The Commission said that under Greek tax rules, Greek-flagged ships and certain vessels managed from Greece are exempt from income tax and instead subject to the simplified and lower special tonnage tax for maritime activities.
Foreign-flagged ships, on the other hand, are subject to the less favourable income tax regime.
Additionally, Greek legislation allows an income tax exemption for dividends from entities using Greek-flagged ships, but not for dividend from companies using foreign-flagged ships.
The Commission considers that such rules are contrary to EU rules on the freedom of establishment, the freedom to provide services and the free movement of capital.
The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. If Greece fails to comply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.
 Bank credit to private sector remained negative in AugustBank credit to the private sector remained negative in August, with the annual rate of total credit extended to the domestic private sector standing at -3.5 pct, from -3.7 pct in the previous month, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative, amounting to 478 million euros (August 2013: negative net flow of 823 million euros).
The net flow of credit to corporations, in August 2014, was negative, amounting to 195 million euros (August 2013: negative net flow of 534 million), and the annual growth rate of credit stood at -4.6 pct, compared with -4.9 pct in the previous month, the central bank said in the report. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial corporations stood at -4.4 pct, compared with -4.8 pct in the previous month, while the net flow of credit to non-financial corporations was negative and equal to 123 million euros (August 2013: negative net flow of 453 million). The annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries stood at -7.4 pct in August 2014, unchanged from the previous month.
The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to 21 million in August 2014 (August 2013: negative net flow of 48 million), while its annual growth rate stood at 0.4 pct, compared with 0.2% in the previous month.
In August 2014, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 262 million euros (August 2013: negative net flow of 240 million), while its annual growth rate stood at -2.9 pct, unchanged from the previous month.
 Morocco presents opportunities for expanding trade with Greece, at event in ThessalonikiThe total trade volume betwen Greece and Morocco has exceeded 200,000,000 euros, according to data presented at a one-day meeting held in Thessaloniki by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Greece, the Federation of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEVE) and the Moroccan Kingdom's Consulate in the northern Greek city, on Thursday.
At the event, data presented on the country included the fact that Morocco had low inflation and a steady growth rate of 3-5% annually, with imports that focused mostly on crude oil, telecommunications equipment, wheat, natural gas and electric power. The Northern African country's exports are mostly cloth and related products, electrical parts, fertiliser, citrus fruits and vegetables.
Honorary Consul of Morocco in Thessaloniki Bantali Antar said that the two countries had not yet fully taken advantage of their economic cooperation potential and noted that the basic obstacles to strengthening trade relations were the lack of information and direct connection in most transportation sectors, as well as the belief the country was under French influence.
Among sectors of interest in Morocco are transport, infrastructure - as 15 new cities are planned by 2020 due to a quickly rising population - energy and renewable sources of energy, agricultural production, management of water resources and solid waste, medical equipment and systems of protection and security.
 Jumbo Group says net profits up 36.89 pct in 2013-2014 fiscal yearJumbo Group on Thursday reported a 36.89 pct increase in its net profits and a 7.90 pct rise in sales in the 12-month period, from July 2013 to June 2014.
The Group said sales totalled 541.85 million euros, from 502.18 million the previous year, while net profits totalled 101.25 million euros, from 73.93 million in 2012/2013.
EBITDA rose 9.37 pct and net group profits rose 4.77 pct on a comparable basis. Gross profit margin rose to 53.12 pct from 52.33 pct, reflecting better conditions in foreign currency exchange rates and a renewal in the company's product mixture. EBITDA totalled 146.52 million euros, up 32.72 pct.
Jumbo said its stores in Cyprus and Bulgaria recorded double-digit growth rates in sales, while Greek stores recorded a small increase in turnover.
The Group said it opened five new super-stores in the 12-month period, of which two in Greece, one in Cyprus and two in Romania, to a total of 66 stores, of which 52 in Greece, four in Cyprus, eight in Bulgaria and two in Romania.
The board will seek shareholders' approval to a plan to pay a 0.18 euros per share dividend to shareholders.
 Greek trade deficit up 29.4 pct in JulyGreece's trade deficit grew by 29.4 pct in July as imports continued rising and exports falling, while the country's trade deficit rose by 11.3 pct in the January-July period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 4.352 billion euros in July, from 3.949 billion in the same month last year, for an increase of 10.2 pct (excluding oil products, the value of imports rose 9.4 pct).
The value of export-deliveries totaled 2.458 billion euros in July, from 2.485 billion in July last year, for a decline of 1.1 pct (excluding oil products the value of exports rose 1.9 pct).
The trade deficit rose 29.4 pct to 1.894 billion euros, from 1.464 billion in July 2013 (excluding oil products the trade deficit rose 19.4 pct).
In the seven-month period from January to July, the value of imports totaled 28.012 billion euros, up 2.2 pct from the same period in 2013 (excluding oil products the value of imports rose 8.9 pct). The value of exports fell 4.0 pct to 15.604 billion euros in the January-July period (excluding oil products exports fell 2.9 pct).
The trade deficit rose 11.3 pct to 12.408 billion euros in the seven-month period (excluding oil products the trade deficit jumped 23.9 pct).
 Greek stocks end significantly lowerGreek stocks came under strong pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,100-point level. The index ended at 1,087.98 points, losing 1.63 pct, to its lowest closing since August 18. Traders said an early buying activity, which focused on bank shares in the aftermath of a government decision to table a legislation on bank tax credit, proved short-lived. Turnover was a strong 119.93 million euros.
The Large Cap index fell 1.53 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.93 pct lower. Eurobank Properties (3.12 pct) and Alpha Bank (1.61 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while MIG (6.41 pct), Athens Water (5.06 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (4.35 pct) and PPC (3.92 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, the Real Estate index was the only one to end higher (1.40 pct), while Financial Services (5.06 pct), Utilities (3.79 pct) and Technologies (3.55 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 96 to 29, with another 16 issues unchanged. Yalco (19.77 pct), Atti-kat (18.75 pct), Moda Bagno (8.88 pct) were top gainers, while Intertek (23.57 pct), G.E. Demetriou (20 pct) and NEL (17.50 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Service: -5.06%
Real Estate: +1.40%
Personal & Household: -1.96%
Food & Beverages: -0.83%
Raw Materials: -2.96%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Travel & Leisure: -2.01%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.63
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.05
Coca Cola HBC: 17.02
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.32
National Bank of Greece: 2.35
Piraeus Bank: 1.26
Eurobank Properties: 9.59
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 5.14 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 5.18 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.11 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.97 pct. Turnover was a strong 73 million euros, of which 50 million were buy orders and the remaining 23 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.342 pct from 0.344 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.254 pct from 0.257 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.183 pct from 0.186 pct, the three-month rate was unchanged at 0.082 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.006 pct from 0.007 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.38 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 9,068 contracts with 51,177 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 30,969 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (9,790), followed by Alpha Bank (6,834), National Bank (6,072), Eurobank (1,922), OTE (1,413), PPC (1,193), MIG (1,090), OPAP (766), Mytilineos (299), Hellenic Exchanges (250), Jumbo (238), Athens Water (192), Hellenic Petroleum (144), Ellaktor (111) GEK (104) and Titan (100).
 Foreign exchange rates - ThursdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2712
Pound sterling 0.7804
Danish kroner 7.4433
Swedish kroner 9.1836
Japanese yen 138.88
Swiss franc 1.2076
Norwegian kroner 8.145
Canadian dollar 1.4136
Australian dollar 1.4432
 Tino Sehgal's 'situation art' kicks off at Roman Agora in AthensThe work of acclaimed British-German 'situation' artist Tino Sehgal on Thursday launched the NEON organisation's 'Paths' programme for this autumn, with an exhibition in and around the Roman Agora in Athens. The award-winning 38-year-old artist based in Berlin is presenting his work outdoors for the first time, in an exhibition produced and directed by Asad Raza that will run until October 28.
It arises from an initiative to mount Sehgal's works in the ancient sites of Athens and NEON's ongoing commitment to activating public spaces and enhancing public life throughout the city of Athens. The exhibition will operate every day while the Agora is open, moving to a location indoors at night, with installations constructed of choreography, song, and peripatetic philosophical conversation inspired by 'Socratic dialogue'.
Sehgal describes his work as "constructed situations" that exist only in the viewer's memory, without any physical installation, consisting only of gestures, words, sound, song and social contact, which necessarily requires communication and interaction with an audience. Among awards won by Sehgal was the Golden Lion at the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2013.
 International training centre in life-saving systems to be inaugurated in Lavrio on FridayThe first international centre for the training of ship crews in life-saving systems will be inaugurated on Friday afternoon at the seaport of Lavrio, greater Athens, by the Norwegian company Norsafe, a global market leader in marine life-saving systems and manufacturer of the largest free-fall lifeboat in the world, it was announced on Thursday.
A special event on the safety of ships and crews will be addressed by Lavrion Port Authority S.A. president Aristidis Vitsios, Norsafe Hellas CEO Ioannis Georgiadis and representatives of shipping companies.
Norsafe operates a production unit in Thebes, central Greece, employing roughly 85 people. It is the first European company that cooperated with Greek manufacturers (watercraft Hellas), investing in Greek know-how. Lavrio will benefit greatly from the operation of the training centre, as it will be visited by hundreds of representatives of shipping companies worldwide and their crews, representatives of shipping companies told ANA-MPA.
International safety regulations for ships (IMO, SOLAS) will change in 2016 and the training of crews in the operation and maintenance of life-saving systems and lifeboats will be mandatory.
 Greek government websites to shut down for maintenance work on Sunday, MondayGreek government portals and websites will be shut down on Sunday for once-yearly routine maintenance on the electrical and hardware systems of the General Secretariat for Information Systems (http://www.gsis.gr), it was announced on Thursday.
This will include the online system of the tax office, Taxisnet.gr, which will be offline from noon on Sunday until 7:00 on Monday morning. Also to shut down is the National Portal for Public Administration www.ermis.gov.gr, which will not be available from noon until 20:00 on Sunday, the administrative reform and e-government ministry announced.
The shutdown is due to the annual maintenance work on Public Power Corporation (PPC) installations and electrical installations at the data centre of the General Secretariat for Information Systems, where the 'Ermis' portal is also installed.
 Public administration portal 'Ermis' to shut down for maintenance on SundayThe Greek government's National Portal for Public Administration www.ermis.gov.gr will be shut down this Sunday from noon until 20:00 for routine maintenance work, the administrative reform and e-government ministry announced on Thursday.
The shutdown is due to the annual precautionary maintenance work on Public Power Corporation (PPC) installations and electrical installations at the data centre of the General Secretariat for Information Systems, where the 'Ermis' portal is installed.
 Eight-month suspended sentence for riot police officer who struck photojournalistA Greek Misdemeanours Court on Thursday handed down an eight-month jail sentence, suspended pending appeal, to a 27-year-old riot police officer found guilty of striking photojournalist Tatiana Bolari while she was covering a protest rally in central Athens on October 5, 2011.
The court found the defendant guilty of causing bodily harm but acquitted him on charges of breach of duty.
The prosecutor on the bench asked the panel of judges to pass a verdict in accordance with the charges, namely that it was deliberate violent attack on the face of a woman photojournalist, and not accept the defendant's claim that he was simply trying to push her away after she had tried to pull his gas mask off his face.
Witnesses testifying in the trial included other photojournalists that were present during the incident, who said that the attack on Bolari was completely unprovoked. They stressed that the rally had already finished and only the photojournalists were left on the scene, while there were no clashes or incidents taking place and no tear gas, with the road before Parliament already opened to traffic.
The head of the Greek photojournalists' union Marios Lolos commented that this was the first time that a riot police officer was being punished for violent behaviour targeting a photojournalist. He said the issue of riot police attacks on photojournalists had been the topic of an exhibition mounted by Greek photojournalists in Brussels.
The specific attack on Bolari was captured in a picture taken by award-winning Reuters photojournalist Yiannis Behrakis and was seen throughout the world, provoking criticism from international organisations and the Foreign Press Association of Greece.
 Foreign nationals with forged passports were arrested at Kalamata AirportTwo foreigners, aged 31 and 36, both Syrian nationals, were arrested at Kalamata Airport in Peloponnese, southern Greece, while attempting to board a plane to Germany with forged travel documents, it was announced on Thursday.
They were arrested during passport control before boarding a flight to Dusseldorf when they presented forged Chilean and Russian passports.
Both will be led before a prosecutor in the city of Kalamata.
 Rain on FridayHeavy rain, storms and strong winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Storms in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 10C-21C. Rain in the central parts and the southern parts with temperatures between 15C-28C. Clouds and rain over the islands, 18C-28C. Cloudy in the morning in Athens with rain in the afternoon, 17C-28C. Storms in Thessaloniki, 12C-20C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras' system makes moves of panic.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The Downhill.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Not a single word for tax reductions.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pension at the age of 58 for the uniformed.
ETHNOS: Higher salaries to the uniformed from November.
IMERISSIA: 'Block' to troika's demands.
KATHIMERINI: Athens asks for lower primary surplus.
LOGOS: Eurobank report: Greece can survive without IMF's support under conditions.
NAFTEMPORIKI: The seven thorns in government's negotiations with the troika.
RIZOSPASTIS: The people pay for the "structural reforms" in health system.
TA NEA: Retirement wave in public sector even with half pension.
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