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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-09-11

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 11 September 2015 Issue No: 5020

CONTENTS

  • [01] Political leaders' TV debate ends after three hours
  • [02] Tsipras: 'We are more experienced, more down to earth and more determined'
  • [03] ND leader Meimarakis: 'The country wants consensuses'
  • [04] SYRIZA seeking clear mandate to defend ground gained in negotiations, Pappas says
  • [05] It is important for a government of the Left to leave its mark, former Finmin Tsakalotos says
  • [06] Meimarakis attracted undecided voters during the debate, New Democracy says
  • [07] ANEL leader proposes holding annual party leaders' debate in Thessaloniki
  • [08] ANEL leader Kammenos: There will be no Meimarakis after the elections
  • [09] No answers were given in political leaders' debate, ESEE head Korkidis says
  • [10] Viewer ratings for party leader televised debate at 27.4 pct, Nielsen reports
  • [11] Greek government officials to hold meeting in Lesvos on refugees
  • [12] KKE leader proposes charter flights for refugees
  • [13] Another 4,487 refugees and migrants arriving in Piraeus from Lesvos on Thursday
  • [14] INTERVIEW-A policy that will make use of the rifts in EU is needed, former FM Kotzias tells ANA-MPA
  • [15] EU supports caretaker government in the implementation of reforms, EU Commission representative Panos Karvounis tells ANA-MPA
  • [16] Europe is not jeopardized by Greece, but by the growing economic selfishness among member states, Germany's Gabriel says
  • [17] Local associations file petition asking Council of State to uphold decision to shut down Skouries mine
  • [18] Circumstances 'favourable' for Greece to request extension of EU funds, says minister
  • [19] Greek unemployment rate at 25.2 pct in June
  • [20] Bank of Greece denies reports that relaxation of capital controls is imminent
  • [21] Greek industry can cover 50-70 pct of country's needs in pharmaceuticals, manufacturers' union says
  • [22] International arrivals in Greece rise 4.6 pct in August, tourism heading for new record - tourism body
  • [23] Wholesale turnover down 3.5 pct in Q2
  • [24] FinMin Chouliarakis to speak at investment roadshow in London
  • [25] Greek stocks end moderately higher
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] City of Athens invites travel bloggers to experience 'Perfect Day' in Greek capital
  • [29] National Technical University honours Le Corbusier
  • [30] Seminar on educational practices in Greece, Finland held in Athens
  • [31] Carouzos and five more indicted to stand trial for money-laundering
  • [32] Former baseball player to Greek jail for alleged cocaine trafficking
  • [33] Light quake jolts Lesvos island
  • [34] Clouds, rain on Friday
  • [35] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Political leaders' TV debate ends after three hours

    The television debate of Greece's political party leaders which was broadcasted on public channel ERT ended shortly after midnight on Wednesday. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras admitted that his coalition government wasn't able to implement part of the pledges he had made before the last elections, but added that the battle to change things will continue.

    "It's clear we didn't manage to implement part of our pledges, but the fight continues and we hope to succeed in the future," Tsipras said. He was responding to a journalist's question on why the Greek people should vote for him again considering he didn't abolish the unified property tax ENFIA and maintain the tax-free threshold for annual incomes of up to 12,000 euros, as he had promised.

    Tsipras said that people know how hard his government fought these past six months to defend the country's rights in his negotiations with Greece's lenders. "We were obliged to achieve primary surpluses, but with the negotiation we saved 20 billion euros, we managed to stabilize the economy and at the same time we secured 35 billion euros from the Juncker package," the leader of SYRIZA noted, while reminding the imminent bank recapitalization.

    Asked to comment on the criticism leveled against former Migration minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou who was accused of inertia on the refugee crisis, Tsipras said: "Enough with the hypocrisy and the aimed attacks against the government!" He noted that SYRIZA was the one who established the migration portfolio, while previous government simply used 'sweeping' operations in central Athens. He also said he brought the issue to the EU by making joint actions with Italy's premier Matteo Renzi.

    He finally called on voters to end with the past and move forward.

    New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis urged Greeks to vote for his party saying it would give him the opportunity to complete the work that was left unfinished from the party's last term. "We ask for people's vote to complete what we didn't have time to complete in the previous term."

    He was responding to a journalist's question on why Greeks should vote for a party which went back on its pre-electoral pledges in 2012. "It's true we said a lot of things in 2012. We implemented many of those," he said and added that New Democracy didn't have an absolute majority and had to cooperate with PASOK.

    Meimarakis said at the end of the day, the people will judge how the country did. "In January the country was doing much better; the special levy was reduced, the tax on oil was reduced, and social security contributions decreased ... If we have had the full four-year term our work wouldn't have been abruptly interrupted and we would have implemented the things we promised." He also noted that his party brought investments in the country while Tsipras "chased them away".

    Asked about the possibility of forming a coalition government with other parties after the elections, Meimarakis said New Democracy is seeking a government that would have a four-year term to complete its work and said that if people grant him the mandate to govern, he will try to form a coalition government.

    Responding on a question on how his party would handle the refugee crisis, he said New Democracy's position is known and is included in its program and urged the other political leaders to stop promising anything on the issue.

    Popular Unity (PU) leader Panagiotis Lafazanis defended his proposal to return to a national currency, saying it would strengthen production, exports and increase liquidity. "The national currency is used in more than 10 countries in the European Union which are not in the Eurozone. And they're not unhappy. The national currency will improve production, exports, will lower imports and increase liquidity," he said, responding to a journalist's question on the negative consequences of a return to a national currency.

    "It's not the best thing to terrorize people. This issue has not been discussed at all in public and it's the responsibility of the European status quo," he added and continued "The memorandum is the terror and the disaster. All memorandums are a disaster and there's no good and bad, left and right, old or new." Asked whether such a move would be devastating for the lower income-earners, the leader of PU argued that a return to the national currency doesn't require much study, but simply to print money. "There will be a small devaluation in the beginning but the result will be positive. Ninety-nine percent of the planet uses a national currency," he said.

    Lafazanis also accused Europe for the refugee crisis, saying "the European status quo is responsible for the tragedy we're witnessing" and that "large funds are needed to tackle the situation."

    Taking his turn, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said Greece needs a government that will offer solutions to the country's problems by reducing the party-state. "The day after the elections, we need a government of 20 ministers who will provide solutions to the country's problems. We need to reduce the party-state," he noted. Asked why he supported the new bailout he said that "there are no ideal solutions in politics", adding "this doesn't mean we don't support the unemployed or the small and medium-sized businessmen."

    Continuing on his point, he said his party can reduce public administration in its higher ranks, so as to reinforce it where it needs it most. "The State cannot be a game with boxes for political parties. We need evaluation of the structures too, which New Democracy didn't do." Commenting on the tax policy towards businesses that would promote growth, Theodorakis said that his party's main position is that it should depend on the number of its employees. "The second thing about this country is that it has the potential to export. It is at the center of Europe and it will remain there, so it must export."

    Discussing the refugee crisis, Theodorakis said the situation on the islands is tragic adding that Europe has a responsibility to help and his party would pile pressure on the EU.

    Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas differentiated his party's stance towards the European Union to that of Popular Unity's, arguing that the latter simply wants to exit the Eurozone leaving the monopolies in the hands of the EU. "It's one thing to take ownership of the wealth produced by socializing the monopolies and following pro-people development and in this road to imitate the exit from the EU and quite another to leave the power to the other monopolies and the EU and simply leave the euro," he noted.

    He said an exit from the Eurozone in the way PU envisions it would mean new harsh measures for the people, adding that PU's proposals are found in other Eurosceptic parties, like Golden Dawn in Greece, clarifying that he wasn't drawing any parallels between the two parties. Asked if with the Communist Party's proposals Greeks will become rich, Koutsoumbas said that the country has very large productive capabilities and an experienced working and scientific personnel, which in a socialized economy and with a unilateral debt cancelation there could be work for everyone and a better future.

    Asked on the refugee crisis, he said measures need to be taken to transfer all refugees and migrants to the destination countries, adding that the European Commission should intervene by using charter flights or boats, if needed.

    On his side, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said that some services that concern strategic sectors must remain in the hands of the state while noting that he supports lower taxation as an incentive. "Heavy taxation stops growth ... the lower the taxation the more possible it is to increase revenues for the state. We have to provide incentives to bring back bank deposits worth 160 million euros and return the 45 million euros hidden in the chests," he responded to a question on how he would promote growth. On the same issue, he said the country needs a stable tax system to help investments and proposed that the islands be turned into tax-free zones.

    Asked on why his party signed the bailout deal, he said ANEL had to vote it to save Greece's membership in the Eurozone but added that the party didn't suffer losses because of this decision. "The Independent Greeks are the only party that didn't suffer losses from signing the deal, although it was a difficult choice. Otherwise, the country would exit from the European Union and the banks would have been destroyed." Kammenos noted that the former government may have not managed to abolish the unified property tax ENFIA, but it did manage to avoid the deal being subjected to the English law.

    Answering questions on the refugee crisis, he said that adding ships to relieve the pressure on the islands was the government's proposal. "When we were saying to abolish Dublin II, they made fun of us. Now [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel proposes it." Discussing possible cooperation after the election, he said his party proved that national conciliation is possible by cooperating very well with SYRIZA.

    PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata said her party has the experience and knowledge to negotiate with Greece's lenders and voters should give it a chance to be the catalyst in the upcoming elections. "People can compare the different parties now. We ask to give us the power to be the catalyst in developments," Gennimata responded to a question on why should people vote for her party.

    "We were led to the third and worst. If there was a Golden Raspberry Award, it would be won by Tsipras who pushed the country towards the Grexit. Our differences are visible. We have the experience and knowledge to negotiate after SYRIZA's 7-month negotiation," she added.

    Asked to comment on accusations that PASOK didn't close the negotiation to avoid the political cost and pass the hot potato to SYRIZA, Gennimata said: "PASOK has heard many accusations. We were called traitors. Nobody can accuse us of placing party interest over country interest like the parties that lied, were populists and brought a memorandum of 11 billion euros for New Democracy and 14 bilion for SYRIZA."

    Asked on the refugee crisis, the leader of PASOK said the solution is the drastic change of EU's policy and an immediate initiative by the government to protect the Greek islands. She added that refugees must be treated with respect to human rights.

    A debate between SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and New Democracy (ND) leader Evangelos Meimarakis will possibly take place on Monday, September 14.

    [02] Tsipras: 'We are more experienced, more down to earth and more determined'

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who is visiting the region of Epirus in western Greece on Thursday as part of his election campaign, said during a speech in Ioannina that his party is "more experienced, more down to earth and more determined" to govern the country.

    Earlier, in visit to his hometown, Arta, Tsipras said the people will be the ones to decide who governs them and not the country's vested interests.

    "The Greek people will be the judge; he will decide on who will be the next government and the prime minister and not the dark rooms of vested interests, not the dark interests inside and outside the country," he said.

    He also expressed his certainty that the effort his party is making to "rebuild the country on solid ground of social justice will not be a brief interlude.

    [03] ND leader Meimarakis: 'The country wants consensuses'

    New Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis reiterated on Thursday his position that he will cooperate with SYRIZA after the elections, if needed, saying the country wants consensuses, in an interview with news website newpost.gr.

    Discussing possible cooperation with other parties, he said he will not reject SYRIZA because "solving problems is the priority and the country demands consensuses and cooperation."

    He went on to criticize SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for wanting a short election campaign of 20 days so that people wouldn't see what they will be called to pay because of the third bailout deal. "So that people wouldn't see that the lefty, anti-bailout prime minister signed everything," he said adding that if Tsipras refuses any cooperation after the elections he will have to bear the cost.

    [04] SYRIZA seeking clear mandate to defend ground gained in negotiations, Pappas says

    "We are asking for a clear mandate to defend the ground gained in the negotiation, which New Democracy was asking us to give up and is itself seeking to give up," SYRIZA candidate MP Nikos Pappas said in an interview appearing on Thursday in the weekly newspaper "Finance and Markets Voice".

    The country must not remain dependent on all those that led it to this state over the last 40 years, he noted.

    Pappas said that SYRIZA was not greatly concerning by the party's slump in opinion polls. "It is simply a sign of a numbness that followed the splintering of our area," he said, referring to the departure of the Left Platform and several key government ministers to form the Popular Unity party.

    This early confusion had now been replaced by a very positive image of mass support for SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras, said Pappas.

    [05] It is important for a government of the Left to leave its mark, former Finmin Tsakalotos says

    "We were defeated, but it is important for a government of the Left to leave its mark. And we could not have done that if we had come to a rupture with our lenders on February 20," former Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Thursday said in an interview with radio station "Kokkino."

    Regarding the Grexit scenarios, he said that the government had not understood from the beginning that this was the major priority of certain people in the negotiation and added: "Schaeuble believed that Greece had no place in the eurozone."

    He also said that some may have accused them of being naive and having underestimated the correlations, but nobody can doubt the former government's effort.

    On the agreement of July 13, he said: "I will remind you the statement of Zhou Enlai when he was asked about the French Revolution: "It is too early to say ... We were defeated, but it is important for a government of the Left to leave its mark. Marks like changes in prisons, justice and others. These could not have been achieved if we had come to a rupture with our lenders on February 20."

    Tsakalotos added that there is room for changes in the agreement as long as the negotiation is focused on 4-5 things.

    [06] Meimarakis attracted undecided voters during the debate, New Democracy says

    New Democracy (ND) leader Evangelos Meimarakis managed to attract a big pool of undecided voters with his modesty and political speech, the party said in an announcement on Thursday.

    "Meimarakis was honest and did not lose time as SYRIZA leader did. He replied immediately and gave substantial answers," an associate of New Democracy leader said to ANA-MPA adding that "he highlighted the issue of SYRIZA's split and the inability of Alexis Tsipras to make a substantive dialogue with him."

    [07] ANEL leader proposes holding annual party leaders' debate in Thessaloniki

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos proposed on Thursday an annual debate between party leaders that will be held at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    Speaking during a meeting with the head of the Fair Tasos Tzikas, Kammenos said that the questions in this debate would be made by representatives of business associations because they are the ones most interested on issues relating to economy and the market.

    "I propose publically to all political leaders to hold a debate annually n Thessaloniki, during the TIF, with the questions set by business associations and not journalists," he said.

    [08] ANEL leader Kammenos: There will be no Meimarakis after the elections

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos estimated that "there will be no Meimarakis (New Democracy leader) and probably Fofi Gennimata (PASOK leader) after the elections, in his press conference on Thurday in the framework of 80th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    He said that Meimarakis is a temporary leader of ND and if he loses he will not be able to remain at the party's helm.

    [09] No answers were given in political leaders' debate, ESEE head Korkidis says

    No answers were given in yesterday's debate by political leaders "for the difficult prerequisites that will unlock the subsequent tranches of the new financing program", the president of the Greek commerce confederation (ESEE) Vassilis Korkidis said in a statement on Thurdsay.

    More specifically, Korkidis noted: "... the new government resulting from the elections of September 20, undeniably has an obligation to legislate a series of difficult prerequisites that will unlock the subsequent tranches of the new financial program. One of the most important bills, along with the social security one, which should also be agreed with the country's creditors is that of taxation. Therefore, without overlooking the retrospective taxation of 3.6 billion euros in 2015, at least we hope, that the 'post-election bill' will not increase even more because of government formation delays, since it will complicate the evaluation of funding and the discussion on debt restructuring, and recapitalization of banks."

    "Taxation in 2015 along with the 'post-election bill' that will exceed 11 billion euros until the end of the year does not help healthy entrepreneurship. After the discussion on the restructuring of the Greek debt, the reduction of the excessive fiscal requirements of the memorandum is also required. In the debate of political leaders, however, not a word was heard about who will eventually pay the cost," he added.

    [10] Viewer ratings for party leader televised debate at 27.4 pct, Nielsen reports

    Average viewer rates for the televised debate between Greece's political party leaders, which was broadcast simultaneously by seven television channels, were running at relatively low levels, according to measurements released by Nielsen ratings on Thursday. A total of 2,780,000 viewers tuned in on Wednesday to watch the three-hour debate, while the average viewer ratings were 27.4 pct.

    The highest rating of the evening, when 49.3 pct of viewers were watching the debate, lasted a single minute, Nielsen said.

    The highest share went to the state broadcaster's channel ERT 1, which hosted the debate at its studios.

    [11] Greek government officials to hold meeting in Lesvos on refugees

    Greek government officials will head to Lesvos on Friday where they will hold a meeting with local officials and relevant bodies to discuss ways to better manage the waves of refugees arriving at the island's shores.

    Alternate Shipping Minister Christos Zois and the Alternate General Secretary of the Interior Tzanetos Filippakos will visit the Coast Guard, the refugee camp of Kara Tepe, the identification center of Moria and the Petras military camp.

    The two officials will then hold a press conference at 15.00 (local time).

    [12] KKE leader proposes charter flights for refugees

    Communist party (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday talked on the phone with caretaker prime minister Vassiliki Thanou on the increased inflow of thousands of refugees and undocumented migrants to the Greek islands.

    Koutsoumbas asked for immediate measures, and proposed charter flights and ship charterings that under EU's responsibility will transfer the refugees to their final destinations.

    [13] Another 4,487 refugees and migrants arriving in Piraeus from Lesvos on Thursday

    The evacuation of migrants and refugees from the island of Lesvos continued on Thursday, with another 4,487 arriving in Piraeus on board two passenger ferries from the island.

    The first ferry carrying 2,487 people docked in Piraeus port on Thursday afternoon, while another shipload of 2,000 is expected at 22:00 at night on the 'Blue Star Patmos'.

    Meanwhile, the catamaran 'Tera Jet' set sail from Piraeus to the Lesvos port of Mytilene, in order to pick up more migrants and refugees and taken them to Piraeus.

    Arrivals from the Turkish coast are also continuing, with the Hellenic Coast Guard reporting that 235 refugees were rescued in five incidents reported in seas near the islands of Limnos, Chios and Samos.

    [14] INTERVIEW-A policy that will make use of the rifts in EU is needed, former FM Kotzias tells ANA-MPA

    "The big question is not small or large coalitions, but what kind of policy the new government will implement," former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in an interview with ANA MPA on Thursday.

    "We need a policy that will make use of the rift caused by the agreement Alexis Tsipras signed, despite its harshness, a policy which will make use of all possibilities that are out of the memorandum, a policy that will exploit the policy faults between Americans, French and Italians and parts of Berlin. This should be the main topic of the discussion. Unfortunately, we do not talk about them," noted Kotzias.

    The former foreign minister described SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras as "charismatic", arguing that "he constitutes the unique perspective for the country."

    He estimated that SYRIZA will be the first party in the elections and the only question is whether it will approach or exceed the percentage required to have parliamentary majority.

    Kotzias ruled out the possibility of a great coalition government, at least with his participation.

    Asked on the migration issue, he said that he was the first one to mention the problem in February 2015.

    The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.

    [15] EU supports caretaker government in the implementation of reforms, EU Commission representative Panos Karvounis tells ANA-MPA

    The head of EU Structural Reform Support Service Maarten Verwey had a series of meeting with the Greek caretaker government aiming at the implementation of the reforms and the more efficient absorption of the European funds, European Commission representative to Greece Panos Karvounis confirmed on Thursday to ANA-MPA.

    "The talks' aim was to speed up the closing of an agreement after the formation of the new government," said Karvounis and noted that "the Commission continues to support the caretaker government towards the implementation of the serious reforms included in the programme agreed between Greece and its partners".

    Karvounis reminded that the Structural Reform Support Service was formed by the European Commission last July to offer special technical assistance to all state members, following a request, in order to implement serious administrative and restructuring reforms that boost the development.

    He underlined the "important contribution to the on time and efficient implementation of the reforms for the support of the economic recovery, the businesses recovery, the creation of new job positions and the establishment of effective systems of social protection as well as the establishment of a modern state for the benefit of the Greek people and of the Greek economy.

    Finally, the noted that "this service will help the state-members in the most efficient absoption of use of EU's funds.

    [16] Europe is not jeopardized by Greece, but by the growing economic selfishness among member states, Germany's Gabriel says

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)

    "Europe is not jeopardized by Greece, but by the growing economic selfishness among member states," said German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaking earlier on Thursday at the Federal Parliament on the 2016 budget.

    He also warned that "if we do not overcome this selfishness, we will no longer be able to convince people about the European idea."

    "Consistency, stability and deepening of economic and monetary union is in our vital interest and (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Scheuble was right to ask Member States to respect the rules of the eurozone," he added.

    [17] Local associations file petition asking Council of State to uphold decision to shut down Skouries mine

    Nine local associations and unions on Thursday filed a petition with the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, asking it to uphold a ministerial decision that temporarily suspends operation the Hellas Gold mines at Skouries, Halkidiki.

    The decision was taken by former productive reconstruction minister Panos Skourletis, shortly before the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government resigned to call snap elections.

    The CoS also set a date for a hearing on a case brought by Hellas Gold and two mine workers' unions against the former minister's decision, summoning the parties involved. The mining company and the miners have asked for the suspension order to be frozen and then reversed, on the grounds that the decision to revoke state approval of technical studies for the installations was illegal and unconstitutional.

    Those petitioning for the minister's order to be reversed include the Halkidiki Employee Centre, the Aktor-ATE-Hellas Gold consortium, the Kassandra miners' union and the North Halkidiki Forestry Workers Union. All four have been called to attend a hearing, which will not be held in public, on September 15.

    The nine local associations that filed a petition on Thursday, by contrast, claim that the minister's decision should be upheld and that the arguments against it are not valid. They mainly represents small societies and associations active in areas near the mines, such as Ierissos, the Aristoteli municipality and Ouranopolis.

    Financial News

    [18] Circumstances 'favourable' for Greece to request extension of EU funds, says minister

    The circumstances are now more "favourable" for Greece to request from the European Union a six or eight-month extension for the EU programs of the period 2007-2013, Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Thursday after a meeting with representatives of regional and business associations and non-governmental organizations.

    Christodoulakis is scheduled to visit Brussels in the coming week to discuss the optimal use of EU funds and other investment programs.

    He argued that although the European Commission has been skeptical in the past about extending National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) programs mainly because of the many such requests in receives, the current circumstances may be more favourable: the recession has made Greece more vulnerable, many regions in the country have endured additional pressures due to the waves of refugees and capital controls have caused significant delays in the progress of many projects.

    [19] Greek unemployment rate at 25.2 pct in June

    Greek unemployment rate fell to 25.2 pct of the workforce in June, compared with a 26.6 pct rate in June last year, but rose compared with a 25.0 pct rate in May 2015, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the number of unemployed people totaled 1,204,844 in June, down by 81,474 compared with June 2014, and down by 2,609 compared with May 2015.

    The number of employed people totaled 3,584,973, up 1.1 pct from June 2014 but down 1.2 pct from May 2015.

    The unemployment rate among women was 29.5 pct in June (30.6 pct in June 2014), while among men it fell to 21.7 pct from 23.5 pct over the same periods, respectively.

    The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group fell to 48.3 pct in June from 49.4 pct in June last year, in the 25-34 age group it fell to 32.1 pct from 35.2 pct, in the 35-44 age group it eased to 22.4 pct from 22.8 pct, in the 45-54 age group it fell to 19.7 pct from 20.9 pct, in the 55-64 age group it eased to 17.2 pct from 17.4 pct and in the 65-74 age group it fell to 10 pct from 11.6 pct.

    Thessaly/Central Greece (27.1 pct from 25.9 pct), Epirus-Western Macedonia (26.7 pct from 27.2 pct) and Attica (25.3 pct from 27.3 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates among the country's regions, followed by Macedonia/Thrace (25.2 pct from 27.5 pct), Crete (24.3 pct from 25.8 pct), Peloponese/Western Greece/Ionian Islands (24.1 pct from 26.4 pct) and Aegean (18.4 pct from 17.8 pct).

    [20] Bank of Greece denies reports that relaxation of capital controls is imminent

    The Bank of Greece on Thursday dismissed media reports that a relaxation of capital controls is imminent.

    According to a Bank of Greece official, such a decision required submitting a relevant request to the European Central Bank, its approval by the competent ECB authority and a ministerial decision or legislative act.

    No such request has been submitted, a source in the central bank confirmed.

    [21] Greek industry can cover 50-70 pct of country's needs in pharmaceuticals, manufacturers' union says

    Greece's domestic drug manufacturers were able to cover between 50-70 pct of the country's needs in pharmaceuticals, the Panhellenic Pharmaceutical Industry Union said in a letter sent to Greek political parties and candidate MPs on Thursday.

    Up to 70 pct of the pharmaceuticals needed in primary health care and half of those used in hospitals could be provided by domestic manufacturers and generate significant savings in the country's spend on pharmaceuticals, the note pointed out, as well as guaranteeing a stable and adequate supply.

    The union stressed that the import of drugs that can been produced more cheaply within the country and with significant added value was "an unacceptable economic haemorrhaging". It called for tighter control over prescriptions, rationalising the use and consumption of drugs and an evaluation and social insurance compensation of newer, expensive drugs.

    It also urged the adoption of policies to promote cheaper, generic drugs produced within the country, at a rate of about 75 pct. This required a reasonable pricing policy for generic drugs and allowing doctors to recommend generic drugs they trust or consider superior, the letter said.

    [22] International arrivals in Greece rise 4.6 pct in August, tourism heading for new record - tourism body

    Greek tourism appeared undented in August with international tourist arrivals in the country's main airports increasing 4.6 pct compared to the same period of 2014, reaching 3 million, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said on Thursday.

    According to the data, in the first eight months of the year, arrivals rose 6.3 pct to 11.7 million. Looking at individual destinations, all airports increased their arrivals with the exceptions of Rhodes (-2.3 pct), Kos (-2.1 pct) and Heraklion (-1.7 pct).

    In Athens, international arrivals jumped 23 pct in August, year-on-year, and 26 pct in the eight months to August.

    "Despite the difficult economic situation and the serious problems facing the industry in the midst of this year's tourist season, the intensive, persistent and systematic work of all relevant bodies, entrepreneurs and employees in tourism is bearing fruit, achieving one more record," SETE said in its announcement.

    The association also argued that if the situation in the market remains stable, the current year is expected to close with a total of 26 million international arrivals and more than 14.5 billion euros in immediate revenues "which will add one percentage point to the country's GDP, actively supporting the local communities."

    [23] Wholesale turnover down 3.5 pct in Q2

    Greek wholesale turnover index fell 3.5 pct in the second quarter of 2015, compared with the same period last year, but grew 9.0 pct on a quarterly basis, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the index -seasonally adjusted- fell 3.3 pct in the April-June period compared with the same period last year, and fell 0.4 pct compared with the first quarter of 2015.

    [24] FinMin Chouliarakis to speak at investment roadshow in London

    Finance Minister George Chouliarakis will speak at the 10th investment Roadshow of the Athens Stock Exchange held in London on September 10-11. Then he will travel to Luxembourg for the Eurogroup meeting on Saturday, September 12.

    [25] Greek stocks end moderately higher

    Greek stocks moved cautiously higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, largely ignoring a negative climate prevailing in other European markets. Buying activity focused on bank shares, which recovered strongly following Wednesday' s decline. The composite index of the market rose 0.87 pct to end at 675.10 points, off the day's highs of 678.74 points.

    The Large Cap index rose 0.56 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.68 pct higher. Turnover was a low 33.92 million euros on volume of 118,873,630.

    Piraeus Bank (8.77 pct), Eurobank (7.32 pct), Alpha Bank (5.88 pct) and Jumbo (3.80 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains among blue chip stocks, while Athens Water (3.30 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (3.01 pct) and Coca Cola HBC (1.87 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Among market sectors, Banks (5.20 pct), Personal Products (3.38 pct) and Travel (1.77 pct) scored big gains, while Financial Services (2.65 pct), Food (1.86 pct) and Construction (0.84 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 54 to 42 with another 17 issues unchanged. Creta Farms (11.11 pct), Attica Holdings (10.42 pct) and Selonda (10.34 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (12 pct), Elgeka (9.75 pct) and Q&R (8.96 pct) were top losers.

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 7.77 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.81 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.45 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.68 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, one sell order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.157 pct from 0.158 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.088 pct, the six-month rate was 0.038 pct, the three-month rate was unchanged at -0.033 pct and the one-month rate rose to -0.103 pct from -0.104 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.02 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index was 1,848 contracts with 10,958 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 34,880 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (11,384), followed by Alpha Bank (6,683), National Bank (5,204), Eurobank (9,029), MIG (250), OTE (364), PPC (682), OPAP (272), Mytilineos (171), Metka (119), Ellaktor (95) and Grivalia Propeties (71).

    General News

    [28] City of Athens invites travel bloggers to experience 'Perfect Day' in Greek capital

    The City of Athens has extended invitations to eight well-known travel bloggers in Europe to experience and report on their own Athenian "Perfect Day" at the city's expense, over seven weeks in September and October.

    The bloggers have been asked to pick one particular angle for their visit (luxury, budget, family, culture, shopping, gastronomy, night life, etc) and stay in the city for three days, reporting on selected Athens "experiences" that fit in with their chosen profile.

    During their three-day stay they will also post their experiences on the city's 'This is Athens' website (http://www.thisisathens.org/), using their own and the city's social media accounts to relay their 'Perfect Day' to others on the Internet.

    [29] National Technical University honours Le Corbusier

    The National Technical University and the school of architecture are organising a series of event on the occasion of the 50th anniversary from the death of Le Corbusier, one of the most emblematic personalities of modernism in architecture. The events "Reference to Le Corbusier" are part of a wider framework of events that will be held around the world in commemoration of the famous architect.

    The premiere of the events will be on October 6 with the group exhibition "In the name of Corbusier".

    The Swiss architect had a close relationship with Greece which will be highlighted through the exhibition "The Greek Corbusier". His relationship with Greece was vivid from the 30s to the 60s, and 18 Greek architects had studied in his studio. His mark in Greece is clear on the hotels "Xenia" built by Greek architects that were influenced by him.

    The events in Greece are co-organised or supported partly or totally by the French Institute, the Swiss Embassy, the Greek Docomomo and other cultural or scientific entities.

    [30] Seminar on educational practices in Greece, Finland held in Athens

    A seminar comparing best practices in the Greek and Finnish educational systems was held at the culture, education and religions ministry on Thursday, with Finnish speakers presenting the elements of a system considered among the most innovative and effective on a European and global level.

    According to Dr. Paivi Lipponnen, a history teacher and former Finnish MP, a key goal of the system is to create equal opportunities for education and to reduce the influence of the students' social background, as well as ensuring that the education is free, at least at the lower levels.

    Dr. Jari Lavonen of the Helsiniki University teacher training department gave emphasis on good organisation in special education and the need for professionalism among teachers, which he said was build through research on education by teachers. Other speakers presented case studies from their own classes.

    Greek educationalists also presented aspects and innovations of the Greek education system, while caretaker minister Angeliki-Euphrosene Kiaou, in her brief address, said it was importance for Greek and Finnish teachers to exchange views and information, especially given that Finland is considered to have a model system.

    [31] Carouzos and five more indicted to stand trial for money-laundering

    The Appeals Justices' Council on Thursday indicted the businessman Yiannis Carouzos, ship owner Viktor Restis and another four defendants to stand trial before a criminal appeals court on charges of money laundering through fake real estate transfers.

    The justices found strong indications that Carouzos and his wife Revekka Skaftoura had for nine years used financial institutions to "legalise" large sums amassed through large-scale tax evasion.

    The pair are indicted alongside the representatives of the company Fantom - Christos Rekoumis, Athanasios Panagiotopoulos and Ioannis Panagiotopoulos - as well as Restis, who is considered to be the real owner of the company.

    The indictment order marks the culmination of a three-year investigation into the Carouzos Group after allegations in the press that some 30 million euros amassed through tax evasion was being "laundered" through transactions in prime real estate involving unsecured bank loans amounting to 300 million euros. The couple is also accused of setting up an intricate network of dummy domestic and offshore companies, bank accounts and fake contracts to justify the cash transfers and earn income.

    The Council dropped charges against executives of the four banks that approved the loans, as well as criminal organisation charges against ex-spouses and relatives of the accused.

    [32] Former baseball player to Greek jail for alleged cocaine trafficking

    A 38-year-old former baseball player and former model was remanded in custody on Thursday, along with two alleged accomplices, after testifying before an examining magistrate regarding 27 kilos of cocaine found in the Attica region of Aspropyrgos a few days ago.

    According to police, an international drug-trafficking ring based on Latin America intended to sell the cocaine in Greece.

    The former athlete and the other two defendants, a 38-year-old Dutch national and a 48-year-old Guyanan, were all led to jail. The former athlete blamed long-term addiction to cocaine for his involvement and denied having a central role, naming an individual in Athens as the main dealer.

    [33] Light quake jolts Lesvos island

    A light earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale jolted on Thursday the island of Lesvos.

    According to the Geodynamics Institute of Athens, the quake's epicentre was located 40km southwest of Lesvos.

    No injuries or damages were reported.

    Weather forecast

    [34] Clouds, rain on Friday

    Clouds and rain and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds with possibility of rain in the northern and western parts of the country and temperatures ranging from 18C-30C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 20C-32C. Partly cloudy over the Aegean islands and Crete, 23C-32C. Unstable weather with a chance of rain in Athens, 21C-32C. Clouds and rain in Thessaloniki, 20C-25C.

    [35] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: The fighter (Alexis Tsipras) for a better future

    DIMOKRATIA: Negative inflation (-1.5 pct) hides price increases in commodities

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: (SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras and (ND leader Evangelos) Meimarakis reply to the newspaper's debate

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' own goals (in the debate)

    ESTIA: Political leaders' debate just a TV game

    ETHNOS: Nothing new from the leaders' debate

    IMERISSIA: Focus on economy. The views of the seven political leaders

    KATHIMERINI: A three-hour debate without answers

    NAFTEMPORIKI: EU Commission's strict pre-election message

    RIZOSPASTIS: Call on the people to strengthen communist part KKE

    TA NEA: Center play with dirty blows

    TO PONTKI: Fire-Woman-Sea. The three factors that will determine the ten last election days

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