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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-09-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 29 September 2015 Issue No: 5032


  • [01] Growth and investments, reducing the public debt are basic issues for Greece's economy, PM Tsipras tells Bill Clinton
  • [02] PM Tsipras' visit to the US focuses on debt and growth, says gov't spokesman Gerovassili
  • [03] PM Tsipras meets with Brazilian, Ecuadorean presidents in New York
  • [04] Tsipras discusses Syrian and refugee crisis with Israel's Netanyahu
  • [05] High-level meetings scheduled for PM Tsipras in New York on Tuesday
  • [06] OECD leader Gurria tells Tsipras he's ready to help on reforms promoting meritocracy
  • [07] ND on PM Tsipras's speech at UN assembly
  • [08] New Democracy accuses Tsipras of 'irresponsible' comments during US visit
  • [09] FM Kotzias' schedule in the US
  • [10] President refers to 'historic ties' with China in message for 66th PRC anniversary
  • [11] Energy Minister Skourletis: No further privatisation of PPC
  • [12] EU technical staff to arrive this week for the first evaluation
  • [13] Minister says he plans to unify tax, social security and ID numbers
  • [14] MP Adonis Georgiadis to run for New Democracy's leadership
  • [15] Potami criticises government for spreading 'imaginative scenarios' on possible tax improvements
  • [16] Defence minister meets commander of U.S. Army Europe in Athens
  • [17] Greece to abolish lower VAT rate in 6 popular islands on October 1
  • [18] National Bank chief Katseli positive on business initiatives' financing after recapitalization
  • [19] Greece is missing VAT revenues, needs more efficient tax collection, says Commission
  • [20] National Bank says no decisions yet on Turkish subsidiary Finansbank
  • [21] Piraeus Bank in DowJones Sustainability Index Emerging Markets
  • [22] Eurobank reports higher pre-provision earnings in Q2
  • [23] Intrasoft International signs new customs project in Sweden
  • [24] Food retail sector sales down in 2015, survey
  • [25] "Passenger rights" campaign at Athens International Airport
  • [26] Greek stocks end sharply lower
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Airports in Rhodes, Kastelorizo return to normal operation after storm closures
  • [30] Terror suspect Giorgos Petrakakos and partner remanded in custody
  • [31] Counter-terrorism squad finds hidden arsenal at Molos farmhouse
  • [32] Art and Education conference on October 3-4
  • [33] Obesity the biggest health threat faced by Greeks, major study shows
  • [34] Migrants and refugees at Tae Kwon Do stadium transferred to hockey field at Elliniko
  • [35] Total eclipse of supermoon from the Nymphs Hill
  • [36] Conservation group 'Callisto' rescue bear from illegal snare trap
  • [37] Clouds, rain on Tuesday
  • [38] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Growth and investments, reducing the public debt are basic issues for Greece's economy, PM Tsipras tells Bill Clinton

    The return of growth and investments to Greece were key points emphasised by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in a one-on-one public discussion he held with former U.S. president Bill Clinton during the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City on Sunday.

    Tsipras responded to questions by the former president in an informal and amiable discussion before an audience. The talk was introduced by ambassador Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

    Titled "Advancing Growth in Europe: The Greek Crisis & Beyond," the conversation focused on how Greece could overcome the crisis. Tsipras focused on investments, which he said could be attracted from the United States Greek Americans but other countries of the globe as well. Greece had the advantages of a stable government and of serving as a stable reference point in a volatile area, the PM added.

    Growth and investments would benefit most from the lowering of the public debt, he stressed. Just as his government would honour its commitments to Europe, so should Europe honour its commitments to Greece, by helping it lower the public debt.

    The prime minister emphasised research and technology as a sector in need of investments, saying this was also a sector that would help retain Greece's precious human resources, its young people, who were leaving the country.

    He said his government was committed to reforming the public sector to aid in this endeavor, and understood that bureaucracy and tax laws also needed to be addressed.

    [02] PM Tsipras' visit to the US focuses on debt and growth, says gov't spokesman Gerovassili

    Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Monday said that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' participation in the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly gives the opportunity for a series of meetings within the framework of the government's multi-dimensional policy.

    The prime minister's visit to the US has three aims: the discussion on debt, political stability, and economic stability based on recovery and growth.

    On Monday, Tsipras will participate in the UN summit and attend the speeches of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, Brazil's President Dilma Vana Rousseff and US President Barack Obama. In the afternoon he will attend a luncheon hosted by Ban Ki-moon and in the evening he will attend a reception hosted by the US President and the First Lady to the heads of delegations.

    He will also have bilateral meetings with the presidents of China, Egypt, Brazil, Ecuador and possibly Venezuela.

    Regarding the meeting with the President of China, Xi Jinping, the discussion will focus on bilateral relations, economic and cultural issues and maritime cooperation.

    On Tuesday morning he will meet with President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and in the afternoon he will meet with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The meeting with Albanian Prime Minister will take place either on Monday or Tuesday. He will also attend the reception of the European Council President Donald Tusk and in the evening he will meet with representatives of the Greek American Community.

    On Wednesday, he will meet with President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and late afternoon with the US Secretary of State John Kerry, in the presence of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

    ???On Thursday, the last day of the visit, he will meet with Archbishop Demetrios of America and possibly the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio.

    ???Due to his busy schedule, the Greek Prime Minister will not meet with the IMF chief Christine Lagarde. However, Economy Minister George Stathakis will meet with Lagarde.

    [03] PM Tsipras meets with Brazilian, Ecuadorean presidents in New York

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on the sidelines of the UN's general assembly in New York on Monday.

    In his talks with Rousseff, Tsipras discussed strengthening the economic cooperation between the two countries, specifically in the agricultural sector, the aerospace industry and energy. They also decided to establish a Committee of experts to promote talks on these issues, while Tsipras invited Rousseff in Athens in February during the handing over ceremony of the Olympic flame.

    Speaking with Correa, Tsipras discussed the importance of debt restructuring for economic development, the relations between Latin America and the European Union and Greece's role as a bridge.

    [04] Tsipras discusses Syrian and refugee crisis with Israel's Netanyahu

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was congratulated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his election win and invited him to visit Israel, according to his office on Monday.

    The two leaders also discussed the crisis in Syria and the refugee crisis, while Netanyahu expressed his intention to contribute to the government's effort to stem the economic crisis.

    [05] High-level meetings scheduled for PM Tsipras in New York on Tuesday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will hold meetings with the UN's General Secretary Ban Ki -moon and Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades on Tuesday, during his third day in New York.

    - Tsipras to meet Nikos Anastasiades at 09.30-10.00 (NY time)

    - He will then participate in a summit meeting chaired by US President Barack Obama on fighting violent extremism and ISIL at 10.30-14.00 (NY time)

    - Tsipras will attend speech by Cypriot President Anastasiades at 16.00 (NY time)

    - PM will then meet with UN's General Secretary Ban Ki -moon at 17.40-17.50 (NY time)

    - Tsipras will attend an EU reception at 18.30-20.30 (NY time)

    - At 19.30 (NY time), he will meet with representatives of the Diaspora

    - His program will conclude with a dinner organized by the country's permanent representative at 20.30 (NY time)

    [06] OECD leader Gurria tells Tsipras he's ready to help on reforms promoting meritocracy

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke on the phone with the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, on Monday, on the sidelines of the UN's general assembly in New York, his office said.

    According to the press announcement, Gurria stated that he remains available for any help the Greek government might need on promoting reforms which will ensure meritocracy in public administration and address the organized market practices. He also expressed his readiness to provide support for the reform efforts of the Greek government, which form the subject of dialogue with the European Commission.

    The prime minister's office also said that Tsipras had a short meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro before the start of the UN's general assembly, during which Castro said he follows developments in Greece closely and invited the Greek leader to visit Cuba.

    [07] ND on PM Tsipras's speech at UN assembly

    Main opposition New Democracy referred to a 'cheap public relations trick for domestic reasons' criticising prime minister Alexis Tsipras' speech at UN's special assembly on the sustainable growth targets and his reference to the debt issue.

    [08] New Democracy accuses Tsipras of 'irresponsible' comments during US visit

    New Democracy on Monday accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of undermining growth in Greece during his visit to the United States, by referring to the indefinite future the creation a stable taxation system and by stating that attracting investment can create "corrupt relations".

    "Wantonly, irresponsibly and unscrupulously, in an effort to serve partisan interests, he slanders Greece, blocking the way of new investment and undermining any development effort," the party said in a statement.

    [09] FM Kotzias' schedule in the US

    Within the framework of his participation in Ministerial Week of the 70th UN General Assembly, and beyond the meetings to which he will accompany Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will have a bilateral meeting, on Monday, 28 September, with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa and Hashim Tha?i.

    Kotzias will then meet with the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide.

    He will also participate in a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of EU member states.

    [10] President refers to 'historic ties' with China in message for 66th PRC anniversary

    President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday issued a message to mark the 66th anniversary since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, pointing to the historic ties of friendship between the two countries as well as the more recent ties of investment and maritime cooperation.

    "One of the most important ports of the Mediterranean, the port of Piraeus, is a gateway of communication between modern China and Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East," he said, noting that the sea had always been an element connecting the people of China and Greece, as it was today.

    "Greek ships carry a large volume of Chinese trade, Chinese shipyards build Greek ships, Greek cruise ships welcome Chinese tourists that wish to enjoy the Greek summer. We have decided to highlight this element by declaring 2015 the year of Maritime Cooperation between China and Greece," he said.

    Greece, after a difficult period for its economy, had decided to stand on its feet and open its doors to global cooperation, Pavlopoulos said.

    "In this effort, we want China to have a substantial role, not only because it is the most dynamic economy today but also because, in difficult times, it has offered us the support of a good friend," he added, inviting more Chinese companies to invest in Greece and more Greek products to reach the Chinese and Asian markets.

    [11] Energy Minister Skourletis: No further privatisation of PPC

    A further privatisation of Public Power Corporation (PPC) is not in our plans, stated Energy and Environment Minister Panos Skourletis speaking on Monday to private radio Real FM adding that the state will keep the majority stake.

    "There was a lenders' request for the privatisation of the power grid operator ADMIE. They suggested that the agency for the public network not to be a PPC subsidiary but a private entity that would be more objective before PPC and the private energy producers," said Skourletis.

    The minister clarified that "our proposal is an independent from PPC but public agency."

    [12] EU technical staff to arrive this week for the first evaluation

    The technical staff for the first evaluation of the Greek economy within the framework of the memorandum is expected in Athens at the end of this week. The completion of the evaluation is connected with the disbursement of the 2+1 billion euro tranche and the agreement on debt settlement.

    The first officials to come are expected to focus on fiscal and banking issues. The next ones to come will deal with energy issues and public administration.

    According to sources, the first phase of the evaluation will have been completed by October 15 and will have to do with whether and to what point the legislation on secondary, mainly, provisions of the agreement with the lenders has been implemented.

    The evaluation includes the government's plan on bad loans, the speeding up of licensing for companies, the abolition of a 20 percent discount on electricity tariffs for industries and the strengthening of the role of tax administration.

    The second phase of the evaluation to be carried out after October 15 will focus on the 2016 budget, the new mid-term framework, the social security system, the new tax measures, the final solution on bad loans, and the implementation of the reforms included in OECD's toolkit.

    The heads of the institutions are expected to arrive in Athens after the Eurogroup meeting on October 5 and will return in November when the conclusions of the first evaluation will be ready.

    [13] Minister says he plans to unify tax, social security and ID numbers

    Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis said on Monday that his ministry intends to unify the tax identification number (TIN), the identity card number and the social security number, in an effort to tackle bureaucracy.

    The minister, who was talking to private radio station Parapolitika, said the plan was initiated by formed Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis. "We must clash with the monster of bureaucracy that absorbs 6% of our GDP," he noted.

    [14] MP Adonis Georgiadis to run for New Democracy's leadership

    New Democracy MP Adonis Georgiades on Monday announced his intention to run as a candidate for the leadership of ND in a post on his social media accounts.

    "I place myself and my career in politics before the judgement of the members, voters and friends of New Democracy," he said.

    [15] Potami criticises government for spreading 'imaginative scenarios' on possible tax improvements

    The tax burden which the Greeks will be called to pay will be heavy and statements by ministers on supposed improvements in taxation are "imaginative scenarios", Potami party said in a statement on Monday.

    "Mr. [Alexis] Tsipras' lies evaporated even before the ink on the election result had dried," Potami said in a statement. "There should not be any illusions; the tax bill will be heavy. More cuts will be imposed on pensions and wages."

    The party also criticized the government for allowing its ministers to spread "imaginative scenarios" about new tax breaks, knowing that the truth is quite different. The new deal signed by the prime minister, Potami said, includes the elimination of most tax exemptions from income tax, the harmonization of farmers' taxation with that of the self-employed, the abolition of discounts on oil and the tax increase in rents.

    Decent reception conditions must be organized now on Greek islands, head of Medecins Sans Frontieres tells ANA-MPA

    With scorching criticism against all those responsible for the "disgraceful" reception conditions greeting refugees on Greece's islands, the International President of M?decins Sans Fronti?res (MSF) - Doctors Without Borders Joanne Liu told the ANA-MPA that she was "deeply outraged" by what she had seen.

    "It's a disgrace today for us to have to beg for a minimum of decency to be shown to the migrants and refugees arriving in the Greek islands....States can not treat people who are fleeing from countries where there are wars like criminals and perceive them as threats," she underlined.

    Liu was in Greece last weekend in order to examine conditions for refugees at close hand, visiting the island of Lesbos and Eidomeni, as well as Victoria Square in Athens and the port of Piraeus. In an interview with the ANA-MPA shortly before her departure on Sunday, the Canadian paediatrician also said that European leaders had displayed a "tremendous lack of courage and humanity" at their recent EU summit.

    "The EU, the Greek state and the UNHCR have to take their responsibilities and basic and humane reception needs to be organized now on all Greek islands," she said.

    The MSF provide medical care and reception support services to newly arrived refugees on the islands of Kos and Lesbos. They have recently launched a mobile medical unit for the Dodecanese island group and provide medical care and aid supplies in Eidomeni.

    The full interview is given below:

    1. What did you see in Lesvos and Eidomeni regarding the refugees and their living conditions?

    I find it disgraceful that in the 21st century, in a European country, the basic human and decent reception conditions are not met. There is right now no more food distributions in Lesbos and insufficient shelter options for the people arriving. On an island like Kos, there is not a single place where the people can find shelter, food and access toilets and showers. The one place that used to exist and where Medecins sans frontieres was working - the Captain Elias Camp - was shut down two weeks ago. These living conditions have a clear impact on the health of our patients.

    Beyond the living conditions on the islands, what is striking is the distress and vulnerability that I saw in the refugees and migrants I met. The relief and exuberance they feel when they arrive, after surviving the boat trip from Turkey, is short-lived and quickly gives way to anxiety. The Greek islands are for them only the beginning of a long journey into the unknown, across many different countries. A journey which I would describe as the heart of darkness: they don't know what will happen, they're constantly on their guard, like trapped animals in a maze.

    2. Which are the responsibilities of the Greek authorities and what responsibilities do you believe that the European Union has for this situation?

    It's a disgrace today for us to have to beg for a minimum of decency to be shown to the migrants and refugees arriving in the Greek islands. Minimum decency is a right and there are reception standards in the European Union that member states should observe. I'm deeply outraged by what I've seen. It's completely unacceptable that people have to sleep on the ground in Lesbos, in Kos, in Leros to just name a few, that they have no access to food and no access to toilets there.

    I would also like to add that everybody has a right to hope for and dream of a brighter future. We can not take that from people. States can not treat people who are fleeing from countries where there are wars like criminals and perceive them as threats.

    3. How do you comment on the European leaders' summit decisions?

    It is to me the sign of a tremendous lack of courage and humanity on the side of the European leaders. A human crisis cannot be simplified to figures. It's as if they decided to bury their heads in the sand. They refuse to understand that fences, winter and inhumane reception conditions will not deter people looking for survival to seek refuge in Europe. There is nothing in the EU leaders' proposal in terms of offering alternatives to the dangerous sea crossing, there is still no safe passage for these people to seek asylum in Europe and no welcome. We are not talking about generosity here, we are talking about states' obligations and common responsibility.

    4.You met many refugees during your visit to Lesvos and Eidomeni. Which was the most moving story that they shared with you?

    One conversation that I am - among many others - going to take back with me, is a Syrian family trying to explain to me why they had left their home country in Lesbos and saying: "every day in Syria we die".

    5. What is your personal vision and target about MSF's mission regarding the refugees?

    Today, the priority is to ensure that the basic needs of the people are met (meaning shelter, food and basic hygiene with toilets and showers) for their dignity. The EU, the Greek state and the UNHCR have to take their responsibilities and basic and humane reception needs to be organized now on all Greek islands.

    [16] Defence minister meets commander of U.S. Army Europe in Athens

    National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Monday received the commander of the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) Lieutenant General Frederick (Ben) Hodges in Athens. During the meeting, they discussed issues concerning bilateral Greek-U.S. cooperation for regional security.

    The meeting was attended by the head of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (HNDGS) Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGS) chief Lieutenant General Vasilios Tellidis and the U.S. Ambassador in Athens David Pearce.

    It had been preceded by a one-on-one meeting between Admiral Apostolakis and Lt. Gen. Hodges, who is carrying out an official visit to Greece.

    Financial News

    [17] Greece to abolish lower VAT rate in 6 popular islands on October 1

    Six popular Greek islands will be the first to switch to higher VAT rates on October 1 with more to follow in the next two years, the finance ministry announced on Monday. The measure is part of the agreed reforms pledged in the third bailout agreement signed between Greece and its creditors.

    Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Naxos, Paros and Skiathos will now have to implement a 6 pct, 13 pct and 23 pct VAT, as is applicable in the rest of the country, with the next two groups of islands switching on June 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017.

    "It is clear that this development is a political necessity for the government (and not a choice) resulting from the agreement with the institutions and a key step in advancing the [program] review and the next steps," the ministry said.

    It added that a joint ministerial decision will be published with the Interior and Economy ministries and that some measures will be introduced with the new taxation bill to compensate residents on islands that need it most.

    [18] National Bank chief Katseli positive on business initiatives' financing after recapitalization

    The Greek banking sector will be in a position to finance viable business and investment initiatives with an export and innovative orientation in a series of sectors in which the country has comparative advantages after the completion of the bank recapitalization this year, without a haircut in deposits, and with European Central Bank's liquidity channels open, Luca Katseli, chief of National Bank, said, addressing the annual Clinton Global Initiative Congress in New York.

    She was speaking during a discussion on "The Greek Crisis and Beyond" together with Nobelist Joseph Stiglitz.

    Katseli stressed that despite difficulties arising from an agreement reached with the country's creditors, 2015 could become a landmark in restarting the Greek economy if conditions for political and economic stability are met and a wide-spread consensus on implementing specific reforms and commitments which will allow a sustainable economic transformation of the Greek economy. A simpler and more stable tax system, lifting all bureaucratic hurdles for starting, licensing and operation of enterprises and accelerating judicial procedures, are the cornerstones for boosting investments and improving economic competitiveness in the country, National Bank's president said.

    [19] Greece is missing VAT revenues, needs more efficient tax collection, says Commission


    Greece's taxation system needs, among others, more efficient revenue collection and better VAT compliance, the European Commission said in its annual report on tax reforms in EU member-states presented on Monday.

    According to the report, the VAT compliance gap in Greece exceeds the EU average; however it is possible to improve tax compliance. In the telecommunications sector, in particular, Greece could improve the efficiency of the VAT system, by limiting the use of reduced rates and non-mandatory exceptions and by broadening the VAT base.

    Concerning the other member-states, the Commission states that progress has been made in improving their taxation systems, but most countries still face significant challenges and must continue their efforts.

    [20] National Bank says no decisions yet on Turkish subsidiary Finansbank

    National Bank is examining options for any capital shortfalls that may emerge after he completion of the European Central Bank's stress tests, but has not made any decisions regarding its Turkish subsidiary, Finansbank, the Greek lender said in a statement on Monday.

    The bank was responding to press reports claiming that it plans to sell its majority stake in the Turkish lender.

    "In view of the completion of the results of the AQR and the stress tests conducted by the ECB, National Bank is examining, as required, a number of alternative proposals for the timely coverage of any recapitalization needs," National Bank said.

    "During this exploratory phase and until the completion of the relative exercises by the ECB it is premature to make any forecast on the implementation of the specific strategy on those mentioned in the press reports," it added.

    [21] Piraeus Bank in DowJones Sustainability Index Emerging Markets

    Piraeus Bank was included in DowJones Sustainability Index Emerging Markets for a second year, following an assessment by RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment.

    Piraeus Bank is the only Greek company to be listed in the index, which includes 10 pct of the best companies from a list of 800 largest enterprises in developing markets.

    [22] Eurobank reports higher pre-provision earnings in Q2

    Eurobank on Monday announced higher pre-provision earnings (excluding financial and other income) by 1.1 pct in the second quarter from the first quarter, to 204 million euros and said that operating spending fell 0.5 pct on a quarterly basis, while new NPLs fell to 119 million euros from 391 million over the same period.

    Net interest income grew 1.4 pct in the April-June period to 378 million euros, from 373 million in the first quarter, reflecting a continuing reduction of saving cost in Greece and an increase in lending margin. The cost of time deposits fell significantly after the end of the second quarter of 2015. Net revenue from fees and commissions grew 10.8 pct in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period in 2014, but fell 5.4 pct to 72 million euros in the second quarter. Expenses fell 0.5 pct to 247 million euros.

    NPLs accounted for 34.3 pct of loan portfolio, while pre-provision loans were almost unchanged at 52.8 billion euros. Loans to enterprises and households totaled 27.4 billion euros and 25.3 billion euros, respectively, at the end of second quarter.

    Deposits fell by 3.9 billion euros in the second quarter to 31 billion euros. Borrowing from the Eurosystem grew to 32.7 billion euros at the end of June from 29.1 billion at the end of March, of which 9.8 billion euros were loans from the ECB and 22.9 billion from the ELA.

    [23] Intrasoft International signs new customs project in Sweden

    Intrasoft International has been selected by the Swedish Customs as a key part of its wider technology upgrade programme, marking this project as the latest success for the ESKORT solution.

    The ESKORT Compliance Solution is an integrated suite of systems providing support for all the main compliance processes within a Customs or Taxation Authority.

    The Swedish Customs project has a 3-year duration followed by an 8-year -annually approved- extension for maintenance and support. The budget estimation by client for the entire period is 1.9 million euros.

    The project scope includes the configuration of the ESKORT Clearance Risk Analysis System, the development of a results-processing module and a notification system (email, sms), the installation of the customized ESKORT Clearance Risk Analysis System on customer infrastructure, the initiation of the delivery inspection and the provision of user, operational and technical training, as well as support and maintenance services.

    [24] Food retail sector sales down in 2015, survey

    Food retail sector sales are expected to fall by 1.9 pct this year, the Consumer Goods Retail Commerce Research Institute (IELKA) said on Monday.

    IELKA, in an analysis based on previous months' developments and an expected impact on the market from recent changes in a sales tax and economic developments, said that the market is expected to shrink by 1.9 pct this year, after rising by 1.25 pct in the first half (sales jumped around 6.0 pct in July). IELKA said the second half of the year was expected to be hit from higher VAT and a deteriorating consumer sentiment and noted that the Christmas season would be crucial for the sector which enjoys more than 10 pct of annual sales.

    IELKA said sales are expected to fall by 2-4 pct next year, affected by higher taxes and a general economic uncertainty. This decline in the market is expected to reduce annual state revenues by 14-15 pct (90-100 million euros).

    Sales fell more than 2.0 pct last year, or by 450 million euros in 2014.

    IELKA said that supermarket sales accounted for 54 pct of total sales in Greece, down from an average rate of 75 pct in Europe and more than 90 pct in Northern Europe. The Institute said that the supermarket sector will suffer losses of more than 25 pct in an eight-year period.

    [25] "Passenger rights" campaign at Athens International Airport

    The European Consumer's Center and the Independent Authority "Consumer Ombudsman" hold a two day event on 27 and 28 September at the Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" on "Air Transport Passenger Rights".

    During the event, the Athens International Airport visitors, particularly the European citizens, will have the opportunity to get informed on the European Consumer Center network services through a video that will be screened as well as through the informative material that will be distributed.

    Members of the "Consumer Ombudsman" and the "European Consumer Center in Greece" will be at the Departures Hall and will brief the passengers on the rights from 12:00-16:00 on Monday and Tuesday.

    [26] Greek stocks end sharply lower

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as bank shares came under strong selling pressure (the index fell 14.14 pct) on worries over the cost of a recapitalisation of the country's four systemic banks. The composite index of the market fell 3.03 pct to end at 654.70 points. The Large Cap index fell 3.22 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 1.94 pct. Turnover was a thin 18.851 million euros, in volume of 130,504,837.

    OPAP (0.76 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while Eurobank (19.35 pct), Alpha Bank (16.30 pct), Piraeus bank (15.96 pct), National Bank (12.88), Viohalco (6.05 pct), PPC (5.59 pct) and Mytilineos (4.28 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Insurance (4.93 pct) and Travel (0.38 pct) scored gains, while Banks (15.14 pct), Personal Products (4.30 pct), Raw Materials (4.21 pct) and Utilities (3.89 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 73 to 22 with another 10 issues unchanged. Kathimerini (19.64 pct), Nexans (10 pct) and Audiovisual (9.88 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobank (19.35 pct), Altec (16.67 pct) and Attica Bank (16.67 pct) were top losers.

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 7.65 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.25 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.60 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.145 pct from 0.146 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.078 pct from 0.081 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.029 pct from 0.030 pct, the three-month rate was unchanged at -0.0141 pct and the one-month rate was -0.111 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.35 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,294 contracts with 9,979 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 55,938 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (22,019), followed by National Bank (8,238), Piraeus Bank (13,765), Eurobank (10,283), OTE (102), PPC (695), OPAP (217), Hellenic Exchanges (105), Mytilineos (92), Hellenic Petroleum (40), Motor Oil (43), Metka (44), GEK (43) and Ellaktor (34).

    General News

    Rain and thunderstorms expected in eastern Greece and Crete to continue to Tuesday, meteorological service warns

    Eastern Greece and the islands will be lashed by rain and thunderstorms will be possible as of Sunday night, the National Metereological Service (EMY) warned late on Sunday.

    Starting with Crete, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace on Sunday, rain and thunderstorms will move on towards Central Macedonia (Halkidiki peninsula and further East) to Thrace on Monday.

    The weather on Monday will also affect northern/eastern Aegean Islands and Crete, and briefly the eastern Cyclades, the Dodecanese and the Sporades islands. The weather will abate in the south by late evening.

    Central Macedonia to Thrace will still be pelted by rain on Tuesday, possibly spreading to the Sporades and northern/eastern Aegean Islands and northern Evia.

    Local authorities have been alerted by the Interior & Decentralisation ministry.

    [29] Airports in Rhodes, Kastelorizo return to normal operation after storm closures

    Air traffic has been restored in the airports of Rhodes and Kastelorizo in the southeastern Aegean after local authorities rectified the damages caused on the runways by the storms of the last few days.

    With the joint efforts of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the South Aegean Region and local municipalities, flights are conducted smoothly and without any delays, the airports said.

    [30] Terror suspect Giorgos Petrakakos and partner remanded in custody

    Suspected terrorist Giorgos Petrakakos and his partner are to be remanded in custody after testifying before the 17th examining magistrate on Monday. They face three criminal and a series of misdemeanour charges following their arrest by the counter-terrorism squad in Volos.

    According to sources, Petrakakos denied all involvement in acts of terrorism but admitted to owning the guns found by the counter-terrorism squad on his premises. He claimed the weapons had not been used and that he kept them in a locked cupboard for safekeeping, so that neither his wife or children could have access to them.

    His 36-year-old partner and mother of his two children - aged two and four, respectively - said that she had never seen either of the two fire-arms and that "the life we led was absolutely normal. I concerned myself only with raising my two children."

    She admitted to knowing about her partner's criminal past, saying she learned about it when she was pregnant with their first child.

    The other two suspects arrested during the recent counter-terrorism operation in Volos and Athens were given a new date and will appear before the magistrate on Tuesday.

    The four have been charged with committing acts of terror, weapons possession and robbery, as well as the lesser charges of harbouring a criminal and forgery.

    Police consider Petrakakos to be a close associate of convicted terrorist Nikos Maziotis but he has denied all involvement in terrorist actions, though he had earlier made a statement concerning charges of robbery made against him. He claims to have made a decision to "retire" from a life of crime and take up farming.

    [31] Counter-terrorism squad finds hidden arsenal at Molos farmhouse

    Meanwhile, the counter-terrorism squad on Monday reported finding a hidden arsenal that also included heavy weapons during a continued search of the farmhouse in Molos, Fthiotida used by as a hideout by Petrakakos. The weapons found so far included an anti-tank RPG rocket launcher, six kalashnikov rifles, two Uzi submachine guns, seven clips, two silencers, rifle parts, gelignite, hand grenades, detonators, fuses, and a large number of shells.

    The search, using bulldozers to dig up a 5,000 square metre plot of land, is continuing.

    The weapons found have been transferred to a police forensics lab to discover whether they have been used in any terrorist or other criminal activity.

    [32] Art and Education conference on October 3-4

    The Institute of Educational Policy (IEP) in cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts and the Onassis Cultural Centre is hosting a two-day conference entitled: "Art & Education: Teaching and Pedagogical Approaches in 21st Century School".

    The conference will be held in Athens, at the Onassis Cultural Centre, on October 3-4, 2015.

    The aim of the conference is to explore current pedagogical issues on the relation between Art and Education and to establish a forum for a substantial and productive dialogue among artists, educators, scientists and researchers from both the fields of Fine Arts and Higher Education.

    [33] Obesity the biggest health threat faced by Greeks, major study shows

    Obesity is the greatest health threat currently facing Greeks, according to a major study unveiled on Monday by the National Research Foundation. The Ydria study was conducted using a sample of 4,000 individuals drawn from areas throughout the country and highlighted demographic and socioeconomic factors related to various health issues, as well as personal traits and habit.

    The results for weight levels were revealing, with seven out of 10 adults in the study found to be either overweight or obese. Men were more often overweight, while women were more often obese, with the highest rates of overweight found in the 50-64 age group and the highest rates of obesity in the 65-79 age group.

    Obesity rates were highest on the islands of the Aegean and Crete (43 pct) and lowest in Attica (30 pct). If overweight and obesity are considered together, seven out of 10 people are above the normal weight range in all areas of Greece.

    Based on the findings, Attica residents tend to walk more than residents of other areas (five hours and 40 minutes per week), in both summer and winter, while those on the islands walk the least (four hours and 30 minutes).

    Hypertension is another "epidemic" complaint affecting two in five residents of the country, while roughly the same rate suffer from high cholesterol. Men are more prone to hypertension until age 65, after which there is no difference in the rate between the two sexes, with four in five showing signs of high blood pressure. Rates of hypertension were highest in central Greece (47 pct) and lowest in Attica (36 pct).

    Diabetes affected approximately one in 10 people in the country, at similar rates for both sexes, while frequency rose to three in 10 after aged 65. About 1 pct of the population was suffering from diabetes but was not aware of the problem and was not receiving treatment.

    The study also showed that levels of education made a difference to morbidity rates, which were highest among those with a low level of education in the over-65 age groups.

    Depression affected 7 pct of the general population in Greece, with the percentage of women suffering from chronic depression being four times higher than that of men.

    In terms of medication taken, the study showed that four in 10 took medication for hypertension, with the percentage of women slightly higher than for men, one in five took medication to lower cholesterol levels, one in 10 for diabetes and 5 pct were taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. The rates for the last two were roughly three times higher for women than for men.

    [34] Migrants and refugees at Tae Kwon Do stadium transferred to hockey field at Elliniko

    The migrants and refugees given shelter from the weather at the Tae Kwon Do indoor stadium in Faliro were on Monday transferred to the hockey field at the Elliniko Olympic facilities.

    According the the Migration Policy ministry general secretary Vasilis Papadopoulos, in statements to the ANA-MPA, the move was necessary in order to free the Tae Kwon Do stadium and prepare it for the 2015 World Wrestling Championships that are due to be held there on October 13-18.

    Papadopoulos said that the facilities at Elliniko will be used for as long as necessary in order to deal with the poor weather conditions. He announced that other areas to temporarily house the migrants and refugees in Athens and, if necessary, in Thessaloniki were being sought.

    The Elliniko hockey field has the capacity to fit between 500 and 600 people.

    [35] Total eclipse of supermoon from the Nymphs Hill

    After casting its light on the Acropolis, the supermoon played with the clouds and gradually disappeared from the sky when the Earth moved between the moon and the sun. The eclipse that in some stages despite the cloudy sky was also visible in Athens started a few minutes after 04:00 on Monday and the full eclipse took place one hour later.

    It was the first total eclipse of the supermoon since 1982 and the phaenomenon will happen again in 2033.

    A large number of citizens went to Athens Observatory at the Nymphs Hill in Athens to observe the total eclipse through the Doridis telescope, a telescope constructed in 1902 and is placed in a special dome on Pnyka Hill.

    [36] Conservation group 'Callisto' rescue bear from illegal snare trap

    A five-year-old female bear, possibly pregnant, has been rescued after becoming trapped in an illegal wire snare and almost suffocating to death, the environmental bear conservation group 'Callisto' reported on Monday. The group was called in to the Siatista, Kozani area to assist with the incident by the Tsotyli Forestry Service last Friday.

    Callisto mounted a rescue operation to release the bear, through a team maintained in the framework of the European LIFE ARCPIN programme in the Grevena area. In addition to forestry staff, teams were also sent by the Macedonia-Thrace Hunting Federation Rangers and the Kozani Veterinary Service.

    The trapped bear was administered an anaesthetic by a veterinarian working with Callisto and released with the assistance of personnel from the other agencies without suffering serious injury. It was also fitted with a radio collar that allows her movements to be tracked for research and management purposes.

    She has recovered from the anaesthetic and is currently moving through forests far from human settlements, the group reported.

    According to 'Callisto' the wire snare in which the bear became trapped is normally used by poachers hunting wild boar. It has been declared illegal due to its brutality for trapped animals and also because it also poses a threat to non-target protected species, such as bears.

    A similar incident had also been reported last April in Kozani.

    Weather forecast

    [37] Clouds, rain on Tuesday

    Rain and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 17C-26C. Unstable weather with rain in the afternoon in the eastern parts and temperatures between 17C-26C. Clouds and rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 20C-27C. Rain in the afternoon in Athens, 19C-25C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, 17C-22C.

    [38] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: Increasing demands in New Democracy

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Extension to pensions

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Changes in pension limitis

    ESTIA: Berlin rules New Democracy

    ETHNOS: Taxes and circulation fees according to the vehicles' value

    KONTRA NEWS: The big clash between Mitsotakis and Karamanlis families

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Critical week for the evaluation

    TA NEA: Infidelities and sins

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