|Tuesday, 10 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 8 October 2015 Issue No: 5039
 PM replies to Meimarakis, urges ND to 'get on board' in national effort for debt reliefThe country needs constructive criticism from the opposition parties, not sterile contradiction that leads nowhere, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in Parliament on Wednesday, responding to a speech by main opposition New Democracy leader Evangelos Meimarakis.
"You delivered a great pre-election speech. But I would like to remind you, Mr. Meimarakis, that the elections were held on September 20 and the people have decided. You lost by a margin of 7.5 points," Tsipras said, as a three-day debate on the government's policy statements was nearing its end.
He said Meimarakis was being pushed into pre-election rhetoric by the upcoming elections within the ND party, while he was particularly scathing about the ND leader's statements on the issue of debt.
"You said that nothing has changed, that the country has won nothing and that we are in a worse position than where we were before July 12. Unluckily for you, your position here in Parliament comes just hours after a historic speech by [French President Francois] Hollande in the European Parliament. Where he raised the issue of Greek debt relief as a major issue for Europe," Tsipras pointed out.
ND had to declare which side it supported in this struggle, the prime minister said: the conservative forces in Europe that wanted to oust Greece from the European framework or the rest.
"We will succeed in this national effort, whether you support it or not," Tsipras added, while rejecting Meimarakis' comment that he was seeking to interfere in ND's internal affairs.
 Meimarakis: 'ND will not give government a confidence vote'Main opposition leader Vangelis Meimarakis said New Democracy will not give the government a confidence vote during a speech on the last day of the three-day parliamentary debate on the government's policy statements on Wednesday.
"Go ahead and vote by yourself what you signed; we say no to statism and policies that affect private initiative, no to taxes, no to the vote of confidence in the government," Meimarakis told lawmakers.
He continued by attacking Prime Ministre Alexis Tsipras, acusing him of caring about his party more than the country. "Instead of becoming a national leader you turned into a party leader and led the country to elections," he said, adding that he hasn't even read the 2016 draft bill submitted by the finance minister.
Meimarakis also accused Tsipras of being unprepared wherever he goes, citing as an example his recent visit to New York where he "spoke against the country on corruption issues".
Commenting on the country's mountain of debt the main opposition leader said the agreement signed between Greece and its lenders removes the possibility for restructuring, contrary to what the government publicly proclaims.
Presenting the direction of the opposition, he said ND will support structural changes to secure investment and create jobs, but will not vote new measures and taxes. "We have a clear ideological and political orientation; we express the European center-right. We believe in the small headquarters and state with smaller taxes," he added.
Meimarakis also rejected Tsipras' claims that the government will change the management of banks, noting that the bailout agreement explicitly forbids the government from interfering in management appointments. "You caused a deposit flight, you brought capital controls, you created the need for recapitalization and now you are deceiving your own MPs saying you will change the banks' management."
"A very heavy winter is coming ... The day after the elections, the Tsipras-Kammenos coalition started saying different things. You increased tax payment, the VAT on the islands and hotels, the solidarity levy, the tax on rents and you temporarily suspended the VAT on private schools," he added.
 Potami leader Theodorakis urges government, opposition parties to change Constitution, electoral lawPotami leader Stavros Theodorakis said his party will support the government in its correct decisions and reject the "many bad ones", during a speech on the last day of the three-day parliamentary debate on the government's policy statements on Wednesday.
"We don't agree with neoliberal policies but we're not thrilled about your populist approaches. To the few good things [you'll propose] we'll say 'yes' and to the many wrong things we'll be against you. It is that simple," Theodorakis said clarifying his party's view of the government's proposals. He said Potami aims to change the old system and not to become part of it, noting that it will continue to ascribe responsibility for Greece's dramatic situation to the parties that governed and are governing today.
Theodorakis continued to present his party's proposals for every governmental sector, among which: Making this a revising parliament, so that the next one can revise the articles on 'ministers' liability' and parliamentary immunity, to allow ministers and MPs to be prosecuted for offenses committed in the same way as ordinary citizens. He also proposed changing the electoral law by abolishing the 50 seats bonus received by the winner of the elections, the breaking up of the major electoral regions so that MPs "do not become beggars on TV channels", noting that this is the only way to stop powerful media owners from forming "parliamentary groups".
"The Constitution, the parliamentary regulation and the electoral law jointly," the leader of Potami said and called on SYRIZA, New Democracy and PASOK to clearly state their position on these issues.
 PASOK leader Gennimata rejects Tsipras' united front proposalPASOK leader and head of Democratic Coalition (PASOK and DIMAR) Fofi Gennimata rejected on Wednesday Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' proposal for the formation of a united progressive front against the neoliberal policies included in the country's third bailout program.
"We will not respond in the way you responded to similar appeals for understanding and consensus we made to you in very critical times for our country ... One is not pogressive simply because they declared it. A progressive political force links its governmental presence with really progressive policies, changes and reforms," she said, addressing Tsipras.
Gennimata also expressed fears that the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition is leading the country to a new dead-end. "Do not seek either willing reserves, or na?ve accomplices. Let's make it clear: You have the responsibility, you negotiated, you will be judged," she concluded.
 Dep.FM Mardas: We will simplify the fast track lawDeputy Foreign Minister for International Economic Affairs Dimitris Mardas announced the simplification of the fast track law on attracting foreign investements, in his address late Tuesday to the parliament plenum.
"We will follow a policy which will bring Greece close to businesses in their place by visiting their countries and not by organising 'fiestas' to present Greece's economic figures," he noted.
He said that they will focus on the development of spa tourism adding that there is an idea to turn an island, that a research team has named "island of art and philosophy", into a summer Davos to which will be invited all those countries that want to build a lodge in the area in order to serve their congress tourism and more.
 No across-the-board cuts to pensions, Labour Minister Katrougalos assures ParliamentThere will be no 'horizontal', across-the-board cuts to pensions, Labour Minister George Katrougalos assured Parliament on Wednesday, during the last day of the debate on the government's policy statements.
"We will not impose horizontal cuts and we will ensure the redistributory nature [of the system]," Katrougalos said, announced that the draft bill for pension reform will be ready within November. He said this would be preceded by a broad dialogue that will start next week, after a report on Greece's pension system is submitted.
He promised that the government will meet its commitments but also seek to neutralise their worst repercussions through a general reform that would retain a "progressive" character that was fair and protected those on low pensions.
"We have no intention of legislating through correspondence or carrying out whatever is sent to us from abroad. We intend to promote policies with a leftists and social face," he told MPs.
The government would seek to avoid measures such as the zero-deficit clause, cuts to low pensions and the abolition of the EKAS benefit for poor pensioners, he added.
Katrougalos said Greece's pension system was currently made completely non-viable due to the high unemployment rate, which lowered revenues for contributions, as well as the "looting" of fund reserves as a result of the PSI bond haircut, where Greek pension funds lost an estimated 80 pct of the value of investments in bonds and shares.
On labour relations, he said the government intended to bring legislation to restore collective bargaining and protection from mass dismissals, based on best practices in Europe.
 First migrant hot-spots in Greece to be ready in two weeks, EU Commission's Andreeva saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The European Commission expects that the first migrant 'hot-spots' for registering refugees will be up and running in Greece within two weeks, Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva said on Wednesday.
Andreeva also confirmed that the first refugee relocation will take place on Friday, moving Eritrean refugees from Italy to Sweden.
She said that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke on the phone with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Tuesday, following the latter's visit to the Greek island of Lesvos, one of the main arrival points for refugees from the Turkish coast. Faymann proposed that additional staff and expert personnel be sent to assist the efforts of the European border agency Frontex in the region.
European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas, meanwhile, noted that the Commission has sent experts in addition to Frontex personnel to Greece to assist local authorities with the task of recording and registering refugees, both in the islands and in Athens. He said a central team was stationed in Piraeus to coordinate the effort, adding that both additional staff and money were needed and the Commission was "working hard to achieve this."
He also referred to cooperation with Turkey on the refugee issue, saying there was a "mutual will to move quickly".
 Alt. Migration Minister Mouzalas on refugees issue: The Geneva Treaty is the only point of viewAlternate Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Wednesday called on all democratic parties to offer their cooperation on the refugees issue. "We will all work together and we will win," he said.
Mouzalas noted that the success is that Europe recognised the problem as a European one. "The refugees issue is a European problem that occurs in Greece and Europe must heal its side-effects," he said adding that a major change is that Europe approved 160,000 relocations and agreed to offer financial and technical assistance.
The government is also trying to pass another significant proposal on the relocation from third countries. The refugees instead of coming to Greece or Italy or Serbia and from there to leave for other European countries, Europe should go to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon where the first refugees camps are and to indentify the refugees and choose those that fulfill the requirements for relocation. This would make the refugees feel safer, they will not have to cross the Aegean. This cancels the traffickers and reduces the pressure in the European countries and is probably cheaper.
Referring to Greece's obligations, Mouzalas said that the cooperation with Frontex and other European institutions is going very well however, we are 'behind' in our obligations for the 'hot spots' (place where a refugee is identified and proceeds to the relocation). We were taken by surprise, said Mouzalas but we are moving fast. We will tell Europe and now in Luxembourg that in a couple of months the hot spots will be in full operation, he added.
Mouzalas made clear that we will not turn the country into a huge refugees camp and called on the democratic parties to choose between what the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says and what other countries propose for the use of dogs, teargas and detained refugees. "It lies on you to decide what you will opt for," he said addressing the opposition parties in parliament.
The minister said that provided that 85 pct of the inflows are refugees (65 pct from Syria, 15 pct from Afghanistan and Eritrea) there are not points of view, legally and ethically, there is only one: The Geneva Treaty that states that the refugees and not pushed back but a humanitarian corridor opens. The European Law and the EU acquis that says that we must offer hospitality to the refugees. Under this pressure Europe is changing from a Europe-fortress that it was two years ago, to a receiving Europe.
 No effort to beautify the condition in Mytilene was made, Alt.Min Mouzalas says"There was no effort to beautify the situation in Mytilene for Tsipras-Faymann's visit," Alternate Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said in an interview with VIMA FM on Wednesday.
"Such an effort was not made. I have all the details of the Chancellor's visit. 8,000 (people) left from Mytilene on Sunday and Monday. Last Sunday and Monday left 7,000 from Mytilene. This is something common ...."
"What we are trying to do is to provide assistance to the place on an issue that it cannot bear any more," he continued.
He also stressed that the problem is a European one and noted that "you cannot stop them, you cannot sink their boats. I do not think that anyone suggests that. You are also legally obliged to open the road for them ... The Greek Coast Guard is our pride as it has saved 72,000 refugees."
 UNHCR's Guterres to visit Greece on October 9-12 to asses refugee crisis and responseUN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres will visit Athens and Lesvos on October 9-12 to assess the humanitarian response to the refugee crisis and to establish ways to help more, it was announced on Wednesday.
On Monday (Oct 12), the UN official will meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other cabinet members and will visit temporary hospitality centers for refugees in Athens. He will also meet top diplomats and non-governmental organizations.
In Lesvos, Guterres will visit the main arrival points of refugees as well as the reception centers, while he will meet with local officials, NGOs working on the island and volunteer groups. At the end of his visit to Greece, he will hold a press conference (Monday) at the offices of the Journalists' Union.
 More than 45,000 refugees and migrants left Lesvos in last 12 days, says port authorityLesvos' Port Authority said on Wednesday that 45,875 refugees and migrants have been transported from the island to Greece's mainland in the last 12 days, showing the size of the task that local officials are grappling with.
According to the data, the bulk of these refugees traveled from September 25 to October 6 with regular ferries to Piraeus, while 5,000 of them choosing the northern port of Kavala. The largest number of refugees - 6,920 - were recorded on October 5.
A Port Authority official said fluctuations in the daily numbers of passengers are due to weather conditions in the region. "Good weather conditions, such as those of recent days, increase the flow of migrants and refugees which has resulted in the inclusion of the ferry 'Eleftherios Venizelos' [to help manage the transportations]," the official said.
 Frontex to send 600 experts to Greece to help tackle refugee crisisThe EU's border agency Frontex will deploy 600 experts in Greece who will be used to carry out external border control and management and registration of incoming migrants and refugees, its executive director Fabrice Leggeri told a senior Interior ministry official on Tusday.
Leggeri spoke with Alternate secretary general of the Interior Ministry Tzanetos Filipakos in a teleconference held earlier today to discuss ways to tackle the refugee crisis in central and eastern Aegean.
The chief of Frontex noted that this is a historic moment as the agency has never send so much personnel in one country. On his side, Filipakos thanked him for the cooperation and assistance and stressed the importance of coordinated action in all levels of the refugee crisis.
 Draft law on social security reforms must be ready by mid-November, Labour Min Katrougalos saysThe government aims at social security reforms in order to ensure the sustainability of the system and increase pensions, Labour Minister George Katrougalos said in statements after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday.
He added that the draft bill on social security reforms must be ready by mid-November.
"We will do whatever needed so as not to have pensions below 1,000 euros," he noted.
 PM Tsipras accepts Serbian counterpart's invitation to visit BelgradePrime Minister of Serbia Alexander Vucic spoke on the phone with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and congratulated him for his success in the national elections.
The two leaders discussed the regional developments, among them and the issue of Kosovo as well as the further cooperation of the two countries on the management of the refugees' inflow.
Tsipras accepted Vucic's invitation to visit Serbia in the near future.
 Greek FinMin Tsakalotos to attend World Bank-IMF meeting in Lima on October 9-11Greece's Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will represent Greece at the annual IMF-World Bank meeting in Lima, Peru on October 9-11 and have a series of important meetings on its sidelines.
According to a finance ministry announcement, Tsakalotos departed for Peru on Wednesday and is on Thursday scheduled to meet U.S. Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Cathy Novelli, the head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Klaus Regling and IMF director for the European Department Poul Thomsen.
There will also be meetings with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew on Friday and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Sunday.
 ERT offers to hold televised debate for candidates in main opposition New Democracy's leadership raceGreece's public broadcaster ERT has sent out invitations to the candidates in main opposition New Democracy's leadership race, asking them to take part in a televised debate, according to announcements issued by some of the candidates on Wednesday.
Aides of current temporary ND leader Vangelis Meimarakis confirmed receiving the invitation from ERT head Lambis Tagmatarchis and indicated that they were not against the idea but wanted to first discuss it with the other candidates and the committee organising the party election to decide whether there should be just one debate or several.
Meimarakis and rival candidate Apostolos Tzitzikostas have both proposed that there be two or more conferences on different issues, including one on foreign policy.
Aides of Kyriakos Mitsotakis also confirmed receiving the invitation and said that Mitsotakis had accepted immediately, without any terms or conditions.
 Spokesman of German ForMin avoids confirming Steinmeier visit to AthensBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
German Foreign Ministry Spokesman Martin Schaefer refused to comment on a report claiming Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Athens soon.
Asked by journalists, he said instead that Greece is a travel destination worth visiting, both by Germans and politicians.
 Nuccio Ordine: Europe has lost its moral orientationThe global financial problems are rooted partly in the eradication of the humanistic knowledge from the educational system in the Western societies, argued the Italian philosopher Nuccio Ordine, in an interview with ANA-MPA, on the occasion of a conference held at the Athens Concert Hall on Monday.
According to the Italian thinker, whose best-selling book "The Usefullness of the Uselless" (L'Utilita' dell' inutile) has been translated to many foreign languages (also in Greek), the pursue of the specialization in knowledge and apprendiceship, as a by-product of an educational system that points merely to the production of skillful personnel, impoverishes the imagination, the flexibility of thinking, and the perspicacity of decision-making--decisive factors not just for Humanities, but mostly to the work of science.
"Everything in our days is reduced to the question: to what could be useful? Even in the Media, the same question is transformed to "who may be interested?", argued professor Ordine, adding that "today, if someone is creating a cultural achievement, the main tendency is to charcterize it as 'useless', and the fact that we destroy the humanistic science is the reason we destroy the base of the Science itself".
"Today, both disciplines fight the same battle: to impede that specialization enters in sectors that should not enter. And which are those sectors that specialization should not enter? the schools, the universities; the latter cannot be treated as businesses, nor the students as clients of these businesses. The same stands for the public health: the doctors are transformed to bureaucrats, the patients to clients. The same concerns also the monuments", remarked the Italian thinker.
"The governments that claim that there are no money, they all tell lies. Today's crisis is first of all a moral crisis. In Italy the General Accounting Office informs us that each year we lose 70 billion due to the widespread corruption, more than the double because of the discal evasion. If we could educate morally the people to pay their dues, we could finance anything", added.
According to Ordine, " the problem is not the crisis, the problem is that we create an egoistic society, where what counts the mostly is profit; but not a profit that contributes to the embettering the world", said the Italian professor, who linked this moral question with the loss of orientation Europe suffers today.
The actual problems of Greece could not escape from the perspicacious eye of Ordine, who correlated them with the general crisis in Europe: "The problem of Greece is not only Greek, it is a problem of whole Europe. Because Greece has the responsibility of having nurtured a corrupt political class, which destroyed the State. But today the policies imposed by Europe cannot drive Greece out of the difficult situation. Because if someone hands you only the money to pay the interests of your debt, how could you reignite your economy? It's a suicide."
In a reference to this situation in Greece, Ordine underlined that: "UE's policy as it is won't help Grece to go out of crisis. Greece was forced to sell off the State's assets and suddenly arrived a German company who bought all the Greek airports f paying an infare price. There is a conflict of interest and nobody said it. It is a shame," he said.
"The lecture of the classics, the music, the Arts, help us to overcome the culture of egoism, help me to understand that I'm part of a bigger Humanity and they help me to come out of my small world and embrace the Universal", argued professor Ordine. "So our task, especially during a period of crisis is to invest in culture and education of the youngers. We have to teach the younger generation the values of solidarity. I'm thinking, for example, the refugee's crisis. If we are not welcoming to them, the face of the humanity we build will have inhuman traits ," he concluded.
Ordine is one of the leading expert in the Renaissance and the philosophy of Giordano Bruno, in 2013 he published "The usefulness of useless" which became a world success.
Sunanda Girolami/ George-Byron Davos
 Minister pledges new evaluation system for civil servantsAlternate Minister for Administrative Reform Christoforos Vernardakis said on Wednesday the government will introduce a new system for evaluation and mobility for civil servants, establish the National Register for managers and a selection system for supervisors based on merit and reduce the administrative burden.
"The government is here to change fundamentally an administration that has been eroded by the silent or non-transparent privatization, economic interdependence, corruption and opacity, bureaucracy and the marginalization of human resources," the minister said during the last day of the debate on the government's policy statements.
Vernardakis said the system of evaluation will "ensure transparency, justice and social accountability."
 Defence Minister meets NATO Commander Europe Gen. Philip BreedloveDefence Minister Panos Kammenos on Wednesday met U.S. General Philip Breedlove, 17th Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations, at the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) near Mons, Belgium. They discussed Greece's geopolitical role in NATO's southeastern wing and its role as a factor for stability in the region, as well as the refugee and migrant issue.
Kammenos was accompanied by National Defence General Staff (NDGS) chief Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.
It was the first visit by a Greek defence minister to NATO's headquarters in Europe since Greece joined NATO. Kammenos will also attend a NATO ministers' meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
During the visit, Admiral Apostolakis met with the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Gen. Petr Pavl.
 Arms dealer Dafermos to testify on Friday on bribery chargesArms dealer Konstantinos Dafermos, his son and an official of a company involved in the case were sent to the corruption investigator on Wednesday
On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of arms dealer Kostantinos Dafermos for illegal payments relating to an armaments programme, on the basis of a warrant issued by a corruption magistrate.
The warrant against Dafermos relates to illegal payments allegedly given as bribes to secure a contract to supply 98 'Kornet' long-range anti-tank missile launchers to the Greek armed forces.
Based on evidence collected by Greek authorities, including the testimony of former deputy director for arms procurements at the defence ministry Antonis Kantas, a total of three million dollars was paid in kickbacks for the deal.
The charges against Dafermos and the two other suspects are for active and passive bribery, aggravated by the provisions of laws on embezzlement from the public sector and money laundering. All three will be led before the examining magistrate.
Dafermos and the other two suspects will be briefed on the lawsuit and will testify on Friday.
According to information, Dafermos dissmisses the charges claiming that the state was not harmed by the contract. He also called the agreement beneficial in many ways for the Greek state.
 Q3 estimates much better, FinMin Tsakalotos saysFinance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, speaking in Parliament late on Tuesday, appeared optimistic over the course of the Greek economy.
"The estimates for the third quarter are much better," Tsakalotos said and added "prime minister was based on these estimates when he spoke of return to growth."
The completion of the evaluation, the recapitalization of banks and the issue of the debt are, according to Tsakalotos, among the government's priorities.
"The recapitalization of the banks is a very complex problem and it needs to be completed soon, to support the shareholders and ensure that money goes where is needed," Tsakalotos underlined.
He also referred to the difficulties of the first evaluation, particularly regarding the bad loans, pensions and labour relations.
"We will try to restore the stability," he stated and stressed the importance of major reforms and cracking down on corruption.
"We will create a development plan with social justice," he added.
 Energy minister says state will not sell power grid operator ADMIEGreece will not sell power grid operator ADMIE, a long-standing demand of the country's creditors, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said on Tuesday during a three-day debate on the government's policy statements.
"Through hard negotiations and after a lot of preparation we repelled the immediate privatization of ADMIE. As we search for a solution, we will preserve the public character of energy and ADMIE will not be privatized," Skourletis told lawmakers.
Commenting on the issue of mining company Hellas Gold and the deadlock caused by the recall of some of its licenses in the area of Skouries, northern Greece, the minister said the case was presented wrongly by "systemic media" that want to conceal the truth. "A lot of things were heard about Skouries, most of which have nothing to do with reality," he said and accused the main opposition for supporting the investment. "Our aim is to protect public interest and the environment. You're making a big mistake by accusing usabout the way we handled it."
Concerning the country's biggest refiner, Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), he said its new administration has "shown good signs" in its work and expressed his belief that it will return to profitability in 2015 and will be able to cooperate with international companies.
 Pension spending will continue shrinking in Greece, IMF reportGreek pensions will remain under pressure as spending on pensions and health will continue shrinking, despite an ageing population, because of fiscal austerity measures included in a third bailout program agreed with the country's creditors.
The International Monetary Fund, in its Fiscal Monitor report released on Wednesday in Lima, Peru, noted that Greece was the only country which raised retirement age limits in the period 2011-2014, while the country introduced stricter rules on early retirement and progressive cuts on pensions, making Greece a "champion" in pension system reforms.
The IMF envisages that under the pressure of commitments made by the country as part of third bailout program, spending on pensions and health will continue shrinking. Pension spending are projected to grow by an average rate of 0.5 pct of GDP in the period 2015-2050, compared with an 1.0 pct growth rate in the 35 developed economies and 1.8 pct of GDP in developing economies.
Health spending in Greece are projected to grow by an average rate of 0.8 pct of GDP in 2015-2050, down from a 3.1 pct average growth rate in 35 developed countries and 1.2 pct in developing countries.
 Greek banks cut borrowing from ELAGreek banks are gradually reducing their borrowing from the Emergency Lliquidity Assistance mechanism (ELA) as the imposition of capital controls in the country stabilized deposits.
The Bank of Greece asked the European Central Bank, during an ECB board meeting on Tuesday, to reduce the ceiling of borrowing from ELA by 1.0 billion euros to 87.9 billion euros until Thursday, 22 October. The Bank of Greece said that this development reflected an improving liquidity in Greek banks.
 Skiathos to contest higher VAT for islands at supreme court; says state not providing services for taxesThe municipal council on the island of Skiathos on Wednesday announced plans to contest the higher 23 pct VAT rate recently imposed on Greek islands at the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court. According to the island's mayor Dimitris Prevezanos, the island intends to argue that the state is providing the islanders with substandard services for the taxes that it collects.
"The Greek citizens that live permanently on the island are taxed and pay our state for services that it is unable to provide. We have not public vehicle testing centre or lower court, the Skiathos tax office has been scrapped and residents are forced to travel to Volos. Schools on Skiathos are educationally inadequate... and worst of all, residents on Skiathos are deprived of the most important service that the state is supposed to provide, that of public health," said the rapporteur for the issue Apostolos Paschalis.
He noted islanders were therefore forced to seek these services off the island, paying exorbitantly high ferry fees.
The mayor said Skiathos will seek to coordinate its action with those of other islands in the Sporades group, such as Skopelos and Alonissos. He noted that the VAT hike will significantly increase the cost of living for islanders and also predicted a dire impact on levels of black employment, the black economy and tourism.
 Greece sells six-month T-billsGreece on Wednesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue raising 1.138 billion euros from the market. The interest rate of the issue was set at 2.97 pct, unchanged from the previous auction of same issue last month. Bids submitted were 1.3 times more than the asked sum of 875 million euros.
 Jumbo Group expects higher sales, lower profitsJumbo Group on Wednesday said it expects higher sales but lower after tax profits for the current years, after recording a 7.51 pct increase in its turnover in the previous year which ended in June 30, 2015, surpassing a 4-6 pct increase target set by the management.
Jumbo said gross profit margin grew slightly to 53.16 pct from 53.12 pct last year, while EBITDA rose 8.7 pct to 159.26 million euros. Net group profits rose 3.54 pct to 104.84 million euros.
The management said that due to the imposition of capital controls in Greece it would recommend to a general shareholders meeting scheduled for November 11, 2015, to skip dividend payment for the year. It said it planned to continue this policy until the Greek economy stabilised and regained a positive growth outlook.
Jumbo Group operates a branch network of 72 stores, of which 53 are in Greece, five in Cyprus, eight in Bulgaria and six in Romania.
The company said sales grew to 152.62 million euros in the first quarter (July-September), up 4.88 pct from the same period last year. Domestic sales fell but international activities grew strongly. Jumbo expects sales to grow by 0-4.0 pct and after tax profits to fall by 15-25 pct.
 Aegean Airlines says passenger traffic up 17 pct in Jan-SeptAegean Airlines on Wednesday reported a 17 pct increase in passenger traffic in the January-September period this year to more than 9.0 million passengers.
Passenger traffic by Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air totaled 4,267,754 passengers, 696,000 more compared with the same period last year, for an increase of 19 pct. In the July-September period, passenger traffic totaled 2,358,122 in its international flight network, up 29 pct from 2014, while international passenger traffic was up 28 pct in September to 709,000.
Domestic passenger traffic grew 9.0 pct in the nine-month period, compared with 2014, for a 22 pct increase in the July-September period.
Dimitris Gerogiannis, chief executive of Aegean, urged the state to upgrade the infrastructure of smaller airports.
 Alumil buys 51 pct stake in Swiss companyAlumil, a Greek-listed aluminium industry, on Wednesday announced that its subsidiary Alumil YU Industry acquired a 51 pct stake in ALUYU AG, based in Switzerland, for 46,789 euros. Alumil said the acquisition will affect its balance sheet.
 Greek stocks continue moving higherGreek stocks moved higher for the third successive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market towards the 680-point level, amid a positive climate in European markets and a significant improvement in the domestic state bond market where the 10-year bond yield fell below 8.0 pct.
The composite index of the market grew 1.40 pct to end at 680.10 points, with the Large Cap index rising 1.92 pct and the Mid Cap index ending up 0.29 pct. Turnover was an improved 61.634 million euros, of which 17.67 million were a block trade in OTE at 8.58 euros per share. Volume was 143,562,746.
National Bank (7.39 pct), PPC (7.37 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (6.43 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (3.57 pct), Terna Energy (2.44 pct) and Titan (1.99 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Financial Services (6.20 pct), Utilities (4.02 pct) and Telecoms (3.5 pct) scored big gains, while Construction (1.03 pct) and Health (0.80 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 50 to 44 with another 13 issues unchanged. Akritas (18.52 pct), Progressive (17.91 pct) and G.E.Demetriou (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Autohellas (17.27 pct), Dionic (17.14 pct) and Dromeas (16.67 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 7.18 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 7.25 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 7.78 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.60 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.140 pct from 0.139 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.074 pct from 0.073 pct, the six-month rate was 0.027 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.046 pct from -0.043 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at -0.113 pct.
 President Pavlopoulos welcomes plans for Greek Studies chair at Tsinghua University in BeijingPresident of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday received a delegation from Tsinghua University in Beijing, which is in the process of establishing a Greek studies chair, and from the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, which is supporting the initiative.
Receiving them, Pavlopoulos noted that the strongest bonds linking Greece and China were not economic but the result of cooperation between two very ancient cultures. He underlined his satisfaction that one of China's biggest universities was establishing the "Marilena Laskaridis Chair for Greek Classical and Modern studies" to promote the study of the Greek language and Greek philosophy.
The chair will be set up as part of an overall initiative launched by the the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation and Tsinghua University called the Tsinghua-Laskaridis Culture Project. This seeks to support the work of outstanding Chinese and Greek scholars by assisting and promoting Greek Classical and Modern studies, Sino-Hellenic relations and work by Chinese Students and scholars in China and Greece.
The Project will involve academic work and exchanges of Greek and Chinese students and scholars between Greece and China in a number of different activities. It will be part of the Research Center for China-EU Relations at the School of Social Sciences at Tsinghua University.
The signing of the agreement for the Project took place during a private event at the premises of the "Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation" on Tuesday in Athens. It is envisaged to have a duration of five years and, if things go well, may lead to a Centre of Classical Studies.
 INTERVIEW: We are slowly, but firmly winning the battle with cancer, Professor Anastasiadis tells ANA-MPAWe are winning the battle with cancer slowly, but firmly, as new, more effective treatments, especially those which strengthen the immune system and those that are personalized based on genetic "profiles" of each tumor and the individual patient, follow one another, while at least some types of cancer will gradually just turn into chronic diseases, Panos Anastasiadis, professor and head of the Department of Cancer Biology at Mayo Clinic in the US Florida, said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
The pioneer Greek biologist became known late August, when, along with Antonios Kourtidis discovered a biological mechanism through which cancer cells can become healthy. The publication in "Nature Cell Biology" journal was considered a step towards that direction, although it is still too early to talk about a new cancer therapy.
According to Anastasiadis, this discovery will possibly lead to a new cancer therapy in five to ten years. On the scientific research in Greece and the causes that force many Greek scientists to go abroad, he said that there are enough funds for research while there is the problem of bureaucracy.
Panos Anastasiadis was born in 1964 and graduated from the School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and got his PhD in cellular and clinical neurobiology from the State Wayne University in Detroit. He did his postdoctoral research at the Hospital "Henry Ford" and the Cancer Center of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
The full interview is available to subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Awarded documentary "Hail Arcadia" by Filippos Koutsaftis in Athens and Thessaloniki theatres on Oct.15The film-documentary "Hail Arcadia" after its successful premiere at the 18th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival where it was awarded by FIPRESCI for best film and its screening at the 21 International Cinema Festival of Athens will come to Athens and Thessaloniki theatres on October 15.
After his success of his film-documentary "Agelastos Petra" director Filippos Koutsaftis visits another historically and emotionally charged land.
Hail Arcadia is a a journey to a place that is haunted, even today, by the myth of an enigmatic epigraph. Et in Arcadia Ego. A collection of fragments. A salute, brief and ambivalent, like the passage of the runner who crosses the plain of Tegea at midnight. Capturing moments in the infinite line of time, depicting fractional images of a divinely inspired Nature, interweaving mythological and historical accounts, gleaning fragments and whispers the cinematic gaze attempts to record the identity of a place that confronts and is confronted with the great philosophical questions of life.
Koutsaftis not only is the director but also the writer and the photography director of the film. "There are emotionally and historically charged places throughout Greece. However, Arcadia holds and bears myths and stories unknown. The myth of "Blissful Arcadia" that came from the West. The believed that if there is a heaven in eart, a dreamland with social justice, innocent love and measure this is Arcadia. This is a story we do not know very well. But in the west, from the Roman era to the days of the Enlightment, they strongly believed it. Even today there is an Academy in Rome with the name "Arcadia". We must retrieve the parts that bring back our relation with our country on stage. To find again our identity".
 5th Russian Cinema Festival on RhodesThe 5th Russian Film Festival of Rhodes was conducted under the auspices of the Embassy of Russia in Greece and the Consulate-General of Russia in Thessaloniki with the support of Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Municipality of Rhodes.
During the Festival, Russian films and animation films were screened, in the presence of well-known Russian actors, directors and producers who also participated in the discussions prior to the screenings.
The general consul of Russia Alexei Popov, the festival producer Elena Borisova and many prominent Russian actors arrived on the Greek island to celebrate the opening of the festival.
 Supreme Court upholds conviction for two municipal officials for wildfires of 2007Greece's Supreme Court upheld on Wednesday an appeal court decision which convicted to a redeemable 10 years in prison the former prefect of Ilia, Charalambos Kafyras, and the former mayor of Zacharo, Pandazis Chronopoulos for the devastating wildfires of 2007 which resulted in the death of 36 people.
The two former officials were sentenced for neglecting to take the necessary measures to avoid a fire and for not noticing the failure to take appropriate measures, the initial court ruling said.
According to final ruling of the court, Kafyras and Chronopoulos can redeem their sentence by paying 5 euros per day of the sentence which they will have to pay in monthly installments of 1,200 euros.
According to the law, municipal authorities are obliged to have on hand fire engines, water lorries and diggers in case of fire and they're also responsible for keeping rural roads clear - none of which had been done. The wildfire broke out in August of 2007 in the small town of Zacaharo and quickly spread throughout the region of Ilia, trapping and killing 36 people, burning houses, as well as thousands of acres of agricultural and forest land.
 Antiquities from illegal excavation found in cave on AstypaleaThirty seven antiquities from an illegal excavation were found and confiscated in Negros cave on the island of Astypalea.
The confiscated antiquities are dated back to the Late Neolithic Period (4th millenium BC), the Classical and the Hellenistic Era and the Late Antiquity.
The case file will be submitted to Kos prosecutor while a police investigation to locate the perpetrators is underway.
 At least 5,000 refugees arrived at Piraeus port"Eleftherios Venizelos" ferry carrying 2,499 refugees arrived early on Wednesday at Piraeus port. A little later, "Ariadni" ferry carrying 1,541 passengers arrived as well as "tera jet" with another 1,703 refugees.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard have rescued at least 303 refugees over the last 24 hours in the sea region of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Agathonissi and Kos.
 Thessaloniki expects record number of runners in its Night Half-Marathon race on SaturdayAs the date approaches for Thessaloniki's 4th International Night Half-Marathon, organisers at a press conference on Wednesday said they were expected a record 21,000 people to take part in the two races taking place in the city on Saturday night.
The Half-Marathon covering 21.1 kilometres will begin at 18:45 in the evening, with 4,500 registered runners from five continents and 53 countries taking part. Because of the large number of athletes participating, there will be two start times.
The half-marathon will the be followed by a five-kilometre 'Health Walk' at 21:15, with five starts, in which 16,000 will take part.
Olympic medallist Voula Patoulidou, now a Thessaloniki deputy regional governor and head of the race organising committee, announced that an additional 2,000 places will be made available for last-minute registrations on Friday at a pavilion at the Thessaloniki International Fair exhibition centre from 10:00 until 19:00. Those already registered can also pick up their marathon gear
The 4th International Thessaloniki Night Half Marathon is organised by M.E.A.S. TRITON of Thessaloniki in cooperation with the Municipaity of Thessaloniki, under the aegis of SEGAS and AIMS. It is integrated in the Greek and international calendar of SEGAS, AIMS and EAA. It is also supported by many institutional, supporter and volunteering bodies, as you can see at the official website www.thessalonikihalfmarathon.org
 Clouds, rain on ThursdayRain and north-northwesterly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 15C-21C. Clouds in the western parts with a chance of rain and temperatures between 15C-26C. Clouds and rain in the eastern parts and temperatures between 17C-26C. Partly cloudy with a chance of rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 18C-26C. Cloudy in Athens, 17C-25C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 17C-20C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: The euro-funding 'ice' broke
DIMOKRATIA: New Democracy before a crucial crossroad
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: They kill at an order of their superior (referring to Golden Dawn)
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The beneficiaries of the four new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) programmes
ESTIA: Deep crisis looming
ETHNOS: Tax office raids without court order
IMERISSIA: Shock estimate from the IMF
KATHIMERINI: Fuel market without audits
NAFTEMPORIKI: Tax raids a la German
RIZOSPASTIS: He accepts the "request" for further US involvement in imperialist plans
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