|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-09-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 16 September 2016 Issue No: 5248
 PM Tsipras discusses EU challenges with German Chancellor MerkelGreek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday had a phone contact with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The two officials discussed the challenges Europe is facing today, namely, safety issues, the economy and the migration and refugees crisis.
On his part, Tsipras briefed Merkel on the outcome of the recent EU Mediterrenean countries summit noting the positive contribution of the specific initiative to the dialogue for EU future.
They also discussed the refugee issue and they agreed on the need to strengthen the European Asylum Support Office staff and accelerate the relocation procedure.
Finally, they both agreed that the imminent EU Summit in Bratislava is an excellent opportunity to promote a positive agenda on the prospect and targets of the European Union.
 Athens Declaration to form basis of Greek positions in Bratislava, gov't sources sayThe Athens Declaration adopted by the European Union's seven Mediterranean countries, during last week's meeting in the Greek capital, will form the basis of the Greek positions at Friday's informal European Council in Bratislava, government sources informed the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Thursday. Greece will additionally present additional positions of its own at the Bratislava summit, which is to be attended by 27 EU member-states excluding Britain, the sources said.
In statements about the Mediterranean leaders' meeting last week, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the aim of the meeting was to arrive at a joint and constructive contribution to the dialogue that was now beginning about the future of Europe, so that the Bratislava summit could serve as "democratic Europe's reply to populism, xenophobia and racism".
The government's impression is that all the countries that signed the Athens Declaration will use it as the basis of their intervention in Bratislava, the sources added, noting that this would be positive since a joint stance will strengthen the specific agenda within the meeting. Also welcomed by the government side were the statements made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his annual speech, which they expect will also help to strengthen the specific agenda.
The Greek side again noted that the aim of the Athens meeting was not to create division or another grouping within the EU, but to contribute positively to setting an agenda. The prime minister also presented this point of view in his talk with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the sources added.
Greek positions at Bratislava will include steps to enhance defence of the EU's external borders and internal security, with an upgraded foreign policy and international role for the EU, solidarity in dealing with the refugee crisis and a fair distribution of the burden between the EU member-states, as well as steps to set up an EU border and coast guard and cooperate with third countries.
The refugee issue dominated the prime minister's discussion with Merkel, with agreement on the need to reinforce the presence of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) with additional staff and speed up relocation procedures.
Finally, on the economic front, there seems to be movement toward the positions outlined in the Athens Declaration, calling for more emphasis on growth, social cohesion and greater flexibility in implementing the Stability and Growth Pact, as reflected in Juncker's speech, the sources said.
 Bratislava summit should send message of unity and solidarity, says German EU ministerThe summit of European Union leaders in Bratislabva on Friday should send a message of solidarity and cohesion but the important issue is to deal with the union's problems faster, the German Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth told Athens -Macedonian News Agency on Thursday, after a meeting with his Greek counterpart Nikos Xydakis in Athens.
"Bratislava should send one signal [of] unity, solidarity and cohesion. This is the mutual understanding of the political leaders of the EU but we shouldn't overestimate the Bratislava meeting because it is just one step," he said.
"The most important step is that political leaders deliver as soon as possible. We have to speed up our measures in combatting the problems in the EU," he added.
Asked how unified the EU on issues such as migration, Roth said: "I'm fully convinced that at the end, the Brexit made very clear that nationalistic and populist solutions are definitely not solutions," he said.
 PM Tsipras' schedule at Bratislava EU summitThe schedule of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the unofficial meeting of 27 EU leaders in Bratislava on Friday will be the following:
09:00-09:30 Arrival at the summit, and welcome by the Prime Minister of Slovakia
10:00-12:30 First work session
12:45-13:00 Family picture
13:30-15:00 Unofficial lunch
15:00-15:30 Visit to the Gallery of Modert Art in Bratislava
16:00-18:00 Second work session
18:30-19:30 Press conference
Departure to Athens
 Greek PM says CMEC-PPC agreement a "vote of confidence"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday welcomed an investment agreement signed between China's CMEC and Public Power Corporation (PPC).
"The investment by Chinese CMEC together with PPC in Greece is a vote of confidence to the Greek economy," the Greek premier said in a comment posted on twitter. "After the port of Piraeus, it is the second most significant and the top in size Chinese investment in Greece," the Prime Minister said, adding: "It confirms the importance of our visit to China and its strategic interest in Greece."
The Greek PM welcomed earlier today to Maximos Mansion representatives of PPC and CMEC.
CMEC signed a cooperation agreement with PPC and will invest 600 million euros in the country, the largest Chinese investment in Greece.
 PM Tsipras to address SYRIZA Central Committee meeting on SaturdayThe political developments and the imminent SYRIZA congress will dominate the party's Central Committee meeting on Saturday at the Athens hotel DIVANI CARAVEL.
The meeting will start at 10 a.m with prime minister Alexis Tsipras' speech.
 Austrian Chancellor Kern invites PM Tsipras to participate in meeting on migrationPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras received Austrian Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Alois Stoger earlier on Thursday at the Maximos mansion.
The Austrian minister delivered an invitation by Federal Chancellor of Austria Christian Kern to participate in a meeting on the refugees issue that will be held in Vienna on September 24.
Moreover, they discussed the developments in the refugee issue as well as issues referring to the social policy in Europe.
 The response to EU crisis is political, Alternate FM Xydakis says"The message sent to Bratislava wil be that of unity and not division," Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Xydakis on Thursday said in a statement to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, a day before the informal EU summit.
Xydakis, who will accompany Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the EU summit, stressed the need for Europe to restore its social character, to march towards convergence and the consolidation of democracy, and be united on the basis of solidarity and development.
"We are listening to the societies. Europe must regain its social face and walk towards convergence and the consolidation of democracy," the Alternate Foreign Minister noted.
"In order to make the vision of Europe attractive to citizens again, we will have to show realism and flexibility. We need to be persuasive and effective to restore Europe's democratic and social character, and eliminate the discontent that feeds the right-wing hate wording. The EU crisis is not the result of a natural disaster. The causes are political and therefore the solution lies in politics. Europe must be united on the basis of solidarity and development. This is the right time," he added.
 Last meeting between Finance and Economy ministers with institutions on FridayFinance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis will meet with the institutions' mission chiefs on Friday for the last time before they leave Athens, to review the progress made in the negotiations on the remaining prior actions.
The meeting is scheduled at 10:00. Earlier, the representatives of the institutions will meet with Education Minister Nikos Filis at 09:00.
The mission chiefs will leave Athens on Friday and the next crucial date is September 29, when the EuroWorking Group (EWG) will meet to approve the disbursement of the sub-tranche totaling 2.8 billion euros.
 Greek FinMin, institutions review budget figuresGreek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Deputy Finance Minister George Chouliarakis on Thursday presented budget execution data during a meeting with representatives of the institutions to discuss developments in public finances.
Finance ministry sources said the Greek side underlined an improvement in budget revenue this year, which surpassed estimates, and noted that this improvement will continue in 2017. The same sources said that an expected improvement in next year's revenues was the result of implementing specific measures which were of particular importance for the outlook of economic recovery in the country.
 Pension issues discussed at labour minister's meeting with institutionsPension system related issues dominated talks between Labour Minister George Katrougalos and representatives of the institutions in Athens on Thursday. Speaking after the meeting, Katrougalos said the two main issues discussed were a request made by various professional associations - such as lawyers, civil engineers and others - for the foundation of professional funds, as well as the implementation of a measure announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for a 'freeze' of the outstanding social insurance debts of the self-employed, provided they were up-to-date with current payments.
The measure announced by the premier will allow all accumulated debts up to December 31, 2016 to be 'put in hibernation' so that those insured with the OAEE and ETAA funds for the self-employed can receive documents showing they are up to date with payments, providing they pay new social insurance contributions that come due after January 1, 2017.
Katrougalos said the representatives of Greece's lenders asked to see "specific numbers and also specific and substantiated proposals on these issues." He said the figures will be sent to the institutions over the coming days and discussed in conference calls next week.
Asked about the "advertising stamp duty" that finances the journalists' pension and health fund, the minister said there would be no further extension of this and that a meeting will be held on Friday with representatives of media workers to discuss the next moves.
 Close to deal with institutions on NPLs, says ministry sourceThe government is close to a deal with the institutions on how to restructure the non-performing loans (NPLs) of business and is expected to complete the relevant draft bill by the end of the month, a senior official at the Economy ministry said on Thursday.
The bill will foresee, on the one hand, the extrajudicial mechanism for the settlement of all business debts to banks, pension funds and the taxman and on the other, changes in the bankruptcy code aimed at accelerating bankruptcy procedures.
The senior official said the bill is difficult to complete but an agreement is close, adding that a new meeting is scheduled between the government and the institutions on Friday. Once the committee completes the draft bill, it will be sent to the institutions to be reviewed and discussed at length when they return to Athens for the second review.
The bill will state that committees will be set up with the participation of Greece's creditors which, based on the recommendation of special reviewers, will draft a plan for the extrajudicial settlement of debts, which will be ratified by judges.
In the case of large companies with high debts, the proposals to the committees will be made by major audit firms and not by individual evaluators.
 Views of government and institutions on NPLs converge, says ministerThere has been a "convergence of views" on issues relating to the Commission which will be responsible for the restructuring of non-performing business loans, Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said on Thursday after a meeting with the institutions' mission chiefs in Athens.
"The climate was very positive and we're very close to completing talks on the extrajudicial [settlement] mechanism, while only a few secondary technical issues remain open," he said, adding the procedure will concern all businesses, irrespective of size.
 Krugman: We need to rein markets and neoliberalism"Neoliberalism can mean many things, but if it means letting markets reign without restrains is always the answer then I'm also against neoliberalism," Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate, economist, said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.
The economist and New York Times columnist is in Athens to participate in the 4th Athens Democracy Forum organised under the auspices of Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Krugman found Pavlopoulos' speech interesting. "A very interesting speech, there were a few themes in there that are dear to my own heart. It' s good to see someone talking about the necessity of reining in ... we're from market economies but there need to be some ground rules. I was happy to hear it."
Asked on the austerity imposed, he said: "As I took it, it was more about the obsession with structural reform which can be a good thing but it is often taken to mean simply remove all restrictions, which is not what you want."
Regarding the US elections, Krugman commented: "Well, the New York Times model says 80 percent Hilary Clinton. I hope that's true. Well, no, I'm not allowed to do endorsements, sorry, but God knows. It's frightening that we have a risk of a very, very bad accident right now and I won't be relaxed until the day after."
 The negotiation framework will not change in a few weeks, says Alt.FM Xydakis"We should not expect that in a few weeks the framework of the negotiation will change" stated Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Xydakis referring to the change of climate in EU regarding the stability pact.
Speaking to public broadcaster ERT on Thursday he referred to European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker's speech on Wednesday and the flexibility he proposed noting that "Dogmatism and neoliberal ideology is collapsing".
He underlined that Brexit was a huge shock and expressed his concern over the rapid rise of the extreme right and the rhetoric of hatred, racial hygiene and animosity noting that now even the conservative politicians wake up.
Xydakis opined that on the migration and refugees issue the European Union reacted with delay.
 Relocation is the most tangible proof of European solidarity, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos saysRelocation is the most tangible proof of European solidarity towards both the people in need of protection and overcharged Member States, EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos said at the European Parliament Plenary Session.
"Better sharing of responsibility among Member States is not a pull factor. It is an indispensable tool at our disposal to better manage the refugee crisis and the migration challenge in general," he explained.
"We have to be realistic: while Greece and Italy are making great efforts, they cannot shoulder the responsibility alone and entirely to host and protect all the asylum seekers present on their territory. So, all Member States have to step in and take their part of responsibility," Avramopoulos underlined and added: "But most importantly, in the long term, we have to avoid that these people undertake such dangerous journeys by bringing them to Europe safely and legally. This is what resettlement is about - and this task starts already now."
The purpose of the Commission proposal was to provide the possibility for Member States to use the 54,000 unallocated relocation places for resettlement and other forms of legal admission of Syrians from Turkey to the EU, he said.
The Commissioner stressed that relocation and resettlement should be among the top EU's priorities in the months ahead, and they go hand in hand. "These are the real humanitarian needs that all Member States should stop merely talking about and start acting and delivering more."
 Europe must exist with one face, one speed, or else it won't exist, President tells CNNThe European Union must exist with one face and in one speed, otherwise it cannot exist at all, President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said in an interview with CNN and Christiane Amanpour, which was aired on Thursday.
Pavlopoulos was responding to a question about the Brexit and its effects, and whether it is possible to create a two-speed Europe instead, like Hungary has suggested.
"Europe will exist with one face, one speed, or it won't exist at all. Europe cannot be like Janus - to remind you the ancient tradition of the Romans. If Europe becomes a Janus, it will just be a loose union of states but then it will have failed to defend the reasons for which it was created. I remind you why Europe was created: So that we don't relive the nightmares of the Second World War. And this presupposes a Europe where there's solidarity and equality," Pavlopoulos said.
We must defend this and we cannot do that with two gears. You cannot be a little of very European. Either you're European or you're not."
 Greek Parliament President urges radical decisions for refugee crisis at Council of EuropeSTRASBOURG (ANA/ O. Tsipira)
Greek Parliament President Nikos Voutsis on Thursday called for radical and bold decisions for the refugee crisis on a global scale, in a speech at the Council of Europe marking the opening of a discussion on the role and responsibilities of national parliaments. It was also necessary for member-states of the CoE to have awareness of their own share of responsibility in magnifying the causes of this crisis, he added.
"The source of the problem is the obvious multiple destabilisation, both in the broader region of the Middle East and in North Africa, and this is not some passing flare-up. On the contrary, all factors lead toward exacerbation, chief and most visible being the sources of civil conflict and foreign intervention, violent fundamentalist religious confrontations, increasing economic inequality and even unfavourable environmental changes," he said.
The answer lay in bold and radical international initiatives to establish peace and growth in these areas, so that their people can live in conditions of security and prosperity, Voutsis added, pointing out that no one wanted to leave the land of their birth to become a refugee.
Voutsis also highlighted Europe's share of responsibility for the problems, noting a lack of collective awareness in Europe of the role it played "through our participation in actions, through omissions, inertia and indifference and even through policies of exploitation that made intrinsic factors more acute."
The Greek parliament president criticised the "myopic" policies adopted since the end of the 20th century, which he said had given rise to the "Fortress Europe" mentality, racist and xenophobic ideologies and practices that had proved costly in the past, even to the point of regression and the raising of barriers and fences at the borders. He was also critical of the decisions taken by the European Union to address the refugee crisis, saying they were "timid" - albeit in the right direction - while their implementation was "essentially still pending". Additional delays and refusals in this area could lead to further deterioration with uncontrolled repercussions," he added.
 Frontex says migrant arrivals in Greece in August were 'well below record levels'The number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean in August remained well below the record levels from last year, Frontex said on Thursday.
Last month, the figure dropped to 3,430, down 97 percent compared to the same month of last year. However, August also saw a first noticeable monthly increase since the EU-Turkey statement came into effect and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia applied stricter border policies at its border with Greece, the agency added. In July, the number of arrivals stood at 2,030.
Most of the new arrivals in the country last month were from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The biggest migratory pressure in August was on Italy as it received 23,000 migrants, close to the number from the same month of last year.
 UNICEF, Child Ombudsman say Oraiokastro must accept refugee children in schoolsThe Greek branch of UNICEF and the Ombudsman for Children's Rights both intervened on Thursday to support the rights of refugee children to schooling, in response to reactions voiced by parents in the Thessaloniki district of Oraiokastro against their presence in local schools.
"Children, regardless of where they are or where they come from, are above all children," said the Hellenic National Committee for UNICEF and noted that the children will all be fully vaccinated, while their good health is already being ensured at the refugee reception centres. It also pointed out that the special classes for refugee children will be held separately from the normal programme, in the afternoon hours.
The organisation further noted that every child has rights and UNICEF's concerns that, without education, a generation of children living in countries affected by conflict, natural disasters and extreme poverty will grow up without the necessary skills to contribute to their countries and their economies, making their plight even worse.
The Assistant Ombudsman for Children's Rights Giorgos Moschos sent a letter to the parents and guardians associations of Oraiokastro schools informing them that their actions are not legal and that parents' associations do not have the right to ask that categories of children be barred from attending school.
"Such a thing would be illegal and, in addition, the phrasing of the request could constitute intolerant and racist speech. Nor do [parent associations] have the right to threaten illegal actions, such as taking over public spaces and especially the school itself," he said.
 Gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili comments on ND leader Mitsotakis' statementsThe statements of New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis include cuts in critical sectors, layoffs as well as reductions in salaries and pensions, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said in an interview with News247 website on Thursday.
Gerovassili accused the main opposition leader that he has already decided what deal he would sign with the institutions in order to achieve lower primary surpluses.
"The government aims to agree on and implement the short-term, medium-term and long-term measures for debt relief that were agreed at the Eurogroup of May 24. This would build confidence and pave the way for investors so that the country has access to the markets with interest rates as in the other eurozone countries," she added.
 Corruption prosecutors raid home of Greek central banker Yannis StournarasGreek Corruption Prosecutors on Thursday raided the family home of Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras, in connection with an investigation into advertising spending by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP), received by a company linked to the central banker's wife Stavroula Nikolopoulou-Stournara.
Sources said the prosecutors conducting the raid confiscated documents and electronic files related to the activities of Nikolopoulou-Stournara's company and its dealings with the HCDCP.
Bank of Greece sources earlier confirmed that a raid was carried out, while noting that the "alleged judicial officials refused to show identification."
An official central bank statement on the incident might be issued during the day.
This is the second investigation concerning the HCDCP's advertising spending, following an investigation that culminated in the prosecution of the agency's director and board members in 2015 for breach of faith, concerning their actions in the years 2011-2013.
Based on evidence collected by the corruption prosecutors in that case, which is now in the hands of an examining magistrate , the HCDCP spent sums greater than 2.0 million euros on messages to inform the public about health issues, such as the seasonal flu and others, which could have been broadcast without charge as public service messages. In addition, the investigators discovered irregularities in some of the related tender procedures, while in one case the contract was awarded to a company that should have been ruled out for non-payment of social insurance contributions.
 Central banker Yannis Stournaras contacts PM over prosecutors' raid at his homeBank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras on Thursday contacted Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and informed him of a raid carried out on his family home by prosecutors for corruption cases earlier the same day. According to government sources, the prime minister learned of the incident from Stournaras.
The same source said that the prime minister and central banker both agreed that this is an investigation by independent justice, in which both have confidence. They also agreed that this development will not affect cooperation between the government and the Bank of Greece.
 GenSec Kretsos on abolition of 'main shareholder' law, decision to restrict TV licences to fourGeneral Secretary for News and Communication Lefteris Kretsos on Thursday countered opposition criticism regarding the abolition of laws barring state contractors from owning television media. Talking to the radio station 'Athina 98.4', Kretsos said the change was made to harmonise Greek and Community law, pointing out that no European country had a similar barrier preventing businesses awarded state contracts from media ownership.
He also dismissed arguments that the restriction in the number of television broadcasting licences was solely responsible for higher unemployment among journalist and media personnel, pointing out that audiovisual production in the country had shrunk by 36 pct in 2015.
Kretsos disputed claims that the digital spectrum could "fit" an unlimited number of television channels and asserted that the current provider DIGEA was currently breaking regulations concerning HD channels and other parameters. "We have studied the spectrum and, based on studies, we cannot talk about unlimited channels, both on the basis of market rules and on the basis of technological infrastructure," he said.
On the fate of the television channels that failed to obtain a licence to broadcast during the recent tender, Kretsos said that they would not be forced to close once the 80 days were up, only to stop broadcasting digitally. Apart from that, they were free to produce and distribute content using other technologies.
 Labour minister an 'executioner' of workers' rights, KKE leader says at TIFThe government's plans for changing labour law were a "cause of war" and Labour Minister George Katrougalos was "an executioner" of workers' rights, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Thursday, during a press conference at the 81st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
"The government is preparing for a new decisive strike against workers' labour rights, with a de facto ban on strikes, workers' struggle and a removal of restrictions for mass layoffs. However much they try to hide behind European laws...the common stance of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) and the government is clear. They are trying to leave the worker and trade union movement toothless, to leave the workers unarmed in their struggle against this attack," he said.
 Government's roadmap offers crumbs to the people, says KKE leader Koutsoumbas"Mr.Tsipras advertises the massacre policy of the working classes' income," said Communist party (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas referring to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' speech at Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
"Mr. Tsipras has crossed every margin of our people's political deception in order to serve the interest of the bourgeois," noted Koutsoumbas at his press conference in TIF on Thursday. "The new productive model, the great roadmap that the premier presented is a very old and used recipe which offers only crumbs to the people and to the youth. He calls on the people to accept again new measures expecting the miracle of growth. Not only did the SYRIZA-ANEL government implement the economic measures of the previous governments but added more", said Koutsoumbas.
 Foreign ministry delivers German translation of Siemens case court orderThe Greek foreign ministry's translation service on Thursday delivered the completed translation in German of a court order relating to the Siemens kickbacks case to the Athens Appeals Court Prosecutors' Office, one week earlier than scheduled, sources informed the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).
The translation runs to 4,529 pages in total and includes a chart of the documents that will be read in connection with the case. According to the foreign ministry service, the delivery deadline was September 23. Also delivered on the same day was Athens Appeals Justices' Council order relating to the Johnson case, running to 2,196 pages.
The delivery of the translation was announced in advance by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis on Wednesday, who said the French translation of the same document will also be delivered in the coming days and promised that "with a SYRIZA government, the Siemens case will come to trial."
 Municipalities hit by severe storms to receive 5.5 mln euros in emergency aidMunicipalities affected by the thunderstorm that struck various regions of Greece last week will receive a total of 5.5 million euros in emergency funding, after a decision by Interior Minister Panos Kouroumblis and Deputy Minister for NSRF Issues, Alexis Charitisis on Thursday.
The severe weather left four dead and several villages and farmland flooded in just two days. The municipalities include Messinia, Lakonia, Trikala, Thasos and Thermaikos.
According to the two ministries, the funds, which will be taken from the country's contributions to the Public Investments Program, will be allocated exclusively for the restoration of the damages caused by the rain.
 Greece to be the focus of IMF's next annual meetingGreece will be at the center of talks in the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank on October 7-9 in Washington DC, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told journalists on Thursday.
Rice said the Fund's mission in Athens will remain in the country for another week to complete the regular audit of the Greek economy as part of article 4 of the Fund's regulations and is not related to the program review.
Asked about the statements by Greek Labour Minister George Katrougalos that the differences with the IMF on labour reforms 'are extreme', Rice refused to comment. He only said that the Fund cooperates closely with Greek authorities and that labour market reforms will constitute a central part of the next program review.
 Industrial production recovers, unemployment improvement temporary, SEB reportIndustrial production continues showing strong recovery trends despite a decline in economic activity, while a positive course of general government finances was supported by higher revenue, due to an increase in taxes and contributions including revenue from intensifying controls on undeclared labor, the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) said in its weekly bulletin on economic developments in the country.
SEB said that a small improvement in the labor market reflected increased tourism activity in the country. Seasonally-adjusted unemployment fell from a historic high of 27.9 pct in September 2013 to 23.4 pct in June in 2016. Although the number of unemployed people fell by 232,000, the number of employed grew by only 169,900 as the Greek workforce shrank by 62,100. The Federation said that a decline in unemployment was conjuctural and "was not enough to identify a recovery of the Greek economy in the framework of a competitive growth".
A sustainable growth of stable employment remains a quest of high priority, the bulletin said, adding that unemployment will begin falling only when an implemented economic policy would end, a policy discouraging the creation of permanent job positions in the private sector. Without a real increase in employment through private investments and without a decline in non-payroll labor cost of enterprises, unemployment problems will intensify, SEB said, and urged for the lifting of all hurdles the transfer of shares and loan restructuring.
 Meetings with Alibaba officials already offered results, Chamber saysA round of meetings between Greek exporting enterprises with high-ranking officials of Alibaba on Wednesday already offered significant results, the Athens Chamber of Tradesmen said.
A Chamber announcement said that Alibaba pledged to raise the number of Chinese tourists to Greece by 100,000 next summer through its Alitrip e-platform. Also, Hellenic Post will open an e-shop in the Tmall platform of Alibaba, addressing to Chinese consumers and develop a support strategy in the logistics chain of Greek small- and medium-sized enterprises seeking to export small quantities to China. The Crete region will forge a cooperation with Alibaba's platform to promote Cretan products to China and to attract tourists, while the Athens Commerce Club will begin cooperation with Alitrip and Alipay to interconnect its own innovative platform of commercial store register, facilitating Chinese visitors to easily find shops and pay through their smart phones. GRECA, Greece's e-commerce union, is now in direct contact with Alibaba.
"This is only a small sample of the possibilities offered to Greek enterprises thanks to the communication channel opened with Alibaba. It is certain that in the near future there will be several significant synergies, aimed to boost Greek economy," the Chamber said in an announcement.
 EEA notes potential of agreements struck with Alibaba in AthensThe Athens Chamber of Tradesmen (EEA) on Thursday published a list of significant agreements made during talks with senior Alibaba executives, during an event organised by the chamber in Athens on Wednesday.
Among notable results, it listed Alibaba's pledge to increase the number of Chinese visitors arriving next summer by 100,000 via the internet platform Alitrip, an agreement with Hellenic Post (ELTA) for an e-shop on the Tmall platform for Chinese consumers and strategic support for the supply chain of Greek SMEs wanting to export small quantities to China, an agreement with the Crete Region to promote Cretan products and attract tourists, the start of cooperation with the Commercial Association of Athens with Alitrip and Alipay to link with its own platform showing shops, restaurants and sites and a link between the Greek eCommerce Association (GRECA) with Alibaba to examine how Greek digital plaforms could be linked to Alibaba.
"This is a small sample of the potential that Greek companies have acquired through the channel of communication opened up by the EEA with Alibaba," an announcement said.
 The unsustainable growth model that caused Greece's crisis has largely changed, Stournaras tells EBRD seminarGreece has largely reformed the unsustainable economic model that led to the current crisis but financing continues to be a crucial problem in efforts to complete this transformation, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras asserted on Thursday at a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) seminar.
Stournaras noted that many unsustainable aspects of Greece's growth model had changed during the crisis years, with the country having largely eradicated the competitiveness gap that emerged after the country joined the euro through a process of internal devaluation. At the same time, he said, the current accounts deficit had shrunk to almost zero. The greatest part of this adjustment after 2008 was the result of falling imports, while exports of goods and services (excluding shipping) had increased by 27 pct in real terms, the central banker noted.
In addition, the export share of Greek products had increased significantly since 2010, especiallly in non-EU countries, with exports and imports now accounting for approximately 63 pct of GDP, he added.
 Greek unemployment rate fell to 23.1 pct of workforce in Q2Greek unemployment rate fell to 23.1 pct of the workforce in the second quarter of 2016, from 24.9 pct in the first quarter and 24.6 pct in the same period last year, with the number of unemployed people totaling 1,112,075, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
Despite a decline in the unemployment rate, two basic problems remain unresolved: a 49.1 pct of young people aged up to 24 years is unemployed, while unemployment among young women was 52.5 pct. Also, around 803,000 people, or 72.2 pct of unemployed are long-term unemployed and around 935,000 people, or 84 pct of total unemployed, accept part-time jobs.
The number of unemployed people fell 6.9 pct in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter, and by 5.8 pct compared with the second quarter of 2015.
The unemployment rate among women was 27.6 pct (28.3 pct in the second quarter of 2015), while among men it was 19.4 pct (21.5 pct). The age group 15-24 recorded the highest unemployment rate (49.1 pct from 49.5 pct in Q2 2015), followed by the 25-29 age group (32.6 pct from 35.7 pct), the 30-44 age group (21.5 pct from 23.8 pct), the 45-64 age group (19.1 pct from 18.8 pct) and the above 65 years age group (11.9 pct from 9.9 pct).
Among the country's regions, Western Greece recorded the highest unemployment rate (31.3 pct in the second quarter from 27.8 pct in Q2 2015), followed by Western Macedonia (30.6 pct from 30.1 pct), Thessaly (24.9 pct from 25.8 pct), Central Greece (24.4 pct from 25.3 pct), Central Macedonia (24.2 pct from 25.6 pct), Epirus (24 pct from 23.8 pct), Attica (22.6 pct from 25 pct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (21.9 pct from 23.4 pct), Crete (20.4 pct from 22.7 pct), Peloponese (19.6 pct from 22.6 pct), Southern Aegean (18.4 pct from 13.4 pct), Northern Aegean (17.3 pct from 19.4 pct) and Ionian Islands (11.7 pct from 19.8 pct).
An 11.4 pct of unemployed people were seeking full-time jobs, a 84 pct were seeking full-time jobs but could accept part-time as weel, while a 4.5 pct were seeking part-time jobs.
The percentage of unemployed people that have not worked before was 21.4 pct of total, while long-term unemployed (more than 12 months) accounted for 72.2 pct of total.
Employment grew 2.7 pct in the second quarter from the first quarter and by 2.1 pct compared with the same period last year, totaling 3,702,613 at the end of June. A total of 143,836 people -unemployed a year ago- found a job in the second quarter, while 115,103 were unemployed -they were working in the same period last year.
Part-time employment reached 9.8 pct of total employment. The percentage of wage workers in the Greece was 65.9 pct, the lowest in the EU (83.9 pct of total employment in 2015).
 Delegation of Greek Energy Association of Israel to visit AthensA delegation of the Green Energy Association of Israel -GEA-IL headed by the general director and founder of the organisation Eitan Parnass will visit Athens from 19 to 21 September with aim the promotion of cooperation and of business collaboration between Israel and Greece in the areas of sustainable and renewable energy.
The Israeli delegation will meet with Greek officials and with representatives of companies activating in the sector of green energy and entrepreneurship.
GEA-IL is the most important organisation that promotes the green energy in Israel. The visit is an initiative of the Israeli Embassy in Athens.
 Greek minister, German envoy Hans-Joachim Fuchtel discuss promoting Greek agricultural products in GermanyRural Development Minister Vangelis Apostolou on Thursday met Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, the Parliamentary state secretary to the German federal minister for economic cooperation and development, for a discussion on "issues of mutual interest". Apostolou said the talks with the German envoy had focused mainly on promoting Greek agricultural products in Germany.
The minister noted that there were currently 11 programmes with a total budget of 30 million euros engaged in promoting Greek products in other countries. He said Greece must now focus on exploiting the good quality of Greek products to ensure a high added value, noting that Greek producers did not currently benefit from the high final price of their products "which reach German consumers at prices collected by others along the way."
The meeting also discussed liquidity issues in the agricultural sector and the need to create a specialist agency, the penetration of Greek products in German networks and cooperation issues.
 Interamerican reports improved H1 resultsInteramerican said its pre-tax profits totaled 6.3 million euros in the first half of 2016, up 20 pct from estimates, while gross premium production amounted to 167 million euros in the January-June period for a market share of 9.0 pct in the domestic insurance market.
General insurance premium production was 94 million euros in the first half, almost unchanged from last year's levels, while vehicle insurance production was 68.8 million euros, covering 553,774 vehicles.
Interamerican said the introduction of a "Buy the Mile" insurance program helped the company to improve its production. The loss rate in general insurance shrank to 50.7 pct reflecting an excellent management of underwriting, while the market share rose to 11.4 pct, ranking at the top of the market.
In the health sector, gross premium production was 41 million euros, around last year's levels, while in the life insurance sector production was 32 million euros, hit by the implementation of capital controls in the market.
Interamerican has fully adjusted to the requirements of Solvency II with timely organizational, structural, administrative and marketing moves.
The customer satisfaction rate was 85 pct for Interamerican and 91 pct for Anytime.
"Interamerican continues successfully to implement projects to make its operations fully digital, offering significant value to all interested parts," George Kotsalos, chief executive of the Group said.
 Lidl Hellas to invest more than 100 mln euros in 2016The Greek supermarket sector will change following the latest developments in Marinopoulos Group, Iacovos Andreanidis, president of Lidl Hellas said on Thursday.
In an interview with ANA, Andreanidis said that "following the latest developments with Marinopoulos unboubtedly the landscape in the Greek retail market will change. We hope that this new agreement will create the preconditions for a healthy competition environment, all workers will keep their job positions and suppliers will safeguard a sustainable growth," Andreanidis said.
He noted that "a prevailing new economic situation has brought changes in the retail sector and in commerce in general. We do not move to mergers and acquisitions, on the contrary we support the market, create new job positions, invest and develop actions beneficial to the Greek society".
He said that Lidl Hellas was implementing an investment plan worth more than 100 million euros for the development of its branch network, expanding its logistics facilities in Attiki and Trikala and to modernize existing retail units. "Our aim is to continue investing in Greece, to contribute in boosting the economy and create new job positions," he added.
Lidl Hellas has a network of 220 units around the country, five state-of-the-art logistics centers and "all these years we evolve and modernize with the aim to offer maximum services to consumers". Andreanidis said Lidl Hellas has won the bet to achieve top product quality at the cheapest price, adding that in 2016 the company adopted new generation stores (in July the first stores opened in Alikarnassos and Diavata), while another four stores were expected to open this year (Florina, Drama, Messini and Lamina). The cost of each new generation store is around 4.0 million euros, while the cost of a compatible store was only 1.5 million euros. Total spending on new generation stores reached around one-fourth of annual investments.
Andreanidis said turnover grew by 6.2 pct in the March-June period, compared with the same period last year, to more than 475 million euros. "We are optimistic that next year we will have positive results as well, given the confidence showed by consumers," he noted. He said that a deregulation of markets was boosting competition, creating conditions to improve services to consumers. "Our company will examine the case of selling over-the-counter pharmaceutical products and the decision will be based on potential benefits to consumers," he said.
Andreanidis said there are different factors for setting prices between countries and in particularly in Greece "issues such as taxation, contribution, funding, geographical data, etc, additional transport expenses, different operating spending and extra taxes explain the price difference presented by some products between Greece and foreign markets". Taxation and in particular, indirect taxation which has been raised repeatedly in the past few years, justify any possible differences in product selling prices between Greece and abroad. "Despite this, I would like to stress that price differences are not always on the upside for our country but there are several cases, where comparison is in favor of Greek families, as product prices in Greece are cheaper than other countries, such as the majority of fruit and vegetables," he noted.
"Greek consumers, as a result of the crisis, seek clever quality purchases and we support this in Lidl," Andreanidis said, adding "to achieve this clever quality purchases we follow the principles of "discount" that does not mean any compromise on quality. We operate on the principle of simplicity and we believe on efficiency to the benefit of consumer. We take advantage of technology to the maximum and improve our company on a daily basis. We steadily cut our operating expenses and our prices, and carefully select our products to cover all the needs of modern consumer. And all these towards our main goal to offer quality producs at the cheapest prices," he said.
 Misko boosts exports, gains market shareThe imposition of capital controls last July hit certain categories of food products in supermarkets and this impact was reflected on this year's market results. The pasta market reported a 15 pct decline in volume in the July-August period and a 10 pct drop in the eight-month period from January to August.
George Spiliopoulos, chief executive of Barilla Hellas SA, owner of the Misko brands, said that the company will report a loss of only 5.0 pct in the Greek market this year, improving its market share.
Barilla Hellas is the largest pasta industry in Greece and one of the five better subsidiaries of Barilla Group. He said that the parent company has given the taks to its Greek subsidiary for the production of specific products -produced only in Greece-because of the quality of raw material and production quality, while Italy is the largest export country for Misko products.
Exports contribute around 15 million euros annually, while volume of exports amounted to 80,000 tons in the last five years.
Barilla Hellas has managed to create a hub of production, management and distribution of products to foreign markets, Italy, Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Australia, China, Japan, Cyprus and the Balkans.
Misko sales totaled 72.9 million euros in 2015, from 72.5 million in 2014, while profits totaled 4.3 million euros in 2015 from 2.7 million in 2014. Spiliopoulos expects this year's sales to slightly surpass 73 million euros. The company has a 40 pct market share, with the remaining 30 pct belonging to a competitor and a 30 pct to private lable products.
Barilla Hellas has completed investment programs worth around 70 million euros, of which 5.0 million euros in the last three years (2013-2015) at its factories in Thiva and Volos. The company has signed production contracts covering 60,000 stremmata (one stremma=1,000 sq.m.) of Greek farmers, absorbing 75,000 tons of Greek hard wheat each year.
 Pharmaceutical industry growth serves two critical national goals, Tzakri saysThe development of domestic pharmaceutical industry serves two national goals of critical importance: cutting public pharmaceutical spending and putting a break on a brain drain phenomenon, Deputy Economy, Development and Tourism Minister Theodora Tzakri said on Thursday.
Addressing an event to present an action plan for the pharmaceutical industry, Tzakri said spending cuts will be achieved from increasing the share of generic medicines in the Greek market to the expense of prototype medicines. Generic medicines are currently holding a 28 pct market share in Greece, the lowest in the European Union.
The pharmaceutical industry can also offer employment and new job positions to highly-training human resources, directly to enterprises and indirectly to research agencies, limiting a brain drain phenomenon.
The Greek minister said an action plan for the pharmaceutical industry has begun, with an inter-ministerial commission and six working groups already in place. Tzakri said that a new development law -which acknowledges pharmaceutical industry as one of strategic priority sectors in manufacturing- offers new funding tools to the industry, while the ministry was expected to launch a series of actions shortly, related with boosting competitiveness, export activity, research and innovation of manufacturing enterprises -including pharmaceuticals- while another series of programs aimed to support manufacturing was currently under planning to be launched later this year.
The ministry has also launched actions to support public research infrastructure and actions for the vocational training and knowledge certification of workers in strategic sectors for economic growth, including pharmaceuticals. The minister noted that pharmaceutical industry was the only sector which raised its workforce by 3,681 during the crisis, and managed to preserve 15,000 related job positions.
 European Commission adds Greek 'Fava Feneou' to Protected Geographic Indication foodsBRUSSELS (ANA/ C. Vasilaki)
The European Commission on Thursday approved the registra-tion of the Greek fava bean variety 'Fava Feneou' as a Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) food.
An announcement said that the production and cultivation of Fava Feneou is mainly confined to the Feneos and Stymfalia plateaus in the Peloponnesian region of Corinth. The specific product is cultivated since the end of the 19th century and is considered of high nutritional value, while the expertise of local producers remains largely within families. The addition of Fava Feneou brings the number of Greek protected-name foods to 104.
 Grand Resort Lagonissi awarded as best luxury wedding resort in EuropeGrand Resort Lagonissi was voted Europe's Leading Luxury Wedding Resort at the World Travel Awards 2016, one of the most prestigious accolades in the hospitality industry, the hotel said in a press release.
The selection was made by travel agents and wedding planners from around the world, who said the hotel was voted for its "particularly high level of quality of its services and unique facilities".
The announcement was made at the 2016 Europe Gala Ceremony, held in Sardinia, Italy.
 Business mission from food sector to visit Japan and South KoreaA business mission from the food sector to Japan and South Korea is organised by Enterprise Greece Invest and Trade in cooperation with the bureaus of Economic and Trade Affairs in Tokyo and Seoul from 26 November to 3 December 2016.
The delegation will be in Tokyo from 28 to 30 November and the companies representatives will hold meetings with Japanese food import and export companies at the hotel Okura and according to schedule.
 FF Group says EBITDA up 16.1 pct in H1FF Group on Thursday said its consolidated turnover grew 9.8 pct to 652.7 million euros in the first half of 2016, from 594.3 million in the same period last year. In an announcement, FF Group said improved operating activity throughout all business sectors of the group led to an increase in operating earnings to 131.5 million euros in the January-June period, from 113.2 million last year, an increase of 16.2 pct. Consolidated EBITDA was 148.8 million euros, up 16.1 pct. Consolidated after tax and minorities earnings were 97.4 million euros.
The jewelry, watch, accessories sector recorded a 10.3 pct increase in turnover to 482.5 million euros. EBITDA was 135 million euros, up 15 pct from the same period last year.
The department store sector recorded a turnover of 82.8 million euros in the January-June period, up 5.9 pct compared with the corresponding period last year. EBITDA was 8.0 million euros, up from 6.0 million in 2015.
The wholesale/retail clothing and footwear sector recorded a turnover of 87.4 million euros in the first half of the year, up 11 pct from 2015. EBITDA was 5.8 million euros, up from 4.76 million in the same period in 2015.
Tzortzis Koutsolioutsos, chief executive of FF Group, commenting on the results said: "2016 is developing positively for our group. Despite continues challenges in the external environment (Brexit, terrorist attacks, etc), business sectors continue to develop successfully and to show remarkable resistance. In this framework, the group implements its strategic plan and proceeds with its digital transformation, to meet the modern needs of global retail commerce and of the new consumers. Additionally, it expands its presence in new markets and its range of product. A readjustment of our operating model is currently underway to achieve our short-term and medium-term goals. Our priority is to continue leading the group with safety to the benefit of shareholders and workers".
 Employment in retail commerce up 0.2 pct in Q2The employment composite index in the retail commerce sector in Greece grew 0.2 pct in the second quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year, up 1.4 pct from the first quarter 2016, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the working hours index grew 0.4 pct in the second quarter compared with 2015, but rose 2.5 pct from the first quarter of 2016. The wages index grew 0.3 pct from the same period in 2015, but jumped 17.8 pct compared with the first quarter of 2016.
The seasonally-adjusted employment composite index in the retail commerce sector grew 0.7 pct in the March-June period compared with the first quarter of the year, the working hours index rose 0.3 pct and the wages index fell 0.8 pct.
 Greek wines in Vinexpo Nippon exhibitionGreece, via Enterprise Greece, will have its own pavilion at the International exhibition Vinexpo in Tokyo. The exhibition will take place at the hotel Prince Park Tower Hotel in the period 15-16 November 2016.
The Greek pavilion will have the form of a wine bar in which will be presented wines from producers that seek cooperation with Japanese import and distribution companies.
The international exhibition Vinexpo Nippon is organised for second time in Japan.
Those interested can contact the Economic and Trade Affairs Bureau in Tokyo: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Greek stocks end lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the composite index of the market closer to the 550-point support level. Blue chip stocks such as Coca Cola HBC and OPAP scored big gains, while Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Jumbo and National Bank suffered losses.
The composite index of the market eased 0.76 pct to end at 551.93 points, after rising as much as 0.63 pct early in the day. The Large Cap index ended 0.80 pct down and the Mid Cap index ended 0.80 pct lower. Turnover was a low 37.762 million euros in volume of 42,772,108 shares.
Coca Cola HBC (3.73 pct), OPAP (1.39 pct) and Lamda Development (0.89 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Alpha Bank (7.27 pct), Eurobank (4.04 pct) and Jumbo (3.91 pct) suffered heavy losses. Among market sectors, Food (3.73 pct) and Travel (1.13 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (4.53 pct) and Financial Services (3.19 pct) suffered losses.
Piraeus Bank and National Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, decliner led advancers by 59 to 37 with another 25 issues unchanged. Yalco (17.14 pct), Haidemenos (10 pct) and Sarantopoulos Mills (9.95 pct) were top gainers, while Lavipharm (18.99 pct), Varvaresos (18.92 pct) and Naftemporiki (10 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 8.43 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 8.47 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.46 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.03 pct. Turnover was a thin 4.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate rose to -0.053 pct from -0.054 pct, the nine-month rate was -0.125 pct, the six-month rate was -0.199 pct, the three-month rate was -0.301 pct from -0.302 pct and the one-month rate was -0.371 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.10 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,581 contracts with 8,202 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 118,071 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (40,126), followed by Alpha Bank (13,091), National Bank (23,076), Eurobank (11,836), MIG (14,521), OTE (2,296), PPC (3,099), OPAP (731), Hellenic Exchanges (262), Viohalco (2,666), Mytilineos (799), Hellenic Petroleum (820), GEK (1,344), Ellaktor (738), Jumbo (165), Piraeus Port (235), Terna Energy (873), Intralot (258) and Korinth Pipeworks (825).
 Athens Flying Week to offer unique moments over the weekendThe Athens Flying Week 2016 will be held on September 17-18 at the airbase of Tanagra for two amazing days to offer a unique air show, and a series of individual events.
The best pilots of military and civil aviation will offer to the spectators a show of maneuvers and acrobatics.
According to the organizers, this will be the biggest aviation event of southeast Europe for 2016, with confirmed participations from 13 countries among them Spain, Sweden, Italy, Germany and Netherlands.
Tom De Moortel, pilot of the Belgian Air Force, will present a solo show with an F-16, while a Soko G-2 Galeb from Serbia will fly in the colours of the former Yugoslav Air Force.
From our neighbouring Italy, the world champion Luca Bertossio returns with a unique acrobatic maneuvers programme with his glider.
From Sweden, Johan Gustafsson, is also expected to impress the audience. From Spain, Patrulla Aguila will participate with a total of seven aircraft Casa C-101 Aviojet presenting a spectacular performance of absolute synchronization.
From Italy, the group of "WeFlyTeam", confirms the power of the will, since the two pilots are stranded in a wheelchair.
The Polish Air Force participates with an F-16 and a Sukhoi-22UM3K.
The Netherlands will participate with an acrobatic aircraft Sukhoi 26MX and the German Air Force is represented by a Tornado ECR and Britain with a Chinook HC2 helicopter.
The 'birdman' Yves Rossy from Switzerland will offer a spectacular performance since his is the first man in the aviation history that flew with a jet engine attached on a wing on his back.
Romania comes with a brand new Boeing 737-700 and Danielle Hughes from Switzerland will dare to unfasten her belt and climb on the wings of a two-seater biplane Boeing Stearman.
The spectators will have also the opportunity to admire the flights of an F-4E AUP Phantom II, a Mirage 2005 and a Super Puma helicopter of the Greek Airforce along with the acrobatic team Daedalus with the single engine T-6A.
The Greek Navy will participate with a S70B Aegean Hawk helicopter.
Finally, Dimitris Ververelis will perform breathtaking shows with a helicopter EC 120B.
A series of aero show events, aeromodelling exhibitions and aeroclub pavilions including the Hellenic Aerospace Industry will be held in Tanagra airforce base during the weekend.
 Thessaloniki mayor Boutaris' meeting with German Min Roth focuses on establishment of Holocaust museumThe establishment of a Holocaust Museum and Education center in the area of Thessaloniki railway station dominated a meeting between Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the German Minister of State for Europe Affairs Michael Roth on Thursday at the city hall.
Members of the Israeli community of Thessaloniki took part in the meeting as well as representatives of the German Consulate in Thessaloniki.
The German side underlined that 5 million euros for the building of the museum will be disbursed in 2017 and the next installments in 2018.
Boutaris has already announced that for the establishment of the Museum the German government will offer 10 million euros and another 10 million euros will be given by the Stavros Niarchos institution.
 Hazardous mercury waste discovered in Greek warehouse returned to GermanyA highly toxic mercury cargo weighting a total of 114 tons was found stored in a warehouse in Aspropyrgos, an industrial area in west Attica, the Environment ministry said on Thursday.
According to the ministry, the cargo had been illegally transferred from Germany to Greece and remained stored in the facilities of a recycling company. The ministry's inspectors discovered it in August 2014 and also found that another 51 tons of the hazardous cargo had been stored in the warehouse since 2011, but had since been sent back to Germany.
The return of the remaining mercury was halted as its nature was being argued: authorities characterized it as a waste, while the company called it a product. O resolve the issue, the two sides appealed to the Greek Ombudsman in 2015, who decided that the cargo is waste and not a product. The Ombudsman also decided the cargo had to be returned as Greece doesn't have appropriately licensed storage area or transport for mercury waste.
According to the ministry, after consultations with German authorities, the cargo was returned in two phases: the first on February 12 and 10 days later the second cargo.
In case of a leak, mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans and the ecosystem. Relatively low doses can have serious adverse neurodevelopmental effects and potentially adverse effects on the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems, while high doses are lethal.
 Ancient Messini to reopen on Saturday after repairsThe archaeological site of ancient Messini is reopening on Saturday as the work to repair the damages caused by severe thunderstorms last week have almost been completed, the culture ministry said on Thursday.
The thorough cleaning and maintenance of the site's monuments will continue and be completed with the funding allocated by the ministry. An ongoing collaboration with the Region of Peloponnese and the municipality of Messina is also underway for the protection of the wider area of ancient Messina from floods and fires.
The site contains the ruins of the large classical city-state of Messene refounded by Epaminondas in 369 BC, after the battle of Leuctra and the first Theban invasion of the Peloponnese.
 Suspended jail sentences for 79 'faking' blindness for benefits; 4.5 years for doctor involvedA Chios Misdemeanours Court on Thursday handed down six-month jail terms, suspended for three years, for 79 defendants found guilty of fraudulently claiming blindness in order to claim disability benefits. All 79 had applied with fake certificates of blindness issued by a specific doctor. Of the 120 originally charged, nine had passed away before they were indicted, 19 died before the case came to trial, six were acquitted of deliberate fraud and seven were acquitted due to doubts.
The hospital oculist that issued the fake certificates of blindness was sentenced to four years and six months in prison, suspended pending appeal on condition that the doctor be put on probation.
 Clash among migrants in Moria hotspotA clash between refugees and migrants from Africa and Afghanistan was reported early Thursday in the hotspot of Moria on Lesvos island.
While the clash was underway a large group of migrants and refugees escaped from the hotspot and joined the other migrants who are living in Mytilene and sleep in the parks and in other public areas
 Identified migrants and refugees in Greece exceed 60,10060,107 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Thursday while 21 new arrivals were reported in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 16,301 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 8,593 are hosted in the region of Attica and 2,567 are hosted in facilities of central and southern Greece. 8,906 refugees and migrants are hosted in several facilities rented by the UNHCR, 2,477 in non-organised facilities 8,100 persons are living outside organised facilities.
13,163 refugees and migrants were recorded on the eastern Aegean islands.
 Ships to remain docked for 48h due to seamen's strikeThe Greek Seamen's Federation (PNO) has declared a 48h strike in all ship categories starting from 06:00 on Thursday, September 22 until 06:00 on Saturday 24 September.
 Mostly fair on FridayMostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the afternoon in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 15C to 32C. Scattered clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 15C and 33C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 20C-30C. Mostly fair in Athens, 19C-32C; the same for Thessaloniki, 17C-31C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Black on blue background
DIMOKRATIA: Russian roulette for a channel
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Europe in existential crisis
ESTIA: The anxiety of parents and racism
ETHNOS: Lower dividends-auxiliary pensions. Retrospective reductions
IMERISIA: Rupture with the IMF
KATHIMERINI: (European Commission president Jean-Claude) Juncker: Europe needs more solidarity
NAFTEMPORIKI: Near the golden mean
RIZOSPASTIS: People's deception is a prior action
TA NEA: Less hopes for debt relief
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