|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-09-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 18 September 2015 Issue No: 5025
 EU Commission welcomes the voting of the proposal for 120,000 refugees relocationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vassilaki)
The European Commission, following the voting procedure in the plenary of the European Parliament, welcomed the ratification of the proposal for the relocation of 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary, and thanked the European Parliament for its immediate reaction.
"The path is now paved for the Council to approve our proposal," according to the statement, calling on member states to take the "necessary decisions" on the extraordinary Council of Justice and Home Affairs on September 22, 2015.
"At the last Council of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs on September 14, the majority of member states expressed their readiness to proceed as quickly as possible", the same statement noted and continued: "It is now time for action."
Finally, the Commission is ready, if the Council adopts the decision on Tuesday, "to work with member states and the relevant European organisations in order to proceed with the transfer of refugees immediately and reduce the pressure on the most affected member states."
 EU Parliament approves plan for relocation of 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy, HungaryBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The EU Commission's proposal for the relocation of 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary was approved on Thursday by the European Parliament in an emergency vote by 370 ballots in favor, 134 against and 52 abstentions.
EU Interior Ministers will have to approve the plan in a meeting in Brussels next Tuesday.
 Athens strongly criticises Hungarian attacks on Greece over migrant issueIn a strongly worded response to the statements of Hungarian officials attacking Greece's stance in the migrant and refugee crisis, the Greek foreign ministry on Thursday countered by denouncing the Hungarian side for unacceptable treatment of refugees arriving in their country.
"We are unable to follow either the stream of statements by Hungarian officials against our country or, chiefly, the unacceptable - according to the United Nations Secretary General - behaviour of Hungarian forces of law against the refugees, even babies, that are experience the tragedy and misery of war," foreign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said in response to questions.
The use of violence, armed patrols and the driving of innocent victims of war into Balkan minefields are not befitting conduct for an EU member-state, he said.
"It is clear that the burden of this unprecedented refugee crisis cannot be taken on by just one country, in this case Greece, which is doing everything humanly possible. These extraordinary circumstances require humanity, cooperation, solidarity and coordination with the other European partners, and not brutal cynicism, provocative statements, the use of violence, or a return to Cold-War walls, the spokesman concluded.
 No need for army to control migration flows, head of police border protection service tells ANA-MPAThe police and coast guard were in control of the migration situation, the head of the Greek police Aliens and Border Protection service Zacharoula Tsirigoti said on Thursday in an exclusive interview with the ANA-MPA. She estimated that the assistance of the army will not be needed, even if there is an increase in the influx of migrants and refugees.
Tsirigoti said that between 3,500-4,000 people were arriving on islands of the northern and eastern Aegean daily. These individuals were being identified and processed at a rate of about 3,000 a day, she added, and singled out the greatest problem as the lack of first reception facilities on the islands of the Aegean.
According to Tsirigoti, the current rate of migration and refugee flows was unprecedented in any European Union country, including Greece, and all services were making an effort to meet the challenge.
"Experience until now, both on Lesvos and on Kos, has shown where the weaknesses are, what we can improve and what we must do to deal with this phenomenon. Solidarity, coordination and honest effort are primarily what is needed from all the agencies involved," she said.
Asked whether the army might be called in to assist, as in other countries, Tsirigoti noted that the armed forces were already helping in some areas, such as providing food, technical resources and in setting up tents.
"Using the Army at the external borders or anywhere else in the interior of the country is a purely political decision that I believe will not be made, because we will not need to reach that point. The situation until now is controlled, both by us as police and by the coast guard," she said.
She also praised cooperation between the police and FRONTEX and the assistance by European organisations generally in tackling the crisis.
 Tsipras rules out 'grand coalition', says SYRIZA must win to affect EU developmentsSYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras once again ruled out the prospect of a 'grand coalition' with New Democracy as being "against nature" in an interview published on Thursday by 'Efimerida ton Syntakton'. He stressed that such a plan, which would cancel SYRIZA's identity and strategic plan, must not be allowed to proceed and pointed to the "painful experience" of the last such experiment with the Papademos government.
"SYRIZA and New Democracy represent different social interests," Tsipras said, adding that ND remained the party of Antonis Samaras and was organised around the same people and programme.
"It represents the interests of the oligarchy, of the social forces that came out winners in the crisis," he said.
Tsipras noted that his party and the European Left "have the only viable plan and form the core of the forces fighting to overturn neoliberalism in Greece and Europe, to put an end to austerity and deepen democracy." This plan was able to help the social classes subjected to exploitation extricate themselves from the dead ends of neoliberalism, he added.
Referring to likely political developments in Europe, such as the recent elections of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader in the UK, Tsipras stressed that SYRIZA must win the upcoming elections in order to play a catalytic role in the shifting power balances of the EU.
If elected, SYRIZA will continue with initiatives started by the previous government, such as the draft bill on television licences and legislation for combatting illegal trading in fuel and tobacco, he said. Referring to the promises he made as part of the Thessaloniki programme a year ago, he noted that many of these had been implemented and that the "fight continues". Over the government's entire four-year term, he added, "the total of the Thessaloniki commitments will be implemented policy."
 SYRIZA's Tsipras says voters will disprove polls and grant him majoritySYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras expressed confidence on Thursday that Greeks will disprove the polls that show the two main contenders neck and neck and grant him a comfortable majority.
"I'm absolutely certain that the Greek people will once again disprove the messages of the polls which predict a derby," Tsipras said during an election rally in the town of Agios Nikolaos, in Crete.
"We bled ourselves so as to stop our people for bleeding, because it was the promise we gave and we kept it until the end" he said and reiterated that the dilemma is whether the old establishment will govern or a government that struggles. "[Do you prefer] a government that will reveal the Lagarde list, or those who will cover it up?"
Tsipras said that he's not asking for a second chance, but rather a chance to continue the first effort. "We didn't have the opportunity to move ahead and complete the implementation of our work."
 Upcoming election is like a 2nd referendum for Greece's future, says SYRIZA's TsiprasSunday's election battle is the second referendum for the future of Greece, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday during an election rally in the town of Patras.
"The battle of September 20 is the second great referendum for the future of our people and our country," he said, adding that "on Sunday we vote to reject the return of the old status quo of servitude, dependence, corruption and vested interests."
He urged voters to reject New Democracy which represents in the best way "the system of vested interests and dependence of Conservatism and oligarchy."
Tsipras also noted that the result of the elections will decide on the government of the next four years and therefore people must choose SYRIZA, so that people may have on Monday its own government. He also called on all voters to participate in the elections.
 SYRIZA MP Pappas sees clear victory of the partySYRIZA deputy Nikos Pappas, in statements to MEGA TV, expressed his certainty over the party's victory.
"I think that SYRIZA will win the elections with a clear difference," Pappas, who is also former State Minister, said on Thursday.
Pappas estimated that the aim of the parliamentary majority can be achieved. "This is our aim. I think we can achieve it and if we don't, we will be so close to it that the country will not be dragged to elections again," he said.
Finally, he estimated that Independent Greeks (ANEL) will enter the Parliament and the most probable scenario will be to cooperate again.
 New Democracy leader says consensus is needed after electionsNew Democracy leader Vangelis Meimarakis pointed out on Thursday the need for consensus after the elections to get the country out of the crisis, clarifying however that this can only be achieved by those who want it.
"We chose Omonoia (=Concord) square to symbolize the path we want for the country. W sent messages of unity to all the Greek people," Meimarakis said during an election speech in central Athens, while asking the people to trust ND.
"With God's help and the people's will, we'll form a government on Monday with ND as thre main party. A government of the worthy and the capable, a government of all the Greeks," he said and addressed separately the young, the women, the mid-sized businessmen, the employees of the private and public sector, the uniformed employees and the unemployed.
Commenting on SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, Meimarakis criticized him for "plunging the country into chaos" noting he's trying to fool Greeks into voting him for the second time.
"Greeks don't want any more SYRIZA experiment, don't want any more populism. It's time to finish with incompetence. The SYRIZA experiment ends on Sunday," he said.
 'We have exceeded the limits of society and economy,' New Democracy leader Meimarakis tells ANA-MPA"It is a difficult battle that will be given vote by vote until the last moment," New Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis on Thursday said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
Regarding the next day, Meimarakis warned that "there are no easy ways and we have difficult months ahead of us." He called on citizens to vote for New Democracy, reiterating that the party is "determined to work hard in order to implement the required structural reforms."
Meimarakis expressed his certainty that New Democracy will be the first party and it will receive a mandate to form a government on Monday. He underlined that the most capable persons from political parties and the society will participate in his government and called on SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to also participate in the government.
As regards a possible coalition government with SYRIZA, he said that compromises have a limit: "If you consider compromise to adopt the view that the Aegean does not have maritime borders or that excellence in education is a bad thing, I am telling you that there is no basis for such a discussion."
Referring to the refugee-migration issue, he said that the society and the economy have exceeded their tolerance and argued that "the policy of open borders creates deadlocks." However, he noted that "we must face a real problem, the problem of the explosive increase of refugee flows based on a plan and humanity. We have to separate refugees from undocumented migrants, taking advantage of EU resources, and effectively guarding the country's borders."
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Independent Greeks is the only stable force, Kountoura saysIndependent Greeks (ANEL) must enter the Parliament because it is the only force that can protect the people amid these difficult times, deputy candidate Elena Kountoura said in statements to Praktorio 104.9 FM.
"We are the only stable force, the only force that can ensure security," Kountoura, who was also Alternate Tourism Minister, underlined on Thursday.
 The implementation of the memorandum after the elections is pre-determined, KKE's Koutsoumbas saysThe implementation of the memorandum after the elections is pre-determined, communist party KKE secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday said in statements to ANT1.
"Nobody is talking any more about the first 100 days. Everything has been voted," he said. He estimated that the crisis in Greece is deep and the way chosen to solve the problems is wrong. Therefore, he called on citizens to vote for KKE bacause as he said "we have tested all the others."
 No 2nd chance to those who brought 3rd memorandum, says Communist Party leader KoutsoumbasCommunist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas urged Greeks on Wednesday not to give a second chance to the parties which voted for a third bailout program and support his party instead.
"Don't give a second chance to those who, wearing the mask of pride and dignity brought the third memorandum and crashed hopes, belied expectations," Koutsoumbas said during an election rally on Athens' main Syntagma square.
 Popular Unity will be the only anti-memorandum voice in the Parliament, Valavani tells Praktorio 104.9 FMPopular Unity candidate deputy Nadia Valavani on Thursday in statements to Praktorio 104.9 FM said that SYRIZA's contribution to the Greek society was negative.
She argued that SYRIZA "has turned a live anti-memorandum part (of the parliament) to a pro-memorandum one" and that we run the risk in the forthcoming elections "to have a memorandum parliament, in which Popular Unity will be the only anti-memorandum voice. "
 SYRIZA maintaining lead according to most opinion polls on ThursdayA SYRIZA lead over its main rival New Democracy was recorded in most opinion polls published on Thursday, just three days before Greeks head for the polling stations to vote.
A poll conducted by e-voice and published by dikaiologitika.gr showed SYRIZA 3.6 percentage points ahead, while the latest Pro Rata poll published in 'Efimerida ton Syntakton' put SYRIZA's lead at 4 percentage points. A Kapa Research poll for 'To Vima' by contrast reduced SYRIZA's lead to a marginal 0.6 pct, while a Macedonia University poll for SKAI put ND first, about half a percentage point ahead.
According to the e-voice poll of voter intentions, SYRIZA would win the election by 29 pct, followed by ND with 25.4 pct. The far-right Golden Dawn party ranked third with 7.2 pct, followed by Potami (5.1 pct), Communist Party of Greece - KKE (5 pct), PASOK (5 pct), Popular Unity - LAE (4.2 pct) and finally Independent Greeks - ANEL just squeaking into Parliament with 3.1 pct. Union of Centrists was seen staying outside Parliament with 2.6 pct, undecided voters accounted for a further 6.6 pct and the remainder said they would cast their vote for smaller parties or abstain.
Asked to estimate which party was most likely to win the elections, 55.1 pct of respondents said SYRIZA and 26.1 pct said ND.
The poll was conducted over the phone on September 15-16.
According to the Pro Rata poll, SYRIZA leads with 28 pct, ND is second with 24 pct and Golden Dawn ranks third with 7.5 pct. It is followed by Potami (5 pct), KKE (5 pct), PASOK (5 pct), LAE (3 pct), Union of Centrists (3 pct) and lastly ANEL with 2.5 pct, leaving it outside Parliament. An additional 2 pct said 'other' and 15 pct replied 'Don't know/ won't answer'.
The Kapa Research poll, also conducted on September 15-16, forecast a SYRIZA victory with 29 pct with ND a close second at 28.4 pct. Golden Dawn ranked third with 6.7 pct, followed by PASOK (5.9 pct), KKE (5.5 pct), Potami (5 pct), LAE (3.5 pct), Union of Centrists (3.2 pct) and ANEL (3 pct). A further 2.4 pct of the vote went to other parties and 7.4 replied 'Don't know/won't answer'.
The Macedonia University poll predicted an ND victory with 30 pct, followed by SYRIZA (29.5 pct), Golden Dawn (6.5 pct), KKE (5.5 pct), PASOK (5 pct), Potami (5 pct), Union of Centrists (4 pct), LAE (3 pct) and ANEL (2.5 pct). The percentage of undecided voters was 6 pct.
 Greece should respect the timetable for the implementation of the reforms, German FinMin spokesman saysThe German government announced that despite the election campaign, Greece should respect the timetable for the implementation of the reforms envisaged in the third country's bailout, as well as that any government resulting from the elections must implement the agreed programme.
"I guess that very few things are proceeding," German Finance ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said regarding reforms. "However, the agreed timetable still applies," he added.
He also underlined that the reforms provided in the third bailout will have to be implemented regardless of the new government.
"Whatever agreed with Greece is binding," he cleared out. "They cannot change because of a new government."
If during the election campaign in Greece an impression that the new government would renegotiate the economic programme was created, Jaeger stressed: "We do not see it that way."
The spokesman of the German Finance ministry did not say which candidate Berlin prefers. "What we care for is that an efficient government is formed after the elections."
 INTERVIEW: Journalist Paul Mason speaks about the european economy, the debt and refugee crisisPaul Mason, economic editor of British broadcaster Channel 4 and author of several books, among them "PostCapitalism- A guide to our Future", talks to ANA-MPA about the economic situation in Europe, the debt crisis and the refugee crisis.
Paul Mason believes that Greece "is more than just a hostage of the international banking system. It is a laboratory of a new kind of Europe" and thinks that there isn't a single serious economist who believes Greek debt is viable. He also points out that the refugee crisis has just began, and is threatening the European project.
This is the full text of the interview with Paul Mason :
Q - Mr. Mason in a speech a few months ago you declared that "capitalism is dying". What's next?
P. Mason - Capitalism is going to take a lot of time to die. And in my book "PostCapitalism" what we are exploring is the impact of information technology on the market. Now this seems a long way from what is happening in Greece. Greece's problems are incredibly immediate and due to the old forms of capitalism we know as neoliberalism. Greece is going to be put through yet another memorandum of austerity. But I think that even in a country like yours we do see the beginnings of an alternative economy which I've been writing about. The "Omicron project" in Greece recorded something like seventy alternative economic projects, parallel currencies, time banks. Even in beleaguered Greece there is the beginning, I think, of an economy that can change the way we live.
Q - In Greece many people think that the country has become a hostage of the international banking system.
Do you agree?
P. Mason - Greece is more than just a hostage of the international banking system. I think it is laboratory of a new kind of Europe. The euro, we as economists observed emerging in the early parts of the 2000 decade, was advertised as a collaborative project to create a single currency and eventually a single banking system. What we have now, I think, is a machine for destroying jobs. It's not only destroying jobs in southern Europe, where as you know we have youth unemployment that is at spectacular and tragic levels, but even in Germany where we have the so called "black zeros" principle of no government deficit. It is strangling investment, it is strangling the ability of Germany to modernize itself and my fear is that the new orthodoxy, the German imprint on the euro, will actually strangle the European economy. So whatever happens to Greece, the project itself is in danger.
Q - Regarding the big problem in Greece - the Greek debt. Is there any way that it could become viable?
P. Mason - I don't know any serious economist who believes the Greek debt is viable. That is why in the aftermath of the third memorandum I said that either there is debt restructuring or there will be yet another debt crisis and this applies of course to whoever is in power - whether it's New Democracy, whether it's SYRIZA, whether it's a new coalition - they are going to have the problem that the measures designed in the July memorandum will cause another recession and unless the debt is completely restructured it will not be paid. I think that this is the number one fact Greeks have to get their heads around.
Q - Which political party in Greece could negotiate and maybe persuade our lenders to change their view regarding our debt ?
P. Mason - I don't know. My job as a journalist is to stand above, to cover the political debate, but to stand above from it. I think that it is clear from the response of the population to what happened in July, that there is still an incredible attachment of the Greek people to the euro as a project. And therefore it is logical to say you certainly can't do that kind of social justice project containing the "Thessaloniki program" of SYRIZA inside the euro. Not inside the euro dominated by Germany. But you can do a lot. You can do other things. This I think is the logic of Tsipras' argument in the current election; that the elected government can do other things. And of course if there were an elected government that succeeded in negotiating debt restructuring then that would be a very interesting moment because in addition to the third memorandum, that gives Greece much better terms on the primary surplus requirement, if on top of that you got debt relief, I think you'd have to call that some kind of qualified victory. There is a kind of helpful faction inside the euro - the French and the Italians - and there is a vindictive faction inside the euro which is the Germans, the Lithuanians and the Estonians and the vindictive faction probably believes that it will never grant debt relief, unless it is to a Greek government it likes, which means a government to the right.
Q. - Mr. Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the economic crisis in the Eurozone is not over and the situation in Greece will worsen. I would like your estimation on that.
P. Mason - He is right on both counts. Actually the economic crisis in the euro depends on - first of all whether or not the global economy can survive the slowdown in China. If there is a slowdown in China and China reacts with its own monetary loosening - so this means that it prints more money, that it gives more soft loans and it devaluates its own currency against the world - then this is like canceling the impact of the eurozone's quantitive easing, and then the eurozone will have to do more. And my fear is that the global economy will enter a deflation period because effectively the only growth engine that was left to us was China and its growth matters. The Eurozone is the opposite to a growth engine; it is a stagnation machine and no amount of jobs created, you know, cheap labor jobs created in Hungary and in Germany can offset the huge structural unemployment the system is creating across southern Europe.
Q - And finally, which problem is most severe for Europe - the debt crisis or the flow of refugees?
P. Mason - I think that the refugee crisis is something that those of us who knew the issue - I've covered the refugee problem and the plight of the refugees in Greece for the last three or four years - so people like me knew in advance and told people that this would happen. I think that the big problem with the refugees is only beginning because the Hungarians insist on closing their border with razor wire, and this will create a very rapid backwash of very distressed people going right the way from the Serbian-Hungarian border, right the way through to Piraeus, right the way through to Lesvos, right the way back to Anatolia, in Turkey. The message from Merkel, "come to Germany", would become "Hey, we couldn't come to Germany and what would we do?" My most immediate worry is for the incoming government in Greece to get its head around what it does about migration. I think there was an unannounced policy of turning Greece into a transit route. It may be an option in three or four weeks' time, unless there is a Europe-wide solution. So obviously the answer to your question is obviously the most pressing issue right now, not just for the Eurozone, but for the European Union, is to do something coordinated on refugees. If it doesn't, which I think we have seen twice during the summer, we will see major European institutions and values disregarded. If Europe cannot do something for the refugees then Europe as a project will look very dysfunctional.
 Greek parties slam Golden Dawn leader for statement on murdered musicianGreek parties strongly condemned on Thursday comments by Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos, who said during an interview with private radio station Real FM that his party assumes the "political responsibility" for the murder of an anti-fascist musician in 2013, though not the criminal responsibility.
The statement comes a day before the two-year anniversary of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.
SYRIZA said the assumption of political responsibility of the murder of the musician by the leader of GD one day before the anniversary of the murder, "outrages every democratic citizen who is struggling and wants the rule of law."
"The heinous crime revealed to the entire Greek society the odious face of GD: a murderous, fascist gang directed against the weak, using as a pretext a spurious anti-systemic rhetoric, which is absolutely convenient for the system," SYRIZA added.
New Democracy noted the need to defend democracy by being alert. "We shuddered from the brazen statement on taking the political responsibility for the death of Pavlos Fyssas by the head of Golden Dawn. It is a provocative confession made during the election campaign to terrorize citizens and parties." The party also noted that this event shows that a punishment vote reinforces extreme parties and hurt democracy.
"Mihalliakos' confession proves that the murder of Pavlos Fyssas was not an isolated incident, but a result of the fascist ideology, organization and action of the neo-Nazi organization," Popular Unity said in a statement. The party described Mihaloliakos' statements as a "shock-confession" which proves Fyssas' murder was not an isolated incident.
Potami said the admission shows in the "most unequivocal terms the criminal character of this organization" noting that after this undisguised confession nobody has the right to say they were misled. "Every vote to Golden Dawn is a reward for its criminal acts. It is everyone's duty to fight so that on Sunday they will not to allow the leader of a criminal gang to claim the third exploratory mandate," the party said.
"Greek men and women must respond to the provocation and close the door to the gang of murderers," PASOK said in a press release.
On their side, the Independent Greeks (ANEL) lambasted Mihaloliakos for his "immense cowardice" and the "repugnant face of the neo-Nazi organization", adding that the statement highlights "the cynicism of the purely electoral considerations" he made with the provocative confession.
 ECB lowers ELA ceiling for Greek banksThe European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday lowered the ceiling for emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) Greek lenders can tap from the Greek central bank by around 200 million euros to 88.9 billion euros.
The situation in the Greek banking system will be re-assessed on October 6.
 Nearly one in four businesses inspected last week were violating tax rules, finance ministry reportsMore than 23 pct of Greek businesses - or nearly one in four - were found to have infringed tax rules during on-the-spot inspections conducted by various branches finance ministry inspectors last week. The ministry services conducted 2,959 inspections on 2,940 businesses and discovered violations in 691 cases.
The rate is slightly higher than that of recent ministry inspections over a series of weeks, where 6,970 violations were recorded in a total of 35,859 inspections of 34,642 businesses.
The majority of the violations, around 88 pct, concerned a failure to issue or the issue of inaccurate tax information, such as receipts. Tax office inspectors also confiscated six cash registers.
Delinquency rates were even higher in the inspections carried out by the Public Revenue Investigation Service, running at over 50 pct, and again involved mainly the failure to issue receipts.
 Greek unemployment rate fell to 24.6 pct in Q2Greek unemployment rate fell significantly to 24.6 pct of the workforce in the second quarter of 2015, from 26.6 pct in the first quarter and 26.6 pct in the second quarter of 2014, totaling 1,180,141 people, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
In a report, the statistics service, said that structural problems such as high unemployment among young people (49.5 pct) and that long-tern unemployment accounted for 73.1 pct of total unemployment still remained.
The number of unemployed people fell 7.3 pct compared with the first quarter of 2015 and by 7.8 pct compared with the second quarter last year. Unemployment among women was 28.3 pct (down from 30.4 pct in 2014) while among men it fell to 21.5 pct from 23.5 pct.
The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group fell to 49.5 pct from 52 pct last year, in the 25-29 age group it fell to 35.7 pct from 40 pct, in the 30-44 age group it fell to 23.8 pct from 25.5 pct, in the 45-64 age group it eased to 18.8 pct from 19.9 pct and in the above 65 age group it fell to 9.9 pct from 10.2 pct. A 13.2 pct of unemployed people sought exclusively full-time job, while a 80.1 pct was willing to work part-time job if necessary and a 6.7 pct was searching for part-time job or no job at all. Unemployment among foreign citizens was 29.6 pct, while people with no education at all recorded the highest unemployment rate (52.5 pct).
Among the country's regions, Western Macedonia (30.1 pct from 27.3 pct in 2014), Western Greece (27.8 pct form 29.9 pct) and Thessaly (25.8 pct from 25.1 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, followed by Central Macedonia (25.6 pct from 29.4 pct), Central Greece (25.3 pct from 26.8 pct), Attica (25 pct from 27.4 pct), Epirus (23.8 pct from 28.3 pct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (23.4 pct from 23.8 pct), the Peloponese (22.9 pct from 23.6 pct), Crete (22.7 pct from 22.8 pct), Ionian Islands (19.8 pct from 21.1 pct), Northern Aegean (19.4 pct from 22.7 pct) and Southern Aegean (13.4 pct from 17.9 pct).
The number of employed people grew 3.5 pct to 3,625,545 in the second quarter, compared with the previous quarter and by 2.4 pct compared with the same period last year.
The primary sector recorded a 0.7 pct decline in the number of employed people, while the secondary and third sectors recorded increases of 1.3 pct and 3.3 pct respectively. Part-time employment accounted for 9.5 pct of total employment. Wage earners accounted for 64.8 pct of total employment, still very low compared with an 83.5 pct average in the European Union.
 Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies takes action to promote religious tourismThe Special Synodical Committee for Pilgrims Tours of the Church of Greece and the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) announced on Thursday their collaboration in an effort to strengthen religious tourism.
More specifically, they decided upon coordinated actions to promote religious monuments, monasteries and shrines of Greece in order to facilitate pilgrimage groups and boost tourism.
 EU Court rules air carriers to compensate passengers in flight cancellation due to unforeseen technical problemsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Court ruled on Thursday that "even in the event of a flight cancellation on account of unforeseen technical problems, air carriers are required to compensate passengers."
However, certain technical problems resulting, in particular, from hidden manufacturing defects affecting the safety of flights or acts of sabotage or terrorism may exempt air carriers from their obligation to pay compensation.
Under EU law, in case of cancellation of a flight, air carriers are required to provide adequate care for the passengers concerned and to pay compensation (between 250 euros and 600 euros, depending on the distance).
 Greek wine production is seen down this yearGreece's wine production is expected to be very low this year, according to the first estimates of the Production Reconstruction Ministry on Thursday.
More specifically, the total production volume is seen at 2.65 million hectoliters, down by 5.36 percent compared to last year.
According to Greece's central cooperative union of vineyard products, this year's production will be 12.28 percent lower compared with the average volume of the last five years and by 30.1 percent lower compared with the average volume of the last decade. The main reason for the decline in production is the adverse weather conditions which hit large vineyard regions such as Achaia, Korinth and Herakleion, Crete island.
 Greek stocks end flatGreek stocks ended flat on Thursday as the market froze ahead of Federal Reserve's decision on monetary policy in the US and ahead of a crucial vote on Sunday in the country. The composite index ended 0.02 pct lower at 692.30 points, after falling as much as 1.08 pct early in the day. The Large Cap index rose 0.34 pct and the Mid Cap index eased 0.89 pct. Turnover was a low 45.241 million euros in volume of 126,702,546.
Metka (3.89 pct), National Bank (3.57 pct), OPAP (3.38 pct) and Ellaktor (3.25 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (4.60 pct), Grivalia (3.03 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.52 pct) and PPC (2.07 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Commerce (2.72 pct), Travel (2.33 pct) and Telecoms (1.91 pct) scored big gains, while Personal Products (4.0 pct), Health (3.99 pct) and Real Estate (1.82 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners narrowly led advancers by 44 to 43 with another 26 issues unchanged. Kathimerini (19.83 pct), Yalco (19.67 pct) and Alpha Astika (19.63 pct) were top gainers, while Kreka (20.0 pct), ANEK (11.76 pct) and Elgeka (9.91 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 7.58 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.73 pct the previous day. The Greek bond yielded 8.33 pct and the German Bund 0.77 pct. Sentiment in the market is steadily improving, in contrast to what usually happened in previous elections in the country. The 10-year Greek bond yield has fallen to 8.3 pct from 10 pct in August 24. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.156 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.088 pct, the six-month rate was 0.036 pct, the three-month rate dropped to -0.037 pct from -0.036 pct, and the one-month rate was -0.103 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.24 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index was 4,130 contracts with 11,573 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 133,702 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (48,595), followed by Alpha Bank (18,111), Piraeus Bank (30,379), National Bank (12,179), MIG (14,005), OTE (1,517), PPC (2,502), OPAP (689), Hellenic Exchanges (459), Viohalco (110), Mytilineos (1,034), Hellenic Petroleum (523), Motor Oil (403), Metka (194), GEK (1,042), Ellaktor (896), Folli Follie (116), Jumbo (235), Frigoglass (356) and Korinth Pipeworks (160).
 'Our town no longer exists.' Wheelchair-bound refugee Aime recounts her family's story on the long road to Mytilene"Our town no longer exists." Syrian refugee Aime sits in her wheelchair in Mytilene port, along with her husband Omer, their two children and three or four thousand other migrants and refugees, recounting her family's story in perfect English.
"Our country Syria no longer exists either," Omer cuts in. They are both less than 30 years old, their children under five. They paid 1,500 dollars each for a place on one of the flimsy rubber dinghies that make the crossing to Lesvos each day, as well as 750 dollars for each of their children and an extra 1,000 dollars to take Aime's wheelchair!
A form of myopathy has left Aime disabled from the waist down but this does not prevent her from caring for their two children, nor does it prevent Omer from loving and caring for her. They left Syria, fleeing the war, and crossed the border into Turkey between water pumps and barbed wire. At one point, Omer was forced to carry Aime, the children and the wheelchair to get across.
"There was nothing else I could do," he said.
"Where are you heading?" we ask them.
"Germany," they reply.
When asked what they will do when they get there, all they say is that they want to live.
Then we lose sight of them among the throng of fellow refugees, to fight another battle: that for the ticket that will allow them to get on a boat to Piraeus and complete another leg of their long journey.
We wish them good luck. They're going to need it.
 Relatives of 34 victims of Farmakonisi sailboat wreck to identify bodies on ThursdayFourty-seven relatives of the victims of the fatal sailboat wreck near the islet Farmakonisi last Sunday will be called at the hospital of Rhodes on Thursday morning to identify the bodies recovered from the sea, authorities announced on Wednesday.
The relatives arrived by ferry from Leros earlier today, assisted by the Southern Aegean Prefecture which is covering the cost of their transfer, food and accommodation.
The sailboat sank on the early hours of Sunday (Sept. 13) off the island of Farnmakonisi, resulting in the death of 34 people, including four babies and 11 children. Five Syrian and two Pakistani nationals who were arrested as suspected traffickers and operators of the boat appeared before the prosecutor in Kos on Wednesday and were charged with committing a felony.
 Fair on FridayMostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Temperatures in the northern parts will range from 17C-33C. In the western parts from 18C-33C and in the eastern parts between 15C-33C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 22C-32C. Fair in Athens, 20C-33C; the same for the Thessaloniki, 17C-31C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Confession of guilt by (New Democracy leader Evangelos) Meimarakis
DIMOKRATIA: Conflicts between social security funds
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Possible cooperation with New Democracy would cancel SYRIZA's identity and programme, its leader Alexis Tsipras says
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: (Former minister Alekos) Flambouraris is a super-hero
ESTIA: Banks have burdened the debt
ETHNOS: The secrets of the election map
IMERISSIA: Anxiety over the revenues
KATHIMERINI: Fight until the last vote
NAFTEMPORIKI: The reasons of the failure of the memoranda
RIZOSPASTIS: A step to the road of reversal based on a strong communist party KKE
TA NEA: The foreigners' estimates on the Greek elections
TO PONTIKI: Thriller over the undecided
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