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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-30

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

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

Friday, 30 October 2015 Issue No: 5053

CONTENTS

  • [01] Refugee crisis, Greek economy discussed in Tsipras-Steinmeier meeting on Thurs.
  • [02] Greek President tells Germany's Steinmeier the EU must elp end the war in Syria
  • [03] Greek, German FMs discuss refugee crisis and bilateral relations
  • [04] German FM Steinmeier: 'Neither Greeks, not Germans are infallible'
  • [05] Places for refugees in countries of first asylum need to be subsidized, Alternate Min for Migration says
  • [06] The 50,000 hospitality positions for refugees in Greece are not permanent, says Comission spokeswoman
  • [07] Refugee boat accident in Lesvos show devastation facing the region, say gov't sources
  • [08] Around 5,000 refugees dock at Piraeus port
  • [09] IMF says cooperation with Greek government was good
  • [10] Draft bill on bank recapitalization to be voted by Sunday, sayd Gov't VP
  • [11] Bills on recapitalization, prior actions at the parliamentary committees on Friday
  • [12] Greek parliamentary report sees real danger of deeper recession or long-term stagnation
  • [13] EU Commissioner Moscovici to visit Athens next week
  • [14] New development law to be implemented on Jan.1, Economy Minister Stathakis says
  • [15] The government's aim is not to reduce pensions, Labour Min Katrougalos says
  • [16] FM Kotzias meets Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Szijj?rt?at on Friday
  • [17] Coooperation in tourism discussed between Alt. Min. Xydakis, Estonian envoy
  • [18] Greek minister, Egyptian envoy discuss economic cooperation
  • [19] Dep. FM Mardas in meetings with Austrian envoy, Greek-African Chamber of Trade
  • [20] Tsipras in 'PM's question time' in parliament on Friday
  • [21] Critical decisions on structural reforms need to be taken, ESEE chief Korkidis says
  • [22] "Greece could become the Silicon Valley of Europe," economist Kritikos tells ANA-MPA
  • [23] PPC, Commission officials discuss Greek electricity power market
  • [24] Greece falls two places in World Bank's Doing Business 2015 report
  • [25] Salzgitter Mannesmann Inlt wins contract in TAP project
  • [26] Greek stocks end lower on profit taking
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Greek fisherman rescues about 100 refugees off Chios
  • [30] Ten refugees dead from Wednesday's capsized boat off Lesvos
  • [31] Four more victims added to Wednesday's tragedy list
  • [32] Employees on Athens' fixed-rail transport to hold work stoppage on Nov 3
  • [33] Clouds and rain on Friday
  • [34] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Refugee crisis, Greek economy discussed in Tsipras-Steinmeier meeting on Thurs.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday, with talks focusing directly on the ongoing refugees crisis plaguing Greece and the rest of Europe, the economic crisis as well as bilateral relations.

    During the one-hour meeting, Tsipras reportedly told the German FM that the refugee issue is a problem that exceeds the capacity of only one country to deal with it. He also said dealing with the specific issue is a humanitarian duty, while cooperation with Turkey - where the bulk of refugees congregate before trying to enter Greece and other EU countries - is a priority, he reportedly said. According to sources, Tsipras said that the burden of managing the refugee crisis must be shifted to Turkey

    "Greece is shouldering the burden of Europe's humanitarian facade," Tsipras said, while underlining that the Union's support is necessary.

    Turning to the economic front, Tsipras told Steinmeier that July's decisions are difficult but that the Greek government will implement the agreement it has signed.

    "We don't agree with many (items in the agreement), however, we want a sincere relationship with our partners," he said.

    On his part, the German FM referred to the need for strengthening bilateral relations, particularly in the terms of exports and trade.

    In terms of the refugee issue, Steinmeier said refugee flows affect all of Europe, adding that he agrees that Turkey's border protection must be increased.

    [02] Greek President tells Germany's Steinmeier the EU must elp end the war in Syria

    The European Union is best suited to help stop the war in Syria and promote peace in the Middle East, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Athens on Thursday.

    The President also said that Greece's borders are Europe's borders, noting however that each country is responsible for decided how best to protect them.

    "Europe has borders and its borders are defined by international and European law. These borders are the borders of the member-states, as defined by sovereign member-states. We will protect these borders together, but what these borders are and what is the best way to protect them is a matter for each state to define," Pavlopoulos told Steinmeier.

    On his side, the German foreign minister said that no solutions will be found if each state lays responsibility for the refugee crisis on the other adding that a common European policy is needed to tackle the problem. He also said that burdens must be shared more equally.

    Steinmeier also spoke of Greek-German relations, noting that they have suffered from misunderstandings and that they should return to the traditionally good level.

    He also expressed his appreciation of Pavlopoulos by hailing his efforts to defend the European idea, while he invited him to visit Berlin on January 18.

    [03] Greek, German FMs discuss refugee crisis and bilateral relations

    The refugee crisis, bilateral relations, developments in the Balkans and Greek-Turkish relations were the main topics discussed in a meeting between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Athens on Thursday.

    "The refugee issue will not be used as an excuse to violate Greek sovereignty," Kotzias said during a press conference after the meeting, adding that to stop refugee flows towards Europe, the war in Syria has to stop.

    The Greek minister also spoke of the need to identify and record refugees while still in Turkey so as to minimize risks to human life and allow their relocation around Europe. Kotzias said that Greece is burdened by massive refugee flows but takes all the necessary measures to protect them at a huge cost to its budget.

    The minister also pointed out the need to coordinate and crack down on traffickers while he warned of a new wave of refugees and migrants who are ready to abandon camps in Jordan and Lebanon due to bad living conditions.

    Kotzias also said the two officials discussed was to rebuild good relations and trust between the two countries to move past stereotypes and prejudices created in the last two years.

    Commenting on the refugee crisis, Steinmeier noted that there can be no solution to the problem without a de-escalation of hostilities in the countries of origin. He also stressed the need for a fair distribution of the refugees throughout the EU countries and, most importantly, the need for a joint European solution.

    "We find that Greece recognizes its humanitarian responsibility and is acting accordingly," he said, adding that there will be no solution to the problem if every country lays the blame on another. Steinmeier also spoke in favour of a European approach to the protection of EU's external borders.

    Concerning the creation of first accommodation centers, the German official said they are necessary, noting that on the one hand there must be a fair distribution of the burden within the EU and on the other that Europe must deal with the reasons pushing people to flee their homelands. On this note, he stressed the importance of Friday's international meeting on the Syrian crisis, during which leaders will seek a political solution to bridge their differences on the issue. "If we achieve an agreement based on principles which Syria could implement, and have a caretaker government, this would be a great success," he said.

    Commenting on Turkey's involvement in the refugee crisis, he said the country has a key role to play and that talks are needed to achieve some result.

    Noting the importance of rebuilding bilateral relations, he also proposed the establishment at the soonest possible time of a German-Greek Youth Foundation aimed at promoting dialogue and exchanges between the youth of the two countries.

    [04] German FM Steinmeier: 'Neither Greeks, not Germans are infallible'

    Neither Greeks, not Germans are infallible, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday during a ceremony proclaiming him an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Piraeus.

    "Love your friend with all his faults," he said in Greek opening his speech at the university. "Nobody in Europe is infallible; neither the Greeks, nor the Germans," he added, noting that he's visiting the country as a good friend and was accepted as a good friend "at a time when it is not a good time neither for Greece nor for Europe."

    The German official continued to say that different views are at the base of EU values and that the honour bestowed on him by the University of Piraeus is not something he perceives as personal but as an added reason to work hard for better relations between the two countries for the common European future.

    [05] Places for refugees in countries of first asylum need to be subsidized, Alternate Min for Migration says

    Approximately 450,000 refugees and migrants have entered Greece since the beginning of the year, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Ioannis Mouzalas said on Thursday.

    "They all come here in order to leave" and "this is what the vast majority does" Mouzalas said in statements to MEGA TV. He also estimated that "in non-critical situations, like the one we live in now, every 24 hours there are not more than 50,000" migrants and refugees crossing the country.

    On the possibility of refugees trapped in Greece because of closed borders in other European countries, he said that "the chances are very small" and that "right now the danger is not visible."

    He noted that the Greek government accepted to provide 20,000 places for rental that will be financed by the United Nations and Europe.

    Mouzalas reiterated Greece's position to have subsidized places for refugees in countries of first asylum, to be recorded there and be relocated to Europe directly from there.

    Commenting on Turkey's position on the refugee issue, he said that "it has to recognize that it hosts 3-4 million; it has a huge responsibility."

    [06] The 50,000 hospitality positions for refugees in Greece are not permanent, says Comission spokeswoman

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    The 50,000 accommodation positions which will be created in Greece for refugees and migrants are a temporary arrangement, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said during a press conference in Brussels on Thursday.

    Out of the 50,000 refugees who will be hosted in Greece, a percentage of them will be relocated to other EU countries, another percentage will potentially choose to request asylum in Greece, while those who do not fulfill the asylum requirements will be sent back to their countries, she added.

    Concerning another 50,000 accommodation positions which must be created in other Balkan countries by the end of the year, Bertaud said the aim is to provide a roof to refugees who are on the road along the Balkan "corridor" so that they don't have to sleep in the open air as temperatures drop and to avoid human tragedies.

    [07] Refugee boat accident in Lesvos show devastation facing the region, say gov't sources

    The dramatic scenes in Lesvos on Thursday have shocked the world and are indicative of the devastation facing our region which has led to the refugee crisis, government sources said, commenting on the boat capsizing off the coast of the island that led so far to 10 dead refugees, including children and women.

    The Greek government is taking measures continuously to host these people and organize their accommodation, identification and relocation, noting that this struggle aims at highlighting Europe's humanitarian face, contrary to those who provoke xenophobia and extreme-right populism, the sources said.

    They also added that the government expects the positive contribution of the main opposition instead of easy criticism and populist statements.

    [08] Around 5,000 refugees dock at Piraeus port

    Approximately 5,000 refugees from Mytilene arrived early on Thursday at Piraeus port in the aftermath of yesterday's tragedy in the sea region north of Lesvos.

    More specifically, 1,995 refugees disembarked from "Blue Star Patmos", 1,359 disembarked from "Blue Star 1", 867 from "Nisos Rhodos" and 687 from "Nisos Mykonos".

    On Wednesday three bodies were recovered, two boys aged six year old and one year old as well as an adult man. A little girl that was earlier taken to the hospital eventually lost her life.

    Meanwhile, at least 247 persons have been rescued from the Coast Guard and transferred to refugees camps and public spaces at Molyvos. The number of missing people remains unknown.

    [09] IMF says cooperation with Greek government was good

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has had a good cooperation with the Greek government on issues concerning the current program review, its spokesman said on Thursday during a regular press conference.

    Asked about the possibility of Fund participating in Greece's new program, IMF communications director Gerry Rice reiterated the statement that for this to happen, the country must receive some debt relief.

    He also said that representatives of the IMF participated in the review conducted in Athens recently, noting that the country's last program expires next March.

    Asked on the issue of reek bank recapitalization, Rice said the Fund will wait first for the results of the ECB's stress tests but noted it is in everyone's interests to ensure Greek banks are adequately capitalized.

    [10] Draft bill on bank recapitalization to be voted by Sunday, sayd Gov't VP

    The draft bill on the recapitalization of Greek lenders will be voted by Sunday so that the actual process can start on Monday, Government Vice-President said on Thursday during a meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    "Until now, the State has contributed a lot of resources into saving banks and therefore we hope this recapitalization will be the last," Dragasakis said. "We wait for the ECB's final data on the banks' needs on Saturday, so that by Sunday the bill will be voted and on Monday the process may start. The conditions are in place to make it a successful process," he added.

    Continuing on the issue of recapitalization, Dragasakis said that the reason why the previous efforts failed was because they were not followed by a settlement plan for non-performing loans, a problem which constitutes "a black hole".

    "This is why now, along with the recapitalization, we'll move ahead with the issue of NPLs in a framework that will protect the primary residence, will prevent the purchase and sale of loans."

    Asked by a journalist where he bases his optimism that the program review and recapitalization will take place in time (by the end of the year), so as to avoid a haircut on bank deposits, Dragasakis said: "Because we're ready".

    "Our first aim was to complete the recapitalization in a way that would not affect deposits, which means it must take place within 2015, because starting next year, a directive will be put in place that imposes a haircut on deposits over a certain amount."

    On his side, Pavlopoulos said that the next Eurogroup Working Group (EWG) offers an opportunity to recognize the efforts made by Greece to meet its obligations. "To recognize all the sacrifices made by the Greek people to stay in the European Union and the eurozone." He also expressed hope all political parties will continue to show responsibility.

    [11] Bills on recapitalization, prior actions at the parliamentary committees on Friday

    Discussion on two major draft bills - on bank recapitalization and on additional prior actions necessary to unlock the 2-billion-euro loan installment - will start at the relevant parliamentary committees on Friday, following a decision by the Conference of Presidents.

    The debate on the prior actions bill will start in the committees with an express procedure in the morning in order to approve it next week at the plenum. The bill on recapitalizations will be discussed with an emergency procedure so as to hold a vote at the plenum on Saturday.

    Both bills will be tabled at the committees by the end of the day.

    [12] Greek parliamentary report sees real danger of deeper recession or long-term stagnation

    "An agreement on a third bailout program, despite political difficulties, was the still remains more preferable compared with prolonging uncertainty or a possible uncontrolled default," the Greek Parliament's State Budget report said.

    The report, released on Thursday, analyses Greek economic developments in the third quarter of 2015 and certified the return of the Greek economy into a recession, a return of unemployment to rising trends and of part-time employment since September 2015, adding to a decline in exports in the first half of the year.

    The report noted that positive growth rates recorded in 2014 and in the first two quarters of 2015 have been reversed and warned "of a real danger for the country to slid into deeper recession or even a long-term stagnation".

    It stressed, however, that this danger could be averted on certain conditions and that the economy could return to growth rates in 2017. "The most important condition for a faster recovery and basically a sustainable recovery, was to eradicate uncertainty both on economic policy and the management of issues (such as reforms, privatizations, etc)," the report said, adding that "this will be achieved by following a road map of the new memorandum".

    The report also stressed the risk of uncertainty, fuelled by a constant seeking of equal measures, unclear positions on tax issues and improvisation on the pension system. Uncertainty was also fuelled by a negative position by all opposition political parties towards almost every measure of the third memorandum, despite the fact that the Greek Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of the memorandum.

    The report offers answers to the question why the Greek crisis has not been overcome six years after the country signed the first memorandum in 2010. "An easy and popular answer was the intensity of the crisis and the austerity-cuts in wages, pensions and other spending, along with increasing tax rates which neutralized any favorable effects of reforms," it said.

    "This answer is related with the wrong view that ending the austerity or abolishing memorandums were enough for economic recovery. But it is not complete because it does not focus on long-term illnesses of the country in production, reforms, failure to fully implement an economic policy. It underestimated the effects of uncertainty which was and still is the biggest threat to recovery."

    [13] EU Commissioner Moscovici to visit Athens next week

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)

    EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici will visit Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the European Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt.

    The French Commissioner will meet with the Greek authorities and will be briefed on the progress made over the implementation of the Greek programme, she said.

    Regarding the evaluation for the implementation of the first package of prior actions related to the disbursement of the 2 billion tranche, she reiterated that "significant progress" has been made adding that the technical staff's report is expected to be completed soon.

    A EuroWorking Group has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon. However, if the report is not ready, the green light for the disbursement of the tranche will not be given.

    [14] New development law to be implemented on Jan.1, Economy Minister Stathakis says

    "The new development law will be implemented as of January, 1, 2016," Economy Minister George Stathakis said on Thursday.

    "Youth entrepreneurship will constitute the basis for Greece's growth. We are giving priority at all levels, and this is reflected strongly on both the new development law and the new programs of the NSRF," Stathakis underlined.

    "We made all the necessary steps to smoothly start the new NSRF programme. Apart from youth entrepreneurship, the programme concerns small and medium entrepreneurship, tourism and reduction of unemployment," he added.

    [15] The government's aim is not to reduce pensions, Labour Min Katrougalos says

    The government aims to implement uniform rules for all pensioners through a new way of calculating pensions, Labour Minister George Katrougalos said in an interview with CNN Greece.

    Asked if pensions over 1,000 euros will be reduced, Katrougalos said that the government's aim is not to reduce pensions, but to create a viable social security system.

    "Our aim is not to reduce pensions. This is what the previous government did. We had ten pension cuts in the memorandum period. Our aim is to render the system sustainable, but without putting pressure on the state or smaller pensions," he underlined.

    [16] FM Kotzias meets Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Szijj?rt?at on Friday

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will meet with the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, P?ter Szijj?rt?at, on Friday, October 30.

    The meeting will take place at the Foreign Ministry, at 11:30.

    Kotzias and Szijj?rt? will start with a one-on-one meeting, followed by expanded talks with the participation of the two countries' delegations. The two ministers will make joint statements to the news media at approximately 13:00.

    [17] Coooperation in tourism discussed between Alt. Min. Xydakis, Estonian envoy

    Cooperation in tourism and in other economic sectors was the main topic discussed in a meeting between Alternate Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis and the Estonian Ambassador to Greece Margus Rava, at the ministry on Thursday.

    During the meeting, both sides discussed issues of common and European interest, the refugee crisis and the situation in Syria.

    [18] Greek minister, Egyptian envoy discuss economic cooperation

    Developing bilateral relations and the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Egypt and Cyprus were discussed in a meeting between Alternate Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis and Egypt's Ambassador to Greece Ahmed Fouad El Bidewy on Thursday.

    The two officials focused on strengthening economic cooperation to utilize the new Suez Canal as well as Egyptian and Greek ports. They also discussed developments in Syria and Libya.

    [19] Dep. FM Mardas in meetings with Austrian envoy, Greek-African Chamber of Trade

    Investments and trade were the main focus of a meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas and Austria's Ambassador to Greece Andrea Ikic-Bohm as well as representatives of the Greek-African Chamber of Trade and Development.

    The meeting between Mardas and Ikic-Bohm focused on attracting Austrian investments to Greece and the strengthening of economic relations.

    During talks with the representatives of the Greek-African Chamber, the two sides discussed Greek investments and activities in African countries, as well as taking similar initiatives in the immediate future.

    [20] Tsipras in 'PM's question time' in parliament on Friday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be in parliament on Friday at 10.00 (local time) to respond to a question tabled by New Democracy MP Giorgos Koumoutsakos on Greece's refugee and migrant policy.

    Financial News

    [21] Critical decisions on structural reforms need to be taken, ESEE chief Korkidis says

    "Significant progress has been achieved in the economy, but critical decisions on structural reforms remain to be taken within the framework of a national strategic plan for growth and employment," the president of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) Vasilis Korkidis said in a meeting with European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis on Thursday.

    Regarding the new agreement with the creditors, Korkidis said in an ESEE statement that it does not solve the problems of the market. It is based on tax increases and austerity measures in order to attract investments and rationalize the economic climate.

    "Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) expect initiatives on financial support and the gradual elimination of the consequences of capital controls and the improvement of market sentiment. If there are no further irregularities in the implementation of the provisions of the new programme, then perhaps we could discuss how to strengthen media companies and address the persistent problems: over-taxation, lack of liquidity and funding, lack of trust."

    [22] "Greece could become the Silicon Valley of Europe," economist Kritikos tells ANA-MPA

    "Greece could become the Silicon Valley of Europe," economist Alexandros Kritikos said in an interview with ANA-MPA on the occasion of a conference "Greece after the elections. Reconstruction of Greece, German development ideas for the reconstruction of the Greek economy ", organized by the German-Greek Business Association (DHW) in Berlin.

    Kritikos estimated that the technology of informatics could develop in Greece along with the startups which in our country are stronger that one could imagine.They could become, as he said, the primary engine of growth in the future provided that proper conditions are in place and the excellent human staff is used.

    The professor also proposed the abolition of regulatory interventions in the products markets. On dealing with the "dramatic problem" of emigration and startups, he recommended among others combating bureaucracy, abolishing multitude of laws, and a company friendly tax system.

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

    [23] PPC, Commission officials discuss Greek electricity power market

    Public Power Corporation (PPC) wants a gradual reduction in energy taxes, free-of-charge CO2 emission rights to electricity power producers and implementing a new policy on Renewable Energy Sources, the company's chairman and chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis told Dominique Ristori, director-general of the Energy Directorate in the European Commission, during a meeting in Brussels.

    The meeting focused on PPC and electricity power problems in Greece. The Greek side underlined that the three basic goals were a smooth and efficient operation of the wholesale market, a smooth and efficient opening of the retail market, electricity supplies and a fundamental reduction of electricity prices for consumers.

    Panagiotakis noted that problems could not be resolved through distortions, similar to the past which led to price hikes between 60-100 pct of electricity power and accumulated huge financial problems to PPC, but through adopting recommendations such as a de-taxation of energy.

    On the retail market, PPC's chairman said that any opening of the market without investments, without risk and minimum operating costs and focusing on consistent customers, has nothing to do with healthy competition and was doomed to fail, as it happened in the past. PPC's market share was 94.5 pct currently, but 50 pct of the market was consumption covered exclusively by PPC. He said that Public Power Corporation was reacting positively to the announcement by other organizations such as Hellenic Post to launch activities in the electricity market. Referring to the future of ADMHE -the Independent Power Transmission Operator- Panagiotakis said any solution should serve competition, creating equal economic results for PPC and prevent leading the corporation into a clash with society, the state and other shareholders.

    Ristori said that an opening up of the electricity market in Greece should not lead to jungle conditions.

    [24] Greece falls two places in World Bank's Doing Business 2015 report

    Greece fell two places to 60th, from 58th last year, in World Bank's list of 189 countries based on setting up and operating businesses.

    The Doing Business 2015 report by World Bank records reforms made by the countries which made it easier to do business in the period from June 1, 2014 until June 1, 2015. The report, however, showed that Greece's ranking -compared with the best practices for business environment adopted around the world improved slightly with the distance to frontier (DTF) index rising to 68.38 pct from 68.30 pct last year (100 pct reflects the best practices).

    World Bank assesses the performance of countries in 10 sectors which form business environment. Greece fell in seven sectors while it remained unchanged in the remaining three. Greek ranking fell in easiness to set up a business (54th from 50th), getting electricity power (47th from 44th), getting credit (79th from 71st), taxes (66th from 63rd), implementing contracts (132nd from 131st), protecting minority investors (47th from 44th) and clearing an enterprise (54th from 52nd). The country's ranking remained unchanged in external commerce (27th), construction permits (60th) and real estate property transfer (144th).

    The country's international ranking on taxation fell despite the fact that corporate tax burden eased, the World Bank said in the report. The report said that five actions and 13 days were required for a company to obtain an operating license in Greece, up from 4.7 actions and 8.3 days on average in high-income OECD countries. The cost for obtaining a business license accounted for 2.2 pct of Greek per capita income, down from 3.2 pct in high-income OECD states.

    The World Bank noted that a buyer needed to completed 10 different actions in Greece to complete a property transfer, a procedure requiring around 20 days and cost 4.9 pct of the property's value. Court procedures to settle commercial disputes also took longer in Greece, more than any other European country, around 1,580 days.

    Singapore, New Zealand, Denmark, South Korea, Hong Kong, the UK, US, Sweden, Norway and Finland topped the list of the World Bank's Doing Business report in 2015.

    [25] Salzgitter Mannesmann Inlt wins contract in TAP project

    Salzgitter Mannesmann International, a German company, won an international tender for the supply of pipes to build the TAP natural gas pipeline linking Greece, Albania and Italy, with a length of 270 km.

    The contract covers both the land and sub-sea part of the pipeline. Salzgitter was founded in 1859 and in 2014 its sales totaled 9.0 billion euros. It employs 25,000 workers.

    Ian Bradshaw, chief executive of the consortium to build and operate the TAP project, construction works in three countries (Greece, Albania and Italy) were expected to begin in 2016. The TAP pipeline will have a total length of 878 km, stretching from the Greek-Turkish borders to the Italian shores in Adriatic Sea. The tenders for the remaining sectors of the pipeline project were expected to be completed soon.

    [26] Greek stocks end lower on profit taking

    Greek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, as investors took profits after a six-day rally in the market which pushed the composite index 6.17 pct higher. Bank shares were at the focus of selling activity. The composite index fell 1.60 pct to end at 715.77 points, after rising as much as 0.52 pct early in the day. The Large Cap index dropped 1.99 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.49 pct lower. Turnover was a low 43.11 million euros, while volume was 182,568,703.

    Motor Oil (1.34 pct) was the only blue chip to end higher, while Alpha Bank (6.47 pct), Piraeus Bank (6.0 pct), Eurobank (5.88 pct), National Bank (5.19 pct), Ellaktor (4.62 pct), Titan (4.32 pct) and Athens Water (3.39 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Chemicals was the only gainer (1.47 pct), while Banks (5.67 pct), Constructions (3.93 pct) and Travel (2.44 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 62 to 26 with another 22 issues unchanged. AEGEK (18.75 pct), Alpha Astika (18.67 pct) and Pegasus (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Audiovisual (30 pct), Euromedica (19.92 pct) and Lavipharm (11.39 pct) were top losers.

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchnmark bonds shrank to 7.07 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.32 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.59 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.52 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.104 pct from 0.108 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.042 pct from 0.047 pct, the six-month rate was 0.004 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.068 pct from -0.067 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at -0.119 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.46 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,316 contracts with 12,516 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 4,290 contracts with investment interest focusing on PPC's contracts (1,315), followed by MIG 679), OTE (300), OPAP (748), Hellenic Exchanges (183), Mytilineos (409), Motor Oil (111), GEK (110), Ellaktor (80), Hellenic Petroleum (83), Titan (62), Jumbo (46) and Frigoglass (45).

    General News

    [29] Greek fisherman rescues about 100 refugees off Chios

    About 100 refugees who were aboard two wooden boats drifting in high seas off the southern coast of Chios were rescued by a Greek fishing boat on Thursday.

    The fishing boat's captain was alerted by the Coast Guard and asked to assist the refugees. The rescued people include babies, children and women, all of which were safely transported to shore.

    [30] Ten refugees dead from Wednesday's capsized boat off Lesvos

    The death toll from the boat that capsized off the north coast of Lesvos on Wednesday carrying hundreds of refugees and migrants has risen to ten, authorities said, as the search operation continued on Thursday.

    Coast Guard officials have so far rescued 242 people but the total number of those aboard the vessel is still unknown. So far, 4 children and 3 adults were found dead, while another girl died in hospital.

    Another 15 children are hospitalized in the town of Mytilene and three more were transferred with a C130 to a hospital in Athens.

    [31] Four more victims added to Wednesday's tragedy list

    Four more casualties were added to the list of victims of Wednesday's tragedy in the sea region north of Lesvos. The total number of victims has reached 8.

    On Wednesday three bodies were recovered, two boys aged six year old and one year old as well as an adult man. A little girl that was taken to the hospital also lost her life.

    Meanwhile, at least 242 persons have been rescued from the Coast Guard and transferred to refugees camps and public spaces at Molyvos. The number of missing people remains unknown.

    [32] Employees on Athens' fixed-rail transport to hold work stoppage on Nov 3

    Employees in Athens' fixed-rail transport announced a work stoppage on November 3 (Tuesday) from 21.00 (local time) until the end of their shift to protest the "mismanagement of public transport" and "the negligence of those responsible which led to the situation in which the metro, tram and electric railway are currently in".

    The unions of employees in the metro, tram and urban rail said in a joint statement that the new restructuring plan for the urban rail network lacks any strategic planning and quantifiable data to support the benefits it will bring.

    Weather forecast

    [33] Clouds and rain on Friday

    Scattered rain and winds are forecast for Friday. Northerly winds expected, whose velocity will gradually increase in the east reaching 7 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 5C-18C. Cloudy with scattered rain in the western parts with temperatures between 10C-21C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 15C-22C. Partly cloudy with light rain expected in the evening over the islands, 13C-20C. Scattered clouds and rain in Athens, 13C-19C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 10C-18C.

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

    DIMOKRATIA: Black darkness

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Golden lives, wet graves

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: One out of two is not entitled to heating allowance

    ESTIA: The scenery over investments is fictional

    ETHNOS: Red alarm over the disbursement of the 2 billion euro tranche

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Battle over time

    TA NEA: Horrific equivalent measures

    TO PONTIKI: Do you owe? You have to pay

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