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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-09

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

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

Friday, 9 October 2015 Issue No: 5040

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't focuses on combating large-scale tax evasion
  • [02] Electronic payments a tool for reducing tax evasion, senior Visa Europe executive tells ANA-MPA radio
  • [03] Prior actions bill will not necessarily be tabled as single article, gov't spokeswoman says
  • [04] Civil servants union prepares to demonstrate against prior actions draft bill
  • [05] Greek debt not sustainable, Lagarde says
  • [06] ND leader Meimarakis warns PM Tsipras against taking new measures
  • [07] New Democracy attacks government over changes to 100-installment debt settlement measure
  • [08] Potami accuses Tsipras of 'blatant lies' in parliament speech
  • [09] Greece's coalition government wins confidence vote with 155 votes
  • [10] Kammenos asks for action to stem refugee flows at NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels
  • [11] Alt. FM Xydakis: 'The Dublin Treaty is obviously fruitless'
  • [12] Alt. FinMin and Swedish Ambassador discuss refugee crisis, bilateral relations' issues
  • [13] Schengen zone is a reality in the daily life of Europe's citizens, Commissioner Avramopoulos says
  • [14] EU's Avramopoulos, Luxembourg ForMin Asselborn arrive in Athens on Friday
  • [15] New Democracy to select new leader on November 22
  • [16] Labour minister says negotiations on labour issues doesn't concern only Greece
  • [17] Political will is necessary to crackdown on corruption, General Inspector for Public Administration says
  • [18] PM Tsipras to watch final phase of 'Parmenion 2015' on Friday
  • [19] Police order urgent internal inquiry into photos of policeman apparently kicking refugees
  • [20] Greek 2015 recession to be lower than expected, Economy Min Stathakis says
  • [21] There is room for foreign investors in Greek hotels, Altern.Tourism Minister Kountoura says
  • [22] Former PPC head Arthouros Zervos re-elected Bureau chair for global renewables network REN21
  • [23] U.S. Ambassador to Greece visits Intracom Group, meets top executives
  • [24] Greek unemployment rate at 25 pct in July
  • [25] Greek trade deficit down 18.5 pct in Jan-Aug
  • [26] Greek stocks end slightly lower
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] "Little Paris of Athens" opens windows to the world, its director Strofalis tells ANA-MPA
  • [30] Cry against injustice, sculptor captures the Syrian drama with pebbles and stones
  • [31] 'Final Destination' photography and video exhibition at the Athens airport
  • [32] Mykonos business man to file case against island VAT hike with Council of State
  • [33] UNESCO heritage Temple of Apollo Epicurius to open only on weekdays
  • [34] Demokritos research centre to organise robotics classes for school children
  • [35] Alzheimer's initially attacks the brain's GPS system, says Medicine Nobel laureate O'Keefe to ANA-MPA
  • [36] 33rd Athens Marathon set to break new record in athlete participation, say organizers
  • [37] Partly cloudy on Friday
  • [38] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Gov't focuses on combating large-scale tax evasion

    Combating large-scale tax evasion is a priority for the government, Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis said on Thursday.

    In a television interview, Alexiadis said there were currently around 25,000 tax evasion cases with an estimated average tax of 600,000 euros each, of which less than 1,500 have been inspected.

    "We do not want to focus mainly on small and medium-sized tax evasion. We move towards copying the operation of European tax agencies which focus mainly on large-scale tax evasion," Alexiadis said.

    The Greek minister noted that action will be taken next week to protect and strengthen tax inspection bodies and added that action will be taken to extend the time for inspecting a so-called "Lagarde list". "We will inspect all large tax-evasion cases," he said, while commenting on changes in a 100-installment scheme to repay overdue tax debt, he noted that conditions will be stricter for remaining in the scheme. Alexiadis said that a special property tax for 2015 will be unchanged from 2014, "with changes only in some very small categories", but noted that the target for next year was to achieve revenues of 2.65 billion euros and to change real estate asset values by September 2016. He said that the ministry was examining plans to impose a property tax on real estate assets owned by Greek citizens abroad, copying a similar scheme introduced in Italy.

    The ministry also drafts a new legislation offering incentives for a voluntary revealing of capital, but keeping all legal procedures in cases of smuggling. He said that another new draft bill will be a property register for all assets domestic and abroad.

    Alexiadis said that the government has already found a list of equal measures to replace a 23 pct VAT on education and said that the Finance ministry wanted to introduce universally the use of plastic money and electronic money transactions in the country.

    [02] Electronic payments a tool for reducing tax evasion, senior Visa Europe executive tells ANA-MPA radio

    Talking to the ANA-MPA radio programme "Open Mikes" on Thursday, the head of Visa Europe for Greece, Cyprus and Bulgarian Nikos Kampanopoulos highlighted the role of credit cards and other electronic forms of payment as a tool against tax evasion and the informal economy.

    "The bigger the electronic payments, the smaller are the phenomena of black economy and tax evasion," he said in an interview with the agency's radio station 'Praktorio 104.9'.

    Citing figures from studies on credit card use, Kampanopoulos noted that there was an increase in tax revenues since there was an automatic record of electronic payments and the VAT on them had to be paid.

    He noted that many countries now placed restrictions on cash purchases above a certain amount, referring to 1,500 euros for Greece. He also noted that there was great potential for increasing electronic payments in the country, where visa payments currently accounted for only one in every 33 euros spent, compared to one in six on a Europe-wide basis.

    When asked about the cost of using credit cards, Kampanopoulos countered by pointing out that cash use also had costs.

    "No one ever talks about the cost of cash," he said, citing a study carried out by the European Central Bank (ECB) showing that payments "cost 2 to 3 pct of GDP, of which two thirds concern cash payments".

    "This is not free, they have costs for counting, management and transportation," he said.

    [03] Prior actions bill will not necessarily be tabled as single article, gov't spokeswoman says

    The draft bill legislating for the prior actions that must be passed by October 15 will not necessarily be tabled as a single article, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said in statements to the radio station 'Real FM' on Thursday.

    She also highlighted the issue of debt relief, saying it was a major national issue "and the greater part of a solution" that will allow the three-year agreement to pass as painlessly as possible.

    Gerovasili said that the prime minister, in his address in Parliament on Wednesday night, had publicly extended the first invitation to the opposition parties to reach an understanding on debt but none of them had shown any signs of revising their position. She questioned whether it was possible for a political formation that considers the debt sustainable to cooperate with a party that asserts it is not.

    The spokeswoman did not spare her criticism for those she called "late opponents of the memorandums," saying this amounted to "exceptional hypocrisy" from the people who were responsible for placing the country in this position to begin with and who had agreed to much harsher measures, if not actually pressed the creditors to not back down from their demands in the belief that the "Leftist interlude" would have ended by the summer.

    "It would be good, therefore, to finally have a fertile dialogue with the opposition, something that we did not see emerging yesterday," she added.

    [04] Civil servants union prepares to demonstrate against prior actions draft bill

    Public sector union ADEDY announced on Thursday it will stage a protest rally outside parliament in Athens on the day lawmakers will be voting the draft bill on prior actions that Greece must implement.

    The union also said it will hold a rally outside the Education ministry on October 14 to protest the lack of teachers in schools.

    [05] Greek debt not sustainable, Lagarde says

    Greek authorities must carry out more reforms to the country's pension system and in the way Greek banks are managed, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

    Lagarde, presenting a Global Policy Agenda at the fund's annual meeting with the World Bank in Peru, reiterated that the Greek debt was not sustainable and stressed that the Fund's view over the issue has not changed since last July when the IMF released its debt sustainability report.

    She underlined that the IMF was willing to help Greece following an official request made by the Greek government, but noted that a necessary precondition to approving any IMF financial help to Greece was that an adjustment programme should be based on two legs: the first is adopting and voting all significant reforms, such as reforms in the pension system and in bank governance. The second leg refers to debt sustainability and all initiatives necessary to ensure that the country's debt was on a sustainable path.

    Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will discuss these issues during a meeting with Lagarde in Lima.

    [06] ND leader Meimarakis warns PM Tsipras against taking new measures

    New Democracy (ND) leader Evangelos Meimarakis on Thusday lashed out at the government.

    More specifically, he accused the government that it needs to take new measures, in the framework of the memorandum, that has not yet disclosed to the people.

    Upon his arrival at the offices of the party, Meimarakis referred to the additional measures asked by the IMF and warned Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that the option of submitting new measures for approval in Parliament should not cross his mind.

    "A few days ago Tsipras expressed his content over his visit in the US. Today the IMF is asking for new measures of 1.5 billion euros. This confirms that he has a secret agenda. He should not even think of bringing these measures in Parliament," he underlined.

    [07] New Democracy attacks government over changes to 100-installment debt settlement measure

    Main opposition New Democracy on Thursday attacked the government over the changes it announced to a measure allowing repayment of state debts in 100 installments, saying these once again caught the roughly one million citizens that applied to join the debt resettlement scheme "off guard".

    ND said the changes increased the interest rate paid by those with debts over 5,000 euros from 3 pct to 5 pct, while those with smaller debts were only exempt from the higher interest rate if they did not have any kind of business activity, did not own property valued in excess of 150,000 euros and their annual income did not exceed 10,000 euros.

    The main opposition also forecast a loss in state revenues as tax-payers called to pay higher sums each month found themselves unable to meet payments.

    "In the end, the only people who benefited from the much-touted 100-installments measures, and who will continue to 'drink to the health of the suckers' and 'praise' Mr. Tsipras, are the notorious big-time debtors that saw their debts 'cut' by Mr. Tsipras overnight," ND's announcement added.

    [08] Potami accuses Tsipras of 'blatant lies' in parliament speech

    Potami party accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of telling blatant lies during his speech on a confidence vote debate in parliament on Wednesday night. "Tsipras has probably started believing his lies," the party said and cited a list of statements made by the premier which Potami debunked.

    On Tsipras' claim that he fought for the rights of farmers, pensioners and low-income earners by presenting "dozens" of alternative measures which were turned down by Greece's creditors, Potami retorted that he has never presented any list of alternative measures to the public. "Could he tell us what these alternatives he proposed are? Why hasn't he presented them to the Greek people?"

    Concerning the 10 billion euros Greece lost from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund which they were transferred to EFSF in February, Potami asks: "Where they transferred by themselves? Or did Greece lose them because of the incompetence shown by the government in the negotiations?"

    [09] Greece's coalition government wins confidence vote with 155 votes

    The coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won a confidence vote in the Greek parliament, with 155 lawmakers voting in favour and 144 against it during a roll call vote in the early hours of Thursday, which concluded a three-day debate.

    One MP of the main opposition, Nikos Dendias, was absent.

    All six parties of the opposition - New Democracy, Golden Dawn, Democratic Coalition (PASOK and DIMAR), Communist Party, Potami and Centrist's Union - voted against the government.

    [10] Kammenos asks for action to stem refugee flows at NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki)

    Taking part in a NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Greece's Defence Minister Panos Kammenos called for action to slow migrant and refugee flows into Europe by creating "safe zones" in the affected areas.

    "We asked that initiatives be taken in order to investigate whether safe zones will be created so that refugees but also those seeking a future in Europe can return to their homes, their villages," Kammenos said, noting that Europe was no longer able to absorb all those seeking to come there via Greece, Turkey and other NATO member-states.

    Kammenos highlighted the problem created by the presence of millions of potential migrants and refugees on the shores of Turkey and said that Greece, as an alliance member, was continuing to cooperate on the level of the European Union and NATO.

    On the sidelines of the meetings, the Greek defence minister also held talks with his counterparts from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania to discuss bilateral cooperation issues.

    [11] Alt. FM Xydakis: 'The Dublin Treaty is obviously fruitless'

    "Greece should participate in European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's talks on the refugees inflow," Alternate Foreign Minister responsible for the European Affairs Nikos Xydakis stated in an interview on Thursday with Praktorio radio.

    Xydakis noted that Greece believes that the "hotspots" for reception and identification of refugees should be in Turkey and the refugees to be able to be allocated to the reception countries, according to the quotas.

    "We must not leave the refugees to get into boats to cross the Aegean, because it is something that carries the risk of drowning and on the other hand it supports the trafficking network," he said and denied that the countries are pressed to open Evros river crossing. "There is no such issue," he said and referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's position that the Dublin Treaty should change he noted: "It is natural for us to be interested in a new adjustement of the treaties because the Dublin Treaty is obviously fruitless."

    "Greece has longstanding proposals on a change in the Dublin Treaty because the readmission conditions are against our country and because we are the recipients of a huge inflow of refugees and migrants," he stressed and expressed the opinion that "EU bilateral agreements with Turkey and Pakistan are not followed and Europe does not implement effective readmission channels for economic migrants. The migrants' countries of origin should accept an agreement on union level," he underlined.

    Asked on the archaeological excavation in ancient Amphipolis (Xydakis was former Culture Minister), he noted: "The case of Amphipolis is now on the right course, the importance of the monument is recognised by all." He added that "the arguments should remain among the scientists and on scientific level the debate should be held with documentations and not over-interpretations that excite and stimulate the expectations of the people and in parallel the state must ensure the restoration and promotion of the monument as well as the fund and condition for a serious and documentated scientific research."

    [12] Alt. FinMin and Swedish Ambassador discuss refugee crisis, bilateral relations' issues

    Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis on Thursday met the Swedish Ambassador to Greece Charlotte Wrangberg at the foreign ministry, with whom he discussed issues of common and European interest.

    During the meeting, the two sides referred to the excellent cooperation between the two countries. The discussion focused, for the most part, on issues concerning the ongoing refugee/migration crisis, as well as on the search for ways to further strengthen the two countries' bilateral relations. Finally, Ambassador Wrangberg expressed Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefv?n's personal interest in social policy and labor relations issues.

    [13] Schengen zone is a reality in the daily life of Europe's citizens, Commissioner Avramopoulos says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vassilaki)

    European solidarity and unity will ensure the future of the common European borders, European Commissioner for Migration Policy Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a conference on the European Migration Network (EMN) for the 30 years of the Schengen Treaty, in Strasbourg.

    "It was the freedom of movement within Europe that united us and made us feel like home. The Schengen zone is a reality in the daily life of Europe's citizens," noted Avramopoulos, making reference to the member states that because of pressure from the "unprecedented" refugee crisis have decided to temporarily reintroduce checks to their borders' "as provided by the Schengen rules."

    However, he added that "this development does not signal its end. The only threat, which we might face is the lack of unity and solidarity among the member states."

    The Greek commissioner reiterated that the European Commission will have delivered a series of regulations for the borders by the end of the year. "The answer lies in better use of the Schengen Information System, closer cooperation between judicial and police authorities of the member states, information exchange, mutual trust and of course, the effective control and effective monitoring of the EU's external borders. We must also make availablemodern technological tools to member states and work to improve border management," he explained.

    [14] EU's Avramopoulos, Luxembourg ForMin Asselborn arrive in Athens on Friday

    EU Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos and Luxembourg Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn will visit Athens on Friday for meetings with the Greek authorities to discuss the hotspot roll out in Greece and the planning of the first relocation flights.

    On Saturday, Avramopoulos and Asselborn will participate in a ministerial meeting coordinated by the Minister of State for Coordination of Government Operations Alekos Flabouraris at Maximos Mansion. Participant ministers will include Shipping and Island Policy Minister Theodoros Dritsas, Alternate Minister for Migration Giannis Mouzalas and Alternate Minister for Public Order Nikos Toskas.

    On the same day, the two EU officials will meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Flampouraris, while at 10.30 (local time) they will hold a press conference before their departure.

    [15] New Democracy to select new leader on November 22

    Greece's main opposition, New Democracy, will elect its new leader on November 22, the party's central election committee announced on Thursday.

    If a second round of vote is needed, it will be held the following Sunday, on November 29.

    [16] Labour minister says negotiations on labour issues doesn't concern only Greece

    The government is trying to show that Greece's labour reforms is European and any changes will not just concern the country, Labour Minister Giorgos Katrougalos told Praktorio FM radio right after a meeting in Geneva with the head of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder,

    "Our entire effort is to make the subject European and international," he told the radio station. "We are the mirror of Europe's future because depending on how they will interpret what a sound European practice is, that will provide the corresponding orientation for other European countries," Katrougalos said.

    He also noted that the government has achieved the participation of the ILO in the negotiations with the country's partners to strengthen Greece's negotiating position and internationalize the labour issue.

    [17] Political will is necessary to crackdown on corruption, General Inspector for Public Administration says

    "Corruption is widespread in the Greek society and in order to combat it, political will - that does not exist - is required," General Inspector of Public Administration Leandros Rakintzis said.

    Rakintzis said that corruption costs 33 billion euros every year. Therefore, provided that corruption did not exist for 10 years, Greece's debt would have been eliminated.

    However, he said that the corruption cost has been reduced as a result of the economic crisis. For example, before the memoranda doctors demanded up to 5,000 euros from their patients, while the relevant amount has been reduced to 300 euros.

    He also referred to "sinful" public works such as the Sparta motorway. The contractor received the total amount of the work's budget (17 million euros), but the road was never constructed and the country is now before the threat to pay a high fine to the EU.

    Rakintzis argued that in order to tackle corruption the people's attitude should change adding the need for political will. "All governments announce that they will crackdown on corruption, but the nothing has been done so far," he underlined.

    [18] PM Tsipras to watch final phase of 'Parmenion 2015' on Friday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to visit the city of Alexandroupolis in northeast Greece on Friday, in order to watch the final phase of the military exercise "Parmenion 2015".

    [19] Police order urgent internal inquiry into photos of policeman apparently kicking refugees

    The Greek police on Thursday announced that an urgent internal inquiry will be carried out into a series of photographs posted on the internet, which appear to show a policeman kicking refugees on the Aegean island of Lesvos.

    Financial News

    [20] Greek 2015 recession to be lower than expected, Economy Min Stathakis says

    Greece's recession is expected to be at 1.5 percent in 2015 instead of 2.5 percent as it was initially forecast, Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said in parliament late on Wednesday.

    He argued that this positive development is due to higher revenues from tourism, less than expected repercussions from capital controls and additional 4.5 billion euro funds related to the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

    The return to growth, he noted, must be accompanied by a strong social policy and is dependent on five key points:

    the stabilization of the banking sector and the settlement of bad loans the use of funding tools and the development law to be voted next month the establishment of a development bank that will work as a funding tool until the implementation of the 'Juncker plan' the unification of the public contracts the setting up of development council at the Finance ministry

    [21] There is room for foreign investors in Greek hotels, Altern.Tourism Minister Kountoura says

    Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Thursday speaking at Prodexpo conference referred to the initiatives of closing down old tourist facilities and launching incentives for the construction of new hotels.

    She underlined that the ministry is aiming at improving the quality of tourist services in Greece.

    In that framework, she said, there is room for foreign investors that want to invest in hotel infrastructure, as the future requires investments in complex tourist accommodation.

    [22] Former PPC head Arthouros Zervos re-elected Bureau chair for global renewables network REN21

    The former chief of Greece's public power company PPC has been re-elected as the chairman of the executive Bureau of REN21, a global renewable energy policy network for the 21st century.

    Zervos was re-elected on Wednesday, on the last day of the international energy conference held in Cape Town, South Africa on Oct. 4-7.

    REN21 is the global renewable energy policy multi-stakeholder network that seeks to facilitate knowledge exchange, policy development and joint action towards a rapid global transition to renewable energy. REN21 brings together governments, nongovernmental organisations, research and academic institutions, international organisations and industry to learn from one another and build on successes that advance renewable energy. It is an international non-profit association and is based at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Paris, France. ( http://www.ren21.net/about-ren21/about-us/)

    [23] U.S. Ambassador to Greece visits Intracom Group, meets top executives

    U.S. Ambassador to Greece David Pearce visited Greek high tech IT solutions and services developer Intracom Holdings Group on Thursday and met with the company founder and other top executives of the subsidiary companies.

    Pearce was briefed on the worldwide activities of Intracom and its subsidiary Intralot and visited the high-tech facilities of the two companies, a press release said. He also discussed trade relations between the U.S. and Greece, which Intracom initiated more than 20 years ago by developing strategic deals with Raytheon, Boeing, IBM and Oracle, among others.

    The U.S. envoy also had a constructive discussion with Group Founder, Socrates Kokkalis, as well as with the heads of the Group's companies, among which Dr. Dimitris Klonis, Chairman and Executive Member of Intracom Holdings, Konstantinos Kokkalis, CEO of Intracom Holdings.

    The top executives also discussed with the ambassador Intralot's investment and activities in the U.S., which now has a 24 pct market share of the contracts for online lottery systems.

    [24] Greek unemployment rate at 25 pct in July

    Greek unemployment rate fell to 25 pct of the workforce in July this year, down 1.3 points compared with July 2014, but unchanged from June, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the number of unemployed people totaled 1,196,736 in July.

    The big problem still remained the very high unemployment rates in productive age groups, while people aged around 50 years old continued losing their jobs finding it very difficult to return to employment again.

    The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 25 pct in July, from 26.3 pct in July 2014, with the number of unemployed people falling by 71,421 compared with July 2014 and by 1,863 from June 2015.

    The number of employed people totaled 3,591,407, up 33,506 from July 2014 and down 508 compared with June this year. The economically non-active population totaled 3,296,280 in July, down 10,248 from July 2014 and by 1,984 compared with June 2015.

    The unemployment rate among women was 29.4 pct in July (from 30 pct in July 2014), while among men it fell to 21.5 pct from 23.3 pct.

    The 15-24 age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (48.6 pct in July, 49.5 pct in July 2014), followed by the 25-34 age group (32.2 pct - 35.1 pct), the 35-44 age group (22.5 pct - 22.7 pct), the 45-54 age group (19.7 pct from 20. 3 pct), the 55-64 age group (17.8 pct from 16.6 pct) and the 65-74 age group (11.4 pct from 11.3 pct).

    Epirus-Western Macedonia recorded the highest unemployment rate among the country's regions (27.1 pct in July from 27 pct in July 2014), followed Peloponese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands (26.6 pct from 25.6 pct), Thessaly-Central Greece (26.2 pct from 26 pct), Attica (24.8 pct from 27 pct), Macedonia-Thrace (24.7 pct from 27.1 pct), Crete (24.7 pct from 23.5 pct) ad Aegean (18.4 pct from 20.8 pct).

    [25] Greek trade deficit down 18.5 pct in Jan-Aug

    Greece's trade deficit shrank by 8.8 pct in August reflecting a big decline both in imports and exports as a result of the imposition of capital controls in the country, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report on merchandise trade, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.009 billion euros in August, from 3.302 billion in August 2014, a decline of 8.9 pct (excluding oil products the value of imports fell by 8.4 pct).

    The value of export-deliveries totaled 1.894 billion euros in August, from 2.079 billion last year, for a decline of 8.9 pct (excluding oil products the value of exports fell 6.8 pct).

    The trade deficit fell 8.8 pct to 1.115 billion euros in August, from 1.223 billion euros (excluding oil products the trade deficit shrank by 27.5 pct).

    In the January-August period, the value of imports totaled 28.337 billion euros, from 31.452 billion in the same period last year, for a decline of 9.9 pct (excluding oil products the value of imports fell 2.0 pct).

    The value of exports totaled 17.241 billion euros in the eight-month period, from 17.836 billion last year, for a decline of 3.3 pct (excluding oil products the value of exports grew 12.3 pct).

    The country's trade deficit totaled 11.096 billion in the January-August period, from 13.616 billion in 2014, for a decline of 18.5 pct (excluding oil products the trade deficit shrank by 16.6 pct).

    [26] Greek stocks end slightly lower

    Greek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as investors took profits after a three-day rally in the market which pushed the composite index 6.10 pct higher. The index ended 0.30 pct down at 678.05 points, off the day's lows of 671.14 points. The Large Cap index ended 0.40 pct lower and the Mid Cap index ended 1.81 pct higher.

    Turnover was a low 37.380 million euros in volume of 144,950,252. National Bank (8.30 pct), Ellaktor (4.82 pct) and Piraeus Port (2.29 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (9.88 pct), Alpha Bank (6.96 pct) and Eurobank (4.17 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Among market sectors, Financial Services (2.85 pct), Chemicals (1.49 pct) and Utilities (1.27 pct) suffered losses, while Health (4.06 pct), Technology (2.42 pct) and Industrial Products (1.32 pct) scored big gains.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 48 to 43 with another 14 issues unchanged. Dromeas (29.17 pct), Autohellas (15.38 pct), G.E.Demetriou (12.50 pct) were top gainers, while Kathimerini (19.92 pct), Hellenic Sugar (19.76 pct), Piraeus Bank (9.88 pct).

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 7.16 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.18 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 7.74 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.58 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, equally distributed between buy and sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.139 pct from 0.140 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.073 pct from 0.074 pct, the six-month rate was unchanged at 0.027 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.048 pct from -0.046 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.114 pct from -0.113 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.11 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,036 contracts with 11,038 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 71,924 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (26,585), followed by Alpha Bank (25,385), National Bank (15,817), Eurobank (1,480), MIG (237), OTE (561), PPC (661), OPAP (235), Mytilineos (130), GEK (231), Ellaktor (89), Folli Follie (97) and Frigoglass (156).

    General News

    [29] "Little Paris of Athens" opens windows to the world, its director Strofalis tells ANA-MPA

    "The upgrade of an area has to do with its hidden treasures," Marios Strofalis, acclaimed composer and director of the festival "Little Paris of Athens" said to ANA-MPA.

    The festival, which is organised for third consecutive year, will run from October 8 to October 18 with the view to showcasing the "underprivileged" neighbourhoods of central Athens through theatre, music, dance, painting, artistic and educational programs, games, lectures and "rendez vous social."

    This area has streets with French names, Strofalis noted. "In the past, a part of a society was quite bourgeois, that could easily create the conditions that we call social "elevator", he added. "The historical identity of the area is revealed through the names of the streets, that always mean something (Hugo, Chateaubriand, Beranger, Mayer, Maison, Moliere etc)" he underlined.

    Therefore the idea of this festival was born, "allowing to host cultural activities and educational programs for schools. A serious institutional intervention, which over the years will deliver results. The festival is rooted in the local community, not only during the ten days, but also because the people has witnessed its preparation since early September, as they can participate in groups voluntarily while learning things," Strofalis stressed.

    [30] Cry against injustice, sculptor captures the Syrian drama with pebbles and stones

    Through his work he describes the life in his country, the drama of Syria, the war and the grief, the death and the refugees while sending messages of humanism and hope.

    Syrian sculptor Nizar Ali Bander lives in Latakia and gives voice, motion and context to the stones and pebbles. In the five years of the civil war he has created more than 10,000 works which are a "cry against injustice, suppression, death and migration."

    "At the beginning of the war, I started discovering myself," he said to ANA-MPA and explained how he started his new works on which he depicts stories from every day life in his country as well as his feelings.

    Asked on the condition in Syria, he gives answers through his work. Nizar does not like to speak very much. "People and stones were destroyed in the five years of the war in Syria. We have learnt to live waiting for death to come," he said.

    The artist collects the stones and the pebbles from the beaches of Syria. He has named them "safoun," an Arabic name that relates to their natural colours. He claims that the stones have colours as golden-red and if you observe them closely they have a shape, a pattern.

    Nizar speaks with wounded pride for his country, that has existed as a lighthouse of culture throughout history. He said that he will continue, through his work, to send messages of humanism in order to change the people's direction and at the same time show the great determination of the Syrians. He also clarified that he does not care if he will become rich or famous because "he has lived poor and he will die poor."

    [31] 'Final Destination' photography and video exhibition at the Athens airport

    The Athens International Airport, continuing its collaboration with the Art-Athina International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, which celebrates its 20th year, hosts a new group photography and video exhibition, under the title "Final Destination."

    The exhibition will run from October 7 to December 31, in the "Art and Environment" exhibition space, on Departures Level.

    In "Final Destination," curated by the art historian Anna Chatzinassiou, contemporary Greek artists photograph interiors, cities and landscapes, depicting the natural and the artificial environment that is submitted to continuous change. In their works, their love for the Greek landscape is evident, while, the selection of works, as well as the hanging of the exhibition is trying to create interesting correlations between the artists and their photographs by using the uniqueness of the airport area and space, through which hundreds of travellers are passing daily in order to get to their final destination.

    As all permanent and periodic exhibitions in the airport, the new exhibition in the "Art and Environment" area on Departures Level, can be visited free of charge, on a 24-hour basis.

    The exhibition includes works of Venia Behraki, Alexandros Georgiou, Yiannis Hadjiaslanis, Alexandros Lambrovassilis, Nikos Markou, Margarita Myrogianni, Marina Vernicos.

    [32] Mykonos business man to file case against island VAT hike with Council of State

    A businessman from the cosmopolitan Greek island of Mykonos on Thursday filed yet another lawsuit with the Council of State (CoS), Greece's supreme administrative court, asking for the cancellation of a VAT hike on Greece's islands. According to the businessman, the ministerial decision calling for the gradual abolition of low VAT on the islands of the Aegean is unconstitutional, illegal and contrary to European law.

    Based on a decision made in the summer, the higher VAT rate (raised from 6 pct to the 23 pct, the same rate imposed in the rest of the country) went into force on the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos and Skiathos at the start of October.

    The plaintiff argues that the measure is contrary to laws on equality, since it affects only a limited category of tax payers and imposes higher taxes on the residents of these six islands, compared with those on other islands in the Aegean.

    No date has yet been set for a discussion of the case before the CoS plenum.

    The municipal council on the island of Skiathos also announced plans to contest the VAT hike in court on Wednesday. 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.

    [33] UNESCO heritage Temple of Apollo Epicurius to open only on weekdays

    The ancient Greek Temple of Apollo Epicurius is open to visitors daily from 08.00-15.00 (local times) except Saturdays and Sundays, the country's Culture ministry said in a press release, responding to media reports criticizing the lack of staff at the site on weekends.

    "The monument is protected by security personnel, designated by the competent Archaeological ephorate of Ilia and steps have already been made to pressure the Administrative Reform Ministry to ensure permanent staff," the announcement added.

    The problem arose recently after the retirement of the last permanent security guard on site and was made public by a press release of the National Union of Employees Guarding Antiquities.

    The UNESCO heritage monument, located in the remote archaeological site od Vasses in the region of Messenia, dates from mid- to late-5th century BCE and is considered one of the best preserved ancient sites and incorporates a multitude of unusual features.

    [34] Demokritos research centre to organise robotics classes for school children

    The Demokritos research centre in Athens is planning a series of classes in robotics for school children aged nine to 15, to be held this year for the first time. The classes will take place at the Demokritos centre facilities in Agia Paraskevi and are organised by the Software and Knowledge Engineering Laboratory at the centre's Informatics and Telecommunications Institute.

    The free three-hour educational programme will feature an actual teaching robot called Roboskel that is programmed to "play" with younger children in the last three classes of junior school and offer a slightly more advanced class to children in high school. It will be available every Monday and Tuesday throughout the year and will also provide, in addition to the interaction with robots, a historical review and interactive electronic games.

    More information is available at the Demokritos website http://schoolvisits.iit.demokritos.gr/robotics/2015/about and the phone lines 210 650 3002 and 210 650 3055.

    [35] Alzheimer's initially attacks the brain's GPS system, says Medicine Nobel laureate O'Keefe to ANA-MPA

    The hippocampus is the first part of the brain attacked by Alzheimer's. It is also the part relates to a specific type of memory and which essentially constitutes a navigating system that assists in the people's orientation. The research on the early diagnosis and cure of the Alzheimer's now focus on the operations of the hippocampus cells, said Nobel laureate and professor of University College of London John O'Keefe to ANA-MPA.

    O'Keefe who is among the key speakers at the International NeuroScience Congress FENS-Featured Regional Meeting that is held in Thessaloniki received jointly with the May Britt Moser and Edvard Moser the Nobel for Medicine in 2014 for "the discovery of cells that form a tracking position system in the brain."

    "We have made a research into the operation of the cells in the hippocampus for several years. This type of memory is the memory of what someone did yesterday, where and when. This is called incidental memory. The most important we learned is this is the first part of the brain attacked by Alzheimer's," he said.

    Professor Keefe expressed the hope that the experiments on people and animals along with sensitive tests and examinations will show to us, from the first stages, who are in danger of having Alzheimer's and eventually find a cure.

    Sports

    [36] 33rd Athens Marathon set to break new record in athlete participation, say organizers

    Athlete participation in this year's 33rd Athens Marathon held on November 8 is expected to reach new records, the president of Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) Kostas Panagopoulos said at a presser on Thursday, as he presented the Greek capital's leading sporting event.

    Panagopoulos said organizers expect 40,000 athletes, 6,500 of which are foreigners - 1,500 more than last year. Of the 40,000 runners, 16,000 will participate in the Marathon race while the others in the various shorter races taking place simultaneously in the city.

    He also said SEGAS decided this year not to invite top athletes who would raise the budget of the event, so as to increase revenues directed to social purposes.

    Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis welcomed the event and noted the efforts made to contain expenses in sports events due to the bad economic situation in Greece and called on Greek businessmen involved in sports to pay the amounts due from the use stadia and public spaces.

    The presser was also attended by Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, Marathon City Mayor Ilias Psinakis and the General Marketing Manager of OPAP, Petr Matejovski.

    Weather forecast

    [37] Partly cloudy on Friday

    Clouds and winds from variable directions are forecast for Friday. Clouds in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 15C-26C. Possibility of rain in the eastern parts and temperatures between 15C-26C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 18C-26C. Partly cloudy in Athens, 18C-25C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 16C-22C.

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

    AVGHI: Vote of confidence from the Parliament and Europe

    DIMOKRATIA: Battle with corruption

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: France's intervention on the debt issue

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The government improvises, while the IMF asks for additional measures

    ESTIA: The end of consensus

    ETHNOS: The new property tax for 2016

    IMERISSIA: New ENFIA (Uniform Real Estate Tax) in 2016

    KATHIMERINI: (Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras alone in the voting of the measures

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Changes in tax property

    RIZOSPASTIS: (Communist party) KKE calls on the people to organise their battle

    TA NEA: Reversal of roles

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